Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Brewing Storm and an Honest Moment

I have officially joined the rank of parents whose children throw a temper tantrum in a public place - specifically in the grocery store.  What is it with grocery stores anyway?  They just seem to draw out the worst in kids sometimes... right? I think the problem lies in the time of day + hunger + temptation + distracted parents + ________ (fill in the blank, we've all got our reasons).

My situation was slightly different in that we hadn't arrived at the grocery store with the sole purpose of purchasing food, we went in order to help 'Nonnie' ring the Salvation Army donation bell.  And oh, the kids were adorable!  Seriously, people were dropping bills left and right with comments like, 'aren't they just so cute!'  Note to the Salvation Army people; recruit 3-year-olds and their parents to ring the bell.  Guaranteed cash flow.  The kiddos had an absolutely wonderful time wishing merry Christmas and happy Christmas to everyone passing.  Hannah being my shy one had a little difficulty warming up to the idea of talking to strangers.  This of course should have been my early warning  signal that a storm was brewing just beneath the surface of her rosey cheeks.  And although she was initially shy, that soon wore off and she was happily ringing the bell with enthusiasm giving out 'merry Christmas' wishes with a seemingly deep satisfaction.   It was a proud moment to say the least - I even posted photos of facebook.  Yes, I was proud and with reason they were doing great!


About 20 or so minutes into the bell-ringing escapade, Hannah needed to use the restroom.  And so we rushed off with hopes of preventing any accidents that are known to happen from time to time, especially when distraction and fun are keeping little ones occupied.  Much to my dismay we were slightly too late and as a result I was left puzzling with what to do with a soaking wet pair of underwear.  Thankfully the rest of her clothing showed very little signs of an accident so we were able to just peel off the undies and slip the clothes back into place.  Done.  I, being grateful that I wasn't dealing with a much bigger problem (ha ha ha) and in lieu of a better plan decided to simply toss the soiled panties into the garbage.  BAD IDEA!  Hannah freaked!  Her reaction could easily have been equal to the loss of a favorite toy or perhaps being outright left at the grocery store.  Crying, screaming, hysterics... you get the idea.  I suppose I had a choice to make and I briefly considered the possibility of removing the underwear from the trash and somehow taking them with us, but this moment was brief and my response to the situation was, 'no - not going to happen.'  I believe that a good portion of my reaction had more to do with Hannah's response and her temper than the actual potty-accident situation.   I was slightly grateful that we were at least sheltered from the masses inside the small public restroom - for the moment.  
After spending several painful moments of trying to reason with Hannah and then giving the usual threats of 'going to the car,'  it seemed as if we had reached an understanding... Seemed.  Still with tears streaming down and subsequent sobbing and sniffling we left the restroom and entered the main drag through the check-out (no, this restroom wasn't in the BACK of the store, it was front and center).   It was then that the panic of leaving behind the underwear and the blood-curtling scream started.  You know the kind of scream where people in certain areas of the country would probably call CPS on you, the type that happens in the safety of your home and that you only hope never happens in public?  Yep, it happened.  My first taste of that type of real embarrassment and humiliation due to the behavior of my child that is on display to... well, I have no idea how many - but a lot of people (I couldn't bring myself to look).  I'm just say'in it as it is - it was totally humiliating and infuriating.  

It is in moments like these that emotion has a way of blinding you completely.  By God's grace, I was able to simply explain to Hannah that her behavior was wrong.  But even in this, I failed... miserably.  If only I had James Dobson, Ted Tripp, or Ginger Plowman standing there coaching me - I seriously would have paid money for that.  I was left simply to my own wits, or so I believed.  I chose my words poorly making her astonishing behavior the focus and totally leaving out any responsibility on my part for my angry reaction.  You see, my greatest concern in that moment was me.  Not Hannah.  Me and how spoiled my image was in that moment.  I had become one of those parents with that kind of child.  Horrible, absolutely horrible, but it was an honest reflection of my heart in those tense moments. And that's the yucky truth of it.  Despite her out-of-control reaction to me tossing what was apparently a valued possession, I was focusing more with her bad behavior than using that opportunity to train and correct, helping her to see where her heart was.  

It wasn't until a long car ride and a fuming vent session with Jonathan that God gently, despite my dripping with sin reaction, began to open my heart to see how I had totally missed IT.  As I was unloading the kids (who had fallen asleep) He put it on my heart to simply hold Hannah in my lap and rock her to back sleep.  And during that short window of awake time that she had I was able to tell her that I was sorry, and to share with her that the things in which we place our happiness are simply never going to make us happy.  It is Jesus and nothing more.  He gave everything for us so that we could be happy in Him.    It was the simplest of truths but it bathed us both in a moment of grace and forgiveness.    

Although I left that grocery store with a tattered and beaten pride dragging behind me, I came home washed and whole.  For this moment, I am able to stand again not on my own value and worth which I all to often look for in my kids and their actions.  I am happily complete and separate from my wrong behavior because of Jesus.  

