Saturday, December 19, 2009

My New Kitchen

The kitchen is done !!!! Well, mostly. We'll call it done. I have to touch up some paint, because the new lower cabinets are 1/2 inch shorter than the old ones, and a few other details ... but whatever. They're in !!!!

Almost 3 months to the day later, it's come to a beautiful end. (The fire was September 17th. Today is December 19th.) What a looooonnnng drawn out saga. A friend of mine commented to me yesterday that she was so happy for me, and that I had waited patiently for so long. Um. Haha. No. No I didn't. I waited, just not patient. Seriously, it's me folks. Those who are friends with me on Facebook can certainly attest to my lack of patience. And I just know that all my FB buddies will miss my daily updates about the kitchen drama. Whatever will I have to update people about now? Anyway .......

Wanna see em ??? The pictures don't do them a ton of justice, as the cabinets have a lot of detail in the finish that doesn't show up on photo. Also, some who have seen them have already commented on how stainless steel appliances would look better .... I don't mind. I love my black and white kitchen. T'is always what I've imagined, and I couldn't be happier. They scream classy (with the black cabinets), yet practical-with-four-kids (with the white, easy to clean appliances). And of course, that description fits me to a "t". Mwahahahahaha.

Oh. Sorry. I was going to get to pictures, right ? Here ya go !

Before the fire:

Because of the fire :

After the fire :

Clearing things out for the new cabinets to come in (3 months later):

Removing the old lower cabinets. Aaron, Bmer, and Lewi did a stellar job!

Jeremy (our contractor/friend) doing his thang :

So. Um. Yeah. I ordered the blind cabinet larger than it was supposed to be. (By an inch or something.) Oops. Luckily, Jeremy wasn't afraid of power tools or cutting into drywall to make it work !

Aaaaahhhh ... it fits ! (And I have an extra inch of cabinet space ... priceless ! )

Re-fitting the sink seemed to be the worst and most time consuming part. (At least to me, an observer.)
FINISHED !!!!!!!! This is what you see when you walk in my front door :

I tried to get one picture that showed the finish a little better. It's that cool antiqued finish. You know, the one with the corners that are lighter.

The End !

There you have it. One drama coming to an end. Wonder what is next. ;) If you are ever looking for a spectacular handy man that is fair in cost, treats you well, and does a fantastic job, give Jeremy a call ! (I'll give you his number if you need it!)

And yes, I am for hire to light your kitchen on fire so you too can get a new kitchen. (No, I'm of course kidding ... mostly.) This would not be the way I would have chosen to remodel a kitchen, but it is what it is. I have learned many a lesson (like to trust McDonalds with the fries, not me). I have had my patience tested (daily). I have learned a lot about myself (like how much I love Mr. Crockpot). And I've realized that I need about a quarter of the items my kitchen used to hold (seriously, who needs 45 tupperware lids ?). I'm glad this is over. I'm ready to submit my final paperwork to insurance and start cooking !!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Heart of the Christmas Card

I recently read an article on the story behind the classic show, "A Christmas Carol". The story itself was pretty cool. But one thing that made me search the web was a brief sentence in the article speaking of the first Christmas card ever designed and sent . I searched google, and found it ! The above card was designed in London by a man named Henry Cole in 1843. Now here is what I thought was cool about it.... The card was designed to call those materially blessed to involve themselves in "clothing the naked" (portrayed on the right of the card), and "feeding the hungry" (portrayed on the left side of the card). In the middle would be you and me, I guess.

I wish this card was still in print. If so, I'd send it. Instead, I choose to blog.

This year my heart is pained more than ever before of the social injustices that are in our world today. My heart is hurting and my mind is numbed by the statistics such as, "2 children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation". Or what about the 2.3 million children living with HIV ? Then there are the homeless, of which the National Coalition for the Homeless cannot give an exact number of those effected by homelessness, but do know it is in the millions (near 3.5 million actually). And what about the 143 million orphans world wide? How about the 400,000 children who have a parent(s) in prison this year (50,000 of them who are even harder to reach through Project Angel Tree because they live in an area that cannot be match with a local church)? The list and stat's can go on and on, and I'm left to wonder what Christmas will be like for millions upon millions upon millions of adults and children such as these.

