Monday, September 22, 2014

Stop Osteening Your Life

In the last couple of weeks there has been a storm of Christian fury toward Victoria Osteen after she said this:

(Yeah, I used the one with Bill Cosby. How could I not? It is BILL COSBY.)

And while I am the first to admit that what she said was completely and utterly unbiblical and wrong, I think the reason so many folks got their feathers ruffled was because...

We actually believe this.
We actually live like this.
We actually DO this.

We like to think we dress up for church... for Jesus.
We like to think we sing songs... for Jesus.
We like to think we fellowship... for Jesus.
We like to think we do all this "Christian" stuff... for Jesus.

But deep down, a lot of times, it is for ourselves.
That's why when tough times come, or we have to choose between truth and our comfort zone, we turn a deaf ear. Our self gratification trumps everything else.

"Na-na-na-na. I can't hear you. Don't tell me anything to spoil my good time."
"Jesus, I love you, but don't mess with the comfy christian bubble I have created."
"I like things the way they are, don't mess with it, no matter the reason."

Because you see, if your comfort zone is a glorified social club gathering on Sundays, or a marriage that never endures a truly hard time, or a life who's biggest struggle is which new color to repaint your kitchen... you might just be missing it.

You might just be Osteening your life.

Doing it for yourself under the banner of "All for Jesus."

So before we get our torches ready to burn ol' Vicky at the stake, let's ask ourselves...

Who Am I Really Doing It All For? 
Because the minute your convictions are compromised for your comfort zone... you will have your answer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"The Ends"

Whenever one writes about one's life via a blog or the internet, we know we are opening ourselves up for criticism. I mean, it is the internet, and what you share is seen by any and all. I was still disappointed to read that someone felt the need to rebuke a mom for blogging about the sadness of sending her daughter off to college.
Way to go snarky mom.

I understood what the blog writer was saying because of  what I call, "The Ends" and how very hard I have been taking them.
What are "The Ends"?
They are the different phases of your child's life that eventually end
and once they are over... they.are.over.

Diapers and Bottles... ended.
Itty Bitty socks and shoes... ended.
Baby spoons and sippy cups... ended.
Little tub toys... ended.
Plastic food parties... ended.

And you see, it will just keep happening.
They will end watching cartoons and Disney movies.
They will end reading Curious George books.
They will end needing help to shower, get ready, dress.

Just today, Emerson informed me he didn't want a character band-aid.
"Just a plain one please, Mom." My heart hurt a little.
Yes, over something so seemingly inconsequential. But it was still... an end.

The silver lining is that with each end, there is a new phase just beginning.

Cartoons may end, so that book discussions can begin.
Plastic food may end, so that legos can begin.
Diapers end, so that little boy boxer briefs can begin. (ahem and so that parents don't go broke.)

I have mourned so many ends, while embracing so many beginnings.
So to that sweet mama who felt the bittersweet sting of both as she sent her girl off to college...

It is okay to be sad about The End.
I am sure you will enjoy the next beginning too...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Homeskooling Lessons We Has Learned

So... we've been doing this homeschooling thing for a good 9 months now.
In the world of the internet, that makes me, ya' know... an expert.
Obviously, I jest.
Here are some tips though, just in case you are thinking of jumping on board with the denim-jumper brigade.

#1. Pajamas are Clothes.
I remember when I started this blog, and called it "Pajamas are Clothes." My Micah, he said, "Ummm... are you sure that is what you want to call it? Once you do it, it's kind of... done. For good."
"Phhht." I replied. I regret that phhht at times. For homeschooling, I initially decided I would insist on us being dressed and ready for school to start promptly at nine. That ended one cold morning when Lincoln and I were both wrapped up in blankets, on the couch, in our pajamas, reading books we simply couldn't put down. That kind of thing is just not as fun in a pair of skinny jeans my friends. Stay in your PJs sometimes... just because you can.

#2. Have a start time, but keep it loosely.
There are times we start before nine, and times, when we start much later than nine. I think it's silly to stop Lincoln from something constructive like cleaning his room, designing a new coffee maker (no joke, he did.) reading, etc to start school. Let them have a few extra minutes... sometimes.

#3. Let them make their own lunch.
Now, I know I am homeschooling a middle schooler, so this might not work for some. I have loved watching my son evolve from making only PB&J to now creating salads, reheating leftovers, cutting up apples, etc. If you ever want your kids to appreciate the effort you put into preparing meals, let them be in charge of their own. I am running a homeschool, not a Denny's or a Burger King. (*bonus: Lincoln now makes Micah's lunch too if he's home. IT'S LIKE A FREAKIN' VACATION UP IN HERE!)

