Something Funny As An Antidote To Previous Serious Post

I think I have an allergy to being serious…
So Lia has an imaginary friend. Cousin Bryan, she calls him. Bryan is a real person, but unfortunately he has to go to school (like all 7th graders), so she has cloned him for extra-curricular use. Cousin Bryan is a most amenable playmate. Sometimes we even set a place for him at the table. (There he is, Cousin Bryan himself).

Cousin Bryan is only one of many additions to life in Lia’s imagination. She is no longer Lia, she is now, officially, “Cinderella”.

And Amelie is “Tinkerbell”.

Mommy is “The Fairy Godmoth-ah”. No, not “The Fairy Godmotherrrr”, but “The Fairy Godmoth-ah”. With an accent.

Pappie, is, of course, the “Prince”.

Yesterday in Sabbath School, the teacher came to shake Lia’s hand while we all were going to sing, “Who has come to Sabbath School? Lia! Lia!”. The teacher first asked her name, and Lia put forth a timid, “Lia.”

“What?”, says the teacher, a little hard of hearing in the noisy room.

Suddenly sits up straight and she pipes up in a crystal clear voice, “I’M CINDERELLA.”

Teacher was unfortunately not willing to sing, “Who has come to Sabbath School? Cinderella! Cinderella!” But Lia was not to be daunted. Teacher moves on to Amelie.

“And who have we here?”

“TINKERBELL!”

It is not limited to us here at home. Relly is Hello Kitty. Frank is the Beast. Oupa Ken is the Mouse. And on it goes. And the amazing thing is that she gets it straight every time.

New Blog!!!!

Welcome to my new blog everyone!!!! After much deliberation, I have forsaken iWeb as a blogging medium and have chosen WordPress for my future blogging life.   Even more exciting, you can now find me at my own domain:  http://www.spinninginmyteacup.com/ .  How cool is that.  If you are still interested in going through my family website, feel free, that will stay the same.  But when you go to the blog section, you will have to come here anyhow, so you might as well look here first, in my opinion.  I now have to go through the arduous and time-consuming task of transferring all my former blog posts to this site.  If you can’t find an old post, I’ll keep them up at my family site a while longer. Hooray, hooray!  And welcome.  It’s a Whole New World opening up before us…. 

Aimee, the school principal

aimee.gif

This is a picture my friend Aimee at the end of my senior year in college like 6 years ago. (HOLY COW, I’VE BEEN OUT OF COLLEGE FOR 6 YEARS!!) The following passage is an excerpt from an update from Aimee on her life as the principal for a K-8 school here in So. Cal….

(She is also a band teacher this year).

Enjoy!

2007 ended nicely for us… the usual crazy whirlwind of Christmas busy-ness, I suppose. We tried a new mission project this year with the kids… wanted to be more “hands-on” and “in-their-face” with the whole idea of mission and service and giving and such. We had a great time with the ADRA projects last year, but the consensus from the teachers was that it was just still too removed for/from our kids.. That they still weren’t GETTING it.. That buying the cow or the goat or the medicine for the people in Africa was good, but…. they were still people in Africa. And the kids just couldn’t, didn’t relate. So. I did a few hours of online research, looking for more tangible, local things that our kids could be involved in… And found that’s it’s a bit difficult trying to find hands-on, helpful, meaningful projects for 8-year-olds… Like the volunteer site that needed people to come to the shelter and pet guinea pigs for hours on end.. because apparently, guinea pigs need love, too. Which is nice and all… but wasn’t quite what the teachers and I were envisioning. Anyways. I finally stumbled across an “Adopt-a-Family” program sponsored by the LA Dept. of Social Services… and so decided to try that this year… with mixed results. The program matches you up with a family and gives you their “wish list” – which for us, ranged from a family who simply wanted food on their table, to one that wanted “a place to call home” (having recently become homeless) to another who wanted an Ipod… and a blue one, mind you..

The same range applied to the actual delivery of the gifts… Some of the families were very appreciative and moved and overwhelmed and gracious… while others were seemed curt and dismissive and even inconvenienced. And perhaps maybe the lesson – or the question – lies there… Should it MATTER to us what the response is like? Aren’t we simply trying to teach our kids to GIVE?

