Category Archives: general

Who’s the Boss?

We’ve known for a long while now that Lillian is going to challenge us. She has a will and a voice and a stubbornness, which add up to the occasional butting of heads. I’ll return to this in a moment.

I just finally finished a fantastic book by Pamela Druckerman, an American woman who is raising her children in Paris. She compares and contrasts the cultures of parenting in America and France. Not only is it a delightful read, but it also offers eye-opening nuggets of sound parenting wisdom. I decided to practice one of these on Lillian today.

According to Druckerman, French parents have a saying that translates, “It’s me who decides.” She says, “Parents say [this] to remind both their kids and themselves who’s the boss” (p. 226).

So, on our way home this afternoon after lunch with Jeff’s parents, Lillian was talking about things she wanted to do this afternoon. I said, “The very first thing we do when we get home is quiet room time, remember?”

She said, “No. I don’t want to do quiet room time.”

[My kids always always always protest quiet room time, but they pretty regularly seem to enjoy the alone time once it is forced upon them.]

I gave her my best Mommy-is-the-boss look, then said, “It’s Mommy who decides.”

She stared right back at me and responded, “It’s Lillian who decides.”

And Jeff, trying to drive, was in silent hysterics.

***

Do you ever have a project on your to-do list that just doesn’t get done? This little nagging task that weighs on your mind, but you feel either too lazy or too incompetent or too busy to face it? This seems to happen frequently at our house. High on my list of neglected household tasks has been installing more smoke detectors in our home. We have one in the hallway by all the bedrooms that was here before we bought the house … and that’s it. Long ago we did buy additional smoke detectors, but they remained in unopened packages. Last year some time, I did prop one up in Lillian’s room when she decided she wanted to close her door at night. But that preference was short-lived. Finally last night, after scribbling this task on countless to-do lists over the past few years, I convinced Jeff to install them. And now it’s done! Just like that! As Lillian would say, “Y’hoo!”

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Thirty

For my 30th birthday, due here in about 2 hours and 20 minutes, I’ve compiled a timeline of sorts: thirty major personal events, good and bad and completely neutral, from my 30 years of life. Presented to you here in chronological order.

1) 1981: Born in Kansas, joining the family of Mom, Dad, and big brother Jeremiah.

2) 1984: My baby brother, Josh, was born. And I think this was the year we moved to the tiny town I would call home for the next 20 years.

3) 1990: Skipping ahead to 3rd grade, when I transferred from Catholic school to public school, a decision I had initially resisted. But I loved my new friends, who introduced me to The Babysitters’ Club and New Kids on the Block.

4) 1991: Without a clue as to what was happening, I and a small group of my classmates were led to the basement of the school and told we would learn to play an instrument. I chose the violin. And that naive decision was instrumental (ha) in the shaping of my identity through jr. high and high school.

5) 1993+: My (first) country music stage. I proudly sported T-shirts from the concerts I attended, and my mom kept me home from school one day so that I could have Billy Dean autograph my jean shorts.

6) 1993: I finally convinced my mom to let me have bangs. And contacts. That was a big year. Also in sixth grade, I adored my teacher, and for the next 7 years, was certain I too would be a sixth-grade teacher.

7) 1996-1997: Freshman year of high school. The year I received my only B throughout my entire high school career, in — you’ll never guess — P.E. The teacher was a punk.

8.) 1996 (I think): Started working part-time at the nursing home, which helped shape my love for the elderly and probably my character and outlook on life.

9) 1997: In the wee hours of a February morning, my dad came into my room to tell me that my brother Jeremiah had been in a car accident. After a day or two in the hospital, he died as a result of it. I, as well as my family, have never been the same, and I don’t think I realize, even now, all the ways his death has affected me. We weren’t close, but I did love him, and I always looked forward to the day when we would have families of our own and grow close again. Now I have lived almost as much of my life without him as I did with him.

10) 1997: Shortly after Jeremiah died, I went on my first ski trip with our high school youth group. A very poignant spiritual high in the very raw aftermath of family tragedy.

