Jan 31, 2013

My Dream

1/31/2013 — cori
My husband knew it.  But I'm not sure anyone else in the world did.  It's mostly been a silent yearning deep in my heart for something I knew most probably would never happen.  To most my dream is probably chalked up to my idealistic, naive and over-simplified views of life.  But to me, the hope of one day attaining it, possibly in old age, has kept the dream alive.

And then came my 40th birthday (and I'm not even old yet!).

And then stepped in the dream benefactor (Chuck has been saving forever).

And now that dream is going to be a reality this May (I'm still in shock).

Here is how I received one of the best gifts I've ever been given for a birthday:











Words cannot express the joy that flooded my heart.  These precious people will change me more than I will ever be able to make an impact in their lives.  But that won't stop me from trying.

I live a charmed life.  I'm not okay with sitting back in comfort and complacency any longer while others are suffering just to live.  I desperately want them to know that someone cares enough to walk beside them, even if it is only for one week.  Nobody wants to feel like they are alone.  All I have to give is love that has graciously been showered over me my entire life.  It's my turn to give back.  No task is beneath me.

My heart cannot express enough thanks to each and every family member that contributed to help make my dream come true....I'm overwhelmed with love.  Thank you for letting me share the wealth.

Jan 28, 2013

Hope

1/28/2013 — cori
Expecting something to be true
In the deepest part of you

Longing
Searching
Yearning

Looking forward with desire
Keeping you alive while under fire

Endure
Believe
Desire

It gives you a reason to survive
When everything around you tells you otherwise 

Trust
Faith
Wish

When life holds you in the grip of despair
Let it all go and offer up a prayer

Anticipate
Endurance 
Reliance

Cling to hope and you will see
It will lift you out of your misery

Unreasonable
Unreachable
Unseen

Anticipating with confidence the very best
Everlasting optimism knowing you are blessed

A glimmer
A gesture
A gift

Trust God to guide you down the bumpy path of life
This, my friend, is hope and it makes your heart light.


Jan 25, 2013

If only....

1/25/2013 — cori
If only we taught kids that loving others, being empathetic, having compassion were more important than grades, intellect, how much money you make, what you have or your status in society.  We might end up with teachers and children like these. If our society valued each other more than one-upping each other just imagine what that would look like.  Since our schools don't do this, we parents need to teach these most important traits to our children.  I don't want my children learning the social skills they learn in school...bullying, laughing at the weak, making yourself look better at someone else's expense.  There are so many other positive social learning opportunities.  It's just sad that our education system chooses to ignore those in favor of only enlightening their minds.  Parents, you are your child's first and most important teacher.  They will do as you do, so make sure everything you do is done in love.  Who your children are comes from their heart, not their mind.  Nurture those little hearts with love, empathy, grace, compassion, patience, kindness, mercy, acceptance and forgiveness.  What you say (& how you live) is an overflow from what is in your heart (Luke 6:45).  As Ghandi reminds us, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."


Jan 18, 2013

My "Aha!" Moment

1/18/2013 — cori
This blog acts as many things for me, memory keeper being the most important.  But I seem to often use it as a place to journal my many confessions of failure.  I guess it feels good to "get it off my chest" when I mess up.  The kids know I'm not perfect, but here they can see and hear me admit to my own stupidity, inadequacies, bad choices and failures as well as hear my heart-felt sorrow for each.

So, this is yet one more of my many, many confessionals of my parental failure.  Sometimes it's so easy to get stuck in the forest and not be able to see the trees from the forest.  All you see around you are trees and you forget where you are, what you're doing.

And then today I hear a song I've heard numerous times before.  But this time I took the time to really listen to the words.  It brings you back to what you felt like when you first had your children...that deepest yearning to just hold them and love them - nothing else matters.  The main chorus hit my heart hard and deep in that moment:
I wanna give her the world
I wanna hold her hand
I wanna be her mom for as long as I can
And I wanna live every moment until that day comes
I wanna show her what it means to be loved

Have I been doing that?  Is my only goal to just show my children what it means to be loved?  I confess it has not.  I fear my motives have changed over time.  Of course that's always there, looming in the background as the main objective.  It never goes away.  But how often have I changed the ending to 'show her what it means to be responsible' or 'show her what it means to be well behaved' or 'right' or 'a good student' instead of 'loved'.

