Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Antics from the Football Field

He is holding the 100th water bottle for this season; leaves them at the field most evenings

Last Saturday I saw one of Porter's personal "top 10 things that have happened in my life" moments (remember, he's only 8).

Porter 'recovered a fumble.'

Let me explain how it all went down, so you can smile on the inside like I do whenever he retells the story;

1. Porter, one of the team's smallest players, is put in a defensive position at the very end of the line (I have no idea what this position is called). He goes out, stands like 15 feet away from his nearest team mate, and waits for the other team to snap the ball.

2. His next job is to plow over the kid on the other team who is standing across from him (don't know what that offensive position is called either). Porter tenaciously goes to work on this task. The opposing player decides to go around Porter-and both players are happy.

3. Porter, having 'gone through' the other team's guy, sees that the QB has been tackled-and like manna from heaven, the ball distills itself on the dew of the football field.

4. Porter is the first one to it-no one is paying attention to this little guy-and I see his hands open just slightly as if to gesture to himself 'come to Papa Mr. Football'.

5. Porter tackles the football. He winds himself around it, tightening into such a fetal position so as to never let it see the light of day. The referees blow their whistle, the fumble has been recovered by the defense-by Porter.

6. Porter jumps to his feet. Having played his part successfully, he leaps high into the air, and sends his fists before him. He screams "I did that-YAAAA! I did that!"


7. Coaches yell 'great job Graham!' and Porter starts pounding his chest. I think he was looking for a teammate to chest bump, but they were busy cheering for the guy who tackled the quarterback.

Whatever the blessed circumstance, Porter feels he has made a contribution to the win. And this week, to validate that idea even further in his mind, they made him "team captain" (a rotating job that travels from boy to boy all season so everyone gets a turn to call the coin toss).

Porter thinks this is his week 'because I got that fumble'. I think Porter feels good about himself.

and that is all that matters.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I am her mother

Lucy crashes most afternoons on the couch in the den...

I've thought for some time to share a moment with you that I experienced a long time ago. Way back when we lived in Idaho (that seems like forever from our life now) and when we were thinking of adopting. The story of our adoptions is long and has exciting twists and turns-surprises, suspense. Laughter and tears. This is one moment of that crazy magnificent story.

I had known for some time that it was time to find Lucy. I had felt impressions that I could not deny. I had wanted so much for John to feel the same. He trusted me, and he encouraged me-but this wasn't an experience that would be only for me, and I desired greatly that he receive a portion of the revelatory thoughts, feelings, dreams and whispers that were then part of my daily life regarding the need to find a dark haired, fair skinned, ebony eyed girl and make her one of ours.

I prayed God would give John the ability to feel the texture of our little girl's hair. I knew its fine corn silk softness though I had never touched it. I wanted John to know the depth of her eyes-the deepest and most full dark color that I had ever peered into, though I had never seen them. I cried for him to know her as I had come to know her. And I felt such confusion and frustration that all he could do was trust.

One day as I was talking to my mother on the phone I was describing my emotional longing. She listened patiently. I paced around the house as I expressed this sincere desire that "John could know her the way I do." I thought it would make sense that he, being her father, was entitled to the same revelation about her that I had been given (unsolicited I might add). And as I spoke to my mother I cried.

"Why doesn't God show her to John?"
"Why does he leave this to me?"

in my expression and question I felt a quiet and yet an undeniable answer come; it came through my heart, and it permeated my soul

"Because you are her mother".

In that moment, with that thought, I felt something I had never experienced before and have not had the privilege of knowing, really, since. It was power. It was power to do for another what she could not do for herself. It wasn't just peace, though peace was there. It wasn't understanding, though that had become sure. It was power-and I knew in that moment who I was in all of the eternities.

I am a mother.

And with my motherhood I have been granted power. Not power over those I rear, but power to aid them on their way. Power to call down from Heaven help for the sake of my own. Power to hang on when they choose to make choices I wouldn't . Power to trust that all of the heavens look down on them (and me) to get us home safe, if we will come.

I knew what I knew about Lucy because I am her mother.

