Dec 29, 2008

Christmas Carols

12/29/2008 — cori
This year, you couldn't sit down to eat at our house unless you were dressed up like a Christmas carol and could sing it. It's no wonder nobody came to join us for Christmas. I think more effort went into those silly costumes than the actual turkey dinner. The kids had been begging me to play Christmas carols for the past several weeks in order to learn the words better. I think they listened hard because this is what they came as:
"Rudolf the red-nose reindeer, had a very shiny nose...and if you ever saw her, you would even say it glows...." (Rudolf is a bit grumpy in this shot)

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day...." (hint: he's not a merry gentleman, nor is he in dismay) Think: ...God...(with a winnie the pooh blanket/cape resting upon his shoulders - at least it's purple which represents royalty.)
"Away in a manger no room for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head..." (I don't know how he technically got away with this as his costume since he wasn't actually wearing the manger. But he did have his arms through the slats and he won lots of points for creativity. And no...we didn't make him eat with the manger still on his arms.)

"Ooohhh....star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright. Westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to Thy perfect light." Just for the record, I did not steal the star off our Christmas tree. We seem to have several stars (I guess I keep losing them from year to year), so we had several extra lying around). And yes...it was very heavy. I think Cher might have worn an outfit like this at one time.

"Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches..." This picture speaks for itself. Could the tree look any gaudier? Too bad we didn't have any tinsel.

I can't believe we've actually kept this tradition rolling for a whole year now. I imagine we might be running out of 'themes' to dress up as. If anyone has any ideas...please let me know. The creativity is slowly being sapped out of my brain. Pretty soon, dress up for dinner night might be what the author originally intended and we might just have to wear dresses and suits to the dinner table (how boring would that be?!)

Dec 26, 2008

Playing Church

12/26/2008 — cori
The other day Chloe asked me if I wanted to play church. I thought this would be super intriguing so I readily agreed. I just couldn't imagine how one would play church. I grabbed some paper, a pen and started recording exactly what we did. It worked great because she thought I was just over anxious about writing down all the cool stuff I learned while 'in church'. Our 30 minutes of play turned out 1 1/2 pages of lined paper, front and back. The following is written verbatim:

"Mommy, first you get your biggest Bible and then we drive there."

We head upstairs with big Bibles in hand and proceed to 'drive' until we meet up at the small table and chair set where we sit down.

Next she tells me, "Now, write out your numbers and then make a dot next to them". We did that through the number 10, with her checking my work the entire time. "Then we have to look through our Bible - or take it out if it's still in a package."

I couldn't imagine what we were going to learn, so I asked "What are we going to learn in church today?" The one in charge told me, "We're going to learn how to speak spanish. Now get your princess Bible if you have one." She then proceeds to 'read' to me from her princess Bible. This is what she says: "...she didn't know anything except pictures...then what did God teach her? She asked him to help her learn her words but make some of them a surprise. Then she asked God if everyone could have songs and speak spanish like they do in Chloe world. Then her mom came in the room...there were no boys back then...I'll teach you more another day."

At this point I was instructed to put my pen down and stop writing. But I just couldn't (there was no way I'd remember all the juicy details if I stopped writing now). So I told her that I'm learning so much and I always want to remember it so I have to keep writing. She eventually acquiesed and decided to open to the maps section of her Bible and show me where we are geographically (somewhere in Saudia Arabia, I think). Then she tells me, "It's time to go to A.P (supposedly a book in the Bible), I'll help you find "Insurance of Songs" (another book in the Bible). Then she's off to her room to get me the "B Book" to help me learn the Bible better.

I couldn't help but ask, "So, honey, what kinds of things do people learn when they go to church?" The following list will detail, in order, everything that one learns by attending church:

1. learn about Jesus
2. make insurance more cuter
3. learn about design
4. learn how to make everybody have no anger

I asked her where Jesus was. She tells me, "He lives at the church." (while pointing to her room). "You can go meet him. He will be here everyday." She then instructs me to start reading my Bible.

She's off to get something of value in her room. Turns out to be two of her favorite stuffed animals. She hands one to me and says, "You may borrow one." I asked if Jesus likes animals and she said, "Yes." So naturally I asked, "Why?" and she responds, "God said so."

She has no more time for my ignorant questions. It's time once again to begin reading from the Bible....."...God is certainly special to everyone in the whole entire world. God knows everything. Kids don't know everything except for peoples' names.

She's starting to get really ticked that I'm scribbling furiously on my paper trying to keep up with this constant narration going on around me. She thinks that if she makes me move, I won't write anymore. So she instructs me to move to a different seat and says with very little patience, "You can stop writing and read to your kids at home now. And God said those papers are very good. So stop writing now!"