#4. Take a Nap.
I get a lot of ribbing for loving naps so much. A LOT of ribbing. Micah likes to tell people I keep myself on a Babywise schedule. I just really, really, love naps. It makes me a nicer person. I feel no guilt in having Lincoln read quietly upstairs, or having him keep working at the table, while I sneak in a 30 minute recharge. So, whatever age you are homeschooling, carve out some quiet time each day.

#5. Say No.
I learned that people tend to think you are available all day, every day, if you homeschool. Um... no.
If I run out with you today, and Suzy Q tomorrow, it makes getting school work done hard. Learn to tell people no, and don't feel guilty at all. If they hound you or make fun of you, you must, I say MUST play the I-am-solely-responsible-for-educating-my-child-card. It's not as jazzy as a newborn for an excuse, but, it works.

#6. Say Yes.
I know, I am a sea of contradiction. Sorry. Not really.
I do think you have to guard your school time, but mamas... no need to stand with a loaded weapon and shoot down everyone who dares to lure you away from the Kitchen Table Academy. We have taken unplanned days off to volunteer, to play in the snow, run errands, visit with a friend. It's not all the time, but it is OK to delay book learning sometimes. (*note if you are taking time off to "teach" British culture by watching Downton Abbey, you have lost it. Just pour your tea and admit you need to see who Bates is killing this week, and be done with it.)

#7. Employ Google.
So, when your child comes to you with a question and you have no idea... I mean, no blooming idea, what it means... Go to Google. No shame. Google knows more than you. LET GOOGLE HELP. I would also say this though, make sure you are teaching your kid their way around a real dictionary and thesaurus. Heaven forbid they ever have to write anything without the internet. Lincoln got quite a kick out me explaining what an encyclopedia is to him. I'm not going to lie, it made me a little sad.

#8. Don't Stress.
I think my biggest fear at the beginning of this year was worrying that I would not teach Lincoln enough. And then I remembered writing this post back in the fall. I think when you remove distractions like girls, and peer pressure, and do actually keep up with a basic curriculum goal, your kid will be fine. Just check state goals, and where your child is at if you are worried.

#9. Admit Defeat
I am not a fan of math. In fact, I kind of hate it. I could tell early on that this year's math was way too easy for Lincoln, so we muddled through, compromised by skipping easy sections, and next year, I will not be his math teacher. We will either use an online system, or the school of Dad. I hate math that much and he loves it that much. I have no problem admitting this failure and finding a better solution.

#10. Embrace Lessons Not Found In Your Books
I was, and am still a little surprised about how many "in-depth" talks this year afforded Lincoln and I. These talks were rarely in the midst of formal lesson time though. (but were sometimes a result of something we were studying.) It was often while we were driving, and we chatted about so many great things. So many hard things. So many funny things. We covered a lot of "off topic" stuff, yet, it was important stuff. I think some of those times, were the greatest lessons of our year. 

So, it's been a good year, and a hard year. We've had ups and downs, battles and victories. I have loved it, and loathed it. Today though, after Lincoln and I spent the morning planting vegetables, pulling weeds, and splitting hosta, we ate lunch together and read books on the patio. I looked over at him, and said, "Aren't you glad you are homeschooled so we can do this?" He gave his hearty approval. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Bucket List Revolt...

I can sense it is coming.
Somewhere, there are mom bloggers who are going to start writing snarky posts about how they DON'T do a summer bucket list.
"So take that!" they will say.
"I am rebelling against the summer bucket list!" they will boast.
"People do these just to make the rest of us feel like failures!" they will accuse.

And I gotta say...
Just shut your cake hole.
If you are so happy about not doing something, why do you need to make it into yet ANOTHER mom competition?
ANOTHER item of comparison.
Don't we have enough of those already?

Let's look at a few contenders in our Mom vs Mom boxing arena:
*I'm a mom and I do Paleo vs I'm a mom and I eat gluten like it's my job!
*I'm a mom who works out and has buns of steel vs. I'm a mom who has better things to do than run.
*I'm a mom who creates pinterest worthy birthday parties vs. I'm the mom who booked chuck e cheese.
*I'm the mom who makes all my own food from scratch vs. I'm a mom who stops at McDonalds for dinner so often they know my voice in the drive-thru.

Do you see where I am going here?
We women are ACES at making the most ridiculous things into a competition.
A comparison.
An "I'm better than you because..."

And that's the heart of it.
We want to be better than others and we want it acknowledged.
That's a heart issue, friends.
A dangerous one.

