Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hmmmm . . .

. . . AJ just asked me if he could take his CD player with us to the New Year's Eve party we're going to. I told him as long as he has earphones he can.

He said,"Well, duh Mom! I can't take the BIG one with me!!!"

Why NOT? You don't mind torturing ME with it!!!! Shouldn't we share the Veggie Tales with ALL of our friends?

Hmmm . . . is there a way to add songs to my blog? That way all of you could enjoy Veggie Tales!!

(Help! I think I'm going crazy!!!)

A Note to Michael W. Smith

Dear Mr. Smith,

Are you aware that the Veggie Tales are trying to assume your noteable position as the fine singer of "You Are Holy?" Personally, I don't think they do it so well, but I just thought I'd warn you that your song is being warped by things that should be in my refrigerator crisper. I'd be concerned buddy. If word of this gets out, there will be no Worship Again, Again CD for you! We'll refuse to buy it for fear the Veggie Tales might get hold of it! So if you own the rights to this song . . . or any others, you'd better think twice before signing on that dotted line again!

Very sincerely,

P.S. By the way, thanks for giving them "Friends" too. I'm ever in your debt. Want to spend a couple weeks with a 6-year-old Veggie Tales song nut? Maybe it'd make you think twice about selling those produce-aisle-crooners rights to any other songs!!!

Where ARE my earplugs?


Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! I have heard the Veggie Tales sing "Forever" about a thousand billion times now! And do the HAVE to sing "Better Is One Day in Your House"? I really loved that song. It's almost as bad as having to listen to them sing "Friends" back in March when AJ got the camping CD. But now? They're singing praise songs!!!! What WAS I thinking before Christmas . . . er . . . I mean . . . what was Santa thinking? He and I are going to have to have a talk.

Or maybe I'll send AJ to entertain him with Veggie Tales sing High School Musical.

OK, now there's another hot button for me. (We watched HSM on DVD about thirty times in the first three days we had it!)

Somebody SAVE me! I need a chick flick! . . . And a portable CD player with headphones for AJ!

For Christmas I Got:

  • to have my kids with me again Christmas Eve and Christmas Day--without even asking for it!
  • four days of uninterrupted quiet before Christmas
  • two special nights with my bestest friend (we talked until 2am one night! No kids to interrupt!)
  • time for lunch with more friends
  • lots of rest
  • time to scrapbook with another best friend
  • the opportunity to take other kids shopping for their parents! (What fun!)
  • a very enjoyable visit with my dad's family (aunts, uncles, cousins, oh my!)
  • answers to a couple specific prayers
  • lots of conversations with my sister
  • a clean house (OK, it only lasted until Christmas Day, but it was fun for a week)
  • not many pictures, but LOTS of memories
  • a visit from my other sister and two days and nights with my niece!!!
  • a few extra pounds (I think.)

I think I might return the last one, but I'll keep the rest!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Encouragement for My Cousin

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young--
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:1-3

Dear Lauren,

It was such a delight Christmas day to spend time with you. Your new baby is so sweet. As you told me how hard it has been, having three very young children . . . how very overwhelmed you feel, it brought back memories of what that was like. I was fortunate that mine were spaced a little farther apart, but at the same time, it was still exhausting. One of my dear friends has told me that as our children grow we go from a stage of physical exhaustion to more of a mental/emotional exhaustion. With my oldest nearing his teen years, I can already see how true this bit of wisdom is. What will I do? I still have kids in the physically exhausting phase too! But this is not about me; I was reminded of a piece of wisdom I gleaned early on when my children were small, and I wanted to share it with you.

I read the above verse in a book that I loved when my children were smaller. It seemed then that no matter how hard I tried, "quiet time" never was. Not only did it very rarely happen, but even when it did it seemed someone always got up early, was sick, or decided not to sleep at night. The very thing I most needed to survive--God's quiet, strengthening presence--seemed to constantly evade me. Didn't He want to be with me? Why couldn't He just make them sleep?

In the book Meditations for Mothers by Elisa Morgan I read this:

The psalmist envies the birds who nest daily in the temple and therefore enjoy a daily presence in God's dwelling . . . . Mothers are among today's faint of heart who long for time with God.

This book is about taking a tip from the swallow in the psalm. She
built her nest in a place near God's altar. She lived where God lived. We
moms who long for God don't have to go somewhere special to find him. We can
speend time with God
when we build a nest near him and then enjoy everyday moments in it with him.

Lauren, what I have learned is that to survive these years, when you most need God's infusion of patience and sacrificial love, you needn't have lots of regular time away from the kids with him. Instead, build your home life around Him. There have been many days (so many!) that I missed my personal quiet time, but because the kids and I were in a habit of reading together from His Word, I was fed as I fed them. As I prayed with them, I drew close to Him and they learned to pray from me. I have learned how to better disciple someone through discipling my children as we lived life together.

