Ten Is Nice*

Ten years ago today, an American girl said “I do” to an English boy.  Hollywood would tell you that that was where the story ended, but I can tell you our “happily ever after” was only the beginning.

We were twenty-two and twenty-one.  We had only spent maybe a couple of months total in the same country over the year and a half we’d been together.  People must have thought we were crazy.  They probably still do, come to think of it.

But the Author of our fairytale knew what He was doing, and as we have walked through our story together, each chapter has been more incredible than the last.

It may be cliched to say that I love my husband more now than the day we married, but in Christ these words have a totally different meaning.  In truth, I am married to a different man than I was that day: a gentler, kinder man.  A wiser man.  A better man.  A man who is a more amazing father than I ever could have hoped for to our children.  And I thought he was pretty great to start with!

I do not deserve to be caught up in this storybook life I live, waking up each day to a Prince Charming and four tiny princesses whose smiles light up my day, but I thank God for it just the same.  And I pray He may bless us with many more years like the ten He’s already given.

Happy anniversary, my sweet husby.

* So, every year, at least in some token way, we have given each other traditional anniversary gifts.  Some have been trickier than others, but we’ve always at least given a nod to the appropriate gift material.  Do you know what ten is?  It’s tin.  I’m supposed to buy my wonderful husband something made of *tin* to mark a whole decade together.  And what makes shopping for this gift even more challenging is the ever-present stipulation that I not spend *any* money on it.  Well, a blog post is free, my love, so here is your TIN anniversary gift!

Birthday Season 2010: Closing Ceremonies

Our third birthday in as many weeks…  last but not least:

A Very Happy Birthday to my sweet husband!

Every year, Trevor’s birthday poses a dilemma: what do you get for the man who really, really, really doesn’t want you to spend *any* money *at all* (because,  let’s face it, it’s his money you’d be spending anyway!)?  And every year, the answer is the same: not very much.

Last year, a certain big number that ends in a zero came and went with very little fanfare (I had just given birth four days earlier, remember).  This year, so far, hasn’t been much more fanfare-filled than last.  Sigh…

We just hope  that he knows, in spite of the lack of fuss (which he says he doesn’t want anyway), that we love him more than anything.

To the one and only man in all of our lives: you are an amazing husband, father, leader, provider, and all-around wonderful guy to have around.  We are so blessed to have you, and we thank God for you *every* day.  Happy Birthday!

I Want To Be an Ant When I Grow Up

I am not domestically inclined.  There, I said it.

I don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture or both, but I am a messy girl, and after years of trying to change (I started receiving FLYlady‘s emails when I was pregnant with Romilly in 2005!) I still struggle to maintain even the most basic level of order in my home.  Sometimes I catch glimpses that there are advantages to being the way I am, that those who have the “neat freak” gene do not always count it a blessing.  But mostly, I just wish I were doing a better job of serving my family in this area.

I was no better at keeping my home tidy before I had children, though well-meaning friends and family are always quick to offer my four little ones up as an excuse for the state of my house, but now there is an increasing sense of urgency to the matter.  How can I keep my girls from ending up like me?  When I see the horror in Pippa’s face when I ask her to tidy up the playroom, or hear the desperation in Romilly’s voice when putting all the doll clothes away is “Just too much, Mommy!”, I see and hear myself!  How can I train them to pick up after themselves, when I don’t consistently do it myself?  How can I teach them what I just haven’t learned yet?  The situation is getting pretty dire as more and more little girls graduate to mess-making age around here.

This  passage has been staring me down for quite some time now.

Proverbs 6:6-11

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

When I have read it,  it has always said something like this to me:

Hey Jodi, look at all these other women who keep their homes immaculate and their laundry folded and put away all the time!  They do it every day, not just when they’re getting ready for a birthday party.  When they pull out their vacuum cleaners, their children do not ask them, “Mommy, is somebody coming over?” They scrub and bake and even garden (which people think you do, but it’s actually your husband who does all the work), all while you sleep in, or maybe play on the Internet for a few minutes hours on end.  Those women are so. much. better than you!

But of course, whatever voice that was that I was hearing, it was not the voice of my gentle, loving Lord.  What I had never noticed about these verse before  few weeks ago, was this part:

Go to the ant… consider her ways, and be wise.

