Posted in Daily Musings, Parenting

Little Boys and Kitty Cat Toys

            2nd man is at a deacon’s meeting tonight so I’ve got a little time to write.  The girls are playing in their room and one little fella got sent to bed early.  We decided a few weeks ago to put an end to nap time.  Seems he was staying up until 10:30 –11:00pm! Oh, he’d stay in bed, but if you even passed by the hall his little torso shot straight up, just to let you know he was awake.  Now, we’re working on weaning him off of technology.  He’s learned how to play the girls’ Nintendo DS. I find this amazing seeming as how I can hardly turn the thing on.  Anyway, it consumes his every thought right now (which drives me crazy).  Suddenly the room full of toys, books, and coloring books just doesn’t make the cut anymore.  We’ve already trained him not to ask to play the DS anymore than one time.  So, now he’s moved on to other tactics like a check in every 5 –10 minutes, “Mom, what can I do now?”  Oh, I’ve taken advantage of this, believe you me (whatever that means).  He’s picked up all the stray socks, shoes, and toys all over the house a dozen times.  But, tonight, he just wouldn’t stop…so, I sent him to bed early.  The thing is, he didn’t seem to mind a bit.  Went right to sleep.  “Is this good?” I ask myself.  I mean, I’m glad he obeyed, but it was supposed to be more of a punishment-learn –a-lesson- kind of thing.  Instead I think he just missed his naptime…sigh.
            On another weird note, Curly kitty earned his keep today!  I heard a strange dog food dropping sound coming from the kitchen this afternoon.   However, the dogs were outside. Curly heard it too. He immediately shot for the kitchen and in seconds had a mouse in his mouth.  I ushered the two of them out the door with cheers for the good kitty.  However, later in the day I realized he was using the poor little thing as a play toy.  He was batting it all over the front yard.  It just wouldn’t die.  I know I sound insensitive here, but we live in the city…no place for mice.  By the time 2nd man got home the mouse was confirmed dead in the front drive…RIP. 
            This is now the second time Curly has earned his keep in the last 5 or six years that he’s had us.  Yes, I said that correctly.  He adopted us.  Just showed up on our doorstep one morning looking all cute and everything.  I figured he belonged to a neighbor lady.  However, after asking around it seemed he had no owner.  He was so cute and interesting since his tail curls up like a squirrel.  After determining that he wasn’t leaving I took him to the vet, I was sure the he was pregnant (obviously convinced the cat was a girl).  That’s when we actually found out he was a he and already fixed to boot! The Dr. said that the tail had been broken at some point and never got fixed. 
            I never liked cats until Curly.  He worked his way into our house and our hearts, and now is my devotion time buddy.  I wake in the morning and go to the kitchen to get my coffee.  That’s when Curly climbs up to the kitchen window and knocks to get in.  I let him in and we have devotions together.  It’s a pretty good set up.  The only drawback is that we can’t allow him to spend the night in the house, because, inevitably, he wakes at 5 am!  Doesn’t matter the time of year. 
He’s totally attached to us; loves to be wherever the kids are.  Actually, when we go on walks he follows us moaning for us not to go too far out of his territory.  We once walked to a nearby church for a high school chorale concert.  He followed us to the main busy street and waited there until we walked home.  Can’t beat that kind of loyalty huh?  I don’t know if I’ll ever want another cat, but Curly is always welcome.
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Parenting

