Monthly Archives: November 2010

Shootin’ holiday!


Today in Pennsylvania, we’re celebrating another holiday!  It’s opening day of deer hunting season.  Every year, the Monday after Thanksgiving, kids stay home from school so parents, teachers, bus drivers, and yeah — kids themselves! — can go shoot Bambi.

I’m from Massachusetts, where opening day of deer hunting is NOT a state holiday!  So Kbug’s doing school.

Plus, we have no hunters in the family.  Plus, we took the entire week off from school last week, since Dee had off work the entire week.  I love homeschool flexibility!

My father-in-law, a public school teacher, said he heard of a test paper that went something like this:

Question: “What are the four seasons?”

Answer by student: “Deer season, turkey season, duck season, bear season.”

Haha!  We like to tell jokes about West Virginians, but that could’ve been a neighbor kid right down the road…


Remembering Grampa… and turkey and football!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We had our big turkey dinner on Sunday, so tonight is just pizza.  I was thinking about shrimp and chicken, because that’s what Derek and I ate for Thanksgiving on our honeymoon.  (No way was I cooking a turkey on my honeymoon!)  But grocery stores are closed today, and I didn’t plan ahead… So pizza it is!

I miss my Grampa Crossland a little bit extra on Thanksgiving Day.  He died a few months before I got married, seven years ago.  (I walked down the aisle to bagpipes in his honor!)  I miss him because I remember the fun, delicious Thanksgivings spent with him and Grandma.  It really was “over the river and through the woods” to his house!  Yes, I know I’m mixing up the holiday and the grandparent gender, but you know what I mean!  It was magical.

On Thanksgiving morning we dressed up warm for the Massachusetts cold, and crashed the Northampton/South Hadley highschool football game.  I say “crashed,” because we always went at halftime so we could get in free!  Half of us cheered for Northampton, since Dad worked in Northampton and we also lived there for quite a while.   The other half of us cheered for South Hadley, since that’s where Mom grew up, went to high school and played in the marching band, and where Grampa and Grandma still lived.

Grampa cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes (saved a few lumps for my dad), and probably most of the other cooking!  I ate one smelly ball, skipped the stuffing and cranberry sauce, enjoyed once-a-year green bean casserole, and pigged out on TURKEY!  My favorite was the drumstick.  My siblings and I watched lots of  TV at Grampa’s house, and pretended to read the funnies or a book when Dad poked his head in to check on us.  TV wasn’t allowed at our house!  Neither was beer, but Grampa let us try a sip.  It was disgusting.

After dinner we drove to the elementary school down the road and played football.  I was good, too!  I loved tackling the boys!  That was when Dad was young.  We stopped playing tackle football when he got old.  Or maybe it was because his daughters got old?  Either way, we switched to touch or flag football.  I miss it!

My scribbles of gratefulness over the past week are piling up:

37. childhood memories

38. grandparents

39. a dad that played football with us, or baseball, every Sunday for most of the year!

40. seven years of marriage

41. coffee already made when I stumble out to the kitchen…

42. …and a love note sitting on top of the coffee pot

43. extra sleep

44. my husband off work for a whole week

45. jammies on my one-year-old

46. fresh bread with butter and cinnamon sugar

47. a mother-in-law that makes the bread dough for me

48. extended family around the table

49. a baby that likes carrots!

50. a camera to capture the moment

51. warm days in late November

52. granny smith apples

53. apple pie and pumpkin pie

54. giggles

55. guardian angels to protect my children

56. my best childhood friend, visiting from Kazakhstan

57. time hanging out with her husband and two boys

58. a few precious hours of alone time with her

59. conversation that scrapes away all surface layers

60. laughter

61. prayer

62. coffee shops

63. a husband that willingly watches my four kids, so I can spend the evening with my friend

64. my husband’s generous heart

I know feelings are wishy-washy and not based on circumstances, but may you all feel as blessed as I feel today!

My Pollyanna girl


My kids haven’t seen the movie “Pollyanna,” but Kbug is a living replica of that girl!  She’s always looking on the bright side of life, looking for the good in people.

Yesterday, we saw a neighbor out raking leaves in the furious wind.  I laughed, and said, “Oh, that’s silly!  Why would she rake leaves in a wind storm? The piles will just blow away!”

I wasn’t actually asking “why?” but Kbug told me anyway.  “Mom, maybe she’s a… what do you call it when your husband dies?”

“A widow?”