Let me save you the trouble where I am concerned.
You are prettier than me.
You are more creative than me.
Your house is cleaner than mine.
You cook better than me.
You have better birthday parties than me.
You take better photos than me.
You work out more than me.
Your garden looks better than mine.
You are a better parent than me.
You are a better wife than me.


It is not because I settle for the new epidemically popular "let's all just be mediocre."
It is because each day, I try and do MY best, for MY people, in MY home... and they think I am the bees knees. I want your people to think the same of you. If that means I take your idea or you take mine and our own people love it... WE ALL WIN! I don't need anyone else's husband or kids to think I am the best anything. I want them to think that about their own mom. Helping each other out is part of our job... you know, as HUMANS.

So, this summer... do a bucket list or don't.
But don't make the ones who do one feel bad.
And don't make the ones who don't do one feel bad.
Just go have fun with your people and make some memories.

**I do want to note there is one thing, just one, that I know in my heart I am the VERY BEST at... 
Try and beat me, I dare you :)

My People.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Demands

If you had told me a few years ago, that I would enjoy spending Mother's Day weekend camping, I would've laughed in your face. I usually had the same request each year... "I want the gift of not existing." I would say. Yep. I wanted a day to just do whatever I wanted, with no one needing me, and no one asking me to do anything, wipe anything, make anything, or plan anything. I demanded this each year and was sorely irked if I didn't get it. Not exactly Hallmark type stuff here folks.


 As the boys grew though, and we began to really explore what raising three little boys is like, I realized, this was not really what I wanted anymore. I get plenty of alone time, and am treated grandly, pretty much every day. Why would I want to disappear from the very people that make me a mom anyway? Why did I need to be snotty and demanding? I have been learning some hard lessons about where my time goes and to whom I am investing it in.

So, this year... we went camping.
On a beautiful lake.
We loved every minute of it, including the sudden downpour while setting up the tent.
We laughed.
We talked.
We fished.
And my personal mantra... we made memories.


Sunday morning as I sat and watched my three little adventurers wade over to an amazing nearby island to fish and swim, I looked at Micah and said, "Can you believe they are ours?"
And then, knowing I could stay put with my book and coffee,
that I could demand all the alone time I wanted, 
I got up and went.
I went to where they were, and fished with them for a bit.
I watched them, fussed a little at wrong attitudes, and enjoyed being their mom.
I know someday I will have endless quiet hours to read.
I won't have endless beautiful mornings at a lake to fish with three amazing little boys.
They are the wild boys.
My wild boys.
And oh, how I grow to be more and more thankful each day that I get to be their mama.




"Sometimes it ends up different,
And it is better that way."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Please, call me Honey...

I may get hate mail from every feminist out there, but I gotta say it...
Someone called me "Honey" yesterday and it made my day.
I know, men are NOT supposed to call women that anymore.
And they shouldn't in that  butt-pinching, get me some coffee, kind of way. I get that.
So why was it ok yesterday?

My car died.
On a busy main street in a town where you will see just as many little old ladies driving in their Sunday best as you will rednecks with their confederate flag emblazoned pick up trucks.
It died suddenly, and when I say died, I mean, everything stopped.
No steering.
No moving.
No nothing.
I was just glad the flashers still worked.

I ended up in the entrance driveway to a KFC.
Yes, a KFC.
At 1130am.
Which is apparently when all the elderly of this small town go to eat their fried bits of fake chicken.
These aged folks are apparently very, VERY  passionate about their fried chicken, as I was met with honks,balled up fists, and glares that would melt the polar ice caps.
Because I was sorta' blocking the entrance to KFC.
And the other entrance is, no joke... 6 feet away.
Folks, if you can carry your oxygen tank in to eat KFC, you can drive an additional six feet to get into the parking lot.

Not one of these "saints" asked if we needed help.
I was freaking out a little because my husband was three hours away.
Thankfully my brother in law, Marc, was coming to my rescue, and a young man finally helped me move my car to a parking spot. 

When I had to call the tow truck company, I was more calm, but when I told the man where my car had landed, and that people were not exactly happy about it he said this,
"It's ok honey. We will be there within an hour. We will get your car to the garage, they will fix it. Do you need anything else sweetie? I promise, it will get taken care of for you."

I just felt myself relax.
This nice man, who has been towing vehicles longer than I have been alive, could sense my distress, and talked to me in this way, to be nice. Not to insult me. I know the difference, and believe you me, I can go "yankee" on someone in a skinny minute if need be.

But yesterday, I needed someone to be nice to me.
To be human.
To hear that I was stressed and needed some help.
To call me honey, like he probably would his own daughter.

