Readn’, Writin’, Rith-ma-tic and the meanest Mom Ever

I had a brief e-mail conversation with my dad the last couple of days regarding our recreational soccer league’s rule about no score keeping and no winners/losers.  It was interesting to get the different, more conservative values that he brings to the table.  I always thought my dad to be conservative, but in a liberal kind of way (if that makes any sense).  But I think the truth is that he is conservatively liberal.  Or…liberally conservative?  I don’t even know.  I don’t even know how to qualify myself…

He commented to me that he wasn’t sure he supported that position.  His thought is that we need to be teaching our kids that winning and loosing are part of life.  That it’s OK to be a winner, and if you loose then you try harder the next time.  He said that he had just finished reading Glenn Beck’s book, “Arguing With Idiots” in which Beck points out that there is a progressive philosophy dictating the “feel good/don’t upset the child” attitude of teachers in parts of this great country.  Beck writes that in many places in America, schools are tailoring their teaching  to the “needs” of the students…their emotional needs, their psychological needs, not so much their academic needs.   He highlighted a couple of examples, like not using a red pen because it scares the child, or putting everyone’s paper on the wall so that none feel left out, and eliminating the letter grade since it makes poor performers feel bad.  From that perspective, I see his point.  If that’s what’s happening, then yes, we are raising a generation of mediocre performers who will someday be in charge of things like, war, peace, senior care…

Well, today it’s cold and rainy here in the north east.  So when it was time, I bundled my girl up in her warmest coat, admonished her (strongly) to leave the hood up, and sent her to the corner (right in front of my house) to wait for no more than 2 min  for the school bus.  While she was there, the mom in the first car in the line of 3 that were now waiting with their children for the same bus, offered to let Mary wait in the car with them.  Mary did the right thing by looking for my approval, which she didn’t get.

(dramatic pause)

Why?

(another dramatic pause)

For the very reasons stated above.  There is no reason that my child, with the proper attire, cannot wait for 2 min in a cold rain for a bus.  NONE.  Not one.  I can’t think of ANY reason that my daughter can’t stand in front of the house for the brief time it takes for the bus to arrive.  I don’t send her out a half hour early.  I don’t send her out without the proper clothing or outerwear.  I’m amazed that in this neighborhood, small as we are, that there would be parents who think it too cold, too rainy, too…whatever…to allow their child to stand in it for 2 or 3 min.  And yet, that’s exactly what they do.  For generations, children walked to school.  Then for more generations, they walked to ONE bus stop to wait for the bus.  Now, the bus stops at every corner, and here in this neighborhood, it stops at the end of one driveway (that and 2 other stops in our sparse neighborhood of 18 homes).  And yes, I do understand the safety reasons behind the frequent stops and I’m not against that one bit. (Thank you child molesters and kid-nappers for that little bit of insanity)  But when the bus stop is not 200 yards from your house, to DRIVE HER to the stop is, in my opinion, the act of a crewel and compassion-less parent.  What is going to happen to that child?  Are they going to melt?  Freeze to death?  Catch the death of cold?  I’m sorry, but seriously.  Is it necessary to spoil your elementary student to that extent?  I’m not trying to be mean to my daughter by not letting her wait in the neighbors car.  I love her to pieces.  But I want her to learn how to do some of the tough things in life, like waiting for a bus in the rain, or loosing a soccer game, or getting a red letter grade on her paper at school.  At the same time, I understand the philosophy behind the soccer league rules…and it keeps kids outside…rain or shine no less…playing.  Different from being driven 200 yards to the bus stop…

I’m just sayn.

But, in the minds of my neighbors, I am, certainly now anyway, the meanest mom on the block.  Mary still say’s I’m the best.  I think I’ll listen to her.

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Not Alone.

They were any other family.  Active, loving, playful.  They, the mom and the dad, were beautiful examples of all that God expects of those that he makes husband and wife, mother and father.  Their bond was strong, their love even stronger.  Their children, siblings, bicker and squabble, but their bonds, too, were growing stronger and stronger.  Sisters, leading, following.  Brother, teaching, learning.  They worshiped together, prayed together, lived together, love     together.  This family that God created.  This family that embraced all that God offered; their love, their each other.  She was any other child.  She shined with the joy of play, the shimmer of love and the brightness of childhood.  Her eyes sparkled, bright blue, full of wonder, amazement and curiosity.  She embraced life, although at her tender age she couldn’t know that’s what she was doing.  She was the reflection of God’s pure love.  A loSunflowerve that doesn’t go untested.

If you saw her, you wouldn’t know.  You wouldn’t know the evil that lurked just beneath the surface, right in the heart of all that makes her go.  The growing, changing evil, bent on taking her life.   If you saw them, you wouldn’t think that anything was different or special about them.   You wouldn’t think that they would soon be spending their days encouraging, loving, comforting this little one, the one in the middle, the one with the sparkle in her eyes.  You wouldn’t think that they would soon be spending their nights in silent, tearful prayer for the life of their daughter, knees red, swollen, sore.  But they are.  And she is.  As mother and father reach out to those who know, love and care for them, they unwittingly tap into a well of prayers and love so deep that only God knows.  No, they are not alone.  Not alone in prayer for their daughter, not alone in sorrow for what she has already lost, not alone in compassion for what she has to endure.  Not alone in their battle for her life.  Not alone.

