{ Trapped Inside with Humor-Rich Teenagers }

I live with 4.75 teenagers. These were once my babies and now are unique creatures who often resemble fragrant, helpful allies and other days pose as smelly, ungrateful strangers.

Like dependent joeys, they once hovered around me for transportation, food and internet passwords. Now some of them drive cars, buy their own chips and stop whispering when I walk into a room. 

“What did you say? Who’s doing what?” I plead like a pitiful toddler. Life has cruelly circled around — I am now the one who craves to be let in on secrets and it is I who must take naps.

One of my teenagers currently displays an unusual, robotic sense of humor — like when he greets me at breakfast by pointing sharply at me and saying:

Target Acquired.

We discussed respect / disrespect today. Sometimes I ask him to complete a chore and he jokingly answers:

Yes, I will not do that.

When I was finished with my mini respect lecture, he offered me a rigid handshake, peered at me with a robotic stare and stated in a monotone:

Thank you for your candor. 

Minutes later, he offered me another stiff hand and droned:

Congratulations. You have been reinstated as our mother for another five years. 

We had some other options, but this worked for us right now.

After eating the lunch I prepared for him, he approached me again with: 

Congratulations. Your term as mother has now been extended for the next TEN years.

Unless you perish.

Time for a nap.

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Photos:

Franck V.

Rock’n Roll Monkey

{ Blizzard-Ready}

We enjoyed Homeschool Ski and Snowboard Day last Monday.

Hyland Hills in Bloomington, Minnesota is a tame spot for beginning skiers, and the 26 degree January day was perfect.

Anyone walking in to the chalet could tell it was a homeschool event — crockpots were everywhere, and the air smelled like patchouli and lavender essential oils.

Now, we are bracing for more snow, and true to our nature, Minnesotans are frantically storming the grocery stores to stock up, like we may be snowed in for months.

I confess I left the house at 6:00 a.m., determined to beat long lines and the blizzard.

After being urged last night by one of my teenagers to get some “fun food,” (as opposed to gloomy, drudgerous food?) I grabbed a few essentials:

  • meat
  • kombucha
  • microwave popcorn
  • hot chocolate mix
  • coffee and herbal teas
  • heavy cream for the coffee
  • makings for soup and homemade no-knead bread. (Not the boring soups I usually make from leftovers) but Copycat Olive Garden soups, like Zuppa Toscana.

In addition to these staples, we are armed with *anti-cabin fever* activities:

  • Season 2 of Gilligan’s Island DVDs, purchased at GoodWill
  • Crispin: At the Edge of the World. I love the Crispin books by Avi, and I wish I’d known about these when we were studying the Middle Ages.
  • A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.

Other Mudpuppy puzzles we have ordered are the 1000-piece Ocean Life, 500-piece Songbirds and 500-piece Butterflies of North America.

I’m glad we are ready, because it’s starting to snow…

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{ A Full Cart }

You’ve probably never encountered this embarrassing situation, but have you ever seen anyone come up short of cash at the grocery checkout?

Full cart
It could happen to you. You enter the store, hoping only to get a few necessities. You add prices as you go:

Romaine….almond milk….unsalted butter…shredded cheddar — we’re at $12.50 now…

But when you arrive at the checkout tribunal, the cashier pronounces the total and you know immediately that you are convicted. Although you frantically rummage around in the bottom of your purse and find a warped and forgotten checkbook, the cashier shakes her head. “We don’t take checks anymore.”

Moments before, your fellow customers were on your team. You eyed the long checkout lines together, rolled your eyes and waited as one.
Now, you are the criminal, holding up the line, found financially wanting. Although you definitely don’t make eye contact with them, you know they are judgmentally and impatiently tapping their toes.

How have you come to this place?

Somewhere between the frozen broccoli florets and the applesauce squeezies, things started to break down. Perhaps you mindlessly tossed a quart of spumoni into your cart, followed by a bag of artisan coffee beans instead of the generic variety. And maybe your ten-year-old slipped a discounted Lego set in there at the last minute. Either way, your budget has gone unheeded.

Thus begins the humiliating process of deciding what to put back — starting with the Lego figures, followed quickly by the spumoni.

This is highly humbling, which is actually the silver lining to all this. Like a dentist’s drill, it’s something you resist, but it’s good for you in the long run. The flesh cringes at the thought of being humbled, but the God-seeking soul craves it.

