Friday, January 27, 2012

Mrs. B

Sometimes I find myself getting a bit teary-eyed when I think of the lovely Mrs. B.  Mrs. B is Fia's kindergarten teacher.  She is amazing.  She is God with skin on.   She spoke at the beginning of the year to all the parents.  She was firm and confident, so very good at what she does, you could tell.  She told us that she looks at our little ones as her little ones and loves them like her own.

I have heard this before but Mrs. B has shown us this year to be truth.  She has shown us how much she loves Fia, how much she genuinely cares for her.  She took Fia by the hand at the beginning of the year, guiding her through, gently pushing her in the right direction.  Fia has grown, has become so much more independent and confident.  Just the other day I watched her run out of the car towards her friend - laughing and giggling and so happy.  I cried just a bit and sent a thank you up to God for Cecilia, for Mrs. B, for the school we are a part of now.

Mrs. B has been holding my hand too, I am not as apt to let go as Fia was.  I send e-mails to Mrs. B, I ask questions, I offer up help, we send in cookies or bread or garden stuff.  I needed some guidance, too, this year.  She answers all e-mails within 24 hours.  She never makes me feel like the crazy parent I am.  She tells me she LOVES to hear Fia stories and please share anytime (yeah, I know, she's amazing, right?)  I have broken all my rules that I set for myself when I was a teacher imagining myself as a parent.  Because it's different, it really is.  It's hard.

But Mrs. B makes it easier.

I hear a lot about schools and teachers and the state of our education system......A LOT.  I straddle both sides - knowing so many teachers, my husband being one of them and then knowing people who homeschool or choose the private school route.  And honestly, I don't want to go into all that.  Everyone has to make their own decision about what to do with their own child.  I can't even pretend to know what is right for everyone.  I know what is right for my child, for our family and that's what we are doing.  I assume that everyone else is doing what is right for their own child and their own family period.

The one thing I want to say is that whatever thoughts or opinions or views you have on education I urge you to keep in mind the people involved in education when you speak about the "system".  Mrs. B has three children of her own, teenagers.  I hear from Fia that she sings and she dances and she is very silly and weird, at times (this is a good thing in our household - weirdness is good, we embrace it.)  I have been in her class, seen the tables filled with energetic, loud,  enthusiastic children - I get tired.  I sent Fia to school knowing some sight words, her abcs, sounds, etc.  What do I get back?  A girl who can read, write sentences, color neatly, play with others, take turns, help others.  I have no idea how this was accomplished with so many kids and so little time.  We do a little homework but we are not responsible for all that she has accomplished this year.  It wasn't me that enabled Fia to get up on a stage and whisper and giggle with her friends.  It's wasn't me that taught her to read the Henry and Mudge (by the way - it's a puppy mudge book - not the level I book :) book this morning.   I am amazed that Mrs. B has the energy and stamina that she does.  She works all day with all these crazy kindergarten children - teaching them, reviving them, keeping them on task, disciplining them - and then she goes home to three of her own children and her own family - that is too exhausting for me to even contemplate.  I know it's her job but she does it so well - beyond any expectations and that is unexpected.

I am a little in awe of Mrs. B.

In 10 years or so Fia will be in high school and will have a number of fabulous teachers (I still remember TC, Ms. Ballard, Mr. Dollive, Mr. Ferraro........such classics :).  These teachers will shape and influence her.   They will be among her favorites (seriously, wish she could have TC or Bentley - these teachers did for me what Mrs. B is currently doing for Fia - giving her courage).  But for our family, for Joe, for me, I think that Mrs. B will go down in our history books.  The teacher that held our hands, that laughed away our worries, that encouraged us as parents.  Mrs. B is not only a teacher that loves her students but you can tell she loves her families.

Thank you so much Mrs. B!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Every Day

Yesterday Joe came home and I had a bit of a gentle rant filled with hurtful sighs and frustration.  I was feeling overlooked and undervalued.  I wanted to keep a tally, make a list, demand recognition.  I was still feeling a bit under the weather, my head was in a vice grip and my body seemed to want to give up just a bit.  My head, my thoughts were in a jumble and had been causing my body to race around all day - being the good mom, playing, cleaning, organizing and cooking without stopping, without a moment's pause to just sit and be still.

It was kind of a crazy day.  It had been kind of a crazy few days.

Joe listened.  He told me what he always does - he sees, he notices, it's hard, I do a great job - far beyond what is expected.  It means a lot to me.   He noticed that the rope was at it's end.  He sent me out after supper, around 6:30 to have some time by myself.  It was unprompted.  He even said he wanted me to go because the kids won't play the same with me there, mom still comes first most days, these days.  He made me feel that I was doing him a favor by leaving.

I went to my parent's house.  I poured a glass of wine.  I took a bath.  I read a book.

I was asleep by 8:00.