I wasn’t reading what these verses actually said.  The answer has been right there all along: Go find “those women” and see how they do it.  Learn from them!  I don’t have to stay a sluggard, I can be an ant, too!

So, this is where you come in, ant friends.  You know who you are, you who basically have things under control.  If your laundry spends most of its time clean and folded in its proper place, and you know, for instance, that you are supposed to clean under your microwave at least every once in a while, I want to know what makes you tick!  (Advice is also more than welcome from recovering sluggards: you are an inspiration!)

  • What motivates you?   Does the mess just drive you crazy or do you have to make yourself clean up?
  • Have you always kept your home in good order?  If not, was there a gradual process of improvement or a sudden Ah-ha! moment that changed everything?
  • What habits have you found most helpful in this area?
  • Is there a spiritual element to it?  A key verse that might help me see more clearly that it’s important to God that I keep my home neat and clean?

I want to be able to serve my family better in this area, and I think I’ve been taking baby steps in the right direction, but if there are more secrets out there, I want to know them!  I want to teach them to my daughters so that they can enter life more prepared than I was for how messy life really is.

Wisdom?  Please?

You Might Be Married to a Brit If…

  • Your two-year-old asks for more to-mah-toes at dinner.
  • You have to take more passports than people with you when you travel.
  • Your children are taught how to say “I’m half and haaahf” as soon as they can talk.  Just because it’s totally cute.
  • The ladies in your small group all stare at your husband when a volunteer is needed to read the Bible passage (especially when it’s a really long one, like the book of Colossians.)
  • You call a pack ‘n’ play a “travel cot” and don’t even realize why people are looking at you funny.
  • Your children say things like “What a lovely day!” and “Are we going to bed straight away when we get home?”
  • You watch old episodes of Silver Spoons, and your husband laughs hysterically, because it’s totally new to him.
  • Everyone thinks your kids’ names are really weird, except for your mother-in-law, whose only complaint is that Philippa rhymes with Juniper.
  • You put the kettle on at least twice a day for a cup of tea, even though you don’t personally drink tea.
  • Your kids have “Big Cook Little Cook” in their regular rotation of DVDs.
  • Talking to your husband on the phone makes you just a little bit weak at the knees, because, for some reason, you no longer hear the accent in person, but you do on the phone, and it’s still *so* fun when you notice it!

Crack of Dawn Chronicles: One Week In

Yawn!

Well, I’m here.  I have woken up and stayed up (more or less) at 6 AM six times now.

I was hoping that at this stage in my rising-while-it-is-yet-night journey I would have something marvelous to report.  I thought my house would be clean and my demeanor calmer.  I thought I would be completely up-to-date on my Through the Year Bible reading program (what, you didn’t know you could already be behind by January 11th?  Oh, you totally can.)

Well, as you might have guessed, I don’t have any of those things to report.

But I do have all of these things to report, and I look forward to seeing what else God will work in my life through this new habit.

  • I have a whole new respect for what my husband does for us every single day.  I have always known that he was a trouper for getting up so early and braving the cold, but now, I really get it (well, the cycling part, I still don’t so much get).  I get why he wanted to be in bed by 10:15 each night when I would have preferred a bit more time for us in the late evening.  Now, each night it’s a race to brush our teeth and be in bed first.  If this were the only good to come out of this whole thing, it would probably be worth it.
  • I have been dressed and ready for the day when the girls wake up, which has mostly meant that they get a little more of me during the day.
  • I was *on time* for a 10 AM appointment with all four girls in tow.  Wait… 10 minutes early, actually!  This was largely a result of the above.
  • I have had more time to spend in the Word, and I’m not as sleepy while I’m reading as I thought I’d be.  Also, reading at the table seems to be better for my retention than reading in bed like I used to.  Can’t think why…

What I still need to work on:

  • As always, the main struggle is still using my time well.  Just because I have more of it now doesn’t take away the temptation to fritter it away.
  • I haven’t quite worked out how Juniper fits into my morning.  She doesn’t always wake up at the same time, so it’s hard to plan my time.  I have learned that feeding her lying down in bed like I used to isn’t real conducive to me staying awake.  That was Friday’s lesson, but if there’s a day to half-fall off the wagon, I guess it’s Friday.