We are the ones they don’t know.  Our names are hidden from them.  We are any other people.  We are any other families, with husbands and wives and children.  We are beautiful examples of all that God expects of those who call him Father.  By his grace we are not praying for the lives of our children, laying silently in hospital beds while drops of poison are forced into already weakened bodies.  By his mercy we go to soccer games, baseball games, end of summer picnics.  We buy school supplies and agonize for our children about the expectations in school.  We bring them instead, to ballet lessons, piano lessons, Sunday school.

But God hears our prayers.  God hears us cry out for the innocent children who suffer daily from the evil of cancer.  Take a look, here.  This is any other child.  Her name is Kate.  She is 5.  She has a brain tumor.  Now, please, take a few moments and pray for her.  By His mercy and grace she is not my child.  But my tears are real, and my heart aches as if she were mine.

The Superior Submissive Wife

superior wife book I’m listening to a conversation on the new book “The Superior Wife Syndrome”.  Read an excerpt here .  This is an interesting concept.

I’ve been learning how to be a wife for the past, oh, 12 years now, and it wasn’t until more recently that I think I actually got the whole concept.  Now, that doesn’t mean I have it down, cuz I don’t, but what it does mean is that I see the picture more clearly now.

What struck me while listening to the author, Carin Rubenstein, and a clinical psychologist describe this syndrome, was that I immediately recognized myself.  I think I suffered from Superior Wife Syndrome for a long time.  Even before I was married.  And up until about 4 years ago, I wouldn’t have known how to fix it.  My marriage, like the ones described in the book, would have suffered severely for it and may have in fact succumbed to it.  I felt the burden of doing everything, handling everything, making every decision, managing everything.  It was frustrating to say the least.  The author of this book is on to something that modern marriages have suffered from for years.  And for good reason.  That little word in traditional marriage vows that so many women cringe at: obey.

God created men and women differently.  Men have different chemistry, different thought patterns, different physical abilities then women.  On purpose.  God didn’t make a mistake with them ladies, he really didn’t!  But most of us recoil at the thought that we, as wives, are to submit to our husbands.  ICK!!  Don’t make me!!  I am WOMAN, hear me roar!!  We can’t imagine living our lives submissive to our husbands; those slimy creatures who smell when they sweat and can’t figure out how to put a pony tail in a little girls hair, or tie the shoe of an active little boy.  We have become a ‘nation’ of independent women, hell bent on proving to ourselves and the world that we are not the lesser or weaker gender.  I venture to say, without scientific proof or concrete basis, that this is more an American syndrome than a true gender issue.

The bottom line is this:

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Consider the modern household with a wife who upholds this.  How encouraging is it to the husband to hear his wife respect him?  Respect.  Respect the position that was God-given to him, as a man.  We depend on them ladies.  Let’s not ignore that fact.  We expect them to rise to the occasion, but how often do we demasculate them? (Ok, technically the word is emasculate, but since I know the common term is demasculate, I’m going with that.) How often do we push them to a point of submission because we fear their domineering presence?  Now, I know that this issue has gone back and forth many times in our society.  Men also need to learn how to be husbands, biblically.  God didn’t give us this stuff for our entertainment, he gave it to us to use, to apply. But this post is focused on the women.

Right now, there are many families faced with this issue.  So often the wife feels over-burdened with all that she has to do around the house.  Rather than treat her husband as an equal, she fears that his incompetence is going to be the ruin of them.  To these families I offer this suggestion:  Seek God.  Allow God to be a presence in your marriage and allow Him to teach you how to be a superior wife by being a submissive wife.  It doesn’t mean that you are going to be walked on, but it does mean that you will enjoy your marriage a whole lot more if you work with nature rather than against it!

Bottle of Wine

There is a bottle of wine in my fridge.  It doesn’t quite fit, and frankly, I don’t want it there.  It annoys me.  Honestly, I hate it.  I despise it.  I resent it.

Yeah, I know, I’m talking about a bottle of wine. But it’s what it represents to me.  There are alcoholics in my family.  I’m not one of them.  As a matter of fact, I don’t drink.  (And it has NOTHING to do with my feelings about alcohol, it’s simply because I don’t like it.)  But seriously, to me it represents dysfunction.  It represents sadness. It represents the demolition of a family.  It represents horror.  These are the things it represents to ME.

Disclaimer:  I do not believe that alcohol should be banned or that it is the cause of every bad thing that happens.  This is just MY view.  End Disclaimer.

Every time I open the fridge, this awkward bottle stored in the door wobbles to one side or the other and makes it’s presence known.  I sneer at it, threaten to toss it out and then slam the fridge door closed behind me.  It’s not mine.  I can’t just toss it out.  I have to continue to store it.

