We Made It!
One hundred thirty-one days ago my sons suggested, and then we all agreed, to make and sell soap to earn money to buy a well for a village in drought-ridden central Africa. What began as a quick viewing of a few you-tube videos on the crisis morphed into an all-consuming family ministry.
And now, we made it. October 30, 2011- March 9, 2012. 131 days. 1622 bars of soap made. 1300 bars sold. $3900 brought in. $ 1100 spent on supplies. $2800 left. $2600 on it’s way to Africa. $200 ready for the next well. Yes, I said “the next well” because they want to keep going.
When I opened the webpage and saw that we won, I’ll be honest, I was amazed; my eyes grew teary. It seems a little thing. A week at camp. My children had been fervently praying to win since they learned of the contest two weeks ago. Each day my three sons prayed for it, wrote it in their prayer journals, and coached their two and four year old sisters in praying for it, too. Oh, how they wanted that week. And there was my name, plain as day, an answered prayer smiling out at me in simple black and white text.
There is something about the prayers of children. They take those verses so easily to heart, the same verses that we, the older, the jaded, struggle with, verses like:
“But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6b)
“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)
How often do I truly pray with thanksgiving and expectation?
Who was surprised that we won? Just me. Just the other adults. But, the kids? Not at all. Thrilled? Yes. Surprised? No. Because they completely trust that their prayers are being heard and answered …
As a mom, I feel that providing good nutrition for my children is a top priority. The things that are in our food are not always safe and in some cases are downright dangerous. I feel that it is my responsibility to know what exactly it is that my baby is putting in her mouth. (You know, besides, the usual streamers, boardbooks and small objects) Today, let’s look at trans fat. To me this is the number one “do not consume” item on our food shelves today.
Trans fatty acids are created by forcing hydrogen through an oil at high temperatures, often with a metal catalyst, such as nickel and cadmium. (Wait aren’t those dangerous for the human body?) This causes the oils to solidify, yet they won’t break down, making them an ideal butter replacement in food products where you want a long shelf life.
This process is called hydrogenation. Partial hydrogenation is still hydrogenation. According to the FDA: “If the serving contains less than 0.5 gram (of trans fats) the content… shall be expressed as zero.” Now, let’s think about that. Imagine Bob and Fred, charged with labeling a new kind of salad dressing.
Bob: What should we list for the serving size?
Fred: I think 2 …
Yesterday, I was feeling that if there is such a thing as the anti-Midas touch, where instead of turning to gold, everything you touch blows up in your face, I had it. I more than I had it, it was created expressly with me in mind. I poured powdered sugar into the stand mixer and suddenly the kitchen had a fresh dusting of snow. I went to drain a can of tomatoes, and they all fell into the dirty sink. I tried to turn up the volume on the girls’ video and the button got stuck, nearly deafening the three of us. Showing them a video at all was making me feel pretty guilty. (The anti-Midas touch on my parenting.)
The icing on the cake (and not the one I was making the frosting for) was when I tried to play a parenting cd while cleaning the kitchen. We have been having trouble reaching one of our children. I had read the first part of this book and was excited to finish up with the cds. But, the cd wouldn’t work in the cd player. Then it wouldn’t work in my computer, Joey’s computer, or Matt’s computer. By the time I gave up on it, I had gone from frustrated, to annoyed, to angry, and ended at depressed. I was a failure. I couldn’t even play a cd. Everything I touched …
I planned to clean the kitchen this afternoon, here’s how it went: Wash two dishes. Hmm, I should wash that nasty frying pan. I really don’t want to. Hey a UPS package! Ooh, look, my bottles and lip gloss tins! “Here, Jimmy, take these eggs to Grandma’s.” Start making lip gloss, spill it everywhere. Why was I wearing a cashmere sweater while making lip gloss? Why do I even own a cashmere sweater? “Joey, stop stirring egg yolks around with your fingers.”
Start cleaning up the lip gloss. Eat a cookie. Why are the girls playing with colanders, pot lids and paper bags all over the kitchen floor? Check my e-mail. “No, you can’t have a cookie.” “Good point. Fine have a cookie.” Hey, I think I’ll make some hair conditioner while the kitchen is a mess anyway. Why am I making conditioner instead of dinner? Go to my laptop and look up how to make conditioner on the internet. Check my e-mail again. Why hasn’t she responded to my message yet? I wonder what’s going on on facebook? Hmm, nothing interesting. Make and bottle the conditioner. “Someone come get ‘Lena!”
