Monday, January 25, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Last week my daughter had to read a short story in her literature class.  It was titled The Stone in the Road.  It was a fictional story about a small country where many business men and farmers traveled along the same road.  One day a large stone was inconveniently located in the middle of this road.  As each person passed, they grumbled about the stone and criticized the king and their neighbors for not having a clear road safe for passage.

This continued for three weeks, until finally the king called a meeting of all his countrymen.  He had everyone gather on the road surrounding the quarrelsome stone.  He proceeded to chide each individual for complaining about the stone but doing nothing concerning it.  The king confessed to having placed the stone in the road himself; to see if his countrymen would act nobly and responsibly, or if they would behave like children fussing and complaining but doing nothing.

Sadly, the king had been disappointed.  For no one in his kingdom removed the stone.  He walked over to the monstrosity, lifted it up, placed it on the side of the road and knelt down  where the burden to all had once been.  Under the stone had been placed a small tin box.  On top of the tin was a note.  It read, "For him who lifts the stone."  Inside the box was a shimmering gold ring and twenty bright gold coins.  The king then said, "These were waiting for the man who would move the stone instead of finding fault with his neighbors."

When we finished reading the story I talked with Baby Girl to see if she understood what was meant by this.  We had a very in-depth conversation concerning responsibility (as in-depth as you can get with a 9 yr old girl who has a 2 minute attention span.)  Of course,  I walked away from the conversation feeling a bit of pride knowing that I would have removed the stone given the opportunity.  (Oh how naive I can be.  How foolish; how I open myself up and just beg to be taught humility.)

A few days later I was taking Studly to his friend's house to spend the afternoon hanging out.  (F.Y. I. Twelve year olds hang out, they don't play anymore.  Lesson learned.)  We were driving along the road and then it happened...  Knock Knock Knock  (That would be the sound of the opportunity I was looking for.)  Low and behold my O.C.D. eyes saw 'my stone' in the road; except it looked more like a large piece of wood.

And what did I do you ask?  What every other person traveling along the road did, I complained and kept on driving.  I saw the piece of wood and the thought that skipped through my mind was, "Now why doesn't somebody pick that thing up.  It is going to damage a vehicle or cause an accident."

Wow.  How humbling that was for me.  Just a few short days ago, I sat arrogantly in my dining room speaking confidently about responsibility and when faced with 'my stone' I did exactly the opposite.  I became the foolish irresponsible townsperson.  I chided myself for having been so proud.

On my way back, I pulled over to the side of the road and braved the oncoming traffic to remove the large piece of wood.  There was no tin box full of gold and beautiful rings under 'my stone' (unfortunately), but I was able to go home and look my daughter in the eye.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home Court Advantage

My husband complained (after reading my new post about Big Mike and resting) that I am no longer talking about our family; except in the context of being pet owners. I assured him that I saw our family as much more than that. But with home-schooling, taking care of the house, making dinner and supper, (supper is a southern term for a northerners 'dinner') running errands and now coaching my son's basketball team, I was posting rather simple texts and saving the more in depth ones for when I had a few "extra" moments to spare.

(Although, I will note that I have posted on my other blog a couple of times.)

As I mentioned, I am coaching my son's basketball team this year. It is my first expedition into this realm of his world. I've had a desire to coach his team for many years, but never the time. With our new family 'lifestyle' I am able to fulfill this dream (not quite sure he would label it as a dream fulfilled.)

The decision to coach his team was not one I took lightly. Since becoming home schooled this year, it would mean that I was not only his mother and his teacher, but I would be his coach as well. In trying to be the mother I have not had the opportunity to be for many years (due to work and school) I did not want to overwhelm or smother him with my presence in every aspect of his life. He is 12 and well... if you are a parent of a child entering this age, you understand that they are beginning to stretch their wings in search of their independence.

After several weeks of prayer and talking with family, friends and Studly, I decided to step into the adventure of coaching a 10 - 11 year old boys city league basketball team. (Yes I did type 10 - 11 yr olds. Studly's birthday is after the cut off date of Sept 1st so he had to remain with this age group.) But all of the hurdles were not "crossed" as of yet. Although I had the support of my son and family, I still had yet to meet 'the rest of the boys'.

I begged and pleaded and petitioned God not to administer any additional "tests" of my maximum level of patience with this team. If He could just find a way to give me a group of mild mannered young boys who would follow instructions (the first time) and work together as a team I would be ever so grateful! (And trust me...the boys would too. My red hair may be getting a bit lighter, but the attitude is still in full swing.)

