No really, I *am* an introvert.

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This picture is going around Facebook today.  Lately I've seen lots of posts about introverts, and some of them made me go "Oh! I get it now! I'm an introvert."  The confusion has come up because I am not shy, and I do like to open my home to people.  Sometimes lots of people.  I have 7  kids, so right there is already a good number of people, right?

Last week I took my girls to see Cirque du Soleil for a matinee, and I am telling you, it took the entire evening to stim down. It's not like I had tics or anything you could put your finger on... I just wanted to be alone. In my room. The girls were so excited all they wanted to do was TALK about the show.  On the other hand, I just wanted to be alone to process the art quietly.

It took years of marriage for Jeff to figure out that when we are together and I'm silent, it's to his credit and a compliment.  When I am in a large group and I am talkative, it is because I am stressed out- or I am reciting a script in my head that just plays automatically. When I am in a large group and quiet, it's because I am stressed out. When I am with just one or two people, I can deal with THAT. But eventually, even that will wear me out. And I will find a quiet place.

So back to the picture.  The Facebook post is proclaiming Introvert Day. The premise is that after a long season of parties, the introvert can celebrate the need to plan and do nothing.  What did I do on this day?  I woke at 4:30 a.m. to the phone call of a friend in distress, and sat with her for 4 hours until I was pretty sure she was ok on her own for a while.  Then I remembered to invite someone over for dinner.  Each night this week.

So maybe I'm some kind of hybrid introvert-extravert?  Ha- no.  I like to plan and do things for others and make them comfortable- and I love to celebrate different types of people and cultures and share with them. But when it's done, I go back to my  little hidey hole until my energy is recharged. The key to knowing whether you are an introvert is, What is your energy source? 

So what are you?  Energy from people or energy from alone-ness?

Mama, give yourself some grace

Oh, I know it.  I know how you feel like "so much is riding on these tires."  It's not like you are simply trying out a recipe ahead of the party so you can make sure it works, right?

These are PEOPLE ferpeetssake.  What if you do something WRONG? What if you aren't good enough?  What if you SCREW IT UP?

Mama,  ACCEPT.  Accept yourself, and accept the little people who were put into your loving care by the hand of God/Fate/blind luck.  Mistakes will happen, so don't be all surprised as if you expected everything to be all Bewitched. You can't just wrinkle your nose at this and expect everything to be cleaned up with a bow tied on top.

REST.  From the start: sleep when the babies sleep, blah blah blah.  But also, just rest your mind. Nothing will be solved by fretting. So rest. Trust your intuition, trust natural consequences, trust that you really didn't get a dud.  It's ok to rest and relax.

GOYB.  You really can't do this sitting down. And you really can't do this if you are really focused on escaping.  Escapism is not parenting. (I know, I tried it.)

LAUGH.  Go ahead.  It IS funny. Even when they smash oatmeal into their hair. Or dump it on the floor and lick it up.

CRY. When you need to. But not in front of them too much, it freaks them out, and they need to know you're strong enough to keep them safe. So sometimes we have to fake-it-til-we-make-it.

REACH OUT.  This is not an individual medley, it's a relay. Find partners, make a tribe. Quit laughing at whatserface for saying "it takes a village" because we all know it's true.

You are doing a good job.  We can only do what we can do on any given day. This isn't a competition. So when you're trying to figure out who to blame, give yourself some grace, OK?

Seven Kids: Conflict Resolution

I have had moms from different circles in my life lately ask me questions about how to deal with conflict at home:  bickering, holding on to cluttery "treasures," and defying expectations.  Here are 7 ways I deal with conflict in our home:

1.  "Do you really want that?  Is it contributing to your happiness and well-being?"  It's helpful to teach our kids to evaluate how they can choose healthful interactions with other people and things in their life. This question applies when there is an argument between siblings, when the plastic restaurant toys are taking over the floor, or when the teenager stays out too late.

2.  "Take a break." Sometimes this comes out as "Get a grip", "Suck it up", or "Really?"  Sometimes even, "Earth calling, welcome to the real world."

3.  "Try again."  If at first you don't succeed, try try again. It's an oldie, but a goodie.

4.  Thanks to the internet, we have also started using "First world problem."  This is the equivalent of our mothers' telling us, back in the day, "There are starving kids in Africa."

5.  "It's ok, I love you.  Nothing you do, and nothing you fail to do, will make me love you any more or any less. I love you because you are mine, not because of what you can do for me."  This is grace.

6.  House rules.  "This is a safe house.  So if you are doing something that is unsafe for you or others, you just have to stop." Period.

7.  "In our house we do joy. We do mistakes. We do Forgiveness.  We do fun. We do loveliness.  And we do second chances.  Let's all remember that, and extend it to everyone."

