Coops and kids

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We are officially chicken owners! After a 2 month long process, we finally have 5 chicks, which we have kept alive for exactly one week today. Please allow me to pat myself on my back.

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For the past 5 months (at least) I have been building a chicken coop for these babies. Yes, that is correct: 5 months (at least). Why, you ask? Allow me to explain.

Reason #1: I have no idea what I’m doing. Everything I read said to draw up your plans beforehand, whether you’re building a chicken condo or piecing it together with scrap materials you have on hand. Not only am I doing the latter-piecing it together-but my scrap materials are not all on hand. I first picked up some wood pallets and ripped them apart into various smaller pieces, which is not so easy. I have also picked up scrap wood from curbs including plywood I had my kids hold on their laps while taking them and the dog on a wagon ride (the dog walked in the road). While I have bought about $3 worth of screws, most of what I am using are random ones we keep in a jar in our shed as well as our hurricane shutter screws (causing my husband to find more when hurricane Irma came our way a few weeks ago). I started to build the coop, finally, but after getting to a point where I just had no idea what to do next, I took it all apart and started building it another way, which seems to be working out better. How the heck am I supposed to start with written/drawn out plans for something when I have no idea what I have to work with?  So while the lack of plans has made this process a lot longer, I can pat myself on the back again because I have basically built this, so far, for less than $10. Resourceful is my middle name.

Reason #2: I have kids. Young kids. Preschool and toddler age kids. This reason should actually be #1 because what else need I say? Why have my kids made building a chicken coop a process stretched over 3 seasons so far (even though in Florida it’s been like one really long season-summer)? Allow me to give examples:

A lot of thought has gone into this coop building. Thought takes, well, thought. It is hard to think when I have kids grabbing hammers and drills, wanting my attention, pleading for my attention, crying when they don’t get my attention, and then I end up explaining to them why they need to leave me alone for just 2 minutes so I can figure something out. The whole process has taken 10 minutes to come up with one idea and I haven’t even started actually doing anything yet.

My kids love to play. I love to play with my kids…..most of the time. So I can’t help but go find them behind the tree as they giggle in the anticipation of me “sneaking” up on them (in reality, their little faces peaking around the tree give them away, as well as their giggles). After drilling a couple more holes and screwing on another board, it then becomes my turn to hide, which I am better at so it takes them longer and while part of me wants to just jump out crying out “boo!” so I can get back to the coop, the other part of me wants to continue to stay put and give them clues to my hiding spot until they find me. Then it’s back to attach another board. Do you see the pattern?

My kids love to help and let’s be honest, when kids help, things take at least twice as long to finish. Alas, this is the job of us parents-to actually teach our children. So, my kids help me put the washers on the screws that I need to hold the hardware cloth in place, which is tricky enough for me, let alone a little person who is still working on fine motor skills. This also involves many dropped screws and washers and digging around in the grass to find them. They are also learning how to use the drill. This skill kind of freaks me out because Georgia is to the point where she can actually drill holes and little brother isn’t known for looking where he’s going. So far though the holes have only gone in pieces of wood and I have dreams of my kids building homes for homeless people one day (I saw a video of a 9 year old doing just that-amazing girl). My kiddos also like to “help” by moving pieces of boards around, stacking them up, laying them across two other boards to form a balance beam of sorts, etc. I have no idea what they are up to, but in their expanding minds they are constructing a chicken coop and I shall not stand in the way.

Reason #3: I have project ADD. I typically have multiple projects going on at any given time, starting one or two, then coming up with other fantastic ideas that I go start, then seeing someone else’s project that I could totally do myself and promptly start….it never ends. One day my back patio will be ready for dining al fresco (which I better finish soon because the weather is finally starting to cool down here in Florida), my fence line will be dug up and my 3 remaining flowering plants will be put into the ground and mulched around and my chicken coop will be built.

In the meantime, excuse me while I go work on another project while the kids sleep because Lord knows when they wake up…….

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Family

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A couple months ago our church held a beach baptism at a local beach. This is where new Christians profess their faith in Christ in public by being dunked under water, symbolizing being washed clean by Jesus. Church goers gather at the park, have a time of worship then we all go down to the beach to celebrate with those getting baptized, play and hang out. Sometimes the waves are really big and end up dunking the people before the Pastor has time to lower them under. It makes me laugh, but that’s besides the point.

