Friday, December 30, 2005

More of Me? Haven't You Had Enough?

Ok, this whole blog thing is becoming an obsession for me, and true to form, I am branching out so fast it won't be long before I cannot possibly manage it all. But since I love to stress myself out . . . I now have TWO new blogs. Homeschooling with Grace is where I will write about all things relating to our homeschool journey. I've already met some incredible homeschooling moms there and love the whole blog site. That is where you can keep up with the boys educational adventures. The new one I signed up for today is Love Letters 4 Jesus. I have really felt a desire to share my own personal insights from scripture and the poems the Lord gives me to write, so here is where I will do it, as soon as the blog is approved and I find out how to copyright protect my work. Keep checking it for a new entry if you just love reading my ramblings (or if you're just plain bored!) This blog (Living Amidst Boys!) will still be devoted to the adventure of raising boys, so these will probably be the funniest, goofiest, and most entertaining of my entries. Not that there will be much to tell the next couple of days. The boys are away with their daddy, and it is very quiet here!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Problem with Things that Shoot . . .

No, it is not that brothers get shot. I can deal with that. It is not that things get broken, I just take the gun away when that happens. The problem with things that shoot is invariably the ammo goes over the fence. Stephen shot his bazooka over the fence today. And I forgot to go get it this evening . . . and I don't think the neighbors would appreciate me knocking on the door now at 1am . . . and I think they work which means now I have to remember to do it at around 7pm tomorrow night . . . and that's a long time for me to have to remember something. Is there a way to tie the ammo to the bow or gun?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Playin' with Our Favorite Presents!

Today was Play Day, and did we ever have fun!

Stephen said his most favorite present was the Stronghold Crusader game Santa left in his stocking. He also loves his new digital camera (ughh! The photos are awful-but what did I expect for $20?), and his new BIG Nerf gun (the thing actually has a bazooka on it that hurts when you get popped with it!).

AJ is of course excited about everything! He played with Play Doh, making animals, and shot his own Nerf Gun (No, I did not give him the one with the bazooka! What kind of crazy do you think I am?)Tonight he is excited about sleeping under his new Batman comforter. He is driving me crazy wanting to make McFlurry's with his McD's shake maker!

We haven't seen Josh all day. He has played his Playstation game, and Stephen's Stronghold game. I think he's really taking advantage of the liberal game times I'm allowing right now. He did work on a monstous Lego T-Rex that he got, and I think he's watched a movie or two today. I keep finding Reese's cups wrappers everywhere, and I think he's the culprit!

I didn't have many toys to play with. I got an under-the-counter CD player that I installed yesterday (after many tears and frustrated words-using the drill is a new skill for me). So today I pulled out my scrapbooking stuff and worked on catching up my Christmas album with my photos from last year. Please be praying for me. I am experiencing all kinds of quirky little health problems. I think most of them are anxiety and stress, and possibly my imagination, but it makes me very anxious because I have no health insurance and am not sure what I would do if I had a serious problem. I need to learn to surrender my health to the Lord and trust Him to take care of me. Of course, I need to improve my diet and exercise too! (But we're not talking about New Year's Resolutions yet, are we?)

Anyway that was our day. We will continue to play tonight until we pass out. I have already begged permission to sleep in my own bed tonight. The boys were gracious in granting that to me. (Good thing, 'cause I'd have done it anyway.) Tomorrow I get to start cleaning up the after-Christmas-mess. I can hardly wait!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Highlights

Well, another year and it's over. Here are the highlights of our Christmas celebration. Last night for Christmas Eve we started with church. All three boys were in the Christmas Eve service. AJ sang in the Pre-K/Kindergarten choir and was his usual animated self. Stephen sang a couple of songs with the children's choir, and Josh narrated part of the Christmas story. Then we came home, ate a quick snack and took photos in front of the tree. The boys were so keyed up I thought we'd never get pictures done, but they did finally get to open their Christmas Eve present-new pajamas, a tradition from my side. We finished up the evening with breakfast for dinner, one of our favorite traditions, and catching up our reading in our Christmas advent book called Jotham's Journey. Oh, and Mom IS weak! I did let them open their presents to each other.

This morning as I think I've already mentioned, I had to wake them when I could no longer sleep. We got up, had our Christmas morning reading, prayed then headed downstairs. The boys checked out their stockings, which of course had our customary BIG apple. Although Josh and Stephen had planned to wait and open presents after Christmas service at church, none of us could stand it, so by 7:00am everything was opened. Then we had breakfast, played, and finally got ready for church. We went to church, then came home to play some more. I had warmed a ham in the oven while we were at church, so I spread out a "feast" of ham, rolls, fruit salad, veggies, and other stuff. The boys loved being able to graze.

Later in the day we went to my aunt and uncle's house for dinner, stayed a while, then went over to a friend's to watch a movie. The boys have had a great day. It has been a bit unusual for us without Gaga and without much family to visit, but we did enjoy all the play time, and I actuall got a couple of naps. I am quite irritated with myself for not taking many digital photos, and for not thinking to buy video tapes (I got waking them up and them coming downstairs, and a few minutes of stockings before I ran out.) Tomorrow is play day so I will try to make up for it by taking more photos.

Snow in Florida and the Biggest Kid!

Yep! It snowed in Florida! Sadly, snow in Florida looks a lot like rain. It feels like rain too. And sounds like rain. Well, OK, it is rain. Only once in about every fifty years does snow actually look and feel like snow. But not today. We did have the characteristic overcast skies associated with snow. But we woke up to rain. I say we, but I really mean me. Yes sir, once again, I got up before the boys. I thought for a minute there Josh was going to wake up before me when he got up briefly at 5:30am to use the bathroom, but he climbed back in bed and dozed off again. So there I was just waiting for somebody to wake up. I gave up at 6:00am, after I got up, turned on lights downstairs and put on a little make-up. Then I woke everybody up. It was easier than it is on any other day. And within one hour, all the work, all the details, all the surprises lay on the floor in a mess. But it was SOOO worth it! Later today I'll post pictures. We have to get ready for church now.

Why Me? There IS a Reason!

I heard one of the most encouraging Christmas messages I have ever heard tonight. As I have mentioned, I am in place right now that tempts me to feel sorry for myself, to doubt God, to wonder why. I have not lived the most righteous life, and although it is sometimes tempting to be proud of the fact that I have been "a good girl" most of my life, I have learned that this source of pride that is is in me (among many other sins!) is most unpleasing to my Savior. It is what often keeps me separated from Him as I try in my own power to be "good" and not to rely on His grace for my justification in God's sight. Nevertheless, I would never have expected that I would struggle with so much hurt and disappointment and loss in my life. Isn't that usually a consequence for those who are rebellious, and disbedient, and wild?

Tonight our Christmas message focused on the cross of Christ. Odd for a Christmas message, but it was so amazing to be brought to the remembrance of why THE Baby was born in the first place. One of the things our pastor shared was the impression of Jerusalem that visitors received when they arrived in ancient times. As they arrived, the glory of the temple dazzled them. It was created to reflect the light of the sun, glistning and gleaming with a bright light. The sight would have awed visitors. But as they entered the city, the tremendous numbers of livestock being slaughtered daily for sacrifices would have filled the air with the stench of blood, an awful, revolting odor. Two senses in one city, with very different messages. Glory and disgust. Righteousness and sin.

As I considered this message, I thought much about my own life. Some would like to have us believe that once you are a Christian, life is redeemed to the level that all the problems of sin are now surmountable-that in this life we can have pain-free, financially secure, always victorious lives. "But do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?" Like the original temple it is necessary that our bodies reveal to the world around us the dual message of the Gospel. They need to smell the stench of sin affecting our lives, the stench that Jesus faced as He went to the cross. At the same time, they need to see the glory of our God reflected off our lives. Both senses must be experienced by those around us to witness to them of the power of our God. So it is with my life. Battered and broken by sin-my own , that of others, and even by more general things like sin's consequences of death and decay-my life reveals how disgusting sin is to a holy God. Yet I hope that my life reflects not just a little of His glory, but reflects it brightly, blindingly. I hope others are drawn to His majesty in spite of the stench of sin and its effects.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Drive and Spy

We finally made it out to look at lights tonight. I picked up McDonald's for us, then we hit the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, I decided to take the boys to a really nice, newer neighborhood. It is laid out with all these winding, curvy streets. They had some really pretty houses, but I didn't think about what all the twisting and turning was doing to my little passengers. First of all, AJ has not been getting his afternoon nap, so by about 8:00 he's done for the day. If he is in a car, belted to a seat, his exhaustion hits earlier, so he passed out right after eating. And poor Stephen in the back seat suddenly informed me he didn't feel so well. I realized that all the curves were giving him a touch of motion sickness. We considered trying to make it to the one really big place we had looked forward to going to see, but finally just decided to get home. He was fine once he rested a while. Josh told me on the way home that he had been a little queasy too. So there you have it. We looked at lights until we were sick of them. Maybe we'll do this in smaller quantities next year-or maybe go to a different neighborhood!

