Dec 28, 2012

Sandy Hook

12/28/2012 — cori



In Memory

How do you tell someone you don’t even know
That you care more than you know how to show
About the pain they are going through
It feels like your own, like it happened to you
Our hearts are breaking as we cry
For each mom and dad who are wondering why
Twenty children are no longer living today
Because of the evil that took them away
While they were doing what they were told to do
Getting up early and going to school
Wanting to learn how to live in this world
Growing up to be big boys and girls
But the gift of life was suddenly snatched away
On this heartbreaking, dreadful, December day

The adults protecting the children inside
Were acting as heroes as some of them died
Keeping watch of the little ones in their care
As they silently, desperately whispered a prayer
For someone to come and rescue them all
From the horror that was about to befall
Everyone in the school and town that day
For God’s mercy we ask, for mercy we pray

All of us watched the news unfold
As one gunman acting so bold
Chose a school to take out his rage
On these poor children at such a young age
We may never know the answer why
Sometimes all you can do is cry
With the people who are hurting so deep
It’s called compassion and it’s price is steep
Walking with someone through their pain
Helping them to become whole again
Carry one another’s burdens, we are told to do
I will walk this hard, sad road with you

Dec 17, 2012

Together

12/17/2012 — cori
In light of the tragedy in Connecticut this weekend, we all treasured our time together that much more.    It was hard not to put yourself in the shoes of the parents who lost their children.  I'm thankful for the reminder to never take for granted the time we get to share together - but oh, what a cost it came at!

That's why it thrilled my heart that not once, or twice but at least 4 times this weekend the kids suggested, "How about we all go cuddle on your bed and read?"  Who can say no to that?!  So, several times during this cold, gray, melancholy weekend, all 5 of us grabbed our books, hopped onto my bed, found a cozy spot with a pillow and blanket and read in the peace and warmth of our own little world.  Several times I would pause from my reading, look around and take a mental picture of the scene before me.  I want to soak it all up as much as possible.  I love that this is what our family does together.  It is a reflection of all we value: cuddle time, closeness, reading, serenity.  Granted, the only reason the music wasn't also blaring was for the sake of my sanity.  Apparently, I'm the only one in the family who can't read and listen to music at the same time.


This was a similar scene 5 years ago.  I'm reminded of the song "Blink" every time I look at these precious children.

Not only did we accomplish lots of reading, the kids also continued to entertain us with their version of "play".  Not even 5 minutes after Bennett walks in the door from school he entices Chloe with the following line, "Hey Chlo, wanna play The Fat Game?"  Is this really a game?  Is he really 11 or did we just time warp back the 5 years ago that I was just reminiscing about? How can you have a game that is fat?  It didn't take long for me to find out the answers to the questions flooding my brain.

In case you are ever in need of a game, let me explain how The Fat Game works.  First you will need to find your largest shirt, preferably a night shirt that you sleep in.  Then, you are to stuff your bed pillow under the shirt.  Next, tie your bathrobe belt around your waist to keep your fat in.  Then you you run at each other as fast as you can and both fall backwards at the same time giggling like school girls.  That's pretty much the gist of it.  Sometimes there is the variation where you try to punch the other person as hard as you can in "the fat" and see if it hurts...but that can get risky, like if you miss "the fat" part.  Also, running at each other at top speed requires alot of open floor space.

This is just a peek into our world this weekend.  I'm so thankful we had no where to go and nothing to do so we could enjoy the gift of this time together.

Dec 11, 2012

True Story

12/11/2012 — cori

How can you resist this face?  This is the face of one spoiled dog!  Believe it or not, a neighbor asked if Ninja could have a playdate...and he doesn't even have a dog.  Yes.  True story.  This neighbor is an older gentleman who watches Ninja for us anytime we go out of town.  They have grown on each other.  Ninja is super easy going, laid back, doesn't bark (except to go out) and prefers to lay on chairs all day long.  Perfect energy level for a retired guy with health problems.  Turns out, he spoils Ninja rotten, giving her lots of treats everytime they're together.  We came back from a week vacation and I swear she was 10 pounds heavier.  This man's name is synonymous with "treat" now.  Even when I take her on a walk, she looks at his house longingly just hoping for a glimpse of her new favorite person.  When she does see him, she takes off at a gallop in his direction.  This is the ONLY time this dog actually runs.  Whenever we try to go on a run with her, she just trots or maybe she'll give us a fast trot, but never a gallop.  If I ever loose Ninja, the first place I look (after the front porch, she normally always comes home and barks at the front door to let us know she's home), is in the direction of this man's house.

So, it turns out he was having company Saturday night and wanted to introduce Ninja to all his friends.  What about us?  Did he not want to play cards with us, introduce us to his friends?  Are we not as fun as Ninja?  We don't only like him for what he gives us.  Seriously?!  We have a social issues.  Apparently, Ninja does not.

Dec 10, 2012

Forty Looks Good On You

12/10/2012 — cori

I never imagined this day would come
when you look back at where we came from
Two little kids, twelve years old
No one could envision the story our lives have told
Best friends from the beginning, that is true
You liked me and I liked you
Who would have thought we'd become real adults
with mortgages and kids and wider notches on belts
You're still the same you, I'm still the same me
But I think I like you better at forty
Our love is much deeper 
I know your heart better 
Your jokes are much funnier
You've grown so much smarter
Your heart is more tender
Your shoulders much stronger
Your hair, a little shorter
Your waist a little wider
Your smile a little brighter
But your eyes remain the same beautiful blue
The ones I looked at and knew love was true
Back when we were twelve and had no clue
That you'd end up with me and I'd end up with you.

Dec 4, 2012

One Hour Together

12/04/2012 — cori
This past weekend is always the craziest one of the year for me.  I spend months preparing and organizing all the concession food for a large basketball tournament called the Tiger Classic that our home town hosts.  It's a lot of work but also very rewarding and a lot of fun. But with a lot of work comes a lot of time taken away from the kids that I normally spend with them.  The months leading up to the first weekend of December are filled with me saying, "Hey guys, do you mind if mom spends a little while working on the basketball stuff?"  To which they always graciously reply, "no problem".

Each of us treasures time together as one of our love languages.  So I can't help but feel that I haven't shown them how much I love them when I have to keep taking time away to concentrate on all my basketball responsibilities.  It pulls me in two directions and weighs heavily on my heart.