So what do you do with exhausting numbers like these ? Nothing outrageous (unless you are the outrageous type). But may I plead with you to strongly consider your Christmas dollars (of which America as a whole spends over 8 billion dollars at Christmas time) making a dent in at least one of these areas?

For the girl that loves jewelry, while she may not say, "He went to Jared's", I bet she'll be thrilled to say the piece around her neck helped a child stuck in the sex slave trade.
Click here to see some beautiful earthy pieces. (You'll also find some great stuff for the home on that link!) Or here if your girl is a Tiffany's kind of gal and looking for something more fancy.

Who doesn't love new shoes ? An Orphan in Africa would sure love a pair. Buy some from this guy, and he'll give a free pair to a child in need.

Want to help instill charitable values in your children ? Reach out to your local homeless shelter to volunteer serving Christmas Dinner this year. Or search here for the many ways to donate time, goods, services, and money's for the cause of the homeless.

If you have a heart to help with the millions living with HIV, you could give the gift of hope through several options. Check out this sight to find out the different ways you can ! (Jewelry on this one too !!! YES !!! Also child sponsorship options ...what a beautiful gift !)

Surely you know someone who loves nothing but coffee, coffee, and more coffee. (Hint hint. :) ) Try these guys for a yummy gift, that when purchased could feed an Orphan for a month !

Project Angel Tree is always a special thing to do with the kiddo's as they can pick out gifts for children in need and see what it's like to be more blessed to give than receive. I know my church does this program .... but what about those 50,000 who aren't matched with a church (or maybe you don't attend a church that does this program). You can still get your kids involved in a great tradition by going here.

Lastly, instead of giving a gift card this year to the person who already has everything, so you just give them a gift card because you can't decide what else to get them ... how about making a donation in their name to this great agency who is helping women, men and children find a life outside of the slave trade.

Whatever your Christmas Card boasts this year, may our hearts take on the same passions as Henry Cole's 166 years ago. And as we move into a New Year full of New Years Resolution, I urge you to look more into these organizations and/or many others out there and resolve to become involved in making a difference in this broken and hurting world. Again, it doesn't have to be outragious. Under my tree sits a few gifts from one of the above listed organizations, and many from the big box store up the street as well. Just like you, I'm overwhelmed by the needs. But if we all would just pick one or two, it will make a difference.

(Leave a comment with a link to one of your favorite organizations that I missed on here if you have one !)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thoughts and more thoughts all leading to who knows where ....

"I want to be more comfortable being uncomfortable."

I read that on another adoptive families blog. It stung. I like being comfortable. Even in having 4 kids with only one income coming in (a life that many would say doesn't sound comfortable) .... I'd say that I'm pretty comfortable. And yet I still manage to make it through most days whining about what I don't have more than being thankful for what I do. I still manage to make it through most days seeking out comfort for myself, rather than dying to myself.

Needless to say, adoption has been on my mind .... a lot. And the desire to bring another child/children into our home is ever increasing. I find myself staring at the waiting child lists praying for one (or two or four) of them to find their place in our family. However, God's plan and timing are not releasing us at this moment to pursue such change. So I find myself left with this confusion of what now. I'm not sure how to even put it into words, which of course is why I find myself blogging. Sorry about that.

There's this huge world that has been opened up before me. This world of poverty and disease, sadness and pain, and millions of fatherless (and motherless) children. Opening my heart to that world has changed me. It's beginning to feel like a disease or an addiction. I just can't break free from it. I don't want to break free from it. For about 6 months after Malachi's homecoming, I actually tried to tell myself that I did my part in caring for the Orphans. Check that off the list ... Only that's not entirely true. God is still calling me to this world. I struggle to know what that looks like if bringing another child home is not TODAY'S solution.

