Oct 29, 2013

More Math Please

10/29/2013 — cori


After reading this amazing book I decided it was time to step up the 'math confidence' in all my people. The ability to do math and do it well, interestingly enough, is one of the key indicators of good critical thinking skills in adults. (Cool tid-bit: Gavin read this book before I did and was totally absorbed in it. We had some awesome conversations about what makes for good learning/teaching.  He highly recommended the book to me, even though I was the one who originally checked it out to read first. He just beat me to it.) 

There are so many other interesting observations in this book beyond math, such as, having high standards for our children which is a good thing - not bad.  Children rise to meet your expectations. Children know when they are being 'dumbed down'.  Children know when they aren't being respected. Children need to fail in order to learn, not giving them that chance is detrimental to them.

My favorite quote in this book is:

Parents who view themselves as educational coaches tend to read to their children every day when they are small; when their children get older, they talk with them about their days and about the news around the world.  They let their children make mistakes and then get right back to work.  They teach them good habits and give them autonomy.  They are teachers, too, in other words, and they believe in rigor.  They want their children to fail while they are still children   They know that those lessons - about hard work, persistence, integrity, and consequences = will serve a child for decades to come.

Parents make all the difference!  

The kids have heard me talk about my struggles teaching adults math.  But they've also watched me bring home books to study and brush up on my skills that had a few cobwebs on them from underuse so that I could be a better teacher.  I don't want to stay stagnant.  I want to keep growing and learning, even if its things I previously learned that I forgot.  Enthusiasm for learning is contagious.  The opposite also holds true.  If I complain about math, then that gives them freedom to complain about math - I don't like that.  So from now on, math is my friend. :) 

As with all things in life, we get better when we practice.  So I started printing up extra worksheets at home for Chloe and Bennett to do everyday after school.  They never seem to have math homework and that concerns me.  They agreed that one little sheet every day would be fun.  

Gavin saw that I was handing out math worksheets like candy bars and asked why I didn't have any for him?  He was genuinely offended.  This coming from a person who has found math to be his sweet spot.  I was like, "Uh...I thought you had math homework." And he was like (cuz that's how you have to talk when you talk with teens), "Ya. But I think that would be fun.  See if you can find me some worksheets too."  And so I was like, "Sure."  Voila....algebra 2 worksheets started spewing forth from my printer.  He was a happy camper.

I've always made each of my kids blog everyday to keep up their writing skills (another thing I don't feel they do enough of in school).  But I totally ignored keeping their math confidence up.  Duh!  Proof that we only do what we think is important.  

I am off to do some applied mathematics as I cook dinner.  I have to measure the ratio between rice and water and all that stuff...I better go put on my thinking cap.

Oct 28, 2013

Who's Idea Was This???

10/28/2013 — cori
Why do we carve pumpkins again?  Could somebody please remind me?  Cuz it's certainly not for the fun of it.  We don't do this every year, so I guess I forget from year to year, but this whole pumpkin carving thing is for the birds.  Even the kids were like, "why are we doing this mom?"  And I'm like, "I have no idea.  Why don't we just draw the face on it instead and be done with it."  But nooooo, that would not be in the spirit of pumpkin carving and for some reason, Chuck was dead set on carving every last one of them.  He started by cutting the top off each one and then told us to scrape out the inside.  Like it was just no big deal.  Like we scrape gooey, slimy, stringy, wet, puke-inducing stuff out of other stuff all day, every day.  This is so not the type of environment I work well in.  Neither do my kids for that matter - guess they got that one from me.  Poor Chuck had to scrape out all 5 pumpkins.  It was cold out.  But gosh-darnit, we are going to do this thing and we are going to enjoy it, because that's what you do prior to halloween, right?!

Once he finally cleared out all the pumpkins, we were free to be creative and carve our little hearts out - except for its hard to do when your hands are almost frozen stiff and your nose is running like a faucet. But...we were having 'fun'.  Come to think of it, I don't remember ever carving a pumpkin when I was a kid - maybe my parents already on to the lameness of this so-called tradition.  For whatever reason, now we all have our very own pumpkin face that now lights up.  I sure hope it was worth it.  Yay fall/halloween/harvest time.  I can think of many other ways to celebrate rather than having a pumpkin face that glows in the dark on my front porch.