Once the actual weekend rolls around, I work around the clock Thursday through Sunday.  Thankfully, the 'big weekend' came and went.   I had to leave bright and early Monday morning to go pay a bunch of my vendors, even though the kids had the day off school and even though I was sicker than a dog and had no voice.  On my morning travels, I had a big idea.  I called Gavin and asked him to tell the kids to each think of what they want to do with me for an hour.  They have to decide who goes first and have it all planned out by time I get home (which was only in 15 minutes).  These have become some of our most treasured times together.

I know God dropped that little plan in my head because the only thing keeping me going that morning was knowing I could come home and take a nap. I was exhausted and with good reason.  But I had also just read something that explained love in a way I had never heard before and I couldn't stop meditating on it.  This article does a much better job of explaining the concept than I can, but here's the gist...the Hebrew root word for 'love' comes from the two words "I" "Give".  Of course it does.  God is Love.  God gives.  If I say I love someone, it is shown mostly in what I give them...time, energy, myself, words, actions, etc.  Don't we always tell our kids, 'actions speak louder than words' ? It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, Something that you do.

So I got home, found out the plan and dove right in.  God gave me physical and mental strength to give them myself yesterday afternoon rather than me giving myself a nap.  And oh how it was worth it!!!  Gavin got first dibs.  I asked him, "So what do you have planned?"  Being ever the gentleman he answered, "Well, I wanted to see if there was anything you wanted to do first."  I smiled knowing how he loves to make me happy at whatever the cost.  I told him that as long as we were together I would be happy.  I asked him if he could maybe teach me some of the stuff he's learning in his class.  He couldn't have been happier!

He directed me to the study where we have a white board set up.  He wrote out the title "Base Systems" and the date.  Then Mr. Professor began:

"Remember how you taught us that 11 was actually 1 ten 1 and twelve was 1 ten 2?  Well, you were teaching us the base 10 number system."

"Oh really, that's what I was doing?  I was just doing what the curriculum said, but that's cool."

"Ya, well...that's what you did.  Anyways......." yadayadayada.

He went on to teach me a base 5 system, a base 7 system and a base 2 system, otherwise known as the binary system.  He lost me on the last one.  He started saying something about 1 being 'on' and 0 being 'off' in relation to computers.  I tried hard to ask intelligent questions and appear like I was understanding, but how do you make this sound intelligent, "Uh...ya, I don't get that."?  Then he proceeded to write out problems on the board for me to solve as proof of my utter incompetence.  I suggested Math Professor as a possible future career to which he said, "mmmmm".  I think that means he's thinking about it.

Once my math class was officially over we moved on to bigger and better things...such as playing Yu-gi-oh.  This is his life.  He has every card memorized.  It's a highly intricate game.  It's very strategic.  Because of those very reasons I suck at it.  Truth be told, I can't even begin to grasp the concept of the game.  He spent like 10 minutes trying to explain the rules to me when I cut him off and said, "Is this the kind of game that we can just play and you can teach  me as we go?  I learn much better by doing." He gave some serious thought to my supplication.  It wasn't optimal, but he would allow it...this time.  So we laid out our cards and I just winged it.  Lucky for me, I winged well enough to win.  I have no clue how - but that's what he said.  It was awesome.  Then our time was up.  Bummer, no more higher level math or incomprehensible card games.  But I adored my time with Gavin as he shared with me all the things that are important to him during our completely uninterrupted time together.

Chloe was next.  As is her style, she promptly handed me a sticky note containing her list of activity items: 1. draw, write, now  2. make a gourmet lunch  3. read/cuddle  4. school.  Right off I already see a problem.  It's already 12:30.   I'm starving (had yet to discover the virus plaguing my stomach which would never allow me to eat - we'll leave it at that).  Plus, I don't want to make everyone's lunch.  They're here, they can make their own.  Eating is second on the list.  What to do?  I had to, in my very nicest saleslady voice, pitch a better plan.  "Honey, this is an awesome list!  I know I would really enjoy it more once I stop shaking from hunger pains.  Do you think we could eat first and then start our time together?"  She hemmed and hawed, "But I really wanted to make a gourmet lunch for everyone."

"You mean you want us to cook for them?", looking at the boys who are all smiles.

"Ya."

"Um.  No.  You can, but I'm not making a gourmet sandwich right now.  I 'm seriously hungry."

We eventually agreed to just each make our own food on the condition that her and I make a gourmet dinner instead.  Bonus.

Our time started off perfectly, laying on the bed reading! Ahhhhh....I tried so hard to keep my eyes open.  But each time I blinked they stayed shut a little longer.  She was reading "Fancy Nancy" to me.  Unfortunately, it was a very short book.  Two minutes later we were excitedly making our way downstairs to do school.  I asked her why she wanted to do school on her day off.  "Moooommm.  I'm being the teacher today!"  She then proceeded to re-enact our exact school day, except for she was the teacher and I was the student.  It was great to see what school looks like through her eyes.  She was reading a Magic School Bus book on the water cycle to me and on each page she would ask me, "Are there any words on here you don't understand?"  I wonder where she got that from.  We did school for so long we didn't have time to do any Draw, Write, Now.  Thankfully, we were able to fit that in later at night with Daddy.

On to Bennett.  I just knew that he would want to play basketball.  And I was right.  I said an extra prayer for energy as I pulled on my jacket and shoes.  Apparently, I need to pray that prayer everytime I go out to play around the world because I ended up winning twice.  I was 'girl on fire'.  Didn't hardly miss a shot.  Plus the cold and fresh air helped rejuvenate me.  I felt bad for whooping up on him so badly, but not bad enough to stop talking about it and reliving my awesome shots.  Then we were on to phase two of our time together - drawing.  He set up some paper, pencils and a book on Great Cats.  We each did some lovely pencil renderings of tigers and cheetahs.  Lastly he had planned some cuddle time on my bed.  We layed there and talked and reminisced and solved all the world's problems. It was great.

I love my kids.  I loved when they were little, I love the ages they are now and I'll love them when they're grown and gone.  But I will especially be thankful that they always want to spend time with me, sharing their loves, even if it's only for an hour.

Dec 3, 2012

That Moment When You Realize Your Son is Smarter Than You (Brag Alert)

12/03/2012 — cori

I knew this day would come. It has probably been here for some time, but over the weekend this notion has crystalized in my brain.

We spent a lot of time this weekend watching basketball. When we weren't watching one of Bennett's games during the Tiger Classic, we were watching other games in between.

Gavin and I sat together most of the time and although we were looking at the same things happening before us, we were not thinking about the same things, that is for sure. While I am watching the nuances of zone defenses and trying to figure out how to teach Bennett to be a better rebounder, Gavin has one thing on his mind: Numbers. The kid loves math. He loves numbers and sees patterns everywhere.

