Tender Transplants

I’ve spent a great deal of time digging in the dirt in the last few weeks.

I’ve divided African violets, re-potted house plants, and transplanted tender seedlings into larger containers.

Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, eggplants, cauliflower.

eggplant seedlingsIt’s a slow, meticulous and rather messy job,  but it does give one a great deal of time to think.

While my hands were covered in potting soil and I carefully moved the tender root systems from one container to a larger one, it suddenly came to me that I am in a transplanting season in life.

My kids are growing up fast and and leaving. They are being transplanting from our home to homes and apartments of their own.

They’ve outgrown their old lives just as my seedlings have outgrown their pots.

They need more room.

But, unlike my plants, I will not be the one to transplant my children. It’s time for them  to do it for themselves.

New jobs, new classes, new friends.

New problems, new responsibilities, new decisions.

On their own.

As I looked down at the tomato seedling in my hand and saw it’s fragile roots, I realized how vital a strong root system is to a plant.

How much more so for my children!

tomato seedlingsAnd my momma heart prayed, “Take care of the roots, children!”

Those precious roots that your dad and I have tried to build into your lives.

Roots that will anchor you in the bedrock of strong faith.

Roots that will help you stay strong when the world is storming around you.

Watch those roots!

Tend them carefully.

Water them.

Give them good soil.

Let them grow deep and strong.

Please children, hear your momma’s heart.

Take care of the roots.

Bobby Pins

bobby pinsI thought that once my kids were past the Lego and Polly Pockets phase of life that our plumbing would be safe from foreign objects.

I was wrong.

Nobody warned me about teenage girls and bobby pins.

When I was a teenager bobby pins were something that Grandma wore to hold her “set” until her next appointment with Edna.

My mom had some – a remnant of her teenage years in the 1950’s.  These were stored in the back of her dresser drawer and pulled out once or twice a year as needed to use in our high school plays.

They were not cool.

They were to be avoided at all costs.

But not any more.

Now they are hot commodities; much needed for the casual “updo” that my girls love.

And they are all over my house.

I find them in every room – on the floor, in the couch, on the counter, on the table, in the sink. I think the girls must shed them as they walk or something since I’ve even found bobby pins in their brothers’ room.

They leave rust stains in the shower, get stuck under the baseboards and have babies in the bathroom vanity. I cleaned out the drawers recently and found enough bobby pins to curl and set an entire nursing home wing.

I guess I should count my blessings.

Like the fact that my girls do their own hair now – and it’s beautiful.

And hey – at least bobby pins don’t hurt like a Lego when you step on it on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

Home School Conference Time

By the time you are reading this – I will be  immersed in the unique world of the the yearly NICHE home school conference.

And I’m so excited!

Jan and I look forward to this weekend all year! Two wonderful days together!

We’ll walk hand in hand through the curriculum hall – drooling over books and resources. Debating over purchases. Adding to our extensive library.

Running into friends and family in the hallways between sessions, laughing and catching up with life.

Sitting side by side during keynotes – gleaning wisdom and encouragement from the speakers.

Having deep conversations over our picnic lunches.

Honing, refining our vision for our family.

Sharing our thoughts, our convictions, our dreams, our realities.

Making life-changing decisions. (Was it just a year ago that we heard John Stonestreet speak and sent Matt to Summit, which lead to his semester in Colorado, which lead to Oxford?)

Alone, together, surrounded by thousands of people, but belonging to each other.

A team.

On the same page.


I can’t wait!

Flying Solo

Flying SoloMy friend Cinnamon came over last Thursday for a little “Tea and Talk”- which – of course – included chocolate brownies!

As we sat there sipping and talking, the conversation turned to watching our sons become young men.

It’s especially hard when they no longer want, but still need, our advice as moms.

She shared with me how she was learning to say, “I’m perfectly happy for you to live with the consequences of your decision.” <insert motherly smile>

It really is quite freeing.

I know this because about 48 hours later I had a chance to practice it.

All last week our oldest son Matt was at Teen Pact Challenge – a grueling boot-camp-like experience designed to teach young men discipline, self-control, teamwork and reliance on God.

He had bought his own plane ticket on-line through Expedia, and the journey to Altanta went without a hitch.

The journey home was another story.

He was scheduled to leave the Atlanta airport at 6:00 on Saturday evening and get into Des Moines about 11:30 with a lay-over in Chicago.

But Saturday afternoon we got a call.