I startled awake at 9 and thought, just a few more minutes then I will go home..........I came home to a quiet house.  The children asleep, Joe was at the computer working.  We talked for a few moments, enough to make sure that all was well with each of us, that we each survived our individual nights.  Well, that he survived and that I was ready for another go around the next day now.  I was.

I walked into the bedroom and looked at our bed and thought how cold it would be to get into after the warmth I had just left at my parents.  I was all bundled under blankets and cozy and reading/sleeping there and now to come home to a cold bed.  I thought for a moment about warming up the corn bags that Joe had made me for Christmas.  The most brilliant gift EVER (besides the year long gift of evenings out :).  But that required too much effort.  So I pulled back the covers and went to jump in......

The corn bags were already there.

Our bed was all cozy and warm.

That is passion in the every day.

I love that my husband is good at the grand gestures.  Each Christmas he out does himself, I think that he can't possibly top the last year's present.  But he always does.  Yet what he is better at, what keeps our marriage healthy and strong and lasting is the passion in the every day.  The things that go unnoticed by others, the things that take less than 5 minutes but take careful consideration of the other persons needs and desires, the things that are easy to not do.

He gets me coffee at church when the singing is over and the children have left.  He takes the time to walk out, miss a minute or two of the sermon and he gets my coffee.

He makes me tea every night.

He changes the laundry.

He makes me coffee every morning before I get out of bed...knowing it propels me out of bed.  He drinks maybe half a cup.

He changes the pee jammies in the middle of the night.

He herds the children into his workshop downstairs so I can a have a moment to myself after school.

He makes sure that our tiny garage is cleaned out every winter as soon as it snows so I can have a place to park.


He is my biggest fan, my most ardent supporter, my loudest cheerleader.

That is passion in the every day.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sick Days

About a week before Christmas I had a horrible sore throat.  This is not that uncommon for me.  My throat aches quite a bit during the winter season.  This time, though, it was accompanied by a HORRIBLE MIGRAINE that caused my husband to miss a day of work.  Plus the sore throat lasted 5 days.  It was time to go to the doctor, it really hurt, seriously.  Now if you are a mom you know that it has to really be bad to actually take the time and energy to go see a doctor or take any time off from being a mom.  I marvel at how cavalier I used to be about being "sick".   I would have taken a day off of work at the first sign of sickness or at least come home and laid in front of the tv or read a book for the rest of the night.  (Do you ever wonder how you EVER thought you were BUSY before you had kids?  As if you even knew the definition.............I use to think I was tired or had a long day when I would get home late after school, say 6 o'clock but that gave me FOUR HOURS to do whatever I wanted when I got home.  I didn't have to clean or cook or do laundry if I didn't want to.  I could eat a bowl of cereal, I could nuke some leftovers, I could leave the cleaning and laundry for the weekend.  OH THE HOURS AND HOURS I spent reading :) while I thought I was busy or tired......oh and I know that this does not apply to every person without children, that there are those out there who are generally busy people but by and large when my friends and I discuss pre-kids and post-kids the most noticeable change is how little time there is just to be with your spouse or by yourself, you have to plan it.)

Well, it turned out I had strep throat.  No big deal really, right?  Get some meds and after 24 hours you aren't contagious and life goes on.  Right.

No.

Not if you are the one in however many that gets psoriasis when you get strep.

That's right.

Little, itchy, red bumps covering my entire torso and then spreading to my arms and legs.  Fun, fun times. This happened about six years ago for the first time.  I had to try steroid creams, lotions (which my LOVING husband put on while wearing work goggles, a face mask and completely clothing himself which he thought was SO FUNNY - this is also an indication of how widespread the bumps get.....this time there was none of that, he was barely fazed by it.  That's over seven years of marriage for you :), meds and then finally I had to go tanning (orders from the dermatologist).  It lasted a month.

Let me digress for a moment to tell you what else has been going on.  So this was about a month a ago that the strep and psoriasis appeared.  About a week later the nonstop vomiting started.  I might have told you all about it before but just a recap - Fia had it for about 3 days.  Then Nico and Francesca got it for 3 days.  We had a healthy day.  Then Francesca vomited, then Nico, then Joe.  Then my mom and brother got it.  Nico vomited again.  Then my dad got it.  Then...........all was clear.  One day later?

My throat hurt.

Come on.  Really?

I went through a day of being really tired, mild headache, sore throat, that kind of thing.  I thought, no way.  (I have no idea why I thought that as the bumps were still going pretty strong....)  Day two I felt worse but still thought, no, we just all got over being sick.  I am SO NOT SICK.  Joe comes home and Nico and I are on the couch.  I am SO TIRED and feeling oh so wretched.  I actually let Nico play the Ipod Touch for almost an hour because I thought I just cannot get off this couch.  I went to Aultcare.

Yep.

Strep throat.