Here's a smattering of the questions I heard from him as we sit watching basketball, a sport he has zero interest in.

Gavin: Dad, have you noticed that none of the players' jerseys have a number higher than 5?
Me: No, I didn't notice that. That *is* interesting, though.

Gavin: Dad, do you know how you can tell if any number is divisible by 3?
Me: Blank stare. Confused blinking.
Gavin: What?
Me: I have no idea what you're talking about but I love that you know this, Buddy.
Gavin: Yeah.

Gavin: Dad, I think I can predict who is going to win the game.
Me: How's that, Buddy?
Gavin: The team with the most prime numbers on their jerseys usually win. See, the black team has alot of prime numbers: 2, 5, 7, 13, 23, 31 ... the other team only has a couple of prime numbers.

Sure enough, the black team won. Then I spent the rest of the tournament looking for prime numbered jerseys. :)

This was just one instance in a long list of reasons why I think I have the coolest 13 year old on the planet. No, he doesn't excel in organized sports. But he reads books like most people eat food. He knows more about computers than most adults I know. He's in 8th grade, but is taking two 9th grade classes at the high school. Honors classes. Straight A's across the board. He's half way to acquiring his black belt in Tae Kwon Do after only a year of lessons. Oh, and in his free time he's taking an Intro to Cryptography class online from Stanford University. And to top it all off, he'll probably be taller than me within a few months.

And I'm ok with that. :)

(End of Bragfest. Thank you for indulging me.)

Love this kid!

Nov 30, 2012

Plurals

11/30/2012 — cori
The other day I get this random text from Gavin:  Hi Mom.  What is the plural of rhinoceros?

Since no one is really ever prepared to receive, much less answer a question like that, I responded the only way I knew how:  add an es

By this point, one would think I have my masters in English and know all phonics rules backwards and forwards since the reply came to me so easy.  I was feeling pretty confident as I made my way through the grocery store after hitting 'send'.  But then my over-analyzing brain kicked into the next gear and started making me question my automatic response.  I don't know...could it be rhinoceri? just like octopi?  How many times have I had to use the plural of rhinoceros?  How should I know?  Why in the world is he even asking me this question?

So, in typical fashion, I text him back and pedal backwards a bit, trying to save face incase I'm wrong: I'm not 100% sure about that answer...why don't you look it up.

Within seconds I get his reply:  actually it's rhinoceroses

It didn't dawn on me until days later, that both Gavin and I originally spelled rhinoceros wrong in the beginning of this little adventure.  We both thought you spelled it 'rhinocerous' - with a 'u', so then by adding the 'es' (which I WAS right, by the way! a huge boost to my ego) as the suffix, we thought it sounded like 'rhinoserusus'; but it's actually pronounced 'rhinocer oh ces'.  Get it?!  Well...now you know in case you ever find yourself in this same predicament.

The ONLY thing going through my mind through-out this entire exchange was Brian Regan's skit on "Stupid In School".  Sooooo funny and so appropriate for this little life moment.


Nov 24, 2012

Traditions

11/24/2012 — cori
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time filled with so many traditions and things to be thankful for.   The last four years, a tradition we've been very thankful for has been spending this most wonderful holiday with Chuck's brother John and his wife Karen.  There is no shortage of laughter or food when we're together.   This Thanksgiving we....


Spent time with John & Karen


explored the beauty of Aspen filled forests



and the splendor of Gooseberry Falls



stood feet away from wildlife



 reflected on the calm beauty of nature




took lots of pictures of each other



spent time as a family



held up rocks




 crossed bridges



 kept our brother from falling




 climbed cliff faces




stood on the edge of the world





climbed rocks in Lake Superior




played Quelf




played Guesstures





did Thanksgiving yoga




did Thanksgiving headstands




fried a turkey we could actually eat





ate a delicious dinner





dressed up for dinner in formal attire





played football in sleet 





Enough

11/24/2012 — cori
Sometimes I feel....
not good enough
not strong enough
not forgiving enough
not kind enough
not happy enough
not thoughtful enough
not adequate enough
not worthy enough
not patient enough
not smart enough
not beautiful enough
not loving enough

Then God whispers to
my heart that He is...
good enough
strong enough
forgiving enough
kind enough
happy enough
thoughtful enough
adequate enough
worthy enough
patient enough
smart enough
beautiful enough
loving enough

My inadequacy fades
In the light of His glory.
When I focus on all I lack
That is all I see.
When I focus on who He is
I allow Him to fill me.
Jesus is enough.







Nov 18, 2012

Suffering With Someone

11/18/2012 — cori
Chloe has an unusual problem...she is too flexible.  Because of her over-flexibility, sometimes her knee gets hyper-extended.  This is excruciatingly painful.  She can't move her leg.  It's as if it gets "locked" in place.  To move it in any direction makes it feel as though it will snap.  It takes a good half hour to ease her leg back to normal.  That's when she's calm.  But if she keeps screaming out in anguish, the process can take up to an hour or more.

Today was one of those days.  We never know when this will happen or what causes it to happen.  Today she was simply trying to stand up from a chair and collapsed to the floor hugging her knee to her chest and screaming in agony.

And I am completely helpless.  There is not one thing I can do for her.  The doctor has said it just takes time to ease the knee back into position.  In the mean time, I just watch and wait, helpless and in agony with her.  I promised her I would sit with her through the pain and comfort her and walk this road of suffering along side her.  I tried desperately to keep her calm and comfortable.

Even through the pain God showed us some beautiful truths.  I was able to explain to Chloe that this is exactly how Jesus is with us, "Just like I'm sitting here with you while you suffer, Jesus is right there with us while we go through hardships in our life.  He didn't promise to take away our suffering, but to not fear it because he was right there with us.  Always remember this day, Honey.  When you are walking through a painful time, know that Jesus is suffering with you, just like I am today.  But you will grow so much through this suffering.  You will learn how to endure, how to see the good that comes out of it, how to be thankful for it."

We then went on to talk about how each time this pain has happened, she's learned something about the pain and about herself.  She's learned she needs to stay calm; she needs to wait it out; she can't rush to fix it or it will make it worse; she'd rather have two legs that hurt once in a while than one that had to be cut off.  She was able to find something to be thankful for in the midst of her pain.

It's hard to hear the natural wondering of her heart, "Why?!  Why does this have to happen to me?"  Haven't we all asked that at one time or another?  How do you answer that question?  Sometimes there just isn't an answer.  All I knew to say was, "We don't always understand why things happen, Sweetie, but we can learn to trust God and turn to Him in the midst of our suffering knowing that He is suffering with you just like I am.  Because that's what love does.  You may never know why, but can you learn to let His love sustain you?"