When he went to the counter to check-in he discovered that when he had ordered his ticket, he had accidentally scheduled his return trip for November 9th instead of October 9th.

He either needed to find another flight or wait a month for his scheduled one.

He had just enough time to deliver this news before his trac phone was out of minutes.

So my 17 year old son is stuck at the Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport with no ticket and no phone.

My very first thought was “I”m perfectly happy for you to live with the consequences of your decision.” <insert motherly smile>


You know what? It worked!

There wasn’t anything I could do about the situation, and worrying wouldn’t help. He wanted to be grown-up, well, let’s see just what the kid is made of.

It looks like he’s made of pretty good stuff.

Jan went online, put more minutes on Matt’s phone and called him back.

Matt had already called Expedia, even before he called home,  but they wouldn’t do anything since it was less than 6 hours before the flight.

He had also talked to the people at American Airlines, but they wouldn’t do anything because he bought his ticket through Expedia.

He had checked into flights to Des Moines but discovered a flight that night would cost $700 and a flight the next day would be $400. Ouch.

(Can I just say – that at this point I was impressed with everything he had already done to remedy the situation!)

Jan told him to see if there were any flights into Kansas City – which is a little farther away – but usually cheaper.

A little while later we got a call that he got a flight into Kansas City that was actually cheaper than his original ticket. He bought his ticket himself, flew out at 8:00 and arrived in KC about 10:00.

He’s home again with some really smelly clothes and a voracious appetite!

It seems we both learned some valuable lessons that day.

He will never again book a flight without double checking his dates!

And I learned that while the hardest part of mothering is the letting go – it’s so rewarding to see them fly solo!

Parenting Panic

parenting panicIt went by way too fast!

It seems like just yesterday that I started my first year of homeschooling with my oldest and now we’re talking about senior pictures and future plans!

This moment wasn’t supposed to come so soon – and I’ll admit to a few moments of panic.

One year from now he will be starting a new chapter in his life and my mind keeps asking – “Is he ready?”

“Have I done enough?”

“Did I cover all the academics he needs? What about life skills – did I remember everything?”

Then there’s the question of what’s next?

People have already started to ask what his future plans are. I feel like a terrible mother when I blush and stammer – “Umm… I don’t know”.  But I don’t know because he doesn’t know.

And then I get all panic-y because I really do want to know. I want to have it laid out – our 5 year plan, our 10 year plan. But – that’s just it – it isn’t “our” life to plan – it’s his.

parenting panicI can give guidance and input – but I can’t control or make those decisions.

That’s when I really get panic-y! What if he makes a wrong decision? What if he messes up?

But wait a minute – didn’t I mess up on occasion? I still do.

My goal in parenting isn’t to raise perfect children – that would be impossible. My goal is to raise mature kids who love the Lord with all their heart and want to serve Him.

So I think it’s time to stop fretting and get back on my knees. I need to give this boy back to God and let Him do the planning.

It really doesn’t matter what my son does next year or in five years, or in 10 years – as long as he’s doing what God wants him to do – this Momma will be proud.

But letting go isn’t easy…

A Mosiac of Moments

Every day is full of moments – little snapshots of life.

Most are mundane, a few are unique, and some are blog worthy.

Here are a few of my most blog worthy moments recently –

1. A Monster Moment – This is the summer that Angel Girl is going to learn to bake independently. She just needs the practice doing the same thing several times to gain confidence – and my trust. We started with bread.

She made her second batch last week but she was in a hurry. I thought she had finished making out the buns very quickly and she hadn’t used very many baking sheets. When I checked them before they were baked I could see why – they were huge! Some of the buns measured 5 inches across.

Monster buns! Yes, her brothers teased her, and yes they loved them!  Can’t wait for batch number 3!

2. Proud Momma Moment: We went to a friend’s house this week to pick pie cherries. She has a little 3 year old with Down’s syndrome. As we were finishing up I heard someone singing our special swinging song and went to investigate.

There was Matt under the tree with the swing in it. He had, of his accord,  gently put their girl in the swing and was pushing her – singing “Swing, swing way up high, swing so high you touch the sky…”

Their little girl was just grinning from ear to ear.

I didn’t realize he even remembered the song.

3. Not So Proud Parenting Moment: At my niece’s wedding, she had the youngest cousins, including my Buddy, act as gift pages. Just before the wedding started they were escorted in and sat with my youngest sister and her husband in the front row. Jan and I were directly behind them.