The doctor WAS SO NICE but a little horrified by the bumps.  He asked are they that bad everywhere?  I showed him my back and legs.  He said we have to get rid of those!  No kidding, doc.

So now I am on some different meds.  The kids are fine.  The spouse is fine.  My parents are fine.  I'll be fine tomorrow and NOT contagious.  I felt better this afternoon so after Francesca's nap we made blueberry muffins, chocolate chip banana bread and mozzarella cheese.  I love to cook.  We may have a dusty house and PLEASE DO NOT LOOK under any piece of furniture but we eat well :)

Oh and if you see me looking so tan or Fia tells you that her mom goes tanning every day it's because of the psoriasis.  Although......oh my, some of the favorite 12 minutes of my day are spent in that quiet, warm, peaceful tanning bed.   I asked that lady at the tanning place if anyone has ever fell asleep and she said they had to take 30 minutes to try to completely wake up one person, so completely were they our of it.  I believe it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clothespins.....

The essential tool for any sophisticated fort-builder............

Do you love out stars, clouds and moon?  They are leftover from our town building this weekend........the kids wanted to leave them up

Might be a bit precarious but the clothespins attached to the curtain rod give our fort
a certain height it was lacking before.

 More clothespins and the sun shining down on us........

Of course, don't forget lots of old sheets.......more laundry, you say?  Awww.....what's another load.

May you enjoy your rainy day as much as we are!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

There's No Fun Like SNOW FUN!

 
Our "Super" Snowman - Nico loved this snowman.  We all worked together to make him in the backyard.  Well, Francesca just ate the snow and couldn't be bothered to stop eating for even the picture.

Isn't he beautiful......runny nose and all.......

My girl - she said she wished they only had school 4 days a week now, she had so much fun these past few days.
Me too, Fia.........

Again, this is Francesca's version of a smile these days (sigh).  She really does have beautiful eyes.
Our girl snowman in the front yard - we call her The Auntie Tash :)
Some indoor fun!  The kids LOVED making their snowman candle holders.  They wanted to light them up and each have their own candlelit breakfast :)

Nico's snowman

Fia's snow woman - gotta love the endless craft supplies from grandma retiring, Zia Maria/Uncle Steve presents and Uncle Vince/Aunt Colleen presents :)


Oh and you might think........gee, Mandy this is AWFUL LATE for you to be posting....why it's 2 o'clock in the morning!  What on earth have you been doing all night that you are up this late?  I have been playing some beans game that my brother and sister-in-law brought home from Kansas City.  It is now time for them to go back.  I can't take too many more late nights.  The game and their company is addicting...........it's time for them to go back to Liv, Audra and Rachael and keep THEM up all night.

Plus after a day's respite from the puking........it's back.

Nico threw up YET AGAIN in his bed.  It has now cycled through everyone, Nico and Francesca twice already and is back to Nico.  It is time for the sickness to end.   Two weeks is long enough.

 I have to be up again in 4 hours.  

Wish me luck.................the GINORMOUS pile of laundry and I will need it :)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Apple from the Tree

Fia and I were playing THE WORST GAME EVER yesterday, otherwise known as Chutes and Ladders.  I have come to really, really dislike this game (I say dislike because once you have children you are not allowed to say the word hate, apparently).  I mean who creates a game that gives you a headache upon looking at the board - all those checks, makes it impossible to tell where you are suppose to be going  if you are a little kid.  Then let's just talk about the THREE SLIDES on the last row of the game, prolonging the torture even further.  I have, in the past, done some creative counting so someone would finally win.  However, last night it was all fair and square.  Fia is 5 and fully capable of the counting and following the arrows and doesn't seem to get distracted by all the checks.  

I was winning........in a big way.

I won the first game and was well on my way to winning the second.  Score.

She looks over at me and says are you done with your coffee yet?  I say no.  She takes her mug of smoothie and begins gulping.  

I think what on earth is she doing?

She says well at least I can beat you at something.


I have no idea WHERE she gets this competitive streak from.....................

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Rude Awakening

Last night at 3:30 am I heard Francesca crying, screaming really.  Now you might think, if you are not a parent or are an uncommonly compassionate parent, that I jumped up out of bed to see what was wrong.

I did not.

I waited.  First I waited to see if it would continue.  I prayed for God to wrap His arms around her so I would not have to, I prayed that he would calm her....so I would not have to, I prayed for the screaming to please, God, please stop.  It stopped for a moment.

Then it continued.

