Star Track

When I was young, Saturday sometimes meant that Dad was “in charge.” I don’t know where my Mom went, but as I am now a Mama myself, I am pretty sure the destination didn’t matter…it was probably just good to be alone! In any case, here’s how those Saturdays went down:

Breakfast- a bowl of real oatmeal. No packets of maple and brown sugar when Dad was the chef. It was the sticky, sturdy stuff you could hang wallpaper with. With sugar. Two teaspoons exactly. That was a highlight. On the table was a small plate stacked with toasted Wonder Bread with a bit of margarine on it. I am pretty sure he started toasting that bread before he started the oatmeal, so it was always cold. It didn’t slow us down. Milk in our glasses rounded off the meal.

After breakfast, we adjourned to the tv room. This is where the day really got good. Dad’s plan of keeping tabs on my younger sister and me was to plunk us down in front of him in the room where he was going to be enjoying his Saturday. This meant we might get to catch a few minutes of American Bandstand before he got in there. How I loved the Bandstand!  The Soul Train never made a stop at our house on these Saturday mornings, even though we asked.  We got to the first “Dah, dah, dah, dah – c’mon aboard!” and that was it. We took our spots on the floor and waited for Dad to tell us to start flipping channels.

You have to remember in those days, we children were the remote control to the tv, so we sat on the floor to get to the set faster.  No one wanted to get up from the comfy couch to turn that knob.  You also didn’t question the parent who was commanding you. It would never pay off. It was better to just close your eyes and wait to hear, “stop!” and be surprised by what you got.

Now for the fun part…Boxing, Planet of the Apes, Star Track, and if we were lucky, Dr Who.  Yes, I know that’s not the correct spelling of the classic Gene Roddenberry show. That’s how my Dad pronounced it. So that’s what we called it. Star Track. Oh, how we loved the Star Track. Captain Kirk and his good time gang, getting into troubles throughout the galaxies. It was a.w.e.s.o.m.e. Mom never, ever let us watch Star Track. She is not a fan of the science fiction. I think she’s secretly scared of Klingons. I am sure if just one of members on the Enterprise wore a cowboy hat, she would have been sucked in, but sadly, Stetsons weren’t part of the uniform on any deck.  If either my sister or I tried to escape the tv room during our weekend marathon, we were given 5 minutes to use the restroom and hustle back. This is how Dad rolled on those Saturdays. I am pretty sure it was a win-win-win situation.

I still like Star Track. I really do. In fact, we are watching Star Trek Nemesis right now. Yes -as a family. I am thankful for the remote control (that is an actual remote) so we can switch over to Alvin and the Chipmunks when a less-than-desirable scene comes on. I love listening to my youngest tell us how they could have escaped faster if Captain Picard had just spit on the alien taking his blood with a giant needle. The alien would have dropped the needle on the floor, spilling the blood and Captain Picard could “sniggle” out of that cage. I love the way his mind works!

So, thanks Dad. Thanks for exposing me to the greats of Science Fiction when I was young. It’s still good stuff. The boxing is not my favorite, but I still like a good bowl of oatmeal. I’ll skip the Wonder Bread, if you don’t mind. You did a great job watching us on Saturdays.  Our husbands and 7 boys thank you, too. We are pretty much the coolest Moms there are because of your influence….

~Janna

adventures in homeschooling

Today was the first day of school. On my nifty new school and life planner, last Monday was supposed to be the first day of school. That didn’t happen…However, we determined that today would be just as fun as last Monday would have been. It wasn’t.

You might not know this about me, but I pretty much hate the early morning. Unless I am on vacation. Really…I am not making this up. I love to wake up early on vacation. I just can’t stand it at my own house. It’s really, really hard for me. Blech. Last night, I told Mr Darcy that I was setting the alarm clock so we could all start new routines. He laughed. He knows me. Get this – I woke up BEFORE the alarm went off. Wowza! I hopped out of bed and made it all up nice and purdy. Got myself dressed (all by myself – I’m a big girl now!) and headed downstairs in the quiet semi-darkness. Okay, it was 7:05 and not even remotely dark and I know many of you are saying “7:05 is totally not early” but it is to me, so there! I sat in my comfy, cozy, unfavorite fabric chair and started my Bible Study. It was great. I learned a lot. I was on a roll. Look out, Monday! I decided I was going to go ahead and read my three chapters in my One Year Bible as well. I know, I am a scholar. After reading about Jacob, Rachel and Leah, I decided the rest of the house could wake up – I was ready to receive them. I turned on the radio and made myself an apple cider vinegar water. Boys started stumbling down the stairs.

