Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Worth grabbing the camera for

The last post was a little 'heavy', I know :) Here's some lighter stuff to make you smile!

I snuck up behind Eli and Leanna as he was helping her to find the '8's' in this hidden picture puzzle :)

Cosette is determined to sew a pair of socks for the new baby, even though I've never sewn a pair of socks in my life. She's on her own for this one! I love how pretty and grown up she looks in this picture :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two disciplines

Do you ever feel like God is showing you something so clearly and vividly that you just have to share it with someone? Well, I have something to share with you, that God has been clearly pointing out to me. This is going to get long, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in. It has to do with discipline.

I'm not talking about the discipline of getting up early...or eating right....or exercising...or spending time in the Word, although these are all good disciplines.

No, I'm talking about the disciplines of love and patience. What? You say those aren't 'disciplines'? Well, I would like to argue that point, and I think you'll see why in a minute. Let me start with an example, to make it easier.

You're sitting in a fancy restaurant, your kids are home with a babysitter. Your handsome husband is sitting across from you, dressed in that fuzzy green sweater that just makes you swoon (what???) Anyway....it's a candle-lit dinner over glasses of sparkling grape juice (okay, you can have wine in your day-dream, but this is MY day-dream). You're remembering together the days of your honeymoon, and suddenly, he reaches over and gently brushes your hair out of your face.

Let me ask you something. Do you love your husband at that moment? Of course you do!! What goon wouldn't?? It's easy to love in a situation like that! But now.....a different scenario.

It's a week-day evening. Your husband is a half hour late from work, you've been home with the kids all day by yourself....a long eleven hour day. The older kids are running around chasing each other, the baby is crying and holding onto your leg the whole time you're trying to make dinner, which is, needless to say, burning on the stove because the phone won't stop ringing. Oh, and you have a piano student coming in less than an hour. Your late husband walks in the door, and the first words out of his mouth are "Can I shower before dinner?"

Do you love your husband in this moment?? Hmmm....good question. You probably do not feel love. You feel like reaching over and shaking him and saying "Shower?? Shower?? Are you serious? Dinner is burning cause you're a half hour late, I'm going insane, and you want to SHOWER?? What for? I can still see the whites of your eyes behind all that chimney soot on your face. Just open your mouth wide at dinner so the soot doesn't go in your mouth, okay?"

But of course, you don't say that. Because you have enough...ahem, here it comes.....discipline....to know that you love this man, even if you don't feel like it at the moment. You have enough discipline to know that love is not based on a single emotion at a single moment in time. Love is primarily a decision that we make.....to care for somebody else, regardless of whether it's a 'for better' or a  'for worse' kind of moment.

Make sense?

I think you see where I'm getting at with this. Let me move on to patience.

Imagine it's a Sunday morning. You got plenty of rest the night before, your pregnant body feels good for a change, all your pregnancy hormones are completely lined up and functioning properly, and you managed to eat breakfast before the kids woke up. They run to you screaming "Mom, I didn't do it, HE did it!!!!" You calmly bend down, with patience in your voice and say "Well, let's talk about this calmly and work it out" You feel in control of things and on top of the world. Are you being patient? Of course you are.

But it's easy in a situation like that, when you're feeling 100%, and like you could go out and conquer the world. Let me offer you another scenario.

You tossed and turned all night long, trying to get comfortable. You wake up feeling like a truck ran over you. Your pregnancy hormones are...well, NOT lined up perfectly, and you feel like if anybody says anything to you, you'll probably just growl like a bear. So....when those kids come running up to you, crying and arguing and expecting you to fix the problem, you have every right in the world to growl and snap and get angry, right? Or......maybe not.

You see, patience is also a discipline.

A discipline is something that we train ourselves to do....even when it's not easy. I eat that apple on the counter instead of the chocolate bar, not because it's easy, but because it's what I've disciplined myself to do. I get on that elliptical and exercise those leg muscles not because it's easy, but because it's what I've trained myself to do.

The same holds true for love and patience. You show love to your husband even when you don't feel love....because you've disciplined yourself to know the truth....that love is a choice, not an emotion. You show patience to your kids even when you don't feel patient.....because that's what discipline is, something you've trained yourself to do time after time after time again.