Sometimes, it is not an insult folks.
Sometimes, it is just being nice... 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Death by Fineness

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending an amazing women's conference at a large church.
One of our BFFs is the pastor.
His wife has become one of my BFFs over the years, despite not being around each other day to day.
We love to chat, this friend and I.
About food.
About marriage.
About church.
About our kids.
About life.

We began to talk about the plague of "fake authenticity" that seems to be gaining momentum amongst some Christians.
What does that mean, "fake authenticity"?
We have a growing number of struggles and sins that are ok to share out loud within our church walls, small groups, life groups, accountability groups, whatever you may call them.

It's ok to say you want to speak nicer to your kids.
It's ok to say you need to read your Bible more.
It's ok to say you sometimes get angry with your spouse about something.
It's ok to say you struggle with self-image.

But... don't go further.
Don't tread into ground that we may not have an easy answer for.
Don't make us uncomfortable.
Stay away from awkward.
We want comfortable authenticity.

What if...
Your struggle is lust?
You are full of jealousy, horribly eaten up with jealousy of a friend or co-worker.
You have homosexual feelings, despite being married?
You are hurt by something so deeply, you just cannot seem to get past it?
You feel hatred, hard core hatred, toward another person and its making you miserable?
You no longer believe what you are reading in your Bible... at all.
You want to hurt yourself because you hate the way you look?

Are we allowed to talk about these issues?
Because when someone shares one of these,
there is a deeper need to walk with someone through the hard stuff.
The messy stuff is... messy.
The walking through takes longer.
There is no prayer at the end of life group that will end a woman's struggle with admitting she no longer loves or wants to sleep with her spouse.

Instead, we say, "I'm fine!"
How are you? "I'M FINE!"
We say it until we may even believe it ourselves.
Let's have snacks and go home.

My dear friend put it so very eloquently:
"I think we are going to die of fineness..." 

Don't settle for the lie about being fine.
Don't settle for comfortable authenticity.
Find people, like my friend, who want to walk through the hard stuff with you.

And to Veronica...
Thank you for being there for me in such a real way this year.
And for the AMAZING quote above.
Love you, friend.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The 25¢ Hero

crayon box
Alden has been very into coloring neatly as of late.
This is a good thing, since he has gotten a lot of papers sent home with "Neater Please," emblazoned across the top.
What can I say?
He is a third kid.
I was just happy he wasn't eating the crayons, and not worrying about him staying in the lines.
Ok, I would have been ok with minimal crayon consumption, but I digress...

So, he has been diligently coloring in the mornings before school.
He came to me last week and asked for new crayons for school.
"Do you need new crayons?" I ask.
"Are yours broken or missing?" I wondered.
I mean, why am I going to give him new crayons if he doesn't need them, right? 

"Well, no... but I just want them to be nice and sharp," he explained.

I looked down at that little face and thought, "ok, why not."
I remember loving new sharp crayons. New crayons are the best.
So I went out to the mudroom and got he and Emerson both a new pack of crayons.
I have an abundant supply, because when they are 25¢ during back to school season, I buy about ten boxes.
I can't help myself.
I love school supplies.

Those two little boys were flat out elated.
Over a 25¢ box of crayons.
Alden literally jumped into my arms and said, "Oh, thank you Mama!"
Then he gave me a kiss and declared me the best mom ever.

I walked into the kitchen and told Micah,
"I just became a hero. For only 25¢."

Oh mamas, I know.
I know we don't want to raise little selfish, spoiled kiddos.
And normally I am the queen of saying kids today, mine included, have TOO MUCH stuff.
But sometimes...
give them that extra cookie,
the excessive amounts of marshmallows in their hot chocolate,
or that new box of crayons.
Be your kid's 25¢ hero. 

If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, 
he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.  
                                                    ~Frank A. Clark

Friday, February 28, 2014

Love and hurt...

My last blog was met with... mixed reactions.
I knew it would be.
I tried to prepare for it.

I received e-mails accusing me of being divisive,
damaging the body,
spewing my angry rhetoric,
and in general, not being a nice Christian girl.
I was told I should just move on "quietly".

That was hard, but as I said, I expected it.
I knew I was calling out something that makes us all cringe...
Maybe it is because I did not grow up in the "Bakery" that I find covering up these issues so distasteful.
A pattern of secrecy is not authentic to the message we try to share.

I did not do it to attack,
be mean,
damage the body,
or spew anything.

It was my last ditch effort to say hard things to people I love.
I had a Head Baker I loved.
I had a Bakery I loved.
I had friendships and community I loved.
I lost those things, and not for the right reasons.

I left with a heavy heart, that grew heavier still as lies were told,
people were thrown out,
and the truth would not be heard.