That's not to say you should give up on your personal time with Him, just don't get discouraged or frustrated when it frequently doesn't happen. He can make you aware of His presence, teach you, and allow you to enjoy His company in lots of ways if you make Him part of your daily routines with the kids. Sing praise music as you feed and rock the baby. Read Bible stories in the morning to the little ones (read directly from the Bible--you'll be amazed how much they can get!). Memorize verses or a catechism or confession with them. (We used the Westminster Confession of Faith-Children's version.) Play LOTS of music as you go through your day and pray about everything from the quarrelling they are doing to the boo-boo they just got. Explain to them what you are doing when you meet someone else's needs, and as they get older, let them help come up with ways to care for others in need.

You are in a wonderful place to witness, disciple, and draw close to God. When I think of working outside my home, it is the freedom to spend time with Him at my whim that most makes me want to stay home. Although you feel completely inadequate for this job of mothering, please know that it is in this very weakness that the Lord's strength shines through. Remember that "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) He cares very much for your work as wife and mommy, and wants you to do a great job with these little children He has given you. Beyond what you are able to do physically or otherwise, He will personally teach, lead, love, correct, and nurture them.

Take heart my cousin! I have watched Him faithfully keep all His promises to me. He has given me a hard life, but it has been an amazing life too! I know that He will do the same for you. You know that I am here anytime you need me, even if you just need a cheerleader. I love you!


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Beyond Imagination

My friend Crystal posted this verse on her blog:

Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a Child is born; to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be calledWonderful Couselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."

Once again the Lord reminded me that this peace He has given me will have no end, because the Messiah's reign will have no end. There will come a time when the Lord's justice will be perfectly dispensed, and after that nothing will remain to cause strife or conflict. For now He waits for those who will come to Him to come. In the meantime, we are given the peace of the Prince of Peace to live in now. Nothing that I got today for Christmas can compare with that.

One of the things I love about Christmas is all the goodwill and patience people have for one another. I read an interesting comment a couple days ago which suggested that this is part of the promised blessings that the angels proclaimed at Jesus birth: "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." It thrills my heart to imagine the time when all of my relationships will know that kind of peace, and in fact, the entire world around me will live in peace as our Savior rules. It will be like Christmas all the time, every day, forever! Wow!

Come, O Lord! Come soon!

From Our House to Yours . . .

. . . we wish you a Merry Christmas. We are having another "white Christmas" Florida-style. (See this post for my description of last year's white Christmas.) I'm a little nervous tonight about leaving the outside lights on with all the wet, drippy snow (rain). The temperature is supposed to get up to a chilly 71 degrees. And it'll be rainy, so it will feel much hotter. I'm sweating already! (Maybe it's the fleece pj's the kids got me!) Of course, it'll be cold the day after Christmas. (OK, 60 degrees, but to us, that's cold!) Ah, well . . . at least there's the snow. (I'm turning green thinking of those of you in snowy places up north right now!)

Each year, it astonishes me that as I read the Christmas story yet again, I see something new. It is truly evidence that the Word of God is alive and relavent. It always moves me to spend time thanking God for the rich blessing of His only Son who took on flesh to become a living sacrifice for me (and you too!). The cost of this sacrifice is beyond my comprehension. I can't imagine choosing to live outside my middle class American suburb for longer than a few years (with furloughs to bring me home), much less leaving the glory of heaven and leaving behind the glory of being God to live 33 years with mostly ungrateful mere humans. Without forgetting this incredible gift, every year I ask God to make me aware of other little gifts that He gives to me. Since I don't have parents or a husband to spoil me, I turn to God to be better than either of those, and to show me the richness of His gifts.

This year I planned our Advent season well, but failed to follow through with my plan. I got lost in the trip to South Carolina that the younger boys and I took, in enjoying my time off from school a little too much, and in the busy-but-unproductive activities of the season. I neglected my First Love. But in His sweetness, He used some hard things this last week to draw me back to Himself. In an e-mail newsletter yesterday He reminded me that He is Prince of Peace. He came to restore peace between God and man, between man and man, and within each man. He came to restore peace in my soul. Today, the noise and clamor that I have felt for weeks now inside are gone, and as I surrender again to the Prince of Peace, I find peace. What a great gift!

So it is in the rememberance of this lesson that I wish you peace this Christmas. If you do not know what it is like to belong to the one, true Living God, and to enjoy a friendship with Him that brings hope and peace, I invite you to read the book of John in the Bible and to decide who this Jesus is. If you are one who believes that He is the Son of God, but you are feeling discouraged, hopeless, or like a failure, I urge you to ask Him to make Himself real to you and to draw you back into His love. I have yet to see Him not answer this prayer for me, and I love the fact that we celebrate the remembering of Christ's coming just before He gives us a fresh new start in the new year. With Him there are always new beginnings, and over time there is always productive change. May you and your family delight in Him this Christmas, and I am praying that He blessses you beyond your wildest dreams!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just Another Example of Military Intelligence

I saw this at the recreation of a Vietnamese base camp, and wondered if this was a genuine detail. Having grown up a military brat, I actually suspect I know the answer.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

War Games and Such

We had to walk down a long pier to get to the carrier. The boys told me they had to climb up numerous flights of steep metal steps on the outside of the ship to get to their berths. I, on the other hand, slept in officers quarters quite near the hanger. They slept in berths stacked five-high. I shared a room for four with one other woman.

