Full of blessings this Saturday night:
- Home for dinner (a rare thing), Daddy played with Baby Beth so Mommy could stand at the stove and tend to the pancakes--uninterrupted.
- Meals are a crazy time around here, but I've learned to completely set the table, thinking of every detail, before calling the family forth. While it's still not exactly leisurely, everyone does stay seated, including Mommy and Daddy. That's progress to sing about. Hallelujah!
- Mommy is learning a lot about grace. Mary found a vest just before bedtime and put it over her sleeper. In the not-so-graceful past, I would have insisted she take it off and put it away for the night. Instead, I said she could wear it to bed. Twenty minutes later, I came out of Beth's room--having nursed her to sleep--and found Mary still sitting up in bed, intent on buttoning this vest. Buttoning is a skill she desperately wants to master. Admiring her perseverance, I decided to leave her be, not letting her see me. Next, I went into the playroom where the boys were waiting for me to read. Sure enough, when I checked on Mary fifteen minutes later, she was fast asleep.
I'm blessed tonight because I sense my parenting is beginning to reflect this important lesson: Only say no when you can't say yes. Once you put this into practice, you stop exasperating your children. I'm not there yet, but I'm pausing more and reflecting first. Is discipline really needed here, or should this moment be grace-filled?
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
- The boys and I began reading Little Men tonight, by Louisa May Alcott. This book has one of the most pleasant, engaging beginnings I've encountered in a while. Ms. Alcott manages to endear her characters to the reader in just under five pages. Now that's superb writing! I'm thankful tonight for all the amazing writers--for their countless hours of thankless practice, perfecting a beautiful craft, worthy of delighting generations of readers, young and old. Writing doesn't pay well, and there may never be any noteworthy recognition, but it's still a priceless endeavor.
- Auntie Lorrie, husband's sister, will be visiting Tuesday through Saturday morning. We won't see her again until the winter snow melts, giving way to spring color and new life. She lives in PA, eight hours away, and doesn't drive in snow if she can help it. As much as having an overnight visitor is a lot of work, I'm really looking forward to her visit. We've become friends, after eleven years of being mere in-laws. I'm teary-eyed just writing that. It's such a blessing!
- Husband will drive back with Lorrie, stopping at James' house (his best friend) to pick up James' late mother's car. It is old--some twenty years--but it received regular check ups and only has about seventy thousand miles on it. We will pay James $500 in February. As long as it works reasonably well (it wasn't driven much in the last year), we are on our way to having a second car! Auntie Lorrie's church singles' group is going to purchase the first six months of car insurance for us. This was all put together through phone calls between Auntie Lorrie, James, and my husband, over the past few months. What a blessing--specially since husband is putting 600 miles a week on our van, driving around to different janitorial contracts--with no gas reimbursement! Gas prices are killing us. The van, already having nearly 170,000 miles, is being run into the ground, which is a real problem, given our family size. Anyhow, God sure puts things together neat and tidy, doesn't he? Even when all looks hopeless to us.
- It has taken me far too long, but I'm also learning valuable lessons about toys and clutter. I gave away a large portion of our toys months ago, keeping only the things I thought were necessary. Now, several months later, I'm purging again. Lorrie will take several bags back with her, containing toys, shoes, clothes, winter wear, and children's movies, to a fourteen-month-old boy (my husband's third cousin). The little lad's parents are mere teenagers and they'll need all the help they can get. I'm thankful we can help, as well as being grateful for another important lesson. Less is more.
I'm keeping only the train track set, the Tinkertoys, the Lincoln Logs, the two sizes of Legos, small wooden blocks, a few puzzles, board games, the dolls, kitchen and shopping cart. That's still a lot of toys! Yet, each of them is a classic, given to much imagination, suitable to multiple ages, and capable of building attention span. What goes this time is Fisher Price Little People (barn, Noah's Ark, Little People figurines, and accessories), all toddler toys, and all movies except a few Pooh Bear, a few Dora, a few Barney, and number/alphabet movies.
I hate to say this, but next time Lorrie comes, I'm thinking of unloading some books. I have a massive amount of children's books, but most of them are paperback, purchased through Scholastic book clubs back in my teaching days. My children rarely look at them, except the board books, which Beth still likes and needs. Fancy-covered, beautifully illustrated hardcover library books won my children's hearts long ago. My books never had a chance. They were sent home with my students for nightly reading, so they've seen better days. This precious lad may not be taken to the library for years to come, or at all, so he'll need my humble books.
School districts find millions of dollars for textbooks, but as a public-school classroom teacher, I found myself spending $100 a month on books just to keep enough around to encourage a love of reading! One lesson I wish public schools would learn--indeed, all schools--is this: Trust good literature to teach eager minds. Trust eager minds to devour good literature. And stop constant testing! It's dumbing down both teacher and student--a whole nation, essentially.