This is where the story takes a sharp detour. When youngest, precious, adorable, 4th grader comes downstairs, I ask if his room is clean. (The prerequisite for coming downstairs during the workweek) He nods, a little. He won’t make eye contact. I tell him I am going to check that room so he might want to take one last look at it before I get up there. I remind him of his time schedule. Breakfast is at 8:00 am SHARP. His eyebrows lower. His eyes sharpen in on me. He tells me he doesn’t need food. He informs me that if I am allowed to fast, he is allowed to fast – starting today. I walk upstairs, calmly. I open the door to his room and see the remnants of the land of tidy. I think about the Tusken Raiders camp in Episode 2. Unfortunately, I am Anakin. I am furious. I yelled. It was uncool. It was NOT the way I wanted to start the school year. Wasn’t my spiritual overachieving this morning supposed to ward off my evil twin?

Disgusted with myself, I head downstairs where my other two are standing. I am sure they are thinking this is going to be one heck of first day of school…

And it was.

We got past it. I apologized for losing my temper. I revisited the original issue – the right way. We wound up having a great day. We had new schedules, new curriculum and we had fun. The boys love their new math and spanish curriculum. We finished before 1pm. Housework was completed. A cake is cooling on the counter. The house is peaceful and all is well.

I’d like to blame my outburst on the fact I am really, really grieving. In fact, I went to bed crying (as I have for several weeks). But that’s not the real reason. I’d like to say that my youngest was at fault for pushing my housework and sassypants buttons, but that’s be a lie, too. I can’t even say it was righteous anger over reading what happened to Jacob when his yuck father in law gave him the wrong bride and he had to work and extra 7 years for his hearts’ desire. Yeah, we both know that’s not true! The reason is because I am still a work in progress. Still making mistakes along the way. That’s me. Every day, I have to purpose myself to be filled with peace – so that in the yuck times, it’s peace that flows out of my mouth and swirls in my mind. Guess I know what I’ll be praying for tomorrow, huh?

Tomorrow will be a better day. For starters, tonight Carter will be spending part of his night “chillaxing” time cleaning his room in preparation for the morning. We will have fun learning new things together and on our own. We will retain the new #2 pencils longer than one week. I will have a great quiet time. I WILL have more peace.

I love these boys. I love my life.

~Janna

Deep Sigh

It’s Saturday night and we are spent. The past week has been a blur.

Last Tuesday, we made the 9 hour drive north to be with my mother in love in her last days on this earth. We were able to once again tell her how much we loved her and we heard it back. Our boys were able to do the same. It was precious. I will never, ever forget it. Ever. God’s mercy was so abundant to all of us as we sat in the hospital. The next day, she was no longer able to speak.  This life was ending for her. She was in so much pain. At one point, I had to leave the room to compose myself because her pain was so evident – my heart was breaking. This woman…this beautiful woman who raised my amazing husband, who loved my children unconditionally and fantastically, who loved me more than I deserved…This is the woman we were watching in that bed. We prayed for mercy. She had prayed for mercy. God answered our prayers hours after we left her that evening. She is no longer suffering as we do. She is whole, she is healed. I am thankful.

Last night we had the visitation at the funeral home for her. There were so many people there. It blessed us. We cried a little. We laughed some. Our boys did so well. We didn’t know how they would react to the image of their Nana.  We saw people we hadn’t seen in years – some Tommy hadn’t seen since he was the age of our middle son. They all remarked at all tall he had gotten. (He is six foot eight!)

Today was the day. Her funeral was this morning. She planned pretty much the entire thing. It was beautiful.  I kept expecting to look over and see her enjoying herself with the music. I really did.  At Easter, when we were all together last, she told Tommy she wanted him to do her funeral with his Daddy. That was hard to hear. It was hard to imagine him doing it. He did such a good job, though.  She was so proud of him being a pastor like his Daddy. She would have loved what he said. The whole service was wonderful. As wonderful as it could possibly be.

And now we begin a life without her in it. I don’t really know how that’s going to work.  I still had so much to learn from her. When we were at their house yesterday, I kept waiting for her to call for me from the other room. I ached to hear her voice. Tommy left the house for a while with our oldest to wash his Daddy’s car, our two other boys were quietly watching a movie and my sweet Father in Love was resting in his room. I couldn’t bring myself to look at her chair. I tried to find little jobs to do that would take me anywhere but there, but finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I curled up in a fetal position in her chair and sobbed. My nose trying to find her scent lingering there.  I stayed there for several minutes and marveled that God would place me in a family like this.  That He would give me a second mother who cherished me and told me so all the time. I am thankful. I am blessed.