My family decided to go to the baptism, which quite honestly, I was not looking forward to. I didn’t want to bother with the kids in the sand and water, being in the sun, etc. etc. Never mind that there were over 20 people, many of them kids, who had recently turned their life over to God, which is the reason of all reasons to celebrate. I was going to be uncomfortable and that was more important to me. Not one of my proudest moments.

But we went. As soon as we got there, we found friends to stand and sing with. I slipped in next to a fellow mom who was holding the young daughter of another mama friend, who was at home sick. After a few minutes the young son of my friend next to me walked over and wanted to be held too. She bent to pick him up and after helping hoist him up, I offered to take the friends’ girl she was holding. She lay her head on my shoulder and I softly sang in her ear. Some of the older kids were playing with a coconut behind us and I turned around as one of the dads stepped in to quiet them down. A few minutes later my two kids came up and wanted my attention, so I sat the friend’s girl down with her older brothers and sisters, their friends and another mom.

That’s when it hit me. Today is about family; new members of the family of Christ being welcomed; sharing in a time of worship and play with my family; living life with our friends, many who have become like family. We take care of each others kids, passing them between us, caring for them, correcting them, loving them. We weren’t doing each other a favor, we were simply living life together. I was humbled.

The icing on the cake came when I looked down at my daughter who was telling me the song we were singing was from church. It wasn’t a favorite song of mine at the time, not even one I really cared for, but as I watched my little girl raise her hand to Jesus and sing the words she picked up on, it became my new favorite song. How awesome is was to be able to stand there, in a public place, with my family and my friends, worshiping the Creator of the ocean itself.

I often struggle with not feeling at home, regardless of the fact that I have lived here for over 5 years, married my husband here and have raised my kids, thus far, in this town. That day changed me. It filled me with a peace knowing that no matter where I live, God is there. I may miss seeing him in the mountains, but He is in the ocean too. I may miss my family I grew up with, but I still have family surrounding me.

Praising Jesus to the same song, just at home. She calls it her song now.

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Here is the link to my new favorite song:

2 Years Ago Today

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Oh my sweet boy, you are two years old today. I have nothing witty or poignant to say, no lesson I’ve learned that I need to share with the world. No, today all I need do is look at you and say “Behold! This is my son. My heart overflows with my love for him.”

However, as I get older, I will forget things more and more, moments I treasure so dear will slip further from my memory. So, I will share you with the world today; what makes you tick, what makes you laugh, how you make me laugh, how you make me cry, and everything in between. Today is about you, my son, my dear one.

I gave birth to a different baby. You weren’t William, you were Zeke. However, the name didn’t fit and so you became nameless. Oh, how I cried when I was rushed into picking a name for you. I didn’t want you to be named after someone else, I wanted you to be unique, to have your own name. But Daddy felt led to name you after his Dad, your Poppy, and I had nothing else to suggest, so William you became. After 2 years, your name just rolls off my lips now, whether it’s ‘William’, ‘Will’, ‘Willy boy’, ‘Willard’, ‘Willis’, or ‘Bud’.

“They” say parents shouldn’t bribe their kids, but oh, how much easier life is sometimes when you do! Food has always been the winning key for you. I bribe you into your car seat with snacks or to sit still in the grocery cart to earn a treat, to take a nap with the promise of a lollipop afterwards and a mint after letting me brush your teeth.

You became a little brother as soon as you entered the world, not just because of birth order, but because you have taken to following your big sis everywhere. First, with your eyes as she danced around you, and now, 2 years later, with your feet as you want to do everything she does. She taught you how to cover your face with your hands as you giggle, to (fake) an injury in order to get a kiss from mom, to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, to close the bathroom door so we don’t hear you playing in water in the sink, and to cuddle a blanket at night time (and to call your blanket ‘nah-nee’). Anything Georgia does that earns her verbal praise or a high five, you insist you did it too. At church, you guys are inseparable. Though you two should be in separate rooms based on your ages, all the workers and volunteers know that you two go together, either in the baby room or the older toddler room. You need your big sis and she needs you, too.

