- Barring injury, run the Eugene marathon in May. Depending on how awful/fun that race is, I may or may not want to torture myself through the Portland marathon in October.
- Complete an Olympic-distance triathlon which means I have to actually get in a lake and try not to drown while hundreds of other athletes kick up a huge wake around me. (Gives me a pit in my gut just thinking about it). I'm thinking August 1st Blue Lake Tri will be my magic day.
- Kids. Wow. If there's a place God is asking me to focus, it's on my kids and my parenting. I'd like to interact with instead of co-exist with my kids. Since there are so many of them, they play together and I have to be intentional about spending time with them. I'll try to bring them into what I'm doing (cooking, cleaning, quiet time) and try to enter their worlds more often. I want to date them individually more consistently. I want to play more and work less. I need to be more respectful in the way I talk to and about my kids. Less nagging, anger and raising my voice. More praise, gentleness and soft tones. Sounds impossible, but thank God that with Him, all things are possible.
- Curt. What a gift he is to me. This year, I'd like to focus on blessing him. I want to be more intentional in thanking him for the things he does, for the man he is and tell him specifically how much I respect him and am blessed by him. I want to remember to ask him how he's doing, what he's studying in the Word, and how I can pray for him. I want to do things for him that speak his love language which means I'll be making the coffee and his lunches, taking the garbage cans to the curb and picking up a lot more dog poop than I did in 2o09.
- Reinstate date night, at least once a week, which means we'll be doing more "at home date nights" than we did this year. At home dates mean putting the kids to bed early or on time and ignoring them when they repeatedly come out of their rooms. It means talking (which eliminates TV or movies) about topics other than finances, the kids, work, or the daily grind. It doesn't qualify for date night if it doesn't involve (GASP) sex. I'm going to get on my soap box here and preach a bit (to myself as well): GIRLS - if you're blessed with a husband, whether you currently like him or not, he is a gift to you. And he needs sexual intimacy. YOU need sexual intimacy. And our needs grow and change so we need to TALK about what those needs are and how we can meet them for each other. This is such a small thing in light of the craziness of our lives raising kids, but I can't understate it's importance. I only wish someone had mentored me in this area earlier in my marriage. So go seduce your husband and watch him fall madly, deeply, head over heels in love with you! Okay, I'm stepping down now...
- I want to be more intentional about telling my friends and family specifically how and why I love them and how they bless my life.
- To work or not to work? I'm sure I'll have to give this question a bit more consideration and prayer this year as Paige starts pre-school in the fall. Can't believe we're so close to entering a phase that I was sure would NEVER come when we had four babies four years and younger at home.
- I read I Peter today in my quiet time and stumbled upon a loaded passage: I Peter 3:3-4: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." My goal is to work on the "gentle and quiet" spirit part. I'm much too excitable and loud and a little bit crazy. I want to be more gentle and quiet. And I want my beauty to come from the work God is doing in my life, radiating from the inside out.
- Remember number 3 about spending more time with my kids? Well, it's NY Eve and we're together as a family and I need to get off the computer and interact. Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I intended to write this on our anniversary, but the best laid plans sometimes get obliterated... Better late than never, right?
On Christmas Eve day as I was simultaneously interacting with my kids, baking goodies, cooking dinner, cleaning house and preparing to host thirty people later that evening, I had an epiphany. I’ve morphed into my mom. And it’s a good thing.
My mom has the gift of hospitality. Many of my childhood memories involve a house full of people, both family and friends, hovering around casual potluck meals on paper plates. My mom’s no-nonsense, casual, doesn’t have to be perfect approach to entertaining is one I’ve completely embraced. Not that I don’t appreciate all the wonderful talents of my crafty friends, but I don’t have the skill or patience to ever aspire to be like them. Even if I set a “fancy” table, it never has those… help me out?... name plate thingies at each place. This Christmas Eve I DID pre-label all thirty plastic Solo cups with a sharpie and stacked them on the counter so people could play a treasure hunt game to find their cup. Does that count as a name plate thingie?