“Yeah!  Maybe she’s a widow, and she really misses her husband and needs something to do.”

Okay, I’m kind of convicted by my daughter’s sweet thoughts, but I kept up the conversation. 

“Well, I know she’s not a widow, because I’ve seen her husband before.”

“Maybe her husband’s at work and her kids are in school?  Maybe she’s bored, waiting for her kids to come home, so she’s raking leaves.”

“No, she looks older, like a grandma.”

“Well maybe she just likes raking leaves!!!”

Aaannnnnd… Kbug’s the winner, of Choose Love Day!

I certainly don’t want my daughter to grow up being so naive and trusting that she gets taken advantage of and hurt.  Not physically anyway.  Hurt feelings, on the other hand, just mean that we’re being Christlike!  (And we can always choose to forgive, brush the hurt feelings away.)  We’re still loving, serving, and giving with wide open hearts.  Regardless of whether the world gives back or not.

Kbug’s heart reminded me of this favorite quote…

“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

Today I’m grateful for…

23. a gracious, sensitive, loving daughter

24. black tea…

25. …a new “Parents” magazine to go with it!

26. a strong house to keep out the wind

27. fluffy down blankets

28. the local library

29. Christmas music

30. a huge mulch pile (fort material)

31. Beeyoutiful vitamins

32. raw milk

33. peach smoothies, with peaches from Grammy’s trees!

34. sweaters

35. kittens

36. our wood furnace

My gratefulness list idea came from Ann Voskamp.  Check her out over at A Holy Experience!  Her words are quiet, gentle, and beautiful.

I’m kicking grumpy’s butt!


I’m trying not to complain about anything this week.  It’s hard! (See?  Complaining!)  When Dee called this morning, I told him about Moosies spilling her fishy crackers and Kbug knocking over my vase of flowers.  Really?  Is that all?

Dee said, “Babe, would you trade all the messes for no kids?”  (Oh drat.  Convicted again!  He’s so wise and kind, that man of mine.)

NO!  A thousand times NO!

Basically, as Pappy puts it, I need to “suck it up!” and welcome the messes.

If I seem sickly sweet and happy this week, it’s because I’m working on gratefulness.  Please stick with me!  And know that I may be blinking back tears and gritting my teeth as I journal my blessings.

Today I’m thankful for…

1. small hands, still learning coordination

2. hot showers

3. a sharp razor

3. a full pantry

4. rain

5. chubby toddler legs

6. coffee (even lukewarm!)

7. three friends that call, just to say “hi,” invite me to girls night, and tell me about free tickets to Sight and Sound

8. a mother-in-law that offers to watch my youngest kids so I can GO to Sight and Sound!

9. sisters-in-law to go with me

10. farm fresh eggs — free!

11. a brand new firefly shirt from my sister

12. jeans that look good

13. a husband that goes grocery shopping

14. the smell of soft, clean baby curls

15. sticky peanut butter kisses from baby lips

16. a dishwasher

17. flowers from my man

18. “Parenthood” on NBC tonight!

19. a daughter that thinks to write a thank you note all on her own

Read the rest of this entry

Monday? Bring it!


Can I tell you a secret?  I love Mondays!  No joke!  I understand the Monday back-to-the-daily-grind-blues, and I’ve done my share of complaining.  But overall, Mondays around here are fun!  Here’s why:

It’s a fresh start!

I’m rested.  Sleep does wonders for my attitude!  Dee usually lets me nap for a couple of hours on Sundays, and we spend the afternoon/evening just hanging out.  No projects!

Because I’m rested, I have more patience with the kids.  CJ spills his water?  And cuts his hand all up?  No problem.  Popcorn all over the floor?  And noodles floating in the bathtub?  That’s okay.

Sunday morning’s message and sweet fellowship are still fresh in my mind.  I actually got to talk to MOMMIES!  And God was there.  I know God is here always, and I know I should always remember the lessons I’ve learned.   But the fact of the matter is… I don’t always.  I forget, in the middle of diapers and laundry.  On Mondays, I remember that my hands doing these jobs are God’s hands.

My mom calls me!  I’ll never be too old to talk to my mom, to get excited when I see her number pop up on my caller ID.  She understands the diapers and laundry!

Kbug only does one page of math?  Oh well.  We have the rest of the week to catch up!

We blow up punch balloons, jump on the trampoline, color pictures, pet kitties, eat popsicles, make block towers and tents, and I do all these things too.