Costumes and Bumpers

     Another big weekend has come and gone.  We spent Friday setting up and Saturday hosting a Fall Festival in our family life center.  I know some people have differing opinions over this.  However, we believe that, just as we celebrate Christmas, which has pagan backgrounds, we might as well redeem other days for the Lord as well.  So, the youth in our church host this event, allowing kids from the entire town to dress in fun (no scary) costumes and come have fun.   We give each person who comes in the door a tract and an invitation to come to our church.  Boy that sounded like a big disclaimer huh ?
     Anyway, it was a busy, but fun time.  Our own kids really enjoyed it.  Well, they mostly enjoyed getting there early so they could have the inflatable games to themselves.  I had a Minnie Mouse, a Spiderman and a very modest Wonder Woman.  Had to make a special skirt to lengthen Wonder Woman’s costume.  The real wonder is that anyone recognized who she was supposed to be by the end of it. 
     Minnie Mouse had a wardrobe malfunction in the moon bounce.  Stepped on her dress and ripped it right down the middle.  Thankfully, we have a plastic tub of extra clothing we take to camps and we were able to fix her right up…disaster averted. 
      I took pictures of them all before we even left the house, because, sure enough, the mask was thrown off of spider man, the gloves came off of Minnie, and Wonder Woman had to get comfortable in order to play at all. 
      All in all, the teens did a fantastic job of setting up, running the show and even cleaning up afterwards.  We received tons of compliments on them; A shining moment on their behalf. 
Car Update:
     On the way to the Fall Festival Saturday evening a couple more moments in car history occurred.  You see, since writing about my car a few weeks ago, something new has happened every week.  Our friend Bubba has taken care of a couple of them graciously.  However, Saturday was something else.  I pulled up in the drive thru of a fast food joint to order dinner for the kids, only to find that all of the power windows, except mine, worked.  So, I had to do the redneck thing and open my door to order.  Then I had to open the door to pay and get the food too.  I contemplated pulling up so that my daughter in the back seat could pay and get the food, but this could send her into panic and spilled drinks. 
     After that I had to make a quick stop at the store.  When I came out and put my items in the trunk, the bumper fell off onto my feet… again.  This time it broke into pieces.  This sent me into one of my imaginations.  The thought that came up was of an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in which a wife kept locking her husband out of doors and cars until he would do some funny little dance.  “Come on!” he kept saying and then, finally, he’d do the dance.   I kind of feel like God is doing this to me.  Like He’s saying, “do your grateful dance Jenny” as he flicks the bumper off of my car.  “Come on!” I shout and then have to try to remind myself to be grateful.  Of course we Baptists don’t dance, but I have a little tribute for the Lord right now fully innocent with only arms that I think He understands.  One day I will be all grown up in this area of gratitude.  Can’t promise it will be this side of Heaven though. 
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Homeschooling, Parenting

Homeschooling Obstacles

     Ok I admit it, there’s no shame or false pride here…homeschooling is hard.  I mean, being a wife and mom are already hard, guilt ridden hats that I wear, but this really tops it all.  What’s even scarier, is I have a teaching degree!  I think teaching in the classroom may have been easier. Hmmmm, guess this fear of succeeding or failing doesn’t come as heavily when you’re dealing with other peoples’ kids. 
     One obstacle in our family is our ministry lifestyle.  I was giving 2nd man a report the other day and realized that in the first 9 weeks of school, we haven’t had one week the same as any other.  The only consistency I can find is that we can expect something unexpected every week of our life.   This could be good I suppose.  My kids will have to learn flexibility.  However, I do get uneasy when I hear things like, “kids need consistency”  and,  “Consistency is the key to being a successful student.”  Well, in our house the cheer is “flexibility is the key, to win the victory!” 
    I sound ranting here, but I really do count it an honor to teach my kids.  I also take it as one of the biggest jobs in the universe.  If I raise complete morons guess who’s gettin’ the blame, and I may not know until like 10-12 years from now.
     At dinner the other night I was trying to get our 4 year old son to report to daddy what sound the letter “U” makes.  He started, “uhhh…” to which I responded before he could say anything else “that’s right!”   Truthfully, I’m not sure if he was just stammering or actually making the sound.  The rest of the family wasn’t sold on it either, I gather, from the roaring laughter of my husband. 
     Of course this same child was, on another night, reporting to daddy about our talk on Heaven and Hell.  He was letting daddy know that hell is dark “yes” 2nd man said, “it’s also hot and there’s screaming,”  to which 2nd man responded, “that’s true son.”  Then he went on to describe some sort of worms with wings and all sorts of other creatures and sounds that, frankly, we did NOT discuss.  2nd man just looked at me, “really honey?  I’ll take over the spiritual teaching from here.”  Can you say FAILURE?   Of course this is coming from the child who doesn’t like the options God has given him.  “Why can’t we just stay here?  I like my home. I don’t want a mansion.”  Truly, the Spirit must not be calling him yet. 
    Of course, our older two girls are doing a little better.  However, I have one who seems to lack focus.  She has the sweetest spirit of almost anyone I’ve every met.  She would bend over backwards to please me. Yet, somehow, when I’m grading her papers I wonder if she knows what year this is, and who I am let alone Christopher Columbus.   She can quote an entire book of the bible, but mulitplication eludes her.  I’m constantly swept back to college courses that  went over learning styles and teaching styles, but I’ve yet to figure this child out.  Do I love her?  Does she please me?  Is she a good kid? No question!  But, I may be bald by the time she graduates. 
     My other daughter catches on very quickly.  If anything, I struggle to read anything she writes.  She’ll probably be a doctor someday, judging by her handwriting.  With her, the struggle comes mainly in stretching her character traits.  Things come fast and easy for her.  It’s diligence and slowing down to do things well she needs to work on.
     I have some days that are rewarding and others where I wonder why I’m allowed to do this at all.  I’m thankful for the right to homeschool which I may not have here in a few years.  However, I’m no magazine article candidate.  I don’t wear denim jumpers.  My kids don’t all play musical instruments and speak five languages and march behind me like ducks.  I’m too scared to expand curriculum from what I already know and am familiar with.  And I’m pretty sure this sentence started with the word “and” and I’ve ended several previous ones with prepositions.  Let’s face it, my kids may very well be doomed, educationally speaking.  But, they do love the lord, we do laugh a ton in our house, and they get along really well.  I’m gonna hang my hat on that until I can find a sturdier rack to hang it on, if one exists.