Here is our fun documented in pictorial form:

Chuck removing pumpkin guts


There was lots of huffing and puffing and sighing during the carving process:







 The end result:

 Chloe wasn't very pleased with her craftsmanship.
Later we referred to it as "The Minecraft Pumpkin"

A perfect likeness

Gavin's math pumpkin: Epsilon equals infinity.  He says he's spreading
 mathematical lies but he doesn't care at this point

A no-name pumpkin with sun glasses

 The wonky eyebrow pumpkin

And of course I forgot to buy tea candles to put inside so they glow.  Let's hope I remember to get the candles before the all important night of Halloween when they must shine and show our skill to all trick or treaters!

Oct 25, 2013

Solving World Peace

10/25/2013 — cori
The other evening Gavin and I were sitting by the fire just visiting about our day.  And yes, it is cold enough this year to have the fireplace on already.  I had read some sad statistics earlier in the day about guns.  This was it: In one year guns murdered, 27 in Australia, 59 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 190 in Canada… and 10,177 in the US.  This was weighing heavy on my heart.  

I'm saddened by the world my kids will inherit as grown-ups.  Violence is pandemic. Nations hate each other and are constantly at war.  Greed drives so much of what countries do.  You never who to trust in government.  Starvation and poverty exist even though the world has enough resources that it doesn't have to. Life doesn't seem valued. The news seems to be only about the bad happening all around us.  

I confessed, "Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed and sad by the state of affairs, I don't know how to help all the people who need it."  His reply spoke straight to my heart. The reason I remember it so clearly and word for word is because it is exactly the same thing God had been speaking to my heart every time I started to feel this way.  He says, "Mom, I think our mission as Christians is to help people one on one.  You change the world one person at a time.  You don't have to start some large organization to make a difference.  You just have to touch the life of one person."

All the sadness I was feeling instantly lifted as my heart filled with gratitude for the simple yet profound wisdom spoken to me by my 14 year old.  In that instant I knew I didn't need to ever fear what the future held for him.  His heart knows Jesus.  He's not just repeating the "party line" or a statement of faith.  These were his own convictions. He knows that still, small voice and he lets it guide him.  He really has been listening to what we've been teaching all these years.  He takes to heart the messages of Bruxy Cavey, Greg Boyd, Shane Claiborne and Carl Medearis that we listen to week in and week out.  He knows who he is, he knows where to find himself and he listens to his heart.  My heart is at ease.  

That was only the smallest part of our conversation, the rest I treasure in my heart like all of our one on one special moments.  His insights, ideas and wisdom about the issues we were discussing continued to enlighten me, give me peace and excite me about how he sees the world and the future.  I value his point of view and I learn a lot from him.  I love that he likes to share his heart with me, ask tough questions, and talk about anything from current events to algebra to what God's teaching me to how his phone conversation went with his friend to random science facts at dinner.  


Oct 22, 2013

Ironic

10/22/2013 — cori

When everything is stripped away, you find who you are at your core.  All of the roles I've filled in my journey as a mom up to this point have been guiding posts in my path of life.  The biggest role I played in my children's lives so far, besides being their mom, was being their teacher.  Since they've been born I've taught them every day.  Some days on purpose; other's just by example.  They are always watching, always learning, always processing and questioning.  And I'm learning right along with them.

Even though they are no longer under my tutelage at home, I am still their teacher.  Learning begins at home.  It's my job to teach them to do their best in everything.  It's my job to make sure they go above and beyond a task and not let them settle for "bare minimum".  It's still my job to ensure learning is fun, happening all the time and is the essence of our home life.  It's my job to set high standards for them to meet and then encourage them after achieving those rigorous standards.  Even though I no longer homeschool, I will never stop being a teacher.

That is both a problem and a good thing.  I still am what I always was but don't know what to be.  Does that even make sense???  I have lots of time to think now that there are no children at home most of the day.  And one of the things I think alot about is: what in the world am I supposed to do with all my free time?  I still need to be available to take Chloe to school and pick her up, so my window of available hours for any type of job is very small.  Plus, I've been the one in charge of my own curriculum, school, standards, methodology and timeframes for so many years now that it would be VERY hard to submit to someone else's.  The easiest solution for me is to volunteer.  I get to pick the hours, time, type of people and type of activity I enjoy doing.  Win/win.