Hey I failed- but after a WAY long wait, here it is!

I couldn''t get this rafflecopter thing to work.  And what's worse, I couldn't even tell who even entered the drawing. [Not to mention it keeps making my computer hang up so I have to do a hard reboot. Ugh.]

But tell you what.  A little persistence goes a LONG way.  Haha.

Since you all had to be so patient, I picked two winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Those ladies have beautiful work, and I hope you think of them next time you need custom paperwork done.  However, Rafflecopter I can't recommend.

Honeymoon STILL in progress

Double Trouble Designs, on Etsy
When I was a kid, my parents totally hid their intimacy. Therefore, we kids got the impression that one's sexual life ended when one was married and had kids. In fact, the lack of show drove home the point that the media made-- that if you want to have any sex life at all, you need to start NOW in high school because once you are past your mid twenties, sex is over. I mean, even in movies old people didn't kiss. (That has changed somewhat in the last ten years PTL)

As my children were growing up I contemplated how the social mores I picked up played a part in promiscuity in teens and young 20s. I pinpointed the above lesson that had been inadvertently taught me. And I decided that I had to give my kids a totally different message.

Who goes on regular dates? Who is seen going to bed together? In your home, is it only the glamorous movie stars who all look perfectly forever 21?  Or is it mom and dad? Every night. Once mom and dad have gone to bed and shut the door, someone better be on fire if you disturb them for at least the first hour. The kids see that married people have the best, most fulfilling sex lives.

We have always had a "nap" on Sunday afternoons (and most of the time we really sleep). We told the children that coarse, rude joking and laughing about sex was disrespectful and childish. We have a family bedroom with our 8 yo and 6yo still, and my 13yo daughter regularly invites her sisters to come have a sleepover in her room as she wiggles her eyebrows at her dad and I, wink wink nudge nudge.

Seeing our sex life as their sex education-- they don't know any specifics of what we do or how we do it, but they know that this is what adults who are happily married spend their time doing-- gives me a certain purpose too. As a wife, this is what I'm teaching my daughters a wife IS. I can't use sex as a weapon against my husband. I can't complain about their dad, disrespect him, dishonor him. I am a model! I want them to have great marriages, so I model it for them. I therefore end up having a great marriage, too.

We are coming up on our 20th anniversary this year, and our honeymoon is STILL in progress. We are planning a Second Honeymoon trip to Europe for late winter. I was looking on the web for a great photo to go with this post, and came across Double Trouble Designs.  They have beautiful work-- custom invites and door hangers.  I contacted them and asked if we could have a "Honeymoon STILL in progress" door hanger, and if maybe they'd participate in a GIVEAWAY with me.  The ladies were super nice and helpful, and look what they made me:

And this is the giveaway.  You can have one of these old married peoples' door knockers, too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monster Mash of a Post!

Happy Halloween!  As October, a wonderfully busy month, comes to its much-anticipated end, I have a stew of ideas to share with you!

GLEANING!  There is an article on NPR that explains it well, so I'll send you there. This fall I was hooked up with The Society of Saint Andrew, The kids and I went on an apple glean, after which we delivered 70 lbs of apples to the Kansas City Indian Center, 70 lbs of apples to a soup kitchen, and even got to bring home 30 lbs of apples for ourselves.  I told a friend about it, and she and her kids participated in a glean as well.  Then there was a sweet potato glean, and this weekend is a pumpkin glean-- with a potential 400,000 lbs of pumpkin and squash that can be recovered.

Another way I have been participating in gleaning is collecting grocery store cast-offs.  Every week, the manager of the grocery goes through bread and produce and even his flowers, and bags up hundreds of pounds of food that is no longer sellable.  It's sometimes just on the verge of expiration date. Sometimes it's just bruised, squashed, or otherwise ugly.  A sister organization has a truck and picks up the cast-offs, and our people go through all the food and distribute it in an area that is considered an "urban food desert." Even with this, some of the food is "too ugly" for people to want, and I end up bringing a lot of it home to feed my family and neighbors.  This past year has seen stale bread made into croutons and bread puddings and dressings, bananas that I take to the high school and just stand there next to the box, amazed at how excited a football player can get over a bunch of ripe bananas. And bruised apples and pears...

Yesterday I peeled, chopped and stewed 40 lbs of bruised pears.  My kids helped by doing 10 lbs of apples.  They ate the apples for supper (with 4 loaves of bread discarded from a bakery/restaurant).  My neighbor brought over a glass of wine and watched me, chatting with me. She told me the fruit would make my hands soft.  She was right!  I hope she wants one of these jars of pear butter!

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