For the last year my heart has broken, daily, for the customers at that bakery.
Why not just say, "Screw 'em" and move on?
Because they were my family, my friends, my co-laborers.
I have shed more tears for that Bakery and her customers, and yes, even for the Head Baker.

Oh, I know.
You don't believe that part, about loving the Head Baker.
Some are saying, "You must really hate him to write that."
You could not be more wrong.
Hate can walk away.
Hate can say, forget you.
Sometimes love is not flowers and chocolates.
Sometimes, it is taking the person's hand and telling them hard things, because you love them.

When the softer approaches are met with rebuke, you take one or two with you.
When those are refused, you take more with you.
When those are refused, and you are cast out... your heart breaks.
I have been angry at actions, yes.
But I have never once stopped loving the Head Baker, the staff, and all the customers.
But sometimes, those you love, you must wound with the truth.
That is not unkind.
Or divisive.
Or angry rhetoric.
Or being a bad Christian girl.

For the last year, I feel like I have watched my "family" in a house that is on fire.
Yes, your room might not be, I get that.
But I have quietly tried to say, "I think it's hot in there."
"Is that a flame?"
"Do you smell smoke?"

My last blog post was the equivalent of finally yelling, "FIRE!"
I am sorry if the yelling hurt your ears, but not as sorry as I would be if you get burnt...

So, hate me if you must.
Lob every Bible verse about soft answers, and kind speaking at me.
I will take them.
I know my heart, and it's intent.
I also know Bakeries need to be clean to prosper, (and there are many that do) and I will not apologize for shedding light on that.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rats in the Bakery

Once upon a time there was a Bakery.
It was neatly decorated, with just the right touches to make your dining experience top notch.
Good coffee.
Tasty delicacies.
Fun employees.

The Head Baker was in charge.
He chose which pastries to make.
He ran the kitchen and the staff.
He was funny; customers liked him, the staff liked him, everyone liked him.

People from all over came to the Bakery to enjoy the treats and hang out.
They liked the chatter.
Their children enjoyed it.
Everyone smiled.
Everyone was happy.

As the business grew, so did the demands on the staff and the Head Baker.
He got employees to handle things like ordering flour,
writing the menu on the boards,
and chatting with the customers.
Sometimes though, he would swoop in and lose his temper with the staff.

"Why did you order THAT kind of flour?" he'd boom.
"Did you tell that customer we may someday make raspberry danishes?
I hate raspberry, we will never do that. How could YOU decide that?" he'd fume.
"Do you really think that writing looks good? I know I told you to handle it, but here is exactly how I want it done," he'd fuss.

The employees started to lose confidence.
"If he keeps changing everything we do, why do we bother?" they wondered.
Eventually, the Assistant Baker got moved to Flour Man,
the Customer Service Man got moved to Dish Washer,
the Head Frosting Man got moved to... well no was sure just what he did anymore.
And the poor Menu Writer just kept rewriting menus after working for hours on them.

Life in the kitchen was no longer fun.
But the staff hoped it was just a phase.
Part of getting bigger and busier.
They knew their beloved Head Baker would not keep acting like this.
Surely they would be pleasing to him again.

Then, the Head Baker started to take trips to visit other far away bakeries.
"See how they do things" he'd say.
"I've got go help them set up their staff and show them how it's done."
The staff wanted to tell him to stay, but alas... they knew the Head Baker would do what he wanted.

Before too long a bigger problem arose.
There were rats in the kitchen.
Yes! Rats!

The staff tried to tell the Head Baker, but he waved them off.
Before long, the rats' droppings were getting into the pastries.
The Dish Washer finally approached the Head Baker and said,
"Sir, I hate to tell you this, but I think I have spied rat droppings in some of the pans."

The Head Baker was furious.
How dare this Dish Washer tell him this.
He fumed, he threatened.
He told the Dish Washer, "Your kids are dirty! I see them playing in the mud.
Go take care of your own dirty kids before you tell me about these rats!"

The Dish Washer was greatly saddened.
Yes, his older son did like mud.
But he was too old for the Dish Washer to keep cleaning him off.
His son had to learn to choose not to jump in the mud himself.
How could the Head Baker not see this, and what did it have to do with the rats in the kitchen?

The Dish Washer knew he must leave.
He could not let the Head Baker talk about his family this way.
Sadly, he said goodbye to his kitchen friends, and left.

Some customers wondered where the beloved employee went.
The Head Baker emerged from the kitchen and said,
"He had to go. I just tried to help him with his muddy child and he got mad.
He yelled at me. He cursed at me. We cannot have a man like that in our Bakery."