Maybe it’s easier when they’re in Africa..

Hmm.

The end of the year also brought the highly-anticipated Christmas program. I had parents telling me weeks before the concert that they COULDN’T WAIT to hear what the bands sounded like… I certainly got a taste of what all music teachers feel like, I think, in that their SOLE SUCCESS lies in these once-or-twice-a-year appearances. Like our very value and worth is boiled down to these concerts. Never mind the hours poured into rehearsals beforehand… Sheesh. Anyways. My kids did do fabulously, however. They played “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls with Chips and Salsa” (yes, I know.. welcome to the world of cheesy elementary band music) and other Xmas tunes with all of their little hearts… and it was very sweetly received by loving, gracious, and perhaps somewhat tone-deaf parents. =) So was a rather pleasant first experience for me…Definitely a different experience to be the one standing on a box with a stick in my hand,,,, but overall, I think I’m warming up to this whole band thing.. =)

Our school family suffered a huge loss, though, over break and are still reeling.. One of our moms lost her fight to breast cancer after four-plus years of struggling with the illness… She passed away just a few days before we started back up, and it’s been quite.. staggering to try to manage the wide-spread effects of grief throughout the school… All three kids attend CVAS – 6th, 3rd & 1st grade.. so it’s really hit us at all levels.. I mean – after all the reading and researching that I did on grief-management-for-kids and after all the conversations I had with therapists and psychologists and counselors to figure out how best to handle it – is there REALLY a good way to talk with a 6 year old about why she doesn’t have a mom anymore? And then, on a much lesser – but still necessary-to-deal-with – level – there’s the anxiety and stress and worry and panic of all the OTHER kids in the school.. “Is MY mom going to die?”, etc, etc.

But we’re making it… with much help from the kids, actually. The sheer RESILIENCY of children has been astounding to see… I made sure to brief my teachers on all the information I had found and learned, giving them each a packet of articles on grief and death and children… We were all concerned about their reaction, their response, their ability to handle such a delicate situation… But I underestimated the beauty of childlike innocence and grace. Like when I watched as the 6th graders filed in for chapel and one boy – who had lost his own father years ago – sidled up to his grieving friend and just sort of leaned against him… with as much affection and love a 6th grade boy can show without losing his cool-ness. Or the exchange I learned about that took place between the 3rd grade girl and her friend. The friend walked up to her and placed her arm around her quietly and whispered in her ear, “You’re going to come over to MY house TWO times a week now. And my mom will boss YOU around and make YOU clear the table and pick up the toys and walk the dog. See? We can share my mom.”

This is why I work with kids.
Aimee

On Your Mark, Get Set…

See, the thing about packing for a big trip is that it defies the essence of life itself. Real life, as we know and quote pious phrases about, is about the process, about the journey, about going with the flow. And suddenly, we’re supposed to stop! And not only are we going to stop, we’re going to stop with everything wrapped up, tied up (no, not tangled up with Jesus, you children’s songs lovers), put away, finished, squeaky clean. As if!
So I’m going to practice the art of imperfection and leave my house — wait for it — like it usually is. I’m going to say no yet again to my long-suppressed (so suppressed many don’t even know it’s there) Type A personality and blithely leave all the little details undone. I’m going to remember that, while South Africa is on the other side of the world, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have stores–which means that if I forget to pack anything other than my specialized TMJ splint, we can just buy it there. <gasp> O novel idea.
So La-Di-Dah. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Too-Loo-Roo. And TTFN, Ta-Ta-For-Now! See you when I get back!

PS: Okay, so I’m loath to go. Can I just say that the people I know possess incredible powers of memory and love? Walt L. just dropped off three jars of his delicious Christmas pomegranate jelly so that we could have it before we go. Shelley came over and took charge of our garage door opener and my orchid. Carmen stopped by after a heart wrenching day that ended with a three hour drive on the 91, just to hug and kiss the girls goodbye. Akira remembered that we were leaving tomorrow and called to say goodbye. Pastor Dave took the time to hand-deliver a gift from the church in the middle of a very busy day. And Janeen, of course, remembered to call…and at a good time of day, too! Amazing!
Okay, I’m going again.
Bye.

