Friday, February 27, 2015

State of the Nose

A few weeks ago Jeremiah fell and hit his nose on the frame of our couch.  Instead of rushing him to the doctor we decided to wait it out and see how things went for him and his nose.  Everything healed up well as far as we could tell and he doesn't seem to have any problems breathing through the nostril that took the brunt of the fall.

Here are some photos taken the first few days.  They do not come close to capturing the bruising.  It all looked worse in person.

The day he fell.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 4


See that little bump on his left side of the bridge of his nose?  It's not just a shadow or some funny trick with the lighting.  He actually does have a lump there...for better or worse it's probably there to stay.  We'll ask the doctor about it whenever Jer has a well-patient check up, but for now it doesn't cause him any trouble.  Except that it looks a litlte weird.  Sorry, Jer...


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Got Enough Kids?

I found this post in my "Drafts" folder.  The statement which sparked it was given to me the summer of 2013.  We were sweating out a hot, humid holiday gathering at our church.  I was noticeably pregnant, the kids were obviously tired, and we were attempting to get everyone's things gathered up and into the car.

Why comments like these come at times like that I have no idea.  Sometimes I wonder if a pregnant belly comes with a sign that reads, "Please make rude, unwanted, or just plain weird comments, especially when I am hot, sweaty, and ready to have the kids in the car."

And that is why I don't leave the house except on Sundays.  :)  Just kidding!  Kind of...I mean, I don't leave the house except on Sundays but it's not actually because of these types of comments.

Now, on to the post.

"So, have you got enough kids?" the gentleman asked me.

I fumbled through the few lame responses that I know are tucked away somewhere in my head, but came up short.  All I could do was smile, look in front of me at all four of my children, and smile again.  Updated to add: Now I would just laugh and say, "Apparently not, because God is giving us another!"

Where the question came from I can only guess.  Perhaps he was just curious about us.  Maybe he felt like he needed to say something and that was the first thing that came out.  Or maybe he can't quite imagine family life outside of the American norm - 2.01 kids, a dog, a cat, and a white picket fence.

Something in the delivery of that question, however, made me wonder if he has some ideas about family planning.  If so, I'm guessing that we have not followed any plans that would be deemed wise.  Apparently we have been foolish in this matter of having children - something that has been told to us before and that was when we only had one child and one on the way.

This man's question has been on my mind for the last few days.  So far I've constructed a simple response that I will file away in an easily accessible memory file.  I'm pretty sure our family will have more comments like this one, so I want to be ready.  That response is to smile, look at my children, and say, "I can't imagine life without any one of them."

Beyond finding an appropriate response to future statements, I have some issues with this idea of having "enough" kids.  To me the question implies that children are a commodity, an accessory to our lives.  We decide how many we want and when.  We set a limit on what is "enough".

The first is to do with contentment.  If we haven't had the number of children we desire, we are unhappy and potentially jealous of others who have the size of family we have planned for ourselves.  We may not be able to take joy in the life God has given us.  That might mean wasting away some special years as a single, with our spouse, or with our first (and maybe only) child.

If we find ourselves crossing our self-imposed line of what we can handle, then we run the risk of becoming bitter and resentful toward others - even toward our own children.  We may say something like this, "I wish I had stopped after just one.  Two is more than I can handle."  And do we think that our kids don't pick up on those attitudes?  They know that they are the "mistake" or the "oops" child that nearly sent Mom into panic and despair upon finding out she was pregnant again.

The second problem I have with the "enough" mentality is that by reducing children to a commodity of which we can have too little or too much, we are devaluing their very existence.  When it comes down to it, the value of a child is subjected to our current feelings on the matter.  If I've wanted a child for 10 years and finally conceived and birthed a healthy baby, that child is valued greatly.  On the other hand, if I find myself pregnant before my wedding day rolls around that child may not be as warmly received or as highly valued by me or by others.

God values children.  He doesn't think of them as a nuisance.  Neither does He place them on a pedestal.  He loves children because He is love.  And He loves people of all ages and stages just the same.

In Psalm 127 children are described as a "heritage from the Lord".  I know that many people who have convictions about not using birth control use this verse as a way of saying that everyone should live as they do.  I'm not here to make such conclusions.

What I do want to point out is that throughout Psalm 127, the value of children is made clear.  They are important.  They are a gift from God.  That value does not and should not change just because something falls outside of our "enough" boundaries.

If we truly value children, then we should find no trace of discontent or bitterness in regard to our family size. 