I've found that even when I volunteer - it is to teach.  How ironic.  For the past two years I taught English and Math to immigrants and refugees.  This year I am helping tutor adults preparing to take the GED or other college-level placement tests.  I also read with remedial middle school students twice a week. And lastly, I volunteer with the 4th graders at Chloe's school doing an excelled readers book club. Notice a theme here?  Yep...reading.  I've known all along, yet am just figuring it out.  That is where my passion is, everything else about education and learning centers around reading at any and every age level!  Do you know how excited I am about this?  I found my niche.  It's been there all along, just staring me in the face.  The only difference is, now my eyes have been open to it and for the first time I can see it too.

But the ironic this is not this discovery.  The ironic thing is that I am cursed to teach math the rest of my life too.  Anyone who knew me growing up would know that I cried every day during math homework.  I really enjoyed algebra, but it just took me longer to 'get it' than the rest of human-kind. That is why I see my current teaching/tutoring situation as nothing short of a cruel practical joke.

Once a week I help out at the the GED classes sponsored by our county.  People come to get help in many areas.  The one lady I am currently working with is from Vietnam and is studying to take an Accuplacer test.  She wants to be an accountant.  She's very good at math but really struggles reading the English in all the math tests.  So I have been deemed the 'math teacher' of the group and work with all these struggling students.  Whoever dubbed me the math teacher has no idea that the highest level of math I took in college was Math For Elementary Ed majors (of which I miraculously received an A).

At the beginning we were just doing easy word problems.  Then the word problems started getting progressively harder and I would have to look at the answer page before I could explain how to do the problems.  Then the problems got so hard I didn't even know how to set the equation up.  That's when I begged to take the book home so I could study.  I got my own tutor - Gavin - to work with me on the finer points of algebra that I left somewhere back in the mid-90's when I was done with them.  And he is excited about helping me.   He'll ask me, "So what do you what help with?"  And I'm like, "I don't even get the title - 'What is an Inequality'?"  I have to admit, he is an excellent teacher.  He is patient and kind and doesn't ask the question, "exactly what don't you understand about all this?" like his mother used to.

What's even worse about my being his student is that while he's explaining something I find myself drifting off and thinking about exactly how I am going to blog about this little mother/son math role reversal teaching session.  I'm forming phrases and sentences in my head instead of staying focused and on task and really learning what inequalities are.  I even confessed to him my little mental stumbling block and like his father, he just smiled at me and said, "well how about we read that again then."  The patience of Job.

All this to say, life has a way of coming up behind you and kicking you in the butt and getting back at you.  But if that is the price to pay for also getting to read with all the precious people I meet, I take the butt-kick gladly.  I know how to laugh at myself and the irony of it all.  We all need something to keep up humble.  Math is my humble pie.

Oct 21, 2013

The Elusive Black Pants

10/21/2013 — cori


Gavin has a choir concert coming up.  He gave me all of two weeks notice to find all the necessary items needed for his 'choral costume'.  The look the high school boys are going with this year is: black dress pants, black long sleeve shirt, black shoes and a white tie.  I like nothing better than a clothing challenge.  I excitedly go in search of these items like a detective on a case.

I know I could go straight to Macy's, go to the Young Men's department and find all the items on my list.  But that would be way too easy and so not me.  I NEVER pay full price for anything.  EVER.  I love to hunt for a bargain.  I need to hunt.  I get some sort of shopping high off the whole adventure. Fiscal awareness is what I'm all about.  Others refer to it as 'frugality' or 'being cheap' but I call it 'making the most of my (Chuck's) money'.  I refuse to take the easy road.

Thankfully, Gavin already has a long sleeve black shirt.  I start the hunt by checking all the typical places, T.J Maxx, Marshalls, KOHLS,  Target and resale shops with only minimal luck.  I found the white tie, but only at 40% off.  But I was limited there.  Not a lot of places sell white ties.  I conceded, even though it was higher than I originally wanted to pay.

However, I found a massive bargain on his black shoes.  $75 shoes for only $22.  Cha-ching!! Now THAT's what I call a bargain.  When I showed them to Gavin he was like, "Cool, Mom.  And look, no one has ever worn them before."  And I'm like, "Yes, I know.  That's cuz they're new.  That's what new shoes look like Buddy."  And then I think to myself, how horrible that that would be my son's first response.  He's so used to his mom's resale shopping habits that he is actually shocked when I buy something brand spankin new.  I am pathetic.  Unfortunately, he wasn't with me when I bought the shoes, so I was unsure of what size his foot was.  Minor problem.  The pair I liked was a size 11 1/2, so that's what I went with.   When he tried them on, they were a little loose, but he wanted to keep them cuz they were such a good deal.  That's my boy.  He even said, "Don't worry Mom, I'll grow into them."