How did I fall so far?  How did I let good intentions steal the joy of just showing my children what it means to be loved?  How can I so quickly forget the overwhelming joy of holding this new, precious human in my arms for the first time?

Easy.... I lose my focus.  That's how the long, slippery slope starts.  I start looking at the trees and I forget the forest that they are all in.  I notice all the little inconsistencies and mistakes instead of seeing how all those things grow into a beautiful tree that makes the forest even more beautiful than it was before.

How grateful I am for this reminder today!  All my heart longs to do is show my children what it means to be loved -  not perfect, not smart, not well-liked, not right, not responsible.   Loved!


Jan 15, 2013

Phone Flipping

1/15/2013 — cori
It's your average night at our house.  Some are getting ready for bed, others are lounging around, not quite sure what to do with themselves.  Gavin is following me like a puppy.  "Hey Mom, did you know that I can flip my phone in the air 8 times before dropping it?"

"I did not.  This is good information to know, Gavin."

"Ya.  Thankfully, when it dropped it fell on the carpet."

"Yep.  That's good."

"Want me to show you?"

"Sure.  Why not?"

When then end up in the front room all gathered around Gavin and counting aloud as he's flipping his phone in the air and catching it again.  We're going for greater than 8.  Yet, he fails at 4.  Then Bennett gets his turn because this has now progressed into a competition and someone has to win.  Bennett, too, drops it at 4.  Count me in next.  Come to find out, I rock at the phone flipping game.  I did the phone flip 31 times!  I know.  Impressive.  Chuck tried, but didn't even make it to 20.

Bennett wanted another go at it to show his flipping prowess but I told him it was shower time.  I got the typical, "But Mom, I didn't even get sweaty today."

"Well...maybe not.  But you folk danced in p.e. today, didn't you."

"Well, ya.  But that doesn't count."

Gavin then declared all folk dancers must shower and no longer be phone flippers.

This is the level of humor and conversation we stoop to on school nights.  

Jan 13, 2013

A Birthday Circus

1/13/2013 — cori
In honor of Gavin's 14th birthday, we all voted on doing a DUFDN for dinner.  Unbeknownst to us however, was the little known fact that none of us would be hungry for dinner (since we ate lunch at  The Cheesecake Factory) that night, so we dressed up for dessert instead.  The circus was the theme of choice for the evenings festivities.  


First of all, don't you just love the attention to detail I possess in candle matching?  Gavin didn't really care about my lame "1", all that mattered to him was that I followed his explicit instructions on what type of cake I made.  He specifically asked for and received: chocolate cake with a layer of jelly in the middle, covered in chocolate frosting and then sprinkled with chopped Reece's Peanut Butter Cups on top.  Check.  I was able to accomplish this birthday task even having been sick with the flu for a week thanks to my little chef helper, Chloe.


We celebrated long distance with the Grandparents via iChat.  Here's a fun memory of the morning:


We were finally able to achieve this lovely picture after 3 previous failed attempts.  I just love it when things work out eventually.  


And this is the new pride and joy of the birthday boy....his very own Chromebook lovingly given to him by everyone in his family.  He's already uploaded a scientific and graphing calculator as well as a programing tool, building your very own cargo bridge game and Grooveshark - all the important elements necessary for good computing.


Now on to what you're really waiting for....the circus costumes.  



The birthday boy is the Circus Ringleader.  He originally wanted to be the 'Strong Man'.  But seeing as that requires very little clothing and pictures were going to be taken to document the event, I advised him to either give the strong man more than a loin cloth or find a different circus entertainer to emulate.


Bennett chose to be a lion trainer who trains monkeys instead.  It made sense to him.


Chloe is the girl who dances on the back of a moving horse.  Thankfully, we got the horse to stand still for our picture taking purposes.


I am a mimic...or a mime person.  I don't know what on earth they're called.  But the real show stopper goes to this guy:



Chuck the Contortionist.  The costume was made for a 7 year old.  Yep.  He just barely squeezed into it.  He's wowing us with his body twisting abilities in this picture.

We thought finishing up the night watching,  Madagascar 3 - The Afro Circus, (our sub-title, not theirs) seemed rather apropos.  I can't think of a better way to remember turning 14.