This is the point: I woke up at 3:00 a.m. last night, with dozens of thoughts, which tumbled out in rapid succession as prayers to the God who never sleeps.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could keep adding requests to my prayer cart and it would never be too much for Jesus. He is like a welcoming cashier that would be saying:
“Get some more! There’s a BOGO on requests today! Go grab another — right there! Fill up your cart and put ‘em all down! Don’t worry, you have all the time in the world — there’s no one behind you!

A full cart. An unlimited supply. A generous God who has already paid for everything. I never have to decide if it’s too big or small to bring something up to the Throne of Grace…and I never have to put anything back.

~~~
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. — John 14:13-14

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. — Philippians 4:6

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! — Luke 11:13

{ Clean }

 

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I don’t dress like this when I clean the house.

 

I like a clean living space, but, cleaning is not a cherished hobby of mine. I generally value clutter-free over dust-free.

Years ago, my Spanish friend Ana invited me into her small apartment. I was amazed at how shiny-sparkly-clean it was and I commented on it.

“Yes, I like to do this!” Ana bubbled enthusiastically. I’ve never forgotten her radiant response; scrubbing the home spotless was a happy thing for her.

My Norwex-selling friend recently educated me on the stunning benefits of micro-fiber cleaning.

I’m totally not going to have a Norwex party, but I appreciated her zeal and knowledge; I really learned something.

grove stuff

 

For a recent birthday, my daughter gave me a cleaning tote, stuffed with Mrs. Meyer’s sprays and other goodies. Was this gift a not-so-subtle hint, because she knows my housecleaning flaws? Hmmm….

Anyway, cleaning is more fun, now that I have Mrs. Meyer’s help.

I will now awkwardly transition to some brief thoughts about spiritual cleaning.

I was reading my Bible the other day and I cannot remember exactly what I was reading. I didn’t feel spiritually dirty and didn’t set out be to be purposefully “washed” that day, but suddenly I truly felt God’s words cascading over me, cleansing me.

As I have chewed on this the last few days, I have felt that reading God’s word is a powerful spiritual cleaning agent because:

  • It reminds me whose I am
  • It purifies my life perspective
  • It shines a loving light onto my heart
  • It pours hope down on me
  • It showers comfort over my soul
  • It cleanses festering wounds
  • It removes destructive thoughts and damaging lies.

~~~~~~~

“…wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

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“The Gospel is a cleansing agent, for it is the good news of Christ’s atoning death at Calvary. The Word is a cleansing agent also for sanctification. That’s why it’s important for us to read and study the Scriptures; they are a cleansing agent in our lives. It’s amazing what the Word of God will do with people when they read and study it. — John MacArthur

 

Bible photo:  Aaron Burden

{ I’m Meant for Little Things }

I find myself wallowing in the memory of a handful of recent conversations about motherhood, watching children fly away, and stepping reluctantly into “The Afternoon of Life.”

(That’s a book, given to me by my daughter. I groaned when I saw it, but it’s actually just right for me…and funny, too.)

So, just now I scrawled out a poem — with sappy tears streaming down my face– and my 20-year old son comes in, unaware of my poignant tears, to get something from this room.

“Don’t mind me,” I say. “I’m just writing poetry that makes me cry.”

“Your OWN poetry is making you cry?”

“Yes. I’ll read it to you when I’m done.” 

(Maybe. If you’re lucky.)

I’m Meant for Little Things

Big things? No, I’m meant for little things — 

I’m the tapper of  a traveling stream of a thousand text messages and heart emojis, a hundred “are you almost homes?” and “luv yous”

I’m the tiny-Lego-helmet-finder and the “Where’s my Wallet?” wizard 

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the finger-mender of the glove that gets lost a day later at the hockey rink

An empty cupboard magician, a juggler of leftovers, and a make-do artist

I’m the queen of laundry

(my royal eyes have seen that same pair of underwear a hundred times)

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the hopefully-wise-advice-giver

The occasional hugger and everyday love-giver

The rambling-dream-listener —

A tea-maker, sick-fixer, peacemaker

And everyone’s personal spelling coach.

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m piecing together my

slowly-growing-love-mosaic out of

lots of little things

While praying someday

they will all see the Big Picture.

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Photo:  Roman Kraft

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{ Boys on Bikes }

 

Biking with boys is a rough, unpredictable sport. Although bike etiquette comes slowly, boys on bikes do not.