After a quick potty break, she hands me her purse and told me to look through it while she continues reading the princess Bible: "...then her mom put her to bed at the exact same time that Santa came. A, B, C can never be gived up from A, B, C. You are my holy child - never give up. Never talk back to Jesus - ever!"

"Honey, how do we know when church is done?" The answer is pretty obvious, but she tells me anyways, "Mommmm...my 102 dolphins tell me." Thus ends our play session. Hope you get the chance to 'go to church' someday too.

Dec 21, 2008

My Favorite Things

12/21/2008 — cori
Today will definitely go down in my memory as one of my favorite things. I read a friend's blog the other day that totally spoke to my heart (take the time to read it - it's amazing!). I shared it with Chuck and asked if we could somehow find a way impart this beautiful lesson to our children.

Since we're such a visual family, Chuck came up with this document so that the kids would be able to see it, read it and understand it a little easier. We sat at the table after breakfast and had the most wonderful conversation. Here are examples of what the kids came up with:



The thing that struck me was that in being fair, you're still considering yourself and your needs. But in being generous, you do things without regard for your own welfare and only for someone else...you totally trust God with all you need and you give, without abandon (big love), all you have. Be it time, money, depth of friendship or possessions. This is a concept that can appear difficult for children to grasp. But during our breakfast conversation, we realized that they really do "get it" even in their childish understanding. Since it's hard to read these, I'll interpret for you:

Bennett said:
Jesus showed generosity to: sodgers (soldiers) by: ok you can kill me and i won't kill you
I will show generosity to: mommy and dad by: sharing my rase trak (race track)
I will show generosity to: bapchie & gadsiu (his great grandparents) by: giving a card with some mony
...then, on his own, he added three more 'generous ways' on the back of his paper....
I will color Chloe's casul for 2 days
I will clean mom and dads dreser
I will let Gavin chose what star wars eposode to play after his week

Chloe said:
Jesus showed generosity to: chloe by: giving me a mommy and daddy
I will show generosity to: everyone by: smiling to people when they talk to me
I will show generosity to: gavin and bennett by: cleaning the boys' dresser for them

Gavin said:
Jesus showed generosity to: his followers by: useing his God powers to heal people
I will show generosity to Bennett by: playing whatever he wants on the star wars game for two weekends
I will show generosity to Chloe by: playing barbies whenever she wants this week.

Besides the obvious - we all seem to have issues keeping our dressers clean - I think they really thought about what would mean something to the other person. Looking for opportunities often helps us look outside of ourselves. It seems so easy to see what we need and hard to see what others need. All we can do as parents is plant the seed in our children (and hopefully model the behavior) and trust God to grow it in their hearts and lives.

Dec 19, 2008

Bennett's Earnest Prayer

12/19/2008 — cori
"Dear God, thank you for such a pretty day. And thank you that none of us are dead yet."

This is repeated any and every time he prays, be it at dinner, lunch or bedtime. I guess we should be thankful to be alive...I just never thought of wording it in that way.

Dec 17, 2008

Email Love

12/17/2008 — cori
Bennett has been bitten by the email bug. He asks to email everyone he knows multiple times a day. He LOVES it! He will even come tell me, "Um, Mommy...have you checked your email lately, I think you might have an email" all while grinning slyly and trying not to let me see. This doesn't help my email addiction either. Anytime my email indicator shows I have one, I'm on it like white on rice...I guess that's kinda rubbed off on Bennett a little. But it's not that he loves to email, its what he emails. They are hilarious! I've kept them exactly as they have been written so you can enjoy the pleasure of true phonetics.

Here's one to Daddy of the "high-school girl passing a note" variety:
daddy are you mad? you act mad right now are you well iny wase i love you ;) ;) love your gratefull son bennett mallott if you need me email me or come to my room or the come pouter and i will ma bi be there

Grandma and Bennett can go back and forth multiple times a day. At first, he didn't know about the whole automatic spell check thing...but then, he realized that those little, squiggly red lines under almost every word mean something and he figured it out on his own.
hi grandma i jist want to say happy crismis.....then we progress to....oh um oh ya stay warm grandma ok i love you as cold as it is ok love yu burr that's wy ok (this is his "funny man variety")

Seems the Christmas spirit has won Bennett over this year. I guess he wanted to share a little Christmas carol with Grandpa via the internet...Hi grandpa i jest wanted to say jingle bells jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way I LOVE YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much oh i love you VERY MUCH

Even though he sees me 24/7, he still finds it in his heart to email me. He's everywhere now. hi mommy i jist wanted to give you a email merry Christmas and thank you for letting us go to chuys and I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU... and you are so beautiful email daddy ok love bennett

But the most amazing emails are the ones sent to his own brother...now that's an email addiction! They sleep in the same room, they eat at the same table, they learn in the same house, yet he feels the need to email him? I'm baffled. stay warm ok gavin what super hero are you and remember are police job's on are star wars game ok love bennett mallott at email . com jist kidding

Watch out...you never know when you might get an email from Bennett!