So.......make a challenge for yourself, along with me. The next time you don't FEEL like responding patiently to your whining, unhappy children...make yourself do it anyway. Bite your tongue, count to ten, pray for help....and then smile and work out a solution with them. You'll feel so much better than if you yell and stomp your foot, even though that's probably what you feel like doing. The next time might be just as hard. And the time after that. But gradually, I think that it will start to get easier. A discipline. Just like getting up early in the morning gets easier after you've done it upteen times over again.

The people in our lives who just seem to be 'naturally' patient or loving....I truly believe that many of them have simply disciplined themselves to be that way.

Anyway, I don't share all this because it's something I've conquered in my own life. On the contrary, it's something I still struggle with, and I think that's why God has been pointing it out so clearly to me lately. Love.....even when you don't feel like it. Be patient.....not because it's easy, but because you've disciplined yourself to do the right thing.

It's one of my biggest challenges in 2012. Would you pray for me for the strength to grow more disciplined in these areas, and I'll do the same for you :)

P.S. (Although the situations in this post are not completely based on true stories, they are obviously based on real truths in my life, and you can rest assured that my husband will get just as much humor out of reading them as I did in writing them---he's a great kind of guy that way ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Africa Study

I was working on a post about the 'rhythm of our homeschool days' But, it was getting waaaay too long. So, instead, here are some pictures of Cosette DOING home-schooling today :)

She's been studying Africa for a couple of weeks now in geography. Seriously, the child can now locate more countries accurately on the map than I can :/ Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mali, Kenya---I don't even know if I spelled all those correctly, but she points them all out without hesitation.

So, her school curriculum had an art assignment for her today. She learned that a traditional way of making baskets in Africa is to use grasses woven together.

Well.....we don't have any 'grasses woven together' in the Curtis household, so we had to make do with some substitutes. I think she got the idea, though, and had a blast getting messy in glue in the meantime ;)






The finished cloth basket is still drying on my counter. I love homeschooling and getting to watch my kids learn :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A piece lost.......but not it's memory

I remember it well. It was the Christmas that I was 13 years old. It was the first time I had received a 'grown up' stocking. You know----instead of the stocking full of candy, trinkets and such, it was full of 'grown up' type of gifts.

I reached in to the stocking, curiosity filling me, somehow knowing that this Christmas was different.

Out came  woolen gloves and a matching ear warmer, covered with a pretty green pattern.

My mom looked at me and smiled. "I thought maybe you'd wear the ear warmer to keep your ears warm since you don't like when a hat messes up your hair. Keep those nice, Jaime, they're not cheap things."

Those same gloves and ear warmer are even today stuffed into the pocket of my maternity winter coat. The warmest, most dependable gloves I've owned, even after 16 years.

I reached into the stocking for the next gift. A simple index card. On it were words written in my mother's often silly type of personality. "Dear Jaime---Your wise and scheming mother spied the university cello teacher at a recent community event. I went up to talk to her, and she agreed to give you two cello lessons to help you decide if you really want to learn how to play. You're welcome-----Love, Mom

Cello lessons were a dream come true for me. One of the best gifts, written on an index card.

I reached in one more time. A little green box with a gold band on it. I opened it up, and there inside was a dainty gold ring, tiny little diamonds encircling a real opal in the middle. Opal is my birthstone---the glorious, beautiful month of October. It was the most dignified, significant piece of jewelry I'd ever owned.

Mom smiled at me. " I think you're old enough now to take care of it"

I've worn it often since then, and I've had it on 24/7, seven days a week since her funeral. It's never left my finger. I look at my left hand, and am instantly reminded of the love of my husband. I look at my right hand, and am instantly reminded of the love of my Mama.

That is, until this afternoon. Out of habit, I looked down at the ring, and realized in horror----"The opal!!! It's gone!!" And isntantly, I remembered snagging my finger on something that morning, feeling the pain, and yelling 'Ow!' I never even thought to check the ring at the time.

I ran into the living room, in serious distress, asking my husband if he remembered where I was when I yelled out earlier. No, he didn't even remember me yelling out. And I can't even remember what I was doing at the time. I just remember the pain on my finger, never realizing that a special part of myself was being torn away forever.