11) 1997-1998: My first of two years on the high school dance team. I really can’t dance well, and I hated the early-morning practices, but I loved the performances and the shiny outfits!

12) 1998: My first missions trip, to Monterrey, Mexico, ignited a love for missions and for experiencing other cultures.

13) 1999: A second trip to Monterrey, the time I held a teeny-tiny Mexican baby and knew I wanted to be a mother.

14) 1999: I became really close with my friend Cassie during our senior year. I had known her since preschool. We both grew up with only brothers, so we adopted each other as sisters. After a few years in college of chatting only occasionally, we’ve had weekly phone dates for the past 4 years. I think she’s pretty fantastic.

15) 2000: High school graduation, which seemed at the time like the most important and wonderful day of my life.

16) 2000-2001: Attended a missions school and spent two separate months in foreign countries. I formed some powerful and lifelong friendships that year — a year of personal struggles and identity questions and seeking God like I never had before — and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

17) 2001: Enrolled as a sophomore at John Brown University. Met a tall and handsome Kansas boy named Jeff.

18) 2002: Jeff asked me to be his girlfriend in January. I was totally smitten from the start.

19) 2002: Spent my junior year as an RA in the girls’ dorm, a role I had wanted to fill since the first day I started dreaming of attending JBU.

20) 2003: A whirlwind summer. I started out with 10 days in Thailand, flew home for a friend’s wedding, worked the summer at a family camp near Branson, then…

21) 2003: …said “Yes!” when Jeff proposed to me in the backyard of my childhood home.

22) 2003: Became Mrs. Reimer on December 27. My favorite day of my whole life.

23) 2004: Graduated from JBU. Then spent the latter half of the summer packing for Canada.

24) 2004: Moved to Vancouver, BC, for Jeff to attend grad school. Pretty quickly met a group of girls who would journey with me through the unknowns of living in a foreign country, being newly married, and working to support our scholar husbands. Those girls remain some of my dearest friends, and we all dream of someday living across town from each other again, rather than across the country.

25) 2007: Charlie Auden entered our world and changed everything about who we were and what the heck we thought we were doing with our lives. He is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

26) 2007: We moved to the western suburbs of Chicago for what we thought would be the rest of our lives. Or at least many years. Jeff worked for a small publisher, editing books by day and reading books for fun all evening.

27) 2008: I got my first freelance project from a local publisher, and I’ve spent many naptimes and late nights hunched over a manuscript ever since.

28) 2009: On Mother’s Day, Jeff announced that it might be time to move home to Kansas.

29) 2009: Lillian Christine joined our family, fulfilling and exceeding all of my hopes for a daughter. She’s a joy and a sassy-pants, and sometimes my heart wants to burst just watching her prance around the living room.

30) 2009: Moved to Kansas. Eventually bought a house (2010). I love our crazy life here, near our families and alongside other people in this same life stage. We’re grateful for the friendships we have here and for the roots we’re putting down in Kansas soil.

Well, I haven’t been writing this whole time, but now it’s 2 1/2 hours after I started this post, which means it’s September 29th. Happy 30th to me! I am blessed indeed.

Kids’ media favorites

Every once in a while, and more so recently now that we have a better grasp on our family’s corporate tastes and interests, I’ll be reading a book to Lillian or singing along with one of Charlie’s CDs and think, “Wow, this is actually quite good. I’m enjoying this.” And I want to tell the world about this treasure we’ve found amid gobs and gobs of poorly written and poorly sung children’s material. So that’s what I’m doing here. For what it’s worth, here are a few Reimer family favorites:

CDs:
*Wiggleworms, Wiggleworms Love You and  Songs for Wiggleworms. These are put out by the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Good stuff, with a variety of singers and song styles.
*Elizabeth Mitchell, You Are My Sunshine. We stumbled upon this CD on Amazon last Christmas, and even Jeff and I have loved it. Elizabeth’s voice is beautiful and soothing, and the CD has a very folksy/indie feel.
*Why Not Sea Monsters, Songs from the New Testament. These songs tell Bible stories in a fun, catchy, intelligent way. Justin Roberts attaches modern idioms and expressions to well-known stories; he’s quite witty.
*Seeds Family Worship, Seeds of Courage. This was the CD used for our church’s VBS program this year, and Charlie is obsessed. The songs are straight Scripture verses set to music. Charlie is constantly singing Scripture, and I certainly won’t object to that!