Aaron and I took caution in our hearts several months ago as the talks of if we would adopt again began to surface. We recognized that for us, adoption could easily become an idol. It feels so good to do something so huge ... and yet that cannot be WHY we do it. It seems so right to pursue something that honors God's heart so greatly... and yet that cannot be WHY we do it. We realized that even in all the good that adoption is, for our family, good may look very different. Good may be loving the four children we have, period. Good may be not extending ourselves any further in this way. Good may be paying down debt rather than trying to raise money again for an adoption. Good may be a lot of things. So what then ? What now do I do with this ever increasing, very raw, very painful emotion and longing in my heart. Part of my heart is still in Ethiopia it seems, with near some 5 million orphans. How do I pursue such things without building a home with 4.8 million beds residing in it ?

That's it. That's all I have. These are the things I can't get away from right now. And I don't know what to do with it. While I recognize the need is far too great for me to solve alone, I DO know that I am to be part of this world of children needing to be redeemed and defended. I'm praying He shows me how....... I will not let the needs that are too great for me to do, too great probably to EVER fully be cured until the day He returns, allow me to grow weary or hardened or inactive. I too, want to be more comfortable being uncomfortable which is what I fear is going to be involved.

(p.s. A friend pointed me to this amazing story. A husband and wife who are Aaron & I's age. Had 3 biological children, adopted 3 at once from Ethiopia, went back one more time for 3 more. So great. I'm encouraged just reading stories like this one.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Christmas Music !!!!

Who doesn't love free music downloads ? And who doesn't love Christmas music ? And who doesn't love the band, 519 ??? If you don't, you will now !

Click here for a free download of some great Christmas tunage ...

Merry Christmas,
From 519 !!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Day In Court

Today was a very special Thanksgiving Eve for the Britton's. Today we finished our adoption journey as we went before a judge here in CO to "re-adopt" Malachi. Basically, it's just another hoop to jump through. I don't really understand at all why they have you go through this, but, whatever. As of today, Malachi's legal name is now Malachi Abel Britton (changed from Abel Aaron). He is also now legally a US citizen. We also had our last post placement visit with our social worker. What a long way we've come since having him home for a year. What a long way we've come since we started this journey 2 1/2 years ago !

The day was so fun. Court itself was really special and meaningful to me, which was unexpected. As I said, I thought it was just another hoop. However, I'll admit, I choked up a bit as the Judge asked us questions. The wording of the questions were especially meaningful to me. He asked some basic stuff (name, address, date of marriage, etc...). He asked how the adjustment has been, if the 6 of us as a family have joined together as a family, if I consider myself to be a person of moral character (haha ... I thought that was funny), if Malachi was better off in our family (I hope so). Then he proceeded with a list of about 10 questions along the lines of...
-Do you promise to care for Malachi, love Malachi, protect Malachi, "AS IF HE WERE NATURALLY BORN TO YOU". That was so beautiful to me. Of course the answers were a resounding YES !!!! I just love that the court was recognizing the need that this once orphan is now PART OF ME, part of our family !!!!

After the formality was over, to our surprise, the Judge asked the kids if they wanted to sit in his chair. They were all so scared. (Which they should be, because we told them before hand that if they acted up, the Judge was going to put them in jail. Perhaps they didn't catch our humor in that .... oops.) But with a little prodding, they agreed. Provi was the first to sit in his chair. He told her to go ahead and bang the gavel. She did. Then he told her to do so while saying, "order in the Court". She did. Next was Eden. She sat there with the gavel in hand. The Judge leaned over and whispered something in her ear. Next thing we know, Eden is banging the gavel shouting, "Off with their heads !". Cracked.Us.Up!!! Sam's turn ! Sam, being 150% boy, just couldn't stop slamming the gavel on the desk. The Judge was such a sweet, quite man who was so encouraging to us and the way we've chosen to expand our family.

After we were finished, we spent the rest of the evening celebrating! We took the kids ice skating, and then out to dinner. We have much to be thankful for every day ... but this Thanksgiving, my heart is extra full !

Enjoy the pictures ...

The Judge referred to the kids as "The Peanut Gallery". :)

Malachi's turn with the gavel ... WATCH OUT !!

Our Social Worker ... Jody. (She's got a great name!) She was such a great Social Worker !

"I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God." :)

The kids played on some rocks outside the courthouse after the hearing.

On to the festivities .....