How hard is it?

It is crazy hard until about 6:30.  Then it’s a little bit hard until about 7.  By then, the sun’s up and it starts to feel like a pretty normal day.  A normal day, except that my dishwasher is already turned over, and I am excited for my girls to wake up instead of closing my eyes tighter and pretending not to hear them stirring in their room.   By about 7:30, I begin to remember why I’m doing this.

I have to say a special thank you to my dear friend Emily, who has had a particular hand in urging and praying (yeah, she prayed for this, can you believe!?)  me toward this change.  You are a true and faithful friend.  (Now, don’t all fight over who’s next to be prayed for in this way.  I’m sure if God can get me up at the crack of dawn, He can do it for anyone!)

MoJo Mondays: Why (And How) I Love My Life

A dear friend and I have been dialoguing recently by e-mail about the joys and difficulties of being at home with several little ones.  It’s such an intense stage of life: one one hand I want to soak up every moment with my girls while they are little, because I can already tell how quickly time slips away; yet on the other hand, I must constantly fight the temptation to live for the next nap, the next bedtime, the next break.  The pace can be brutal, but the rewards are rich and many.  It’s an interesting place to be.

My friend suggested I do a series about why I love my life and how I find joy in mothering (mothering joy… MoJo… get it?  That part was totally my idea!) Fabulous idea, I thought, not least because it will force me to flex my blogging muscle more than just a weekly Wordless Wednesday!

Mondays seemed like a good time to focus my heart and mind on finding joy in the week lying ahead, plus, you know, it starts with M.  So here we are!

To start from the very beginning (a very good place to start…), I love my life and find joy by…

Remembering How I Got Here

IMG_6689Becoming a mother, of course, all began with a boy and a girl falling in love.  If I lose myself in a moment thinking about this, I find I wake up back to my real life feeling just a little bit warm and fuzzy to see where I am today.

Moms of little ones, try it with me: take yourself back to when it was all new.  You’re crazy about this guy.  Is it too soon to start thinking he might be the one?  Yes, probably so, but you can’t help it.  You look into his eyes and you wonder if he just *might* be the one that will someday be the father of your children.  You hope so, but who knows?  Anything could happen… it’s all such a long way off.

Now WAKE UP!  You’re here!  You are living your fairytale, and it’s a dream come true.  It may not be quite how you imagined it would be, but it is amazing what God has done in your lives to bring you to where you are now.  Celebrate the fact that you are spending your days with the incredible little beings that flowed out of your love for each other!  Isn’t it marvelous?

It’s all too easy once little ones arrive on the scene to forget who your true love is, but I’m slowly learning that if I keep my focus first on God, then on my marriage, the mothering part ends up being a much easier and more joyful experience.

Titus 2:3b-5 (ESV) says this of the older women of the church (emphasis mine):

They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Do you know what this means for us younger women? That we need to learn to love our husbands (and probably to submit to them as well, but that’s a topic for another post)!  I am so guilty sometimes of putting the girls before Trevor.  It’s easily done, after all, he can do a lot more for himself!  But there are two things that I know I can do each day to be a help to him: make his lunch for work, and send him an e-mail just to say hi and chat about our days while he’s there.  These are simple things he has told me really mean a lot to him, and yet I still manage to neglect one or both of them several times a week.

Becoming a student of my husband and learning to love him better serves my family in so many ways.  Not only am I serving him in the most direct sense, but I am giving my children a sense of security while modeling to them what a Godly relationship should look like.  It’s totally win-win.

So, as is always the case when I set out to give words of wisdom here, I have ended up preaching to myself more than anyone else.  Tip number one for having joy in your days while mothering?  Remember how you got here, and love on the one who made you a mother!

My Funny Hubby

My wonderful husband, on top of having a very dry sense of humor, is very quiet.  The combination of these two things may make it seem to most onlookers that he is very straightlaced and reserved (The first time he made a joke at small group, which incidentally was after we’d been meeting with this same group of people week after week for about two years, it took as all a good five minutes to pull ourselves back together because it caught us all so off guard!)  But get to know him well enough, and he actually has quite the silly streak hiding deep down inside.