Whether God has allowed our family planning to be executed precisely on our schedule, we find ourselves mourning through loss of pregnancy after pregnancy, or we are reading that little plus sign just weeks after our wedding or when we already have an infant in the house, we would do well to be content with the way in which God has chosen to bless us.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Straight Lines

I am a product of the self-esteem movement.  At least I'm pretty sure that I must be, since I seem to feel terrible about myself unless I can find at least one thing at which I am proficient.

With complete assurance, I will tell you that parenting is not on my Feel Good About Yourself Because You're a Rock Star list.

If I could name a few things that might go on that list they would be as follows:
1. Changing diapers.  Yes.  I can change a diaper.  Any diaper, any mess.  I've got it.

2. Cheesecake.  I take no credit for this really, because it's my family's recipe and my dad taught me how to make it.  Now having a lot of practice, I can make a pretty good cheesecake.  Unless it's lumpy...

3. Sewing (relatively) straight lines.  Of course, I would prefer that you didn't look too closely at those straight lines because sometimes they're not so pretty.  My machine does a funny thing sometimes with the bobbin thread...and well, I'm not perfect.  But I can make one heck of a wash cloth!

See.  Parenting is not on this list.  Why?  Because parenting is complex and never-ending and requires a whole lot of selflessness (not to mention a heap of wisdom) that I just don't possess in and of myself.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly challenging.  One child is sneaking into snack foods.  This morning it was cocoa powder.  I guess since the "good" stuff is all stashed in out of sight and out of reach places, powdered chocolate seemed like a good alternative?  I think the immediate consequence was the shock of how aweful that stuff tastes without a ton of sugar.

Then there are the tantrums.  Yes.  Tantrums.  Hundreds of them from every age of child we have in our household.  Except the 1-year-old.  Keep that in mind because it holds the key to something I will say in a moment.

And can I just say that no one ever told Claude and I that we would need to talk with our 6-year-old daughter about dating?  Recently she got herself in a terrible pickle when some kid at Awanas (our church's evening program for kids) asked if she "liked" him and if she would be his "friend".

She said, "Yes," and "I don't know".  Apparently the kid swooned.  Literally.  We even had a demonstration.

Now, in the above case, this is when I am thankful for a firstborn who, even with relentless training and correcting, must interrupt any and every conversation within earshot, knows how to be rude, can be very hard to get along with, and loves to police any situation he can.  (Unless he's trying to police the cocoa powder, in which case he'd rather just have a taste.)  And I am thankful that the aforementioned firstborn is in the same Awanas class as his sister who is being pursued by blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Mr. Popular. 

Sorry...that was a bit of an aside.

As these situations present themselves, it has become increasingly apparent to me that when it comes to parenting I have absolutely no clue what I am doing.

And this is where I will make two points.

The first point is that sewing straight lines is a beautiful, therapeutic endeavor.  While parenting is a twisted, back-tracking, mangled mess as you wind your way through a dense jungle of attitudes, behaviors, and situations, sewing is the smooth, wide, and straight road that leads to sanity.  And it makes me feel good about myself.  See the self-esteem thing?

Case in point.  I sewed these wash cloths this week, along with three children's aprons, three pioneer skirts, and a pair of maternity jeans.  Thank you, Audrey, for the free fabric!

The second point that I would like to make is this: Everybody needs a 1-year-old.  Having a baby around the house who is super cute and cuddly, sleeps through the night (not really), and doesn't throw tantrums is amazing.  You'll feel great about your parenting automatically just by looking at the little tike and having warm fuzzy feelings each and every time.  See, there's the self-esteem thing again!

Case in point.  Rachel.  Just give her a bottle and/or a book and she's good to go.

And here's the third point.  I know, I know...I said I only had two, but I can't just leave it at that.

There is no job, no activity, no task that has ever humbled me so much as parenting.  It really does send me to my knees.  Or rather, the bathroom...because that's where I can lock the door.  *smiles*  And it causes me to seek God in His infinite wisdom, strength, and understanding.

So, in the midst of sneaking cocoa, throwing tantrums, and six-year-old dating troubles, you will find me asking for wisdom from the only One who has it to offer.

And you'll probably find me sitting at the sewing machine, taking deep breaths while I convince myself that I can, indeed, get up and do this all over again for at least the next 20 years worth of tomorrows.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Cold That Kicked Me To The Curb

By God's amazing grace, I managed to miss out on all four rounds of the Great Stomach Virus of 2014-2015.  Managing morning sickness was pretty much enough for that stage of things, and I was so glad to not add other unpleasantries to the mix.

Been there.  Done that at least twice.  Not fun.  In fact, it's kind of like a cruel joke.