One of Stephen's favorite things to do was to play in the cockpits of the airplanes. He and AJ also rode in a flight simulator, and they LOVED it. (I'd have tossed my cookies!)

Look out folks! He's now armed with more than a capgun or water pistol. And he's dangerous with those!

For some reason, this entire trip inspired poses of warfare and battle. Can anyone explain that to me?

Designed by a Big Boy!!!

Last weekend we went on a Cub Scout trip. I am convinced that the whole idea was planned and designed by men who were once little boys and haven't forgotten it. We went to Patriot's Point in Charleston, SC. While we were there for two nights, we slept aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown. We were able to explore much of the carrier, plus a submarine, a battleship, and a Coast Gaurd cutter. We also took a short excursion to Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.

I was less than enthused about the trip. I had heard from those who went several years ago how cold it was, and I anticipated so much climbing and walking that it would be confirmed how out of shape I am physically. In addition, I'm finally starting to have more stable days when it comes to the anxiety and panic attacks I have suffered from, but both the driving and the stress of long trips tend to kick it all up again. In spite of my reticence, I reminded myself that my two little boys were thrilled we were going, and I worked very hard not to complain, not to say no to anything, and to enjoy the trip and being with them. I was not disappointed.

It was actually a great trip. On the drive I listened to some teaching CD's which really challenged and encouraged me in my relationship to my beloved Jesus. I spent time talking to Him about all kinds of things, and asked Him particularly to help me sleep, remind me to take my meds, and to give me the stamina to keep up with the boys. I was also desperately in need of His strengthening of my trust in Him to take care of the boys because they slept with the other men and boys in the guys berth, and so they were out of my sight and care from Taps until after Reville. As He always is, Jesus was faithful and relieved my stress and worry. I slept great, felt great (except for sore, tired feet, but I can deal with that at Disney World, so I figured I couldn't complain about it), and woke every morning even before Revillie to take my meds.

Being with the boys was just the best. Their excitement and enthusiasm was delightful. And I am convinced that the whole concept of this trip was designed by men who hadn't forgotten that little boys love to steer, push buttons, flip switches, climb, pretend, and imagine. The boys did enough of it, and brought home their overflow, dressing up in army gear and playing war for days afterward. I took about a billion pictures, so it was really fun for me also--to have new subject matter to photograph.

The funniest part of the weekend was Sunday when we finally left. Girls may cry because they can't get their hair combed just right, or because somebody makes fun of their new dress, but boys cry because they gotta leave the ship! And mine did. Proving, of course, that it was a great trip. I'd even do it again. (In a few years!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Key to My Heart Is Not Enough Anymore . . .

. . . so tonight I got Josh his own house key. Doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal--except to Mom. It was actually a very pragmatic decision, since I am occasionally out of town without him (Oops, no. He stays with friends--but he could come home to feed and check on the dog. Save me kennel fees.), and with youth group and Boy Scout camping it is possible for him to end up at the house when I'm not yet there. It shouldn't have been a big deal. But it was. He BEAMED!! I took him to Home Depot, and let him pick out the snazzy key he wanted. He chose the one with flames running down it. The moment we were out of checkout, he couldn't wait to put it on the chain around his neck.

Of course, I freaked when I got home and the kids were already inside before I came and unlocked the door. Surely a burglar broke in the house. Nope! Just my twelve-year-old . . . and his new key.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Boy and His Pig

Everybody likes the ginuea pig, and he certainly doesn't lack for attention, but Stephen has a special love for Nibs. And although the boy would NEVER DREAM of kissing a girl, he will kiss a guinea pig!

We have the bug . . . but not the hum bug!

Well the kids have it. Every other sentence is about Christmas lists, or the decorations, or when are we going to start baking? Stephen actually asked me tonight when I was going to start wrapping presents! I asked him if I could get the bazillion boxes of decorations out of my living room and kitchen first!

I am glad they are so excited (just don't know how we will make it four more weeks!). I am struggling to be excited. I do love Christmas. I love the colors and the lights, the smells and the taste of hot cocoa on a cold night when you're sitting in front of the glowing tree. I love the anticipation in the boys' eyes when they dreamily ponder what each present might be. It's just the family part I miss. And the pressure of all there is to do is a little more than overwhelming right now. But I'm glad I have the kids. They keep me moving forward. I realized last night how much fun I was having decorating the tree, then felt a twinge of guilt when I realized that the only reason I had jumped on it was because the boys were begging me to do it.

