Sep 26, 2012

Gavin's Confession

9/26/2012 — cori

With his enormous bright smile lighting up his face, he ascends the stairs and says, "Mom, I have something to tell you.  The other day at school, someone was bending down getting a drink of water at the water fountain.  I had this compelling urge to push his head into the water... [at this point he is laughing so hysterically at the mere thought of this ever happening that he can hardly continue with this tale of great comedic value]...but don't worry.  I didn't act on this urge."

"Oooohkay....thanks....for that....story.  I don't really know what to say.  Um. I, too, am glad you did not act on your 'compelling urge'.  Have a nice day."

Chuck was a quiet bystander as Gavin relayed his fantasy dastardly deed to me.  I turned around to him and asked, "Did that conversation just happen?  Only Gavin would think to put it in those terms and also confess to me that he even thought it."

Chuck said, "Ya.  The difference between me and him is that I would have actually done it."

Sep 24, 2012

Continuing Education (for parents)

9/24/2012 — cori

Last week before everyone left for school/work we were just hanging around in the living room talking.  Chuck was lamenting about how the autumnal equinox was upon us.  Yes.  I know.  He actually used that exact phraseology.  He must have read it off his phone or something cuz that's not a phrase we go around speaking of very often.

He then asked, "I wonder what equinox means?" since we obviously already knew what autumnal meant.  It was early (pre 7am) and our conversations are never super deep this time of the day anyways, so this discussion was going nowhere fast.  We hemmed and hawed aloud together about possible meanings.  We kept throwing out lofty concepts like, "It probably has something to do with the sun" and "maybe it's about our position in relation to the sun".... ad nausium.

Mercifully, Gavin rescued us from embarrassing ourselves even further.  He interrupted our deep thought processes and in his loud, professor-like voice proceeded to instruct us lesser humans, "Uh, Mom, Dad.  It just means that on that one day the day and the night are equal to each other.  You have the same number of daylight hours as you do hours of darkness."

Chuck and I looked at each other and our eyes spoke volumes.  Thankfully, we didn't open our mouths.  We then told him it was time to go to school and gave him a big hug and shoved him out the door to go learn more stuff like that.

We will be ready when the spring equinox hits.  Trust me.

Sep 18, 2012

Fear is...

9/18/2012 — cori

Fear is a stain,
It discolors reality.

Fear is a blanket in summer,
It burdens you needlessly.

Fear is a cage,
It locks you in and keeps others out.

Fear is sin,
It brings death to your soul.

Fear is darkness,
It blots out the light.

Fear is a captor,
It binds you with burdens.

Fear is a judge,
It sentences you without listening to your case.

Fear is a mask,
It hides the beauty within.

Fear is a bomb,
It explodes in your heart, brain and emotions.

Fear is ignorance,
It keeps reason at bay.

Fear is control
It is a familiar place I go to hide alone.

Fear is the opposite of faith,
It demands you understand before you trust.

Fear is the absence of love,
It is self preservation.

Fear keeps me dependent on me
And separated from Jesus.

When I acknowledge my fear,
When I yield it to my Savior,
His love envelops me
And fear dissolves under its weight.

I am free.

Fear is...gone!

We Have A Thing For Fruit

9/18/2012 — cori
These past two weekends have been quite "fruitful" for us, you might say.  Apparently, we have a thing for picking fruit.  Or if we're not picking it, we're stomping on it.  I went back through some of my picture archives and found that over the years we have done lots and lots of picking of these:

Now we can add picking these to our ever growing list of things we like to pick off bushes/trees:

Minnesota seems to have an apple farm within a 5 mile radius of anywhere you go.  So, we thought it would be fun to pick apples off the trees instead of off the shelf of the grocery store.  But...maybe we picked the wrong apple orchard, or the wrong time of day, or the wrong part of the season because when we got there, we found more apples (and gardener snakes) on the ground than on the trees.