Hallelujah! And Praise be to Jesus! He answered my prayer! I have held six practices to date and what a wonderful group of young men I have on my team. Perfect ball players, no. Perfect attitudes the whole time, almost! These young men are making my first coaching experience delightful and extremely entertaining.

My husband has pitched in during the practices and this has been a huge blessing as well. We are shaping up to have a good team; with definite potential of having a great team on the horizon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Much Needed Rest (I suppose)

It seems as if my family has decided to support the growth and development of the newest member of our household fully and completely. If he needs rest, they will rest. By golly, they will give this cat their all in all; no matter how many hours they must endure in slumber.

Day or night they will hold slumbering vigil over this young life. No spot too dangerous, (cept for the cat in this one) no couch left without drool.

Even grandma has taken up the call of duty. Of course, grandma remained alert. For she was not only "cat napping", but teaching pre-algebra as well.

Ahhhh, the hardships of raising such a precious new creation. I am so proud of my children for not relenting on their share of the duties. They have stood up to the task of making sure Big Mike gets peaceful sleep.

He is guarded well. He is kept safe from all awake and alert persons (mom) and sheltered in loving arms. What a tiresome duty it must be for them.

Sleep well my precious family! For I love you all dearly!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update on Big Mike... (from the dog's perspective)

Don't let those "innocent" eyes fool you. There is rascal in him yet. He will sit soaking in the sun, daydreaming and gazing ever so sweetly at the owners. I personally think the time spent in the sun is just to recharge his battery. I lay in the sun for warmth and comfort, but he has ulterior motives; pouncing, chasing and stalking.
He snuggles up next to 'my girl' while I am outside keeping the yard free from pesky squirrels. I swore an oath to protect my family from all predators, foreign and domestic, and I will not fail them. But, he just sleeps and eats and eats and sleeps in the comfort of the home that I help protect.
I, the faithful dog, who sits at attention when called. Who obeys commands and dutifully watches over my family.
It's one thing to have to put up with squirrels who mock me and try to invade my property, but it is quite another to be 'attacked' from within. This infant of a cat who does not understand the meaning of loyalty and duty. He runs all over the house chasing the Queen Jazz and I. One day he will have to grow up and learn to take on some responsibility around the house.
But in the mean time... I guess I can't be too hard on the little guy. He does have some endearing qualities about him. He reminds me of the joys of wrestling and playing chase. How much fun it can be to just let loose and enjoy life. In the end, the little fella is kinda growing on me. (In my defense, I was not aware that Big Mike had laid down next to me and that the owners would take this opportunity to snap a picture.)
P.S. Queen Jazz will have to give you her own opinion on him, as no one can speak for the Queen but the Queen herself.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

'Jeri Ward' Cake Recipe (as promised)

Here is the delicious recipe for 'Jeri Ward' cake that I promise will have your family begging for more!!!

Ingredients: For cake

2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tbsp cocoa
2 sticks margarin
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Then bring to a boil 4 tbsp of cocoa, 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of water in a medium size sauce pan. Pour the boiled sauce over the flour and sugar mixture and stir together until completely blended. In a separate small bowl, mix 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla and dash of salt. Combine the mixture in the small bowl with the mixture in the large bowl and beat together well. Pour mixture into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.

Ingredients: For icing

2 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp milk
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 box powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Five minutes before the cake is done begin combining the icing as follows: Bring to a boil in a large sauce pan 2 tbsp cocoa, 3 tbsp milk and 1/2 stick of margarine. Remove from stove immediately after being brought to a boil and add 1/2 box of powdered sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla. Beat until creamy. You need to ice the cake as soon as you remove it from the oven.

Please exercise caution after icing the cake! The smell can travel long distances and you may be attacked by starving family and friends.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Big Thank You

I feel as if I need to take a moment to say thank you to my grandparents. It wasn't until I was 18 years of age that I truly began to know and appreciate them. We lived in separate states during my youth, and since money was not overflowing for us, we only saw them every 3-4 years.

They always made sure to call each holiday and send birthday cards and gifts each year, but it's somehow not the same as having them around to attend ball games, graduations and see each other in the market place (known as Wal-Mart in my metropolis.) Thirteen years ago they made a decision to move into the same town as my parents and I. (My brother was still at home and my sister had already started her new life adventure in another sate.) That decision was difficult for them, but I believe extremely rewarding.