You know, I wish I could be a kid again. I wish I could go back to the days when it was all so simple and fun. I remember as a teenager, forsaking TV so I could just lay in the living room and look at the tree. The boys plead for nights to spend the night sleeping downstairs near the tree. I used to be like that. Now I just prefer my bed. Because after a hard day of decorating, shopping, and baking? I'm beat!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

All I Want for Christmas . . .

Before . . .

. . . and after!

This upper tooth has been really wiggly for WEEKS!!! I have been begging AJ to let me pull it out. Night before last it fell out in bed!!! The other one is a little loose, and I'm hoping it will fall out before Christmas so I can have AJ sing, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth . . ."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tonight We Will Be . . .

Reformation Day, called Halloween by some, is my boys' second favorite holiday, second only to Christmas. They LOVE to dress up! Here is what they will be tonight:

Stephen is a blonde Superman. He wanted me to get black gel or to dye his hair, but I know when to draw the line. Sorry buddy. This Superman has to stay a blonde!

AJ is going as Batman. This is the second time he has been Batman. Of course, now he is "Batman, the Dark Knight!" We would have used the costume from three years ago, but . . . hello! He's grown about ten sizes! Besides, isn't this time of year all about getting a new costume!

Josh is going as Napoleon Dynamite. OK, I can hear some of you asking why he even knows about Napoleon, let me say, I am paying for that decision. Even though I know I'm not supposed to play favorites, Josh's costume really is my favorite. Maybe it's because he plays the whole part so well!! I wasn't real sure about the movie, but my son as Napoleon Dynamite totally cracks me up!

Princess is going as Princess tonight. Well, actually, she's staying home to guard the house. And while she's a pussy cat when we have visitors (a pussy cat with a very loud bark!), she's quite a mean gaurd dog. So if you're planning on coming by while we're at our party . . . DON'T!

I'm going to spend tonight with the superheroes and their best bud Karate Kid tonight. So at the moment, I'm feeling quite safe!

Sit Still !!!

This is how we have to read to AJ. His bopping around when we're trying to read to him just drives me crazy!!! Evidently, I'm not the only one.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

An Unexpected Evening

Hot dogs cooked in a campfire. S'mores. Sleeping under the stars. That's what the two younger boys and I had planned for tonight. Ok, I actually had planned loading the Suburban, setting up a tent, frantically trying to get supper stuff out for starved children, exhaustedly sitting for a few minutes by myself next to a dying campfire, very little sleep on the ground in a drafty tent, and getting up the next morning to reverse the whole process only to pack up and head home (and whee! More word awaits at home!) Yes, my view of camping is different than that of the boys. But none of us got what we expected.

Florida weather as the temperature changes is unpredictable, and this weekend, they predicted rain and wind. So the camping trip with Cub Scouts was cancelled. AJ moaned, "My first camping trip!!!" Stephen wailed,"Now we have to stay inside!" Mommy was disappointed too. (Yeah right! Because I had to put away all that camping stuff I took out late last night!) But God had an entirely different plan for all of us.

First, I made a deal with the boys that they could camp in the living room. The really like doing this, so reluctantly I set the tent up. They moved the PS2 in and plugged it into the Big TV. We rented a movie. But unexpectedly, the power went out. No PS2. No movies. Lots of dark. We started lighting candles. Then we pulled out some games. And we had fun. Together. After lots of hysterical laughter over the Uno Attacks machine that kept shooting a hundred cards at a time, and the death-vengeance game of Sorry! the power came up. And once again today, we were disappointed. At least we did get to see our movies.

God had an entirely different plan for us tonight. And it was kind of fun. Makes me want to flip the switch on the electrical panel once in a while.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A . . . B . . . C . . . D . . .

Josh and Stephen just had a contest to see who could belch the loudest . . . then the grossest . . . then the entire ABC's. Seriously. You know, it never ceases to amaze me that all those things boys are credited with coming up with on their own to do . . . they really do them. I have honestly never belched the ABC's. In fact, I don't know how to make myself belch. Nor would I want to.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

One Well-Loved Piggie!

Well, after seven weeks, our ginuea pig is still being well-cared for. He is often hand-fed, and the boys still argue over who should get to do it. Cage cleaning isn't quite as competitive as it was at first, but it gets done, and so far I've only had to be the calendar/alarm clock. We absolutely love having our piggie. He is so funny. We feed him piggie chow and hay in the morning, and fresh veggies and a little fruit in the evening. His evening meal is definitely the favorite, and if we forget or run late, he squeaks like crazy until we feed him. His chirping and squeaking drive the dog nuts. She seems to really love him too. Tonight she was licking him as Stephen held him and fed him. I'm not too confident that Princess would love him as much if he was loose in the house, so we are really trying to keep him secure. Oh yeah . . . the boys decided to call him Nibs. (I think it's a name from Peter Pan)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

OK. He REALLY Nees a Haircut Now!