"So, you have morning sickness, do you?" asks the stomach virus.  "Well then, take this!"  And before you know it you are out for the count.

Aside from the Great Sickness, the kids have been sick with colds all winter.  Jeremiah and Rachel seem to get one every other week.  I'm pretty sure this comes from their time in the nursery with other wee ones who are getting colds on the weeks our kids are healthy.  They meet up on Sunday morning, swap some germs, and say "See 'ya later" until the next week, when they trade colds.

The Lord has spared me from these colds.  And I have been very grateful.

This past week, however, I finally succumbed to the milieu of germs that is our household.  Even while pumping my body with vitamin C, I still couldn't manage to keep this one at bay.  It hit like a ton of bricks on Friday night and I have been wiped out ever since.  Ugh.

Claude put it best when he said, "This one has been carefully selected by the kids."

Yes, it has.  After all the rounds of colds, the Little Crew has filtered out the weaker viruses and only the hardiest has survived.  Now this virus is kicking me to the curb...and boy is it hard to get back up!

Rachel and Jeremiah are sharing in the joys of the current illness.  They seem to take it better than I.  I've grown to be quite wussy in my old age.

Anyway...this is about as good as I have felt this week.

Obviuosly Rachel is not her usual self, either.  Or is she?

She really has been frowning since just moments after birth.  She has now had 15 months to perfect the frown, though.  She's getting better all the time!

In all seriousness, this is a terrible, no good, very bad cold.  Poor Rachel and Jeremiah.  I feel your pain.  But have no fear.  We shall prevail over this villainous virus.  Until the next time you go to nursery...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Simple Easter Cross Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Here is a simple craft and Bible lesson to do with your toddler or preschooler around Easter time.  The end result is a cute and colorful cross.

Matthew 27:32-28:10--Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb.

Lesson Objective
Jesus died on the cross for my sin.
Memory Verse
"All who believe in Jesus have their sins forgiven through his name." (Acts 10:43, simplified from the NIrV)
A different verse of your choosing.
Here are is a list of suggestions for verses about salvation.  Each link is to a song that you can use to learn this verse with your child:

Romans 10:9
John 3:16
John 14:6
Romans 6:23

Memory Verse Song
To the tune of "The More We Get Together"

"All who believe in Jesus
In Jesus
In Jesus
Will have their sins forgiven
Through his name."

Easter Cross Craft
-White card stock or construction paper

-Black construction paper
-Scraps of construction paper or tissue paper

1. Cover the white paper with glue (I prefer washable glue sticks to reduce mess).

2. Stick paper scraps all over paper so that no white is showing.  Cut the scraps yourself from any type of colored paper, or have your toddler tear the pieces.  For a preschooler, allow them to cut the scraps of paper.  It's great scissor practice!

3. Fold the black paper in half and cut out half of a cross.  When you unfold the paper it should have a full cross cut out from the center.

4. Glue the black cross cut out on top of the scrap-covered cardstock.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Movies and Missing Egg Rolls

Over Christmas we took a 5,000 mile round-trip adventure to see my parents in Montana.  It was fun.  It was exciting.  It was adventurous.  And it was abounding in throw up.

Part of what made this such a fun trip was that we managed to surprise my mom with our little journey.  My dad played the role of accomplice, which meant no surprises for him.

Or did it?

What no one else knew was that aside from making a last minute 36 hour trip, we still had one more suprise up our sleeve.

The kids insisted that they could keep this secret until Christmas morning, when my parents would open a homemade movie as a gift.  And they did an awesome job!

Maybe they were just having too much fun sledding and vomiting to think about it, but they were put to the test on Christmas Eve when my dad sat down with Joshua and Hannah to look through the photos on our camera.  The above photo, which we used on the cover of the DVD gift, was on the memory card.  He asked them what they were looking at and why they took the picture.  They sat quietly, said, "The box was empty," and left it at that.

I was amazed!  Apparently they are good at keeping surprises a secret until just the right time.

Anyway...on Christmas morning, amidst the near chaos of our entire family opening gifts, we were able to share the Chew Crew's very first motion picture making endeavor.  We had fun with this project, and the kids are already talking about making more in the future, so stay tuned!

Until then, we'd like to share with you, "The Mystery of the Missing Egg Rolls".  To view our short (really, it's less than 2 minutes) film, click through to Vimeo and use 2005ChewCrew.

Mystery of the Missing Egg Rolls from Chew Crew on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Broken or Not?

Right now I'm thinking not.

But maybe?

I guess we will see how it looks tomorrow when the swelling is (hopefully) down.