The rewards extend well beyond the borders of their home though. Where I grew up wondering what life would be like with extended family around, my children have been able to experience that blessing.

They are at every ball-game the kids play, every party celebrating another year, every dinner planned, every holiday activity, every school play and awards ceremony, plenty of phone calls to say hello and I still get the cards to go with each celebration throughout the year. And might I add, (if you hadn't already come to this conclusion yourself) that these are my kids Great Grandparents! What a treat it is for my kids and for me as well.

I take my hat off to you, GG and GPa (my Steelers hat of course) and say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the grandparents I have always needed and for truly being GREAT Grandparents to my children! You are loved and very much appreciated!

P.S. Might I add that my grandmother makes THE BEST 'Jerri Ward' cake anyone would ever have the privilege of letting their mouth water over. It is moist an oh so tasty! And she left the extra little bit at my house the last time she was here! Thank you, GG, for spoiling my family with that treat!

P.S.S. If you try to google the recipe for 'Jerri Ward' cake, I'm afraid your efforts will be in vain. The origin of the cake name comes from a neighbor my grandmother had years ago that gave her the recipe for this fine, delicious, sweet treat. I extend to you my sincerest apologies and promise to post the recipe at a later date.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Farewell to 2009

2009 brought numerous changes to our household and the way we have always viewed and orchestrated our family. I sat in my master suite this morning (which just underwent yet another re-arranging) looking back on the past year and how totally flabbergasted I am at how different my world looks. (No, my sky is not purple and yes, the grass is still green.) You might ask, "Why do you think the changes are so drastic that it 'flabbergasts' you?" Well, I shall walk you down a quick, yet very eventful journey, of the last 12 months in my life.

It all began many many moons ago (okay just a lil over one year) but it feels as if eons have passed since this morphing began. If you would have told me at the time all of the changes that my life would hold, I would have laughed quite loudly and thought you a fool.

Let me list all of the major changes in the last 12 months for you: 1. We left institutional church (this is quite a big thing for us since my husband has been extremely involved in "ministry" ever since he was a teenager) 2. I am homeschooling my kids for the first time 3. I quit my job/career in health care 5 months after achieving another registry in my field (which had given us a substantial increase in income) 4. We made a decision to pick up our family, sell our home and move out of state (we have not moved as of yet, but it is in the works) 5. My husband just quit his job of 6 years to begin a new career with New York Life Insurance (and so therefore is working from home.)

To some of you, this may not seem extremely drastic, but for us it is substantially different. For starters, we are all at home together (ladies can I get a yikes). This is quite the opposite of what we used to endure. We used to see each other in passing, and though I thought I knew my children, I was very naive (try spending all day everyday with a 12 and 9 year old.) I have to say, I LOVE THE CHANGES!!!

Yes, I know I was just shouting at you through the computer, but let me shout it again... I LOVE THE CHANGES!!! Let my voice be heard throughout the far reaches of the internet and around the world that I love being home with my family and being wrapped up in every atom of their world!

I love that I crave a few minutes of alone time away from my kids, rather than aching just to see their faces. I love that my husband and I are becoming the best of friends where before we had just been business partners raising future adults. I love that I know every detail of what is going on in my kids lives rather than reading about it through texts or hearing about it from other parents and friends. I love that I have to be creative with recipes for dinner and supper because I AM making their meals for them each day. I love that we sometimes run out of things to say, so we start quoting favorite movie lines trying to make each other laugh.

I could go on for hours about all of the positive things that are developing from these changes. Are there difficult days? Of course. Are there days that we all wish we had separate houses and not just separate rooms? Yes. But I would not trade a moment of it to return to what once was.

Our God is truly good and I give Him all of the praise and glory for what is developing in our family! He knew, better than we, what we needed. And when we finally started truly listening to Him and making Him the head of our hearts and our home, that is when the blessings began flowing in. As a parent I want what is best for my children, (as I have stated in this blog many times) so how much more does our heavenly father want what is best for us?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back at It

If you read my blog regularly, then I'm sure you've noticed that I took a bit of a 'vacation' per say from posting. I needed my Christmas break just as much as my kids needed theirs. I am well rested now and ready to get back to the daily grind. I have so many things to share with you! So please, stop back by and find out what has been going on in my household!