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Parenting

Perks in being the 2nd mans kid

     There are some perks to being the child of a 2nd man, specifically a youth pastor’s kid.  Since it was our oldest daughter’s birthday this week we chose to let her have a big party.  She was allowed to invite 10 girls, which was a monumental task in and of itself.  Since she knows most all of the kids in the church and is friends with many, we had to help her by narrowing it down to her specific grade in Sunday school.  I had to stealthily hand out invitations around church the week before the party, trying not to offend anyone who was not invited.  I’m not really a big “all nighter” kind of gal, ( I know, not a good trait in a youth pastor’s wife….deal), so we told her that it would be a set time party, but she could pick 1 person to stay the night.  They were given strict instructions not to talk about spending the night, because, again, feelings might get hurt. 
     So you may be wondering “where’s the ‘perk’ aspect to all of this hidden party stuff?  Doesn’t sound very fun when you’re trying so hard not to offend anyone.”  I’ve realized by now, that  I can’t totally get around everyone’s feelings, so I try my best and let the Lord handle the rest.  He’s the only one who really knows my heart is not in the business of purposefully offending.  We try not to imprison our kids to the chains of people pleasing.
     The perks come in the party part.   We hosted a pizza panic for this years party.  A scavenger hunt of sorts where the girls had to go around town to pre-planned homes and build a pizza in order.   Boy, did they get into it.  Most of the girls had never participated in a party like this before.  Some of them had heard about it from their older sisters in the youth dept. when they had one last year.  It’s times like these when we know we can pull games out of a bag that may be stale to the teens, but these pre-teens just eat it up.  I think my daughter kind of likes that aspect of having a zany dad that has experience hosting these kinds of things.  A dad that has all the details down like music for the car, how to pick teams fairly, and how to organize activities to extract the most fun out of the evening. 
     I like that she likes this.  There are many times in ministry, when 2nd mans focus is on the teens.  He’s an excellent father and very involved.  However, it is a fact of life that our lifestyle and his job means that were busy most nights of the week.  Sometimes, they don’t see much of him or are dragged around to different places with all of the teens.  They are privy to seeing teens who rebel and break our hearts and watching some of the bad choices.  It’s my prayer that they will watch and will learn from it.  It’s also my prayer that they’ll also notice the good.  The times when they get to stay after church for parties for teenagers, even though they aren’t teens.  The times they get to play around the church when nobody else is there.  And even the times they get to benefit from the preaching at conferences and camp, by renowned men of God.   It’s not all fishbowl and tattling.  And hopefully they appreciate the perks and the parties.