Do you know the power of your motherhood? The conduit of pure inspiration that is available to you for the sake of those whom you rear? In this world where "experts" and friends and family have opinions about how we should raise our little ones, I encourage you to experience the reality that is the power of your mothering heart. To call to the heavens for help. To sincerely want what God wants for your children. To set aside what the world says you should say or do or be as a parent and seek out what God wants you to be-for the children He's asked you to mother.

In so doing you'll feel this power. It is quiet but it is sure. It is patience when anger is justified. It is calm when the household is chaos. It is inspiration when you don't know what to do or what to say. It is the ability to forgive when we are hurt by those we love, and the beauty of trust in a God who watches over them when we cannot. I know this power is real. I have experienced it in my motherhood. It is for any woman with a mothering heart who thinks of her children before herself.

It is for you, and it is for me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Thoughts

Friday is the only day of the week for "screens" so computer, TV upstairs and TV Down are all busy from the minute school gets out until dinner, sometimes after

Porter and a friend play video games until their eyeballs pop out. Screens on weekends only was a tradition begun 12 years ago. I believe its helped us raise better readers and better all around students, but I will admit I like the quiet distraction of screen days for some time to get things done

The kids are all home, watching TV and doing their "Friday Thing". The oldest have found friends to be with, the youngest have each other.

I will write this post and then go read the scriptures. I've been working hard to find time in each day to be quiet and listen to the thoughts and feelings that come. I think the crazy schedule of my daily routines is balanced with these few minutes of peace for my soul.

Then I will de-junk my little desk on the landing. It is cluttered with carpool schedules, school papers, coupons, catalogs, and the like. Taking something that is chaos and making order of it brings satisfaction to my psyche.

This afternoon I'll drive kids to birthday parties and "late nights". John is away having fun (for once). Seeing some big football team play in Arkansas. I miss him already-but he needs to have a turn once in a while to relax.

Tomorrow will be busy. I wanted to start the day with a bike ride, but the mornings have grown too dark for the hour when I wake. Instead it will be yoga, stretching and weight training. I'm trying to recover from some long time aches and pains, trying to take care of my body not just from the measurement of inches in my waist (though dropping a pant size by Thanksgiving is one of my goals!) but in terms of what I feed it (food as well as thought) and taking care of things like my skin and my muscle tone rather than trying to cover those things up with a new fall something from one of the catalogs on my desk...

Hope your weekend is wonderful. Mine will be very full and busy, and a little lonely without John. But the sun is shining, the patio is clean and I can sit and breath the fresh air in between football games, soccer games and my own evening events.

See you back here Monday...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The past as it helps me real time

My inner cheerleader is satisfied...

22 years ago I was a member of the High School Pep Club.
Among other important responsibilities like doing a Highland scottish jig at halftime with my fellow pep-clubbers at Homecoming and marching in lines with high knees and tassles on our perfectly white socks (Highland=The SCOTTISH Highlands), we were assigned certain athletes whom we would encourage through the decorating of lockers and front porches (and automobiles). Always the "pepping" included clever sayings and foods that would spur our beloved athletes onto certain victory.

Who knew that was a preparation for my future mothering?

Porter and I just finished creating "team spirit reminders" for his little league football team.

"Roll over Riverton"! with tootsie rolls, salted nut rolls and fruit rolls in the mix.

Yes, I did say this was for Little League Football.

(sarcasm is dripping from that last sentence.)

Even so, my boy feels loved.

(no sarcasm in that sentence at all).
Go Olympus!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time To Fall...

Its time to Fall into all things Autumn here at the Spruces. Tell tale signs that the blustery season is upon us are;

We've had our school's walk-a-thon. We pay lots of money for fair food and face paint. And then the kids get to have an Art Teacher and a Music Teacher and a Gym teacher - we try to focus on the community building part of the event instead of the fact that these teachers were "in house" at our school in Dallas ;)

We are up to our elbows in Pears. They fall from the tree faster than we can harvest. We have bottled and are dehydrated. Pear tart with almond is on the menu for the first weekend that John is home again.

And our tired, dried up summer blooming pots have been refreshed with fall color and incredible variety. Sister Jess was the brains and the expertise behind the face lift. Check out her blog at DIG for great tips on how to make yours look just like mine :)

soon we will rake leaves, cut back the garden and put on our cardigans. I've always said I love "sweater weather"; now its officially here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Really Trying to Get It...