Favorite Christmas Traditions

OK, nothing like me giving you Christmas tradition ideas two days before . . . but that is so like me! The first thing I have done would be helpful in this instance-I have a family notebook with sections for holidays, Christmas plans, chores, etc. (I'll try to pull it out later and write more on it.) Every year I add pages to the Christmas section and make notes on our plans. I keep our menus here (Tree decorating night, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day), our baking list, a list of activities that we just have to do to feel like it is Christmas (I ask each kid for one request around Thanksgiving, and add a few of my own), and any other important information.

This year some of our favorite things to do have included:

The Chain

As early before Christmas as I can manage to remember we make a chain of green and red construction paper. Every day, we rip off one link and count the days until Christmas. This was a Newman tradition. The boys really love to watch the chain grow shorter and shorter, and I love not having to answer 25 times "How many more days?"

Baking Cookies

And the messier the better. This year everybody started out helping, but Stephen was the only one to stick with it. He helped me make the best peanut butter balls!

Drive and Spy They really love to go out and look at lights. We are planning on doing this tomorrow.

A Bethlehem Visit One of the churches about an hour away does a phenomenal recreation of Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born. Stephen really loves this, although we had to skip it this year. We were just getting over colds and had the first cold snap of the year, and I wanted everyone well for Christmas!

Angel Tree The kids amazed me this year when they initiated finding a kid to buy a present for this year. I'm glad they are learning that this is important.

Play Day If we are able with the visitation schedule for the kids, we reserve the day after Christmas Day as Play Day. Nothing gets put away before Play Day. We begin the day playing with our new stuff, and we do it all day, watching movies, playing games, whatever! We throw mattresses and sleeping bags on the floor and play until we fall asleep. The boys really love this day!

A new tradition I am trying to establish is to find someone to invite for Christmas Eve or Day, someone with no family or who doesn't have thier kids for the day. I have learned it is so hard to be alone, and you would be surprised the people who really do feel they are all alone as the Christmas decorations come out. Last year I invited a single parent whose kids were with the other parent. This year I invited a widow. In both cases they ended up at the last minute making other plans, but I still want to keep my heart tender to this need. There are few times more distressing for an orphan or a widow than at the holidays. (See James 1:27-this verse just resonates in my head now).

What are some of your traditons? Please post them so we have more ideas to chose from!

Am I Just Getting Old?

OK, I'm beginning to think there is really something to all of this "over-the-hill" stuff. I'm nearing forty, and I am noticing definite changes in my body. Tonight for example, we decided to sleep downstairs with all the pretty Christmas lights on in the family room. I blew up our camping air mattresses. I took the couch. But did I sleep? NO! First it was just plain hard to fall asleep. Then I started aching because I couldn't roll over. When Josh woke up about 2:30am, I asked if he would change places with me so I could sleep on the air mattress. Fine, now I should sleep, right? No. AJ woke up frustrated because Stephen was lying on him, then later because he was falling out of his sleeping bag, and one time I woke up because I could hear the dog snoring! So now it is nearly 5:00am and I'm giving up. I'm upstairs in my room, ready to climb in my own bed, hoping that no one wakes me up early, or sets the alarm off in the morning. And I'm wondering why I'm aching all over. I think I understand now why we (should) have children when we are young.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

AJ's Writing

Now you can see for yourself how well AJ is writing. He did his name from memory. He also learned to write FOX (from watching "You've Got Mail" with me-who says you can't learn from TV?) I showed him how to change the "F" to a "B" to make BOX, so he loves to write that word too. Tonight someone helped him to write BAT. Isn't it amazing how quickly they can pick things up?


The boys are spending the night at a friend's tonight, so I get to sleep alone in my own bed . . . in the middle of the bed . . . all night . . . with no one trying to sleep on top of me or under me . . . and I don't have to get up in the middle of this very cold night to change pee-pee sheets. My only concern is how I will stay warm on this very cold Florida night!

Look What Andrew Did!

Andrew wrote his first name today . . . by himself . . .from memory! Isn't that cool! I was so surprised and excited. Check out my homeschool blog for more info. (See the sidebar for the link)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lisa's Christmas Reflections: Mary

Tonight the boys and I went to a Christmas party at church. It is usually a highlight of our Christmas celebration, but tonight it was bitter-sweet. Usually we go on Friday night, the busier night of the two. The gathering which is already smaller was even less attended tonight because it has rained hard all day. So we ate dinner alone. It was partly my fault. There were one or two families I could have gone and sat with, and should have, but by the time we realized who was where we were already sitting and eating, and I felt terribly alone.

During the worship and entertainment, I heard the song "Breath of Heaven" sung. I had a new sense of Mary's experience wash over me. I realized that although we know what Mary's initial reaction was to the news that she was to give birth to the Messiah, we are given little else between the announcement by the angel Gabriel, and her delivery. And suddenly tonight I felt a little of a sense of wonder about whether she must have felt alone for a while. Her kind and gentle Joseph, walking away in disappointment. The concern over the shame her parents and family would face having an unwed pregnant daughter. Do you think there were moments there of doubt, lonliness, anxiousness. Perhaps that was part of the reason God chose a girl barely herself a child. Did her youth and innocence shield her somewhat from worry?

I noticed also how quickly God stepped in. He sent her to Elizabeth. Someone who would believe the whole preposterous thing. Someone who would love her, encourage her, be her friend. Someone who would point her to God

God has done this for me too. In moments when I feel alone, cut off . . . I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt for even indulging such thoughts of self-pity because of the women God has put in my life who love me, encourage me, point me to God. There may not be stacks of presents under the tree for me this year. No expensive surprises, but God in His wisdom has already given me a most precious gift-first His own presence, then that of other believers who love me. Tie that up with a bow!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Confessions-a Game?

OK, evidently I have now been "tagged" by Erin. Since I'm still kind of new to the whole blogging realm, I guess this means it's my turn to 'fess up. Hope I haven't given you a little too much of me! So here goes:

Confession: In researching other confessions, I was so relieved to see that I'm not the only "messie" mom on the planet. I sometimes feel like I am. It seems like every other house I go into is immaculate, while mine is carpeted in dog hair, covered in clutter, and furnished with laundry and half-read books. No matter how hard I try to keep it picked up and cleaned, it just doesn't like to stay that way. I'm really intimidated by single-dads who keep house better than me!

Confession: I love time-wasting activities. I love computer games like Minesweeper and Solitaire. I love historical novels. I love movies. It is easy for me to find ways to burn minutes, and hard for me to use them more wisely.

Confession: I actually almost think I have men figured out . . . and I like the way they think . . . sometimes. I do have to admit I love the Redwall books I read with the boys, I have a hard time now understanding why little girls whine and cry instead of just decking whoever upsets them, and I'm no longer the least bit surprised to find frogs or spiders or centipedes hiding in the 'fridge-even when they move! (The boys love the joke of hiding plastic ones everywhere to try to scare me, but it wouldn't surprise me anymore even if they were real.)

Confession: I am a complete night owl. I hate getting out of bed before 8 a.m., and, well . . . here it is 2 a.m. and I'm still up. (Or actually tonight, up again-I was in bed by 1:00, but my son woke me up.) While I cannot get the house cleaned all day, I can do it in an hour after 11 p.m. I have a hard time sleeping if I don't read before bed, even if it is midnight. Worse yet? I passed on the night owl gene to my oldest son!

Confession: I often feel like I am falling just short of my potential. I could manage my time better if I'd just stick to a schedule. I could train my children better if I was more consistent and followed up on what I tell them. I could be a successful writer, speaker, business woman . . . if I just had a few more hours in the day. Or is it that I've been on the computer playing Minesweeper for the last hour instead of breaking up the fight downstairs or writing? Hmmmm . . . .

Final Confession: Even though I have a counter on my blog site, and I love to check and see how many people have looked at it today and all that, I have no idea who is reading this! I would love to tag someone else, but the only ones I KNOW read this regularly have already been tagged! So if your reading this and you haven't been tagged by someone else----------> TAG! YOU'RE IT!