There's no chance I'll ever find the opal again, except by a miracle. As I sat there on the living room floor, missing my Mama more than ever, sweet little Leanna ran over to me and wrapped her arms around me in comfort. She didn't understand why I was upset, but she wanted to love her Mama anyway.

The love of my Mama, passed on to me.....passed on to my daughters....generation after generation. The opal is gone, and I'll miss it's signifigance and constant reminder to me of my Mom. But her love, her values, who she is, lives on through my own daughters. THEY will be the constant reminder to me of the love of a mother.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day by Day

I have not met to neglect my blog as frequently as I have been recently. It's just that, from before sun-up (literally), to well after sun-down....my days don't stop! Finding time to sit and do a quick blog post has been a challenge for me lately. But, we make time for what's important to us, right? And blogging is kind of like a breath of fresh air to me---a minute to stop, breathe, evaluate things, rejoice in the joyful chaos....and then move on :)  So, here I am, for fifteen minutes ignoring the dozen other things on my to do list right now and updating here :)

There is never a lack of things to keep me busy around here......

Little girls who pat the floor next to them and invite you to sit down and read a story.

Food to prepare. That's my homemade bread waiting to be put in the freezer. Sometime I'll have to write a post on the kinds of food we prepare and eat around here, and our reasoning behind it---but that's another blog for another day :)

Messes to clean up. Ohhhh...........the messes! This is the one thing that sometimes I think is literally going to drive me insane. I can have myself and all three older kids cleaning up stuff, and when we turn around, Leanna has been quite busy making another new mess for us to attend to. This is hard for me with my first-born personality, who appreciates order and cleanliness. Nevertheless.....we continue to plow through the messes, one by one, day by day :)

Oh, and don't forget the cowboys waiting for me to play a game with them. Yes, they ARE camped out in front of the shower in the bathroom. I have no idea why. We have THREE table areas that they could have chosen from to play this game at, but no, they choose the bathroom floor. Go figure. I guess it's a cowboy thing ;)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The best part of peanut butter cookies.....

....is licking the peanut butter off the spoon, of course!



Love the peanut butter on her nose in this one!



As she gets older, I hope I never forget the feeling of this little girl's arms wrapped tightly around my neck each morning when I get her out of bed, or her little hand patting my back as she gives me a hug. I am totally, 100% in love with her! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To everything it's season

There is a season for everything, I know. One day, I will have a house full of teenagers, going here and there, with schedules and everybody's busy lives to keep up with.

But that's not now! Right now, I have a house full of babies and young children. We rejoice in the time that we can spend at home together, truly making our 'house' into a 'home'.

My attitude, my peace of mind, my priorities.....they're all a little clearer and better when I'm at home taking care of my family then when I'm out somewhere trying to get a bunch of stuff done and wearing out myself and my children.

So most days, I offer no apologies.....we stay home :) And as the years go by, I am slowly learning that a 'good' home is made up not primarily of clean floors, organized cupboards and carefully planned menus, (although none of these are bad things), but rather of a household of people learning to love each other and find rest in the Lord. I'm learning, on occasion, to ignore the toys on the floor, prop my feet up, and read stories to my babies. Because, what's that old saying? I'm rocking my baby, 'cause babies don't keep.....

A day in our home

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My top three signs that you might be pregnant

Just in case there was any doubt left in your mind whatsoever, here are three additional ways to confirm that you might be pregnant.....

1. When you drop something (which is frequently), you will stubbornly stand for ten minutes trying to pick it up with your toes just so that you don't have to try to bend over.

2. It's bed-time, but you're already dreaming about what might be for breakfast in the morning.

3. You have suddenly found that the simple luxury of rolling over in bed at night has become a ten-step process. OH.....and don't forget that you might get stuck in the middle of rolling over at some point becasue of those awful round ligament pains and be suddenly stuck on your side in an awkward position for the rest of the night.

Yep, I answered 'yes' to all three of those.......golly, I think I might be pregnant! Of course, those little feet and elbows that keep poking my insides day and night were also a dead give away.... ;)

Sunday, January 08, 2012


I grew up with exactly four first cousins---two on my mom's side, two on my dad's side. And only one of them was close to my age ( love ya, Jenny!)  Well, around here these days, my kids have no lack of cousins. This picture is only HALF of the cousins on Joel's side of the family :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When Parenting requires more Grace

I post often on this blog about the sweet, loving, cute, inspired moments that happen in our house. And well I should, because I want this blog to be an encouragment to you, an inspiration, something that you can read and feel uplifted, a bit 'lighter', so to speak. Truthfully speaking, those moments DO make up a large part of our lives together here in the Curtis house.