The people believed him.
The other employees knew this was not true,
but they needed their jobs, and they loved the customers,
so they carried on.

But the Flour Man knew.
He knew this was not right.
He knew the Dish Washer had not done those things.
He knew the Head Baker needed to stop these actions.
And the rats, still no one was dealing with the rats.

A few months passed.
More jobs got switched around.
The Head Baker was rarely in the kitchen anymore.
When he was, he was never happy with the way things were going.
He would not listen to anyone who brought up the rat problem.
Eventually the staff began to get used to the rats, and their droppings mixed into the pastries.

But the Flour Man could not.
Finally, a few special customers came to him.
These customers were special because they were on the Bakery Board.
They helped decide things about the Bakery... in theory.
Even they had to admit, they had no control over the Head Baker.
They just said yes to his plans because they had no way not to.

The Flour Man had to tell them about the rats.
They had to admit, they already knew.
"We just thought it best not to say anything."
"It makes the Head Baker so angry if we do."

"But we love this Bakery. We love the Head Baker," said the flour man.
"We should talk to him about this. We can get rid
of these rats, and fix this before all the customers find out!"

So, they all agreed. At the next Bakery Meeting, they would talk to the Head Baker.
The meeting did not go well.
The Head Baker was furious.
"How dare you!" He fumed at the Flour Man.
"You just want to be the Head Baker! You don't even do your job as Flour Man well."

The Flour Man was heartbroken.
He loved being Flour Man; he was good at it.
He never wanted to be Head Baker.
He was happier helping out behind the scenes.

The meeting ended.
Nothing was resolved, and the Flour Man realized,
they had still never talked about the rats.
"One more chance, at the last Bakery Board meeting," he thought.

But at that last meeting, the Head Baker threw everyone for a loop.
He stormed in, and declared, "Either you get rid of this Flour Man, or I'm going, and I'll
take my Assistant Baker with me!"

The Bakery Board did not know what to do.
The Flour Man did not know what to do.
The Head Baker had all the recipes, how could they make the pastries without him? 
By now, some customers were already questioning what was going on in the kitchen.

Finally, the Flour Man realized.
He would have to go.
He loved this Bakery so much, loved the customers, and his fellow staff.
But he knew the Head Baker would not relent until he was gone.

He packed up his flour guides.
Took off his apron.

He had to leave out the back door, that very day.
He was not allowed to tell the customers goodbye.
The Head Baker would do that.

When the Head Baker told them, the customers were shocked.
They knew the Flour Man and his family well.
They loved them. They asked lots of questions.

The Head Baker did not expect this.
He'd gotten rid of the Dish Washer and others before him without much problem.
He knew he'd better act fast.
"The Flour Man wanted to run my kitchen. When I said no, he got mad and left.
He didn't care enough to stay and work things out. He didn't care if you all got the best flour
for your pastries or not. He is a bad Flour Man."

Some believed him.
Most did not.
But they loved their pastries, so they kept coming to the Bakery.

When they asked the Flour Man what happened he finally told them the truth.
"I am sad to tell you this, but there are rats in the kitchen.
The Head Baker is not what you think he is when he is back in the kitchen with us.
All I wanted to do was to tell him about the rats, but he wouldn't hear of it."

Some customers went to the Head Baker.
"Why would you fire the Flour Man? Why won't you deal with the rats?"
"We love this bakery, please Head Baker, please take care of the rats and bring back the Flour Man!"
"We will pay for the exterminator to come!"

"You can leave too," replied the Head Baker coldly.
"You are cruel to bring up those rats. That is not your business.
Go to another bakery. I will find new customers to fill your seats."

The customers were sad.
They didn't want to go to another Bakery.
They loved this Bakery.
But the Head Baker would not talk about or take care of the rats.

The Flour Man and the customers who knew he was telling the truth about the rats, left.
They tried to tell others about the rats.
The remaining customers would not listen.
"No! We have never seen any rats!" they would say.
"We haven't ever gotten sick from the food here," they would reason.
"Until I see a rat with my own two eyes, I cannot see why I would go to another bakery," they'd justify.

"Oh," said the Flour Man. "I see."
He felt abandoned. Alone.
He knew there were rats.
He knew they were getting into the food.
He knew the customers were at risk.
But they would not listen.

"My children just love this Bakery," they said.
"All of my friends come to this Bakery," they replied.
"Aren't there rats at most of the bakeries in town anyway?" they'd ask.

So he stopped trying to tell them about the rats in the kitchen.
There were other bakeries without rats.
And the bakeries that had rats in the past, had put in traps, not just pretended there wasn't a rat problem.
He knew he would rather sit at home with his wife and children eating their own homemade pastries,
rather than eat something rats had been in.