Jan 9, 2013

Who Inspires Me?

1/09/2013 — cori

He was 39 when he died.  The same age as I am.  What a legacy he's left.  

Over the past several months I've been studying the teachings, sermons, essays and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I'm embarrassed to say that I never learned about him in school growing up.  That saddens me.  He's a man that not only was able to speak with simple clarity but with profound conviction.  He was not only intelligent, but wise.

He lived what he believed and it cost him his life.  He didn't only believe that there should be justice for the oppressed, he lived amongst the oppressed and made their concerns his concerns.  He didn't only believe in non-violence, he lived a life of peace in the midst of violence.  He didn't only believe in loving your neighbor, he went to jail for them.  He didn't only believe in justice, he dedicated his life to pursuing it on behalf of the oppressed.

He not only took a stand for equality for African Americans but also for theological and political positions that weren't popular in his own denomination. He chose to love instead of hate those who persecuted him even though his house was bombed 3 times, he was imprisoned unjustly 19 times, he was almost fatally stabbed and endured daily death threats.  He didn't live to please people, he lived to serve God.  May I have the courage to live the same.

The following are some quotes that have inspired me the past few months and have helped give a voice to convictions I've held and was never able to express.

Loving Our Enemies:
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.  We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity.  By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up.  Love transforms with redemptive power.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering.  We shall meet your physical force with soul force.  Do to us what you will and we shall continue to love you.....But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.  One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves.  We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.

Fear:
We shall never be cured of fear by escapism or repression, for the more we attempt to ignore and repress our fears, the more we multiply our inner conflicts.

Hope:
This would be an unbearable world were God to have only a single light, but we may be consoled that God has two lights: a light to guide us in the brightness of the day when hopes are fulfilled and circumstances are favorable, and a light to guide us in the darkness of the midnight when we are thwarted and slumbering giants of gloom and hopelessness rise in our souls.

Pride:
You must come to see that a man may be self centered in his self denial and self righteous in his self sacrifice.  His generosity may feed his ego and his piety his pride.  Without love, benevolence becomes egotism and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.

Character:
The ultimate measure of a man is not wehre he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Education:
We must remember that intelligence is not enough.  Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

Evil:
Within the wide arena of everyday life we see evil in all of its ugly dimensions.  We see it express in tragic lust and inordinate selfishness.  We see it in high places where men are willing to sacrifice truth on their alters of self-interest.  We see it in imperialistic nations crushing other people with the battering rams of social injustice.  We see it clothed in the garments of calamitous wars which leave men and nations morally and physically bankrupt.

Justice:
Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Nonviolence:
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.  It is a sword the heals.

Jan 6, 2013

Learning A New Game

1/06/2013 — cori
You know how when you love someone you try to take an interest in what is important to them?  You have to open up your horizons to new ideas sometimes.  I've spent the last 13 years learning many new things...things I never dreamed I would one day know.  All thanks to my kids.

At the beginning the obsession was superheroes.  Everything was about superheroes.  I learned to embrace superheroes.  Then there were Bionicles.  They knew everything about Bionicles, therefore, so did I.  But my knowledge base was a little shaky since their names were so weird, I couldn't keep them straight like I did all the superhero names.  This was the first time my confidence started to wane in keeping up to speed with their interests.

There were also smatterings of other shorter lived obsessions such as Rescue Heroes, Star Wars, and Legos.  And then one day, two years ago, Yu-gi-oh walked into our lives and and has yet to leave.  I thought it would be another passing fancy.  Oh, but how wrong I was.  I didn't realize that Gavin would memorize the rule book that was written in 6 point font and was about 100 pages long.  Nor did I realize he would create a fusion table to keep track of each and every card, their "effects" (whatever that means) and their "attack" (again, clueless).  Suddenly, I realize I'm old.  I'm not into the new, hip things.  Nor do I want to be.  I'm perfectly fine being stuck in the early 2000's.  I freely admit it.

For two years now, I've shoved it aside as a 'passing fancy'.  I've watched the kids play only to have the whole concept go straight over my head.  I figured I'm not smart enough for their little card game.  I've never been more right about anything in my life.