This is how we had to pick apples:

We had to send the brave ones up into the trees and climb as high as they could to get the ones on the very tippy top of the over-grown trees.  But even then, most of those apples were pock-marked with holes from birds or who knows what else.  

My dreams of walking through the orchard with a bushel basket of apples idealistically swinging from my arm was quickly fading.   Instead were the shrieks of "ew", "gross", "can we go now".    We could only find 5 acceptable apples to put in our beautiful basket.  So, we promptly walked back to the barn and picked up a pre-filled, ice cold bag of pre-picked apples for double what we would have paid at the grocery store.  $15 and 15 minutes later, dashed were our dreams of adding a new fruit to our ever expanding list of things we like to pick.

But have no fear, we found another fruit.  Instead of picking this fruit, we got to stomp on it!  Bonus.  We went to the annual St. Croix Vineyards Grape Stomp in Stillwater.  I had visions of this in my head:

Let's just say, that's not how they do it any more.  I would have loved it if I could have worn that get-up while stomping grapes in a teeny barrel.  But what no one tells you is that there are bees swarming all around and inside the barrel is full of wet, mushy, sticky, gooey, stainy grapes.  This was our experience in pictures:

Chuck was actually part of a contest with other adults to see who could stomp the 'best'.  He won a corkscrew for his efforts.

Chloe was in the barrel long enough to take the picture and promptly jumped back out.  This was not her cup of tea.

Bennett is having a little too much fun.  He's already splashed grape juice up the front and down the back of his shirt.   He's an 'aggressive stomper'.  I am having issues with the texture (and trying to stay free of grape juice stain).  Gavin's sensory issues and fear of bees would not even permit him to come anywhere close to those barrels of death.  He preferred sitting in the 70 degree weather and bemoaning how dreadfully 'hot' it was.  

But we did walk away with a picturesque shot (that Chuck took) of the stain that the grapes made on the floor.  Overall, it was a once in a lifetime experience.  Next time I'd rather pick the grapes instead of stomp on them.

Sep 16, 2012

Love Thy Neighbor

9/16/2012 — cori
I just have to say:  I LOVE MY NEIGHBORS!  I've always dreamed of living in a neighborhood where people genuinely cared about one another.  I've had some awesome neighbors in the past and made some great friends in each of the places I've lived.  But each place lacked that sense of community that we all so desire.  The ironic thing is, we didn't even pick this house or this neighborhood on purpose.  It was a total 'God thing'.  Let me tell you the story:

Chuck moved to Minnesota a month before the kids and I. The kids and I could not leave Texas until our current house sold and closed.   His job did not allow him to come home on the weekends or even pay for us to come up and do some house hunting.  We were adamant about buying a house right away and not renting.   We knew this would work best for our family. We don't do temporary living very well.  We wanted to get the kids established in a school and meet some friends and didn't feel renting and moving again in a year was in the best interest of the kids.  So we choose to find a house right away.

My favorite thing in the whole world to do (house hunt) and I didn't even get to look at one house.  Chuck did it all.  Granted, I got to see what he saw after the fact since he so graciously videotaped the floor of each house he walked thru (we had many a 'conversation' about his video taping ability).  So in a sense, I got to house hunt via the computer screen.  Chuck spent every spare minute he had after work and on the weekends looking for the perfect house for us.

It's so hard when you move to a new area.  You don't know where the 'good side' of town is.  You don't have the advantage of knowing what towns are desirable and what towns aren't.  We were house hunting blind.  Actually, we were house hunting by faith.  Sometimes that's one in the same thing.

We (I) had our hearts set on some certain features in a house.  We did not want a new build, we've had that before.  We wanted an established neighborhood with trees in the yards.  We did not want a flat lot with baby trees, something we could have easily had in Texas.  We wanted something unique to our new environment.  I was insistant on NOT having a split level.  Guess what I got?