One of my ex-husband's biggest pet peeves is that I don't get the boys' hair cut often enough. I just don't notice that it's getting long, or I notice on Sundays when we finally comb it but forget during the week when we can get it cut, or I just get too busy to get it done. So anyway, I saw Josh like this today, and thought I might send it to him just to show him how much worse it could be.

What? You don't think that would be such a good idea?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Proud New Cubbie

For the last four years, every week, AJ has asked me how much longer it would be until HE was in Cub Scouts. Last Monday it was finally his turn. He was SOOO excited to put on the uniform, and I think he has told nearly everyone since then that "he is now a Cub Scout." We have worked hard this week to learn the Scout promise, law, motto, the secret sign and handshake. What was I thinking when my others were little? I steered clear of scouts with them and let my dad do it . . .but this is fun! I LOVE his excitement and enthusiasm, and I'm eagerly looking for new things to do with him. Isn't it great that Andrew is having so much fun?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Proof!!!

Here are a few photos from vacation. Thanks blog police!!!

Stephen sporting a "water beard."

The comment I got on this one was about how much energy Andrew has and how do I ever keep up with him. I don't. And yes, welcome to my world. He wakes up with his engines revving in the morning, and doesn't slow down or have an unoriginal thought until he literally passes out at night.

Auntie Donna told me she wants to draw a little black nose and doggie ears on Josh. He didn't think that was real funny. Hmmmm . . . maybe I'll print a copy and do it.

See? We really did go on vacation!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trip Highlights

This is kinda how our vacation went:

Saturday 9/9 finally left the house at around 10am. Squeezed a 6.5 hour trip into 9 hours (too many pit stops). Arrived at Nana and Grandpa's house at about 7pm. Had dinner, watched a little TV and went to bed.

Sunday 9/10 got up and went to church with Nana and Grandpa. Spent the afternoon resting and watching TV. Went to see a movie with Grandpa that evening instead of going back to church. (Shame on us!)

Monday 9/11 everybody was at work, so the boys and I slept late, laid around watching TV, had a late lunch out, then went to the Mall of Georgia after we picked Lilly up from school. That evening we had dinner at the house and watched MORE TV.

Tuesday 9/12 we got up a little earlier and did some schoolwork, then ran some errands. After we picked up Lilly, we went to an indoor swimming park, but thunder closed it down after a half hour, so we got a pass to go back. We spent the evening . . . guess what! Watching TV and playing PlayStation. (Hey! We were on vacation, right?)

Wednesday 9/13 we did a little more schoolwork, then went back to the mall. After we picked up Lilly we went swimming again, but got home in time for Nana, Lilly, and Josh to go to church. The other boys played PS2, while Mom worked on laundry and packing herself for a conference.

Thursday 9/14 we did some schoolwork, and Mom worked on picking up our stuff and finishing laundry. After we picked up laundry we ran to Walmart for a few things, then to the playground to take pictures of Lilly and her boys (which I, of course, later DELETED!!!). Then we returned to Nana's house where the boys would stay while Mom went to a Presbyterian Women's Conference. I left about 6pm, but got lost in downtown Atlanta, finally arriving at my hotel at about 9pm. After a quick bite to eat and a little TV, I went to bed. The boys mostly played PS2 and watched TV. (Are you noticing a theme yet?)

Friday 9/15 Mom attended the pre-conference sessions, enjoyed her hotel room overlooking Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, and then went to the opening session. The boys spent the day with Grandpa. I'm not really sure what they did. About all I've gotten out of them is something about PS2 and that they went to the mall and bought stuff.

Saturday 9/16 Mom continued with her conference. The boys were with Grandpa in the morning, then went with Aunt Donna to a nearby park-festival kind of thing (You just don't get many details with boys!), where they drank at least two cokes each and got wet (I got at least THAT out of them!) They spent the evening with Nana. Betcha can't guess what they did.

Sunday 9/17 Mom attended worship service at the conference while the boys went with Nana and Grandpa. After the conference, Mom headed back to the house where she began packing stuff up and loading the car. We left Atlanta around 8pm, and settled into a motel room in Macon around 11pm.

Monday 9/18 Got up and had breakfast at the hotel. The boys swam while Mom had quiet time. Then we loaded up the car and hit the road around 11:30. We got home about 5:30pm after picking up the dog at the kennel where she was boarded.