It took you a year and a half to finally get the concept of sleeping through the night. Granted, your first 14 months you were being fed dairy (or nursed while I was eating dairy) while being lactose intolerant (please forgive me). I was a zombie for 14 months and it was only by God’s strength and energy I lived through it to tell about it. I eventually learned to enjoy our time rocking you back to sleep, watching you curled up in my arms, praying over your sleeping sister and you.

At just 2 years old, you’re a pretty honest little guy. When you put your hands down your diaper and get poop on your hands, you come and tell me right away, before smearing it all over the house. Thank you. You also told me about the 8 cookies you retrieved off the kitchen counter and ate while I was in the shower. It was my fault I didn’t know what you meant when you kept coming into the bathroom and telling me “more mama!”

You love the outdoors and everything in it. So much so that sometimes when we go walking down the road, you will lay down and just start licking the dirt. If there’s water out there, you will find it and splash in it, maybe even sit and lay down in it (which you have also learned from big sis). You have grown from squishing any bug you see to enjoying watching it and, if it’s still alive, moving it out of the way so it doesn’t get squished. You like to help me throw chunks of fruit or bread out for the birds and squirrels, though you’re more likely to eat the bread yourself. Did I mention you love food?

Books, blocks and cars: 3 of your favorite things (not to mention food). As you get older, you will play with the blocks by yourself, which means instead of just knocking down what everyone else has built, you have learned to build yourself. Sometimes I’ll look in the den and you’ll be sitting there with a book in your lap, pointing out all the things you know. Once in awhile you’ll call out to me to tell me about it. More often that not, you’d rather crawl into my lap and have me read you a book….the same one we’ve been reading day after day. Not that I’m complaining…..

My dear William, happy birthday to you, here’s to being two!

(These pics are a few months old. I’m writing this during nap times and the time it would take to get recent pics onto my computer is more than I have to spare. I still love you.)

 

 

Our venture into homeschooling

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First day of homeschooling and there were already tears. Mine. The mom. The teacher. After just 20 minutes of trying to teach my kids something productive and giving them structure, I was telling myself I was a failure and I couldn’t do it. I was done, forget this preschool program I’ve spent hours scouring over and preparing for. Forget all the time I’ve spent deciding if Georgia would be ready to start kindergarten a year earlier than if she were to enter the public (or private) school system. Did I mention we just started PRESCHOOL? Forget all the unit studies I’d already dreamed up and how much extra time I would have to instill God’s principles in her because how the heck can I do that when she’s spending 6 hours a day in a regular school? Forget the next 13 years of homeschooling I had already thought about because today proved I just couldn’t do it.

Never mind that that morning we had gone to the gym and the grocery store before getting home to have just 45 minutes to cram some lunch down the kids’ throats and do our first day of school. Oh it is laughable what I tried to do that first day, even though it has only been 10 days since then, as if I have gained so much more wisdom since then.

In fact, even though our program we are following (abcjesuslovesme.com) is set for 3 days a week, each of our days the first week were short and this week we’ve only done 2 days. I was stressin’ big time up until 2 days ago. A sample of my thoughts towards my darling pupils:
“Oh my goodness, my kids are so undisciplined! Who has been raising these people? Kids their age go to daycare or preschool all day long and have structured activities and rules to follow and I can’t even get my kids to sit for 2 minutes to listen to a story. They love stories, why aren’t they listening? Sit down! Stop talking!”

“What do you mean you don’t want to color? You love coloring. Why are you throwing the crayons on the floor? Get that out of your mouth! You colored so much you can’t even see the picture, how are you supposed to remember what God created on Day 3 when you look at that? Seriously, stop eating the crayons dude!”

“Just listen to the story and stop pointing out all of the animals God created. If you’re talking, you’re not listening and you’re not getting what I’m saying. Ssssshhhhh!”