Most Sunday afternoons, Trevor takes eBay pictures for me.  I root through the piles of boxes I get from my mom’s thrift store and other sources, and pick out the things I want to list that week and lay them all out on the table for him.  Sometimes there are a couple things to explain:  I may list pieces individually, or sometimes I group them into little lots.  So I put the stuff on the table, give him a couple instructions, and take the dog for a walk while he takes the photos.

This past Sunday, I left him a pretty straightforward bunch of china and crystal to photograph on an otherwise still cluttery table full of the usual stuff.  “Any special instructions?”  He asked me.  “Not really,” I said.  “The teacups and the saucers go together, but you’d have figured that out.”

“Okay,” he said, but there was a twinkle in his eye…

Later, when I uploaded the pictures, amidst the usual shots of cups and saucers and crystal champagne glasses, I found these:

IMG_6000 IMG_5998

(There were actually four of these shots in total, but two of them were such good photos of the crystal paperweight that I cropped out the scissors and sippy and used them for my listings!)

So, do I have a starting bid?

Flower Girl

One week before the wedding of my best friend’s eldest brother, we were planning on leaving the three “big girls” with my mom and having a nice relaxing day at the wedding with just the baby.  That was before Mary called me on Sunday night to ask if Beatrix could be the flower girl… in six days!  A quick rethinking of the situation made us realize we would regret taking just the little two if Bea was going to be given such a special honor, so we decided to take the whole gang.  We were so glad we did!  We even managed to find a perfect dress and shoes to borrow from a friend. (Thanks, Laura!)

Bea did a wonderful job, and all the girls all had such a blast at the reception.  There were other babies and other big kids, and we would totally have missed our girls had we left them home as planned.  Here are some of the highlights, starting with Bea’s ten seconds of stardom.  Ain’t she sweet?

View this montage created at One True Media
Bea’s Big Moment 5/16/09

Laid Up

img_3224

This very unconvincing scowl is hiding Trevor’s sheer elation at having fractured his elbow on his way home from work on Thursday (okay, maybe not elation, but he’ll admit it’s had its silver lining.  Read on.)

He was riding his bike home from the house of the guy he carpools with and collided with a teenager playing basketball in the street about a block from our house.  (“I thought he would get out of the way!” is Trevor’s defense.)  The kid was fine, and Trevor dusted himself off, straightened his handlebars, put his chain back on, and rode home.   (Yeah, I know!)

He told us all what happened and showed us a nasty little abrasion on his hand, but neglected to mention that he couldn’t move his arm.   We ate dinner and went to Barnes & Noble for a “date night” with baby Junie while his parents got the girls to bed.  By 9:30 he was looking a little pale and conceded that a trip to the ER might be in order.

It wasn’t until I saw the triage nurse take his sweatshirt off that I really believed it was broken.  The pain looked pretty close to the worst contractions I’ve ever felt, and I’ve never seen my husband in pain like that.  Poor guy.  We spent about three hours at the hospital, but in the end, Trevor got the vindication he was looking for: the ER doc called it a fracture and sent him home in a splint.

Trevor’s been a very good patient, and now that he’s had the splint taken off and is just in a sling, he’s back to doing far more than he should be probably.  He’s healing quickly, and we’re thankful for that.  Here are some of the “perks”  of this situation, at least from Trevor’s point of view:

  • He got two “free” days off work while his parents were here.  He hadn’t planned on taking any.
  • He is signed off diaper duty for at least a week or so.  (Funny how he can still re-pot his tomato plants and make coffee with one hand, but he can’t change a diaper…)
  • He had never broken a bone before, and I’m pretty sure he feels like he’s joined an elite club now.
  • He got a shout-out in the sermon this week for the second week in a row (last week’s was about the accent).  He goes bright red every time, but he loves it really.  The sermon was from James, and about trials, so he was an obvious target.  (And do you know what he told me afterwards?  He said this was probably more of a trial for me than for him.  Isn’t that nice?  I do love this guy.)

In other news, Trevor’s parents went home last night (got there safely, we’re assuming?), and I am off to pick up his brothers at the airport in a little over two hours.  So the bloggy drought will probably continue for the next week of so, but rest assured it’s for the happiest sort of reason.