Thank God He saves us from ourselves.  The town we ended up moving to was not even on our initial radar screen.  The realtor decided to show it to us because it had a lot of what we were looking for, just not in the area we were originally looking.  Chuck called me after looking at it and told me he thinks he just found our house.  I didn't believe him.  First of all, from the pictures, it looked like a one level house and nowhere near big enough for us.  We wanted to downsize, but that seemed a little drastic.  Then, he told me that it was a split level, but not a split entry, big difference.  Okay, I could acquiesce once I had my little lesson in architecture.   I couldn't picture it, but I was excited that it had everything we wanted.  

So, without ever seeing the house, knowing it needed a little TLC, and not having a clue as to what kind of neighborhood or town we were moving to, we moved in 3 days after the kids and I moved to Minnesota.  I put a lot of trust in Chuck and even more in God, trusting that He was directing our steps.  

I had no way of knowing that this town, house, and neighborhood would fit us like a glove.  That the sense of community here was unknown to anything I'd ever experienced before.  People look out for one another and their kids.  We watch each others' dogs and mow each others' lawns. We congregate in each others' drive ways talking about our days, we pick things up for each other at the store, we help each other build, install and fix things.  We have impromptu parties.  We look for each others' lost dogs and bring each other food and flowers during hard times.  These people fill my soul.

Just a few weeks ago, Bennett and his friend a few houses down organized a Boys vs. Dads basketball game.  The girls went around to all the neighbors to announce the big game after dinner that night.  It was so much fun.  Sharing life together is such a gift.  I'm so thankful I had no control of what house I wanted to pick, I might have just picked on exterior qualities alone.  How dreadful it would have been to miss out on the gift of loving neighbors and having the chance to love in return.

This was not everyone who showed up, just those that made it in the picture.  And for the record, the Dads won that night.  But the boys won the rematch a few days later.  This is an on going saga that is not looking good for the Dads.

Sep 9, 2012

Higher Order Thinking

9/09/2012 — cori

On the last week of summer vacation, the kids and I visited the Science Museum of Minnesota.  I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area.  I've been to alot of science museums in a lot of the major U.S. cities and this one was very well done.  They had this awesome science experiment area for kids ages 8 and up.  They actually got to put on lab coats, safety glasses and latex gloves and get down and dirty with some awesome experiments.  Gavin chose to do the Chromosome Identification experiment where he got to isolate a chromosome from a fly larva.  I guess some people like that kind of stuff.  Not me.  I like to take pictures.

I have to say, Gavin looked a little too comfortable in his white lab coat.  He acted like he understood all this science stuff around him.  He knew how to work the massive microscope.  He didn't gag (like me) when he was told to try to put the tip of the tweezers right on the middle of the larva so it wouldn't wiggle so much.  He had a perfect tried but true contemplative expression.

So, I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was by his declaration at dinner tonight,  "Mom. I think I'd like to be a Theoretical Physicist when I grow up.  Like that guy on Sci-Fi Science."

"Oh. Really?  Uh...what exactly does a Theoretical"

"They sit around thinking up ideas and get other people to do them.  I don't actually like to build things, but I love to come up with ideas about new things and ways of doing them."

"Exactly!  I knew there was a name for that!   You'd be perfect at that!  No wonder you love to incorporate all that kind of stuff in your writing.  And all your years of sci-fi reading have probably propelled your imagination even further.  Buddy, you have the perfect mind for that!  Go for it!  I'm so excited for you!"

Sep 6, 2012


9/06/2012 — cori

Apparently now you may request your own nickname.  Or at least Chloe thinks so.  I called to her to ask her to come set the table.  It is at that point she decides she's had enough of my calling her "pumpkin".  She pronounces her new plans, "Mom, every .time you want to call me pumpkin, would you mind calling me 'cheri' instead?  It means 'little one' in French.  It's what Cecile's Father always calls her."

"Oh.  Ok.  Who's Cecile?"

"Moooommm!  Cecile - in American Girl. She lives in Louisiana."

"Oh.  Ya.  Now I know.  But I think they say 'mon cheri' meaning, 'my little one'."