This time I waited to see if my dear husband would get up.  However, I did remember that he was up late grading for school and I was the one in bed snoring at 10 pm.  I also remembered that the kids would be going to my parents tomorrow night and that I would have the three of them only until 4:00 pm and then TOTAL RELAXATION (again, if you are a parent, I assume you understand looking forward to being without your children and basing all decision making on the fact that you will be without responsibility for 12-14 hours).  Plus my husband usually bears the brunt of nighttime wakings (much to the amazement of some of our friends - sometimes I feel they think he is the saint in this marriage and how on earth did he get stuck with this lazy woman who will not have anything to do with her children between the hours of 8 and 5 when he is the one working all day long...........sometimes I wonder myself and then other times I think I am going to drop all my kids, my laundry and the chore list off at their house one morning at 7am and then come pick them up at 4:30 and then see what they think :)  Back to the matter at hand.....I went to see what on earth could cause such angst at 3:30 in the morning when momma was trying to get some dang sleep.

Oh.

There was vomit all over her bee pillow.

It was matted in her hair and all down her jammies.

I guess that would cause me to scream too.

Into the bathtub she went, still screaming.  The sheets, the bedspread, the pillow went down to the wash.  New jammies were put on.  And here is where once again it is proven that my husband is a better person than I am.  He heard the screaming, the bath water running and he appeared in the doorway.  (Do you hear the chorus of angels?  The shining light beaming from behind him? Because at 3:30 in the morning when you are combing the vomit out of your screaming 2 year olds hair angels do indeed appear in the form of bleary-eyed, hairy men in boxers)  This wonderful man got out of bed and took our baby and held her and cuddled her and eventually fell asleep on the couch with her where she vomited one more time and then wanted to go back to bed.

I am not sure I would have done the same thing.  I would like to think I would have gotten up and helped him but part of my thinks I might have just feigned sleep and heard all about it in the morning.

This is kind of the look he had going on at 3:30 but he wasn't smiling..............such a good looking man,
 even with his eyes partially closed.


Every day I think......thank the Good Lord I married someone who is nicer than I am and needs less sleep than I do.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nonna

I first met Joe's grandma, Nonna, and grandpa, Nini,  just a few weeks after we started dating.  The family would get together every Sunday for lunch.  There would be a huge pot of pasta (there is never enough as far as grandma in concerned), chicken, potatoes, fiscotini, wine, assorted vegetables, caffe latte and fruit.

I loved going.  I loved grandma and grandpa.  They welcomed me from the very beginning as I sought to capture the heart of their grandson :)




It was loud (even though they ALL say that I am loud, truly, it was loud) and it was filled with lots of talk, lots of food.  Everyone would help with the clean up, except those that will remain nameless that would escape to the bathroom.   When there was wedding soup on the table you knew Anthony was coming.  Julie would make appearances.  Occasionally Uncle Nick would stop by with produce for everyone.  An uncle would show up at times.  Friends, girlfriends, boyfriends all came through the house, too.  All were welcomed and made at home.  Grandma loves to share her food and loves to tell stories.


Not long after we were married I said to Joe that I want to be grandma.   What I meant by that is I want to make things from scratch.  I want to have a long table filled with food for everyone to eat.   I want to be remembered for the food that I make, the lunches or dinners that I have.  I want to have a house where everyone is welcome and everyone gathers.   




And sometimes when I get down about my weight, I think of grandma.  I think of how every inch of grandma is treasured, not because of what she is wearing or how she looks but because of how she loves.  When I start to become anxious about the food I am making - is is good enough?  is it special enough?  I think of grandma.  I have only ever had maybe 8 different dishes at her house and I have had MANY, MANY meals there.  Wedding soup, pasta, pasta potate, chicken, potatoes, chicken cutlets, sausage and rice balls - always delicious, always good.  Why?  Because it's grandma food.  It tastes of her, it tastes of the love she pours into whatever she is making.  Nothing will ever taste quite like it.  When I start to think I need to dust, I need to organize this or that or that our house isn't as pretty as it should be.  I think of grandma.  I never really notice what her house looks like - outside of the statues that she decorates with flowers or scarves or any manner of things, cracks me up.  Her house is warm and welcoming and she is always excited to see you.   Grandma is more than just her house, her appearance, her food.  And that's what I want.


I called grandma the first time I made cheese.  I called her when I used the whey leftover from cheesemaking to make bread - she was impressed, she never thought to do that.  I called her when I made wedding soup from scratch the first time.  I called her when I went me first year without buying bread, making it at home instead.  Grandma was always encouraging, she always was approving, excited that someone else is doing the things she always did and thought they were important too.  I know I have a long way to go to achieve grandma status but I hope I am on my way.  I hope that one day our house will be the gathering place that grandma's always was...........and I hope that Anthony or Vince will take me to Marc's when I am old and pick up MY tab.  For if I am to be grandma surely Anthony is Uncle Frank and Vince/Joe both remind me of grandpa.

A little grandma story............have you ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"?  Remember the spray bottle of windex?  How it was to be used for EVERYTHING?  Well, grandma kind of feels the same way about vinegar.  One time at dinner she pulled out a spray bottle of vinegar and started squirting her salad.  I about peed my pants, it was hysterical.  So many things about that movie remind me of the clan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Question and Clips.....