As the weeks and months passed, the Flour Man and his wife and children grew closer to the customers who'd left the Bakery, and further away from the ones who had stayed.
That was hard.
One evening over dinner he looked at his wife and asked if she missed their life at the Bakery.
She thought for a minute and replied,
"I know here at home, and at the little Bakery we sometimes do go to, there are no fancy pastries.
Ours are more simple, but just as tasty.
I know our kitchen is clean, and there are no rats.
I would rather eat our simple rat-free pastries with a few friends anyway."

He was glad she was happy again.
His sons were too.
He thought she was done speaking, but then, she added this.

"No matter how pretty they make those pastries look at that Bakery, how great the frosting, cherry toppings, and sprinkles may seem, in the end... they are all still eating rat poop." 

And with that, the Flour Man was forced to close the book on his life at the Bakery.

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, He began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops."
                                                                            ~Luke 12:1 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be Greedy, Be Very Greedy

Yes, I am telling you to be greedy.
And I do mean greedy.
And all the other synonyms that go along with it.

What shall you be so greedy with?
What kind of horrid advice is being doled out here?
Well, here it is, in a nutshell...

Be Greedy With Time

As I packed up some clothes and toys to sell in a consignment sale this week, I became sad.
It was the blasted play food that did me in.
The little fake milk bottles, the pizza slices, the plastic pile of spaghetti. It was too much. 
Then there was the little Subway set that Aunt Cherith bought Lincoln when he was 2. (and that was before Jim Gaffigan's "Eat Fresh" bit. She's a trail blazer that Aunt.) 
I was brought back to so many memories of being made a lunch of plastic peas, rolls, and a potato.
I revisited mind pictures of Teddy Bears being fed spoonfuls of pretend oatmeal, and grocery stores set up for me to come buy dinner ingredients in.
Alden used to empty out my cupboards and put this very food inside, pulling up his play stove to cook alongside me. Lincoln and Emerson used to have a cash register and we had elaborate shopping and restaurant dining experiences. I remember poor Em's first realization that the food was not, in fact, real. What a cookie let down that was.

As I packed it up, I realized, I wanted more.
More pretend meals to "interrupt" my busy day.
More pretend bites of plastic pickles.
More moments.
More memories.
More time.

But that phase is kind of over for my boys.
It struck me that they make real food now.
Emerson cracks real eggs and makes them on a real stove, in a real pan.
Alden scales the cupboard and makes his own bowl of real cereal or actual oatmeal.
Lincoln likes to prepare his own lunch and makes us all hot chocolate on cold days... with a real tea kettle, and hot steaming water.

Play food is over.
And it killed me.

I wanted to physically turn back the hands of time.
Come Back!!!!!!
But I know, we cannot do that.
So, instead I made a decision.
I will now turn into the greediest time hog of all.
I will grab every minute of play time with my boys as I can.
Last month as I deleted app after app off my phone for our electronics free week, I wasn't sad.
I didn't mourn their loss. There were no fond memories of scrabble games won, re-tweets, or candies crushed.
But that plastic piece of sliced cheese... that brought me to tears.

So whatever you are doing, be greedy with your kid time.
Grab it all.
Every minute.
Stuff your pockets, fill your bags, and then keep grabbing for more.
Do it when you are tired.
Do it when you are frustrated.
Do it when you don't want to.

Be greedy and do not apologize for it.

Time is the coin of your life. 
It is the only coin you have, 
and only you can determine how it will be spent. 
Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. 
                                                            ~Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You and I are why GMOs exist

Yes indeed, you and I are why GMOs exist.
And food dyes, preservatives, and additives, etc. etc. etc.
I said it.

What? You cry.  I never asked for this crap in my food!
Ah, but we did.

We did it when we wanted fresh strawberries in January.
We did it when we wanted apples without any bruises or blemishes.
We did it when we demanded perfectly crunchy pickles, or beautifully colored cereals.
We did it when we asked for ultra long shelf lives and zero food spoilage.
We did it when we wanted burgers for a $1 and chicken to be cheap.

In short, while science and the food industry have made and engineered this grave new food world, we are the consumers who, in a large way, asked for it.

Did you know that organic fruits and vegetables have brown spots, and dirt, and maybe even, gasp... a bug or two! The horror of it all! A bug, you know those things that live outside where fruits and vegetables grow, might just make it into your bag o' lettuce. But you don't want that same lettuce sprayed with the chemicals that will kill those bugs, right? So... you may have to deal with dirt and bugs.