The last and hopelessly hardest thing to find were black dress pants.  He was VERY particular about these.  Resale options were out.  Only new would do.  But the problem is, he's a bean-pole.  They don't make pants in his size.  Okay, maybe they make jeans, but dress pants - nope.  I checked.  He needs a 30/34.  The longest dress pants they make for a size 30 waist only have an inseam of 32.  Not cool. I am not buying brand new pants for my bean-pole to wear only once because he looks like he's wearing capris.  Not cool.  What's a mom to do?  I found lots of pants for him in the $35-$50 range. Unfortunately, my mental budget for these pants was only $25.  I wasn't about to back down.  I knew I could find them, but I was going to have to dig down deep into my reserves and think long hard about exactly where to find them.  I might just have to break down and go to the mall.

As luck would have it, the day I decide to go to the mall, the entire state of Minnesota and all their long lost cousins also thought it would be a good day to go to the mall.  That would be because it is the Mall of America - what else would you expect.  Plus, all the kids were out of school.  Bonus.  That means I have 'extra help' during my search.  Honestly, I work best under perfect conditions.  The cards are already stacked against me for this trip to the mall.  I am keenly aware that nothing good can come from this.

I kid you not, the torture started before we even got in the mall.  It was so crowded I drove through the parking garage for 20 minutes people!!  I'm a tad bit claustrophobic and I have this huge fear that I'm going to hit a pedestrian cuz they just seem to jump out of nowhere when I'm in tight spaces.  The tension begins to make itself at home in my neck.  I went down two aisles that were dead ends.  Great, now I have to do a 7 point turn in an already claustrophobic space with 5 cars behind me also wanting to do the same thing.  After the second dead-end aisle in the parking garage I said, "Kids, I am so frustrated right now I could use swear words."  They didn't respond.

Mercifully, we found a spot.  The kids kept telling me to just 'go up'.  Gavin logically deduced that the higher up we go, the more free parking spots there would be.  He just so happened to be right.  He also didn't realize that we would be much, much, much farther from the entrance.  But hey, we avoided hitting any pedestrians, any actual swear words spoken aloud or hitting any other vehicles - I'd call that a success even if we were a mile away from the mall doors.

Upon entering the main doors I realize this is going to be a nightmare.  It's 1 o'clock on a Friday afternoon.  Bad timing on my part.  Mission control totally spaced out on that one.  It was too late to turn around.  We had to just go in, get what we came for and leave.  Fast.  When you're in a hurry isn't it funny how you notice how slow everyone in front of you walks?  So I would kick it into high gear to bypass the slowpokes who were obviously there for a leisurely walk around the mall, unlike us who were there on a mission.  Unfortunately, that sometimes meant I would leave the kids in my dust and they would have to run to catch up to me.  My people prefer to walk 4 or 5 abreast.  We take up whole aisles.  This is an inborn defect in them that I have been trying to change since toddlerhood to no avail. They will never know how to walk in a straight line one behind the other.  I've accepted that.  But my patience level is a tad bit thin at the moment and I am demanding with my eyes that they 'fall in line' - or else!

Like there wasn't enough external stimuli and confusion, Bennett decides to try to talk to me in a quiet voice as we're speed-walking through the mall.  Bad timing.  I ask him if he can hold all thoughts and questions until we have safely reached the quietness of the car.  End of discussion.

The reason we have forged our way through the maze of people in, of all places, the Mall of America, is because I had a feeling one store would have what we were in search of and that one store was only at the this mall.  H&M.  All I have to say is that its better that I went with Gavin rather than Chuck. H&M is the epicenter of Hipster clothing.  Chuck about has a conniption fit over the whole Hipster get-up.  To say he hates it would be an understatement.  So, yes, I am taking Gavin to the one store that churns up feelings of angst and disgust in my husband, but so be it.  The kid needs black pants and I know H&M sells black pants for tall, skinny people - just look at their ads!  This is what love does.

