29 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: A new day

After yesterday's incident with my little guy carrying on for much of the time we had to wait for my daughter, I was fearful that today would bring more of the same. As a homeschooler in NY, one option I have for end-of-the-year assessment is to have them tested. There are tests I could order and administer myself, but frankly, we do not have the financial means to do so, so we take the school district up on their offer to provide and administer the tests. The down side of this is that we have to wait in the cafeteria of the administrative offices while they take the test. Due to my children's ages, the tests are administered over several days. Today was the second day of testing for my oldest and another day in the cafeteria.

The cafeteria staff are very friendly and the employees are also very kind. That does not mean that I want to have a screaming child on my hands though. That is why I am grateful for new days. Today went so much better than yesterday and my little guy did not get upset once. I did avoid buying chocolate milk today though and opted for cookies instead. They had a nice, healthy breakfast at home first, so I didn't feel bad about the cookie at 9:30 in the morning. I also brought different activities and these ones seemed to suit him better as well.

Today's experience reminded me that every day is a new day and we do not have to allow the attitudes, problems, and issues of the previous day to determine how this day will go.

28 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: Understanding strangers

Today, I had to sit in a cafeteria with my 3 youngest children while waiting for my oldest daughter. I knew ahead of time I would be there about an hour so I brought activities for the little ones and some money to buy them each a chocolate milk. Unfortunately, my almost 2-year old decided that he was just not going to do anything that I had brought with me. First, he picked up the little plastic menu holder thing that they put on the tables. I figured there was no harm in that so I let him hold it. He proceeded to take the paper out so I took the paper and let him play with the plastic thing. Two seconds later, I heard it snap. He had split the thing into two pieces. I managed to somewhat put it back together and immediately put it where he could not get it. He cried for 10 minutes until I bought the chocolate milks. At this point, he took a small sip of the milk and then screamed because I would not let him hold it by himself. He was welcome to hold it with me, but because I do not desire chocolate milk stains on his clothing, I had to hold it too. He did not like this and made it well known. He proceeded to cry and scream for 20 minutes as he tried over and over again to get me to let him hold it by himself. I felt terrible for those who were trying to enjoy their breakfast, but I had entered into a power struggle with him and knew that if I let him win at this point, it would set a precedent for the next time he wanted something he was not ready for. Fortunately, most of these people were very understanding and as they passed they gave me an understanding smile. No one stopped to say anything negative or rude, but the ones that touched me the most were the ones who stopped and tried to help. One lady brought over paper and a pencil in attempt to divert his attention. It did not work, but I appreciate the effort. Another lady came over and told me that she had raised 3 of her own and remembered these days. She told me most of the people there were parents and understood what this was like. I know I how react when someone else's child is screaming near me, I generally tune it out (unless it is a scream that warrants my help) and give the mom one of those understanding smiles. However, when you are in that situation, it is difficult to remember that most people are understanding of this and generally are sympathetic more than they are annoyed. I am so thankful for this lady for reminding me of this simple fact and for the others who were so understanding of my situation today.

20 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: Onion grass?

I have recently discovered a plant growing in our yard that I believe is onion grass. I am not positive this is what it is though, as it tastes like a mild garlic and not oniony at all. However, it looks like small green onions and that is how I have been using them. My research has shown that this is considered a weed in many places and it may well be, but in the meantime, we have been harvesting and using what we can. I bring in a few stems each day, wash them and slice them. I have not dug up the bulbs yet, but from what I read, I can slice those as well. I use the green stems to top baked potatoes and to mix into mashed potatoes, and all I can say is yum! The best part is that they impart a garlic flavor without having garlic-breath afterwards. Do any of you use onion grass for culinary purposes, and if so, please share how you use them?

16 April 2010

The Room

I recently received this post about Christ's Atonement from a Yahoo! group that I belong to and it touched my heart so deeply, I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy.

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read
"Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly
opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled At My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this
truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I Have Watched", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the
vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.

I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter
now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it.. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as
I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to
watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.

He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so
many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't
be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but
the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side.

He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."-Phil. 4:13 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

To learn more about my personal religious beliefs, click here. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and the love He has for all of us. To think of what He did for us, brings tears to my eyes every time.

15 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: the resilience of children

My sweet 3 year old daughter was dancing/twirling yesterday morning. When she stopped, she lost her balance and fell, hitting her ear/head on her sister's open dresser drawer. This resulted in a pierced ear, right through the top portion, and an abrasion on her scalp where the drawer came through her ear and scraped her head. She also has a strained trapezium (shoulder)muscle from how hard she hit. As she laid in my lap screaming, I applied a paper towel and an ice pack and called her doctor. They recommended a trip to the ER so I gathered up all 5 (we had a friend over at the time) and we headed off to my sister's house so she could watch the other 4 while my baby and I went to the hospital. The screaming had subsided after about 15 minutes, but she continued to apply the paper towel and the ice pack until we reached the ER.