(Leave your name on the comment box and let me know your accepting the challenge!)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why Boys Have Best Friends

  • So they have someone to try to beat in . . . (fill in the blank: chess, baseball, racing for the front seat of the car, whatever!)

  • So they have someone to sword fight with.

  • So they have someone to beat up.

  • So they have someone to express those two burning sentences to.

  • So they have someone by whom to be beat.

  • So they have someone to wrestle with . . . and then beat up.

  • So they have someone to be with who doesn't want to always talk.

  • So they have someone by whom to be beat up.

  • So they have someone with just the tool that they need.

  • So they have someone to play "I'm the best . . ." with.

Why God Gives Girls Best Friends

  1. So we have someone to complain to without being thought of as whiney.

  2. So we have a shopping buddy (especially at Walmart after midnight).

  3. So we have someone to share books with--twice the books at half the cost.

  4. So we have someone willing to sit with us at Starbuck's.

  5. So we have a shoulder to cry on who won't look at us like we're crazy!

  6. So we have someone who will be impressed with our latest kid story.

  7. So we have occasional free babysitting.

  8. So we have someone who knows when we just want a hug.

  9. So we have someone who will tell us when we're about to make a really big mistake.

  10. So we have someone to talk to on the phone.

  11. So we have someone to diet with, or to complain to that we need to diet.

  12. So we have someone who will tell us what the new outfit really looks like on us.

  13. So we have someone who will remind us that God really cares and He is really in control.

  14. So we have a scrapbooking buddy (or craft buddy, or whatever-other-hobby buddy).

  15. So we have someone who listens without trying to fix it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Covenant Family Blessings

Andrew was real sick yesterday, so I missed church again today. We missed last week because Josh was sick. I decided that there was no need for the two older boys to stay home, so I arranged a ride for them, then got them up and ready this morning. I'm not sure why, but their ride didn't show up. AJ was feeling much better this morning (as evidenced by the way he bounced around the rooms and chattered constantly) so as I sat looking at my two big boys, ready to go and waiting, I finally decided to drive them myself. Yes, it took some courage to enter the church parking lot still in my PJ's and without any make-up on my face. At least I combed my hair and pulled it back!

I dropped the boys with specific instructions--go inside, leave the Angel Tree present where it belongs, then find a family to sit with! I also added to Josh that he was to find one of my dear friends and ask if she could bring them home, then come out and let me know so I would know whether or not to pick them up. I sat. I waited. I waited some more. No Josh. What was I to do? Go into the church in my red striped pajama pants and scary bare face? No way! So I sat. Finally I saw a friend coming out and I asked if she could find Josh and send him out to me. A few minutes later, Josh remembered I was waiting (uuuggghhh! I see signs of him becoming a man all the time!) and he came out to let me know it was all arranged. Stephen was sitting with his best friend's family, and Josh with a friend of his.

In truth, I was never really worried. I know they are safe at church, and that someone would spot them and check into anything that is going on. It is a comfort and a blessing to have covenant family!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ooops! My Mistake.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the Holy Spirit was at work on me. Real torture is NOT having sick kids in rainy weather that the Lord is asking me to serve. It is being captive to selfishness and laziness. And REAL torture would be not knowing who could get me through being a homebound single mom with sick kids, rainy weather and a messy house. Fortunately for me, I know who will get me through it. I also now know that I have been living like a woman without accountability. I have expected my kids to be accountable to me, but have not acted or shown them that I am accountable for the way I use my time, energy, resources, etc. Ooops! My mistake. First thing tomorrow, I have to have a talk with them. Then I have to clean up my house!

Recipie for Maternal Torture

Start with one sick kid. Add in three more days of sickness, blended with overcast skies and rain. Bake under a home without cable TV and limited videos which have all been watched in the last month--twice! Stir in three nights of very little sleep, and a cold of her own. Once the first kid is almost done, throw in a second sick kid, five nights of bedsheets that have been wet in the middle of the night, a healthy kid who is sick of being indoors, and a kid who has been laying around for four days. Gently mix in a 'fridge and freezer running out of food, and top it all off with Christmas holiday preparations that need to be made (including four half-unpacked boxes sitting around the house). Finish baking under pleas of "When are we going to bake Christmas cookies?" and "Do we really have to do school today?"

Lord, I am so grateful for time with my kids, but please Lord, let this part be over soon!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Want to know what a grown woman loves about a book fair? The books of course! Tables and tables of them! At the book fair our church's private school has had this week I found this wonderful internet linked book on Asia!

Want to know what an elementary aged boy loves about a book fair? The hot chocolate at the snack bar and the squishy rubber lizzards on the gift table. Go figure!

Four Thumbs Up . . .

. . .or maybe eight? We loved it that much! In fact my arms hurt from trying to get my thumbs higher. Loved what, you ask? Tonight we got to see an advanced showing of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. First of all, I LOVE the fact that they didn't mess with the title! OK, that's silly, but it really bothers me that a producer or director would presume to know better that the author what the thing should be called!

From the start of the movie we were hooked. It was very true to the book, which I have read a couple of times and Josh has consumed in one form or another more than a dozen times. I LOVED the casting . . . and the sets . . . I kept thinking this is better even than what I imagined! Tilda Swinton who portrayed Jadis, the White Witch was truly amazing. I cannot think of another actress who would have done a better job (in my vast knowledge of British actresses!). I was also intrigued by the way the children brought to life the extreme natures of the children in the book. The strengths and weaknesses of each character were really exagerated-a good move for a screen translation. And the CGI generated characters were amazing. I will never be satisfied watching the BBC versions again (although eternally grateful to them for attempting to bring such wonderful stories to life for us).

I have read and heard film people defending the need to make adaptations to the story when a book is translated to screen, and so there were some changes made to Narnia, but I did not find them to be distracting, and some were even enjoyable. The film did a wonderful job of exploring the emotional trauma of war on the children and the more normal tensions among family members that resulted in Edmund's treachery and each of the children's reticence in fighting the battle in Narnia. Although I had heard the battle scenes in Narnia compared to those in Lord of the Rings, I did not find them nearly as graphic or disturbing. My five-year-old watched all but the scene where Aslan is killed on the stone table, and even that contained much more implied than shown.

Best of all, the spiritual quality of the story was left intact, which delighted us. My pastor expressed his concern by telling me that he thought that Lewis in the hands of Disney was like letting the Philistines translate scripture. I had been relieved before the movie to find out that Disney's involvement in Narnia was more one of publicity and distribution, and that Walden Media, a very family friendly production company was responsible for the making of the film. In addition, Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis' stepson was one of the producers. They all did a fine job of transfering the heart of Narnia to the screen with integrity. One of my gauges of how well a story has been brought to the screen is whether I can find new things in the story that I didn't see when reading it (things that were really there, not things added by a producer or screenwriter with an agenda). Narnia did that. I suddenly got the idea that Aslan was able to breathe life into those of stone, just as Jesus breathes life into our stone hearts before we are saved. Duhhhh. . . don't ask me why I never got that one before.

So now we are home. The boys are asleep, hopefully dreaming that they are King Peter with his sword pointed into the coming onslaught. I'm sure tomorrow will be filled with chatter of "I loved that . . ." or "The best thing was . . . ." But I'm kind of sad now. Waiting for this movie to come out has built for us from the moment over a year ago that we heard it was coming. It has been our focus for days. What will we do now? Maybe it's a good thing Christmas is so close!

For more information or previews, go to this link:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

At Last! Tree Trimming Today!

Well after almost a week of "Mom, when are we going to decorate the treeeee?" today we did it. Everything about this year is new and different for me, yet we continue to blaze the trail and find new ways to do things, new ways to celebrate, and new ideas to make it through a very different place than we were in last year. This is the first Christmas we have been through without Daddy-"Gaga" to the boys. I would have expected it to be quite hard, and although we have each had some sad moments, it has been much easier so far than I expected. Of course, having a series of bugs has helped to keep us distracted, but keeping my spirits up under those conditions is quite a miracle in itself!

I really wanted tree trimming to be this cozy, comforting traditional event, but with Josh being sick, and me not being able to tame the house yet, tonight we just did it. Yes, I missed the "traditional" after-trimming cocoa, cookies, and a holiday movie, but we are trying to get well, and by the time we were done it was bedtime. So, we break up the "tradition" and do some of that other stuff tomorrow night. Who will ever know? (Except the hundreds of people who read it here?)