In my house growing up, what we lacked in fanciness we made up for in warmth and love. Our door was always open and since we lived far from any extended family, our holidays frequently consisted of other orphans and friends coming together for fellowship and celebration. Our Christmas Eve tradition evolved into a meal of cheese soup and mini pizzas, often eaten cross-legged on a plastic tablecloth on our family room floor. My Dad would read out loud the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and we’d alternately laugh at the Wise Men bearing ham to the Jewish King and cry with Imogene as the miracle of Jesus’ birth washed over us all. We had candles and little paper holders to catch the wax and one of my parents would pass out candles to each person. One by one, we’d light each other’s candles and say something we were thankful for. As the circle of light grew, so did our thankfulness and when it was complete, we’d sing Silent Night acapella. It was a bit déjà vu as MY home filled with loudness and laughter and we dined pot-luck style on cheese soup and pizza and read the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It was almost magical when my Mom pulled out those SAME candles, twenty-some years later, and passed them around to my husband and four kids, her newly acquired blended family and our compilation of friends and orphans. Poor Jon got the shortest candle and I was convinced his fingers would be singed before we sang.
We’ve started our own Christmas traditions too. After the chaos dies down on Christmas Eve and the last goodbyes have been said, Santa’s elves miraculously deliver wrapped jammies for each of our kids. This year they left some for Mommy and Daddy too! Christmas morning, the kids wake up to full stockings and presents under the tree and even though they know Santa isn’t real, you can’t miss the awe and wonder in their eyes as they see a family room transformed. We open presents slowly, taking breaks for coffee refills and a breakfast of caramel rolls, sausage and scrambled eggs. Christmas dinner is ham with all the fixings, just like I remembered as a child, and this year we shared that meal with my Mom and Terry and our good friends, Jon and Melanie. I had great intentions of having the table prepared with our china and silver, but got lost in the relaxed atmosphere of Christmas day. When our guests arrived the dining room table was still functioning as a runway for Lego planes! We did eventually dig the china and real silver out of the cupboard and the adults enjoyed a quiet, fancy meal while the kids played. My Mom and Mel provided the entire meal, except apple pie and cranberry relish, and it was such a blessing to not spend the afternoon cooking in the kitchen.
Our Christmas extravaganza ended on Saturday with a wing-it-as-you-go brunch with the Buchstaber’s. After the initial feast, we lounged around while the kids played and rummaged through the fridge for leftovers as we felt the need. It was a wonderful mixture of chaos and calm. Casual and fancy. Family and friends. And much like the Christmas’ my mom hosted years ago.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Last weekend, Curt had a work Christmas party and as a special treat, the kids had a sleepover with Grandma Ru and Grandpa Terry. They threw a birthday party for Jesus complete with spaghetti, peppermint ice cream and angel food cake with fluffy white frosting (no doubt Jesus' favorite). The girls camped "under" the 2 foot Christmas tree (aka slept on the floor of the living room) while Grant opted for the comfort of a bed. The highlight of the sleepover? The kids first introduction to The Sound of Music. Apparently all four of the kids were enthralled for the entire THREE hours and when we picked them up at church the next day, they were yelling over each other, "Member when the kids sang "So Long, Farewell?" Member when the sisters stole the parts to the car? Member when they were hiding from the bad soldiers?" Since Curt has only been subjected to the movie once (by force, from me, when we were dating), I was left fielding all the questions and singing along to "Doe, a deer, a female deer." It was such a fun trip down memory lane that I decided to buy the movie when we were at Target yesterday finishing up last minute shopping. We spent our entire afternoon watching all three hours of The Sound of Music, singing and dancing and entertaining Alli who gets bored after 30 minutes of TV.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Ten years ago one of my bosses asked me if had heard of a new show called Survivor - Outwit, Outlast, Outplay. She went on to describe how contestants willingly allowed themselves to be stranded on an island with a bunch of strangers, limited food and survival supplies. While there, they competed in intensely physical and mental games. Their fellow "tribe mates" would vote periodically to see who they wanted to kick off. When the castaway count got down to 2 or 3, the former tribe mates voted for a winner. The winner earned the title of "Sole Survivor" and a million dollars. It sounded intriguing and Curt and I tuned in for the last 30 minutes of the final episode of Season 1. We've never missed an episode since and last night we watched the finale to Season 19!
