Friday, May 30, 2014

Since you are my friends.....

This week has been extremely busy. Months ago, the Gingerich family made plans to be together at a cabin here in Ohio June 2-4 to celebrate mom and daddy's 50th Anniversary. We considered cancelling or re-scheduling, but ended up deciding to go ahead with our plans.

Our children can hardly contain their excitement with all the fun things coming up! My brother, Carl, and family will be here this week end already, and they are ecstatic about spending time with their cousins for 5 days in a row!! I've been excited about it too. It's felt right to go ahead and do this, although there's a lot of other feelings too with the knowledge that mom was so eagerly looking forward to this time as a family, and her spot will be empty.

As the time gets closer I've found myself suddenly fearful of how it really will be. Will I get there and all the things that I've felt I "should" be feeling will suddenly come rushing in? Will it be way more painful that I'm imagining? Lots and lots of questions and fears have suddenly come tumbling in and I'm feeling emotionally and physically weary before the time has begun!

Maybe a night of rest will work wonders ...I'm sure it will help... but what I'm wondering is this - since you're my friends, (if you're reading this, I'll assume you're a friend :) ) will you keep my family in your prayers this week? Thank you so very much!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teaching Our "Best Organizers" to Help Around the House

I grew up in a family where the children didn't have to work hard. Or maybe that was just me, beings I was the youngest and all :) But really, I don't think any of us would say we were over worked. My mom was like me, having a child at her elbow helping with things didn't come naturally and often it was much easier to just quickly do it herself! She also was very soft hearted and felt sorry for us and many, many times she would trade jobs with us - "I'll wash the dishes if you fold the wash" or some such deal. Quite often she would even offer to do the dishes while we all played a game together! That was just mom.

My husband grew up being put to work! He declares that he wouldn't have dreamed of saying he was bored as a child because that would certainly have meant being put to work! Because of our different upbringings, he and I haven't always agreed on what should be expected of our children. I think I mentioned before how he informed me there was no reason for me to be doing dishes and set up a dishwashing schedule and, lo and behold, there really was no reason at all! They even handle putting away leftovers and clearing the drainer perfectly fine on their own!

I'm trying to be more "hard hearted" and get my children to do things instead of making myself frustrated trying to do it all. I still have a long way to go! The two oldest take turns clearing the table / putting food away and clearing the drainer / washing the dishes. The two youngest do a lot of picking/ straightening up. Other jobs the children often get called on for are - hanging out, bringing in, and folding laundry, sweeping the kitchen/dining area, setting the table, entertaining Charles, helping younger ones with drinks, etc.....

I'm trying to work on getting them in the kitchen to help with food prep more. This is a place where it's so easy for me to just quickly do it myself! It goes better if I make some sort of schedule/chart to say who does what and when. Problem is, I often don't take the time to be that organized and I tend to not stick with my own chart after awhile! :)

I've been trying to think what other skills my older ones should be learning.... I know Jasmine would love to learn how to sew, just not sure if I'm ready for that challenge! Doing the laundry maybe?

I enjoyed your input on the last post! You suggested rewards or special privileges for jobs being done or for doing something without being told, giving little ones specific instructions - "Pick up all the blocks. Then pick up all the toy food..."etc, rather then just "Pick up all the toys!" Something I've often done when doing a quick clean up is say "Everyone pick up 5 things!" and keep giving numbers til the job's done.

June is almost here and I'm moving on to another subject.... tell you more about it next week! :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teaching Our "Best Organizers" to Clean

As far back as I can remember, my mom always, always cleaned house on Saturday. And, as far back as I can remember, the girls helped! I suppose since the three oldest were girls, the boys never had to help, but I'm not really sure. I just remember when the youngest (me) was included in the Saturday ritual. Usually, all of the jobs were written on slips of paper and then all those participating chose equal amounts of slips as their jobs for the day. Sometimes, if all participants agreed to it, jobs were chosen verbally. Job descriptions varied - it could be as specific as "dust living room" "sweep steps"... Or as general as "living room" (dust, pick up, sweep...)