We are keeping a budget.
It is great that there is enough for us to pay our mortgage, eat (even eat out sometimes) and buy Sunday shoes when the kids grow out of theres.
We are very blessed. Sufficient for our needs, and then some to boot (I say this because we have been on two trips in the last 6 months; more travel than 90% of the world's population will enjoy in their entire lifetime).

So, why do I feel "squeezed"?

Though I know we are very blessed, I look at our "bottom line" and wonder why it can't provide "extras" like a Spruces update to heighten basement ceilings and whiten kitchen cupboards.

I don't need those things right now, but there is this unfair idea of mine that if I save up, if I go without some stuff (J.Crew's Fall Lineup, for one) that at some future date (read; before our oldest leaves the nest) there will be "more and to spare" for such projects.

savings=sacrifice for me.
sacrifice=reward! for me.

but sometimes it isn't so. Sometimes its got to be that the sacrifice and the savings are done for their own sake, and not with the anticipation of some kind of reward.

I'm really trying to get this. Really trying hard.

How do you smile under budget? How do you posture your perspective so that financial matters don't matter too much? How do you choose to be happy with the blessings, and steer clear away from the abstract wants that can distract and detract from the goodness of the comfort of the life you live?

Have a wonderful Monday. Mine is full of thoughts like these. Hope your thoughts are happy and good!

Friday, September 17, 2010

While you are Half a World Away...part IV

so glad you are home

Dear John,
I can't tell you the butterflies that overcame me this morning when you texted that you were in L.A.; our hemisphere! Thank goodness, I can talk to you 'real time' and not communicate every emotion through writing. The sound of your voice is so good for my soul.

It was fun to see Lucy run into you arms when I brought her home from preschool and you were here to greet her (and me). Thank you for the tender kiss. And thank you for sending me off again-to enjoy time with good women eating good food. That luncheon was so enjoyable for me; such a treat to rub shoulders with women of substance, women who choose to be good. You could have asked me to stay home with you, but you recognize that its time for me to grow some friendships in this part of the world we live in.

Now you are off nursing Brynley's heart; helping her feel secure and happy by spending time with you. Hours on the ground at home and you are mending, repairing (literally repairing the bed that was broken!) the little bumps and bruises that come with tennager-ing. So good to our children, and to me-it is relief and rejoicing that you are home.

just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you. Thank you for coming home safe, and for coming home as soon as you could.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

While you are Half a World Away...part III

scouts started today. Porter was too excited to actually do any scouting!

the family dumping ground; our Swedish bench in the kitchen. Right in the line of sight of the Spruce's Front Door.
Dear John,

Yesterday afternoon was our first scout meeting. You would think four 8 year old boys would be pretty manageable with two adults to instruct them. Think again, my friend. Those boys had us running in circles for nearly the hour we had them. Add to that our daughters, who, seeing I was occupied and everything, decided that what they did and saw at school that day was vitally important to share right was a hair raising hour for me.

I'm pretty over the top fed up with the kids using the Swedish bench in the kitchen as the dumping pad. Its always full of their school and sports equipment, and various clothes and even shoes. They walk in the front door when they get home from school and practice and go straight to the kitchen to find me. Remembering their bodies are LOADED down, they see the bench and (!) unload. Then every person who comes to the door; parents picking up for carpool, salesmen who want me to listen, or friends who want our kids, witness clutter and mess instead of domestic calm and organization. It has made me want to design a mudroom to be made from the covered porch. I have idea after idea scurrying through my head but the reality of our budget looms larger, and instead I think I just need to change the garage code so they'll come in through the garage.

and it would help if we parked the car in there-because then when we get home from somewhere they'd get out of the car and come in through the back door, and at least they'd do their dumping somewhere else...and to park the car there we might have to sell some things, which would help the budget...good news all around (!)

Today you are flying back, but it will take so many hours from where you are that we won't get to see you til tomorrow. I'm tired from texting with you until midnight my time (it was breakfast time for you, no fair). I have to drive extra carpools today so other mothers can go to cooking classes and on day trips so I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. Maybe I'll take a nap-or maybe Lucy and I will go to lunch (I need a reason to take a shower and get ready for the day)

Its that time in your travel schedule when we are all feeling a little stressed and a lot lonely. Brynley began to cry last night for you-wanting to know when you won't travel so much. Mason wants to email and facebook you every five minutes to make sure you're safe (and to have an excuse to see if his friend status has changed) and Porter was mad that no one made it to see his football scrimmage last night. I want a good night's sleep and a reason to get up and work out again. No motivation to go to bed. No motivation to keep the halloween oreos out of my mouth and no motivation to go to the gym or work to keep my body from turning into a marshmallow. As you can see, our spirits are low.