Malachi couldn't actually skate, but he kept trying to walk out on the ice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Read

I read an article recently in Christianity Today. It's provoked a lot of thoughts for me. I kept thinking about taking the snippets of the article that seemed especially meaningful to me, such as the following ....

In such a therapeutic, pragmatic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps society as ours, the message of God having to do all the work in saving us comes as an offensive shot at our egos. In this culture, religion is all about being good, about the horizontal, about loving God and neighbor. All of that is the fruit of the gospel. The gospel has nothing to do with what I do. The gospel is entirely a message about what someone else has done not only for me but also for the renewal of the whole creation.

But then I realized there were too many. So .... may I suggest you take 10 minutes or so to read this article. Living a Gospel-Centered life is a challenge for all of us, I suppose. But that term "Gospel-Centered" in and of itself is not a phrase I grew up hearing or learning. So for me personally, I'm feeling a bit like a new Christian all over again as I view God and Jesus much bigger, and me much smaller as I try to wrap my head/heart around the truth of what the Gospel is....not merely a "ticket to salvation", but rather the core of my being. That's a good thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Britton Businesses

Turns out I've got a couple of little Entrepreneurs living in my house.

Eden has been on a roll lately trying to find ways to get money. Her most recent quest is a Sticker Company. She's marketed her goods to the little first graders in her class, telling them some sad story about how she wants a trampoline because hers broke and her parents can't afford one. Well, the kids fell for it ... hook, line, and sinker! She told them she would sell them one sticker (more specifically .... Tinkerbell stickers (of which I, the broke mother, purchased long ago)) for a "penny, a nickle, a quarter or even a dollar if that is all they had". She continues to forget her stickers at home, and yet several children have handed over there spare change on her promise of, "I'll remember them tomorrow". Today she asked if I would help her remember to bring her stickers to school tomorrow. I suppose I should do that so as to avoid her being reported to the BBB or something.

For a few brief moments, I thought about telling her she couldn't do this ... it was a scam and a rip off. I will admit that I was afraid I would start to get phone calls from parents, teachers, or the School Board for goodness sake ! But then I decided that there was really nothing wrong with her ventures. She's a smart one, just trying to make a buck in this pathetic economy. Good for her to find the edge on her market .... first grade girls go nuts for all things Tinkerbell !

Next comes my eldest. Providence chose to go the old fashioned route of making a sign with pull off tabs with our (um ... MY) phone number on it and hung it to the community mailbox. So far, 3 tabs have been removed. Here's the sign .....

In case you can't read it, it states:
"Learn how to ride a bike with Providence. 3 dollars per hour ! / Bring your helmet !!!!"

Well today she had her first lesson ! (Actually her second. If you remember from a while ago, I blogged sharing that Providence taught Eden how to ride her bike. I never paid her though. I guess I owe her $3.) Our sweet neighbors either respected her efforts, or took pity on her, or saw the benefits of someone else leaning over your small child while holding on to the handle bars and trying to run without falling flat on your face. I dunno. Regardless, she made her first $3 tonight ! And what was even cuter, is that the little girl was learning how to ride a tricycle ! She's been having a hard time actually pedaling and steering, rather than going Flinstone style. Provi took her work very seriously, and Sophie (the student), very quickly went riding off into the sunset. (Okay, so not really .... but she did successfully go from driveway to driveway by the end of the lesson.)

So basically, Sam and Malachi need to pick of the pace and start sharing the load ... otherwise they may find themselves without a trampoline forever !

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aaron's post on a stellar Baby Britton Blurb

Since Aaron thinks that only 4 people read his blog, I thought I would link to his most recent post, as it is hilarious ! (And I know that at least 5 people read my blog, so one of you is missing out by not reading Aaron's ! )

Check out Sam's mind ....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One year

I maintained a blog during our adoption journey, and have updated it every now and then in the year we've been home with Malachi. I found a site where I can have that blog bound into a book for a keepsake. I'm so excited to have that done, and for Malachi to have that for his life. (Of course, I have big plans to "scrapbook" the journey as well ... PLANS being the key word.) Anyway, since finding out that I could do that, I have known that our one year anniversary of having Malachi in our family would be my last post. That day is today ! Read it if you want.