The one really fun thing I was able to do this year that was different was to totally release the decorating into the hands of the boys. Yep! I didn't open a single box of ornaments, and except for a few that I hung on the really high branches, the boys did all of the hanging. It was really fun watching them get excited over this ornament or that one. I even let Josh take some photos so we would actually have Mom in a few. I kind of wished afterward that I had put on a little makeup and such, but then again, there weren't too many face shots. (Typical boy, he had more fun trying to take shots of my back end!) So even though Josh was still not feeling well, and even though it is almost two weeks since Thanksgiving, we have gotten the tree done, and we had a fun time doing it. Now, for the rest of the house . . . .

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lisa's Christmas Reflections:What's in a Name?

As we are reading the Christmas adventure again this year, I am amazed as I see more new things in it. One of the things I have learned somewhere this year is the significance of naming. We have been studying medieval history, and we noticed that when a young squire is knighted, the king gives him a new name. The significance of this is also seen in scripture. The one who does the naming is the one to whom the oath of fealty is sworn. In other words, he who names owns the loyalty and allegiance of him who receives the name. The boys and I have had fun watching the naming and renaming of men like Abraham, Jacob, Paul, and so on, and talking about how their new name reflected God's purpose for them and a change in their relationship to God.

The interesting thing to me is to see the same concept in the Christmas story. John the Baptist never belonged to anyone but the Lord. The Lord named him from the beginning. Jesus was also named directly by God. I have marvelled at the faith it took by the parents to follow through with the name given to them for their boys. John's name means "God is gracious," and Jesus of course means "salvation." Do you think maybe there is a connection between the names?

It is also my own personal belief that each of us was named by a sovereign God. Within each of our names is a glimpse of the purpose that God has already planned for us. We might not fully realize how God is working out that meaning in our life for a long time, but it is still there. This is just a personal belief of mine, but wouldn't it add an amazing dimension to God's character if He were that specific in our lives? Just something to think about.

Natural Consequences

Don't you just love natural consequences? We have been passing all kinds of winter bugs. Josh has been running a fever for a few days. Everyone has been sleeping in my room so we can share the vaporizer. Last night Josh left a full cup of water sitting in a large metal bowl. This afternoon, Josh and AJ were supposed to be napping. As usual, AJ was fighting sleep, and was playing instead. At one point he ended up rolling off his cot and playing with the large metal bowl. Just as I turned to look at him, he tipped it back and got the full cup of water in the face. I wanted to die laughing, but instead I just said something like, "Wouldn't have happened if you had been in your bed where you belong. Huh?" Of course when he ran to the bathroom to dry off I collapsed. Sometimes the natural consequences our children face are really hard to watch, but sometimes it is quite amusing! Needless to say, he came back and went right to sleep.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas Paradox

The life of faith sometimes seems a little backwards-a paradox of sorts. I know what it is to be alone. This year, I am living as an orphan. I am celebrating Christmas as an orphan, and I have barely gotten used to celebrating as a single-parent. I have never known what it is like to live without anyone-parents, husband, or other family-close enough to help get Christmas boxes out of the attic. I have only recently discovered the dilemma of being unable to just run to the store to pick up items for a sick kid. There are days that I realize I have forgotten what it is like to have someone with whom to share the load around the house. And I now know what it is to have something funny, or troublesome to share, but feel at a loss to know who to share it with. Oh it's not like I am totally isolated. There are many who are more alone than I, but I have had enough of a taste of what it is to be cut off from others that I could well imagine the desperation of that.

Oddly enough, this taste of alone gives me a new and unique understanding of belonging and a new gratitude of what Christmas means. Immanuel means God with us. Imagine! God came to be with us! In reality, what I see in day-to-day challenges as aloneness is something with which we all wrestle. Many people walk around with an illusion of connections-family, friends, spouses-yet feeling totally alone like captives in their own invisible prison. They feel unconnected, unloved, hopeless, even desperate. They try to ease this isolation by staying busy, accumulating things, amassing power or recognition. From the beginning, in His place of perfect community with the godhead, God saw that isolation and it disturbed Him. So He sent Immanuel and an eternal connection to Himself. Now we have the promise from Jesus that he "will never leave us or forsake us." Death cannot separate us from Him, nor can abandonment. Even our own sin only creates the sensation in those of us who believe in Him that we are separated. But He never leaves, He is just behind us, waiting for us to turn around.

One of my favorite additional benefits of having a Savior from the lonliness brought into this world by sin is that He not only comes to relieve our aloneness, but "he sets the lonely in families." As we are connected to Him, He becomes our connection to each other. Although I sometimes create in my mind walls that make me feel more alone, I know there are people around me that I can call to come help me pull Christmas boxes down. There are dear ones I can call at 1 a.m. to come stay with my kids so I can make a Walmart run to get emergency supplies for a sick kid. I might at times feel I am running into walls as the lives of these dear ones seem to spin to quickly for me to connect, but I know it takes little more than a desperate cry out to them, and they will stop to listen to me. And that is because of HIM! I don't have that kind of security with my neighbor, or even with some family members. But oh, how I trust in the physical extension of Christ's body, the church.

This is the paradox. I am alone, but not alone. I know lonliness, but know a connection like no other on which I can count. This year I will not have a new computer under the Christmas tree, no jewlery, or new outfits, or anything from a list I prepared. But I am grateful for more enduring gifts that will never end up in a garage sale. In a new place this year, I will have the gift of Immanuel. Once more, HE is the gift. And I have the gift of knowing more intimately what it means that Immanuel showed us that God is with us-FOREVER.

Friday, December 02, 2005

"My Foot Just Popped"

AJ is my snuggle-boy. He's the real affectionate one, and I love his hugs and kisses. We share the love language of touch. I wasn't surprised this afternoon when he ran up insisting on a kiss. I just kissed him like always. What cracked me up was when he came back and said," Hey mama, know what happened after you just kissed me?"

I thought a minute. "No, what?"

"My foot just popped!" he said as he kicked his little foot up behind him.

Don't worry. The Princess Diaries is already in the trash.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lisa's Christmas Reflections: Joseph

As the Christmas carols began playing today, I heard a beautiful song from Joseph's perspective. I think Joseph is a wonderful example to us of how God trusts humans to do things that He could easily do better. One of my struggles as I wait for God's direction in marrying again is worrying about all the possible problems a new husband could bring into our family. How could anyone love my children like a father, when he is not their father? Joseph gives me such encouragement. A few years ago, I wrote in my prayer journal the following:

Lord, I thank You for reminding me today that You understand how I am feeling about another man raising my children. You entrusted Your only Son to the care of a man who was not His father. How it must have been hard for You to watch Joseph lose his temper with my Lord. How You must have watched as he did child-rearing so humanly.

I am grateful for Joseph's example. God has entrusted three little boys to my care. I do it so imperfectly. If I marry again, the man I marry will do it imperfectly. Yet God is going to use my efforts, and his, to do amazing things . . . in spite of us!

A Day of Giving Thanks

The Baker Thanksgiving was celebrated a day early. I hadn't planned on cooking. The boys were spending the day with their dad, and I was going to visit friends and family. I'm not exactly an enthusiast when it comes to cooking. The boys had other plans for me however. They begged me to cook, so I did, on Wednesday. I actually don't mind cooking a feast, and that is what we had. With Dad gone this year, I anticipated some emotional ups and downs. I was surprised again by grace--the holiday was a blessed one. As always, I find so many things to be grateful for, but God's amazing love and grace still surprises me! We had a great dinner, and the boys enjoyed just hanging around at home.

A homeschool project? No, Stephen is just disecting the turkey innards. Ok, yeah, even I think it's a little wierd, but he had a great time.

This is what Josh spent much of his holiday time doing. He rented a Playstation game with some of his own money, and has beaten the thing! Oh well, one I don't have to buy now!

. . . And then there's the turkey! AJ spent the day playing with a friend he invited over. Callie had dinner with us as well, and complained when it was time to go home that she hadn't been over long enough!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Feeling EmPowered!

Whoooo hoooo! I paid some bills tonight (not usually something I'm cheering about) and took a few minutes to really look at my electric bill. We have managed to cut the bill by almost half!!! Of course, I'm sure the cooler fall weather and the slight drop in oil prices did have something to do with it, but I'm SOOOO thrilled! It was worth every penny I paid to buy Star Wars III for my light hounds! Hmmm. . . I think we have relaxed the vigilant efforts to cut the bill down this month . . . maybe I need to remotivate us all. I can't wait to tell the boys in the morning! Let's see. What could I promise them if we could get it down some more?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Only in Middleburg . . .