We didn't do anything too exciting, but we got a lot of rest, spent a lot of money, and even got a little school done. It was a great trip!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Loss Caused by Ignorance

I had it all planned out. We have been on vacation to Atlanta the last nine or so days. I was taking pictured like crazy . . . planning, of course, to post them on my blog so I could prove we had taken a vacation. And then, one afternoon, as I showed all these gorgeous photos to my sister-in-law . . . I got stupid. I decided to delete one very bad photo of the ground. Without really paying attention to what the super-smart camera was asking me . . . I DELETED THEM ALL!!! Yes all my wonderful pictures of the water playground and of cousin Lilly and her boys at the park and who-know-what-else are gone . . . forever. Guess I'm kind of wishing I had read that camera manual instead of jumping in and playing with the camera. Alas, I did not.

Fortunately for me, the blog police took my boys to play on Saturday while I was at the convention, and she took tons of pictures. So you will have the proof eventually. Right blog police?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Profitable Loss

Just in time to remind me that big kid firsts aren't the only important firsts in the family--AJ lost his first tooth! He was SOOOOO excited, even though the whole prospect of losing it has filled him with anxiety (over the possibility of pain). He just HAD to call someone to tell them (Who does THAT sound like?. Thanks Mr. Mike! He's decided to wait to put it under his pillow because he wants to show Nana and Grandpa and his daddy. That's a relief, since with both of his brothers Mommy has made a small Tooth Fairy pillow, and his is not yet made. Guess I know one thing I'll be doing this weekend!

Reminder!!! I'm NOT YET FORTY!!!!

Yesterday we ate out to celebrate selling our van. We went to this wonderful little hamburger place, and while we were ordering, I heard "Footloose." It reminded me of my great high school years, and I said, "Wow! I haven't heard this song in a long time."

The young girl taking our order responded to me, "Oh, yeah. They play these REALLY old songs here!"

I looked at her funny, laughed, stopped and tried to calculate exactly how old I am, then picked up my cane and hobbled to the table.

A Fly on the Wall in My House

"That's it! You're fired!" I heard Stephen announce this to AJ for some reason (it had to do with a new double-barrelled sticky-dart shotgun Stephen just got).

"No, I'm not." AJ answered calmly.

OK. I waited.

"You are too!" Stephen said firmly.

"No, I'm not. You can't fire me," AJ said as clamly as before.

So I sat thinking: if a boss came in to fire an employee, and the employee didn't get mad or upset, but just said, "No," what would the employer do? Hmmmm . . . . Of course, AJ isn't making much money at this, so he's not going to miss the paycheck.

And if you're worried about AJ being unemployed, his brother rehired him a few minutes later.

"Andrew, you're hired again. I need you to be my target!"

Not much room for advancement, but it might be a fun job . . . if you're fast . . . and camouflaged well!

One thing I LIKE about my boys growing up . . .

. . . all the hot, stinky, dirty, heavy, tiring, boring, repetitive, exhausting, loud, icky jobs I hate doing! Isn't that why you have kids?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

No, I Haven't Fallen Off . . .

. . . the face of the earth! I'm sick. I've been sick for weeks. Ok,not really, just for days--FOUR days, to be exact(but it feels like weeks!). And are there any signs of it going away? Nope. I'm tired of being sick. Know what I've learned from being sick?

  • You can spend too much time in bed (or on the couch--it's all the same thing!). My neck and shoulders hurt from laying down too much.

  • Even though you're only supposed to take Ibuprofen every eight hours, it only works for six.

  • Kids really stink at givng neck rubs. (They're cute trying, but when your sick, you're not looking for cute!)

  • They can't go grocery shopping, and somehow you always get sick when the groceries are low.

  • You can get stinky doing nothing.

  • If you sleep all day, it's hard to sleep at night--even when you're sick.

  • When you need help, people really can't read your mind. (Figured if I was married, I'd be blaming my husband for that; instead I was blaming the rest of the world!)

  • While I work hard to get my kids well when they're sick, I think they are deliberately trying to keep me down. After all, it's like a holiday. Hmmmm. . . maybe I need to make them work really hard tomorrow!

  • My family targets holidays and holiday weekends for crises!

  • Chicken soup, applesauce, and toast are comforting even when you don't have a stomach bug. (Mine is just fever, aches, congestion, and sore throat . . . and I'm thankin' the Lord for that!)

  • God's plan is VERY different than mine!

Ok, I'm whining. I'm going back to bed. (Ouch!)

Monday, August 28, 2006


Dear Josh,

Today you are twelve-years-old. I am amazed that it has been that long. Everyone I have ever known who has been a parent has told me that the time flies by, but only now am I really starting to understand what they mean. I am so proud of the young man you are becoming--frustrated and concerned some days--but for the most part pleased with who you are. I guess I am especially surprised with the way you are just naturally easing into being a responsible, contributing part of the family. Growing up has brought with it many new responsibilities. Because you tend to be so laid back (OK, maybe just a tad lazy!), I was sure it would be a fight to get you to take out the trash, or mow, or keep up with your own online classes, but you seem to thrive on the honor these harder tasks bring. I hear very few complaints, and you do chores without much nagging.