It was a very long hour.  But we came out on the other end of it closer.  I could understand her pain better and she could feel my love for her in a new and deeper way.  You don't have to have answers to suffer with somebody...just compassion to feel their pain as your own.

Nov 17, 2012

Little Bird

11/17/2012 — cori
There was once a little bird that was always afraid.

Afraid to sing.

Afraid to fly.

Afraid of other birds.

His Maker asked him, "Why are you so afraid Little Bird?  Why don't you do what I made you to do?"

Little Bird replied, "Well, you see, I'm not very good at flying.  So I'd rather not do it.  And my song is nothing like that of the blue bird, so I'd rather not embarrass myself and sing.  And all the other birds already seem to know each other, so I just feel in the way and left out."

His Maker thought this over, "Hmmmm....seems like you've given this lots of thought.  You know I love you even if you never leave your nest, or never sing one note, or never enjoy the company of other birds."

"Yes.  I know.  I just don't want to disappoint you.  It's easier not to try.  It's safer to stay right here.  There aren't alot of birds like me, you know."

His Maker replied,  "Oh, believe me, I know.  When I made you, I made you unique.  I gave you the song you choose not to sing.  I personally think it sounds beautiful.  I gave you those graceful wings to dip and dive and perform special feats that not all birds can do.  I gave you a personality that I knew other birds needed to be around.  It makes me sad for you that you choose not to share the lovely gifts I've given you.  It makes me sad that you are choosing not to live in fullness of Life."

Now Little Bird furrowed his little brow, stuck his beak under his wing and thought long and hard about what his Maker had said.  He never thought of it that way.

All he knew was his fear.

The fear blinded him to his gifts.

His fear kept him from showing his Maker how much he loved him and how thankful he was to be alive.

"Well....if it really makes you that happy when I sing...I guess I could give it one more try....but I warn you, it's terribly off key and sounds nothing like the Chickadee's crooning."

The Maker couldn't suppress a little chuckle.  He listened as Little Bird tweeted away.  His heart filled with the love of Little Bird's worship.

All of the sudden, some of the other birds of the forest started flying by his nest.  He was starting to get embarrassed but kept singing anyway,  knowing that it made his Maker happy.  Then he heard soft voices saying, "I never knew he was even here.....Listen to that unique song, will ya, it's spectacular....Now our morning songs will sound even better with this one in the mix."

Little Bird was amazed.  The other birds didn't make fun of him after all.  All this time he was afraid for nothing.  He stopped his serenade and introduced himself, "Hi, I'm Little Bird."  All the birds were friendly and couldn't wait to come back and visit again.

Once they left, Little Bird said to his Maker, "Guess what?  After I started singing for you, I realized that I didn't need to be good at it.   The other birds liked my song, can you believe that?!  And now I don't need to be lonely anymore either."

Jolly laughter echoed from the Maker, "See what joy comes from giving your gift away.  You bring joy to my heart little one.  What are your thoughts on flying?  Afterall, it is one of the main things you were created to do."

Little bird hemmed and hawed.  He realized he had wasted so much time being afraid, maybe, just maybe he might be wrong about flying as well.  Afterall, he'd always wanted to try it. It looked so fun when he saw the other birds doing it.  That's part of why he felt left out, they were all flying around without him and would never land on his nest to see how he was doing.  But maybe, if he tried flying out there, he could go visit all the other birds.  But what if he fell?  What if a hawk swooped down and snatched him up?  What if a strong wind blew by at just that moment and smacked him to the ground?  What if he looked stupid flapping his wings?  Oh my....this is a really hard choice.  There are so many things that could go wrong.  Not to mention, flying is just not safe.

At just that moment, the Maker sent another bird over to visit Little Bird.  Little Bird had never seen this bird before.  Why this bird was beautiful and was flying in such fun patterns.  The other bird called out to Little Bird cheerfully, "Would you like to fly with me?"

Little bird, stunned that another bird wanted to spend time with him, called back, "I'm not good at it, plus it's not safe.  But thanks anyway."

"Silly little bird.  You were created to fly.  Don't be afraid.  It's fun.  It's exhilarating.  It makes our Maker happy.  Not to mention, it's alot easier to make friends and find food when you fly.  I'll be with you.  We can fly together.  If you get scared, I'll comfort you.  What do ya say?"

Little bird's heart beat faster and faster.  He knew he always desired to fly.  He was tired of being lonely.  Tired of having wings that didn't do what they were made for.  He decided in that one instant to throw caution to the wind.  His Maker said that he made this gift for him.  He loved the Maker so much.  He thought he would try one last time to use the gift from the Maker.  Maybe if he fell, the Maker would catch him.  He had been afraid long enough.

"Here I come....."  and off his perch he dove.

It was then that he heard the Maker's voice calmly soothing him, "Not one sparrow falls from the sky without me knowing about it; fear not."  At that little bird soared and dipped and dove with his new friend by his side.  He finally felt free.  He finally felt alive, not afraid anymore.  He knew in that instant that this is what he was made for.  That it makes his Maker happy when he flys.  He knew he was worshipping his Maker doing what he was created to do.

And the Maker was happy indeed.

Nov 14, 2012

Einstein

11/14/2012 — cori




Yesterday, Gavin shared a quote with me that I couldn't stop thinking about.  It is credited to Einstein, although after doing a little research, that is debatable.  But I admire the man so much, I'm going to join the camp that gives him the credit for such a thought.  

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
 it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 

It gives voice to my passion of interest driven learning for children....actually, for all people.  Children are born with such a strong desire to learn about the world around them.  Then we stifle them by putting them in these institutions that tell (us & ) them what they have to learn when, even though they may not be ready or interested.  So sad.  Learning happens all the time for children, especially during play.  We've robbed our children of being allowed to learn in the way that comes naturally to them.  That reminds me of another thing Einstein said:

"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it." 


I love having these conversations with Gavin.  Come to think of it, he reminds me a lot of Mr. Einstein.  See that huge smile on his face...that is what reminds me of Gavin most.  Always happy, eager to learn, wanting to share with me everything even when I don't comprehend it (like XOR's...whatever that is).  What a joy to watch our children grow, develop interests and dreams outside of our own, pursue knowledge in areas we didn't even know existed and still hold on to the joy of life and learning and living.






Nov 12, 2012

Chuck's New Lotion

11/12/2012 — cori
I've recently been into trying to switch over from the typical hazardous house-hold cleaners and solvents to much more earth friendly varieties.   This is a long process since we don't realize how much we rely on Johnson & Johnson to help us clean our houses and our bodies.  I want to be responsible and wise with the chemicals we put near/on/around our bodies as well as the negative side effects those same chemicals have on our environment.

