Thursday, August 25, 2011

motivational gifts

Dear Reade,

I've been reading Discover your childrens' gifts by Katie and Don Fortune. Yes, the pink book that has followed me everywhere over the last few weeks. As I've thought about the gifting of our children, I have also been thinking about my own gifting. I think I would most strongly fall into the Compassion and Administration gifts.

Tonight at bedtime The Boy asked for stories.

"Tell me a story about when you were six."

And the story that came flowing out was this:

When I was six I was in Mrs. So-and-so's class. We were given books to take home to read. When we brought them back to school we would get a new book. I do not remember if I knew that the teacher was marking them down and keeping track of all the books we had "read."

The goal was that our parents would read to us each day, that we would learn to love books and reading, that we would be able to read and be healthy and be happy. I do remember only reading one of the books with my dad, your Grandpa. The Suessian One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.

Sometime in the winter my dad read on a report card that I/we had read a certain number of books. The report card celebrated the milestone. And my dad turned to me and asked me about it. He knew he had not read all those books to me. My step mom had not read those books to me. How could we possibly have been at so many books?

Whether through misunderstanding, missing the point because I was daydreaming or active deceit, I had lied. I was required to confess my lie to Mrs. So-and-so and apologize. I remember going to school the next possible day was horrendous. And I couldn't screw up the courage to talk to her. I remember finally making my way to her desk in the corner of the classroom while we were to be working away at something. "Mrs. So-and-so, I didn't read all those books at home. I lied to you. I am sorry."


When I reflect now on that experience, particularly in light of this reading on motivational gifts, I have light-bulbs clicking on in my head.
  • Many times, given the stresses of life in the family I lived in during my school years, I felt like I was in a position where lying felt like the only option to protect myself. I wasn't lying with intention to dupe someone else. I was afraid I would be so crushed by the anger, opposition or harshness, that I chose instead to let people think what they would by my silence. Or I would actively try to cover my mistakes (honest, genuine childhood mistakes) instead of admitting them.
  • the compassion motivational gifting makes for easy wounding. I have the sense now that I asked for a grown up to read with me, but that was not welcomed. Books, and my love of them, were seen as suspect. Maybe it was just that every time I raised the issue of reading it was responded to as a nuisance. Did I stop asking to be read to at home because it was too painful? Or because I was afraid it would be too painful? Or because I didn't want to be seen as a nuisance? What else have I done through the years because I didn't want to be a nuisance? What actions and attitudes and patterns of thinking are based on those foundations in my life today?
  • I wonder if Girlie will have some of the same propensities, temptations to cover truth when it appears as though it might have negative emotional consequences. If possible, I'd like to remember that it is so important that she know she is loved. That "punishment" and the emotional baggage of an upset grown-up, an upset me, need to be set aside to offer her forgiveness when she "confesses." And I want to offer her an adult hand to hold when she needs to confess/apologize to another adult or even another child.
  • As I've been reading about the vulnerability of the compassion person and the potential for abuse by unscrupulous people, I am grateful for what I have been saved from. So grateful.
That's all for today. I love you bunches and I'm glad I get to tell our children stories even when they stir up stuff like this.

Love, Jenn

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Dear Reade,

As you may well remember, tonight when we came home from picking you up at work, I parked the van on the street. We all got out of the van as though this was completely normal, a perfect place for parking our van. We trundled in to the house.

I closed the door to the house and realized I had fallen prey to the force of habit. In this particular instance, not an evil habit, just a habit, but one that causes me to attend to the other habits of my days.

We have a driveway. For five months we have been parking on the street because we have had a portable storage unit providing warehouse space for our household's largest de-clutter ever. Last week the storage unit went to its next home (and there were smiles all around!) and in the intervening days I have been pleased to park on the driveway.

Tonight we were eating ice cream and talking about our days. You were at work late today so the children had more than usual to tell you. As I parked we were clarifying the head-inside, get-showered, get-jim-jamerino-ed, read-books, lights-out plan. I was distracted from the task at hand and found myself living out of last week's reality instead of the current reality.

And so I ponder:
  • What other pathways am I following that hinder me from arriving where I want to go?
  • How am I thinking that distracts me from being who I want to be, becoming who I want to become?
  • What are the "key stones" that cause my routines to crumble?
  • Where am I allowing auto-pilot to take me as I walk through being and wife-ing and parenting and friend-ing each day?
I would like to be more attentive, more present most days.

I love you.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And let's don't forget

Dear Reade,

And let's don't forget that Girlie calls her ankle her foot elbow. Adorable.

Love, Jenn

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beard crumbs and bread bones

Dear Reade,

Just the other day I was sitting on our back step. Girlie was bustling about. Talking about wellow flowers. Which then had me thinking about The Boy and his version of yellow which was lellow.

Some endearing turns of phrase that I want to remember even as they grow and change:

pox-a-puhl -- popsicle
carry me up -- pick me up and she hardly uses it anymore. :(
pease I have ... a freezie, my sooth-a, my toofbrush
I love that -- the food on her plate, the flower in her hand, going in to the library, her shoes, her baby doll, the hot wheel car in her hand
My Boy -- what she frequently calls her brother

"I running round the tree. Running makes me happy."

Reading the Psalms and arriving at Psalm 139:4 (Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. ) she shouts out, "I've got a word on my tongue."

And at night as we go through the liturgy of "Goodnight Boy-o. I love you." "Goodnight Girlie. I love you." she always is quick to say "Goodnight Girlie. I love you" to herself. I love it.

The Boy
beard crumbs -- small hairs left from your beard, wherever beard hairs might be left
bread bones -- bread crust
do you know something? -- quickly changing to "I know something" because that's what he really means anyway
Actually, especially and certainly -- He uses them all, in context, but often they seem confusing to people outside of our family because they don't expect these words coming out of a four year old's mouth.

I know there are many, many others, but those will do for today.

Love, Jenn

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot, hot, hot

Dear Reade,

It's a great, scorching day out. Girlie and I napped while you took Boy-o to the store to look at plants. Now you're reading books with Girlie (Leaf Man by Lois Erlich) while the Boy plays with friends. It's hard not to wish for cooler weather but I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

Love, Jenn

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Dear Reade,

I just got word that one of the elder sages of my spiritual formation group passed away on Thursday evening. I remember being in a group with her in April last year. In the midst of the conversation she related being in discussion with a friend of hers who was praying all the time, asking God what she should do. E answered, "If you would just shut up, maybe you would be able to hear what God is saying to you."

I've enjoyed time today to be silent. I am grateful.

Love, Jennifer

A birthday party

Yesterday, six months after The Boy's actual birthday, we celebrated the anniversary of his birth with his friends. And my friends too, to be fair. We bowled. There were cupcakes and presents and a wonderful time was had by all. We even had the bowling alley mostly to ourselves for the whole time. Huzzah!