Friday, October 29, 2010

Birthday Au Humilitas

One of my favorite quotes comes from St. Francis of Assisi, who said, "The greatest act of humility is allowing yourself to be loved."  To me, his words, though simple, are profound in so many ways.

On the spiritual plane, contemplating the truth that God Himself would die for me, because he loves me so intensely requires heaps of humility.  Then, to realize that this supreme sacrifice won for me a fount of mercy that is poured out only upon the condition that I am receptive, requires yet another heap of humility.

On the practical plane, as a mother, I find myself rising and resting each day with the intent to serve, to give, to love, because that is the moment-to-moment calling of my vocation.  Yet, to receive, to let others love, care for, serve and give to me isn't always easy.  This year, on the anniversary of my birth, Steve and the boys came to the calling, and I, only having to acquiesce, to submit humbly to their love, was treated like a queen!

Steve huddled together with the boys and together they decided to cook me supper (bliss!).  I'm always tickled at how moms and dads have different approaches to cooking.  Steve's plan usually goes something like this:

1.  Load up the troops and head to the grocery store with focus and determination.(Notice, that does not include a list or a recipe :)
2.  Browse the magazine section of the grocery store and look for titles like Gourmet...(something or other), Bon Appetite, or in this case, Food and Wine
3.  Scan the chosen magazine, as the boys stand poised like angels (wink, wink), and narrow your sights on that one recipe that sounds like torture to a family of men but mom would take uncontrollable delight in (i.e.  vegetables and spices that require master of Latin roots to pronounce).
4.  Execute looks of confusion and mystification and wait for intuitive persons of extreme charity to announce "help is on the way" as they direct you to ingredients like curry powder and ginger root, and finally polishing off their tutorial with a sprinkle of affection and compliments for the boys.  After all, what's cuter than a young dad with four boys shopping for mommy?? (Thanks to any of you who helped my hubby shop that day!)
5.  Pull over at the liqueur store on the way home (no explanation needed!).
Chef Husband grating that mysterious ginger root for the Curry Chicken with Roasted Vegetables. Sigh. Equally yummy :).
I completely concur with Food Network's star Sandra Lee who says, "We eat with our eyes first!"  Though the boys prefer the term, "We eat with our eyes shut" when it comes to veggies, I couldn't resist snapping a pic of the beautiful colors on the prep pans.
Ooh La La! It's love on a's love surrounding the platter!!
He bakes too?? Nah, he's got connections (Dillon's bakery connections:)

After dinner entertainment was the song composed of laughter alone, laughter that erupted from the repetitive listening to of the Hoops and Yo-Yo birthday cards the boys gave me with sound.  They were truly hysterical!  I wish I could bottle that laughter.  It's those moments that you want to freeze and unthaw on difficult days to soothe the nerves....

I couldn't get enough of their silence....anticipation....smiles....giggles....and eruptions of laughter.
I was assured with a wink from Andrew that I could indeed count on birthday dinner every year.  After all, who can resist the opportunity to practice humility every now and then??

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who Are You, and What Have You Done With My Child?

There comes a time in every parent's life...well maybe only in ours...when you look at your child and say to yourself, "the Lord God did not destine this one to be an athlete."  Steve and I have, over the past year, had several of these moments with our son, George.  First, there was soccer.  What can you say to the coach when your son walks down the field with his hands clasped behind his back during the game? The best part of soccer for George was using his new water bottle.
Then, there was t-ball.  George approached the very first game with gusto, fielding several outs on first base and hitting a few line drives down center field....only to find out that in t-ball there is no score keeping, and you can only advance one base at a time.  His reaction was to shift his efforts out of 5th gear and into 1st.  Watching him sit on the bases, draw in the dirt and let the nearest team-mate field the ball was a fine lesson in humility for his parents.
George, however, continued to reassure us that he was having fun, and remained a faithful member of the White Tigers t-ball team.

The next sport on tap for the summer was swimming.  This is the only sport that I make no exceptions for - all of the kids must learn to swim, no matter what it takes.  To our delight, George succeeded and even though he thinks mastering karate moves is essential to perfecting your stroke...
...we are simply overjoyed that we no longer have to haul a bounty of life-saving flotation devices to the pool for him!  Victory!

With our move to Southwest Kansas this fall came a great deal of decision making concerning the kids' activities.  With regards to George, we were shifting away from sports and into other realms of activities like chess or music or art lessons.  But, with big brothers playing football, we could not say "no" to him when he asked to play flag football.
With Steve stepping in to coach, we kept our fingers crossed, searched for lucky underwear and, hoped for just a little spark to be ignited in our son with this new athletic venture.

The first game was played as we had predicted: the boys were too excited to know which way to hike, run or block.  But, they had terrific amounts of fun, so we chalked it up as a success.

Then, out of the blue, like a super-hero transforming for battle, a switch was flipped in George's soul, an athletic conversion of great proportions ensued, and we no longer recognized the little renegade who dominated the field with flashy flag-pulling fingers.

First it was one flag pulled, then two, then twelve.

Things like MC Hammer's song "Can't Touch This" and reeling thoughts of what he ate for breakfast, the words used in the pre-game pep talk ran through my head all at the same time.

George was applying the virtues of fortitude, decisiveness and dedication to a game he barely knew, and I knew with certainty that it was not the result of coaching and pep-talks.