Going…going…

See, the thing about packing for a big trip is that it defies the essence of life itself. Real life, as we know and quote pious phrases about, is about the process, about the journey, about going with the flow. And suddenly, we’re supposed to stop! And not only are we going to stop, we’re going to stop with everything wrapped up, tied up (no, not tangled up with Jesus, you children’s songs lovers), put away, finished, squeaky clean. As if!
So I’m going to practice the art of imperfection and leave my house — wait for it — like it usually is. I’m going to say no yet again to my long-suppressed (so suppressed many don’t even know it’s there) Type A personality and blithely leave all the little details undone. I’m going to remember that, while South Africa is on the other side of the world, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have stores–which means that if I forget to pack anything other than my specialized TMJ splint, we can just buy it there. <gasp> O novel idea.
So La-Di-Dah. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Too-Loo-Roo. And TTFN, Ta-Ta-For-Now! See you when I get back!

PS: Okay, so I’m loath to go. Can I just say that the people I know possess incredible powers of memory and love? Walt L. just dropped off three jars of his delicious Christmas pomegranate jelly so that we could have it before we go. Shelley came over and took charge of our garage door opener and my orchid. Carmen stopped by after a heart wrenching day that ended with a three hour drive on the 91, just to hug and kiss the girls goodbye. Akira remembered that we were leaving tomorrow and called to say goodbye. Pastor Dave took the time to hand-deliver a gift from the church in the middle of a very busy day. And Janeen, of course, remembered to call…and at a good time of day, too! Amazing!
Okay, I’m going again.
Bye.

The Proof is in the…Dirty House

Flylady says that there is no wagon to fall off of, but she’s lying.  There is a wagon, and I’ve fallen off.
There is a Mount Washmore in my room, in Devo’s closet, and in Lia’s room.  The toilets are going to come to life and take over the planet if left to themselves much longer.  There are empty pizza boxes strewn about like we’re a frat house instead of a respectable family dwelling.  For dinner last night I had cold pizza, marshmallows, and honey roasted pecans (not advised).  And I think there are 5 dirty diapers on the floor in the bedroom (6 if you count the one that somehow ended up in the hall).
The funny thing is…most of it has happened in the last 24 hours.  What with small group Bible study on Friday night (the pizza boxes) and a very full day Sabbath with the Messiah (the laundry epidemic, diaper problem, and the terrible dinner)…and, well, I guess I can’t blame the Toilet Monster on the last 24 hours.
So I was on my way to becoming morose last night over the state of my house and was on my way to tell Devo all about it, when a little thought glimmered in the gloom:

    My dirty house is an affirmation of what I do.

Think about it….
For 24 hours, I did not do any of the things I normally do–  I did not pick up toys, I did not wash dishes, I did not wipe crumbs off of counters and push in chairs, I did not go around straightening things–closing doors and drawers, flinging errant items into their proper places, picking up and properly disposing of dirty diapers, making sure that everyone’s clean and dirty clothes get to their respective homes…AND YOU CAN TELL!!!
Alot of days (it comes in waves) I try to ignore that feeling that I’m just a little hamster in a wheel, running round and round for all I’m worth and going…nowhere.  After all, there are no visible results for what I do–The house always looks basically the same, no matter how much I clean.  Oh, sure, slight variations like the short-lived beautiful carpet lines from the vacuum or the couch cover either in disarray or, less likely, tucked in (the inventor of couch covers did not have children).  But, really.  I cook, and by 20 minutes after the meal there is no sign of what I worked 2 hours on.  I clean and you can’t really tell unless you look closely.
But now, oh glorious affirmation!, for one day I didn’t do what I normally do, and now I can see all of my hard work…simply because I didn’t do it.
Wow!  I do not labor in vain!  Hooray for homemakers! <pat on the shoulder>
I went to bed (after sweeping more clothes and dirty diapers onto the floor with what my Grandma calls a ‘lick and a promise’) in a rosy glow, surrounded by the (piled up) evidence of my work.  I am content.

The only bummer is that now I have to go clean it all up.  Rats.

Together at Last!