I started making easy changes like switching over to a natural dish soap.  Then it was on to natural body soap (our new favorite is Dr. Bonner's  orange castille soap).  I figured if it worked this good on us and also didn't harm the environment, then let's see what else I can do.  I quickly switched over to also making my own laundry detergent.  LOVE IT!!!  It's very cost effective.  And safe.  The next logical step would be deodorant.

The only reason I even thought that was because I saw an article on the same site that I found the ingredients for my laundry detergent.  I was all over that one.  I've known for years that over the counter deodorant contained carcinogens, but I just couldn't find a good organic substitute.  And I hate to smell anything less than nice.  So, I just continued risking rubbing those cancer causing agents all over my skin every day, hoping I could dodge the bullet.  But once I found this recipe  there was no going back.  IT WORKS!!!

The solution to my dilemma is here.  The only problem is, where do you put it once you make it.  It looks a lot like the coconut oil we use everyday for lotion.  I actually decided to put it in one of the old coconut oil jars I had that was empty.  Unfortunately, I forgot to tell Chuck about this.  Oops.

You see, he uses the coconut oil to rub all over himself, especially in the winter months when the cold, dry air causes his skin to become scaly.  It works like a charm.  Both of us now have wonderfully soft skin thanks to the coconut oil.  However, this is oil.  It comes in a glass jar looking like a gelatinous mass when it gets too cold.  But when it gets warm, it turns into liquid oil.  We usually keep a spoon in the jar to help us apply the oil.  I also keep a spoon in the deodorant jar to help apply it, since it too, has a very liquidy consistency.

It's amazing what a little mis- or non- communication can do.  Chuck comes out to the kitchen after getting ready for work today and announces, "I just rubbed your deodorant all over my face and arms.  Just thought you'd like to know."

I couldn't stop laughing.  He is not going to sweat one bit today...and if he does...he needn't fear his head or arms stinking.

Come to think of it...this reminds me of another incident involving deodorant being used for other than it's original intent.  Like father, like son.

Nov 8, 2012

Surrender

11/08/2012 — cori



Head bowed low
Hands open wide
Giving up my will
Releasing my pride
Wherever you lead
That's where I'll go
I am your sheep
My job is to follow

In the times of joy
Through the path of sorrow
When I understand
Or when the truth's hard to swallow
The journey is long
But the burden is light
My heart entwined with Yours
No need to fear or to fight
The circumstances that each day brings
For You walk before me and shine Your light

Your will is revealed to me each day
I accept it humbly and continue to pray
That I see You in each person I face
Remind me to serve and always embrace
Each challenge that arises
With Your love and Your grace

May these not be merely words
Or ideals I hold on to
But action flowing out of love for You
I may not always want to accept Your will
In those time I pray You make my heart still
Replace all the worry and doubt
And remind me what life is truly about
Serving and loving and giving my all
 My daily Salvation, to You do I call

Head bowed low
Hands open wide
Giving up my will
Releasing my pride
Wherever you lead
That's where I'll go
I am your sheep
My job is to follow


Nov 6, 2012

Short Term Memory Loss

11/06/2012 — cori
I think I'm the president of that club.  I always have been. It's just gotten worse (or more noticeable) as I age.  Even as a kid, I distinctly remember (and that's saying something since I have already confessed to having such a horrible memory) forgetting the order of washing my hair.  Seriously.  I remember sitting there in the tub reading the 'directions of use' on the back of the shampoo and conditioner bottles because I could never remember which one you were supposed to use first and if you were supposed to have your hair wet or dry before you apply.

Thankfully, I've moved past needing to read the back of the bottle.  Now I simply can't remember if I already added the conditioner or not.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten out of the tub, brushed my hair and noticed the tangle of knots still in it - a tell-tale sign of having forgotten the creme rinse part of my routine.   So back in I go to redo my hair.  Like...this happened just last week.  Just one of the many weeks of my life to which I could repeat this same, pathetic tale.

Now I've upgraded to a new forgetfulness.  We don't even want to count the number of times I've gotten out of the tub with only one leg shaved.  The worst part is, I don't even notice until the next day.

Why am I confessing this?  Good question.  I dont' want my sweet kids thinking that their aging mother has dementia because of her forgetfulness.  I want proof, recorded for posterity, that this little thing called, "short term memory loss" has plagued me my entire life. I don't want them to start putting labels on everything for me  - "door", "keys", "cupboard".

Don't even get me started on the garage door and my curling or straight iron.  Every day for years, I would close the garage door, back out and start driving to work or where ever and then get to the end of the street and not remember shutting the door.  I just couldn't live with myself if I knowingly left the garage door open all day - an open invitation for anyone to come take whatever they need.  So, I would turn around EVERY DAY and go back to double check.  Maybe 2 times out of 100 did I actually forget to shut it.   I got to the point where I built in time to do this circle around routine so I wouldn't be late.

Then there's the whole curling/straight iron thing to worry about.  How could I live with myself if we came back from running errands only to find the house burnt down because of my dumb iron.  Seriously, I would be looking on the horizon for smoke coming from the general vicinity of our house as we would be driving home because I would be so nervous as to whether or not I actually turned it off.  Unfortunately, I don't remember about the status of my hair styling aids until we're long past the turn around point (at least for Chuck anyway).

How about one more for good measure.  I have played a card game called Nertz since I was like 13.  I know it like the back of my hand.  You have one pile that holds 13 cards called your Nertz pile.  Every time we sit down to play that game together, I secretly question how many cards are supposed to be in that pile, 13 or 14.  Most of the time I put an extra card in for good measure.

If there is something really important, now-a-days that I wish to remember, I just tell it to Chloe and ask her to remind me later.  Since she has a tape recorder for a memory, it's a set-up that works just great for me.  Plus, she loves to remind of things.  Win/win.

Nov 5, 2012

Perspective

11/05/2012 — cori
Chloe was telling me about a conversation she had with her friend the other day.  Apparently friend  already knows who she is going 'vote' for for President and she was adamantly telling Chloe why, "I'm voting for [this candidate] because [the other candidate] says he would give money to the poor and I think that is wrong.  You need to earn your money."

I guess Chloe let it drop and that was the end of the conversation.  But it doesn't mean she didn't stop thinking about it.  As we're out and about today she tells me about this conversation with her friend and then adds, "But Mom, I was thinking...doesn't Jesus say to give to the poor?"