This past weekend I got to hang out with my brother and his wife - IT WAS AWESOME.  There is something about family that is just good and easy and fun.  You can tell the same stories over and over and over but they are still funny........at least to us they are :)  Well, one of the things I think about when I am with the immediate family is.......well, Designing Women.  Along with Golden Girls, this was one of the staples of my growing up.  An odd choice, I know.  Both Matt and I were servers at Applebee's and when we would come home Designing Women and Golden Girls were on at night back to back.  This is also the summer I think I gained 10 pounds.  We would come home and make "tacos" - except our version of tacos was cheese, more cheese, meat and lots of chips.  On nights we didn't have tacos we had pizza from Dominos.  It was one of my favorite summers. We laughed so hard and had so much fun together.  More than brother and sister, we were able to be friends.  

But, seriously, is there anyone funnier than Suzanne Sugarbaker?  Is there anyone more inspiring than Julia Sugarbaker when she gets on a role?  Oh and Charlene, I swooned when she met Bill.  MaryJo?  Hilarious.  And  good old Anthony, doing anything for Suzanne and of course, Bernice.  

So which one are you?  Anthony, Suzanne, Charlene, MaryJo or Julia?  I would really like to know.  I have some ideas about some of my friends.  Bekah?  So very clearly a Julia.  Diane is too.  Mrs. Kandel out there?  Charlene all the way..........  Jani?  Mary Jo - can can either way, she hangs with Julia but can get into equally as much trouble/silliness as the other two.  Plus she's sweet.  

I'm torn about myself.  There are the people that I want to be and then there is the person that I am.  I think I am mostly Charlene with a little Julia thrown in.  What about you?


Classic salad bar episode - MaryJo loses Suzanne's "real" pearls in a salad bar



AND THAT. IS THE NIGHT. THE  LIGHTS. WENT OUT IN GEOR-GIA!
Seriously, cannot even think about this scene without trying to imitate her exact tone and emphasis.  I love Julia.  Just classic................

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Mother-in-Law

So we all have those people in our lives that see us for who we are right?  The people that know how awful we can be, how judgmental, how petty, how unforgiving, how just downright rude we can be.....and they still love us despite all the nastiness that can sometimes inhabit these bodies of ours.  I am lucky to have quite a few people like this.  They love on me even when I am unlovable.

But then there are other people...........

These people seem to have blinders on.  It's as if they don't see the ugly and just see the beauty of who we are.  I talked to one of these people last night........amazingly enough, it's my mother-in-law.  I gave her the book "Kisses From Katie" for Christmas because I want EVERYONE to read it.  Plus Sharon has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know and I knew she would love it.  So I was talking to her last night and she said that she was reading the book and, indeed, she loves it.  She said she just keeps reading and the whole time she was thinking about me.  That I am just like Katie, that I would be doing the things that she is doing.

Huh.

Katie has 13 kids.  I have 3.

Katie is single.  I have a loving, wonderful husband who is SO SUPPORTIVE and takes over whenever I feel like quitting.

Katie lives in Uganda.  I live in Canton, Ohio.  Just use your imagination to think of all the differences that entails.

Katie runs an organization that feeds children, sends them to school, provides medical care and numerous other things to the people of Uganda.  I occasionally run the sweeper.

You get my drift............there are some MAJOR differences.

But what I love is that in my searchings of late I have asked God that people see Him through me.  Not that I do great and amazing things, necessarily, but that He is shown through me.  That people know His love, through the love that I am able to give.  And while Katie's heart and walk and journey seem so much further along than mine I am bolstered by Sharon's words.  I feel as if God spoke through her to reassure me that I am on the right path.  And thank God for people who see past the ugliness, that don't even recognize it and are able to speak into your heart.

Oh and the other great thing about my mother-in-law?  She is watching the kids, BY HERSELF, for three days and two nights while Joe and I go off on a little getaway.  This is something we do every year in February.  It is something that I look forward to all year.  One year?  Nico was 2 months old, Fia not yet 2 years old and they went to stay with Grandma Goats for three days, 2 nights during a snowstorm.  Joe and I had the whole house to ourselves and were able to SLEEP for hours......it was amazing.  That's right I left my kid for 3 days when he was 2 months old.........it was GLORIOUS :)

Now I am feeling REALLY different from Katie................I am going to go love on my kids now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Up

I walk into church and it's hard not to be amazed by the awesome Christians I see.  I marvel at their goodness.  I marvel at their beauty.  I marvel at their devotion to something outside of themselves, outside of the comfortable and normal and expected.

It's a little intimidating at times.

I find myself wondering at their backgrounds.  Surely, I think they must have been raised in homes where scripture was studied every night, where prayer was as easy and natural as breathing.  They must have lived and breathed Jesus from the moment they were born.  I imagine lovely lives where they moved, walked in a cloud of love and goodness and kindness all the days of their lovely lives.  It's easy to think this of people who do and say amazing thing, who live amazing lives.