Upon entering H&M, I just enter the 'confusion zone'.  This is a store that likes to 'pump up the music'. Now, if they were pumping up Bach, I probably wouldn't get so confused, but it wasn't Bach.  I don't even know if it was music.  All I know is it was loud, probably belonged in a club somewhere and I didn't even remember my own name after being there 2 minutes.  Have I ever mentioned how confused I get when surrounded by loud music?  I could be a case study for some psycho-analysis research group.  My heart beat increases, I get dizzy, I lose my people, I can't think, my head starts to hurt.  And I'm supposed to be the mom.  It takes EVERYTHING I have to push through, focus and find black pants.

Miracle of miracles - they have black pants and they are on sale for $19.99.  Yes.  All the confusion, all the crowds, all the chaos is worth it for that little price tag.  We can do this.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Especially after I see they have bean-pole sizes.  But then he feels the need to try them on.  This is like the story of the tortoise and the hare.  Gavin is the tortoise in this story.  We are accosted by the music for another 15 minutes as he meticulously tries on 3 different sizes.  For the love!

We decide on a the perfect pair and get in line.  I knew it was too good to be true when we walked right up to a cash register without waiting like all those other suckers in that long line that was winding out the door.  The person behind the register looked at me and said, "You need to go wait in one of those other lines."  That's it.  No explanation.  No smile.  No nothing.

I forgot I was a Christian and started using my huffy breath and practice my eye-rolling techniques. She didn't understand that being in this store was like slowly suffocating me.  Thankfully, I kept all comments to myself and proceeded to place myself and my entourage last in line.  I think we got to stand right under the speakers for the next 20 minutes while we waited because I heard and felt every beat to every song the entire time.  And I am not exaggerating at all.  I was looking cross-eyed by time we left.

I don't remember the walk back to the car.  I don't remember anything at all until I got home and laid on the couch and stared at the ceiling as my breathing returned to normal and the ringing in my ears went away.

But we procured the elusive black pants.  Sometimes you've got to go into the trenches for your kids to show them how much you love them.  Putting this homebody, claustrophobic, introvert in the middle of the crowdedest place in the city, with the loudest music possible with kids who like to form a barricade as they walk in any public thoroughfare is nothing short of love.  Plus, they were only $19.99!


Oct 17, 2013

Love Notes

10/17/2013 — cori
Every morning I pack the kids and Chuck off to school and work with yummy, healthy lunches and most important of all - a napkin note tucked inside declaring how special they are, or how loved they are.  If I ever forget the napkin note...let's just say I have 4 highly offended people on my hands.  Once I purposely left one out of both Gavin and Bennett's thinking they were probably starting to get embarrassed by my notes in front of their friends.  When they got home I got an earful, "Why didn't you give me a napkin note?" Said in the whiniest of tones.  You would have thought I withdrew my love from them by simply leaving out their napkin note.  Chloe says her friends all want to read hers. Lately I've been adding a twist.  I will ask a question, riddle or math problem on their napkins that they have to give me the answer to when they get home.  If they get it right, they get a cookie.  This is huge in our house when cookies are only normally allowed on the weekends.

Well, Chuck upped the ante on me today and left an even better note for each of us.  We were playing "flip" last night as a family.  We had left all the scrabble tiles on the table.  Chuck saw the perfect opportunity to leave all of us a love note.  How lucky we are!




Oct 14, 2013

Autumn Adventures

10/14/2013 — cori
Yesterday we woke up to a gorgeous, crisp fall day.  We had been wanting to go hiking to enjoy the fall colors, but every weekend has either already been packed full or the weather wasn't cooperating with our plans.  The name of the game in Minnesota is 'opportunity'.  You must make the most of good weather and be outside whenever possible.  Not even an hour after waking up and studying the forecast and seeing the perfectly sunny day out the window we decided to 'just do it'.  Off for another grand adventure - Mallott style!


After consulting the state parks map for which parks were showing optimal fall color, we decided on a park two hours north.  The reds and oranges had already reached their peak and littered the ground, but the yellows were brilliant, almost flourescent at times.


It was still a mite bit chilly when we got there.  We were only in sweat shirts.  Thankfully, there was none of the typical fall wind so it made the low 50's bearable.  We decided to picnic first.  We found table and commenced eating.  Even Ninja enjoyed her food from an over-turned frisbee. Unfortunately, we have a dog who is so used to a life of comfort, ease and warmth that as she sat watching us eat her hind legs where quivering with cold.  What dog shivers in 50 degree weather?  This is how the craziness begins.