Buddy had just been seated for a few moments when he suddenly jumped up and dashed back down the center aisle of the church. I was still processing the fact that he ran out of the church when he came running back in – holding a cold bottle of water.

He ran right down the aisle, just as the groom was escorting my parents down. He managed to dodge around  them just as the photographer snapped their picture.

Then he settled back in his seat, opened his water and prepared to enjoy the show! I was very embarrassed until I realized he was sitting with my youngest sister – everyone would just think he was hers! 🙂

4. Old Lady Moment: I wore a new (to me) pair of shoes to that same wedding. By the time we got to the reception I had some very nice blisters forming.  Since I knew I would be standing and cutting cake for some time – I had my darling husband take my dress shoes to the van and bring in my tennis shoes.

Yes, I put my tennis shoes on for the rest of the evening.  If any one noticed – they were too polite to say anything! 🙂

I’m sure they were all jealous of my comfort!

How about you? What were your memorable moments this week?

Care to share them?

Hey Moms – Need Some “Alone Time”?

As a mom of five, I know very well the need we moms have to be alone.

We love our children,  but to be continually needed by someone and always on call is tiring.

Sometimes we’re looking to get away for a few minutes, to sit in silence, to rest our minds.

Sound impossible? If you have young children – it is. They are hard wired to need you. They want to be with you – all the time.

You don’t dare close the door when you go to the bathroom because it’s just asking for a catastrophe to happen!

But – if you have older children – it’s actually easier than you think.

After years of trial and error, I have discovered 10 foolproof statements that are sure to get you some privacy.

All you need to do is announce any one of these and the room will clear instantly as your older children will disappear like leaves in the wind.

1. “I’m looking for someone to wash dishes”

2. “The bathroom needs to be cleaned”

3. “I’m heading out to the garden to weed”

4. “I’m heading out to the garden to pick green beans, or tomatoes, or peppers, or anything”

5. “There’s laundry waiting to hung on the clothes line”

6. “There’s laundry to be folded”

7. “I think we should start cleaning the basement after lunch”

8. “The garbage needs to be taken out”

9.  “I need help canning tomatoes (or apples or green beans)”

10. “Dad said we were butchering chickens this afternoon”

Try one and see for yourself!

The Art of Subterfuge in Mothering

This morning as I whipped up some apple, pear, banana fruit smoothies for my children and watched them guzzle them down, I got to thinking.

Now I realize that thinking that early in the morning can often be dangerous, as my brain is not fully activated yet. But my idea seemed like such a good one- are you ready? I could hide other fruits and vegetables in their smoothies!

It was brilliant!

Just think about the vegetables that could be blended right in!  Even my pickiest eater wouldn’t be able to pick them back out again!

Think about the nutrients my kids would unknowingly consume! Frozen peas, carrots, green beans, celery… no, wait…those are too normal. What about broccoli or kohlrabi or Brussels sprouts?  I know- tomatoes!

Some mothers seem to get away with it on a regular basis.

My sister-in-law Julie cooks up a vegetable medley that she hides in almost everything. Her meatballs are so packed with vitamins they should have a warning label. “Beware: These meatballs are extremely healthy and will make you as strong as Popeye.”

My friend Cinnamon concocts a smoothie for her children that includes spinach! Yes, spinach. And they drink it?! As if any of my kids would voluntarily drink something green.

Ahh yes- that brings us to the heart of the matter. When tricking kids into eating something healthy it must be well-hidden.

How could I possibly disguise the color and smell of say, spinach. It tends to be quite green no matter what you do with it.

Believe me I know. My Mom was always trying to hide things from us. Didn’t always work though. Her most famous cooking story remains “The Legend of the Green Fish Loaf.”

She had discovered a recipe for a fish loaf using canned salmon and spinach. She decided that she would just throw the spinach in the blender with the other ingredients and hide it. We would never know it was there!

She learned that spinach cannot be disguised. It turned the entire salmon loaf green.

We rushed to the table in anticipation of supper and there IT sat.  All green and bubbly with cheese on top. I wish we would have taken pictures of our faces as we sat around the table looking at IT.

IT went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Poor Mom has never been able to forget it. (Being the good children that we are, we keep reminding her.)

No, I realize now that such thinking is quite dangerous. There is an art to subterfuge as a mother, and I definitely have a lot to learn about it!

Hey, I still have a kid who can pick out ground up onions in a meatball.  Maybe I should send him to Aunt Julie’s for awhile….