Yet again and again and again I am proven wrong.

Again and again and again God shows me that He takes what is broken, what is unlovely, what is seemingly useless and ugly and says I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.  That the loveliness comes from God and not from our own efforts.  That those people who are living amazing lives come from dark and ugly places and that it is only through GOD that their lives are made lovely.  That every time THEY tried to do something amazing or something good or tried to make things right that they failed because they were trying to do it ALONE.

Life cannot be lived ALONE.

With God comes light.  With God comes life.  With God comes love.  With God comes FULLNESS.  Let us live our lives not looking to each other, not looking to ourselves for loveliness.  But let's look UP to God, to see all the beauty and goodness and love that life has to offer.  Let us look UP to find acceptance and awareness.  Let us look UP so that we all may live amazing lives within the FULLNESS of God.

I want to be one of those people that cause others to look UP.  You know what I am talking about?  When you see someone standing and pointing and looking up at the sky?  Your natural reaction is to go over and look too, to wonder what are they looking at.  I want others to walk over to my life and think what the heck is she looking up and in looking up with me say.......ahhhh, now I see, now I get it.  I see God.   I want them to see God.  I want them to experience the wonder and beauty that comes from seeing the living God.

And, again, HUGE HUGS to Jason and Suzi Lantz who always cause me to look up at our wondrous God.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Even Barf Can Be a Blessing.......

This morning at 6:15 I heard Fia coughing, so I went to investigate.  I found Fia standing at the side of our bed, throwing up into a sheet Joe had cupped in his hands while lying in bed.  Poor man.  What a rude awakening.  It was day 2 of Fia having to be at home, no school for our girl yet again.  

But what a blessing it turned out to be!  We had such a fun morning building our town.  It was Nico's idea to begin with but then everyone offered up their opinions and ideas.  Fia was able to direct us from her position on the couch - Fia absolutely LOVES when she is sick to lay on the couch with a blanket and a tray table of goodies next to her.  She had a crate of crayons, construction paper, scissors and some glue.  She got right to work.  Nico helped to build and had many ideas of his own.  Francesca built her own house and set up people.  Welcome to Codispoti Town Village!  (Name courtesy of Nico)  


All of Francesca's people walking through the river.  They look like they are on a pilgrimage - some wise men, Mary, a zebra, a dog, the shepherd boy and, of course, a smurf.

Francesca's "house" - really she just wanted a bed.  She dragged out her bee pillow and Dora sheet and  constructed herself a fine little house.

Fia working on a building front with a pot in front of her.........just in case.

The entrance to the zoo

On overview of Codispoti Town Village

Nico playing at the "pier".  Oooh and note the raindrops and sun overhead - totally Fia's idea.  It add much to our town village.  There is snow on the other side of town.  Francesca chose the sunny side of town :) 

The bridge and river were Fia's ideas.  The ponds were Nico's ideas.

At one point Francesca just couldn't handle all the creativity and had to sequester herself in the booth area to work on her own things.

Fia feeling better :)  Couldn't stand to be left on the couch

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Love Affair Continues............

Yesterday Fia brought home a paper from the writing portion of her kindergarten day.  On the front was "I am a little black bat" written about 5 times in various ways.  On the back, after they were finished with their work, they were to write sentences they made up.  I glanced at these and told Fia to come over.  She had written "I love Treyton." as one of her sentences.  I wanted to ask her about this.  She giggled and said she and Treyton were giving Mrs. B a hard time.  I have no idea what this meant but she didn't seem to be harboring passionate feelings for Treyton so I let it go.  Then I asked her what the last sentence was....

"I love misaf."

Anyone figure it out?

Fia says, "Oh, that's I love myself."

Guess I was worried about the wrong sentence.

All those posts I wrote about my heart, this child being my heart and how worried I was about her going off to school because she was my least confident and least certain child?  Scratch 'em.  Some kids go to school to learn how to read and write......Fia learns to love herself.  Here's a picture I snapped last night after bath.  I asked Fia to look at the camera........she said she'd rather look in the mirror.  No joke.  And, yes, Maria, Rick and all the rest of you.......I can hear you laughing........




Finally she agreed to look at the camera, she was thinking she looked very cute.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Running Away

I was looking up flights to Johannesburg last night.  Seriously.  I was thinking that Joe and I should go on a missions trip.   Or maybe the family could go for a year, Joe could take a year's leave of absence, we could somehow find someone to rent out our house to and take care of it for a year, we could use our savings to live off of while in Africa.  I had seen on Pfunanane's website where they are looking for teachers looking to serve for at least a year.  Also, they said they host missions trips there.  (Don't worry mom.......keep reading.......)  Does anyone ever feel this way?  Do you feel that pull to make an obvious, noticeable difference?