She contemplates my counter offer. To my astonishment she accepts.

I later look it up in an official source since I don't speak French (Google, of course).  Come to find out it actually means 'my love' or 'my darling'. I have to agree.  I think I like it even better than 'pumpkin'.

Sep 4, 2012


9/04/2012 — cori

I have the joy and privilege of homeschooling again.  This time it is Chloe.  She requested near the end of last year that I homeschool her saying the public school was "too easy" and that she wanted to "learn the hard stuff".  She loved being at school; loved her teachers; enjoyed the friends she had made.  I didn't quite take her seriously.  I thought it would pass.  But it didn't.  She insisted that she be homeschooled (again).

I prayed long and hard about it.  Part of me was excited the other part of me scared to death.  I was really enjoying being just "mom" and not wearing the "teacher" hat as well this past school year.  That was something that had begun to weigh heavily on me over my 7 years as a homeschool mom.  But I also felt oddly out of place - home alone.  I looked for all types of things to fill my time.  Volunteering took up a good 3 days.  The other two days were full of depression and loneliness.  I had an empty nest and I had no clue what to do with it.

It took me a good year to just let go of all my expectations of myself.  To learn to just rest - to let myself rest.  To realize I wasn't what I do; I am who I am no matter what I am doing or not doing.  I can't believe I had to learn that lesson all over again, but I did.  It was humbling, yet beautiful.  I would do it all over again to be where God has me right now.

So, I found it very odd that after I had just come to peace with being alone all day and not "doing" anything, that God would have me jump back into homeschooling.  I enjoyed helping out at the kids' school.  I enjoyed all my volunteer jobs.  I finally found some purpose and now I had to give that up to go back to homeschooling?  Am I crazy?  Apparently.

Sometimes what God asks us to do doesn't make  Later in life we might have the opportunity to understand.  Or maybe we'll never understand. Either way, I have learned that following the peace He gives me when I know I'm on the path He's directing me down is the best place to be - even when it doesn't make sense.

But I had a lot of homeschool demons to deal with.  I forever felt inadequate, like Moses felt speaking to Pharoh.  I always felt I wasn't the 'right' teacher for my kids...that they needed this or that type of person.  Not me.  I'm way too intense.  I'm way too organized.  I have very high expectations.  I'm strict.  I'm not a fun teacher.  Funny how the emphasis is always on me.  Kind of ironic actually.  I'm supposed to be doing this for my child and all I can think of is me?  If God told me to do this, He's going to enable me to do it through His power, not my own.  How about I try again this time, but with the proper focus?

Then my other fear struck...the parent one.  Chloe and I seem to be at odds a lot.  She likes to listen to everyone but me.  She argues with me...alot.  She cries whenever I ask her to do anything.  She manipulates her way into or out of anything.  Some days I don't feel strong enough to be the parent.  If I can't make her keep her room picked up, how can I make her learn her times tables.  If I can't be sure she's putting her clothes away and not shoving them under her bed, why would she listen to me while I'm explaining her history lesson?

This was weighing heavily on me the eve before school began.  Then I decided to "give it to God" - something I should have done before I let all the worries take root in my mind and heart.  When I told God that I was really needing Him to show me what to do and how to handle this, He spoke one phrase to me, "Mercy triumphs over judgement".  My heart dropped to my stomach.  I guess I wasn't really expecting an answer...a nice warm feeling maybe, a peace to wash over me, my anxiety to leave...but an honest to goodness answer - wow!

I knew immediately what He meant.  I can be a stickler that her room is always in perfect order.  I can demand her desk be pristine each and every day.  I can huff and puff and shake my head when she accidentally 'forgets' to do as I've asked her.  I can 'create' the 'perfect' listening robot of a child.  My judgment will make sure of that.  The way I judge her actions will speak louder to her than any other lesson I am trying to teach her.  She will only feel criticized.  She will feel that what she does is more important than who she is.  She will associate love as conditional upon proper behavior.  That is not what I want to teach!  I want mercy to triumph over judgment.  Everyone changes (eventually) when treated mercifully.  The mercy in my words, demeanor and actions will do more to change her heart and her future than my harshness with one more mistake on her part.  She'll live in fear of my judgement and change only out of fear.  If I treat her with mercy, she will become merciful.  That is what I want my daughter to grow up to be.