Yes these are things I have really witnessed personally (or have first person knowledge of!). Only in Middleburg . . .

  • . . . do you find a mobile home with a second-storey addition

  • . . . do you find a mobile home with the windows boarded up for the approaching hurricane

  • . . . do you see a poster-board sign directing you to a wedding

  • . . . do you attend a wedding in cut-offs with a beer in your hand (OK, no. I wasn't the one with the beer!)

  • . . . do you see a business advertisement on the back of a vehicle (written by hand in the dirt on the window)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yes, Lord, I Get It . . .

I was really challenged by part of a Bible study I'm working on. I have been really discouraged lately with the imperfections of the church. I wasn't sure if it was genuine flaws I was seeing, or just unrealistic expectations on my part, but I was really stewing over it. I have felt very angry lately at just about everything.

Last night I read a quote from George Muller that said: "It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer, until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing." . . . Guilty! This is exactly why I am discouraged. I'm not really telling the Lord what I need. When I do, I am not expecting Him to really care about and take over that need. And I am going ninety to nothing trying to fix my own problems only to face futility.

A verse that really convicted me was Psalm 81:7,14 "You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud. I tested your faith at Meribah, when you complained that there was no water. . . . For it was I, the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things."

"LORD, there's no water here. I'm tired and hot, and I want good things! When are you going to meet my needs? Lord, nobody's listening! Lord . . . !" I haven't done well on the test.

"OK, I'm ready to just open my mouth."

This morning, without even a reminder call on my part, a friend showed up on my doorstep to fix my lawnmower. OK, Lord, I get it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Once Again Wondering Why . . .

  • Why does my five-year-old know more about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than George Lucas or JRR Tolkein?

  • Why do I have to say again, "No we cannot take light sabers to church!"

  • Why do I have to go to another neighbors house to beg for an arrow, football, baseball or clothing item shot over thier fence?

  • Why does my eleven-year-old roll his eyes when I talk to him?

  • Why do I see him roll his eyes even when he doesn't exactly roll them?

  • Why is my eight-year-old wearing two different socks (not similar ones-a red and a black one!) to church!

  • Why do they think they can go outside and play in the morning before church? (Remember the "Do not play in the dirt" comment from yesterday?)

  • Why do they tease the dog and then get upset when she snaps at them?

  • Why does everyone want to sleep in my bed?

  • Why do I love them so much in spite of all these things?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How a Boy Enjoys a Square Dance

For us, the hay ride at the beginning of the evening just lured us in. Especially when a loud tractor was pulling a small cart where we could attempt feats of danger and adventure. The whole evening became a recipie for adventure when we realized that no one was really watching the kids. Oh, mom might have checked every now and then to make sure we didn't just take off, and that we weren't in the pond, but for the most part we had freedom! Then there was the food. At these things, the food was served buffet style, and there were so many choices! Of course, we weren't actually going to try all of those casseroles and things--too many ingredients!--but at least there were lots of choices. Once we saw the desert table--now that we could sample liberally from! Why exactly did mom say we could only have two things? After dinner, the grown ups wanted to dance. There was no way I was going to dance! Well, it did look kind of fun, so maybe just one dance with mom. . . but if I have to touch another girl, forget it! Most of our evening was spent running around, getting hot and sweaty and playing as rough as we wanted. Don't you just love being somewhere that the grown-ups are distracted and busy! As the evening progressed, someone started a fire. Then we were allowed to burn marshmallows in the fire. Of course, if you burn too many of the marshmallows, you don't get to make a s'more, so I made one, then used any other marshmallows as fuel. But the best part of the evening? Demolishing things with the sledge hammer in the relay race. Who doesn't love smashing things with a sledge hammer? This was the way to spend an evening. Mom got to talk to people, and I didn't have to listen. Only at the end of the evening did I have to remind her that it was time to go. When do we get to do this again?

Ramblings on Our New Family Member

OK, it's only half-way through the day and two of the boys have already needed the bath tub. Today has been the kind of day I love. First of all, I slept until noon. Really, I needed it! I'm fighting a cold and was up and down all night, so I needed to sleep in today. When we got up, we had a leisurely breakfast, then the younger two took to the great outdoors.

I moved outside to fold some laundry while I watched the boys and enjoyed the sunshine where I heard AJ talking to Casey. Casey? That's a new name. He and Casey were out in the great hole to China, so I wondered what it was all about. Not one to keep things to himself for long, AJ finally introduced me to his new pet, a female earthworm! Please don't ask me how he knew it was a she, I think the answer I got was that he just gets to decide. Anyway the event I have long awaited finally happened when I caught AJ trying to sneak Casey into the house. I explained to him that if he really loved Casey, he needed to put her back into the dirt where she belonged, otherwise he would kill his beloved pet. He was a little discouraged since he didn't know how he would find her later, but I guess he put her back. No worm found inside yet!

While all this was going on, Stephen was shooting arrows. After I got laundry done, I decided to head inside to finish cleaning the carpet. My last words to the two boys outside were "Don't get in the dirt!" Of course, I looked outside later and Stephen is laying in the dirt digging the hole in the back! So the two little boys have already had to wash their legs and hands today. (I didn't bother with whole bodies. We are going to a Fall Square Dance tonight, so we will be outside most of the evening.) Hey, I even think my clean-conscious friend would be impressed! I think the boys have had a shower every day this week! I love the fall!

Friday, November 11, 2005

No Schedule for Me, Thanks!

I am not very disciplined with a schedule. I don't really like them, and since no one in my house is going to take the initiative to stick to one, my rebellious nature usually wins and we follow the newly designed schedule about a week and a half, then pitch it in favor for flying by the seat of our pants. One of the good things about keeping other kids this year has been that we have been forced to do certain things by certain times. So this is our general routine. (Notice I didn't say schedule. I can handle a routine, but please don't put me on a schedule!)

  • 8:00am Wake the boys up with tickling which turns into wrestling. Josh is always the last one out of bed since he didn't go to bed the night before until really late.

  • 9:00am Start school work--hopefully! The boys have already gotten their breakfast and done some morning chores.

  • 12:00pm Stop work to frantically run out the door to pick up the little girl we keep from school. We listen to a book on tape in the car. Right now we are listening to A Wrinkle in Time. Josh and I are really hooked, so I am looking for ways to stretch out our time in the car!

  • As soon as we get home, we have lunch and the boys jump on the trampoline or play outside with the dog.

  • 1:00pm Finish up reading or schoolwork, read aloud, work on history or science together. This is our favorite school time of the day.

  • 3:00pm Pick up the boys we have in the afternoon from school. Now the fun really begins. I look over homework, and check to make sure all of our schoolwork is done. Once everyone is finished with work, the kids all play--lately outside. I work on projects inside, or usually just on getting the house back in shape from the morning.

  • 5:30pm Kids are picked up, dinner is made, baths taken and our evening chores begin.

  • 7:00pm Clean up dinner, finish any housework or evening routine chores, then we decide what to do for the evening. Wednesday is usually a movie.

  • 9:00pm Redwall time! We are working our way through our favorite series of read aloud books. AJ always falls asleep during this time.

  • 9:30pm or so the boys go to bed and I finish up any chores or school planning I have to do. At 10:30pm I talk on the phone, catch up on blogs, or study and read.

  • I would like to say that I am in bed by 11:00pm, but that would be a lie. I wish I wasn't so much a night owl, but I am. Of course, I pack a lot more into the day than appears here. So far this works for us, and we are managing to keep it together. I sure love being home with my boys!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dear Mom,

I wish that I could write this letter to you in person. Some day, when we meet again in heaven, I hope I will be able to tell you all these things. If not, I know they will not matter, for the One who deserves the glory for your life and mine will already be receiving it. I want to thank you for the mom you were. I am astounded now as I carry the great burden called motherhood at the amount of work that is involved, and you did so many things I don't even try to do. You sewed clothes, baked and cooked (real meals, not chicken nuggets and jar spaghetti sauce). Your house was always spotless. It seemed to me that you knew how to take time regularly for God, spending time in study and prayer. Did you ever struggle to find that time? I never saw it if you did. And I remember how you loved women. You had not only my sister and I, but you had spiritual daughters and sisters in abundance. Perhaps that is why it is now so hard for me occasionally. It seems I had the perfect mom, with passions similar to mine. I just wish I could do it all as well as you did.

Mom, I'm sorry, but it used to be that when I remembered you I remembered the quirks. I remembered a tantrum you threw because we assumed you were the household maid. You seemed so unreasonable then. But now I think we probably deserved worse. I remember you making me rake the carpet, so great was your desire to make a good impression. I remembered you using so many words to try to get through to a self-centered teen. I'm sorry these are the things I remembered for so long, because now I understand them. And I remember more . . .