And then I took a deep breath, and tossed out all my expectations. I looked at what my child had learned in just 2 weeks and it really is amazing. Not only can she recognize numbers 0-2, she can write them. I wasn’t even planning on her working on that yet, but instead of simply coloring her number sheets, she has decided to practice writing the numbers. She chose to do this all on her own, no prompting from me. Glory hallelujah, I will not have a less than smart child because of my shortcomings. She can also tell me what God created on each of the 6 days when she looks at the pictures she colored. I was all worried that she didn’t have it memorized and then I remembered that before teaching her the story of creation, I didn’t even have it memorized either. Day 3 is also kind of a toss up whether she figures it out because that’s the one she made into an unrecognizable colored mess (it’s supposed to be land and plants). While crayons and markers still end up on the floor every time we use them, we also used glitter and paint and both kids managed to not get it all over. That is truly a miraculous sign that God exists. Georgia drew a picture of her family for the first time. When I read this part in the curriculum and then saw a friend’s son draw his family at his preschool, I just about freaked out. My 3 year old is supposed to be able to draw her family? We are so behind, she will never make it to college! Then we tried it….the kid is actually pretty good at it. Proud mama right here. Georgia now has 2 memory verses imprinted on her heart: 1) Do not be afraid for I am with you, Isaiah 43:5 and 2) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, Genesis 1:1.

While William goes along with it all and I have been trying to teach him his colors, he is still sure that blue is the color of everything I point out to him, and that is okay because he is going to learn that learning is fun. Hopefully he’ll also learn that crayons are not for eating.

 

What breaks the heart of God

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I recently wrote about how God has taken my heart and made it a bleeding mess for the “have nots’ of this world and how as a society, we aren’t doing much to alleviate those needs. There IS enough food in this world to feed everyone. EVERYONE. There is enough money to bring fresh water to every last village around the world. Every. Last. One.

No, it is not a problem of the rich being too rich or not using their money as they should. No, this is about how each one of us, from the wealthiest person right down to the one who has all of their needs met but not much more, have stopped caring.

This week I got my feathers ruffled over a guy who took out a loan to buy a boat. He took out a loan because he couldn’t wait to sell his motorcycle to free up some money. The motorcycle was bought with his giant tax return and his life savings. He also has a huge loan on a very nice truck. I was so angry thinking about how many people could have been fed with even a tenth of his new boat loan; how many children could be taken off the streets and put in a safe house where they don’t have to sell their bodies; how many people could be given the gift of livestock and fresh water that would provide a means of self care for generations to come. But here was this guy who has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on himself, for pleasure.

I was indignant! Does he not see the hurts of this world? Does he not read his Bible and see Jesus command us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and “do unto the least of these as we would unto him”?

But I was wrong. So, so, so very wrong. Yes, there are needs to be met all around us. But the problem isn’t that we don’t meet them, the problem is that we don’t even care. We may say we do, we may write blogs about how we do (hand raised right here), but if we do care then we will do something about it.

Just today I plotted how to rearrange my back yard to be more child friendly and look attractive, thought about how to better organize my shelves of kid crafts and toys, fantasized about having my bathroom and bedroom painted and done instead of doing it myself over the course of a few weeks, and about a dozen other things that don’t really need to be done in the grand scheme of things. Not once did I say a pray for those people who will die today from starvation. Not once did I think about how I could free up just $10 in the next month to donate to Safe Refuge International (https://www.saferefugeinternational.com/) to help women caught in sex trafficking. I meant to drop off some size 5 diapers to CareNet Pregnancy Center (http://www.carenetirc.org/), but I got distracted by all of my ‘busy-ness’.

Today, there was no difference between myself and that guy who bought a boat. None. His heart was on things of this world, and so was mine.

Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for judging the boat guy. Forgive me being distracted from the things that really matter on this earth. Forgive me for setting my heart on the things of this world instead of on you. Forgive me for not caring. Give me a heart that is one with you, that breaks for the things that make you weep, a heart that is focused on eternity. Amen.

The memory a smell can evoke

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The dollar store is one of my favorite stores. Everything for a dollar. Everything (actually there at items that are even less than a dollar!). There are websites and Facebook groups dedicated to all the things you can do with items from the Dollar Store. As a bonus, I can placate my toddlers with a snack or toy that doesn’t blow the budget, especially when they’re going to lose interest or break it anyway. And don’t get me started on the fact you can buy helium balloons for $1 each. I may just start to hyperventilate in my excitement. I can fill my entire house with helium balloons for the price of what i would pay for the latest new found gadget for my kids’ birthday and the balloons will last a whole lot longer, plus provide hours of entertainment when we turn the ceiling fan on and wait on the edge of our seat for the balloon to be swept into the rotating blades. The kids’ squeels of delight make it worth the brief moment my heart stops beating because it sounds like someone is shooting at my house.