I know I have been over this before but there are children dying, people starving.  There is not enough water, not enough food, not enough ways for people to earn a living, the schools are too expensive for families to afford, there are real, hard problems.   How can I live in a place where my pantry is filled to overflowing, where Sofia is going to a great school with a fabulous teacher for FREE, where I can walk into any room and turn up the heat, turn on the water, find any comfort I could imagine.  How is it possible to have so much?    Is it right to have this much?  Is it ok?

I don't know.

We try to give, to live a generous life.  I don't know if it's enough.

And, then on the other hand, I don't know how to fight my way upstream - to not care that my children won't have the lastest and greatest everything because there is a greater need.  To not care that someday they may be affected by our choices.  I care sometimes when our choices dictate that they don't have everything their friends may have.   I look at our house and know that we could go bigger, go better but that would limit us in more important places.  How can I say it's more important for Fia to have her own room or Nico to have a bigger room when our money ensures that Noemi, Sebastian and Alberto get to eat and go to school.  What about the goats, the chickens, the seeds - really, our "needs" seem idiotic in comparison.  How can I say, nah, we need a bit more square footage?  (Right now is where my mom is going to go to bat for giving our children EVERYTHING that we can - and I have to say when I am a grandma I am sure I will notice my feelings change..... :)

And this is why sometimes I think about running away.   Sometimes I think a place where we are rich in material things and are able to give and give and give in a real and obvious way would be easier than being in a place where there is too much.  Or just to be in a place where everyone is a have not instead of being in a place where there is a constant battle to have MORE.  Where every day it is a choice not to be wasteful, not to give in to the thinking that what we have defines us.   Where on every street, on every corner there are stores and billboards and signs crying out YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, HAPPY ENOUGH, YOU ARE NOT FULFILLED UNLESS YOU BUY THIS, HAVE THIS and sometimes it's hard not to believe it.  There is so much that I want - I want new jeans, I want to get my hair cut every two months, I would love to go out to eat once a week, I would love to have new carpet in the entryway, I would love to go to a really expensive, luxurious cabin for a weekend in February, I want to not be careful with money, I want to buy food that is quick and easy to cook when we have company, I want to splurge on my parents, I want to fly out to see my brother and sister-in-law, I want all of that.  I want.  I want.  I want.

But I want something more...........I want to see God's Kingdom here on earth.  I want to love on people.  I want everyone to be fed spiritually and physically.  I want children to live.  I want parents to be able to work hard and work honestly so that they can care for their children.  I want bellies to be full, minds to be stimulated, thirst to be quenched.  I want that more.

And for right now........God doesn't want me to run away.  This is the life that He has called me to, a life where there aren't empty bellies but maybe there are empty hearts.  I see it so much.  I see a lot of pain amidst all the abundance and all the things that the world says should make us happy.  I see broken families.  I see people searching.  I see people overindulging, constantly looking for satisfaction and coming up empty.  Do you see it too?  There are people all around that need His love.  I want so badly to love them.  I want to love families.  God is pushing me.  He is calling me to open my heart, my life and my family to others.  I have burrowed for awhile now.  I have been afraid  for a bit - afraid to come out from behind my own family, my own children.  But He is calling, calling us to step out on faith.  He is calling us to live together, love together and serve together.

I am waiting a bit impatiently to see what He has in store for us......................hopefully, I won't hop on a plane to Johannesburg while I am in the waiting :)

Will you pray for us?  Will you pray that I won't get sidetracked or make excuses?  Thanks for reading my rants.  Love you all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

In The Quiet of the Morning

I love mornings - dark, quiet mornings spent with my cup of hot coffee, dim lighting in the living room, my Bible and my journal.  I would like this picture to be the picture of all my mornings.....but it's not.  It's one of my resolves, my resolutions you might say to be in bed by 10:00 and ASLEEP every night this new year so that I can wake before everyone else and have this time.  It makes me a better person to have this time - it's peaceful and wonderful and refreshing.

However.....

It is during this time that inevitably something else creeps in, something not from God.  It's something that breaks my heart, rips me up inside and ultimately keep me from doing His work.  It's doubt.  It's worry. It's guilt.  During these quiet moments at the beginning of the day sometimes I hear thoughts of inadequacy.  I hear that I am not a good enough mother - why didn't I spend more time with my children yesterday?  Why did I snap at this one or that one?  Why didn't I get off the couch and play more?  Why am I so tired?  Am I not good enough?  I hear that I am not a good wife.  Why didn't I listen more?  Why didn't I snap less?  Why wasn't I the one to take over with the kids and give my husband a break?  Why didn't I give more of myself, my time to the one I love so much?

I hate these thoughts.