Posted in Parenting

Katie turns 10!

     Today is my first daughter’s birthday.  She’s ten years old.  This has to be worse than myself turning 40 (though I haven’t yet).  I specifically remember the events of the day of her birth as if they just happened  yesterday.  I awoke with some pain that worsened quite quickly.  I remember calling my friend who told me “Oh, go on a walk it’s gonna be a while still).  When I hung up though, I couldn’t stand up. I sat hunched over breathing into a crocheted pillow in our livingroom.  I did, however, manage to get up and into the bathroom to put on my makeup.  People have made fun of me over the years on this point, but hey, I knew there would be pictures taken and kept for all time, seemed logical to me (more on this topic of logic later).  2nd man got me into the car and we raced to the hospital, well more like zipped around the corner since the hospital was only like two blocks away. 
    Labor was coming fast and I was freaking out even faster.  I remember them giving me some kind of drug to slow things down just so they could give me the epidural.  My motto here was that I would pop it, smoke it or inject it, but I wanted no pain.  Of course this is all said tongue in cheek, but really, they give you no trophy for all the painful stuff and you get to take the kid home either way, so let’s skip the pain and get to the celebration.  However, I did have to endure some pain for a while until this medication kicked in.  I couldn’t sit up or still enough for them to even give me an epidural.  At which point all logic went out the window.  I was suddenly hit with the reality of  the fact that I was about to have a baby.  I’m not quite sure how to compare it to the previous months of just enjoying being pregnant.  It seemed like my mind suddenly went “No way! unt uh!”  I looked at my husband and told him “I want to go home.  I don’t want to do this.”  Somehow this seemed like a legitimate option at the time.  The next thing that happened is a source of debate still to this day.  2nd man vehemently defends his position and I equally oppose it.  It’s really the only thing we’ve totally disagreed on in our 13 year marriage.  Well, he looked me straight in the eye during my loss of reality and said, “millions of women have done this, you can too.”  zpppppppppp. music stops. time stands still. I thought to myself “WHAT!?  How is that helping me? I don’t care what they’ve done. aughhhhhhh!”  Now, in his defense, I will say that he sincerely thought it was a helpful statement of encouragement, and he was right there fore me for the rest of the duration until the arrival of our precious firstborn. 
     She was so perfect and beautiful!  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her until I finally had to move them to look at the nurse who had just informed me that I had to  feed this child every two hours!  What?  I read all the books, and I knew I’d be up in the night, but every 2 hours?  Somehow I felt the first pang of parent guilt at my ill response to this thought.  It seemed like she, my perfect and new daughter was suddenly against me.
     I was so thrilled when my mother walked through the door of the hospital.  She was scheduled to fly in a few days later, but had felt a need to come earlier.  I was supposed to go pick her up at the airport.  Instead, we had to call one of 2nd man’s cousins who didn’t even know my mother to go pick her up and bring her to our town.  We live about an hour and a half away from the nearest airport.  She said, in order to help him identify her, that she would be holding a giant stuffed moose.  Sure enough, she held to that promise and  came bearing the giant antlered stuffed toy.  She stayed with me that first night as I was suddenly flung back into my childhood need of having my mommy with me. 
     My life has never been the same, nor would I want it to be.  She and our following children have filled our lives with blessing, grief, worry, laughter and guilt.  Psalm 127: 3  Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Parenting