But let's be real for a minute. Life isn't always 'feel-good lovey-dovey' type of moments. Parenting is hard work. Sometimes it's just a 'bite the bullet', get through the next two hours kind of day. Thank God, we as parents often do things right-----but there are probably just as many times when we don't do things 'right'. But that's the beauty of parenting, right? Your child's success or failure in life isn't dependent on one solitary episode of good or bad parenting (thank goodness!)---rather, it's an accumulation of his/her responses to an entire lifetime of YOUR responses/discipline/care/love/nuture/etc,etc.

I was reminded of this today. Cosette was having a particularly hard day, for some reason. Twice, she 'blew up' at me and lost her temper. There was something that she wanted, or wanted to do, in one case----and I had to tell her no in both instances, for whatever reason. Now, I'll be willing to admit that I only kept up about 50 percent of my parenting responsibilities at this point. No, I did not back down, I did not let her have her own way just because she was whining and being disrespectful. However, I also did NOT carry it all the way through and require her to change her attitude, apologize, and give a more respectful response. I 'let the ball drop' at fifty percent.

Fortunately, God called this to my attention later on in the evening, and I was able to sit Cosette down and talk to her about the issues. We talked about how important it is for her to give correct responses to Mommy and Daddy, and how I was not at all pleased with her attitude today. We talked about how, if the same things happened tomorrow, there would be appropriate punishments given. And I think I saw a truly repentant heart from my daughter.

Does this mean that my 'fifty percent' response earlier in the day then was okay? Um....no. I still should have carried it through all the way. But, fortunately for me, my God is a God of grace, a God of second chances. I was able to take what might have been a poor learning experience for my daughter (I can get away with yelling at Mom and losing my temper), and turn it around into something positive.

As you face those moments in parenting when you're tempted to 'let the ball drop', or maybe you don't even know WHAT is the right thing to do at the moment, can I offer you a few encouragments?

1. Be consistent. Your child needs to know what is expected of him/her, and then you need to carry through on that, each and every time. If your child is not allowed to eat candy before dinner, then don't slip and 'break the rules' one day, because it will only make it harder the next day when you suddenly feel like being a little more of a 'responsible' parent.

2. Realize that every child is different. What worked for your sweet, compliant daughter seven years ago may not work for your energetic little boy today. I know. I speak from experience :) When Cosette was little, a gentle little flick on her knuckles and a 'no, no, don't touch that', was enough to send her sobbing and far, far away from whatever dangerous thing it was she was about to touch. And she would never touch it again. Noah Shaun, however.....well, you could discipline the child 100 times over, and he would still go back and do the same bad thing yet once again. And yet, consistency had to be maintained, and he DID eventually learn what he was and was not allowed to do. I have a feeling his stubborness and 'never give up' attitude will serve him well in some way later in life. However, due to this, Joel and I had to be creative in some of the different ways we taught and trained Noah as he grew. What 'worked' for his big sister wasn't always the best bet for him.

3. Treat every moment with love. Instead of seeing that temper tantrum, that sibling argument, that look of defiance, that tear stained face, that angry frown, as an interruption in your day, as something to be 'dealt with as quick as possible' so you can move on with whatever it is you're doing-----see it AS your day!! See it as an opportunity, a God-given moment to teach, to discipline, to correct, to love, to guide, to nurture. I've found that if I view my days in this way, some how, all my priorities fall into place a little easier.

And before I end this, I'd like to leave you with a laugh. Remember this day, an 'I'll never forget it' day in the life of my own parenting? A certain little boy dumped a bottle of baby powder all over my nursery. I stood there, dumb-founded, just not sure what to do. But, needless to say, I survived, He survived....my vacuum cleaner literally did NOT survive, but that's another story......you can re-read the whole crazy episode from over two years ago here.

Parenting.....it really is a day to day learning experience, isn't it? I'm so glad I know a God Who forgives, teaches, and gives more grace as needed :)


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