Dec 7, 2008

Sacrifice

12/07/2008 — cori
This is the one, single most important thing I've learned since becoming a mommy. The other is...it means nothing if not done in love.

I remember actually being angry when I first brought Gavin home from the hospital when I realized I would have to actually wake up in the middle of the night...not just once, but multiple times...to feed him. Learning to sacrifice little things like sleep was how it all started.

When I brought Bennett home from the hospital, I learned about sacrificing time with Gavin. He and I used to have the time of our lives together. And now, suddenly, I had another little guy who needed more of me. I couldn't give as much time to my buddy anymore. But we both grew for learning how to sacrifice time together. Our love grew and we enjoyed our time together more because we treasured what we got.

As Chloe joined our family I learned yet again more sacrifice...I didn't know it came in so many forms! I learned to sacrifice my expectations of what having 3 children would be like and what I would/would not be able to accomplish with so many little people needing me at one time. With her, I also learned to sacrifice my personal space. I know that sounds corny, but I can feel smothered quite easily sometimes. For the first two years of her life, she was permanently attached to my hip. Looking back, I miss it now. But then, it seemed to sap all my energy...never being able to put her down for even a minute.

In our marriage, Chuck and I view time together as one of our most important love languages. We treasure those special moments of just 'us time' where we can laugh, play, talk, take a walk, share our deepest desires...alone. The more children in the house means more people with constant needs. As a mommy, my job...no my desire...is to meet those needs and provide a loving, nurturing environment. But it comes with yet more sacrifice. My time with my bestist friend is now sacrificed and squished into a few precious few moments a day.

Homeschooling is synonymous with sacrifice. I never chose this road, it chose me. I never set out to do this on purpose, it was the journey God knew our family would be taking. It is a path filled with extremes for me: extreme delight in watching my children learn and getting to spend time with them throughout the day cultivating a deeper relationship; extreme exhaustion getting materials researched, prepared, organized; extreme thankfulness in having the freedom to live in a country where I can chose this educational option; extreme frustration on days when I feel incompetent to handle all this. Daily, my time is not my own.

Lastly, all these 'deep thoughts' have been prompted by my husband's increased traveling due to his job over the past few years. Right now, he's out of the country for 10 days. For me, that's huge. I'm used to him spending his 8-10 hours of work a day huddled in the corner of our bedroom over his desk, in what we call his office, working from home. I know I'm spoiled. This set up works wonderfully for our family. But it also costs. We just take the good with the bad and make the most of when he has to travel.

Yesterday, I began to feel a twinge of self pity at never getting a break from the kids; having to be 'on call' 24/7 while he's gone; never getting any 'alone time'; having to do the jobs around the house, that we typically share, all by myself. Then God gently reminded me of Romans 12:1, "...God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship."

Then it dawned on me: sacrifice is an honor. It is my gift to God. Sacrifice is not putting my needs first, but the needs of others. It is love. Wasn't he the epitome of sacrifice? Wasn't he the epitome of love? If by sacrificing, it draws me closer to him...then bring it on. If sacrifice means shedding my desires in order to show love and it impacts another life...I'll do it willingly.

I often feel like I don't have much to give. I don't have many talents. I'm just a mom. I don't have some astounding gift that can impact the world. But I do have love and now I know that love can't help but sacrifice. It is WHO love is. If this tiny scope of time of having to 'rough it' alone with the kids while Daddy is gone is showing worship to God, then I do it with a smile on my face.

It could be so much worse. I'm not a military wife having to send her husband off to war not knowing if he'll return. I'm not a single mother who has no end in sight and lives in exhaustion. I am not alone. I have a husband who sees and appreciates my sacrifice, unlike husbands who require it of their wives and beat them or verbally abuse them when they don't bend to their overbearing expectations. I am not from a culture that demands and expects submission and sacrifice. I am not a missionary stuck in a foreign land without my husband.I am blessed to have family and friends who sacrifice their time to show me love and make sure the kids and I don't feel lonely during this time.

Simply put...I am loved. Love sacrifices...joyfully.

Here is a quote from Mother Teresa that expresses sacrifice beautifully, "A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace."

Dec 3, 2008

There's Something About You....