It was the result of graciousness, God's graciousness.  His abundant love gifting our son with abilities and convictions that are outside of our own desires or control.  When God breathes life into those gifts they overflow into the moments shared with others allowing us to experience something transcendental, something we may not recognize as or account to God, but nevertheless know to be good, true and beautiful, something that can only be described as gift.
With each successive game, the efforts and enthusiasm from each team member increased,
and it was rewarded with joyous victories and proud applause from sideline fans.
George's team name was the Hornets.
Most appropriate, I think.
As individuals, the hornets were more than a bit irritating to the opposing team.  
(All's fair in love and football!) Go, baby, go!!
The Hornet Huddle
But, as a team, the hornets became a nest, and we all know you never, ever want to get caught in a hornet's nest!
For in Him we live, and move and have our being. ~Acts 17:28

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday, Andrew!!

Theodore Roosevelt once said:
"What we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man.  The boy can best become a good man by being a good boy-    not a goody-goody boy, but just a plain good boy..."Good," in the largest sense, should include whatever is fine, straightforward, clean, and manly." 

Though America's expectations, or lack there of, of boys are today quite different from Teddy's day, upon reading this quote, I couldn't help but think of our son, Andrew.  He is the essence of a very fine, straightforward, clean and manly boy, not forsaking an adventurous, wild, creative, intelligent and spiritual nature. On Monday, we celebrated the gift of his life to our family, beginning with birthday breakfast.

Birthday breakfast is a bit of a ritual in our home.  We never, never, never, ever, ever miss it.  Ever.  Never.  Because it's a family tradition, it must follow a certain set of standards (i.e. expectations from the children).  Every layer of the event must be experienced for it to meet birthday breakfast standards.

Food comes first (funny faces, optional). When B.B. first began, I would stay up the night before and make homemade cinnamon rolls and a birthday cake.  After a gazillion hours of self-donation in the kitchen all in the name of birthday cakes and birthday breakfast, I hit a wall. Yep, birthday baking burnout.  Then, my fabulous sister-in-law, Julie, rescued me from B.B.B.,  and sent me a recipe for easy over-night caramel rolls. (I love her!)  When I say easy, I mean easy!  It's my go-to recipe for many occasions and especially for surprise guest appearances.  Here's the link:

See, they make everyone happy!  Even those who aren't quite awake yet...(including myself).  Then, it's on to the gifts.  More sweet treats...
Oh, Lord, when will the Lego fascination ever end???  What?? Never you say?? Where's my vacuum?...
See the hand touching the gift on the bottom left?  That's the kid who you never, ever take in a store or any place with a "Do Not Touch" sign.
Next up, is the always fun, and often funny trip down memory lane. We gather around the birthday boy and look at albums stuffed with pictures from the child's birth to the present day.  It is always so endearing to see their faces as they look with wonder at themselves through every stage of life they have experienced thus far.

One of the most special aspects of the birthday breakfast tradition is the birthday blessing, given by dad.  He anoints the precious one with holy water,

then, prays over him. (Um, honey, maybe you should pray over him, too....oh, Georgie....)
Finally, a tried and true Husband Family birthday breakfast would not be complete without a few happy birthday wishes from the bros: George: Andrew, I think you are great because you understand all of the new words I make up, and they even make you laugh.  I also like how you never let me cross the street alone, you make me ride on your back."  
Henry: "Andwew, you are the greatest.  You are always ready to play with me, to protect me and comfort me when I get hurt, and you always share your stuff with me.  Did you know you just shared your entire new package of strawberry Ice Breaker Sours I found hidden in your pj drawer??  They were yummy, thanks!"
Benedict: "You are the most hilarious brother in the entire world.  I am always laughing at the funny things you say.  Thanks for letting me help you build your new Star Wars Lego set!"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Last Spring, Grandpa Bob  decided to start a small herd of Red Angus cattle.  Now that the cattle have grown, Grandpa announced last weekend that it was time to brand the herd.  If you are a passionate PETA participant, this is probably not your cup of tea.  If you are the People Eating Tasty Animals type, then read on!
Years ago, Bob created a special brand that can be recognized on the animals as being unique to the Husband Ranch.  
The branding process was a family event.  Everyone was involved in some way, and for our boys it was very exciting!  This is the "We don't know what we're doing, Mom, but we know it's going to be sooooo cooooool!" pic.
First, the cattle are guided into a corralled area within the pasture.  
Don't they look thrilled?
Then, the kids are corralled. (Hee, hee I think I like this plan!)
Actually, the kids, and dad walk slowly and speak softly, guiding the cattle into a small corral to then be led into the chute and administered medicine and the brand.  This scene reminds me of the movie City Slickers (ancient for some of you, but no, not black and white.) Two of the city characters are discussing the successful herding of the cows on horseback: Mitch: "Those cows trusted us!"  Ed:  "Trusted us?  They followed us because we yelled 'Yah!' They're cattle!" (Translation: Cows aren't the among the most intellegent of God's creation.)

This is the management squad.  They came along to ask a bazillion questions, ensure that the spectator seating is comfy and keep Henry out of the poop.

Eeeewwww, Henry!!  Hello, managment squad - poop alert!

Ok, back to the branding.....

Next, the cattle are herded into the chute one by one.  Once the cow/bull is in the chute, the gates have to be dropped, so that the beast is secure.

Ben and Ethan think this job is awesome.  It's the whole testosterone-filled,  man-power, I conquered the beast thing. 

"Dude, we totally rock at this job.  It's like capture the flag, only capture the cow!  Whoa!"
Now, you know what's up next.  Yep.  Fanny Fry.  Saddle sizzle. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Way to go, hon.  All for the greater good of the yummy steak dinner I'm going to make just for you next year.

The syrnge used to inject drugs into a 500 lb. animal is no tiny thing.  Thank goodness Steve and Jen know exactly what they're doing.  Right, guys?  Guys?  Management??....

Dad let's Andrew help give the medicine, applied under the skin in the neck of the cow.
Cousin Ethan jumps in to lend a hand with Henry.
All in a day's work...