Missionaries and Swords

   As I was walking my son to his class this past Sunday, we came across the table that our visiting missionary  from Wales had set up in the foyer.  Double mortification here. 
     First off, they had a sword on the table and were so niceley offering for my four year old son to be able to touch it.  Are you kidding?  They have no idea the trouble with swords in our house.  My son will weild anything over two feet long.  We’ve replaced at least six in the past two years.  A sad array of sticks, foam swords, light sabers and glowy batons that all lost the battle with this little man.  Almost daily the boy says “Momma we need to get me a new sword.” to which I reply that he needs to learn how to take care of them.  I know this is utter nonsense to his mind.  I’m sure if I could peak in, he’d be thinking, “what am I doing wrong?  They’re for hitting right?  Can I help it if they don’t stand up to what’s being hit?  Does this woman know how many ‘bad guys’ I’ve saved her from with all of those swords?”  Nearly all the walls in the house have an area of needed repair or repaint and the dogs take off running at the sight of him with one of his swords.  However, I didn’t want to disappoint the missionary so I stood there with little man and “helped” him touch the sword.  Like one of those “helicopter” moms who don’t let their kids out of their sight for a second, I stood there uttering,  “th th thats enough.  put ,put it, put the sword down.”  He was amazed and in awe of the gleaming replicated blade and the impressive weight.  I’m sure as he sleeps now he’s dreaming of the dragons he could slay with that thing. 
     The second reason for mortification, was the very realization of who these missionaries were.  I knew them right away, no need for introduction.  Thankfully they didn’t remember me, or chose not to reveal any remembrance.  Thirteen years ago when 2nd man and I moved here, we were living in our church’s missions house.  Being a new bride I loved the idea of hosting someone for dinner.  During our very first missions conference with this church, these very missionaries I stood before today, were there.  I was going to pamper and impress them.  I might add, this was during my Martha Stewart adoration days.  I decided to make a brisket.  Seemed like a “fancy” cut of meat that people in Oklahoma were impressed with, though I’d never really had it growing up in Ohio.  Well, I cooked that thing into beef jerky and…I served it proudly, as if I’d accomplished something great.  They were very polite guests and as we all sat around chewing, and chewing, and chewing, we had nice conversations about cookware that she (the missionary’s wife) recommended.  After they left, I vowed never to cook anything “new” for guests again, at my husbands request.
      I’m still no Martha Stewart (as my husband and kids will attest over the corndogs I served them for dinner last night), but hopefully, I’ve learned a few things over the years.  One of those being  – take the missionaries out to eat.  That way they can eat what they want.  My husband and I can both focus on the conversation. and they won’t feel entrapped in your house if they need to get down the road to the next church or would like to go back to the hotel/missions house to rest.  But, one word of advice…..leave the swords in the car.

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Parenting

2nd man, TV Repair man and all of those Advancing men

I was so excited about starting this blog.  Now I’m finding myself hushing my kids out of the room to figure out homeschool stuff on their own so I can think of something witty to say…………crickets……..chirp…….I got nothin, ‘cept  3 neglected kids. 
     So here’s my day.  2nd man’s been hurt by someone’s words so he’s in a bit of a funk.  Not that he’s not allowed to be.  I just dread days that are like that.  I find myself unmotivated and wishing there were some magic words I could say to help.  He doesn’t get this way often.  As a matter of fact he awes and inspires me with how he can handle people.  I’m usually the “funky” one.  (hope that’s ok for a minister’s  wife to say).  He is amazing how he can talk me off of a ledge in a matter of minutes.  God knew I needed him.  However, I know God knows what he (2nd man) needs too.  I just sometimes wonder how I can fit that need.  Soooooo, I find myself utterly distracted by this thought process today.
    On top of that the TV repair man had to come today.  Our shiny wonderful flat panel TV has been messing up.  Thankfully, it’s something the company (which will remain unnamed) knew about and the fix was free.  Something called a capaciter went out (which puts thoughts in my head of Doc in “Back to the future” who says Marty! it’s the flux capaciter!”).  I know I know random thoughts are abounding in this head of mine.
    Tonight 2nd man is going to a Men’s Advance.  The men at the host church claim that men should not retreat, so they purposely call it an “advance.”  I’ve always found that creative and funny.  Anyway, last weekend I was away on a ladies retreat (seems we’re not as spiritual), and he did all sorts of fun things with the kids.  I heard talk of a tent, a movie, a walk, the library, two parks and hot dogs.   blink.. blink.  I don’t think I have it in me.  I think Mcdonalds and Hobby Lobby are the extent of our fun tonight.  Maybe if I slip some benadryl in their drinks I may even get a bubble bath with a favorite book…now that’s a retreat!

*Ok for those who are shocked, I’m kidding about the benadryl 🙂