Gavin often asks to show me his cards and tell me their 'effects'.  Since this apparently means so much to him I sit and listen...but it's more like I'm listening to someone explain something to me in a foreign language.  I nod and smile and act interested, but I can't for the life of me comprehend what he's saying.    But since this is VERY important to him, I keep trying harder and harder to understand.  The harder I try, the deeper into the hole of confusion I fall.

Then Gavin came up with the 'perfect idea'.  This was his proposal, "How about we (Bennett & Me) walk Mom & Dad thru a dual - we'll like, be their Yu-gi-oh coaches and teach them to play."  Awesome.  Let's do it.  There's no time like the present.  So...we just did it.  I think the pictures speak for themselves.  At one point in the game Gavin says, "Use this card as tribute.....blah, blah, blah" and Chuck catches a word in there that he understands and yells emphatically, "I volunteer as tribute!"  Only he and I got the joke apparently cuz we're laughing our heads off at that little movie quote (from The Hunger Games).  They gave us the look like, 'get serious guys and start concentrating on what we tell you'.

Chuck got the special playing field.  For those of you unacquainted with Yu-gi-oh terms, that would be the thing the cards are sitting on.  Mine are sitting on plain old carpet.  Chuck is actually trying to read the card, why, I don't know when you have a coach beside you who has it memorized and is trying to tell you what to do with it.  Chuck is under the impression that he has to understand the 'whys' of the game before he can play.  I on the other hand have learned how to fake it really well.


This is one of Chuck's many looks of utter confusion and cluelessness.


This is me laughing at the hilarious "tribute" comment.


Here I am contemplating advice Bennett is giving me.


Gavin is laughing at Chuck's complete incompetence and lack of understanding.  He just can't understand what we don't get. 

When I was teaching the kids at home and I would be at my whit's end trying to explain something for the twentieth time and they still didn't 'get it', I would frustratingly say, "What is it that you don't understand?"  That could possibly be one the of the dumbest questions in history because if they could explain what they don't understand, then they understand it.  That little phrase is coming back to bite me now.  The boys, for the life of them, just can't understand what we don't understand - which is pretty much everything.  Even the names on the cards give us reason to be confused.  Trust me - this game is not for the faint of heart.  You have to have an excellent memory, be awesome at strategy and be very, very patient.  I possess none of those qualities, therefore I'm a horrible candidate for this game.

Sledding

1/06/2013 — cori
So. Much. Fun!  We were able to go twice while our friends were visiting us for Christmas.  This was their first time to ever sled.  It was rather cold, however.  But once you slap those little foot warmers on your socks and put on 3 or 4 layers of clothes, you're perfectly ready to go have fun in 5 or 17 degree temperatures....at least for an hour.

Bennett getting ready for some serious fun.

Whenever anyone went with Daddy, this is how they ended up, flying off the sled and landing in a heap - usually on top of each other.  There is a small bump in the middle of the hill that acts like a ramp, it was a miracle if you could actually stay on your sled!

Gavin and Pranav braving the hill with the 'bump'.

Pig pile on Mommy.  This is how I spent the entire time, with my mouth wide open, laughing, screaming or both.  This is also the first time I braved going down on my tummy.  No, we didn't make it down all together, we ended up scattered all different directions half way down the hill.

Rama and I are racing.  Unfortunately, we bumped into each other.  I never knew you 
could do bumper sledding.  Chloe and I usually rode as a team.  I think her unicorn hat helped us fly down the hill faster.


Jan 3, 2013

Crazy Hair DUFDN

1/03/2013 — cori
I can't believe this silly tradition has lasted this long.  Five years ago, we started Dress Up For Dinner Night simply because I mis-understood something I had read.  We transformed it Mallott-style.  I'm so thankful it's still around because it's provided us years of memories and laughs.

We recently had some friends visiting us from Texas.  We got on the subject of DUFDN and they thought it would be a good idea to do it while they were here.  We voted on the theme:  Crazy Hair.  We have approximately 4 wigs and innumerable hats in this house - there was bound to be something for everyone.

Bennett & Vik - two skater dudes

Gavin - Willy Wonka's twin

Chuck - looking a little too comfortable in pig tails

Me - backwards braid

Pranav - messy hair (this is crazy for him)

Chloe - backwards pony tail

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