Return to cleaning up lip gloss. Wow, it smells great! Take some from the stove top and rub it on my lips. …
How does one mom who already has more than enough to do suddenly end up in the business of making soap for charity? Especially, when she never made a bar of soap in her life before this past October? Well, it was a slippery (pun intended) slope, let me tell you.
As so many things do, it all started on youtube. In an effort to raise our awareness of those living in third world countries, one morning, during family devotions, I cued up a few videos showing the struggles of many Africans to obtain sufficient water and that, even then, the water is filthy and contaminated.
This touched my children’s hearts and led to my eleven year old’s comment, “Mom, how about we cancel our trip to Disney World in April and use the money to buy a well for an African village?” (This, of course, warmed my mommy heart, brought tears to my eyes, and made me think that maybe there was some hope for my kids turning out well after all.) Well, Grandma was paying for that trip, so that wasn’t really an option, but the discussion had begun: How could we help with this problem in Africa? And, more specifically, how could we raise the $2600 needed to provide just one well to an African village? …
Every weekday morning, before beginning any other school, I gather my children on the living room couch for family worship time. Of all our daily activities, this one seems the most doomed for disaster from the start. But, stubborn woman that I am, I persist. Not being particularly musical, I cue up several youtube videos with lyrics for us to sing along with. We read the Bible, each person prays,we do some Bible memory and occasionally act out Bible stories. It should be so simple.
Alas! It's difficult to read the Bible when someone is flipping the lights on and off so quickly that you feel you're at a 70's disco. It's hard to feel close to God when one son is praying, "Lord help (my brother) to stop kicking me so that I don't have to punch him," and another chimes in with, "Help (my brother) to get his finger out of his nose."
Then, the videos: "Wait this isn't the right one! I want the one that shows the goat standing on a mountain!" "Ha, ha, that guy has a funny beard!" "Click like!" Click dislike!" "Add to favorites!" "Ooh, this one has 2 million views!" All the while, I'm trying to model the desired pious behavior, an effort I inevitably botch by declaring, rather …
[caption id="attachment_94" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="I love the kid, but it's amazing every hair on my head isn't gray"][/caption]
“Mommy, Mommy, look at me!” I toss a sad looking tomato to Tillie, one our chickens, and look around for the source of the excited voice.
“Up here!” I look up, then up some more to find my youngest son a good thirty feet up a gnarly old oak tree. I encourage him firmly to carefully climb down.
Soon after, I glance out the back window to see him swinging from some sort of vine hanging from the same tree. As I watch, the vine breaks and he falls, lying motionless on his side for several very long seconds, before popping up again and running off to the next adventure, even as he rubs the sore spots from this one.
I sigh with relief and am reminded just how much I love him, then breathe a prayer of thanks that he’s made it through yet another day, asking, even in my thanks, for God’s grace in getting this child safely through to adulthood.
I stepped into the story room at the Chelsea Library as a plastic banana came sailing out of the playhouse. It was quickly followed by a second banana, an apple and some ice cream. Looking the culprits firmly in the eye, I said, “We do not throw things in the library!” Appearing mildly, chastened the two children stopped lobbing toy food across the room.
What makes the incident noteworthy is that these children, perhaps five and eight years old, belonged to someone else, someone who didn’t deem it necessary to keep tabs on her own children in a public place. Soon after, the younger child began yelling at Elena, my one year old, telling her that babies were not allowed in the playhouse and violently assisting Elena to the door. I quickly intervened, rescued my baby, and told the five year old, “We do not yell at babies or hurt them!”
Unfortunately, these minor encounters are not as infrequent as we might prefer. It seems the need to correct other people’s children presents itself somewhat often, bringing with it concerns as to what is appropriate and what is not. Each parent has their own level of expectation for their children and a personal method for dealing with …
Having informed my kids earlier in the day that they were giving up screen time for lent, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum with my husband on a business trip, five bored kids, and myself ready for a yoga workout. So, I offered the kids the choice of doing yoga with Mommy or cleaning the basement. Oddly enough, yoga won out and we were soon pushing the coffee table out of the den to allow a vast 6' by 10' space for the six of us to twist ourselves into various yoga poses.
Fortunately, no one seemed to realize that the yoga DVD should constitute screen time, and the questions never arose as to why yoga was allowed while Mario Cart was not. I instructed them to change into stretchy pants, which was followed by ten minutes of debating if jeans were or were not stretchy. We ended up with two boys in wind-pants, one in sweats, and Katie (3) and me in yoga pants, which she rocked in a way to which I could never aspire.
Two minutes in Jimmy (11) informed me that the DVD would be better named Yoga for Stress, as opposed to the true title, Yoga for Evening Stress Release. He then did the chair pose by actually sitting in a chair and somehow turned scale pose into something …