A couple of weeks ago I was in this beloved store going through the checkout lane and then going for a massage two doors down. First, let me point out that I said “I was in the store”, as in just me, no kids. Second, let me point out that I had time to go for a massage afterwards (Thanks to a gift card from Mother’s Day). Pretty sure I also saw pigs flying.

As I checked out, on a whim, I grabbed a pack of mints to make sure I had fresh breath. Apparently impressing my masseuse was important to me. Apparently that’s also a problem they must deal with because they have bowls of mints for their customers in their lobby. I stepped outside, opened the pack of mints and as the smell wafted up to my nose, nostalgia hit me. It was like an old, familiar friend I hadn’t seen in years.

Grandma. Immediately I saw her, her house, her apartment, her buffet, her end table, and the small bowls that always, always, held her mints and her chapstick. Oh how I loved searching out those two items every time we went to her house, which, by the way, was almost every day since we lived in the same town. Needless to say, I ate a lot of mints and used a lot of chapstick as a kid.

What good, good memories of an even better person. Oh that I could see her again and share a mint (or two). I think she would be delighted that my kids are now hooked on those same mints and love getting my old chapstick tubes (old, as in all used up except a tiny bit smooshed down in there because their idea of using chapstick is to eat it). I think I’ll be buying these mints on our almost weekly trips to our beloved dollar store.

Dream kitchens and hungry babes

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Though I don’t watch much TV to begin with, HGTV is a semi-regular channel on our TV. I like to dream of my perfect house, get ideas for DIY projects around my current home and laugh at the little things home buyers get so worked up about, as if the knobs on the kitchen cabinets are really worth not buying a house because of.

However, recently, a gnawing in my gut has started as I watch these shows about people buying a vacation house, remodeling their home to be more sophisticated and modern, and searching for a house with a master bedroom the size of my entire house, 3 car garages or kitchens that a restaurant gourmet cook could only dream of having.

Instead of dreaming about what I want, these shows now make me think of the third world countries where people live in one room shacks that may or may not have something covering their windows, much less a large bay window over-looking a lake. What gives me the right to sit here in my air conditioned house, which apparently is small at less than 1400 sq ft for our family of 4 according to HGTV, with a fridge, freezer and cabinets stocked full of food while a mom on the other side of the world sits outside of her shack because she can at least have some air flow in the stifling heat, rocking her babe who hasn’t eaten in days? Why am I able to go to my small but fully functional kitchen to get a glass of filtered water while that other mom has to choose between her child dying of thirst or giving him muddy water that may or may not have fecal matter or other contaminants in it? While my kids nap I get the luxury of a quiet house to either get some chores done or sit and watch TV. Meanwhile, the other mom doesn’t have to worry about folding clothes because the only items they own are the ones they are wearing, but she does have to worry about if today will be the day her child dies from malnutrition.

And yet, while people die every. single. day, we sit here and continue to think about our dream kitchens, lose ourselves in HGTV and shows like The Bachelor and spend our money on ourselves because we’ve worked hard and we’ve earned it.

Y’all, we are a blessed nation and God says that He blesses us in order that we may bless others. I weep as I write this because I am so guilty of being so caught up in my own life, my own house, my own kids, that I forget that I can do something for that mom on the other side of the world. I don’t know how to help, but maybe it starts with shutting off the good ol’ boob tube and actually looking for a way to help. (Side note-while I talk about the mom on the other side of the world, there are plenty of people here in our own country, state, city that need our help). Instead of using social media to look at what other people are doing today, perhaps I use it to find an organization that is intimately involved with providing help for those who are in need, and I link up with them. It may be giving money, which if we’re honest, can be freed up in our budget if we are willing to sacrifice one or two wants of our own, or donating needed items, spreading the word and information, or perhaps it’s volunteering even one hour of our time each month.

Far be it from me to think that I am too busy or strapped too tight financially to tell the mom of a dying child that my life is more important than hers, that my kids matter more than her babes.

 

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