Your latest "passion" is superheroes. Now while I realize that every boy needs heroes, and the "super" kind fit nicely into that need, I feel I have done you a disservice by introducing some heroes who really aren't, and although I know you intellectually understand their shortcomings, I still see some hero worship that makes me uncomfortable. I'm claiming a lot of God's grace to cover over my mistakes. In spite of this, I love the fleeting glimpses of "little boy" I still get in your superhero play. I dread the day when you are through with childish things altogether.

Spiritually, you always impress and amaze me. You have so much knowledge and understanding packed in that 12-year-old head of yours. I'm constantly astonished at what you are able to understand, and what you seem to believe. Of course, my big worry is that all that understanding will fuel a huge pride, which the Lord will have to break in the coming years. I often get frustrated that I don't seem to see your faith translated into action, but then again, I have struggled with that myself. It comforts me a great deal to know that God covers you with His grace. I know it is all by God's grace that you have been given so much of His truth. HE has made it possible for me to be so involved in teaching and training you. HE has made you able to learn. And HE has put His Holy Spirit in you to help you to understand. Even though I know all this, it makes me proud to be your mom.

Josh, there are so many things I like about you. I LOVE your sense of humor. You have your daddy's wit, and that makes life with you so much fun. Even though your almost always a little rough on your brothers, you have a very tender heart. I love to watch you with little ones--you are so gentle and can just talk to them. You can converse with older kids and adults too. You have always amazed me with your extroverted personality which enables you to make friends with just about anyone. Even though I think you hate to hear it, you have a real talent for writing and telling stories. (Writing involves too much work for you.) What an imagination! And with your humor, you rarely compose anything dull! You are a loyal friend. It seems the boys with whom you are friends have been your friends forever, and you stay faithful to them in spite of their quirks and annoying habits.

My precious boy, I look forward to seeing the wonderful things God is going to do with you. Everyone I talk to is so sure He has great plans for you. I am sorry for the many ways I fail to prepare you for His call on your life, but I am so grateful that it does not all depend on me. Even though entering into the "teen years" has thrown me a bit off balance with the ways you are changing, I have found something to love at every age, and I know I will with you at this age too. I am sure of it because of how much I love you. You are a special boy, and I thank God for every day I've had with you. Celebrate my dear son! Today marks an incredible day--the day God brought you into my world!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

12 Years Ago Today . . .

I was just settling into bed after dinner and a movie with friends. Little did I know that within a couple hours I'd be experiencing incredible discomfort as I went into labor with my first baby. It was an all-night labor, and Josh was born at around 1pm on August 28. A dozen years ago my life changed. I became a mom for the first time.

Tonight I had to sit up with that same little boy, not so little now, to help him make a grown-up decision. He wants to play an online game, and after much research and prayer I feel like it's inappropriate at best, and potentially dangerous. But he's 12 now, and ready for more than just a no, so we walked through scriptures to base our decision on, and reviews of the game. Growing up is so hard when your heart wants to do something that your head tells you isn't right. And I'm left with a sullen kid because he has to give up something he doesn't want to give up, and he thinks mom is being unfair. Hopefully he'll feel better about it in the morning. Hopefully he'll resist the temptation to play behind my back. Hopefully I will communicate that I do trust him, even though I don't want him in the midst of overwhelming temptation and danger.

Twelve years ago it was about changing diapers and knowing how to feed him. When did it get so hard?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Signs of Teen Years

Is it normal for me to be so shocked everytime I see those hairy man-legs hanging over the top of my son's bunk bed? When do you stop being surprised that his body is now one of a teenager, instead of the fat roly-poly body of the little boy I remember? And the attitude, what is that about? What happened to Mommy's good-natured, agreeable little buddy? Is there any way to stop the hormones?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My One Year Anniversary!

Happy anniversary to me!
Happy anniversary to me!
I've been blogging a whole year!
Happy anniversary to me!

Thanks Erin for getting me into this. I absolutely LOVE it! And I love all my virtual friends in the virtual world (and getting to keep up with a few real ones and some family!) To those of you who read my goofy sentiments regularly--I hope I educate you occasionally (or at least challenge your brains), and entertain you often! Thanks for being my friends!

Wow, did I just accept an Oscar?

Oh Boy! What WAS I Thinking?

What is chaos? A desert social at which two little boys help themselves to as many deserts as they care to eat, followed by the trip home to greet a new pet. Yep! We have a new member of the family, a guinea pig whose name I think is going to be Nibs, although it will probably change several times before we settle on one. (AJ wants to call it Checkers, which I like also.) The boys were so excited when we got home I could barely stand the noise and motion (or perhaps that was the 15 brownies they ate at church tonight!).