When my 2 oldest were probably 3 and 5 (boy and a girl), I began following in my mom's foot steps. Saturday meant cleaning, and cleaning meant slips of paper with jobs! I remember choosing 4 - 6 jobs they could do and letting them pick out the papers. Oh, it was big stuff! :) Gradually, they did more and more jobs until I rarely did any of the dusting and sweeping! They must have been only 5 and 7 by that time!

I must insert here that I'm not very picky. (Probably not as picky as I should be!) So, usually if company was coming, I lent a hand to make sure corners were done a little more thoroughly, etc. :) I was always in charge of the kitchen and bathroom while they did the other rooms.

I never understood why the youngest children in the family ended up spoiled and not as industrious......I do now! It is so easy to just let the older ones keep doing the work!! My youngest are 6 and 5 and I can't imagine them running the sweeper like the oldest two had to have been doing at their age! Of course it only complicates matters to have older siblings bossing younger ones and all that goes with that. What chance do the youngest have, really?? ;) My mom was always on my side in these matters, beings she was also the youngest. When someone would make the smart remark about the youngest being spoiled she would always say, "Well it wasn't my fault if I got spoiled!"

After not having my own house for a year, and now having a very small one, I'm not nearly as strict with the Saturday ritual. I still stick with that method mostly, and I'm trying to include the younger ones in the slips of papers these days. Now they're the ones thinking it's big stuff! They go in stages, you know. First they beg to help with things, and every job given makes them feel very important! Then they switch to it being the most awful thing to be asked to pick up toys - "I just don't eeeven knooow where to staaart!!" (Said in the most pathetic, hopeless way imaginable!) There is hope! My worst picker upper is becoming one of my best lately, and sometimes I just have to stop and marvel that this is the same child! Most of it is just age making a difference, but I'm sure it's also sticking to it and making them help even when they think it's awful.

So, do your children help clean house? What is your method?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dear Mom,

We planted your marigold seeds today, mom, my girls and I. We were waiting for warm weather and the perfect day, and today was it! Last October when we were there and the marigolds were still blooming so beautifully and you took my girls out to gather seeds so that the excited Jennifer could take some along home to plant flowers of her own, I never guessed you wouldn't be here to tell when we planted them.

On the way home when a very sad Jennifer discovered the seeds hadn't gotten in with our stuff, I knew you would be certain to send them to her. You saved them in a ziploc bag and when March rolled around and a certain someone received an extremely special sunbonnet made by you for her birthday, tucked in the package were...the marigold seeds!

The bag has been stuck away in a drawer, just waiting for Winter to finally turn to Spring and the weather be warm enough to plant flowers. Today was the day, mom. Normally I would have told you all about it in our almost-daily-emails. Instead, while the girls planted and watered busily, the lump in my throat grew and the tears eventually spilled over the edge.

I miss you, mom. Living far away, most of the time I almost forget that you're not here anymore! The marigolds will remind me, mom. And I'm glad - the tears are healing.

Love, Bethany

P.S. I wonder what Heaven's marigolds look like?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tips from You on "The Best Organizing Tip of All"

Weeks ago, (back in another life time, was it?) I talked about the Best Organizing Tip of All - To Train Our Children - and I asked you for input on creative ideas. Sadly, it appears that we all want our children to be trained but no one wants to offer advice! I had several of you express your interest in the subject, several of you say you'd love some advice/answers on how it's done, but I only had one, lonely email offering any advice.

I don't believe that none of you have any good ideas, I'm just not buying that! I can imagine that most of us feel like we're doing a poor job or, at best, feel like we could be doing so much better, I'm right with you there. I wish I would be more consistent at expecting certain things done and having a more organized program in place (Wait. An organized program for organizing?? Well, anyway!). But, I think I do have a few ideas I could share with you and I'm pretty confident you could do the same!