 I am now happy to report that I can join the rank of parents with out-of-control children - I am actually happy.  What a painful and yet needed reminder of God's love extended in our worst moments.  I can only hope that I will remember this when the next storm breaks loose again.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I know, I know.  You're probably thinking that the title refers to my dire need to catch up with my blogging, but it doesn't!  Actually, it has to do with the fact that it has taken 3+ years to finally connect a group of children that have been separated by distance and time.  

 September of 1999 brought a tsunami of change to my world, sweeping me away into a life I had only imagined in my deepest of dreams.  And somewhere along that life-changing ride, I encountered a person who redefined the meaning of friendship.  Johnna and I quickly started what still remains today to be a friendship bond like that of a sister.  There are few with whom I have ever laughed or cried so fully.  I have had the honor of sharing with her such intense years of becoming, changing, and growing up.  Somehow in the midst of all the various changes, experiences, and the degree of distance geographically we have remained close.  It is a God thing... what more can I say?  

Johnna and her husband, Hunter decided to celebrate their 10-year anniversary by retracing the setting for the start of  their relationship in Montreat and Black Mountain, North Carolina.  Since their trip took them just a few hours from our home, Jon and I had the joy of being able to hang out with and take care of their two kiddos for them.  These two children brought such fun and entertainment to our home for the week they were here.  Hannah and Eli were thrilled to have them, so much so that Eli claimed Jack as his best friend within minutes of his arrival.   Ellie and Jack opened my children's eyes to a new world just outside their front door.  On the warmer days, the kids would spend their time running and playing in the yard.  Imagination and exploration were the naturally abounding themes throughout the week.  Barefoot and tromping through the grass, a train of laughter and little voices that were getting caught up in their world of make-believe.   Glass jars with holes poked in the lid, lady bugs, wet feet in the creek, tag, races, forts, hide-outs, and the list goes on.  I remember those days, imagination was like breathing, involuntary and nearly tangible.  But the sweetest of all treats was just the joy that Johnna and I shared of getting to see our children play together.  We were both so pleased to FINALLY be able to introduce our children to one another.  

 Their first night here.  Aunt Johnna reading everyone their night time story.

Their second day here, everyone went together to a corn maze and 'pumpkin patch.'  

 Eli and his new best-friend.  This was the start of our corn maze experience.  

That look says, 'which way do we go?'

The corn field was a good idea until the temperature rose about 100 degrees, we started running out of water, children started needing to potty, feet started hurting = carrying kids on shoulders, the adults were getting frantic (and yes, we all stomped through some corn - I know... cheaters), and frankly, we were lost... in a CORN MAZE!  Ridiculous.  Needless to say, I was pretty happy when we finished.

 Hannah's expression says it all. 

Dearest of friends

Walking through the 'Pumpkin Patch'


Salamander Hunting

Looking for Lady Bugs

Fall Tree Craft

Ellie Making Eggs for Breakfast

Playground Time

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Apple Pie is Always a Good Idea

Please excuse me as I blow a thick layer of neglect off my keyboard and attempt to catch up on the mountain of details called life that has happened this month!  We have been busy (can you tell) and I'm afraid that my blogging has suffered as a result.  The treasure of experiences this month runs deep and I fear that with everything we've done I won't be able to hold your attention in one blog post.  Therefore, I will attempt to present it all in small bites so stay tuned!  

A is for Apple:

I am pretty sure that we have rung every bit of life out of the fall season as we frequently checked activities off of our Fall Bucket list.  It has been a full and thrilling month.  The weekend of October 1st, we made a trip to Western NC to catch up with friends and visit an apple orchard local to the area.  We visited Sky Top Orchards two years ago on an outing with friends on a cold and wet November day that clouded in what I was sure at the time to be an beautiful view.  We still had loads of fun pulling apple after apple from the tree and putting them into our basket.  But this time around I'm confident that October had its best on for us as the day could not have been more amazing.  The air was crisp, the sky blue and clear, and the sun was bright!  Such a gorgeous day!  

In preparation for our weekend apple picking trip, the kids did several crafts to help them learn about apple trees and the process of growing apples.  Thank you, Pinterest for all the great ideas that my craft-challenged brain could not conjure up on its own!


Our basket running over with Fuji and Granny Smith

Our friends Megan and Aaron's little addition, Salem

Hannah's third or fourth apple... we kind of lost track.

Full Baskets and ready to call it quits

 Family meal at a favorite restaurant in Asheville

We wrapped up our apple picking extravaganza with the Booth family tradition of making homemade apple pie.  Their pie is usually reserved for Thanksgiving or Christmas only, but we've broken the rule a good number of times because I simply cannot go an entire 12 months without one!  Such a perfect ending to our apple orchard experience.  As far as I'm concerned, apple pie with a cloud of whipped cream is ALWAYS a good idea!