I love, love, love that my daughter goes immediately to what Jesus would do.  No politics.  No side-taking.  Just Jesus.  Sometimes we adults make things too complicated when they're not.  When we put others above ourselves as Jesus did, it really isn't all that complicated.  I wish all the grown ups could remember that during this election season.

Oct 30, 2012

Cuddle Time Rules!

10/30/2012 — cori
Boy was I tired today!  It was a very full day.  As I was driving home, Chuck called and mentioned how tired I sounded, to which I appropriately respond, "You don't even know the end of it."  He had no clue what I meant obviously.   Neither did I.  I just knew there was an idiom that sounded kind of like that and I tried to use it in context and ended up failing miserably.  Just add it to the list of my idiom (not idiot) failures.  (For those of you still scratching your heads....the proper phraseology would be: "You don't even know the half of it.")

As soon as I got home, which was after Chuck, I walked in, kicked off my boots, threw my glasses on the table and announced with as much gusto as my cracky, tired voice could muster, "Who wants to cuddle me on my bed?" and ran upstairs dramatically.  All my people came running from all corners of the house to join me.  There was a mad dash down the tiny hallway that leads to my room.  Gavin, in all his excitement hit Chloe, who had a firm grip on my jeans, in the face (accidentally) as he's trying to desperately secure a position next to me once snuggly upon my bed.  Bennett zoomed under the rader and got there almost before me.  How the bed didn't crack in half with 4 people and a dog jumping on it all at the same time is beyond me.  Ninja, who is never allowed on my bed was beside herself with excitement at actually being up on this lofty, once unattainable pedestal.  In all the craziness, I noticed someone was missing...Chloe.  Apparently, she got trampled in the fray by her ever so gentle brothers.  She was across the hall, in her bed, crying.  Chuck went and got her, carried her into my bed and then "tada!" one, big, happy, cuddly, family.  It was heaven.

I'm thankful for my tiredness today.  It was precisely because of it that I was able to have such a beautiful memory of special time with my family.

At the end of the day we always ask each other what our favorite part of our day was.  Without a doubt, my favorite part was cuddling with all my favorite people on the bed and that they still want to cuddle me.


Oct 29, 2012

We Must Be Doing Something Right

10/29/2012 — cori
As Chloe and I are reading through her Chemistry workbook today, she's stops what she's reading aloud to me and suddenly announces, "Mommy, this is Comic Sans font.  I know cuz it's my favorite.  Daddy doesn't like it though."

I knew we must have been doing something right in order for our off-spring to be able to recognize fonts at such a young, precarious age.  You want to catch them young so you can indoctrinate them early on about the 'good' vs. 'bad' fonts.  We wouldn't want our children out there typing in fonts we find unacceptable, would we?

What kind of parents would we be if our children didn't have the same love of fonts as their parents.  Chuck and I are slightly obsessed with fonts.  He has hundreds of them memorized because of his line of work and I just plain like pretty words.  I'll see a font on a bill board or on a product and ask Chuck what it is, to which he will answer.  Then if we don't already have that particular font, we run to dafont.com and download it so we can use it as our very own.  Doesn't everybody?

The kids have big font footsteps to fill, but now we can rest easy knowing that at least one of our children will be able to attain our lofty goals.

Oct 28, 2012

The Infamous Head Wound

10/28/2012 — cori
You just never know with us.  Do you?  You could have a perfectly planned out day and then BAM!  Everything could change.  Wait a minute...that's every day for us.  Hmmmm...oh well, it still holds true for this story.

It was just a normal Saturday.  Gavin commandeered the laundry room early in the morning since he had a lot of wash to do.  Chuck and I were moving boxes from the garage down to the basement (where the laundry room is).  All the kids were helping us at one point or another, even the neighbor boy was here.  In between moving boxes Gavin was also checking on his laundry.  He had a question for me about it at one point and I helped him.

As I was walking back out to the garage to get more items to bring down, I thought I faintly heard Gavin say, "mom...".  I figured he had another laundry question and I wasn't going to walk all the way back down 15 steps when I was right there at the garage door....he could wait.

But upon coming back down to the basement I see blood drops on the floor.  Then I see Gavin leaning over the laundry sink with Chuck holding Gavin's head in his hands as he's running water all over it.  Then I see blood coming from Gavin's head.  Uh oh.  I should have sprinted down those stairs when I heard the faint 'mom' cry.

The rest was a blur.  Thank God Chuck was the first responder.  I would have totally freaked out.  Here is the story of what happened as described to me:  Gavin thought he would leap down all 8 stairs leading to the basement.  He failed to remember 1. his gangly height and 2. the lowness of the ceiling in the stairwell.  He said he made it all the way to the bottom in one awesome leap, but then he felt as though someone threw something at him and hit him in the back of the head. Suddenly his head started hurting really badly and he was getting tired.  He thought he'd go lay down on his bed (his room is in the basement) which was just a few steps away.  But as he was climbing into his bed, he noticed blood dripping.  That's when the faint 'mom' was thrown out there.

Chuck was on his way downstairs when he heard the faint cry for help and ran into Gavin's room only to find him curled up on his rug holding his head with blood dripping all over his hands and down his face.  Gavin, in all his pain, wanted to be sure to keep the blood in one location and not get it on the carpet or his bed, so he had enough frame of mind to stay put.  Chuck helped him into the laundry room where I cluelessly entered the scene.

After we've rinsed all the blood away, we find the gash that's producing the flow.  It's about an inch in width, but rather narrow. It doesn't look as though it needs stitches, but since it's a head wound, the blood flows freely.  We were finally able to get ice on it and check Gavin out for signs of a concussion. He was the one who was most calm, ironically.

Our neighbor went back to the scene of the accident and using his detective skills announced, "Looks like Gavin dented the wall.  There's a crack and a dent on the ceiling where he hit his head."  Nice.  That is one hard head.  Gavin announced, "I didn't realize I was so tall."

He obediently sat with ice on his head for a good 30 minutes, thus keeping the swelling down to a minimum.  Thankfully, we were able to keep him awake and even get food in him.  He couldn't wait to tell his friend.  He calls him right away and says, "Yeah...I just wanted to tell you about the head wound I just received."  All day long, all he wanted to do was talk about it.  He comes into our room as we're going to bed and says, "Let's talk about my head wound."  It is so his personality to turn it into a joke.

The kid is crazy. He's so melodramatic when it comes to something like a bug bite or paper cut but he almost cracks his head open and is mr. calm, cool and collected about it.  I don't get it.  I asked him if he's into random injuries lately like the one he obtained earlier this year.  I already had my turn at being a first responder once this year....I thought it only fair to give Chuck his chance to act at lightening quick speed to save a child (the same one).

