Thursday, January 31, 2013

Finally, a place of his own

My husband is the most diligent, conscientious employee I've ever known. He has had the same job (with a couple of different companies), for the past 27 years. I appreciate and admire his dedication, but sometimes that dedication to work and my dedication to providing a fun environment for our kids, clashes.

I do recognize that without his work ethic, I wouldn't be able to be home and with the kids. I know that he's successful because of his placing his work as a priority. But, when our home has had to double as an office, there have been problems. Not many construction equipment offices have children playing, singing, arguing, laughing etc. in the background.

Things got a little easier when we moved to this house. At least we have a bonus room where he can sequester himself to work and use the phone. At the other house, he was in the dining room without any doors. Our older kids still remember trying to be quiet. Anna even says she was worried that Dad would loose his job if whoever was calling him found out that kids were there.

Now he has a place of his own! After 27 years, he has a real office. He invited us over to check out his new digs. We ate lunch and he gave us an official tour.

It's been a few weeks of not having him work at home. He's able to get so much more work done, and they kids are free to roam and be loud.

That's great, but you know what???  Even after all the complaining I did, I really miss having him around the house!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Grandaddy of all woodworkers...

I never realized how high trampolines are off of the ground, but on Christmas morning, it was evident we needed some steps to help the kids get on and off of the trampoline.

I mentioned the need when I saw my Dad on Christmas day. He did his usual hem and hawing about getting to it someday, stating that he needed to recuperate from all the wooden gifts he made for Christmas. Everyone in our family always gets some type of wooden object made by Dad. This year it was owl trivets. It's always a treat to see what he's created for us each year. He's quite talented, if I do say so. But, whenever I ask for something, such as a dresser, shelves or the aforementioned stairs, he poo-poos it and says he's not sure if he can do it. Then, poof! Very quickly, whatever I ask for is done and done very well.

My Mom came to go see Les Miserables with Beth, Anna and me. When Mom and Dad got here, I mentioned that Daddy could go to the movie with us, if he wanted. I was then informed that he was prepared to build the stairs right then and there, only three days after I'd asked him!

By the time the sun went down that day, my kids had a way to get up and down and a place within the steps to put their shoes.

My Dad's pretty amazing! I'm so very grateful for him!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christmas # 2

Although it wasn't very much fun not having Beth and Greg with us on Christmas Day, it was kind of neat to have something to combat that let down feeling I usually have after Christmas. I knew that the day after Christmas, Beth would come. I still had that fun, expectant feeling, knowing there was more excitement to come.

It was a close call, because of snow in Maryland, where they were visiting Greg's parents. She almost didn't make it. But, she did and we were so thrilled to see her and Bella.(Greg stayed and visited with his parents).

It was a whirlwind visit, we had a week's worth of activities to fit into 4 days. We did get most of it accomplished. We got to visit John, Jr in Wilmington, had a girls' night out with my Mom and Anna to see Les Miserables, visited with some of Beth's high school friends and of course lots of play time with the little ones on the new trampoline.

Look at the glee on Abbey's face. She adores her sisters.

 All too quickly, it was time for Beth to head back north, and Christmas was truly over..bummer!

But, I'm so thankful for all the memories we were able to make and discussions we were able to have. I'm thankful for my son in law who recognizes how much it means to us to be able to see Beth. We missed him, but I understand completely and am just grateful that he's ok with sharing her a little with us. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Spicy Tradition

We have some wonderful Christmas traditions at our house. They were deliberately chosen and carried on throughout the years. This year, I was informed we had a new tradition. One that I can't remember why we would continue or even start in the first place. Well, that's not entirely true. I do know why it happened this word...testosterone! As I said earlier, my big girls couldn't come to our Christmas Eve celebrations, so the testosterone was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

This new spicy tradition takes place during our pig out time. I've always had Summer Sausage and horseradish sauce, along with cheese and cocktail bread. This year I was told that we had a new tradition which involved huge dollops of pure horseradish on sausage being ingested and then making ridiculous faces as you try to appear normal while your sinuses are being singed with the fiery root.

At first, I refused to succumb to such shenanigans. I'm not one to enjoy pain, especially pain that invokes mirth in my observers. But....when Abbey wanted to participate, (despite my warnings), well, I couldn't take the peer pressure exerted by a 6 year old. (It must be noted that they went easy on our little dare devil. She only had a tiny drop)

I tried to warn her!!

I must admit it did elicit some hilarious faces.

First comes the slight burn

Then all of your sinus cavities swing wide open

You close your eyes to keep the tears from flowing.
The big one himself reacts
Strange sort of glee??

Tear filled eyes

 So, if you can't stop them or impart sense to them, you might as well join them.

Ok, Ok, I know..I'm a wimp!

Elijah, wise little man, sticks to cheese.

"They are all crazy, every one of them!!!" Observes Layla.
So, next year my girls will be with us. We've got to come up with a new tradition that will tame the macho rites of this year!  Any suggestions??

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Teaching compassion in a crooked world

   He approached me while I was turned around putting the kids in the car. Darn! I always try to get into the car before a panhandler has a chance to corner me. I wasn't fast enough this time. He began his story...
"Sorry to bother you Ma'am, but my wife and I have been living in our car. We just need money for some gas to get to our home..." That was his story. I've heard lots of them...
"I got stranded  and need money for a bus ticket."
"My son's in the hospital and I need money so I can pay and they will let him go home."
"I'm hungry and need money for food"

The last one is my favorite, because I will buy someone food. But I will not give them money! I've offered to get food many times and every single time the person either declined my help or was not there when I got out of the store. I've also sat in my car and watched a man very deliberately pick and choose who he would solicit. He would let certain genders and races walk right past him, but let one of his targets get within a few feet and he zoomed in like a homing pigeon bound for home. 