So one blog ends, with another continuing. Malachi doesn't need his own blog. He's a Britton. He gets in on the same pages as the rest of us. :) I did, however, wrap up "his" blog with a letter to him for the sake of closing his "book".

Here's to yet another chapter ..........

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Days, New Boots, and 911

Fun times !

First of all, I think it's funny that I'm posting snow pictures before I'm posting fun fall/pumpkin patch/Halloween pictures ... on October 28th. I love Colorado ! And don't worry, I'll post those other pictures one day. Maybe.

Today was fun ! We woke up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground (again, OCT. 28 folks). Just about every school district in the area had called off school ... except for ours. Grrrr. I gave my kids the option, as I thought we should have had a snow day, to stay home or go to school. Little smarties chose school ! WHAT ??? (Whose kids are these ?) So off they went.

After I took them to school, I headed to Kohls ... as Provi and Aaron needed boots. Okay ... seriouslly, WHY do kids boots only come in Character boots ? Provi has no idea who The Wizard is (well, maybe she does, but I don't). And she doesn't like the Jonas Brothers (GASP, I know !) So I ended up looking in the women's section with a tear streaming down my cheek. Surely my oldest baby cannot fit into womens boots. Um, she does. Size 7 in fact. As I was looking through the women's boots, I realized that I am NOT that cute woman that pulls off the boots and skinny jeans look ... or boots and sweater dresses. I was sad. I love that look ... just not on me. Sigh. So many cute boots ... 2 fat calves. Anyway .... off I went to the men's section. In the time I've known Aaron, he has never had boots. And really, you just can't have 4 small kids that want to play in the snow and not have boots. So I bought him some. And unlike the 3 ROWS of cute womens boots to choose from, I had 4 options of ugly boots to pick from for him. I chose the most offensive, just for the fun of it. (No ... I didn't.) Poor guys. They don't know what they are missing! And after giving it some thought, I decided that since all the boy kids (and some daring adult men) are wearing skinny jeans these days, they should probably start to design chunky feather boots to go with just to even things out some.

The weather was predicted to just get worse throughout the day, so I was glad to have that done. On my way back to the school to get Sam from morning kindergarten, I made the executive decision that the roads weren't getting any better, and I best take all 3 kids out for the rest of the afternoon. (Okay, so really I just wanted to play in the snow ... and one must have children to do that I guess.) So I did. After listening to their cries of not getting Pizza for lunch, and missing computer lab, etc ... I convinced them snow days were fun ! We bundled up and headed out to play in the near foot of snow that had already come down ! We made a snow man (or something), made forts to hide behind during the snow ball fight, and had said snow ball fight. SO.MUCH.FUN. Really, I don't think I've ever had more fun playing in the snow. That is until Aaron thought it would be funny to throw the balls in face over and over and over. Brrrr ! I trampled his fort while Provi held his head up for me to try and launch my attack. It didn't work. Still fun though. And anyway, the poor guy had just finished shoveling the drive (for the 3rd time), and was wearing Spice Girl boots (in his words). I guess the least I could do is let him win a snowball fight.

Here's some pictures of the fun. And while I know this post is already really long (but fun, right?) ... you must hold out for the 911 part of my title !!!

Sweet Eden. She named her hat "Fluffy".
Provi thought it was cool that she could take clumps of snow off Aaron's car at one time. I was just glad clumps of Aaron's car weren't coming off.
Sam kept sticking his head in the snow as if he had a home underneath it or something. At one point, I was concerned he was drowning. He wasn't.
Man vs. Wild ... or, Aaron vs. North facing driveway. (Notice the ski goggles ! They don't match his boots AT ALL ! )
Look at those beauties !!!! I call him Snowy Spice. (Seriouslly, they have at least 2 inch soles.)

The kids and I with our snow creature.

Okay .... 911.

I think that our local fire/police department might just move their beds to our house.