Just another day around here.  Like when you wake up and your heater doesn't work and then your garage door breaks the next day and then your kid gets an unexpected head injury.  It's very important to go with the flow.  We like to call it an adventure.  Life around here is nothing if not an adventure!

Oct 23, 2012

Empathy

10/23/2012 — cori
This is a trait that does not come naturally for most people. I believe it is something that is learned by experiencing first hand or observing those close to you who are giving or receiving it.   A few lucky ones are born with this gift of God imbedded into their souls.  It is looking out side of yourself and experiencing the pain, suffering, struggles of those around you as your own.

As a parent, I aim to teach our kids this lesson by example.  We talk about it frequently.  They've received it plenty.  But I don't think Gavin gained an appreciation for it until this week.  All the talking and seeing finally manifested into doing.  I couldn't be more proud.

Last week, Gavin had a very big report due that somehow got a little procrastinated.  We haven't done a formal investigation into how that could have possibly happened, but each parent has their own suspicions.   Thankfully, that wasn't the heart of the matter.  Gavin worked hard to research and write this report and then submitted himself to my ever demanding edits.  My critiques of his writing have always been a sore spot for him; always hard to take.  He takes it personally instead of academically.

We (Chuck & I) spent much time talking with him about his topic, presenting him with other ideas that might be useful to incorporate into his essay and leaving him with the choice as to what and how to incorporate all he's learned.  Children, even really big ones that think they already know everything, still need to be taught how to research, write, think critically and edit their own work.  Not much of that is being done in school.  After several days and nights of hard work, the essay was complete, all the hard work and revisions were worth it once he reviewed the finished product.  And he learned not only more about what he was researching, but about the method and whys and hows behind how to research.  Bonus!

Then steps in our neighbor, a sweet 15 year old kid who is intimated by essays, learning, reading, writing and anything other than basketball.  However, he sees that Gavin seems to have a handle on this essay writing thing and asks him to help him with his paper.  And Gavin says YES!  This is a huge step for mankind.  My son just showed empathy!  I've waited so long for this day.  Not that he's never showed empathy before, he shows it to me on almost a daily basis.  But now he has opened up his horizons and has shown empathy to someone he doesn't love or know very well and finds it worth while to help anyways.

The two boys spent the better part of Saturday and Monday working together to get a 3 page paper written.  Gavin didn't do it for him, but he did walk along side him and encourage, help and give advice when and where needed (he was also the official typist).   Thankfully, I was also asked to contribute the help of my beloved red pen to the first draft.  I was so proud of this kid.  He did something super hard for himself and came out stronger and more knowledgeable on the other side simply by humbling himself and asking for help.

I told Gavin I was very thankful that he chose to help this boy and he responds, "Ya, well, I know what it feels like to be stressed about a report."  Bingo!  It really came from the heart.  He's actually relating how he feels to how another person may feel and takes a course of action.  I may be more proud of this accomplishment than any grade or academic achievement he makes the rest of the school year.

Oct 15, 2012

Talking In Circles

10/15/2012 — cori
One would think that as a marriage matures so would the communication skills.  That would be a wrong assumption if you were talking about us, however.  We seem to get more and more confused as the years progress.

We've always talked in circles. I believe there are multiple blog posts to prove that.  What surprises me though, is that it KEEPS happening.  Maybe it's Chuck's way of keeping the laughter alive or keeping me on my toes or keeping my brain synapses on high alert.  But after 16 years, we still have conversations that just go nowhere and make no sense.  Does this happen to other people?

Take the other day for example.  I wasn't feeling very well; very lethargic and achy.  We were in the car on the way to somewhere.  This is what I heard Chuck tell me:
"I think there is an app in store for you when we get home."

My ever so patient response:
"I don't know what that means."

So, since I obviously didn't  hear it clearly the first time, he just repeats exactly what he said the first time only louder because that's what you do when someone says they don't understand something, right?
"I THINK THERE IS AN APP IN STORE FOR YOU WHEN WE GET HOME."

Still not having a clue I mumble:
"What kind of app can help me feel better?  Is this some magical phone you have?"  Because sarcasm always makes a conversation that much better.

He finally understands my lack of understanding and starts to laugh:
"Ahhh, now I see....I didn't say 'app', I said, 'nap'.  But I guess I can see how you heard it that way.  I think you should take a nap when we get home."

I actually shook my head in agreement which meant I really felt horrible because I hate to take naps or even use apps, for that matter.  Chuck seems to have an app for everything, so it wouldn't have surprised me if he was relying on his phone to help make me better.

Maybe we should take a class together on how to enunciate and not mumble...maybe that would solve all our problems.  But then where would the laughter come from?  At this rate, we're going to be the happiest, laughingest old people you've ever seen.


Oct 14, 2012

Our Morning Hike

10/14/2012 — cori
When I woke up this morning, I remembered that we hadn't been to our favorite park, Schaar's Bluff, yet to photograph the fall colors.  I took the kids there for the first time last year by myself, without my camera.  I then proceeded to kick myself for an entire year because I missed the most amazing photo op.  When the kids and I took Daddy (and the camera) back the next weekend, the colors had already faded.  You have to time this just right.  Looks like we hit the jackpot today!  The more I'm in nature the more the beauty, serenity and majesty of it all fills my soul.  I stand in awe of the Creator of such good gifts.  My soul is full of his love for me when I'm out here.  I hope you feel this same love through these pictures.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  

















Oct 13, 2012

Group Work

10/13/2012 — cori
At Gavin's parent/teacher conference last week, the teacher had only good things to say about  how well he was doing in relation to his grades (only).  And then he paused a moment and addressed Gavin, "How do you feel about group work, Gavin?"

With zero emotion on his face and in the most monotone, lowest voice he could muster he pronounces once and for all, "I don't work well with others."

Yes.  Read that again.  My son actually said that ALOUD to another human in a position of authority and leadership that could affect his overall grade and life.

I was scrambling to help save face.  I know my son infinitely better than this teacher who has known him for all of 6 weeks.  I know his antisocial tendencies.  I'm intimately familiar with his lack of enthusiasm when it comes to talking with other human beings.  And I don't consider any of these things a negative because I know who he is.  He is a highly introverted thinker.  He hates to interrupt when others are talking (which you often have to in group work situations in order to get heard).  He is a very private person.  He rarely shares his emotions, even with me, partly because he has no idea how he is feeling.  He is a person who is stuck in his head most of the time.  And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.  He is comfortable in his skin.