What I hate even more are the times when I BELIEVE these thoughts and they keep me from doing the things I am meant to be doing, the things that God is calling me to do.  There are times when I worship my children, my relationship with them more than God.  And it looks good, huh?  Who can fault a mother for saying that she puts her children first?  How wonderful is she?  But she's not.  I am not.   I cannot allow my children to be the reason for everything in my life.   I cannot allow them to sidetrack my in the guise of being a better mother.  And sometimes they do - through no fault of their own, what child doesn't want mommy all the time, all the attention, all the love.  I start to think I can't do things, I can't be away from them because who will love on them, who will care for them, who will protect them if I am not there, being their everything?

Oh what a dangerous path that is..............to teach my little ones full reliance on mommy and not the Father who loves them even more.  And what a dangerous path for me.........for someday if I do my job well they will be gone and if I shape my life entire around these three precious beings what is in place when they leave?  My marriage - will that survive 20+ years of being ignored in the name of being a good parent?  How about my relationship with God - will that survive 20+ years of being put on the back burner while I was busy being my children's everything for every waking moment?

It's a hard balance.  Luckily, I have a husband and a group of wonderful people that God has placed in my life that quiet these voices, these voices not from God.  I get daily confirmation from a God who loves me and people who love me that, though a work in progress, I am on the right path.  Every once in a while I need correction and for that I am grateful if not always pleased with.  There are a few, a select few, that have the courage to tell me when I am wrong, when I need a little push back to the path.  It's crazy to have that.  It's hard to hear, it's probably hard to be that person.  But these are the ones that I come back to again and again when I need advice, when I need to hear from Him through others.  They are not my daily friends but my forever friends.  Their voices drown out the lies that are sometimes placed in my thoughts.  They love and they love unconditionally.  They see me for who I am and rejoice in who God created me to be, not the persona I WANT people to see but the actual me.

I hope in this new year I can drown out these voices even more solidly.  That I can replace it with His voice, His words.  I pray that my life can be a testament to His love.  I pray that my actions and my words reflect a life built on Him, His everlasting word and love.  And to all you who help me drown out those voices, thank you.  You have no idea how much of an impact your encouragement makes.  Thank you.  Love you all.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cool Cousin Vince

There are three Vinces that I know of in the Codispoti family - Joe's grandfather, brother and cousin.  Cousin Vince is, of course, the cousin and this is always the way that I have heard people refer to him.  I have had to add the cool because he's now in his late 20's, living in LA, working on different tv shows and movies and what not.  He travels to all sorts of places, he looks cool and he is actually quite nice.  I like him.

We were all over at Rick's house (another Codispoti sibling) and got to talking about what constitutes "old".  Alexandria (yet another Codispoti sibling) had MANY, MANY thoughts on this subject and to sum it all up you are pretty much ALL old (she's 10).  Then Cousin Vince chimed in with if you can't stay up to midnight on New Year's Eve than you are old.........

Hmmmm.....

The gauntlet was thrown.

(Did I mention Cousin Vince doesn't have children?)

So this past weekend, on New Year's Eve, we were down in Columbus with 5 of Joe's siblings, their significant others and his mom (this would include my children also).  I was determined.  The others?  Not so much, I don't think they cared if they were referred to as old or not.  Unfortunately for Maria, Steve, Vince and Colleen their beds were the "party area".  It got to be 11:30 and at that point you might as well stay up..........MY thinking, apparently NOT everyone else's thinking.  But we made it - the six of us - to midnight (the others were happily sleeping through the midnight celebration in their more private sleeping quarters.  I believe I heard Colleen mutter something about having to rethink this next year.

So, there, I am not old.

But I am tired.  Exhausted, in fact.

Did I mention before that Cousin Vince didn't have children?  Because maybe when you don't have children 12:00 isn't late.  But when you are in Columbus (an area, a house, really, where my children are NOTORIOUS for not sleeping) and your 2 year old keeps waking up in the middle of the night after you have only been asleep for an hour or so you start to feel oh so old and tired and cranky and start to wish you went to bed at a decent hour.  Francesca was having issues with "monsters" and the "dark" and wanted "the beautiful light on" (I not sure if this is more a commentary of the beauty of Uncle Anthony and Aunt Kayla's lamps or the condition of our own at home).  At 6:00 we got her off her air mattress because all 5 of us were sleeping in one room and we were hoping to keep at least 2 people asleep.  We tried to get her to sleep in our bed - no go.  Finally we turned on a movie on the portable dvd player.  Fia got up and decided to join the fun.

It was SO not fun.

But you know what?

My husband rocks.

He took both girls into the small closet that was in the room and watched Curious George with them as I got a bit more sleep.  I have NO IDEA how they all fit in there or how my dear husband managed to drive home.  Well, actually, that I do know........he would rather drive on very little sleep than EVER, EVER let me take the wheel.  IT MAKES HIM VERY TENSE when I drive.

So Cool Cousin Vince..............you might be right.  I might be old.

And, again, girls...............choose wisely, choose a man such as this.  One who stays with you through the night, takes care of you in the morning and does so without you ever asking.

Happy New Year Everyone!