I would still love to hear some practical ideas from your house, but for now I'll share the email that one brave soul sent my way because it has some very good advice:

"My children are mostly grown now, but I well remember the days of things not always being where they belonged. The biggest thing, and I learned this from my Mother, enjoy working with your children. When children are 2 -3 years old they want to help. Give them age appropriate jobs. If they see you enjoying being a homemaker it will rub off. So my advice is work with them. Don't just tell them to do something. My sons are now 20 and 25. If they're home on cleaning day they are still always ready to grab the mop and pitch in. Thanks for letting me share something close to my heart. Too many young moms don't enjoy homemaking. It needs to be taught."

Excellent advice, and so very true! I have thought a lot about that next to the last sentence..... Ouch. I think she's right! Something I need to work on.

Next week I'll share a few practical things we've done around here to teach our children to help around the house...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

On the way home from AR, the girls sang this over and over til we had to tell them it's enough! The video clip still brings smiles around here :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Life Goes On

It's 10 days since the phone call came. My mind still feels numb in places. It still doesn't feel real that I am now one of those people - the ones who have sat in a Funeral Home with their family making plans; the ones who have mechanically gone through the motions of eating the abundant food provided by caring people; the ones who have stood for 3 hours shaking hands and sharing hugs and laughter and tears until their legs feel like they're going to sleep; the ones who have gathered with family in a close huddle to gaze at their loved ones still face for the last time; the ones who have held their children's sobbing bodies close, had their own sobbing body held close, and watched their lonely parent's sobbing body.

And how, pray tell, is this also the person that has felt true thankfulness and joy and peace? Who has felt blessed by so many caring and awed by so many wanting to show their honor? Who's faith has been uplifted and strengthened by hearing their lonely parent's voice (as always, in every experience of our lives) lifted in a prayer of thanks and acceptance of His Plan?

Is it any wonder that my children probably feel like their mother is here only in body? That emails have been read backwards and too many things forgotten? That keeping the house and cooking and something as simple as getting everyone to bed just seems to take more effort than is possible to muster?

What am I doing here, so many miles away from the people who have to face the emptiness every.single.moment? How is it fair for me to go on with life and expect them to take care of everything, sort it out, learn to live? How does it make sense to tell all the caring people who ask "How are you?" that I'm ok? Or, for that matter, that I'm NOT??

How silly is this anyway? We all know good and well that no one is living forever. That when we marry our best friend, sometime one of us will have to go on alone. This stuff isn't a secret - some big, shocking surprise God suddenly springs on us! Mom lived a long, full life - 70 years and 50 of them happily married is nothing to sneeze at! In the last number of years she was quietly laying down more and more abilities. Quietly accepting being unable to do a lot of the things she loved. I am so, so happy she didn't have to go on doing that until nothing was left! There is no way in the world that I could wish her back to this broken world - if I had a wish, it might be that the two of them could have slipped peacefully away together hand in hand, but I could not wish her back. Still, she's gone. Gone.

All I can say to the conflicting of emotion and the little sense that it all makes is: I am human. I live in a fallen world. All of these feelings are real, all of them ok in their place. It is impossible that we know Joy without also knowing pain, there would be no dawn without the night, and how could we know true happiness without the contrast of deep sorrow? After all, there is no rainbow without the rain!

Emotions are confusing, feelings fickle, but I'm still as sure as ever that *I* know there is a God, and He is good.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

*Memories compiled by my siblings and I and read at my mom's funeral

To Mom on the happiest Mother's Day of your life!