Many years ago I was approached while Anna, then around age 9 or 10,  was with me. I bought the man a sandwich and a drink. When I got out of the store, he was passed out on the grass beside the parking lot. Anna began to hysterically yell, "He's dead, Mom! He's dead. He died from starvation!" To which I responded by showing her that his chest was rising and falling, so he wasn't dead. I had another errand to run and just to be diligent, I went back to see if the man was still there. I imagine I made a funny sight. I stood over the passed out man and timidly said, "Excuse me. excuse me..." But, to no avail, he wasn't budging. So, John, Jr. had a tasty sub sandwich and a drink. One time a man literally walked away from me as I was talking, when I offered to buy him something to eat.  No words of explanation just a " to the backside, lady, you're not worth my time".

I want to be the hands and feet of Christ, I really do. But, I also want to be a good steward to God and the money he gives us through my husband's hard work. I don't think it's fair that someone can lie and get paid for it. I also don't think it's fair that someone can make six figures by begging; relying on someone else's generous naivete.

Another thorn in my flesh regarding this issue is my kids, and the fact that they are almost always with me, and they are definitely always watching what I do and listening to what I say. For example today in church, Abbey made a toy telephone. On the way home, she announced, "I'm not talking to them they just want my money!" John looked at me for an explanation. I laughingly told him that I totally resemble that remark. Countless number of times I've looked at caller id on our phone and said, "I don't want to talk to them, they just want my money." So, I'm very cognizant of the fact that I'm being watched and sometimes even copied.

I want them to point others to Christ. I want them to know the satisfaction that comes from helping others.  I don't want them to be jaded and uncompassionate to those that are less fortunate. But, I also don't want them to be "taken" by every charlatan on every street corner.

So I have a dilemma.

My policy on buying someone food is my attempt to walk this road steadily. God tells me to feed the hungry, so I want to help those that are truly hungry. It's very hard to explain to my little ones why I don't give them money, without sounding pious and uncaring. I gently try to tell them the wicked facts that a lot of people aren't honest, while trying to not make my little ones less compassionate and jaded.

So...there's my predicament. Even the scripture isn't clear with directions...

If you mistreat the poor, you insult your Creator" — Proverbs 14:31, 

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. Proverbs 12:11

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

I have no solution to the quandary of how to be compassionate in a devious world.  The only thing I know to do is to pray and ask God for discernment and continue to offer food to those who say they are hungry.

Maybe, just maybe, one day someone might actually be as they claim! 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas Eve-Santa's Elves were busy

Christmas Eve was a construction day at our house. Abbey and Elijah got a trampoline for Christmas. We decided to go ahead and show them on Christmas Eve, so it could be put together and they could enjoy it on Christmas Day.

When saw it for the first time.

Santa had two strapping elves help with the construction. They started mid-morning.

They worked all day, took a break to go to the Christmas Eve service at church and then set up a spot light to continue working after dark.

 No matter whether it was dark or not, Abbey and Elijah got to try it out.

Then we carried on with our Christmas Eve traditions.

A walk around the neighborhood to see the luminaries.

Caroling and Bible reading, followed by family presents.

Then Christmas junk food pig out time.

Abbey and I suffered from ultra testosterone exposure, and would have loved to had our two girls present, but we really did have fun with the boys! John absolutely had a blast working with his big boys!

Later that evening, after watching a gory, boy-flick, the guys had one more thing to put together. A parking garage/race track for Elijah.

As I went to bed, John and Daniel were playing with Elijah's new track. They said they had to check it out thoroughly to make sure it worked. (Hmmmm, ok, if you say so??)

The big day was about here and the "D" household was ready!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas 2012~Welcome to the D. Family Hilton

...or more appropriately less fancy the D. Family Red Roof Inn or Motel 6!

Christmas this year was a succession of comings and goings. Our big kids came in a few days at a time. There was a steady stream from Dec. 21 until Dec. 29.

The first one to come in was Daniel.

He was only able to stay until Dec. 27th. He had to go back to Wilmington to begin his major winter training. They train in Wilmington for a few days, then it's off to sunny Florida. At least they hope it will be sunny because they train in an outdoor pool there.

Next came John, Jr.

He was supposed to stay until the 26th, but got called into work and had to leave the 25th.

Anna and Jamie were here on Christmas Day and sporadically throughout the holiday.

They brought their furry little reindeer, Rocko.

Lastly, Beth and her dog, Bella, came on the 26th. She had to come later in the day because it was snowing at Greg's parent's house, where they were visiting.

She had to leave on the 29th.

So the door was busy revolving for a week or so. I'm not complaining, though. I'll take how ever long I can get them. The little ones got some special time with each of their older siblings.

My lovelies!

It was nice to have them all together for a couple of hours when we took Daniel to school in Wilmington, where  we met up with John and Sharon.

I finally got to see where John lives.

We walked to downtown Wilmington and shared a meal together.

Ignore the vampire eyes. As par for the course, I didn't have my camera and had to use my phone's camera.
Abbey and Elijah were bummed every time someone left. Many times they would call the roll and state who was present and who was missing. They loved having their family together.

Official Christmas Picture

I'm so grateful that they have each other!