After our fun day outside, we nestled in for some yummy potato soup that I had in the crockpot all day. Our neighbors came over to join us. After dinner, we made snow ice cream, as this is a fond memory Aaron has of first snows growing up. And while I thought it was kinda funny that my grown adult husband was asking me for snow ice cream ... let me tell you ... YUM YUM YUM ! Especially served over my homemade apple crisp. Add another YUM ! As we are passing out desserts, the fire alarm goes off. WHAT????? I didn't even use the stove top, and I certainly wasn't cooking fries ! I used my crockpot !!! How can I start a fire with a crockpot ?? No. Turns out the alarm was in the boys room. Aaron and our neighbor all but disconnected the wires from the alarm and the thing would not shut off. Painful. Finally, I called 911 (despite the guys telling me not to). I just wanted to know how to turn it off, and I figured that surely they would know. They answered the phone by saying, "911, what's your emergency, Ms. Britton". (kidding) I quickly exclaimed it wasn't an emergency, and that I just couldn't get the fire alarm to turn off ... and there was no fire. He asked if it was possible that it was not a fire alarm, but rather a carbon monoxide detector. DOH !!!! I totally forgot we had one of those. It doesn't help that it wasn't in it's normal place. After our real fire, the cleaners (or someone) moved it into the boys room. Their coats were covering it, too. Anyway, I ran in and realized that was the culprit. They still had to send someone out to check CM levels. And in typical small town Erie fashion, not one, but three vehicles showed up ... lights blazing and everything ! Seriously, our neighbors may bring us up at the next HOA meeting to have us evicted from the neighborhood or something. Turns out, it was a low battery. Praise God there was not really a problem. The kids were still kinda spooked, as the fire is still fresh in their little memories. I, on the other hand, couldn't stop laughing at the fact that there is never a dull moment ... never.

School is cancelled tomorrow. Not me cancelling it, it really is cancelled. Can't wait to have more fun in the snow !

The End.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We should just move

In the words of The Great Sam .... "Oh.My.Word.There.Are.Five-dy six" boxes. (Yes, I did say Five-dy six. That is a number Sam often uses that is too cute to correct. Whatever the number is, it must be a pretty big number to him, because that's how many stars he said there were in the sky tonight.)

Anyway, a cleaning service came in after the fire and took away everything that needed to be laundered. (Other than the 35+ loads that we, along with much much help from our friends, did on our own.) Point is, we have too much laundry. Actually, it included all stuffed animals (of which we also have too many of), coats, rugs, drapes, bedding, dry-cleaning, back-packs, luggage, etc ...

Whatever. It's still A LOT of stuff.

So, pretty much I've decided it might be easier to pack up the remainder of the house and just move, rather than un-pack all of this. Or maybe I should just take it right to the shelter, as we've done just fine without it for 5 weeks. Well, other than the curtains ... our neighbors would probably like us to keep those. Lesson learned. I've gotten rid of 2 huge bags, and have several more boxes sitting open as I toss things in to them to pass along as well to someone who needs the stuff.

Here's what I get to do this weekend .... week ... month .... ugh.

Notice in this last picture, my wedding gown is hanging. Yes, that's right. My wedding gown. Yet another silver lining.... 10 years later, my wedding gown FINALLY got cleaned ! :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book quote got me thinkin'

I've been reading a book called "Peace Like A River", by Leif Enger. It's a fictional book, or so they say.
Anyway, there was a quote in it that stood out to me. Considering this is a fictional book, it seemed odd to me to be gripped by the writers words the way the following words did for me. Just the same, here it is ...

"weeping seems to accompany repentance most times. No wonder. Could you reach deep in yourself to locate that organ containing delusions about your general size in the world - could you lay hold of this and dredge it from your chest and look it over in daylight -well, it's no wonder people would rather not. Tears seem a small enough thing."

Maybe it's just me ... but that might be one of the more powerful descriptions of "repentance" I've ever heard (or read).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Parenting With Perspective

No, I'm not about to give parenting advice to anyone AT ALL. I'm truly the last person in the world to think anyone should listen even if I were. I just had an "ah-ha" moment though that I needed to get down.

This weekend our Pastor spoke from Ephesians. Of the many great things said, there was one that has stuck with me. He commented on the "running-around-like-a-chicken-with-my-head-cut-off" way of life, or living in "survival mode". He said that living in such a way, makes it impossible to live with a future or eternal perspective ... one is too concerned about NOW to do so. That way of living has become the norm for me it seems .... perhaps most young moms I know feel it as well. It's a tragedy how many I know feeling the same way. Because it's true, we (I) can't keep an eternal perspective ... one filled with hope ... when I'm so focused on the troubles of today.

