{ Substitute Babysitter }

The Hillstroms from church needed a babysitter and my daughter couldn’t do it after all. She wouldn’t export her runny nose and annoying cough into the already stressed Hillstrom home.

Linzy was going to meet her husband Matt for marriage counseling, and their six active kiddos needed energetic supervision.

So I approached their country home, not knowing what to expect. I had never been there; never helped out. I was a little sketchy on all their names and I was out of my comfort zone.

First, we plunged into backyard hide-and-seek. Between games, we paused for show-and-tell breaks, like when Riley showed me his recent bow-and-arrow injury and Jojo pointed out the onions poking up in the garden. Then we returned to our crouched positions under the pine tree or behind the bikes in the shed. I huddled with the little ones, who squirmed and rustled and ruined the hiding places. Then we started all over again.

Suddenly, everyone grabbed their bikes, trikes and scooters and soared freely along the dusty, rural road. I strolled the baby, ready to redirect the parade if a car came along.

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I employed my former public school teacher’s voice and relied on 20+ years of motherhood to cope with minor scuffles and occasional sibling rivalry.

“Linzy is a good mom,” I thought as I served the meal on the stove to her happy, helpful kids. The able dish-doers scaled a wooden bench to reach the sink and finish the cleanup.

Next, Annie informed me of the house bedtime rules with a serious, spaghetti-stained face:

“You read us stories. And we can snuggle with our blankets. And then we brush our teeth.”

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As we wrapped up the bedtime routine, I thought:

“When was the last time I just played and read stories with my own children for 3 hours?”

It had been a busy, but pleasant evening.

When Linzy arrived home, I thought it was over.

But the next Sunday, I was assaulted with warm embraces and surrounded with sparkly smiles.

I was suddenly the famous, beloved babysitter of just one evening.

I had run around barefoot in the backyard.

I had read books and given hugs.

I had learned their names and the house rules.

And for these small things, I would be paid with loving looks for the rest of my life.

That’s a pretty good deal for a substitute babysitter.

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Photo Credits:

Country Scene — Julian Schöll

Books — Robyn Budlender

{ No-Complain Campaign}

complain2My son is looking forward to winter ( 😲 ) and he wanted to find out when the nearest ski hill opens.  He scrolled and browsed, and started laughing out loud. Turns out he was reading customer reviews from last year.  One said:

“…lines were too long and too many reserved spots at chalet tables.  Mentioned this to staff but they didn’t care; they already had our money.”

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It’s never funny when we are the ones complaining.  And, there is definitely a time to speak up and bring grievances effectively to the right people.

But if we could take a step back and see ourselves, our knee-jerk complaints can sound rather whiny.

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In our griping, we often:

  • Assign wicked and evil motives to those who have wronged us in some way
  • Build up small slights into mountain-sized offenses

Looking inward, I see at least one thing about which I have complained over the weekend.

I complained in thought and I complained twice to friends yesterday at church.

(But…I had a smile on my face and did it somewhat creatively so that perhaps it didn’t seem like I was grumbling?)

But I was.

People complain collectively about everything, from the weather to politics to jobs to  whatever. When we make a habit of griping at home, our children catch the wave and join in.

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Fussing, grumbling, and complaining are things we are trying to discourage here at home.

Instead, we are hoping that words like “thank you” become an almost involuntary response.  We would like to foster a daily regimen of gratefulness and promote an anti-moan-&-groan manifesto.

But how can that happen if Mama is (overtly or covertly) whining or moping about circumstances?

Some clear reminders for me today in God’s Word:

  • Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Trying this week to advance a “no complain” campaign. Starting with the Mama in the mirror.

 

 

 

{ This Week in Pictures }

 

Bowls cover breakfast eggs, lovingly scrambled by a repentant Mama. (She had barked at her little boy when he asked her three times if she remembered her promise to make him an egg in the morning.)

Ms. Road Construction looked so fetching in her hat and trousers that I had to snap a photo.  What else was there to do for ten minutes while we waited in line?

My dear daughter is celebrating her 23rd birthday tomorrow. “Where has the time gone?”

We invited some dear little people to play with us last week while their Mama went out to lunch.  Back when I had my babies, I didn’t have such an awkward time getting up & down off the floor. Back then, I didn’t have to grab my reading glasses to see what the puzzle looks like. I have missed these little happy little folks who give you the opportunity to get down on the floor and make animal noises.

 

{ Recipe for a Happy Birthday }

 

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Ingredients:

1- 5# bag of expectations

2 gallons water

1 cup possibilities

1 lb. gratefulness

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups whatever!