Picnic conversations are always filled with the anticipation of what the hike or area will be like, what we might encounter along the way and of course the typical question from Gavin of, "So, what's the plan?  How long are we going to be here?"  Bennett was trying to tell us a story of some sort, but was making zero sense.  Seriously, nothing he said even sounded like English.  He does this alot, just talk for the sake of talking and not really thinking about what he says.  After he concluded his 'sentence' we all just sat there, not sure how to respond.  After an awkward 2 minutes Gavin says, "If anything you said made any sense, we would comment on it." Genius.  We could not stop laughing, even Bennett.  It is a line that will forever go down in the Mallott Family Chronicles of 'All Time Great Comebacks'.  


This park boasted a 100 foot tower that you could climb above the tree line to get a panoramic view of the area.  So of course we climbed it.  We were just in Colorado - this was nothing.


Once we got to the top, this is the view we were greeted with.  It was breath-taking - not only because we just finished climbing up over 100 steps but because of the beauty.  The pictures don't do it justice.  The lake that you see there is Mille Lacs.  It is the second largest in Minnesota.  You can't see to the other side of the lake - it's that big.  


Since I've discovered that I'm not afraid of heights, just falling, it was much easier to look straight down and take pictures.  That and it was well secured with all that strong wire mesh fencing everywhere.


Chuck seems to like to make a contest out of everything.  For this enjoyable day it was to see who could collect the most beautiful leaf.  These were the final entries that made the cut.  It was too hard to just choose one.


Who knew a downed tree in the middle of the path could cause so much fun?  We stayed at this tree way longer than most 'normal' people would.  We had to have a contest to see who could jump it the best.  Then we had to walk up it's slippery bark.  Then we had to pose for pictures.  Thank God we pretty much had this trail all to ourselves.


I improvised a little hiking cheer.  We all were carrying around sticks with us.  Mine was rather short since I wasn't using it to walk with.  I had more of a decorative arrangement in mind to make with this lovely white stick.  When Gavin has the camera, you never know what kind of pictures you're going to end up with.  This wasn't even supposed to be a picture, this was just us being goofy and Gavin with a trigger happy finger.


Old People and Clocks

10/14/2013 — cori

The other evening as Chloe was getting ready for bed she had an epiphany and couldn't wait to share it with me.  "Mom, can you come sit on my bed and talk?  I have something I need to tell you."

"Definitely!"

"So, you know how I had to put my old clock in a bag to give away because it stopped working and hardly did anything anymore?"

"Ya"

"Well, I think we (society) treat old me people like my clock.  We just put them someplace else and get rid of them since they don't work like they used to."

"How does that make you feel?" (doing my best psychiatrist impersonation....I wanted to ride out her train of thought here, not spoil it with my own opinions).

"It makes me sad.  I like old people.  They are funny and have lots of stories to tell."

"Isn't that the truth!  Remember when we used to bring Meals on Wheels to all the elderly people at those apartments in McKinney?"

"Ya.  I loved getting to see Mrs. Koeffler.  She gave us a cookie every time.  Do you think she's still alive?"

"No.  I don't think she is, sweetie.  Do you know she looked forward to us bringing her those meals just to see you kids because she was so lonely? Kids make old people happy and vice versa because you remind them of when they or their kids were young.  All the old people we delivered food to were like that; they couldn't wait to see a stranger so they would have someone to talk to about their day.  That makes me sad too."

"Mom, do you remember Mr. Green?  How he would always take my face in his hands and give me a kiss on the face."

Smiling, remembering good times.  Mr. Green was an elderly Polish man with dementia.  He used to be a photographer and every time we came he would invite us in to show us the same photos he took years ago...many of them for newspapers.  He would point to them and say, "There was that and then that one and I like this one....".  He couldn't remember anything about the photos, only that he took them.  Then I would ask him how he was in Polish (the one phrase I could remember), "Jak siÄ™ masz?" and his face would lighten up with recognition and he would happily respond, "Dobrze".  I never ceased to be amazed at how he could remember that and not other things.  His smile was contagious. 

Most of the people we used to deliver food to for 5 years have all passed away.  But by visiting them, it helped us more in the long run.  My kids aren't afraid of old people.  They see how we need each other and we shouldn't just push them out of sight because they 'don't work like they used to'.