- Helping with Dishes - $.25 To qualify, they need to clear plates, load dishwasher, and wipe off table and counters, but the full job can be split up between all the kids. Each kid who helps until it's finished, gets a quarter.
- Feeding the Dog - $.25 Since this is a no-brainer easy one and since it happens twice a day, I rotate who gets the first option to do it.
- Vacuuming - $.25 per room
- Clean Room - $.25 per day I'm a stickler about this. It has to be done in the morning before they leave for school to qualify. I define a "clean room" as bed made, blinds open, noise maker turned off, and nothing on their floor. I let the closets slide for the daily quota, but open drawers and open closets doors can tip the scales toward a negative depending on my mood. (See what I mean about the Nazi part.. I can't stand clutter!)
- Folding Clothes - $.50
- Mopping - $1.00 This is a chore that I really don't like so I pay well for it, but to get the full dollar they are required to help from start (with sweeping and moving rugs) to finish (putting all the stools and rugs back). If they bale out early, the price goes down.
- Bathrooms - $.50 per bathroom, and they have to do toilet, counter tops, shower/tub and mirrors to consider it "clean."
- Garbage - $.25
- Poop Patrol - $.50. Even with the higher price tag, no one will every pick up dog poop but me and I don't get paid...
- Dusting - $.25
- Wiping down Baseboards - $1.00 (I DESPISE this task which is why it never gets done. Don't look too closely...)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Shortly after school started this fall, we instituted a chore chart at our house. We listed out all the household chores and assigned each one a monetary value based on the level of difficulty. Each child had their own chart and they started working around the house to earn tally marks for their sheet. Last week we totaled up their tally marks, went to the bank, and cashed out their earnings, but didn't distribute it until this morning. Over pancakes and bacon, we talked about how everything we have is and gift from God and that the Bible instructs us to give back to God a minimum of the first 10% (a tithe) of what we earn. It's a way for us to say thank you and recognize God's faithful provision to us. We also talked about the practical and Biblical principle of saving money and told the kids we expected them to save a minimum of 10% of everything they earned, which leaves them with 80% to spend as they pleased. After the little lesson we broke out their piles of dollar bills, practiced some math, and calculated out how much they needed to set aside to bring to church, how much they needed to put in their banks and how much they could spend. There was a slight undertone of grumbling about not having access to spend their entire amount, but overall they handled it maturely and we laughed as they all scoured their rooms for three banks or containing devices in which to store their wealth.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Putting Down Roots 2009
2009 has been a year of the Stilp Six putting down roots. Newberg is nestled in the heart of Oregon’s picturesque wine country. Our neighbor went to a local vineyard and repurposed some pruned vines from the garbage pile. To the naked eye they looked dead, but she dug deep holes in the soil by her fence (apparently grape vines grow down before growing up), shoved those sticks in the ground, and VIOLA! By the end of the summer, she had flourishing vines, complete with baby grape clusters, climbing her fence.
In the past year, our roots have pushed down in little ways like learning our neighbors’ last names, discovering the back road to Costco, and actually bumping into familiar faces at the library and the park. We’ve felt the impact of deeper growth as we developed friendships that passed the one-year mark, expanded our level of ministry at Solid Rock (our church), and settled into a second cycle of the same school and the same jobs. We survived the pruning of dramatic change and life is becoming less foreign and more familiar as our family begins to flourish, much like our neighbor’s vines.
Grant (8 ½ years) has matured so much this year. His style “preferences have changed” and he’s been developing his inner rock star with guitar lessons, skinny jeans, and Chuck Taylor Converse hi-tops, “the unofficial, most popular shoe” according to his first-day-of-school “informal survey.” The Lego designs he creates and constantly refines are intricately detailed and well beyond my level of comprehension. Grant is very responsible and structured in his daily routines, loves 3rd grade, and made his foray into creative writing when he had a story published in the local school newspaper. His description of swimming in a lake vs. a pool, “It’s like swimming into a black hole of darkness” and his brain block on a creative writing assignment, “My brain is out of idea toner,” were gut-busters for us. He takes calculated risks on his bike and skateboard, broke his wrist when he fell out of a tree, and along with his sisters, competed in a 5K and kids’ triathlon. Grant is learning how to practically apply God’s Word to his life and we love his honesty and desire to do what is right.
Katie (7 years) blesses our family with her sweetness, kindness and flair for the dramatic. She is a wonderful mix of girly girl and tough chick and she often impresses us with her high pain tolerance, as long as it’s not inflicted by one of her siblings. She rocked her races this summer, flies across the monkey bars, and looks forward to her weekly jazz jam dance class. Katie decided to go by her “fancy name” (Kaitlin) in her 2nd grade class this year and we were pleased to learn that she is a leader among her peers, a role she doesn’t often play among her siblings. She loves to read and emphatically declared, “I LOVE to read. I was born to read. Right Mom?” Katie also loves animals, particularly horses and dogs, and every year she asks for “five acres and a horse.” To date, we have been unable to grant her wish but she was thrilled with a birthday riding lesson from Grandma and Grandpa. Katie has a tender heart to things of God and shares her love for Jesus with those around her.
Alli (5 ½ years) is a fireball of determination, zest and compassion. No guesswork is involved in figuring out how she’s feeling at any given moment. She told her whiny sister to “zip it and throw away the key,” and on the first cold day of fall asked me to “turn on the hot air conditioning.” I laughed when I overheard her practicing a Bible verse she memorized, “Devote yourself to prayer being watchful and thankful. Fust John 3-2-1-Blastoff” and was touched by her summary on prayer, “If you pray and talk really quietly God can still hear you. He has REALLY good ears.” Alli is finally old enough to start Kindergarten, is on the cusp of learning to read and has intentionally chosen the path of good behavior at school because “it’s more fun to be good than to be naughty.” Alli lets nothing stand in her way, taught herself how to jump rope, tie her shoes and blow bubbles with the gum she’s always chewing, and is very organized and helpful. Our lives would be much duller without Alli around and we love how her infectious laugh so often fills our home.
It took Paige 3 ½ years to discover that she too can join the ranks of Very Naughty Children and we’re somewhat relieved to find she’s normal and not 100% angelic. Her attempts to shed her babyhood, develop her independence and personality, and cement her place in the sibling ranks have been really fun to watch. Her three-year-old phrases and labeling have kept us laughing all year. She wears her “raining boots,” says “shu-ah” (sure) as an affirmative answer to most questions, mixes up her pronouns, and came downstairs to inform me that “Someting broken in the play room. A drawer. I not broken it.” Paige learned to sit on her bike and pretend to pedal so she could “compete” (I use that term loosely) in her first Splash, Pedal and Dash and was thrilled to finish 19th out of 24 competitors in her age group. On July 21st, after some intense evangelistic efforts by Katie, she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her sins and lead her life. To have all four of our children know and love Jesus is the best gift we could ever ask for and we rejoice as Paige wraps her mind around what walking with Jesus looks like. Her recent prayer, “Dear Jesus. Fank you that house church was so much fun. Help me not to call anyone stinky face. Amen,” shows she has some room to grow!
Curt is settling in nicely at OHSU and at Hope Orthopedics. In May he was commissioned as a house church leader at Solid Rock and has capably led our house church that meets twice monthly in our home from that point. He very methodically trained for and completed two Olympic-distance triathlons this summer and rejuvenates by fishing with a friend. Fall is his favorite time year. What’s not to love about a fresh chill in the air, playoff baseball, college football and hunting? This fall, Curt enjoyed a trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota where he shot ducks, caught up with family and friends, and took in the Brett Favre-led-Vikings vs. Packers game at the Dome. He hopes to make it an annual tradition.
The Lord has taught me a great deal this year about waiting on Him and trusting His timing. I lost my entire running season to a torn meniscus that I ignored for six months before coming up lame in a half-marathon in June. I had my knee repaired in August and have been learning to meander during the long recovery process. While recovering, I conquered my fear of being underwater and learned to swim. My Dad joined me on my first post-surgery outdoor run and I have my eye set on a May marathon if the surgeon gives me a green light to start training. I spent a girly and relaxing weekend in Colorado with my favorite “sister” Sonja and was really blessed by a book club I led and hosted for Solid Rock. To stay up-to-date with the Stilp Six, follow or subscribe to my blog (www.jodistilp.blogspot.com).
Merry Christmas. We hope you have a blessed year putting down roots in your neck of the woods.
Curt, Jodi, Grant, Katie, Alli, and Paige
Curt, Jodi, Grant, Katie, Alli, and Paige
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
When I was a little girl a big part of my life centered around music and church, the traditional kind of church with pews, Sunday School, stained glass windows, organs, and hymnals. I started taking piano lessons in kindergarten and by third grade was actually playing songs people wanted to hear. I borrowed a hymnal so I could pretend church at home with my dollies and I'd line them up in rows, sit at the piano and sing hymns. On the rare Sunday nights when we had "open hymnal" at church and you could make a request for a hymn, I would get giddy with excitement. Since sitting still wasn't (and still isn't) my strong suit, I'd throw my hand up in the air and squirm and flail it around to get the pastor to call on me. If I was lucky and got chosen, I'd always request a Christmas carol. Didn't matter if it was July, I'd pick my favorite Christmas song and ask the congregation to sing it with me. By the time I was in junior high, I was old enough to be a church pianist and the 8 a.m. service (the one only a few brave souls would attend) was my baby. I'd bang out the hymns while the congregation sang and pick my best recital songs to play for the offeratory.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
My friend Juli used to be the chaplain at the county jail. With her "I still look 15 but really I'm in my 30's" beautiful face and her height, with heels, putting her in the low five foot range, she was an unsuspecting fireball and perfect for the job. She has a God-given ability to dismantle tough inmates and get them to share their struggles. She listens, truly listens, and offers Godly wisdom, humor and comfort. But don't be fooled. She can stare down the meanest and most intimidating person, cut through the garbage and speak the truth in love. I didn't realize just how much like Jesus she was until I started volunteering at our church's county jail campus. Nothing like traversing to the dark, interior depths of the jail and locking yourself in small room full of convicted murders, child molesters and drug abusers to get your heart racing and your palms sweating. The body odor alone was enough to make me want to turn and run!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Last Monday I chaperoned a field trip with Kaitlin's second grade class. The plan was to leave school at 9:30 a.m. and drive to the carousel on the waterfront in downtown Salem. The kids would each ride the carousel, eat a picnic lunch and play on the equipment in the adjoining park. After they got their wiggles out, we'd head a few blocks into the city to watch the play version of Charlotte's Web in a historic theatre. I arranged childcare for Alli and Paige and looked forward to a bonding day with just Katie.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Given my post on Friday at 1 p.m., I never would have thought it was possible to go to bed on Sunday night with the entire interior and exterior of our house thoroughly decorated for Christmas, but God was so good at answering that prayer!
Friday, December 4, 2009
My house has been in a state of disarray since we came home from Bend a week ago. The dining room is loaded with unpacked boxes of Christmas decor and neither of our two trees are decorated. The exterior of our house is the only unadorned one left in our neighborhood that people, who come from all over, drive through to look at the lights. I've been running at 120 mph all week and still feel like I've accomplished next to nothing relative to how much remains to be done.