It's only taken me a little over 4 years...but I finally updated The Crew page.
Knocking stuff off the to-do list.
You can check it out by clicking here.
Or by hitting the button on the menu tab above. You have options.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Like when I treat myself to a dessert. Before I run. Because I'm rewarding myself in advance in case I do run.
Which sort of defeats the purpose.
And were we to take a straw poll, I bet quite a few of us could raise an honest hand on where we get things backwards. We make our marriage a priority once we hit a relationship crisis. We get serious about our health once we've damaged it. We make parenting our focus once our kids get into trouble.
I love church. I love the relationships, the music, the connection, the teaching. I love the marker in the week that it is, the beloved routine of going to church on a Sunday morning, eating Sunday lunch as a family, and the quiet afternoon of a Sunday nap.
I love what church does for me.
But somewhere in there, that idea of 'what church does for me' can get, well, backwards.
Somehow, our definition of 'church' has gotten backwards.
We think of church as an organization, a benevolence group, a bureaucracy devoted to helping people. Kind of a faith-based government of sorts. Just come to church and we'll meet your needs, pick you up, dust you off, never offend you, never expect anything from you, always meet your preferences, always make you feel special. And for those of us who work and volunteer at 'church', we try to accomplish those things. We fret when people seem less than happy over some 'church' issue, whether it be the volume or style of the music or the length of the service or the demeanor of the greeters at the door.
Because we've allowed 'church' to become a product.
When we carry a backwards definition about 'church', our expectations go backwards as well. We find ourselves thinking the They Shoulds. They Should turn down the music. They Should get more volunteers for the nursery. They Should do this or that or the other and They Should meet my preferences.
But 'church', real church, is us. We. A gathering of people who said we believe that there was this radical rabbi back a couple of handfuls of centuries ago who made a claim of divinity that we buy. And his state execution has meaning for us today. And his resurrection gives us life.
That's the church. It's not systems and flowcharts and trickle down models. It's us. It's not a super store shopping experience of 'I'll take one of these songs, that youth pastor, four of those Bible studies and a side of apologetics with a splash of social activities, please.' Church is the body and the Bride of Christ, a portrait made of our individual portraits, a dance that expresses grace and righteousness when the individuals move as one.
But somehow, somewhere along the line, we started thinking 'church' was for us and was about us and existed to serve us. To serve us?
We've got it all backwards.
You are the church. I am the church. Ask not what your church can do for you~~yeah, I just highjacked a Jack Kennedy line. But really.
Ask what you can do for the church.
That's forward thinking.
That's right thinking.
And that's what Jesus did.
You can look it up.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Yes, it's hot and sticky here. But we're still trying to get outside on purpose on occasion.
Although I sometime need some motivation.
There was a promise of snowcones at the end of this park day experience.
So I thought I would play along.
There were monkey bars and swings and climbing bars and a fantastic view of downtown.
There were some impromptu photo shoots.
And there was some hangin' around...
...and some serious cuteness...
And then there was this discover...as it turns out, the snowcone trailers in our fair city apparently do not open for business until twelve noon. Noon. Even though we were hot and dehydrated and had trafficked in the promise of snowcone relief, there was none to be had unless we wanted to wait around until straight up noon.
So we opted for coffee instead.
It seemed logical at the time...
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
Our region has been under heavy drought conditions for a long, long while now. Water restrictions. Rigid guidelines for hydrated lawns and flower beds. Fees for wasting water.
Our lakes have diminished, their basins exposed. Lawns have turned golden brown and crisp. Drought.
But over the past few days, the skies have darkened. Clouds have rolled in. Thunder has boomed.
And it has rained.
How it has rained.
Sheets, pouring. Mulch washing out of parched flower beds. Mud making. All creation drinking in water, swirls and currents washing down the streets.
My kids are beside themselves. They've jumped on the trampoline in the downpour. They've gotten soaked through, over and over. My laundry room is piled with muddy, wet clothing, the post-party celebration of long-awaited precipitation. Their joy in the rain, the way it makes them more playful, more refreshed, more excited has only heightened the end of the drought.
Our hearts go through droughts, seasons when the reservoirs of our lives become drained. Times when our patience get crisp around the edges. Times when we feel sticky and dry and parched.
We can end the drought. Any time. We just have to open a book.
The Word of God. Rain for our souls.
The passages, the insight, the beauty can wash over our lives. It can pour into the chasms we call lakes. It can cleanse and renew and green us up.
If we'll just open up the skies of chapter and verse.
Let it rain.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Oh, can I relate to this question....
Hi Julie.This is a battle that frequents our home. Does it ever. Grocery shopping for 10 people, a couple of them with food allergies, is a huge investment of time and money and effort. Factor in a teenage son who is hungry AllTheTime and seems to grow an inch a month and the cupboard often seems to be in shambles and crumbs. And when you add in that we homeschool, meaning AllKitchenAccess AllTheTime and you can better see the skirmish and boundary battles that crop up.