The call came to us, Mom, Those words that sent us spinning.
They said you passed away, Mom, Your time in Heav'n beginning.
Your busy hands are still, Mom, The hands that did so much.
Those hands that blessed the world, Mom, We won't forget their touch.
The hands that wrote us letters, with perfect, fluid writing.
The hands that tended gardens, and taught that it's exciting.
The hands from quilting knotted, something you never ceased.
The hands who's skin felt special, that could be pinched and creased.
Your feet have ceased their walking, Mom, From going many places.
You traveled many miles, Mom, And brightened many faces.
Feet that traveled bare at times, that slippers kept from cold.
Feet that now are comfortable, with shoes that won't grow old.
Feet that tromped along in boots, to berry briars smash.
Feet that squashed the cans down flat to fit more in the trash.
Feet that traveled many miles in these hills and hollers.
Feet that walked through chicken house, helping earn more dollars.
Your voice has now been silenced, Mom, Your last words have been spoken.
The memory of it whispers, Mom, Although our hearts are broken.
The voice that said, "You play a game, and I will wash the dishes."
The voice that said, "Let's sleep outside!" One of your many wishes.
"A cabin right down on the bluff!" The voice would often hark.
"If we would do a little work, we'd have a little park!"
The voice with alto singing, rose from your Sunday seat.
The voice that always asked us, "What did you have to eat?"
You were so creative, Mom, You stirred it up in us.
You made memories for us, Mom, And made them without fuss.
You loved to plan our picnics –White River, park, back yard.
When the electric went off, you made it fun, not hard.
You encouraged fishing trips, then watched us from your chair.
Saturdays you let us eat our packed lunch anywhere.
You taught us switching bedrooms, and re-arranging stuff
Was much more fun than letting the cleaning be enough!
Your Faith has not been silenced, Mom, It will live on and on.
You lived it out in actions, Mom, It speaks, though you are gone.
You showed us what you held dear, just by your quiet acts
Visiting the elderly – and letters mailed by stacks!
You took time for your neighbors, if you met up in town
Stopping for a friendly chat, your smile could change a frown!
We knew where you took your needs, the place for every care.
New shoes, a cough, decisions –nothing too small for prayer!
You showed us peace in illness, with quiet, simple trust
Accepting what life brought you, if walk this path you must.
You didn't like much fuss, Mom, This pob'ly seems too much.
But memories flood our minds, Mom, More than a pen can touch.
Simpler was always better –wildflowers, not a rose
A bowl of soup or sandwich would be the thing you chose.
Homemade card, or handmade gift, make do with what is here
Don't spend a bunch of money, you made your wishes clear.
You made mistakes we know, Mom, You never claimed perfection.
You said "Sorry" quickly, Mom, When things needed correction.
Home will never be the same without your special touch.
Now things won't get done as well, we surely know that much!
To all of you who've lent a hand, and by our sides have sat
We promise you no Thank You card – you know that Mom did that!
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

It will be one of those days I will never forget - the early morning phone call, seeing my sister's name in the ID and thinking that's strange... knowing by her voice that it's something bad, and then those 5 words that set everything spinning: "Mom passed away this morning."

Things to decide, plans to make. Breakfast, mouths to be fed. School, children to hug and send off. Laundry, into the washer. Baby, sent up to Grandma. Phone calls to make. "She's gone, Bethany. Gone." Lists to be made in order to function. Phone calls, texts, people showing up at the door with hugs, and offers of help, and love.

"She's gone, Bethany. Gone." But HE is here, His presence made tangible through human hands and hearts.

Laundry gets folded, suitcases get packed. The Mother's Day card on my dresser catches my eye, the one I made as an example for the art class I taught at school and thought I'd give to mom. For a split second I think, "Oh, I'll just stick that in to take along", and the pain suddenly pierces through the fog as it hits me - I'll never give that to mom!

The love continues, there's a van offered and money gifted. At school they make a special effort to finish up Track and Field activities for my son's sake. This is love, HE is here. The van is loaded, we're on our way. "She's gone, Bethany. Gone."

I talked to her just last evening, called to ask a question about what I was cooking, and we talked an hour. We talked about the funeral they had just been to in GA, her sister's husband. We talked about my baby not sleeping at night and about heavy, sad things in our family. And she said, "I guess the important thing is that we remember that WE believe there is a God!"

There's a part of me that is numb, and unfeeling. There's a part of me that rejoices that her passing could be so peaceful and painless after her having faced cancer and other health issues! But mostly I am remembering that, yes, *I* believe there is a God.

The van rolls on in the darkness towards AR and the next several days look difficult - I would rather hide until the funeral and everything is past! Thank you to the hosts of you that have been, and will be praying. Your prayers are felt, and so appreciated!!!