 

  1. In a large bucket, mix expectations with 2 gallons water.  Stir until dissolved.
  2. Dump this mixture outside. (Makes good compost.)
  3. Chop possibilities into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  4. Using a blender, combine gratefulness with sugar and process until fine.
  5. With fingers or a pastry blender, chop whatever! into coarse crumbs.
  6. Layer the possibilities mixture alternately with the whatever!, sprinkling gratefulness / sugar mix liberally over each layer and on top.
  7. Let sit 30 minutes, allowing flavors to combine.
  8. Serve with coffee or tea.
  9. Enjoy immediately, because it will be gone by tomorrow.

 

 

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Word Prompt:  harmony

 

 

Photo credit:Audrey Fretz

{ Birthday Jealousy }

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It’s hard when you are nine years old, and your brother is having a birthday.

It’s harder when your own birthday is 5 months away.

That’s what’s happening at our house.

Big brother Marco’s birthday is approaching and younger brother Jonny is preparing to be jealous.

We try to encourage the idea of being a good “birthday brother.”  That’s when the non-birthday person tries with all their might to rejoice at the blessings given to the birthday boy.

Sometimes this works. Sometimes this fails miserably.

I took a walk with my younger son Jonny today — my arm around his shoulder, pep talk on my mind.

Me: “Let’s ask God to help you be a really good birthday brother.  I know it’s hard.  It’s nicer when you are the one getting the presents. I’m sure he will share his things with you.”

Jonny: “He never shares.”

Me: “Look at my eyes. That’s not true.  He’s a good sharer. You are a good sharer too.  And you’re good at reading….and running….and speaking Spanish….and drawing…”

Jonny: Silence and trying not to smile.

Me: “So, let’s try, ok? I don’t feel bad when it’s your birthday, or Marco’s birthday.  I’m happy for all the birthdays, even when it’s not my own birthday.”

Jonny: “You don’t have a birthday.  You have Mother’s Day.”

© Lisa M. Luciano ~ a birthday-less being who was brought by a stork with a nametag around her neck marked “Mama.”

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/squabble/

{ Yesterday at Church…}

“Everyone from church is in Florida,” my children announced yesterday morning, as our slush-encrusted van dutifully hauled us to church.

 

 

 

There were several brave souls who apparently got left in Minnesota.

They were there, filling up rows and singing hymns with us.

The lively verse that begins: “I sing the mighty power of God, who filled the earth with food…” set my stomach growling, because it was also potluck Sunday, and Melanie’s aromatic chicken drummies were calling my name from the kitchen.

Hearing about Jonah put me and my stomach back on track.

  • There are several historical accounts of people having been swallowed by sea creatures – and surviving.
  • The culture Jonah ran from (Ninevah & the ancient Assyrians) happened to worship a merman-like fish god. That’s ironic.
  • I marveled at Jonah’s selfishness – not going, not doing what God clearly asked. If God clearly tells you something, you should do it, right? God’s words to me are in His book. Do I listen?

And Jonah’s pity-party at the end of the book. The account of Jonah is so…me.

Other highlights:

  • The potluck was grand. I avoided its desserts, but made up for that later at home.
  • I had meaningful conversations with a few friends, learning something new about two of them.
  • Free day-old bread on the back table is a happy thing.
  • Vivian brought us our weekly 4 dozen blushed brown farm eggs.
  • Simon’s family brought a new outdoor game that will go viral — at least at church graduation open houses.

Looking back, it was a pretty good day to not be in Florida.

© Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credits:

{ Mittens and Brownies and Writing. }

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I sat in the bedroom last night, sewing.

My three youngest children were draped over a bed littered with markers and colored pencils. We were listening to the audio book: You are a Writer. (So Act Like One), by Jeff Goins. The young artists created art and listened quietly. They would stir and look up when I nodded or grunted in agreement.

Note: some bribery was in play here. I promised them brownies and ice cream when the clock reached 8:30.

 

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This is a stock photo. Ours didn’t look this good.

So here are a few takeaways from the first part of the book:

Claiming the Title: I am a writer — even if I don’t feel it yet.

Writers write: Just begin.

Practice makes habits: do it every day.

De-clutter: get rid of the distractions (like social media) that prevent me from writing.

Good writing is in the editing. Don’t expect good writing in the first…or second…or third…? draft.

Practice in public: (So here I am.)

After finishing this audio, the next book on my list is also by Jeff Goins:

Real Artists Don’t Starve.

I’ll read it with, or possibly without, a room full of young artists. But definitely with the brownies.

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Here is my Etsy shop address. This is where I sell the mittens that I sew whilst listening to audiobooks and juggling children with markers: 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/woolsoup