So tonight, I take a deep sigh and prepare to rest. I haven’t had good sleep in about two weeks. My mind races as I shut my eyes. I need some sleep. I know we will have some hard things yet to get through, but I am confident we will get through them together, as a family.

What beauty is this life! What beauty yet to come….

Out on the bay

~Janna

Today

Today is the day we go out to the store in a mad dash to find dress pants that can button around the waist of growing boys. Pants that don’t look like the tide is coming in and you are first one ready.  Pants that don’t have stains where something obviously quite greasy kerplopped on them.

Today is the day we run out and try to find dress shoes for the middle son who has feet longer than his Mama. Feet that no longer fit into the classy Cole Haan’s I found for a steal last year. He cried when he squeezed his tootsies into them last night when we were assembling clothes.

Today is the day I rewash all of Mr Darcy’s clothes because he might be allergic to a laundry detergent I used. I have load one in already with my homemade detergent. I bought the new stuff because it had “smell” and our water here is so nasty that our clothes stink after being washed…And the darks are bleached out because of all of the chlorine and chemicals used in our Rio Grande water.  I can’t have my man have hives right now. It’s not preferred at any time – but REALLY not now.

Today is the day I clean the house from top to bottom so it will be tidy when we return even though we don’t know when we leave.

Today is the day I will keep the phone attached to me – even when I go to the (gasp) restroom. (You know that’s when the phone always rings….)

Today is the day I pray for my hubby to have extra grace, extra peace, extraordinary wisdom and for me to give him extra loves….

~Janna

Tears and Laughter

It’s been a rough week.

Several years ago, we went to Myrtle Beach on vacation with Mr Wonderful’s entire family. It was a blast. His younger sister and her family live right outside of Raleigh, NC, so the rest of us made our way to their side of the country. During that trip, my Mother in Love didn’t feel well. In fact, she hadn’t been feeling well for some time. Pain and discomfort in her abdomen. While on vacation, it was evident that her pain was quite bad.  She was unable to walk out to the ocean from the hotel without lots of pain.  She loves the ocean. It’s a part of her makeup. Within 2 weeks of returning home to TX, she had an appointment at the doctor.

Cancer.

This precious woman had to go through surgery, chemo and months of yuck. At the end of it, she and my Father in Love celebrated the end of chemo with a cruise to the Caribbean. We were hopeful it would be the last time we’d ever need to discuss chemo.

We were wrong.

It came back…The doctors were not as hopeful this time. She would not be able to take the same medicines as before.  This new chemo made her lose her hair. We still trusted God, who loves us more than we can imagine. Treatment was prolonged due to hospital stays, surgery and sickness.  The doctor delayed treatment for a month during the chemo so we could all take a vacation together as was her desire. We had a great time. I love our family.

Throughout this entire time…years…my Mother in love has not wavered in her faith – in her resolve to trust her Heavenly Father.  I have learned so much from her.  Finally, the decision was made to stop treatment. Tumors were growing in spite of the various medicines. We respected our parents decision and supported them wholeheartedly. We continued to pray and believe for a miracle.

Last week, something changed. It has been quick. A rapid change in that disgusting growth named tumor. She has been in so much pain. So sick. Yet still teaching me and listening  and trusting in God.  Medicines have been changed to help with her pain.I haven’t been able to talk to her in several days.

We have cried a lot at our house this past year, but not as much as this last week. Even as I type this, I hesitate so I can respect their privacy.  Their personal journey. It’s precious-what they have together. A lifetime of leaning on each other and loving one another and taking this amazing life journey as a couple. I am the only daughter in law and I know how good I have it to have these two as my own.

I hate living so far away. I hate that I can’t be there to hold her hand or watch her hold her mouth the way she does or watch her embrace my boys in a way that shouts to their cores that they are the most amazing creatures on earth. I hate that I can’t be there to watch her breathe.

Please don’t tell me to have more faith. I have more faith than you could imagine. I truly believe that if it is God’s will she will be the story people talk about for years to come. That unbelievable miracle story. The kind they write books about.  I know Who I serve. Who I belong to. Who I trust. Who I will go home to someday. I have faith. Plenty of it. I also believe in Sovereignty.