And get this! They ARGUED over who was going to get to assume the different chores involved in taking care of the pig! Go figure! How do I get them to argue over who's going to vacuum the carpet? Or clean the bathroom? Better yet, I should take odds on how long it will be before they are arguing about it NOT being their turn to care for the same guinea pig!

All in all . . . he is kind of cute. Guess I better like him since it's probably just a matter of time until he's mine.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Best Last Day of Summer!

Yes, supposedly we started school three weeks ago, but with friends at our house most of those days, and with all the summer activities our friends were involved in, it has been hard to get the summer out of our system. Monday is the official "We're really starting school" day, complete with a schedule, no TV or PS2, and LOTS of assignments!

So it was a great thing that we were invited to a "Lake Party" at one of the home of a friend of Josh's today. It was even more thoughtful that AJ and Stephen were invited. So today we played . . . in the water . . . at high speeds . . . with gusto! Tomorrow we start getting ready . . . for school. Uuuugggghhhh!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Goal in Life . . .

My oldest son informed me the other day that his goal in life is to be able to converse with anyone in only lines from movies. Where have I gone wrong?

And on a side note . . . I must remember to be careful what I allow him to watch, now that I know he is burning all of these movie lines to his hard drive. I let him watch Napoleon Dynamite this weekend and he's driving me CRAZY!!! What was I thinking?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sometimes the Simplest Things . . .

. . . can entertain a boy!

Hello, I am a CD player. I have had a very useful life, playing all kinds of music and stories to my owner. But I'm old now, and I haven't been working right for a long time. Actually I really don't work at all, I just look like I'm working, but I'm not really doing what I'm supposed to do.

This week, it was through my death that I brought the greatest enjoyment. It is hard to believe that all those praise songs I sang weren't as pleasing as having my screws taken out. No one fought over which story to listen to like they fought over who would get my "chips." And nobody cut a rug to my tunes with as much pleasure as they cut my internal wires.

That's OK though. You should see my cousin, the CD boom box . . . they took a hammer to him! Now we are in pieces all over the house, and beyond. Will we ever be useful again? I don't think so.

Friday, July 28, 2006

First Day of School Traditions

I remember that when I was growing up, back-to-school traditions made the whole experience of starting school somewhat exciting. I read an article a couple years ago about the importance of having back-to-school traditions even for my homeschool kids, and I realized it was something I had neglected. Since we don't really need new school clothes, or lunch boxes, and such, I have come up with a few things all our own.

On the first day of school, each kid gets some kind of treats. Since they don't normally carry lunch boxes with packaged foods, these things are a real treasure in our house, so each year I give the kids an assortment of their own packaged chips, cookies, and candies. This year it was all in a gift bag with some new school supplies (don't care how many crayons or pencils we have, you just have to have new ones to make it feel like the first day of school!), and some individual drinks.

There are, of course, new school supplies, although over the years I have discovered that we need less and less replaced every year. One of the boys got a new backpack this year, but not all three needed one. One got a pencil pouch. Nobody really needed a binder. They all get new pencils, colored pencils, and I stock up on art supplies and such.

Our first day of school is a preview day. There are very few "real" assignments. We design portfolio binder covers--this year we did them on the computer with photos of the boys and cute individualized graphics. I take their picture with all their new books for the school photo album. And we look over all their materials and do any introductory lessons or reading.

One of the things I did with Josh this year about two weeks before we started was to help him make a list of all the things he thought he'd be doing in ten or fifteen years. We came up with things like married, dad, homeowner, church member, and he thinks he might like to have a job (he keeps insisting as a video game tester!). Then I sat with him and we brainstormed all the skills or knowledge you need to have or do those things. Although I didn't get and grand oooohs or aaaahs, I'm hoping I've given him a little of the practical reasons for why we do this stuff.

The first week has been a little less organized than I planned. Rather than being: "Wow, what a first week!", it's been more . . . well . . . normal. But I'm excited about what we are doing, and about all the new and additional challenges we will face (like how I'll homeschool three kids with a toddler around, and when I'll get to the gym for some much needed exercise!).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I Am Just Plain Tired!

In spite of a restless night, I made it through a delightful day. As I mentioned earlier, Josh went to Wet and Wild, so I took the younger boys and some other friends to the beach. Now you might think that everyone who lives near the coast of Florida makes regular pigrimages to the beach. Not so. In fact, I always had sort of a love/hate relationship with the beach as a kid. Maybe part of it is that I burn so easy. Maybe I just don't like all the work of packing and driving, only to get sticky, sandy, itchy, and have my eyes burned by salt water. But today was a different kind of trip--odd, since I am now the mom who has to do most of the work.

Today I took five kids and a teenager to the beach. I swam in the water with the boys, and LOVED it! We ate sand affected food and LOVED it! I got totally fried (you'd think I'd know by now that sunscreen washes off in seawater!) and . . . well . . . OK, did't love that part. I'm tired, and my arms and back hurt, but hey! I had fun. I think the kids had fun too!