Boys on bikes are powerful, confident and free! They are captains of their wheels; masters in the wind.

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When you go biking with boys, you may encounter things like this:

  • The neon-helmeted junior rider in front of you may stop abruptly in the middle of the bike trail. He will expect you to stop, too — although you had no warning.
  • When there’s an orange cone on the trail, warning riders of a hazard, (crumbling pavement, loose gravel, etc.) a biking boy will zigzag as possible to the cone before swerving. He will veer left at the same time you yell out in horror: WATCH OUT! It’s like playing a telepathic game of “chicken.”
  • Boys on bikes like to ride “hands free” on easy stretches, or when younger riders roll by.
  • The exhilaration of riding may cause boys on bikes to play “air guitar” for 5-10 seconds before safely gripping their handlebars again.
  • Boys and bikes enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The boy propels the bike, and the bike energizes the boy. I know this, because when a boy dismounts a bike, he is suddenly energy-zapped, thirsty, and ravenous.
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Summer bike rides with boys are the best.

Boys on bikes do not care about Haiku, but some moms on bikes do:

~~~

Bike ride on a trail

Nature perfumes our journey

Through sunshine and shade

~~~

Orange cone photo credit: Colin Czerwinski

{ Bacon, Books, & Body Fat }

It’s been over a month since I have logged in, but I haven’t been idle. This is what I have been up to:

  • My husband got home from out-of-state and he came back eating Keto. The man I married 29 years ago thought eating bacon was scandalous — but now he embraces bacon as a legitimate thing, and I don’t have to hide eating it anymore!

Life is change…and this is a good change.bacon-1238243__340

  • I read several books this winter:
  1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  2. A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller
  3. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
  4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  5. Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in Historyby Bill O-Reilly
  6. The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg
  7. Still Life by Louise Penny

 

This was the best ever year for field trips. We attended two homeschool ski days; joined a free program at the Paint Factory; visited the Amazon Fulfillment Center; toured the St. Cloud Hospital; saw the Sea Life Aquarium on homeschool week; jumped at a Trampoline Park and went to the fish fry after the last day of pick-up hockey at the local ice rink.

 

 

Did we finish our history or math books? Nope.

However, I consider this year fruitful in other ways, because…

  1. We got to see the underbellies of sharks, real sea turtles and God’s creativity with jellyfish — and write about it.
  2. My youngest boys got to ski for the first time.
  3. My three teenagers got to experience the joy of group painting, and brought home their masterpieces. (The one who most reluctantly attended was the same one who proudly set his finished canvas next to his desk at home.)
  4. We saw how robotics works in a hospital operating room AND how robotics works in an Amazon warehouse.

 

  • On the creative side, I’m dabbling in tote bags again, thanks to a request from a friend’s daughter.  The tote bags I create make use of old wool sweaters, discarded men’s dress shirts, and empty burlap bags. After years of sewing with zipper avoidance, I’m officially not afraid of zippers anymore. 

 

 

 

  • Lastly, my husband and I took a preventative health test from Life Line. It’s a mobile set-up that moves you through simple tests like blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and then uses ultrasound to check for artery blockage.

But, here’s the interesting scenario: My husband, who:

  • works out almost every day
  • carries minimal spare body fat
  • can let a chocolate bar sit unopened in his closet for 5 months

…got only fair blood test scores. It was surprising.

I tried to feel bad for him.

But, all the while I was pleasantly surprised at my own excellent scores, since I:

  • have been virtually sedentary all winter long (except for the field trips I mentioned)
  • have oodles of spare body fat
  • can’t let a chocolate bar sit unopened for 5 minutes

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I tried to console him. I did some online research on his behalf and it might have something to do with sleep…

Speaking of sleep, I just found the word for my kind of nap: Nappuccino. A nappuccino is when you want to take a 20-minute power nap but not go longer than that. So, you drink a cup of coffee right before your nap and then the caffeine wakes you up just when you should wake up.

I didn’t know it was a *thing*…but turns out it is 🙂

  1. https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/the-nappuccino-is-a-wellness-trend-i-can-get-behind
  2. http://dreamstudies.org/2012/06/08/4-steps-to-reaganing-all-day-long-the-power-of-the-nappuccino/
  3. https://1079ishot.com/nappucino-coffee-nap/

 

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