I am very pleased to announce that Devo, et.al., returned safely from Mexico this evening.  I will celebrate by not spending time writing a blog post, but spending time with my husband instead.  =)

In other important news, Amelie learned to clap today.  So cute!  She sat on the floor in the middle of my Children’s Choir rehearsal and clapped her hands everytime they did something.

O Light Born of Light

Something to illuminate our souls on the Sabbath.
“O Nata Lux” by Morten Lauridsen.

Latin Text
O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis,
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.

English Translation
O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayer.
Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members
of thy blessed body.

Comforted or Afflicted?

Thought for the day–

The purpose of Christianity is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.
–G.K. Chesterton

By the way, I would really love for you dear readers to comment on the different blog posts–particularly if it touches your life in some way.  Tell me what you think about it, or just say hi…it only takes a minute.

Gifts

As I said yesterday, we have asked our friends NOT to give Lia gifts for her birthday this year.  Apparently this is equivalent to throwing a spoke in the proverbial wheel, a cosmic hiccup, an puzzling action.
There have been a number of requests of “can’t I give her just a leetle present?”  Or–the milder reaction–well, if I can’t bring a gift, can I bring something else?  I’ve even had some dirty looks.  (Now everyone is trying to remember if they gave me a dirty look, hehe).
Our birthday party invitation says–
“This year we are asking for you to bring the Gifts of Love, Friendship, Investment, and Celebration (that would mean NO GIFTS please, we’re building intrinsic values here!)”
We’ve tried to develop a meaningful, purposeful praxis (putting a theory into practice) for our family with regards to presents.  Christmas is a time to give to other people, as a family, in honor of Christ who gave His life.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are times of family gifts (Vita Mix, camping tent, garden stuff, something the whole family can enjoy). Birthdays are the time for individual gifts.  So this year, we got Lia two things that we know she will love, enjoy, and use.   And being that we have virtually everything and more that she needs and wants (last year’s birthday gifts are still being put to good use!), we think that two is enough.
What is with this compulsion to shower our children with STUFF?  I mean, gifting is fun, and it is a legitimate love language, but what is so unusual about saying, hey, my three year old doesn’t need lots of presents this year?
(A small side note for my mother who has had a hard time with our decisions in this matter, and for Devo’s mom–we completely understand that grandparents who are very far away want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives in a tangible way.  Grandparent gifts are welcome and wanted here…and we are so glad that you choose good, useful, meaningful gifts).
But back to my discussion–I am just finding people’s gut reactions so ironic because everyone says and agrees that it doesn’t matter what material things you give to your children, the most important things are intrinsic–time, value, love, conversation.  And so this year we are asking for the important things.
I know, I know, it’s an unusual thing to do.  And what happens when Lia gets older and realizes that everyone else gets tons of presents on their birthdays?  I don’t know what happens, we’ll deal with it then.  But I do know this: If we do not want our children to be ‘gimme gimme’ children and ultimately selfish, irresponsible adults, we need to be proactive!  Go against the norm!  Say no to status quo!  Be creative, be thoughtful, be purposeful!
If you are a gifter by nature, by all means, give the gifts that REALLY matter.  Commit to love my children now and when they are awkward teenagers and when they start families of their own, be involved in their lives and their development, teach them the joy of celebration and the importance of community and friendship!

Lia is really looking forward to her birthday party tomorrow night–she is excited that some of her most favorite people are coming, she is excited that there is going to be a party, and she is excited about the cake.  What more could a little girl ask for?

***Disclaimer***Let me just say that this is not a treatise to say “never give me or anyone in my family gifts again”.  We really do like getting gifts!  Some of the things we love and use the most are gifts from our friends and family, and we enjoyed receiving them and appreciate them fully!  We will, in all likelihood, ask for gifts again next year because she will have finally outgrown all the toys and clothes she got for her birthday LAST year.  Take this post as a discussion of alternative ways to parent, an affirmation of the things we think are most important (PEOPLE), and an expanded version of the blip on our evite.

A few phrases to widen the scope of society’s compulsion to buy things–
Theology of Enough
“There is enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi  (ironically, you can buy a t-shirt with this quote on it here).