Please help me. I need advice...
This may sound silly (or maybe you know exactly what I am talking about), but the children are driving me c-rrrazy in regard to food. Yes, food.
I feel like I spend 90% of my waking hours telling them whether or not they can eat right now, what they can eat, how much they can have, what not to eat, how often they are allowed to eat, what there is to eat and asking them why the week's worth of food is gone after 3 days.
I don't want them to have a scarcity mindset, and I don't want them to go without or deny themselves or get a complex and develop an eating disorder. On the other hand they need to learn to control themselves and eat some variety and eat when they are hungry and not just bored and oh look some food.
But how, oh how do I do this???? We have had countless talks (speeches) detailing the above paragraph, and the next day it's back to "so and so ate the whole container of ____" and "why is all the ____ gone already??"
Okay I think you probably know what I am talking about, so, if you have a minute I would love to talk to you about this sometime (soon, if possible...)...
I have some techniques that do help. Help a lot, actually. But in the spirit of full disclosure, my strategy easily gets off track when I'm in a heavy season of work or have a project deadline or am just plain distracted. But when I follow my own rules, it really, really helps.
1. Make a weekly menu list, one that includes snacks. One that includes eating times. Print it up. Stick it on the fridge. And stick to it.
There are several sites that offer free printables for menu planning. When I'm on my game, I post our weekly menu for all to see. There's something authoritative about it for the kids and it takes the burden of being the Mean Kitchen Cop off of me. And be sure you schedule the times when these meals and snacks will take place. My kids do just fine knowing that snack will be served at 3:00 and that it will be yogurt and pretzels. They know what's coming up, they know the plan.
2. Take a good look at what you are purchasing and serving.
We seem to have far fewer kitchen skirmishes when I'm only bringing healthy food into the house. The kids simply don't binge on carrots and ranch dressing. They just don't. They will binge on Goldfish and chips and Ritz crackers. I have theory on this that is now being backed by nutrition science. I think one of the reasons we tend to overeat is that we are eating things that are nutritionally vacant. We eat stuff that makes our tummies feel full but provides negligible fuel. And so, before we know it, we feel hungry again, scrounging around in the pantry, grabbing more empty food. I'm not saying that you never have treats in the house...but dessert doesn't have to follow every dinner and kids do learn that if they want a snack and all that is in the house is good, healthy fuel, then good, healthy food it is. Yes, there will be whining and wailing as their palates adjust, but your pocketbook and mental health will ultimately thank you.
3. Read those eaters.
I seem to observe a consistent theme...my kids' eating habits are not always linked to true hunger. Sometimes, they're just bored.
I think they get the I'm Bored I'll Just Eat Something thing from me.
Sorry for those genetics, kids.
But I've seen it enough and experienced it enough to know it's true. When my mind and body are craving a sensory experience, one of the easiest ways to fulfill that is with a handful of M&Ms. But sometimes, taking the time to put on some great music, or looking at some beautiful photography, or taking a walk, those things can fill that sensory need and divert attention away from the pantry.
4. Set the example.
Bleh. I know. But when I'm constantly grazing, it's like a free parking pass to my kids~~they think the kitchen is wide open and available based on the way I'm using it. When I monitor more closely my own patterns and habits, I get better buy-in from the kids.
5. Be a hard nose.
I totally agree with Victoria's concern about setting kids up for eating disorders or for having a scarcity mindset. Those are absolutely things that have to be considered when teaching healthy eating habits to kids. I've seen moms with the best intentions set their children up for major food issues through over-control and denial, denial, denial of treats and sweets. So how do you set maintainable standards without activiating the switch for food issues?
I default again to the weekly menu and watching what foods you are bringing into the home. When kids know what's coming up, it helps them feel a sense of control. You're not 'controlling' them, constantly nagging. The menu is the governor. The schedule is the governor. And when the choices for food are healthy and kids are allowed to eat to satiation, they quickly adapt to the routine and the food choices.
It's a bit trickier having adult and almost adult children still living in the home. One of my kids has significant gluten sensitivity issues and prepares a great deal of her own food since she often can't have what I've prepared for the rest of the crew. Several of the older kids are out in the evenings at classes and dance and extracurricular activities and come in late, reheating leftovers, making sandwiches, scrounging up a meal. Just because I left the kitchen clean and stocked when I went to bed doesn't mean it will stay that way through the night...while some may battle cockroaches and mice in their kitchens, we have an infestation called OlderOctaKids. We're still getting our dance together on this thing, but we're getting there.
And there's this...