But today will be beautiful outside, and I will go water the garden and think of you. Its time to finish the 4 loads of laundry, and to make bruchette for tomorrow. I will take Lucy for a walk in the stroller, and we'll have dinner and bath night and bedtime. Tomorrow will come, and it will be happy because you'll come home safe (and soon) to us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As You are Half a World Away...part II

Grandpa and Lucy enjoy breakfast at school

Khilola's delicious Russian cooking

Dear John,

Today has been full of feasts of one kind or another. The school had their annual "Pops and Pancakes". As you-Pop-were sleeping on your flight from Singapore to Australia, the kids' thought it would be cool if Grandpop could come instead. Daddy met us at school for McDonald's pancakes and really gross eggs. He had been up in the night because of a flooded basement (I can so relate) but he was great to come, and he wanted to come because the kids wanted him to be there if they couldn't have you.

Next I spent time with Khilola-helping her figure out preschool registration papers. It was a feast for my heart to enjoy time in her home. This humble Russian refugee, Khilola is a dedicated mother and dutiful daughter in law. A few times while I was there she excused herself to tend to her husband's mother-who is seriously ill with diabetes and high blood pressure. Having no parents or sisters of her own in this land, Khilola has shown great love and loyalty in her duties as a wife and daughter. Her children are so carefully tended to. She wants the best for them, that's why she and I went to 3 or 4 different preschools before she chose where she would send her them. Her questions to the teachers are well thought through and always show her intention to care for and nurture her two little twins.

Then, as usual, she fed me. Using their meager means, she whipped up a chocolate cake and something that tastes like Nan but is stuffed with meats and onion. Delicious-not so good for my wasteline, but a feast because she who had little, gave all.

Off to the Jr. High for me next, as Bryn hasn't managed to get her lunch made even one day this week-or most days since school started really. Her spirit is willing, but that flesh wants to stay in bed each morning! No morning chores for her these days. After checking her hair 10 times in the mirror and changing her clothes once or twice the carpool is here to take her away and she often goes very hungry. So, today, I had Great Harvest whip up an irresistable lunch for her, complete with chips and chocolate milk. It made it to school just in time for the lunch bell. I hope it was a feast for stomach and heart. I want her to know I love her.

Now I am cleaning the kitchen and thinking constantly of you. By the time you are home Khilola's cake will be gone, it takes too long for you to fly back to us. I hope your taste of Australia wets the appetite to return another time with me. I want to see the places my daddy always told me about from the time he lived half a world away, long ago.

I love you, come home safe and soon-

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

As You are Half a World Away...

We sing Happy Birthday to your very happy brother

The fruits of our labor; bottled pears from the trees at the Spruces

Dear John,

I've missed you so much this trip. Maybe its because you are so far away this time. Maybe its more practical; We have two parent meetings at the same time on Thursday night, and this week there is only one parent at home. Maybe its just because when you are around I feel safe and grounded. I think more clearly knowing someone's got my back. I sleep more soundly. I smile more often.

Yesterday we canned pears from the trees. Most of our harvest is still too green to bottle, so we'll do it again on Friday after the golden beauties have ripened a bit. Jody is amazing when it comes to these domestic duties. I know all the fruit would rot on the tree if it were left up to me...I have no affection for the mess of canning. But it feels very "vintage" to spend a day peeling fruit and visiting with my sisters. Like something we would have done all the time had we been sisters who raised our family with "Leave it to Beaver" living down the street.

some of my neighborhood friends think I am the Beaver's mom. Not because one of our kids looks or acts like the Beav...but because I wear aprons every where I go and sometimes sport my pearls and a skirt. That wasn't my look today; I was in work out clothes with sweaty hair from the time I woke up until just before bed. No shower because I moved from one project to the next with people needing this or that-its probably o.k. that you're not in our bed tonight because I was stinky from the morning's work out.