I remember having kids in and out of our home all my life. You really took time for me and for my friends, and for any child God brought into your life. You taught Good News Clubs, Sunday school, and kept children in our home for friends. You were a mom to more than me. I remember how much you put into serving others, not just because you wanted to please them, but because you wanted to honor them. Remember how you said that being late is being disrespectful of others' time? That comment still rings in my ear, even when I am running late. I remember being read to on the black comfy couch, every band trip you chaperoned or attended (I don't think you missed one), and the incredible variety of music you taught me to love (everything from Beethoven to the Mama's and the Papa's).

Most of all, I remember watching you as you became more and more like our Savior. I honestly think He took you home that Sunday because He was done making your character lovely. I remember how there near the end your whole delight was in focusing on the Savior every moment of your day. Well, maybe except for the few you focused on Joshua. Thanks for taking the time in those months when you didn't feel well to tell me that you thought I was doing a great job as a mama. You don't know how your last letter to me has kept me going. It makes me sad that you have never gotten to know any of the boys, and more so that they don't know you as more than a passing name. I am trying through my albums to change at least some of what they know about you.

Mom, life is so hard now. I never thought it would be like this. I thought I could do what you did, and just be a mom and a wife. I am glad you haven't had to see my pain and struggle. I wish I could hear your thoughts on how I am doing home schooling, or how it's OK to take a relaxed attitude toward the house so I can do more important things. I do wish I had you around to teach me a few more things about it, but you did OK. I can follow a recipie, fold fitted sheets, and clean a bathroom like I had years of experience (oh yeah, you made me do that every Saturday for over a decade!). I missed having you teach me how to be a mom after I had Josh, but I am so grateful to you for teaching me how to be a mom during the years before that. Thanks for leaving me some friends of yours who stood in the gap for you when you were gone. Their love for you is evident even now. I hope my love for you is obvious also. Please know that even though you have passed through the gates, your daughter is still praising you in them. I love you Mom.

Your daughter, Lisa

The Male Pain Gene

I was left wondering tonight if my oldest son had just whizzed through adolescence straight into mahhood. He jammed a toe, a painful injury I realize. When I first looked at it, after he had complained like he had a mortal wound, it didn't even look swollen to me. I told him to wear shoes for a couple of days, knowing that even an M.D. wouldn't be able to do anything for a jammed or fractured toe. Later, after playing on it for hours outside, he bagan to complain like he was in labor! We removed the shoes, which he announced were not keeping it from hurting, to examine the toe again. This time it was slightly swollen. Just to be on the safe side, I advised him that in my Mommy M.D. wisdom I thought we should soak it in cold water. I filled a bowl and told him to keep his toes in for about fifteen minutes while he and his brother did Spanish. Oh! The agony! He wailed. He cried. He claimed he was dying. For a while I considered all the reasons I had to torture him, but after about five minutes I told him that if it hurt that much it would be OK even if he didn't soak it.

The toe is feeling much better now. While we were going through Mommy M.D.'s medical persecution, I also thought to give him some Motrin. Guess the real M.D.'s really knew what they were talking about when they told our mothers to "take two asprin and call them in the morning."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Learning to Trust God Together

Dear Josh, Stephen, and Andrew,

Tonight I had to tell you that Daddy wants me to put you in school next year. I was so careful to make sure you know that he is concerned about you and that he wants what is best for you. We just disagree on what that is. I really debated over whether to tell you or not, but all to often, I protect you from knowing things, and unintentionally protect you from seeing our amazing God do amazing things. I want you to see Him work in this situation. I want you guys to pray with me and watch Him move mountains if home schooling is His plan for us. I want you to see Him provide for me, a single mom, to stay home and care for you and teach you about Him. That is why I told you. It was very hard.

None of you were happy. In fact, you were worried, upset, angry. I don't blame you. It is hard to be a kid and have so many difficult things happen and not have any control over it. I know because I am an adult and it has been hard to not have control over so many of the bad things that have happened. But at least I have a lot of promises from God to fall back on, and I believe them, even if I am often filled with doubts. I cannot imagine how hard it is to face problems and not have a stong faith in Him to cling to. But hopefully as you watch me, you will learn how good He is, that He can be trusted, and that He really does love us. I am praying that His perfect love will cast out our fear.

Please know that I am praying about all of this. The three of you are my greatest, most valued treasures. Sometimes the value I place on you controls my heart, and that controls what I want to do. But I am praying that God will help me to know what HE wants us to do, and I have promised Him I will do that, even if it doesn't make me feel so happy. As much as I love spending my days learning phonics rules and math facts, and exploring medieval castles and various kinds of whales with you, I do not ever want to stand in the way of what God wants to teach you. Nothing I could teach you would ever help you please Him if it wasn't what He wanted us to do. So I will pray, I will wait, and I will listen. And I will encourage you to do it with me.

I love you boys with my life. Only God loves you more. Love, Mom

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What a Jedi's Mommy Does

As I tended to my sleeping Jedi tonight, I realized that a Jedi's mommy:

  • Removes his mass of cloaky, drapey clothing when he's fallen asleep in them on a warm night.

  • Carefully treats those nasty bugs you pick up on strange unknown planets

  • Picks up his light sabers, robes, boots, etc. and puts them away when he's forgotten

  • Levitates the couch to look for lost credits, blasters, and so on.

  • Makes sure the force stays strong by feeding him nutritious food and insisting he stop hopping the galaxy early enough to get a good night's rest.

  • Lets him duel to the death, and sends him back into it even when he gets injured. Jedi have to learn to be tough!

  • Washes the Jedi suit that has been on his body 24/7 for 6 days (except on the occasion she was able to take it off of him while he slept!)

  • Listens to the endless tales of Sith Lords he has defeated, planets he has visited, and amazing feats he has accomplished

  • Teaches him the to be a good Jedi, sometimes the way of peace must be pursued over the way of battle

  • Remembers that what a young Padwan grows up to become is in part determined by how his imagination is handled today

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's Here! It's Here!

Get Out Your Light Sabers and the Remote Control!

I couldn't blog last night because the boys and I were watching Star Wars 3! I promised them a while back that if they helped me get the electric bill down, I would buy it for them the first day. Needless to say they have been light hounds! I am proud to say that my electric bill has only gone up about $10 through all the hikes, and went DOWN last month. So yesterday at lunch time we went to Walmart and bought Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. We watched it in the dark last night with light sabers (half-priced glow sticks from Halloween clearance) in our hands. And yes, it was just as cool as when we saw it at the midnight showing on opening day! The only sad thing is that now the series is complete, and we don't have any more of them to look forward to . . .

The boys are currently trying to figure out how to convince me to have a marathon of all six movies. Not a bad idea on a day I'd like to sleep all day!

Guess I can homeschool a few more years!

I Passed 8th Grade Math

Hooray, I got 10/10 correct!

Monday, October 31, 2005

What a Super Hero Does After a Long Day . . .

Should I leave them downstairs tonight on the couches? Or should I wrestle and fight to get them upstairs?

And here is the other one. He was delighted that his costume was such a hit.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fall Fun

Although we don't really celebrate Halloween, I love to keep some of the traditions from my childhood. We have the actual night covered, since our church celebrates the reformation of the church with a Reformation Party. Carving pumpkins has been our other established fall tradition. So last Wednesday, I took ALL my children, my three plus the three I keep after school, to the pumpkin patch to pick out a couple of pumpkins.

What did I do right this year?

  1. I decided what I would spend and I stuck to it.

  2. I let the bigger boys do ALL thier own work on their pumpkins. I only did what I was asked to do.

  3. I let the two teams of two boys each work out their own plan for carving. The negotiations rivaled that of NATO!

  4. I bought a little pumpkin for each of the little ones and let them decorate their own.

  5. I actually took photos and videotaped!

It was the most fun I have had in a while . . . and I think the kids had fun too!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Not So Funny Now . . .

Ok, the whole Dr. Suess Dog through the hole poem I wrote . . . not so funny now. It really happened to us today. Somebody let her out, the board blocking the whole fell over, and by the time we noticed, she had vanished. We called and called, then got in the Suburban and did what we normally did. On about the third street of our neighborhood, and after many prayers, we started getting a little panicky. My oldest son was so worried he was crying-not like him at all. Before heading out to the main road outside our subdivision (and PRAYING I wouldn't find her there!), I ran home to recover shoes and a jacket. As I got out of the car, what sound did I hear in the back yard? Barking! The little stinker had slipped back into the yard. We were so relieved that we didn't punish her.