As we sat in the waiting room, she was absolutely fine, except for the blood coming from her head and ear. While we were in triage, she inquired about the oxygen saturation meter (the little thing you put your finger in with the red light) and complied perfectly as they took her temperature and blood pressure. When they showed her the pain scale with a bunch of faces from a happy face (0 pain) to an extremely pained face (worst pain ever), they asked her to show them how she was feeling. Of course she picked the happy, smiling face and said she was feeling no pain. As they moved us to the exam room, she excitedly climbed into the hospital bed to wait and informed me she was big enough to sit in it by herself and pointed to a chair for me to sit in. So far, so good.

Then the doctor ( a med student) came in and touched her ear, she squeezed my hand in pain. Then he came in to clean it up enough to examine it and I sat on the bed next to her rubbing her back. She was so brave and strong, trying so hard not to cry out in pain. It broke my heart as I watched her little body quiver in pain and saw her fighting back the tears as she quietly sobbed. When he was done, she sat up and gave me a hug and then was fine again. She eventually fell asleep and remained asleep as the attending physician checked her ear. He decided that stitches would not be necessary, but that they would thoroughly clean the wound and then we could leave. A little later, a female doctor (not a med student, not an attending) came in to thoroughly clean the wound. My little princess was still asleep, but awoke as the doctor came in. This time she screamed the entire time as I am sure the pain was awful. She squeezed my hand and hugged her little stuffed bunny so tightly, but she stayed still as best she could. She continued screaming after the cleaning as I hugged her, but when the doctor came back with a red popsicle, she stopped crying all together ;) A few minutes later when they came in with her discharge papers, they asked her pain level and it was back to zero.

The events of yesterday were heart wrenching for me to experience, but the one who was truly in physical pain bounced back so quickly. Sure she has moments of pain, like if she tries to lay on that side of her head, but she has already pretty much put it behind her. I am so grateful that little ones are so resilient because this is one memory I would like to forget.

13 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: Drive-In Theaters

My husband surprised us on Friday night with a family date to Silver Lake Drive-In in nearby Perry. Going to the drive-in is a favorite pastime for us and one we all look forward to every summer. There are a few drive-in theaters within an hour drive from us, but Silver Lake has become our favorite. We love the playground area they have and the food they sell is reasonably priced and tastes good. As the weather warms up, they also have different activities each night of the week, including Chicken BBQs, Cruise Nights, Country Line Dancing, and karaoke. Miniature golf on an Old Western themed course opens this weekend. On top of all that, our family of 6 got to watch two newly released movies for the price it would cost my husband and I to go watch one in a regular theater. We also have the option of bringing our own snacks and food from home if we choose to, or need to based on our budget. We do not need to worry about our kids aggravating nearby patrons if they act up which is a relief to us parents with little ones. Silver Lake also has outdoor speakers, so if you choose and weather allows, you can bring blankets or chairs and sit on the lawn to watch the movies. We take the seats out of our van and set them up in front of the van so the kids can watch the movie while sitting outside. We also bring a wireless speaker in case we end up parking too far from the outdoor speakers. We just hook it up to our car radio and then set it out by the kids. I am thankful to have found a great drive-in theater. When we go to Silver Lake, it is more than just going to the movies, it is an experience and one that we enjoy, and can afford, doing on a regular basis.

08 April 2010

Today's Gratitude: Medications

I am not a person who enjoys taking medication and I often forgo it in favor of natural remedies or just toughing it out. Unfortunately, I have a few medical conditions that I absolutely need to take medication for and I am so grateful to have these medicines. I recently misplaced one of these medicines, the one for my thyroid, and have been without it for several days now. I did contact the pharmacy and will pick up another bottle tonight. Having been without it for a few days, I am beginning to feel the effects of not having it and that increases my gratitude. It has been several years since I started taking this medicine and I have enjoyed feeling "normal" with it. I cannot imagine being able to function without it and it is sad to know that there ARE people who go through life undiagnosed and without this, and other, necessary medications. I am thankful that I have not had to go without it and that I have always had either the means to get it myself or the resources to get it elsewhere, either from a clinic or straight from the manufacturer.

In our often over-medicated society, I am definitely thankful for the discovery of these necessary medications.