Now that I had my 'lesson plan' I was excited to start.  The only thing about this new lesson plan is that it keeps me humbled before my Savior moment by moment.  I can still follow the lesson plan I spent all summer preparing so that her studies go well.  But I sense the bigger picture, the whole reason God prompted her to want this time with me all along was not for a better education, but for time together, nurturing her heart and growing in it mercy and compassion.

As of late, time seems to be flowing like a raging river.  Where did the years go when they were all in diapers and my biggest challenge was getting everyone down for naps on time?  How did that little stream suddenly evolve into the speedy Colorado River?  Are there any falls up ahead?  Does time ever go back to a simple trickle of a gentle stream?  Since I don't know those answers, I'm going to make the most of every precious day I get with my amazing daughter.  I'm going to pour love and wisdom and mercy into her and cherish each amazing day.

God spoke those words to me just in time.  How I wished I would have heard them sooner.

Sep 2, 2012

How Lucky I Am

9/02/2012 — cori

The other day I was yucky sick.  Try as I may, I just couldn't act normal or pretend I felt well any longer.  I wanted to just curl up on my bed and moan.  Come 7:30pm, I couldn't take it anymore and dismissed myself from our pizza and movie night (we were watching "Ratatouille" which only caused my already nauseous self to want to cover my mouth and flee the room).  As I made my announcement that I was going to go take an early bath and lay on my bed, the three kids bolted up right and ran upstairs.  Chuck held me back, telling me that they had a surprise for me.

The last thing I wanted was a surprise. I wanted to not think, talk or be nice.  I just wanted to close my eyes to the world and make the pain stop.  But I held out this long, what's a few more minutes?  Once they came back downstairs, I was allowed to go up.

To my utter astonishment, they had prepared my bath for me.  Not only that, they cleaned it, ran my water, put in bubbles, lit the candles and put on some Yo-Yo Ma background music.  I was humbled and overwhelmed by love.  My bath was that much sweeter and relaxing.

I know Chuck organized this little relief effort for me, but the kids had been feeling awful all day that there was nothing they could do to help me feel better.  Once Chuck gave them an idea, they ran with it and were just so happy to do anything at all to help.

You know how Gavin asks me ten times a day, "How are you doing today Mom?" just to make sure I'm good so that all can be right in his world?  Well, when my answer is, "I'm not doing so well today, Honey." he doesn't know what to do.  There is no back-up plan in place.  Now that I'm not good, he's not good.  Bennett spent the majority of the day rubbing my feet and asking to cuddle me in my bed and read books together.  Chloe would rub my hair and face and do her best at her feminine nurturing techniques.  She even told me the next day, "Mom, we hate it when you're sick. It feels like we're all in mourning until you get better."

How lucky I am!

Sep 1, 2012

I Am Full

9/01/2012 — cori

In Jesus I am full.
all I am,
all I want, 
all I need,
is already in me
filling me daily 
with his lovingkindness.
It seeps out in
to all surrounding me,

In Jesus I am full.
Without Him I need religion.
 It leaves me empty,
Rules keep me safe.
Being right is paramount.
Love is conditional.
I lack,
I need,
I seek.
I look all around me
to fill the void.
The affirmation,
only fill me a short while.
I need more.
The cycle of religion
repeats and hungers daily.

In Jesus I am full.
Love wins.
With everyone,
my enemy,
my neighbor,
my friend,
my self.
I love out of fullness
not to be loved in return
out of thankfulness
for the blanket of love
that encompasses me.
The only thing that matters
is the one thing I already have:
I am full.

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