Also, I have determined that my back porch "friend" is of the rodent variety. I cleaned out there real well today, hoping to let him know his presence is no longer appreciated. If that doesn't work, I'll provide some party snacks. Now I just have to find someone to carry him out if I have to resort to that. Uggghhhh! Just the thought of it is giving me the willies. Maybe I should get a big, fat cat!

Why Do Boys DO That?

We had a Cub Scout Pack Meeting tonight. At church. With lots of other people around. We were almost done, when my youngest, Andrew had to go potty. (I'll know they're almost grown up when nobody in my house calls it potty anymore!) I never send my boys to the bathroom alone-especially Andrew-so I sent him with his eight-year-old brother Stephen. When they came back, AJ's oversized shirt was a little wet. I, of course asked him how it got wet (hoping for an answer like, "Water overflowed from the sink.") Instead, the answer was, "Stephen picked me up while I was peeing." OK? Does anybody else think this is just too weird? Nobody could tell me why in the world you would pick someone up while they were peeing. Chalk it up to male brain function!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Too Much Dr. Suess

When I start thinking like this, it's time for a vacation from the kids!

There's a hole in my fence
And my dog got through.
I'm wondering now
Just what I should do.
Do you think she'll come back
If I yell,"Yoo hoo!"
If I don't get her back
Then the neighbor might sue.
I'm not really sure
If I should pursue,
Oh how I wish
That I knew!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Gold Mine in a Box!

In the days of good King Arthur
Fought those knights both brave and bold.
They would battle evil dragons,
Seek for riches yet untold.
They would rescue damsels in distress
And for right their lives they sold.
On a sunny afternoon today
This is what my eyes behold.

For little boys’ worlds are made of these:
Building castles, swinging swords,
Though their interested not in damsels,
Cups of stones are their rewards.
But the fierceness with which they battle
Rivals that of noble lords.
Of the world of men so long ago
A boy’s play still sings some chords.

Today as we were leaving to run an errand we saw it! A great, big box. Not just ONE great big box, but TWO!! So even though I was running late, I stopped and grabbed it. When we got home, we went to work. A cut here, a cut there. This box stacked on that one. Some rope through a hole, tied off. Voila! We built a castle. I'm not sure who had more fun working on it--me or the boys. But as I watched them all afternoon, I had no doubt who was enjoying it most. Tomorrow? I'm letting them PAINT it!!!

Obedient? or Just Plain Sleepy!

I made . . . ahem . . . certain threats. I'm finding too many edible items upstairs and throughout the house. Edible for little boys . . . and edible for bugs! In light of our current critter problem, the food problem HAD to stop! So I did what I usually do in frustration, I made certain threats. Well, the threats were taken seriously. After eating the apple . . .

AJ fell asleep clinging to the core!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Critters?!?!

Now I think there is something living on my porch! Or at least, camping out there at night. My dog goes beserk when she is let out. I was worried today that it might be a rat--eeeewwww! But now I think it's just lizards . . . and maybe one very fat toad. There's also the black mold I saw growing outside my house . . . and the antbed right at the front of my garage (they obviously didn't know I had just bought some very potent bug spray!) . . . . Maybe I'll just move.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bugs B Gone!

One of the things I absolutely hate about living in Florida is the critters. Now, I'm not the squeamish type-roaches don't frighten me, and I'm brave enough to step on about anything. But let's face it, bugs can be downright annoying. So far in the last few months we have had roaches (but only a few, thank the Lord! They seem so hard to get rid of!), ticks (which I think we've got on the run), chiggars (only one of my kids got them-he must be the sweet one, since he is also the one I found the ticks on!), and now the boys are showing up with the occasional spider bite. Uuuuggghhh! I'm tired of all the medical panic-does this carry lyme disease? Will we have an alergic reaction? What do I do for this? But most of all, I'm tired of all the sympathy itching that I have! Why doesn't the insect killer I put on my dog work on the kids? Why isn't there one thing I can use in my house, on my dog, and on my kids? Why?

Confessions of a Little Heart

Watching the spiritual development of my children is one of the greatest blessings I get from being with them. We've been through the basic Bible story stage--where I read the same story to them over and over. Josh loved the story of David and Goliath from The Beginners Bible. Stephen loved that story too, and the one of Jonah. Andrew hasn't really latched on to one particular story, but just loves being read to.

I have watched two of my children accept the Lord. One of them was a little reluctant, but I just "knew" that he was ready. I don't like to apply pressure on children to make this decision, but this kid would put off anything that doesn't get him food or a little more Playstation time! His brother was so eager and ready, I think he prayed about five times! He has a very tender spirit, and it has been sweet to watch his tender conscience open up to the Lord. I've been through kids with doubts--am I really a believer? Do I really believe this? Again, I have gently walked them through what they believe, wanting not to give them assurance if they need to re-examine their hearts, and wanting to help them through the fear of what it means to not be saved. I wanted to help them understand that all believers have doubts from time to time, and it's Ok to question your faith now and then.

Tonight I had another special spiritual moment with one of my children. My littlest boy, Andrew has been very eager to pray lately. They have been cute, but very sincere prayers. Tonight while being tucked into bed, AJ prayed," Dear God. I know that you are everywhere. I know that you are with me, but I'm still scared. Amen." I wish I had the courage to admit that I often feel this way. It was neat to see him voicing what he believes to be true, even though other senses of his don't confirm it. This is a huge part of the Christian walk. Repeating what we know is true, even when it doesn't look true, feel true, or make sense. Andrew doesn't totally get what it means to be a Christian, but he is on the way to understanding it. It will be fun to see where he goes from here in the next few years.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

God Made Andrew Sleep!

I have come to the conviction that children past nursery age are best taught to worship God with their parents. OK, let me change that a bit. I am under the conviction that I am to train my children to worship by setting the example for them and by teaching them in a real live worship service how to worship. My two older boys do really well in worship service on Sunday; they typically participate, don't fight, aren't very distracting to others, and can even uaually tell you what the sermon was about. My youngest, Andrew, he's quite a different . . . experience in church. He did very well initially, but the last four weeks or so has been a little rebellious about being in there with me. Last week I think I had to take him out twice. Well today we were leaving before the service even began. I dealt with the discipline issues and then we prayed, asking God to help Andrew to have and obedient heart, to be able to obey and listen like Mommy said, and so on. He was doing very well. He stood and sat for hymns. He was quiet during the opening prayer. He was turning the pages in his picture Bible very quietly. OK, one more prayer. I put my hand on his Bible and whispered instructions to him so he would sit quietly while the pastor prayed. It was kind of a long prayer. Then as we finished, I realized . . . Andrew was asleep. I guess God got tired of trying to make Andrew be good, so He made Andrew sleep!

A Mom Does Cub Scouts

My back hurts. I'm tired. My once perfectly clean house is now a huge mess (again!). Why? It's all the fault of scouting! We camped this weekend. I have BEEN camping about a hundred times. My family was big on camping when I was a kid, so we went like every summer. I was a Girl Scout, so I camped with them. (OK, yeah, I admit that Girl Scout camping is kinda wimpy, but it counts!) Since the boys have been scouting-about four years now-I've been camping a good bit with them, but the advantage I always had was that my dad did it with them. When my dad passed away in March, it really changed things for us. This was my first solo camping experience.

I thought I had it under control . . . until I found myself in the garage at 1 a.m. looking at the mounds of his camping gear and wondering what I really should pack for a one-night trip. I got three hours of sleep that night. OK, not a good start. We managed to be at the location just as the agricultural center opened. I got there before most of the rest of our pack. Great! So much for all the dads who were going to help me set up. I got the tents set up on my own, and we managed to have enough food for the evening. Then came the best part. It began getting cool. We live in Florida, and so far it hasn't been that cold, but this weekend it was finally jacket weather. So I made a run home to get everyone jackets!

The best part of the whole trip? It was short! We were home by 10:00 the next morning! So I spent the rest of the weekend putting away all the stuff, and taking naps here and there. I'm still tired and still have some stuff to clean up! So exactly why do we do all this work? I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Perfect End-of-Summer Holiday!