Dean's birthday party was fun. I took your advice, and was the first person to kick the soccer ball. Molly squealed (her LOUD squeal) every time the ball came her way. She kept backing up to kick it and Madi kept trying to show her what a bad idea that was ('see? if you back up I can come and take it THIS!'). My favorite part of the entire weekend (besides sitting at dessert with you on Saturday) was watching Brynley and Madi play with a little toddler at the park. His Spanish speaking parents were there, and the girls kept rolling the soccer ball to him and smiling and giggling with him. It does my heart such good to see our children showing compassion to others. Like a reminder "this is why you do what you do every day of your life".

Now the house is quiet while Lucy plays with Vera and the others are away at school. I'm doing laundry and thinking of you. This afternoon it will get crazy again; swimming, piano, football and soccer-not to mention we take dinner the the neighbors tonight (but I'm super happy about that so no complaints!).

Just wanted to tell you I love you. Come home safe and soon.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lucy and I are Home

Lucy has fun on a hike with our family, July 2010

This Week Molly began "all day school". That means I am now a mother with one child at home during the day (and she goes to school a couple of hours three times each week).

A mother I know asked the other day how Lucy would do at home without siblings to entertain her.

I told her she'd do just fine.

Lucy says to me, when we are changing the laundry,"well I guess we're having fun!"
Lucy says to me, as she splashes in the kitchen sink while I do the dishes, "thanks mom for the fun!"

At a time in my life when my other children remind me, pretty constantly, that I am NOT fun and that I do not know HOW to HAVE fun, it is nice to spend much of my time with a child who feels the NOT FUN things I have to do are actually a blast.

Lucy and I will do just fine.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


She is so much more than a little 12 year old. But sometimes I reduce her to nothing

Tonight I approached Brynley to lay down the law that she needed to practice her piano before she went to play with her friends. She hasn't gotten her practice time in since basically the beginning of school. Somehow this very organized young lady has started getting up earlier each morning and accomplishing less before she heads off (more time deciding which plain colored t-shirt to put with which pair of tan or navy pants that the dress code allows...).

My words began as a little trickle. Just letting her know that we expect her to do what she needs to do before she does what she wants to do (she was in that moment weaving a new back pack out of ribbon). But the words had a life of their own. Suddenly they were tumbling out of my mouth, and I couldn't pull them back in to me. She was hearing how she has a pretty easy life, and that not that much is expected of her...

but that really isn't true. The first part is true, but we really expect a lot.

And here is the thing; I feel guilty that I expect a lot. Sometimes I feel I am neglectful or abusive because I expect my kids to make their own lunches and beds. Because I expect them to pick up the belongings we have provided for them (ie. clothes, shoes, dance wear, bicycles, books and books and books. Oh, and ribbon woven back packs).

"Other kids at school say; 'my mom forgot to put homemade cookies in my lunch today'. and I think to myself 'my mom doesn't make our lunches. And I made the last batch of cookies'. "

'Ouch Ouch Ouch!' says I.

What am I doing all day, and not making cookies for my kids or packing their lunches with a twinkle in my eye and love in every bite?

I'm teaching them how to do it for themselves. And let me tell you; it takes longer to teach than to just do it for them...

But I still feel guilty about that. And Bryn (and her other siblings) feel that I am the wicked step mother instead of the fairy god mother.

and I'd rather be the sweet happy fairy than the stern ugly mean one with holds all of lifes' goodness and can't have a song on her lips as she whistles while she makes her little children work.

But I digress, back to the words that came tumbling out of my mouth.

as these uninvited words are spilling out over my child she begins to cry, to weep. Somewhat in self pity and mostly in PAIN. My words are inflicting pain. They are not bringing appreciation and respect. They are not bearing testimony of the goodness of motherhood. They are only being hurtful and now they are said

like an avalanche that started with just a tiny snowball and now entire mountainsides are destroyed for all the damage that's been done.

I tried to patch things up. to find her breathing somewhere in the aftermath; buried by the frigid heart that spewed unappreciative phrases at the child who is becoming a woman. That child who used to hang on my every word for her very happiness. And that child who is now buried in the ugliness of the avalanche of words that just started with "please play your piano..."

Sometimes i don't deserve this job. and all I can do is pick up the shovel and try to clear away all the damage.