So what does that have to do with parenting? Everything. I parent my children in the same mode that I'm living. When I'm not living with hope and joy, I parent very discouraged and methodically. When I'm not living with my eyes set on things greater than me and greater than this world, and greater than today, I parent out of a selfish heart that runs the risk of growing resentful and tired. Like I said ... "ah-ha".

As a mom, it is so easy to let days of mommy-hood dictate my heart, rather than my heart dictate my mommy-hood. It's so easy to just live in survival mode as a mom. If I reach the end of a day and no one has killed each other or me, that is a good day. But what if I were able to parent with perspective and with intention? Would my "survival mode mentality" fall to the wayside? Would I find joy in parenting my children in a way that would point THEM to eternity, future grace and hope, and something bigger than them? Would it be as draining and as tiring if I would just stick the head back on this tired chicken? Could I choose to take the time to instill the Hope of Glory in my kids rather than the many other things of TODAY that seem to stand in line for my time? Probably. Yes.

I pray my "ah-ha" moment becomes a reality in my daily living, my daily parenting. I pray that I am able to pull my head out of survival mode and into perspective; out of my kingdom of one, and into an Eternal, lasting, hope filled Kingdom.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the worlds been turning.....

Light the Fire, in my weary soul ....
C'mon Baby Light my fire ....
Light the fire again ....
Flames. On the side of my face. Burning, breathing, breathless flames.

Sorry. I can't help it. It's kept me laughing thinking of all the songs and quotes with "fire" in them.

Anyway. Thursday night, there was a bit of a problem at my house. See, I was trying to be healthy and fun all at the same time. I decided that instead of taking the kids out for McDonald's, I would make homemade fries (which I do often) and chicken fingers (which I've tried numerous times and it has never worked). This night was no different. The fries turned out scrumptious. The chicken ... not so much. In fact, it was completely inedible. So ... I was forced to turn to McDonald's anyway. I moved the chicken off the burner, and turned the stove off. I took the last of the fries out of the other pan and turned to the kids to tell them I had to run to get some chicken. Notice what was missing from that sentence? Yup. I forgot to turn the burner off from under the fries.

We have started to let Provi take charge for short bursts of time when I have to run to the store or something and know that I would be gone less than 20-30 minutes. She's done it a handful of times, so I didn't think twice about this being one of those times. I would be gone MAYBE 20 minutes. So I did just that. I headed off to the store. Nothing like coming home to your street full of fire trucks, police cars, all the neighbors and yes ... your children ... standing outside YOUR home. My heart left my chest at the moment when I realized it was indeed my home. I ran to my kids (who were fine). Provi says, "Mom, the kitchen was on fire." WHAT ?!?!?!?! A dear neighbor turns to me and tells me that a burner was on and had set fire. I knew immediately what I had done. Guilt. The firemen came over and asked if I was the mom.

"You have one very brave, responsible, level headed girl here, Mam", says the Firefighter.
"Thank you. I know." I say.

Here's the story. I left the burner on. Minutes after leaving, Provi smelled smoke, came out of her room and saw the smoke on the stove. She picked up the phone and called Aaron. While on the phone, the fire alarm began to sound. Provi quickly gathered the rest of my kids and shoed them out the door. At that time, she ran to the neighbor to tell her. She came to the rescue. According to my neighbor, by the time she got into my house, there was a five foot flame over the stove. She, of course, did not know I was frying with oil. She sprayed water on it. (Trivia question for the day ... How do you put out a grease fire? If you answered water .. you are very wrong. If you have a fire extinguisher (which only ONE of my neighbors did) that would work. If you don't ... milk is the answer.)

Anyway.... the one neighbor with the fire extinguisher came over and the fire was put out. However, the fire department had already been contacted. They came. I came home ... and well, I already told that part of the story. Aaron was on his way home, as well, at this point and arrived shortly after I did. The firemen stayed for a while longer to make sure all was okay.