But in public school, where the one-size-fits-all mentality thrives, that becomes a big problem.  It becomes a liability.  Because most schools, be they private, public or co-operative learning centers, expect group work to be done regardless of each kids' individual learning style.  The extroverts come out shining in most group work scenarios.  The introverts end up either doing all the work because the rest of the group doesn't care as much about the project as they do, or they got stuck with the least appealing part of the project because they are too apprehensive to speak up (I only know this from experience).  The introvert also tends to get looked down upon because they don't thrive in this environment  therefore, the conclusion goes, they must not be giving it their all, not trying hard enough.

Without apologizing for my son's statement or excusing his behavior in group work away, I simply explained to his teacher that he is highly introverted and not comfortable in larger group situations (he does just fine in a group of 2 or in situations where you can pick your group).  Simply because he doesn't happen to possess group work skills does not equal that he does not understand the assignment or subject he is being taught.  I told him that Gavin is aware that group work will be very common in his high school classes and even though he doesn't necessarily like it, he knows the challenge of it will make him grow.

Thankfully, the teacher seemed satisfied with my answer but looked warily at Gavin.  My momma bear instincts are on high alert.  I left the conference with the statement to the teacher that this happened to be Gavin's favorite class which seemed to make the teacher happy, even if he couldn't fathom Gavin's honest answer.

After that awkward little moment, I decided it was time to coach Gavin in the fine art of making things sound better than they actually are.  I informed him, "Honey, please do not tell another adult, or anyone for that matter, that you don't like working with other people even though that is a true statement.  Put a positive spin on it like, 'I work great in groups of one or two people.'  Doesn't that sound better?"  I have been his social skills teacher his entire life and apparently dropped the ball on this one, I never saw it coming.

It's the quirks of each of our children that make them special to us and the world.  Why does the world insist we all fit in the same box?  Why can't these beautiful differences be used to the best of their advantage?  Why are kids made to feel bad, weird, self-conscious about their uniqueness?  I definitely see the benefit of doing things you're not good at to help grow you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and academically.  Both Gavin and I accept that years of upcoming group work are inevitable and that he will indeed grow through it and become a good 'faker'.  But he never has to give up being who he is at the core just to please people.

Oct 11, 2012

Togetherness

10/11/2012 — cori
Last school year, Gavin got out earlier than Chloe and Bennett enabling us to spend some quality time together sharing the events of our days with each other.  This year, his school day is much longer.  He gets home while I'm picking Bennett up from school.  Yet, surprisingly, we've fallen into an unexpected pattern of still getting to share our days with one another.  Once he's done with his homework and before I start preparing dinner, he and I take Ninja on a walk together.  It is during this uninterrupted time together I get to hear all about each class, what he's thinking and how he's doing.  Sometimes we walk in silence just enjoying each other and the weather.  I treasure this unexpected routine and am so thankful I have a son who loves to share his time with me.



Oct 8, 2012

Listen To Me

10/08/2012 — cori
Let's just say that we have had a few listening issues going on in this house betwixt the adults and the children.  And let's just say that the adults keep sighing in exasperation because none of their bag of tricks have worked thus far when enticing the young ones to listen.  And let's continue saying that the adults were dangling at the end of their collective rope and were ready to institute the "Yell and Intimidate" routine with the children so at least they would listen out of fear if nothing else.

It's not like our kids are doing the opposite of what we say.  And it's not like they spitefully go out of their way to not listen.  Oh contraire.  Upon meeting any one of my offspring, you may be thinking, "What in the world is that woman complaining about?  Those kids are just great."  But then you wouldn't have had the pleasure of spending 24 hours with them.  All. Alone.

See, our little listening demon comes in the form of "Oh...sorry, Mom, I just forgot."  On everything!  Homework.  Chores.  The last thing I asked them to do.  I just don't buy the "I forgot" excuse for one second.  I do, however, buy the "I'm Tuning You Out" excuse.  On the outside I'm getting, "oh ya, sure  Mom" and "okay, I'll do that" only to appease me.  They know that I, too, have the worst short term memory and they're counting on that to kick in before they go and do the dreaded chore and activity I've asked of them.  But on the inside they're busy thinking of birds, basketballs, books and buddys.

No more.  Chuck and I decided to once and for all time, emphasize the importance of listening.  It came in the form of a little game.  We ditched our "Intimation" tactics and opted for "heaping on the guilt" instead.  Just joking.  No, we opted to teach them a lesson they'll not soon forget.

Chuck and I completely rearranged our family room, moving furniture all about.  We placed random obstacles all around the floor.  We placed props in certain places that they would have to lift or move upon our direction.  We were giddy with excitement.  We told the kids to lock themselves and the dog in a room while we were formulating our genius plan (surprisingly they listened to that directive).

And then we blindfolded them.  We took one kid at a time out of the room.  We gave them three instructions: 1.  You must ONLY listen to MY voice (whichever parent was giving the instruction), 2.  You must keep your hands glued to your side, and 3.  You may not reach your foot out in front of you to feel around, walk as normal.  Then we brought them downstairs into our new domain.

If I was the one giving the directions to the blindfolded child, then Chuck was the one standing uncomfortingly close to them and whispering into their ear the opposite of what I was saying.  He kept contradicting my directions.  It was almost impossible for me not to laugh.  I kept getting ruffled and messed up.  I had to remain focused so I could give the kids sound advice about how to navigate the obstacle course.  I don't know who had to concentrate harder, me or the kids.  You could tell there were a few times when they hesitated, like when Chuck told them to watch out, if they took one more step they'd fall down the stairs and I 'm telling them at the same time to take 4 steps.  Or like the time we told them to pick up the bowl and put it over their head and then dump it over.  It was only filled with cotton balls, but they didn't know that.

After we worked our magic on Chloe, my ever perceptive child said immediately upon removing her blindfold, "I know what you were doing...you were like God, Mom (since I was the one directing her) and Dad was like the devil and I had to work extra hard to only listen to you."  Well...yes, that too dear.  But we were hoping you would see the importance of listening to us even and especially when you're distracted.  Everything we tell you is out of love and for your good.  Sometimes it is extra hard to listen, but when you do, you know it will go well with you.  I think they learned more about listening to God than to us, to be honest.  But apparently, that was the bigger lesson we were supposed to be teaching them.

The kids thanked us over and over the rest of the day for such a fun activity that we reverted to only out of desperation.  Goes to show that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go from there is up.  I think we're on our way up in the listening department now.

*I'd like to thank the book "Creative Correction" for the inspiration for the obstacle course.

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