12/03/2008 — cori
Today, at the end of another day in a long line of days of Chuck being out of town, the kids and I sat down to play a delightful little game of Yahtzee. I thought that would be a nice little way of doing something together before bed. Even though we've been 'doing something together' all day, that didn't count, it was only school.

Games with the kids really aren't my 'thing'. I can't stand the way my kids sit there clueless each and every time it's their turn to go and they don't know until I nonchalantly yell it at them. Then there's the constant noise level and commotion; movement that I seem to be extra sensitive to after a long day of constant noise and movement all around me.

By this time in the evening I like quiet, peaceful activities...like reading a book maybe. Too bad for me, cuz at this time in the evening for the kids, they prefer such fun activities as wrestling, rolling on the floor, singing at the top of their lungs and playing crazy songs on the piano at the loudest possible level. "Mommy look at this...", "Mommy watch me do this...", "Mommy come here real quick so I can show you something...", "Mommy guess what superhero I am right now. Want to know all my powers?..." bombard me all at the same time.

When Chuck is home, this would be the time of day I typically retreat back to the solitude and quietness of my beloved bath and recharge as he enjoys playing with the kids. But no...there is not meant to be any solitude for me while Chuck is away. And I'm okay with that. I know my weaknesses and have been begging God to for his grace to be sufficient in me daily. I need to just push past this 'sleepy time' in my brain when it would prefer to shut down and focus inward instead of continuing to give to the kids in these sub-optimal conditions (at least for me).

Yahtzee was progressing as all other games normally progress for us. Chloe insisted on rolling for me. Whenever she shook the container holding the dice, she seemed to always shake one out of it and then she had issues getting them all out onto the floor. She preferred to drop all the dice out at about 3 feet off the floor which resulted in us spending a majority of precious time looking for the missing dice. Gavin couldn't make a decision to save his life. He didn't know which one was the right one to make. Cuz afterall, you could possibly make a wrong decision in this game and it ruin the rest of your life. So, he kept asking me what he should do...which play was the right one. Then there was Bennett. He had a blank stare on his face the whole game. Every time he rolled he counted all the numbers on the dice and wanted to write the answer somewhere. Nothing I said to him was registering. Oh ya, and I had a migraine.

So...as you see, conditions were not optimal. I could sense myself getting a little, shall we say...perturbed, irritated, annoyed. I took a deep breath and asked God to please be my patience right now and help me just enjoy this precious time I get to spend with my kids. And guess what...He did. :)

At the exact moment the prayer left my lips. Mr. Clueless Player looks at me with his sweet, little grin and says, "There's something about you Mommy, that other Mommies don't have...". As I'm waiting for the punch line, I just knew it was going to be something like...a lack of patience, the ability to play a game and get irritated or snappy with her kids...or something sarcastic along those lines.

But instead, he tells me something I knew in my heart I didn't deserve, but he showed me grace anyways..."you're the lovingest, kindest, givingest, most appreciative Mommy." Gulp. I didn't deserve such an outpouring of love at this moment...yet that's what he showed me.

After a few more crazy turns with the dice he comes out with another one. "There's something else about you other Mommies don't have...you've got the best husband." His timing is impeccable. We've all missed Daddy and knew that this would normally be something we'd be doing with him if he were home. So, I decided to do what Daddy would do...I showed Bennett love the way he likes to receive it. I reached over, pegged him down and started wrestling with him. I licked him all over his face like a dog, tickled him all over...it was so much fun. And I did it, headache and all, because...His grace is sufficient for me.

Dress Up For Dinner Night...Again

12/03/2008 — cori
I must admit...I wasn't totally thrilled about dressing up tonight. I didn't have my usual giddy excitement about me. Maybe it was because I had just spent the past 2 hours making dinner. Whatever it was, I just didn't have any creative flair going for me.

Chuck's brother and his wife, Karen were in town over Thanksgiving weekend and we had to introduce them to this most pleasurable Mallott family experience. They were gung-ho...like they even had a choice. Gung-ho is the way to be when you're forced into doing something.

It was decided after much deliberation and voting that tonight's theme would be "Things Found In A Forest". Easy enough. We explained 'the rules' to John and Karen and let them at the costume box nestled in our closet. You never know what types of gems you might find in there. We directed them to where they would find a nice assortment of face paint and sent them on their way.

It turned out to be another wonderful dress up for dinner night. There's nothing quite like letting down your guard with those around you and enjoying a bit of light-hearted, carefree dress up time to spawn silly conversations at the dinner table.

These are the things you would find if you were to walk through the Mallott Forest at dinnertime:














A Chloe panther, A smiling Bennett Indian, a Gavin vampire bat, a John stream with a beaver building a dam at the head of the stream, a cute Karen lion, a Cori blackbird, and a Chuck lumberjack.

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