I am so amazed at the gift God has given me in all my children .... but in this situation, I'm especially in awe of my oldest child - Providence. She was amazing! 9 years old. Some (many) would say she is too young to be left for any amount of time. However, she certainly proved she was ready. She kept a level head and did what needed to be done. In fact, I'm convinced she did better than I would have.

How can I, as a mom, not struggle with guilt in all this? Perhaps I can't. I left the stupid burner on. I left my children period. Ugh. So hard. I know others are battling it for me though. Because you see, as guilt is one of the stronger emotions I would associate with my parenting (you should see the counseling fund we have built up for our kids. Forget retirement, it's counseling.), this time around, I've been trying to focus on how Provi really was ready. We have an amazing 4th grader! A few of our goals as parents are to raise level headed, mature, responsible children. When one's fourth grader saves the lives of her 3 younger siblings and herself AND gets the neighbor involved to save the house ... that's one amazing kid.

Words can't express how proud I am of her. It is this that I'm trying to dwell on as I battle the guilt ("this" being how she was more ready than we even realized). Will others say we are wrong to leave our children in her care? Sure. But who is to say what age it's okay? I know 12 year olds who don't possess half the responsibility Provi does. Yet, just the same ... for this mothers heart - I would say to anyone who tried to tell me I'm a bad mom or I should feel horrible ... don't worry. Nothing you can say will be any worse than what I'm saying to myself. So hard. As with many times in my life as a mom ... this story is up there on the list of knowing that God loves my kids more than I do. He's got them in His care every moment of every day. This I cling to. He trusted me with these kiddo's for some reason I will never understand. And I trust Him in return. He protected my children AGAIN when I couldn't (or didn't .... phrase it how you will).

K. Enough of all that.

Our insurance is being amazing. Allstate - You're in good hands. We really are feeling that. Everything is being taken care of ! Housing, clean up, restoration, etc .... The smoke residue is really the worst part of all of this. Ash and smoke residue made it's way through the entire house ... even the basement ! Crazy ! One silver lining is that I'm going to get an amazing profesionally clean house. Top to bottom ! Walls, couches, carpets, drapes, toys, dishes, clothes, beds .... everything will be cleaned by someone not me !

So many people keep telling me how sorry they are about the fire, the house, etc .... Not me. Sure it's annoying to have to go through this, and of course I would love for it to never have happened. However, my house and belongings mean nothing to me. My children mean the world. They are safe. The rest is icing on the cake.

Here are some pictures. Sorry I've rambled. This is a lot to process. You should know I deleted about half of what I originally wrote. Yikes.

The sign above the stove once said "Simplify". It now says "ify". That could be pronounced "If I". I think I might keep the sign there as a reminder ... "IF I ever try to deep fry again, it's a bad idea."

I have a fairly small kitchen. So to me, this seems like a bigger deal than it does to the Firemen and Police Officers and Insurance Agents. To me, this is half my kitchen.
The smoke damage was the worst right above the stove and up into the skylight. I told the insurance adjuster that that pot used to be white. Hehe. I was kidding.

I felt so embarrassed about the cobwebs that the fire showed. I saw all these black clusters throughout the rooms. The insurance adjuster laughed as she told me it wasn't my cleaning. Those weren't cobwebs. They were smoke webs. It really was clusters of smoke and ash that had gathered at high points along the ceiling. Phew !!!!
This was the guilty fry pan.
This was the chicken pan. It's burner had been turned off.

That's all for now. Oh, wait. No it isn't. I want to give a huge thank you to all our friends who have been so kind to help us during this time. Mercers ... for opening their home to a family of 6 the night of the fire. Our neighbors. A couple of them for saving my home. And next door neighbors for opening your home to us all weekend long (and to my laundry this whole next week). All of our family and friends for praying for us and offeing such kind and encouraging words. And also, to our many friends who took laundry. We were able to "work down" our deductible with the insurance company by doing our own laundry rather than having their service do it. That left us with about 35 loads of laundry. So many people showed up to take a load (or loads). Thank you. Thank you. Thank you !!!!

I'll post pics of my new kitchen when it's done. I'll try to be less wordy.