Did you know that organic meat is more bloody and smells differently? True story, that meat, which is the FLESH of animals, is, in fact, bloody. And that same meat, when not chock full of hormones or washed in a lovely ammonia solution, it smells a little more, I don't know... meaty. We bought part of a cow last year and I was amazed at how different it was. When Micah's steak was so tender he could cut it with a fork, he was sold.

Did you know that baked goods only last a week, at best? And in that week they may grow, wait for it... MOLD!  Yes, that stuff that's in penicillin and other medicines. Do you know this is why Ma Ingalls had a weekly baking day for bread? She didn't have bread on her cupboard for two weeks looking as fresh as the day it was baked. Yet, we demand it. We want that loaf to be soft, and taste fresh, and stay that way. It is a baking impossibility folks. Well, unless you add in the preservatives and chemicals.

You see, we can't have juice boxes, and individually wrapped snack packs that last for weeks, are pretty in color, inexpensive, chemical free, and healthy. You are asking the food industry to do the impossible.

So, let's all (me included) quit our whining, and put our time and money, quite literally, where our mouth is.
Monsanto may be the devil, but we are the ones asking him what he has to offer... 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Week Without Electronics

Alternate Blog Title: Our Return to Normal Human Interaction

After the "let loose" electronics mentality we had over Christmas Break, we needed to reboot.
We had let the boys watch lots of TV, play lots of Wii and Kindle, and be lazy bums.
I really started to check if their brains were oozing out of their ears.
The glazed look of TVoverconsumptionitits was running rampant.

So, we declared January 6th-January 12th, a week of... gasp...

This meant no TV, Wii, Kindle, iPhone games, blog reading, social media, etc.
Obviously, Micah has to use his computer for work, and I allowed myself to use mine to print photos and such for scrapbooking. I checked e-mail, but clicked no tempting links, and only responded when absolutely necessary.  We also allowed the watching of the football playoffs, because well, we are huge football fans, and good Americans.... and we of course, wanted to scream and cheer on our Broncos.

Do you know what happened?
Well, after about a day and half of the boys walking around like lost pups whose eyes hadn't adjusted to the new and bright world before them, they started to ya' know... interact.
They played games.
Read books.
Played with Legos and other long forgotten toys.

In short, they became little human beings again.

Micah and I, we enjoyed it too.
We read books.
Had long talks.
Lingered longer over the dinner table.
Crossed lots of things off the proverbial "to-do list".

In short, we became humans again too.

I finished up my Project Life for 2013.
I read TWO books.
My house was actually clean.
The laundry was done, folded, AND my personal nemesis, put away.

I suddenly had time for all those things "I never have time for..."
I realized we were wasting time on electronics, but wowee... I didn't realize how much. I also underestimated how much more we would interact with each other. (and that means how much LESS we interact when we are all staring at various screens.) The funny part is, we are pretty tight on how much we let the boys watch normally. Kindles have time limits, no TV goes on in the morning except for Saturdays, etc. Compared to some kids, they are practically Amish. But it's oh so easy to let it slip...

Sure, the boys had many more squabbles.
Well, when you are sitting on your buttocks watching TV there is nothing to argue about.
It was as if they had to re-learn how to settle disputes in games.
How to compromise when they wanted to do different things.
How to share when there were limited amounts of something.

I knew we'd accomplished our goal when, after school one day, one boy was painting, one boy was reading, and one boy was drawing. I felt like I'd walked into a picture of the way I want our house to be, and almost pinched myself. I joined the boys at the table and worked on my 2014 Project Life, turned on some music, and enjoyed being WITH my children. Not just near them, staring at a screen. 

We loved the week so much, it is going to become a monthly occurrence at our home.
We still love watching football, and having an occasional "family movie night". 
For me, I am keeping my online time cut waaaay back.
I no longer get up, check e-mails, and get hooked into reading fifty articles on feedly before realizing, "Oh, it's already been an hour I've been sitting here."
There is nothing wrong with reading these lovely blogs or websites about home decor, photography, and bad tattoos. (google the tattoo fail blog. you will thank me later, or hate me for the hours you are now wasting looking at the moron who tattooed "No regerts" on their arm.)
What the problem is, is what no one wants to admit... it's nothing that I need to live.

 Found this scene in the living room on day four. 
The wild boys looking through Project Life 2013.
Remembering. Laughing. Engaging.
TV can't buy that folks.

So, take a try at it.
Turn your electronics off.
I promise, after the initial shock and maybe the occasional finger twitch, you will find some lovely hobby, interest, or person to engage you.
Take a walk.
Read a book.
Write a letter.

Be a human again...


"To live is the rarest thing in the world. 
Most people just exist."
                                         ~ Oscar Wilde