With this on our hearts, it’s been good these past two weeks to have laughter around our house. As arrows are coming at us faster than we can count, we have had joy. Our upstairs air conditioning went out. It’s currently 87 degrees upstairs. All of our bedrooms are upstairs. Last night, the boys mattress surfed down the stairs while bringing their beds to the coolness of our family and dining rooms. We had no one to call to fix the a/c because we currently have no idea who owns our house. It’s in limbo. We are in limbo.  (Just keepin’ it real, folks…:-)) What fun!  Mr Wonderful developed hives in the early evening yesterday – we believe due to new medication he is on. Giggles all around as we talked about Mr Itchy. We are trying our hardest to concentrate on good. Focus on the blessings.

Today, the boys and I took our van to WalMart to have the oil changed and tires rotated in preparation for a journey. My heart was heavy as we walked into the auto side of the store, but we were going to look at Legos and Nerf so the boys were okay. After 15 minutes, they called my name. Something’s wrong. This was supposed to take and hour and half. I go back to the counter where the guy tells me that as he was taking the tires off to rotate them, he found a 1 inch gash in the tire. Deep. I dreaded the next bit of news. I was quickly calculating the cost of two new tires (my Dad and Mr Darcy have always drilled in the “must buy 2 at once to have them wear evenly” rule). It wasn’t pretty. My shoulders were beginning to droop due to the burden I was feeling. I stopped and quickly texted some friends to pray.  Within 15 minutes, I found out that because the tire was still in pretty good shape AND we had purchased a warranty including road hazard, it would only be…

10 DOLLARS PER TIRE!!!  I was laughing. Thankful, I agreed to this very fair price. As I walked around the toy department, I started thinking about that gash. I started thinking about the 9+hours of driving that’s in my future (possibly without my man) and the (gasp) 75-80 miles per hour I would be driving. With a gash in my tire. In 100 degree weather. I stopped in the middle of the aisle when I realized what I had most likely been protected from. So thankful.

Tonight, I will read Isaiah 41:10 as I have been all day. I will reflect on His goodness. On His omnipotence. On His mercy. I might cry a little.

But joy comes with the morning.

~Janna

Organizing the Legos

In two short weeks we will begin school around here. I am in organizing mode. Most of my curriculum is new to me so I have been studying, loading computer programs and working on lesson plans. I bought a new planner, which I love.  I have also been thinking about how I can better organize the boys. Some of them need a little more “help” than others…

Under our stairs, we have a large storage closet. Right now, the Legos live there. Since we moved here a year ago, I fantasized that the Legos would stay beautifully organized if they had a specific home. With a door. So the boys might forget about them periodically.  It didn’t happen.  Now the Legos also have a vacation home in C’s room. Some are “in transit” on the stairs. I would like them to consolidate their dwelling places.

Under the stairs, we have our 9-square cubbie-organizer thingie. I think it’s going to make the move upstairs to Mr C’s room. The Legos have taken over.  They are out of control. More came to live with us this weekend after making the 2+ hour roundtrip to Toys R Us (“where ALL the good Legos are, Mom.”) Yes, that was the main purpose for our drive to the “city” on Saturday.  Well, that and a donut shop.  I know –  we know what’s important in life. Going without a real donut shop is painful. I dream of Krispy Kreme….I digress.

Listen, there is nothing worse than stepping on a rogue Lego in the dark. It hurts, people. It hurts enough to make you throw it madly into the trash, not caring that it might be the elusive 5132 minifig that is no longer in production. At that moment – it doesn’t matter. You will curse the Danish ingenuity that came up with those plastic building pieces.  I know this to be true. I am not making this stuff up.

I have a friend who organized the Legos by color. Seriously. Pull-out plastic storage bin drawers, each happily screaming at me, “look how organized we are, Janna! We will make her boys imagination play like never before! No one will step on us in the middle of the night!”  I tried that system right after I saw it at her house. It lasted 1/2 day.  The boys said they just “couldn’t build that way.” Their sad, sad eyes convinced me and we tried to organize the Legos by type…minifigs in one container, accessories in one, bricks in another….that lasted 3/4 of the next day.  We tried to out them in series order: Star Wars (our most favorite Lego genre) in the largest bucket (and how did the boys know which brick went to what group? I’ll never understand it.) That final system lasted 3 days. Since my attempts at organizing the Legos, we have been using the “free for all” system. We just throw the Legos into the buckets and call it a day. I am embarrassed.  I feel the Lego shame…

So today, I will move the cubbie-thingie upstairs and we will pretend that we have a system as we throw Legos into those fabric and cardboard basket/drawers.  I will dream that they will stay in neat and tidy land.  I will tell the boys to keep those Legos that way and talk to them about the importance of cleaning up after each building session.  I will earnestly describe how they can look through the bins without dumping them out. I pray that the Lego misfits won’t find their way to the soft spot on the bottom of my foot…

~Janna