By Friday, after doing all these things for five days straight, and cooking and washing and calming down tempers, I’m weary!  I usually fall asleep on Dee’s lap Friday night, and ask him the next day how the movie ended.

Today was extra fun, because we had a mad cop show up on our front step!  Lucky for me, I changed out of my jammies at 8:00am instead of 9:00am!  I still had mascara smeared under my eyes, but oh well.  She wanted to know if we were #12868, and when I said no, she said, “Well then, where the H**L is it!”  Sorry lady.  The rednecks around here are good hiders!

Oh, did you think we were clear on the birds and the bees?


After all my talk about talking about sex with my kids, I realized it’s still not perfectly clear to them.  Which is great, by the way!  I try to answer their questions with the perfect amount of clarity and vagueness.  I’ve succeeded!

Tonight I was boiling spaghetti (told you I didn’t do gourmet!), trying to encourage creative play on the other side of the room.  I suggested that Kbug and CJ pretend to be Uncle Rick and Aunt Shelley on the dairy farm.  That worked for a while…

“Come, little S!  I said come!  We have to go feed the calves now.  COME!”  Kbug never did get “cousin S” to come.  Moosies didn’t feel like role-playing!

Kbug ditched the dairy farm and turned to church.  This is where it got interesting.

“Oh, I’m just the pastor, and this is my little daughter,”  I overheard Kbug say.  “She doesn’t have a daddy.  I never did get married!”

I almost laughed out loud at her happy, sing-song voice!  But you know, that’s not really funny, so I asked, “Oh yeah?   How did you get your little girl then?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I can’t remember!  I’m a hundred and one, you know!”

And that is when I DID start laughing!

Hung up on a clothesline


Six months after I got married, my husband built me a clothesline.  He built it strong!  He bought the best lumber from Home Depot, and stuck it into concrete he mixed and poured, into holes he dug with his backhoe.  He built that clothesline BIG!  Thirty feet long!  We had talked about kids…

By golly, I was MAD!  I know.  Silly me.  Every time I use my clothesline, or just see it in the backyard (I’m not green enough to hang clothes out year round!), I’m reminded of Gratefulness.  It was a hard lesson.

The day my husband built that clothesline, I was at a wedding.  I wanted HIM to be at the wedding with me!  I was still an unsettled, insecure new bride, with a six month baby belly.  I didn’t want to go to this wedding alone!  My friends from Russia would be there, and I wanted to show off my husband.

Looking back, I probably should’ve just stayed home and worked alongside my man.

See, Saturdays are for working around here, in this family, and I was still trying to “change” my husband.  We were strangers in many ways when we married!  We constantly dealt with undiscussed issues, and I hadn’t yet learned to submit, pray, and appeal.  (Who am I kidding? I’m totally NOT “there” yet!)  I pouted, fought, pushed, and whined a lot.

When I came home that Saturday afternoon, I saw the gigantic clothesline in my backyard.  I’d asked for fifteen feet — a cute little clothesline that made me look like a successful super-homemaker!  His mom suggested the thirty foot clothesline, pointing out that it was more practical for multiple loads.  I was mad, mad, MAD!  Fuming.

So I told him so.  After he’d spent hours and hours and hours building it for me.  While I was away at a wedding.

It hurt him.  Like I’d planned.  Of course I needed to tell him what I wanted, and why it was better, and how he didn’t measure up.  Right?  Oh so wrong.

I remember many unhappy seasons in our early years of marriage, brought about by my ungratefulness.  I focused on the negative, the things we didn’t agree on, or the things he didn’t do the way I wanted!  Rarely did I gush with gratefulness over the way he worked all day and then came home and worked on our house.  Over the way he held my head when I was puking my guts out.  Over the way he tried all the food I cooked, and was grateful for it.  Over the way he helped with the mudding and taping of drywall even though he hated it.  Over the way he fixed all our cars to make sure I could get out.  Over the way he LET me get out whenever I wanted to escape!   I never gushed with gratefulness over the way he LOVED me.  Unconditionally.  Even when I was a brat.  Over and over again he took my hits, and loved me anyway.

My heart fills with shame, so much shame, when I think about the times he admitted, “Sometimes I think about walking out in the street and dying, so you can be happy.  I just want you to be happy!”

So that clothesline, I’m glad it’s big!  I wish it was bigger!  I wish it could wrap around my whole life.  Maybe then it would be easier to remember to honor my husband, and to be GRATEFUL!  Always, always, always there is the choice of Gratefulness.