So, like the bottle of wine, there are things in my life that I just don’t want to store anymore.  Things I despise and resent.  Things that represent dysfunction, sadness and horror.  Difference is, they are mine, and I can just toss them out.  But I don’t.  They wobble around in my life because they just don’t fit anymore.  I sneer at them and then slam the door closed behind me, leaving them right where they are.  In some ways, it seems like if I get rid of them, there will be something missing from my life.  There is a bizarre sense of comfort that comes from having them there.

For a long time, I didn’t know that I could get rid of them.  I thought that since they were a part of my past, that I had to carry them around with me forever.  But I don’t.  I know that I can, at any point, simply put them down and walk away.  I don’t have to look back.  I don’t have to worry that I have “illegally dumped” them because in the Kingdom of heaven, there is no wrong place to dump things.  You just do it.  And mysteriously, God makes the trash disappear.  But then He does something even more profound.  He replaces them with things that I need; love, compassion, mercy, acceptance.  Things that fit perfectly into my life.  Beautiful things that I want to look at over and over; things that I would NEVER slam a door on!

Every day is trash day.  One by one I’m going to take things out and dump them.  I’ve done a lot of that already, but I have more to do.  Anyone care to join me in de-cluttering?

Inauguration Observations

I watched the inauguration of Barak Obama yesterday with the rest of the world.  Here are a few of my own observations:

  • I waited to see the sermon presented by T.D. Jakes at the church service in the morning, but was disappointed to see that it wasn’t televised.
  • Most of the interviewers and people interviewed (on the network I watched) were a race other than white, or caucasian. (Maybe it’s about time?)
  • The word “worship” was used very liberally to describe the practice of attending a church service on a weekly basis. (I found this most interesting.)
  • The actual swearing in was a little botched up…love the human side of things!
  • The raw emotion of many of the observers was very moving.
  • Rick Warren’s prayer was very cool.

That’s about it.  The whole thing really stirred up conversation in our house last night.  Mary now cannot decide on a career path; a teacher, a policewoman, a fire fighter, president of the united states…so many choices.  I kissed her good night and said she could be anything she wanted to be.  She smiled and said “night, Mommy!”

That’s what it’s all about folks.  That’s what all the hype is about.  Being able to tell your kids, no matter what color, gender, or race they are that in THIS country, they can be anything they want….

Testing, testing; one, two, three…

There is a great test going on here right now; my husband and I are going to need a lot of support.

My job is officially ending on Dec. 29th.  I got word yesterday.  Now, I’ve known about it for a while but I really didn’t address it because I hoped that somehow the company would come to their senses and realize that letting go 40% of the workforce at the end of the year was not a good idea.  So much for that idea.

I’ve been looking…but not seriously…for another job.  Now I need to really look.  But there is another story here as well.  We are hopefully going to be fostering a new born…an early born.  Through our extended church family, we learned of a pregnant birth mother who’s older children are in foster care already.  The state would like the siblings to have contact but the other foster family just can’t take on a newborn.  Enter us into the picture.  We are ready and willing.  Enter the challange:  the baby was born 13 weeks early.  He weighed under 2 lbs at birth.  We don’t know if there will be any other issues.  We do know that if he survives, he will be placed with us.

How, then, do I look for a job knowing that this little tiny guy will be coming here and needing more than just a few hours a day of my time?

I’m trusting that God has his hand on all of this and that he will work it out for us.  I’m trusting that the money we need will be found.  I’m trusting that…..well…I’m trusting.

Shark Attack

I went to BJ’s today to get a few things.  I bought some soap, shampoo, toothpaste-you know the normal stuff.  I also bought one of these:

shark

It’s a steam mop.  I hate cleaning floors, but I also detest dirty ones.  There’s my problem.  Now, when we chose the flooring for our house, it was after experiencing the WORST ever year regarding floors.  We were living in a house with light colored Berber carpet in the ONLY room with access to the back yard.  Of course the dogs made short work of tearing up what little grass there was, and consequently, I was left with muddy nasty floors all the time.  My kitchen floor was a white linoleum with blue accent…but 12 paws made sure it was brown too.

I tried everything.  Floor mate, Swiffer, mop and buket.  Nothing, and I mean nothing worked to keep those floors clean.  So when it came time to purchase flooring for our new house, I chose a tile that has a stone look to it, masking some of the dirt so that I could stop being so anal about cleaning the floor.  The only problem is that now I don’t see the dirt.  So I don’t clean as often as I should as evidenced by our socks!

I’m just going to say that for me, this tool does the trick.  It requires NO chemicals.  It works on steam.  The steam really loosens the dirt, and the pads are thick enough to pick it all up and hold it.  I’ve only used it once so far but I’m happy with the results.  I know my floors are dirty.  I’m going to have to do this a couple times before they are really where I’d like them to be, but I’m well on my way.  Oh, and did I mention that the floor is pretty much dry right away?  There is no drying time for this thing.  Unlike the floor mate, which is supposed to wet vac up the dirty cleaning solution…but doesn’t work so well on tile due to the topography and lack of suction power.

Any way with all the talk of going green, I think this is one fantastic product.  I know there are other brands out there, and honestly I didn’t do a lot of research before buying.  I spent under $100 for it, and so far, it earns an A from me.