I absolutely hide certain food items from the kids, the big kids and little kids alike. I mark certain items in the fridge and pantry as ingredients for future meals~~and everyone knows to leave those items alone. I make the older kids check in with me before they prepare any foods, not out of a place of hyper-control, but out of respect for the person who operates in the home as the master chef. I purchase the food, I prepare the bulk of it, it is only respectful to honor the kitchen and the primary chef by checking in. It's the manners I would expect them to have in anyone else's home and I certainly expect it in mine. I know some families who offer wide-open pantries and fridges to whoever walks in. That's great. But I have a thing called Grocery Money that needs to go a long way in a month and I have another thing called a Life and I don't want to spend any more of it at the grocery store than I have to simply because a bored kid decided to eat 16 ounces of sour cream on a whim. Nope. Got better things to do and go and see.
Hence the checking-in, ingredient-marking and Yes-I-Sometimes-Hide-Food tactics. I think about Ma Ingalls sometimes, out on the prairie. Without grocery stores and Costco around, she had to plan ahead for the long winters. I love how the Little House on the Prairie series often highlights her cooking and recipes. It doesn't at all sound like to me that Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up with a complex about food. But there was planning and structure and rules and it was Ma's kitchen.
And that's how we play it over here...most of the time...when I'm not distracted or behind...or PMS-ing.
Ma's Kitchen. Now go forth.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
My brothers and I have speculated about our attachment to objects and pieces of family history and lore. We wonder if it has something to do with our cross-country moves as kids. When everything around you changes, it's the familiar objects and linens and toys and wall-hangings and siblings who create a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Whatever the cause, I'm a great repository of family treasures. You've got a cabinet or armoire or table or linens that used to belong to Great Aunt So-and-So? I'm your girl. Bring it on over. I'll find a home within my home for it.
I have ten people living in my house, several of whom are now adult size. Those ten people and their clothing and accessories and school books and toys and dance costumes and guitars take up a lot of room.
Sometimes, my sentimentality and my square footage clash.
Case in point.
There is a painting that has hung in my grandmother's house. And my mother's house. And my house.
It's great. I love the colors, the frame, the composition.
But my style is definitely evolving to cleaner lines and less frou-frou. I'm finding it calming to have more empty walls and cleared surfaces.
And this painting doesn't necessarily fit the bill.
I recently purchased a canvas for my office at Home Goods. It's a cream white depiction of Ptoleme's globe on a distressed black canvas. I really love it. But I'm not sure I love it above the credenza. It seems to compete with pictures of my kids. And I just can't have that.
A couple of my kids are quite attached to the canvas of the fruit and pitcher that has hung in three generations' homes. They would be horrified if I did anything to damage the painting. And I don't want it sitting out in the heat and dust of the attic.
Time to shake what my mama gave me.
I saw this awesome little vignette on YoungHouseLove. Please tell me you've seen YoungHouseLove. Go over there, give 'em a little love and them come back. I'll wait for you....(scroll down a way on their post to see their Pottery Barn Outlet inspiration that caught my eye...)
Pottery Barn prints with addition facts. Love. Love because we homeschool and we rock the math facts flash cards. Love because I have a particular obsession with the number 8. Since I have 8 kids and all. I collect little items that have the number 8 on them. And I knew I really, really wanted a print that had something to do with 8.
Without the Pottery Barn price tag.
I bought a yard of burlap at $2.97 a yard and some computer printer transfer paper. I found a font that seemed reminiscent of vintage addition flash cards and got to some ink cartridge draining.
My printer has a setting that lets me let the printer know that I'm using transfer paper. It automatically flips the image for me and prints it right up. I cut out the numbers and started getting my ironing on...
I originally thought I would use magnets, one of the front, one on the back, in each corner and in along the border of the frame, to hold the burlap in place over the original canvas. I gave it a test run without the burlap in place and it worked like a charm.
Until I tried it with the burlap.
I hadn't originally thought I would take it all apart, canvas from the frame. But as I looked at the back, after my magnet fail, I decided it wouldn't be too hard. I got the canvas free from the frame and decided to take opportunity to treat the frame to a little spray paint spa day.
(Don't worry, Mom. I can always spray paint it back to gold. I have skills.)
After I iron-tranferred my images to the burlap, spray painted the frame and draped the burlap over the original canvas, it was just a matter of stretching the burlap to make the numbers and little personal note at the bottom to align in some sort of straight manner. And slicing my finger open on a staple.
What's a little arts-and-crafting without a little blood-letting?
Then it was time to rehang my numeric masterpiece and give it a glance.
I wish that I had trimmed around my numbers a little more closely. I'm not crazy about the translucent-but-still-there transfer paper rim that you can see around the numbers. And I should have held the iron on my little 'love note' notation a while longer...the transfer paper is still a bit too evident for my tastes, up close. I may take a hair dryer to it.
But overall, given that I spent about 6 bucks on this project, I'm happy. I like that the simplicity of the burlap print is less visually competitive with the portraits of the kids.
And, Mom? No worries. The original canvas is safe and sound, protected from dust, direct sunlight and heat. Win-Win.
My sentimental side. My frugal side. And my 8 sides. 5 girls. 3 boys. And somehow, Mike plus me has equaled 10.