Today we went to a friends for the afternoon to play. Since it was Columbus Day, and the private school where we attend church was off, we took today off too! After lunch, two of my three boys and five of my friend's children (she has six!) played outside. It was classic--they found a dirt mound and build castles with moats! They had places to park the Match Box cars, places to park the airplanes, army men defending the walls. It was an amazing kid-style work of art. After a while they came up with a new idea--they filled the moats with water. Before long, the moats were washing away the walls and it didn't take much before it was a huge mud puddle. By the time we left my two youngest boys were wet, muddy, and thoroughly delighted with the way they spent the afternoon.

But the fun didn't end there! After that we went to another friend's house to swim and watch a movie. I had a good time touring this friend's new home and getting some adult conversation time. Josh was thrilled to spend a little of the afternoon with his best friend Jordan. On the way home we stopped and got pizza and then watched a movie. I think we stayed up too late. Hope we can get up for school tomorrow! Hmmm . . . can't we just take another day off?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Compulsive Cleaning (AKA Help Someone's Stolen My Brain!)

I am not a neat freak. In fact, I think cleaning is over-rated. It's not that I'm crazy about my piles of paper and other stuff, it's just that I'd rather do something with a real person than take the time to clean it up. So my house tends to be a little cluttered. Well, the tick problem has cured me of some of that. I bought a new vacuum cleaner this weekend and now I'm obsessed! I want to vacuum my whole house! So far I've done three of the eight rooms, plus the hall and stairs. I think I've dumped eight or so cannisters of dirt and dust! Icky! And to think I'd lay on those floors! I wouldn't worry if it was just the vacuuming I was obsessed by, but it's the whole thing--cleaning the whole room. It actually feels so good to sit in my living room knowing how clean it is. And my boys, do THEY appreciate all the hard work I've put into cleaning that room for them? No way! They ate crackers in the living room tonight!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dog 4 Sale

For sale:

AKC Registered German Shepherd-"Princess of Light and Roxy," answers to "Princess." Also answers to "dog."
  • Obsessive personality-must touch you with at least one paw, usually with whole body; chases tail, won't share it; hoards red rubber balls, will fetch them even from your hand (hand might be left intact).

  • Eats most anything. Prefers carrots, popcorn, and anything not picked up in the yard (including what she has left there!)

  • Cannot understand that she is seventy pounds and knocks things down when she jumps up. Has broken picture frames, objects on the counter, and has scared small children to death.

  • Barks incessantly. Has reduced the incidences of door-to-door sales in our home.

  • Darts out the front door and runs down the street at every possible opportunity. Has to be chauffered home in the family Suburban, otherwise won't come home.

  • Source of our current tick problem which has cost me the price of a new, stronger vacuum cleaner and pesticides which will probably lead to some rare disease down the road. (But thank goodness we won't get Lyme Disease-which I am told is as likely to be passed to us as a meteor is to hit our house!)

  • Is so protective of her family that their friends cannot wrestle or swing a light saber at them without fearing for thier lives!

  • Keeps us company on rainy nights, even in thunder and lightning.

  • Guards the house while we are out and at night.

  • Loves us no matter how many times we yell at her or call her "bad dog".

  • Doesn't seem to mind being called "dumb dog," and willingly takes the blame for anything..

  • Eats unwanted food groups and keeps the floor vacuumed.

  • Always acts glad to see us, whether we've been gone for a few minutes, or a week.

Never mind. I think we'll keep her!

Memories of Childhood

Some day I hope to look back to see
How quickly this day flew.
I trust that I'll be glad that we
Had such fun while we grew.

I hope I will recall the times
Of swinging in the rain,
Adventures starting with the climbs
To jump in mud again.

I may not be so free to roam
The way my parents did,
But the play I knew outside my home
Delighted us as kids.

So whether we chased a muddy dog,
Or got soaked to the bone,
Memories of giggles while catching frogs
Will warm us when we're grown.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Idividual Learners

Although I have read nearly every book on homeschooling, and have homeschooled the boys myself now for six years, it has taken me two months now to realize that my five-year-old is not going to learn like his brothers. I should have noticed that he was a little different when he continually found . . . well . . . unique ways of expressing himself as a toddler and preschooler. He has written on almost everything in our house with pretty much every kind of writing implement (and a few things I didn't know you could write with!). He has climbed anything that has more than one level. And he went directly from playing with Dora the Explorer toys to Lord of the Rings! So when I started teaching him this year, why was I so shocked to discover that he wasn't going to just take to the sit-down "let's do school" stuff like his brothers did?

Two weeks ago I had become so discouraged that I was searching for something new. I really didn't want to spend money on curriculum for preschool--especially since AJ is my last one going through it. After looking at a number of programs, I finally found it. There is a website called "Letter of the Week". I printed off the schedules and ideas and last week we started. I love the fact that we are going through one letter at a time, a new one each week. Last week we read books about ants, astronauts, and animals. We had apples and apple juice animals (popsicles). We did math on an abacus, and we sang "When the Ants Go Marching Down." But the best thing we did was to memorize the poem "Animal Crackers," by Patrick Morley, and then at the end of the week we made animal crackers and had them with "cocoa to drink!" AJ LOVED school this week--and so did I.

Just as God has made unique
The snowflakes that will fall
So he makes each little child
So unlike one and all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Things a Boy's Mom Never Thought She'd Say

  • "Just put those socks and shoes on so no one will see the dirt!"

  • "Just how long has that lizard been in your pocket?"

  • "Did the label on that shampoo you used say it should smell like sweaty boy?"

  • "OK, we'll take a shower with the garden hose outside tonight. (At least I know he gets clean!)

  • "No, Cheetoes are not a vegetable."

  • "Why are there 35 socks under your bed? Why don't any of them match?"

  • "What do we hit with bats?" (OK, he knew this at TWO!!! The answer has not changed to brothers!)

  • "Hey, that shower curtain is not there for you to wrap up in!"

  • "Why did you tie Batman to the stove?"

  • "No, fish cannot drive Matchbox cars!

  • "How did your fist accidently punch him?"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another First Week of School

Well, we made it through another first week. This year is rather complicated. We homeschool. I am a very relaxed homeschool mom . . . well, I don't mean that we do nothing until somebody says, "Gee, I'd like to do school today!" Ha! Like that would EVER happen! But I tend to be of the spontaneous, easy-going sort, so if I see an opportunity better than the one I planned, we go for it. But this year my situation is very different. To earn extra income, I keep several extra children after school, so we now HAVE to be done by three o'clock. I have to keep us on schedule so we can get all our educational activities done. This is not an easy thing for a free spirit who hates schedules. But this week, I filled a bin with candy and little toys, and gave out play money like crazy. I was so surprised at how easy my boys could be bought for a couple of trading cards and a Nerd rope. They LOVED the bucket! And as a side benefit, we got school done. And we got to read several different books toghether. And we finished a Redwall book! And I even think . . . we might have learned a little something. I love homeschooling!

    The boys thoughts on school:
  1. Josh (grade 5): "It was almost not bad."
  2. Stephen (grade 3): "I love reading about those figher guys!"
  3. AJ (grade Kindergarten): "I hate school!" (OK, he's been listening to his brothers too much!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Party Update

The party went great! The food got rave reviews (from my son, the only one who really counted!), everything went off without a hitch, and Josh felt very loved and appreciated. I was very proud of him. He was very helpful before the event, and very gracious to his guests. The only thing I wish I could have changed was me. I hadn't slept for two nights before the gathering, and by Sunday morning I was quite weepy. I cried all morning--over silly stuff, and worried that I would spoil his day. Fortunately by the time the guests arrived, I had kind of gotten it together and was able to let him enjoy himself.

Among the funny memories of this birthday is that Josh has known for weeks now all the gifts he is getting from me. He offered his eight-year-old brother a bribe, but then his conscience got the better of him after Stephen agreed to accept it. Josh decided to give Stephen the payoff even without the information. But Stephen, being the one with the sensitive conscience, couldn't accept the bribe for nothing, so he told him everything . . . and I mean EVERYTHING! Even the surprise gift that Josh didn't even know they made! I was mad at both of them, but forgave them pretty quick. Josh was pushing it a bit when he asked me Friday before his lunch if he could request certain ones of his presents.

For me, I discovered an opportunity to show him the meaning of grace and gave him the presents he most desired . . . even though I could have used them to make him miserable!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Getting Ready for a Party!

It seems that we are always celebrating. Today we worked frantically to get ready for a party tomorrow. Josh is having a birthday next week, and we are having two of his friends and their families over tomorrow for lunch. He is very excited. I was so proud of everyone today. They all worked very hard. Even little AJ worked, although it seemed everyone kept on him as he tended to wander away, or play. This will probably be our last party for a while. We start school here at home on Monday. No one is really looking forward to that!