Chloe then went on to say that she didn't want to see that happen to her Grandparents and I assured her it wouldn't.  We would take excellent care of them all of their days.  I then told her that the way she was feeling was called 'compassion' and to remember how it feels.  She's always afraid she doesn't know God and I encouraged her that feeling what she just felt and having the thoughts she just had was all from God - that he put both in her heart.  That elicited a smile and a look of contentment.

Oct 4, 2013

Good vs. Evil

10/04/2013 — cori


A few weeks ago Chuck emailed me a tweet he saw on Twitter:

I think I'm completely comfortable with Jesus' demand that I be a servant...until somebody actually talks to me like one.

I find myself meditating about that ALL the time. Especially when I'm driving or at the store. As I was thinking about it today, I had a major revelation...at least to me. I was wondering why I get upset when someone talks down to me or talks to me rudely. Well, that's obvious - it's rude and not kind. I like kind and not rude people. Who doesn't, right? And then it hit me, by judging the person 'unkind' and 'rude' I have just appropriated the knowledge of good and evil towards this situation. Maybe that's why God never wanted Adam and Eve to eat from that tree. If we know the difference between good and evil and judge people as such, we feel justified in not loving them. The ONE thing Jesus says that people will know us as his followers by is through our love. So...knowing the difference between good and evil keeps us from loving. He loved me and forgave me before I knew I needed it. Maybe that's why judging is so wrong, it puts us in the shoes only God can fill. I am not the one to deem who is worthy of love, forgiveness or grace. My job is to love and not play God by deciding who deserves it by their actions.

Now if I could just remember that....

Oct 3, 2013

The Bus Stop

10/03/2013 — cori


We are not a family accustomed to mass transit.  We don't mind it.  Actually, we find it rather adventurous and fun.  But it is not a part of our daily routine.  Unless you count the boys taking the bus to school everyday.  I'm thinking more like city buses.

The reason this has become a new area of concern for us is because Chuck now takes the bus to work. His work gives him a huge discount card to take the bus.  Economically, it is so much smarter than paying for parking in the city month after month.  Plus, this option cuts down on our gas consumption and allows Chuck time to read on his way to and from work - bonus.

Unfortunately, we have discovered that reading the bus schedule is not one of Chuck's strong points. The very first day of him taking the bus he calls me around 5pm and says, "Can you come get me?"  I totally thought he was joking since he said it as a perfect Brian Regan impersonation.  And then he was like, "Um, no, I'm serious.  I got off at the wrong stop apparently."  Well, isn't this convenient.  Good thing I hadn't started dinner yet.

As I'm driving him to his original bus stop where he parked his car he gives me 'the story'.  It started back in downtown Minneapolis.  He was trying to take an earlier bus home.  He walked back to the stop where he got off that morning and stood there waiting for the certain time he presumed the bus should arrive.  The time came and went.  He decided to call the 'help' number on the bottom of the bus schedule.  The 'helper' tells him he's at the wrong stop and directs him to where he should be.  He runs there barely making it on to the bus.  Standing room only. He gets to stand the entire 45 minute drive home in rush hour.  How relaxing.   This is an express bus.  So after it leaves the city it doesn't stop again until it reaches it's final destination.  All 100 or so people exit the bus, including Chuck even though this is not where he wanted to exit.  He felt he had no choice but to exit since he was standing and the flow of people was pushing him out of the bus.  However, like the courteous public citizen that he is, he exits the bus and moves off to the side just next to the bus doors.  He's waiting for the crowd to clear so he can re-enter the bus.

He climbs back up and goes to sit down again.  The bus driver sizes him up.  He knows all too well what he's dealing with.  He tells Chuck, "This is the end of the line Buddy." Chuck stares blankly at him.  After looking around he realizes that the entire bus is empty.  He thought he could just take this bus to the stop where his car was.  Not going to happen.  That's when I get the call.

Later that night he has a heart to heart chat on the phone with the 'bus helpers'.  In humility he explains to them his ineptitude at reading the bus schedule and begs for her to just tell him what stop to get on and off in the city.  Apparently, you do not get back on the bus to go home at the same stop you were dropped off at.  This has helped Chuck tremendously to know this key piece of information.  And now, thanks to the bus helper lady, he also knows which bus goes all the way to his station and thus to his car, making the whole experience convenient, easy and practical once again.

Life is nothing if not an adventure around here - even at the bus stop.


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