Books:
*Cynthia Rylant, The Great Gracie Chase. This came highly recommended by my friend Grace, so we checked it out from the library. My kids loved it so much that I’ve just bought it for Lillian as a going-potty reward. =)
*Robert Munsch, The Paper Bag Princess (and others). This story is fantastic, with a most unexpected ending. When I was pregnant with Charlie (in Canada), a coworker (a children’s pastor) gave me two Munsch books and said that every Canadian child’s library must contain some of Munsch’s work (he’s Canadian). I’m grateful — we love his storytelling!
*Felicia Bond, Tumble Bumble. Just a cute, rhyming, fun board book.
*Janet Morgan Stoeke, anything Minerva Louise. The main character is a charming little chicken, whom Jeff recently labeled a “free spirit.”
*Sean Bryan, A Bear and His Boy. Wonderful book that Charlie received from a friend for his second birthday. I just adore the page of Mack and Zach smelling the lilacs.
*Polly Dunbar, Doodle Bites. From the Tilly and Friends series. “No more bitey bitey!”

That’s all I can think of for now. Please feel free to comment and add to my list from your own collection of family favorites!

Books of 2010

Such a sad, sad comparison . . .

Books read for fun: .5

Books read with friends: 2

Books read for work: 22.75

Here’s hoping for a little more balance (and fun) in 2011! Happy New Year!

My favorite time of day

I have come to really appreciate, and even crave, the thirty or so minutes after supper. Sometimes we’ll all go do something together, like take a walk, and sometimes I’ll have somewhere to rush off to. But as a general rule, on a typical evening, I have that time to myself.

I’m not sure I’ve ever communicated to Jeff just how much I value this time. But I do. So Jeff, now you know.

He goes off with the kids and leaves me to clean up the kitchen while they play – whether with bouncy balls or golf clubs outside or with books or crayons in Charlie’s room. I turn on the iPod and get to work unloading and reloading the dishwasher. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but I’ll tell you what: it is so very peaceful. Just me and my thoughts and my prayers, humming along to the music and the clanking of dishes. And – the best part – I hear the joyful squeals of laughter coming from outside the kitchen window or from across the house as my kids delight in their daddy.

There are few things more stressful to me than waking up in the morning to a filthy kitchen. When I walk into the kitchen to fetch the kids their breakfast, I am more likely to start the day with a positive attitude if the counters are cleaned off and the sink isn’t spilling over with dirty dishes from last night’s supper.

This time in the evenings to tidy my home and catch my breath has become important for several reasons. And I’m grateful for it – for time alone with my thoughts, for a husband who loves his kids, and for the privacy of my kitchen, where I can dance around like an idiot. A happy and peaceful idiot.

Late-night supper . . . or not.

My refrigerator is empty. Empty. As in, I can literally see through three layers of clear shelving.

Do you ever have one of those days?

Please say yes.

I have a lovely ideal in my head of going to the grocery store every Monday and just having that be a set part of our weekly routine. But it doesn’t always happen, and today it definitely did not happen.

This evening I had to be somewhere during the usual supper hour, so I sent Jeff and the kids to McDonald’s and planned to scrounge around later myself. And this is where I am now. Pacing in my kitchen — fridge to cupboard to another cupboard to fridge — and there are so few things that look promising.

Peanut butter and jelly? Nope, we’re out of bread. Leftovers? No, we polished those off at lunch today. Nachos? No chips. Hmm. Popcorn . . .?

I still don’t know. And what’s worse, I have no idea when I’ll get to the store. Hmmph. Sorry, my dear family. Would anyone care for a plain tortilla?

Zoomed in

There are a few scenes around here that regularly make me smile — scenes that reflect our current life stage without actually showing us.

Nothing screams “Yes, we live near our parents!” like our driver’s-side visor.

Yes indeed, we’re a family of four: