Life is, indeed, very good.

Life is, indeed, very good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It Is What It Is...



If you read my previous post, you'll recall the star I picked up at the Walgreen's for our tree....and that my family laughed at it and said it was lame. Sigh. It lasted for a week or two on the top branch, all bent over against the ceiling. I liked it. It said, "This house ain't perfect. Get over it!". Amidst an evening of shopping prior to Christmas, Peter spotted a very pretty star made of sticks and red berries that he really liked. So we bought it and there it sits. It is very homey. Homie? I'm not calling you "homey", I'm......never mind. You get the idea.

The photo of the lame star made me think, once again, of expectations. Is this the season of expectations or WHAT? Sheesh. Now, I think I've made some big strides in trying to let go of unrealistic expectations of things/people/myself. But I'm not completely cured. Especially at Christmas time. I can so easily dwell on the "shoulds" or "coulds" of everything from family to traditions to baking and decorating. I will once again quote my friend Susanna and remind myself and anyone else listening that "IT IS WHAT IT IS". Can I say once again how I love that phrase? It has prevented me on countless occasions from jumping on the death spiral of unrealistic expectations. This Christmas, I teetered on the edge of the spiral a only a couple of times, but my favorite phrase (and my emotionally steady husband) yanked me back to reality. I'm glad, too, because we really had a pretty relaxed Christmas. I was going to make something for breakfast on Christmas morning that was really high-maintenance, but I realized I was pooped and didn't feel like it. So we had toast. Toast! I think a couple of the kids may have just eaten crackers. I had in my mind for a moment that homemade cinnamon rolls could be such a fun Christmas morning tradition! But I let it go and we had toast! (Call me crazy, but I'm seeing light from heaven and I hear angels singing!) I figured the tradition wasn't so great if mom was tired and nasty on Christmas morning because she got up so early to make the rolls so breakfast could be "special". Good grief! The kids could have cared less about rolls or toast or anything else to eat for that matter. For obvious Christmas morning reasons. So this year I feel like I had a pretty good handle on the Christmas expectations, save for the few teetering moments. I was also very proud of my mother, who later that day during the opening of gifts, handed me a plain box with a bow stuck on top and said "I got sick of wrapping". Go, mom!

Okay, now I must admit that my intent tonight when I sat down at the computer was to vent about how one of my kids crossed the line one too many times today between "cute" and "sassy". This is a recurring issue with said child, and I was ticked. (Whoever said not to take your kids' behavior personally? Wha??) I think we are at the brink of a new phase of parenting that I feel frighteningly unprepared for. Anyway, at the time of the crossing of the line I'm thinking that "this shouldn't happen". The child "should know better", "should not be disrespectful", and that "I should command more respect", etc. etc. etc.

Shouldshouldshouldshouldshouldblahblahblahblah.

But in the process of writing this painfully long post (sorry), I realize once again that it is what it is. I say that not to shrug off the incident and the responsibility to correct it. I say it to remind myself not to jump on the spiral of unrealistic expectations and think that it's all indicative of horrid parenting and children who will wind up as social deviants. (I really am that wierd...and i know I'm not the only one out there. *awkward silence* :) So thanks so much putting up with the external processing. I know I need to deal with the attitude issue, and I need to deal with my reactions to it (which are not always the most mature...). So there's a sink full of dishes that will be there in the morning for said child who needs to appreciate mom a little more. Not because I'm still mad, but because it is what it is. And I'll probably end up helping, and if we're lucky, we'll even have a good time in the process. We'll see.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009



I recently read an article in a tech-y magazine about how to fail at social media. One of the top five fails was: Inconsistency.

It has been so long since I last posted that I almost forgot how to log in. Sigh. Well, since my purpose for blogging was to capture random memories that I might not otherwise remember, and since any other method of "capturing memories" is hopelessly behind (yes, I mean my photo albums..journals, etc.), then I suppose a couple of months isn't so bad. Maybe my children won't be scarred for life after all!

It is Wednesday night, and I'm sitting in the living room amidst twinkly tree lights listening to the clock tick.....enjoying the quiet. Even as the Christmas music junkie that I am, tonight I am enjoying quiet. We've had a radio station on in the van that has been playing Christmas music for weeks, and I think I've heard George Micheal's "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart...." 15 times! And this wierd old song about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas.?? Yes, tonight it's quiet. I feel strangely calm and unstressed this year regarding Christmas. The gift-giving in our families is pretty tame, we have no official parties to attend, and I'm not feeling the need to come up with perfectly decorated cookies...or a perfectly decorated house, for that matter! I feel like I might be forgetting something, but if I am I'm blissfully ignorant! We are just enjoying Christmastime. The kids really wanted to get a star for the top of our tree this year, so I picked one up at a store and when I brought it home my entire family told me it was LAME! I insisted on putting on the tree, which is as tall as our ceilings, so the lame star (and the top branch)were kind of folded over against the ceiling. I loved the Charlie Brown-ness of it, but when we were out a couple of nights ago, Peter found a star he absolutely loved. So down came the lame star and up went Peter's pick, with full approval of the star committee. I had no idea the star was such an issue!

Someone asked Janie what some of our Christmas traditions are, and the first thing she said was that we never put gifts out under the tree until Christmas morning. I laughed because what she thought of as a tradition was really just because A) Tim and I usually don't finish wrapping everything until Christmas Eve, and B) we've always had little ones who would tear into the wrapping long before Christmas Day! I wonder if this is how lots of traditions are started - out of circumstance! It's funny to hear what sticks out in the kids' minds....I try to make so many things "meaningful"..like reading the advent story every night...and then what they remember most is that we went to Happy Joes on Christmas Eve last year!!! I sigh, but with a smile on my face, because I love that kids are kids and that you can try your hardest to make them all deep and thoughtful, but what they're really thinking about is pizza and how they're hoping to get an Anakin's Y-Wing Starfighter Lego set for Christmas. I'd like to think the meaningfulness and the advent and the profoundness of why we really celebrate Christmas is taking root in their little souls...even amidst George Michael and the song about the hippo and the lame star mom got from the Walgreen's.

Well, you're perhaps wondering what the photo above has anything to do with this post. This picture is of the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, which I visited on my trip with my dear friend Shannon. Prague was so beautiful, and one of the things I loved about it was that it holds the history of St. Wenceslas..Good King Wenceslas, as you may remember! This happens to be one of my very favorite Christmas carols because of the solid harmonies and the story/dialogue between King W and his page...and good memories of singing it at countless Christmas engagements with my fellow madrigal friends. The whole time we were in Prague, I SO wanted to just sing that carol out loud and imagine the king and the page gathering food, wine and wood to take to "yonder peasant" by St. Agnes Fountain!

The last line of the carol..."Therefore Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing...Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing!"

I hope you're enjoying Christmas, that you have both wierd and meaningful traditions to tell of, and that you get to hear "Good King Wenceslas" at least as many times as you hear George Michael! :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

gifts



I have been blessed beyond words in the last two weeks. Last year, two of my dear dear friends moved away...one to Ohio and one to Germany. In the last two weeks, they both celebrated their fortieth birthdays. I got to celebrate with each of them!!! Can I tell you how my cup is overflowing right now?

Thank you, Jesus, for friends near and far, and for what each and every one of them means in my life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

seasons



Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crispy cold mornings and the chili and ohhh, the colors. And the smells and the sweaters and the marshmallow roasting. I'm not sure I could live in a region without changing seasons. I love it.

This season at the Adams' has been a whirlwind. Especially the month of September. Amidst the start of the school year and a gutted kitchen, we also prepared to say goodbye to our two little "extra" daughters who had been with us since the first of May. This was bittersweet, as it certainly was not an easy five months...we were all stretched and pulled out of our comfort zones...but we also have some sweet, sweet memories, funny stories, and a part of our collective heart that bears the fingerprints of two little blonde girls. There is also, at least for me, the twinge of sorrow over the things I didn't do well for them...but I have that for my own children as well. Doesn't any mother? We also came face to face with the reality of "the system" and how frustrating (gross understatement) it can be. Above all else, it was really the latter that made September so stressful. In the end, we felt like good decisions were made and that things are hopeful. And we'll get to keep in touch with the girls, which is wonderful.

So we're settling into fall. It's taken some getting used to having two less at the table or in the van, and we don't have to go to the garage each morning for the milk. We've made an apple pie, and tomorrow we celebrate Tim's 39th birthday. We've got a pumpkin party, a wedding, and some visits from friends to look forward to, and hopefully some time to just be quiet. And winter will be here before we know it!! Who knows what adventures next season will bring!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

kitchen pics





Unfortunately, I never remember to take really good before and after pictures of our projects. Will some "during" and "almost done" shots do? I hope so. The kids had fun helping with the kitchen demo...after that they they had to make themselves scarce so Dad, Mr. Huntley, and various other suckers - I mean, good friends helped out getting the place put back together. What started out as "let's paint the cabinets", turned into a complete gutting of the kitchen, mudroom and bathroom. Leaky plumbing, old wiring, and crumbling walls were replaced. The fridge was permanently moved to the mudroom which opened up lots of wonderful space in the kitchen where little bakers can be put to work! After six weeks of feeding six kids with a microwave, a toaster, and a fridge in the garage (I'm sure our neighbors thought it was strange to see us go out to the garage in our pj's each morning for the milk)....we made it with relatively few meltdowns. Note: I said "relatively few", not none. Considering all the things going on in our life in that six weeks, which I'll address in another post, I think we fared incredibly well. And thanks to the very hard work of Tim, Dave Huntley, Grandpa B, Kirk, Aaron, Barry, and a couple of late-night rescues by the Kelsalls, we have a kitchen. And I am a very blessed mama!! (Okay, the pictures are in backwards order, and were supposed to be at the end of the post, but I can't figure out how to change it so we'll just have to deal with the anti-climactic-ness. Sorry! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

questions

The following are the questions asked of me in the car this morning in a period of about 10 minutes. I think you will enjoy this.

Sam: When you get your driver's license, do you practice on a track?
Joe: Do they come to your house?
Me: Who?
Joe: The people.
Me: No, you go to the Dept of Motor Vehicles, take a written test, then someone drives with you on the real road to test your actual driving.
Pete: How old do you have to be to go without a [car]seat in Ohio?
Joe: Do they have a camera in here to see what you're doing?
Me: "They" who?
Joe: The 'department' people, to see where you are and stuff.
Me: No, I already have my license, so they don't need to know where I am.
Joe: How long have we been in our old house?
Me: Huh?
Joe: The one on Mississippi Road? (Avenue)
Sam: So are we technically breaking the law? (referring, unbeknownst to me, to the fact that I earlier let Janie sit in the front seat of the van)
Me: Huh?
Joe: When we move, will we take the kitties?
Me: I didn't know we were moving, but yes, we would take the kitties.
Joe: And the TV?
Joe: Ohhhhhh..Mom...cones!!!! (street construction)
Me: I see 'em.
Joe: What would happen if you didn't?
Peter: Is house arrest for just four years or for your whole life?
Me: WHAT?
Joe: Kids in China can go to prison when they're four.
Sam: Yeah, if their family did something bad.
Pete: Is prison under your porch?
Me: ????????????????????? I need a double espresso and a chocolate cream filled long john.

This is for real, folks. I have no idea where some of these questions com from, but this wild stream of consiousness is the everyday norm. Particularly in the van. Welcome to my world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

pests and chinese water torture

Okay, I really haven't given up on my blog. I still read others' blogs every day. We're still without a kitchen, and sometimes I feel like I wander aimlessly through the house with a shell-shocked look on my face.

Dinner? What's that?

I'm not complaining AT ALL. For real. This project is a blessing I never thought I would experience, and my husband is working his behind off on it.

So the other night we were out and about and Pete hollers from the back of the van, "Mom, we just passed PESTMART!!"

I laughed for a number of reasons.

This will be the third weekend in a row of me keeping the kids occupied and out of the kitchen so Tim can get it done. This is akin to chinese water torture. Just keeping everyone busy...just killing time. It's not their fault, and it's fun to just go to the park, etc. But you moms know how it is. It's kind of like treading water. If I was a really good mom, I'd plan all sorts of crafts and activities. But let me refer you to previous comment about wandering aimlessly with shell-shocked look..... besides, the last thing we need is more of a mess. So we'll hit the parks a few more times, ride bikes, eat popsicles. The project is getting closer to the end, and the kids and I have talked at length about what we will bake first. I think it will be lemon cupcakes. Mmmmm.

So if you're on the Quad City park circuit this weekend, you just might see us! Oh, and my camera battery is now charged, so I'll take pics of our big mess and post them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

summer comes to an end...

I'm sitting in a house that's been quiet since 9pm....I can't remember the last time that's happened this summer! I'm trying to get the kids back into the habit of earlier bedtimes and earlier waketimes, but we've still got some summer left in us and it's just amazingly hard to wrap it up by 8 or 9 at night! Equally as difficult to rise early. Helping me get my tail out of bed earlier, however, is my sweet neighbor....a teacher/track coach/totally fit new mama to twin boys....who is willing to walk with me a few times a week. I really enjoy getting to know her better...great motivation to get up early!

So we begin our school year in one week. We're ready. The kids are ready. We'll be doing a sort of "co-op" with another family. The more the merrier, really. While trying to wrap my mind around getting ready to educate a 5th grader(plus two friends), a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a preschooler (heaven help us!), we TODAY began removing cabinets from our kitchen. Good timing, I know. Seriously. The plan was to work on this project over the month of August and be done by the time we started school. For most normal people, it might seem wise to do these projects while the punks are IN school. But since "school" for us is either upstairs, in the dining room, or in the living room, and also because we're quite ABnormal, we were hoping to get this done in a month. (I can hear you snicker....especially you, Huntley's!! No, the Huntley's are rolling on the floor laughing because they are always roped into our projects and are painfully aware of how long it takes us to get these things done.) This project is very exciting, as our kitchen cabinets/counters were literally falling apart, and we were able to do a re-fi and use some equity to fix up our mess hall. So far I've freaked out twice on my husband, and not in a cute way...nope. You see, three days a week we will have two extra fifth graders joining us, plus our two little "extra" daughters (still with us, yes)....which will include LUNCH. Without a functioning kitchen. I'm shaking my head as I type. Thank heavens for the picnic table! It will be a rocky month or two (stop snickering, Huntleys :). But obviously it is a HUGE blessing, so I'm vowing not to be one of those wives that freaks out (oops) and becomes a monster during a home remodel. Okay, enough about that.

Our little girls are still with us, though they are getting closer to being able to return home. It has definitely been a challenging summer, and I see the kids wearing thin with some aspects. We reminded them to try to picture Jesus just over the shoulder of someone who may sometimes be hard to love...kind of regaining perspective as a family. On the other hand, they have shown amazing patience and open-armed acceptance as well. Challenging as it is, it will still be hard to say goodbye when the time comes.

I was reminded recently (by a story on a sign at Jimmy Johns, to be honest! I'll spare you the minutia...) of how life isn't about destinations and end products, but the day to day, the everyday minutes and hours. And how God sometimes does big great works in us, yes, but so much more often He works in us in small, unnoticeable ways...day by day...shaping and refining. I think of Chris Rice's lyrics "teach us to count the days...teach us to make the days count"..and one line about "will you invest or squander?". And sometimes I need to remember that "investing" doesn't always mean "accomplishing" something. Sometimes investing means doing nothing. Playing tag. Jumping rope. Sitting alone with Jesus. "Wasting" time. Sometimes it just means doing the next thing. Okay, I'm probably not making much sense, but I guess I'd like to say that over the summer and amidst its fun and challenges, I've been forced to take it a day at a time. And that has been a most excellent lesson for me.

Happy new school year to you all! I'm thankful for you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

big baby


Once again, a long lapse between blog posts. Let's start fresh again with a few shots of Henry Fussy taking it easy in the baby swing! At about 18 pounds, he really is just about the right poundage for the swing. He likes to try to catch the frame of it as he swings, and he favors the "2" setting.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

extra campers..



We went camping recently, and we thought we scored by choosing a campsite right next to the playground. However, a few other kids took a likin' to us and hung out at our site the WHOLE day while their folks relaxed by their own campfire the WHOLE day. (grr.) I thought this scene was kind of funny....three little campers hovering around Tim...none of which were OUR SIX. It was cute for the first six hours or so, but then at dinnertime when NINE kids were hovering and getting hungry I had to get pretty firm to send them packing. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Link issues....oh, and finger surgery

I don't know why, but when I click on my link to the Pioneer Woman's website it's sending me to this "Pipes...feed" something or other. I have no idea why, and I have no idea how to fix it. This "pipes" thing lists her posts, but is nothing like her actual site. If you've never visited the Pioneer Woman, you MUST. She is stinkin' hilarious, she has great recipes, gives Kitchen Aid mixers away all the time, and is just generally great fun to read. The site is at www.thepioneerwoman.com. Anyone know how I can fix this link problem on my "blogs I read" list?

In other news, I've gotten lazy about photos again. I'll have a great new one after today, because Tim pounded off the tip of his finger while pounding in a ground rod (I don't have any idea what that is). He called me from the express care about an hour ago and said they sent him to the hospital to have a surgeon fix it. I get calls like this about once a year. I'm used to them now. The last one was about a year and a half ago when he called saying he thought he broke his ankle (which he did)...he was calling while driving himself to the doctor. So I plan to take a photo of the finger. Perhaps it will be too gross to post, we'll see. I don't know...the Pioneer Woman posted pictures of a mama cow's uterine prolapse! Certainly a missing fingertip isn't as bad as a cow's uterus! Until next time.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five candles, and hold the sprinkles, please...

Today my baby boy turned five. FIVE. It didn't really hit me until today that he's FIVE. That's a big deal! (Especially at our house....that I haven't given birth in five years!!) The photo is of his birthday list..I'll get to that later. I offered to have a little party for him with his two or three buddies from church (he's never had a friend party before)....but he flatly refused. Family only, he said. I was a little surprised by this, but then he went on to say that he wanted a lemon cake, no "theme", no sprinkles, no ice cream, and no games. Good grief! Who is this child? He didn't even want to go to a park to have his party (which ended up being a good thing since it rained cats and dogs all day). Nope, he wanted to stay at home and have his cake with no sprinkles and no ice cream and no friends. Alrighty then! What's the catch, because this is too easy. Or is there some deep-rooted psychological reason he didn't want sprinkles or ice cream or friends? Oh, I'm just kidding. I didn't really wonder that. Really, I didn't. Really.

So, today we had a very nice and low-key birthday, complete with lemon cake (he did cut me some slack and let me put on a few sprinkles...and the rest of us had ice cream). A few days prior he had made a birthday list. I always like to keep these, and thought you all might get a kick out of this one. I'll translate for you:

Start
Go
0. IPOD (yeah, right...I don't even have one!)
1. vidyo game (video game, which he didn't get. The Wii is still fresh.)
2. calindr (calendar)
3. map
4. legos
5. go otor (we couldn't figure this one out, and he couldn't remember, either)
6. cumpyoodr (computer, um..I don't think so)
7. clock
8. seeydy (CD)

Other than the computer and the ipod, I thought these were pretty simple requests. His favorite gift? A 2009 Veggie Tales calendar I found for $.97. He said it was his best birthday ever. Now if I can just get the other kids to have these same expectations!!

Happy fifth birthday to my fresh-faced little five year old Peter!

Friday, July 3, 2009

lane closed

I love my kids. I love interacting with them, listening to what's on their minds. However, it seems like all day yesterday, I did not experience five consecutive minutes without hearing my name (Mom) called in request for help of some kind. Usually for food. This really gets me when I'm on the phone or talking in person with someone (they have been taught OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and....that if I'm SPEAKING or LISTENING to another person, that they need to WAIT their turn and not interrupt - unless there is blood involved, of course.) I get real tired of having to stop and tell them that they're interrupting and to wait. I do realize that part of the problem is me failing to give a consequence when this habitually happens, but also that sometimes the kids are just one track minded and so focused on what's in their little brains that they forget. So I was thinking how handy it would be to have a light on top of my head that would automatically be "on" if I'm free to talk or answer questions, and "off" if I'm engaged in conversation with someone else. Lane closed. Find another lane. (DAD's lane, perhaps? :) I'll bet I'm not the only mother who would invest in such a gadget.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ball.....camp......

Scroll down two posts to "ballpark fun", and in the first photo you'll see Sam's baseball team lining up to "good game" the other team. (Sam's team is in the navy blue.) You'll see numbers 9,3,6,1,7, and two coaches (I think the second coach is very handsome and manly, by the way..). Anyway, Sam is number 1. In that same post, I mentioned something that didn't bother him about his baseball experience this year. Can you guess what I'm talking about?

In other news, the boy returned from camp today with lots of stories, camp memorabilia, smiles, and a suitcase full of clean, folded laundry. Which means he pretty much wore the same thing for three days. But he did say he took one shower. He and Janie had fun swapping camp stories in the van on the way home.....that was fun to listen to!

Monday, June 29, 2009

serious business

Oh, dear. Let me just say that Peter did not know he was being photographed here, nor was he trying to be funny.

ballpark fun




Yesterday marked the end of baseball season. Sam's team (Homeworks Central) came in third place. They had a great last couple of games and ended the season on a high note. I was completely intimidated by Little League at first. I thought it was going to be super hardcore and serious. While the boys and coaches certainly did take it seriously, it was much more fun than I had anticipated. The coaches did a fantastic job...they had a good bunch of boys on the team...and it was fun to get to know some of the parents, too. Our boy really does love baseball. Not once did he complain about the TWO HOUR games, twice a week (I did, though...:), get upset about striking out or not playing the position he wanted, or seem to mind that most of the boys on the team were heads AND shoulders taller than him. He was in his element. He was like a fish in water. Like a pea in a pod. Like Mom in a Starbucks. :) I got to learn all sorts of baseball lingo, too, like "Good cut" and "Don't aim the ball, just throw it" and "Power T! Teardrop!"...so I can really sound like I know what's going on!

Yessir, I believe this was the first of many summer seasons at the ballpark!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

laziness - no, restfulness

Just about every day for the last week or so, I've had something on my mind to blog about. But here's the thing. I've gotten really spoiled with this laptop sitting on the dining room table. It's not ours, but we're "laptop-sitting". It's wonderful, but it just provides more opportunity to be online when I should be doing something else. Anyway, all my photos are on the desktop computer (or still on the camera). While I realize transferring the pics to the laptop is not rocket science, I'm admitting that while I sit on the sofa with the laptop on my....well, my lap at 11:38pm, it really does seem like too big a task. Anyway, Tim says I need a "thumb drive". I still haven't figured out DVRs. I don't know what a thumb drive is. Or maybe I do, and I just thought it was called something else. Does it usually come attached to a string-around-the-neck thingy? I'd ask Tim, but he's sawing logs next to me here on the couch with his earbuds in. We are LAME. All this to say that if I had a "thumb drive", I'd have new posts, complete with photos, just about every day! Hmmph!

Enough of that nonsense. Today marks the end of a season for us....the season of running around/never eating supper together/feeding kids at the ballpark/tag-team parenting. Today was the final game of Sam's Little League (which, by the way, his team won to come in third place in the league...) AND as soon as the game was over we hopped in the car to take Sam to Pine Lake Camp. It's his first time at camp..please pray that he stays safe, gets to know Jesus in a new way, and brushes his teeth at least once. I know hoping for a shower is a pipe-dream, but I threw in the shampoo and soap anyway. Sorry...bunny trail. So baseball is over, Janie and (almost) Sam are done with camp. We can now relax a little. We are now free to move about our summer. We have really enjoyed the crazy season....the kids love their camp, the ballgames were fun to watch, and we are having so much fun watching the kids grow and experience new things. But now we're looking forward to grilling in the backyard. Going to the park to hit balls. Swimming. Camping. Eating popsicles on the front porch while catching lightning bugs and going to bed late and filthy....I mean, freshly bathed of course. Yah, sure, ya-betcha! :)

Last week was one of those in which I was exhausted and in desperate need of a sick day. I didn't realize for a day or two that the reason I was feeling so fatigued is that I was coming down with some sort of bug (and maybe partly because of all these kids wanting me to fix them food all the time :). Anyway, amidst the tiredness I started to head down that mental path where I over-analzye and question and wonder if I'm doing everything wrong and what would we do about this or that in five years. But God spoke to me in a number of ways and reminded me that 1) to not trust Him is actually sin (ouch) 2) that I only need to take one day at a time, and 3) that the life he has given me today is so rich and beautiful and I am MISSING IT by worrying and over-analyzing. As my dear friend Susanna would say...IT IS WHAT IT IS. Have I mentioned that that little phrase changed my life at one point? Deal with today. And be thankful in the process.

I bid you goodnight now. I'm going to enjoy a quiet house for a few minutes (one would expect that at 12:14am..although Tim is still snoring). I'm going to ignore the dishes in the sink, the kitchen trash which smells like death, the tufts of cat hair floating around the living room floor, and the array of legos, blocks, papers, and pipe cleaners(?) which are dispersed in the upstairs hallway.

I seriously just sat here thinking I should really find a photo to post with this, but I'm just too comfy to get up..... :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

a little child shall lead them....

Last night the kids got to bed late due to a long, hot Little League game which meant showers for all boys afterward. It was about 10:30, and I heard post-bedtime footsteps coming down the stairs. Not one of my favorite sounds. I was immediately ready to roll some heads. Until Joe peeked his head down the stairs and gave me the following report:

"Mom, I just wanted you to know that I asked Peter if he wanted to be a Christian, and I told him I would pray with him and he could repeat after me and I helped him become a Christian."

Silence as Tim and I digest this news... Can you just picture the scene up there between those two little beds? I had to stop and really realize that, even if Peter doesn't really understand what being a Christian means, that Joe just had a hand in Peter's early understanding of salvation. It amazes me that a six-year-old boy would even have that on his mind at 10:30pm on a Thursday night. A humbling reminder that God is at work in even the littlest.

P.S. Just to keep things real, I have to add this little bit....In my over-analytical-ness, I made sure to talk with Joe about the fact that while a prayer is an important part of making a decision for Jesus, it is the belief in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God and died for our sins that truly makes us Christians. He said he knew that, and also that he believes in Santa. "I don't know why, I just do." (in all earnestness). Okaaaayyy. I guess we'll sort that one out later!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ahhhh.......summer!


another tough guy..

A few Sundays ago, we met Tim's brother's family in Peoria to see a traveling Titanic exhibit. Upon arrival, we learned that the wait time to get in was FOUR HOURS. Just think of standing in line with NINE children altogether for that long. Not even close to comprehensible. So, thanks to Deb's Garmin, we found a nature center that had some hiking trails. We had a great time hiking, finding snails, having cousin-fun. Of course, with that many kids, there had to be at least one injury. And of course, poor Joe took one for the team.




Saturday, June 6, 2009

tough guy

This morning, my husband asked me to remove a splinter from his foot. He knows how I LOVE to get splinters out. (I'm quite serious about this. I find great satisfaction in removing splinters. I get excited when my children get splinters. Sick, I know.) His was right on the bottom of his foot - unfortunately not in a calloused area. So I found my choice tweezers (the kind with sharper edges, not those blunt ones - totally worthless), arranged the lighting, and set to work. Though the splinter was visible, there was nothing to grab onto, so I had to do some work with a needle. This is the part I particularly enjoy, although my victims--I mean, patients vehemently oppose this practice. Anyway, my big strong husband - who once shaved off the end of his finger with a wire cutter and wrapped it with electrical tape, who goes to work with broken ankles, and who slides into second base with shorts on - this man squirmed and yelped during the splinter removal process. We decided he wouldn't make a good prisoner of war. The enemy would have no trouble getting him to sing like a canary.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

little heart-breaker

Can't you just see the girls swooning over this one in a couple of years? (I'm talking about Joe, not Tim --although I personally think there's much to swoon over in the latter as well) ;)

I love those boys.

Monday, June 1, 2009

kids music


Tim listens to music pretty much all the time. He's got great taste in music, and is always introducing new stuff to us. (For you parents, one of our ALL TIME favorite "kids" albums is called "Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies" by Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame....absolutely wonderful). So the kids have quite a repertoire of songs in their little noggins. That's great. But there is a band that they seem to have really caught on to called the House of Heroes. They are a VERY talented group of young punks (by young, I mean twenties). Not exactly kids music, though. They play for Christian venues, and they are incredible musicians. I even attended one of their concerts. Aside from feeling OLD, it was great. But my kids sing their songs all the time, and sometimes it makes me wonder if we should only be letting them listen to "Wee Sing Bible Songs".

They are particularly drawn to a song called "If". The following are some of the lyrics: "I could be in love..if..you wore that dress everyday....your beautiful smile and your eyes of gray...if you mine if you were mine if you were mine...a beautiful bird on a line...a beautiful bride of frankenstein...a beautiful drop of iodine....if you were mine, i'd have the world...i'd have the world...if you were mine..."

Nothing inappropriate, really. But Peter sings this song to himself while coloring or playing legos. And Sam, when asked in Sunday School to share one of his favorite songs with the class, chose this one. His teacher later asked if I would help him select a "Christian" song to share next time. Sigh.

Another one is about a guy in love with a communist girl. ????? My children know this song.

Can you imagine peeking in on your four-year-old as he builds a train track, hearing him sing "Red, Red, Baby's a Red, she's blood red, Baby's a Red, the feds said lock her in lead, she's red, but, I love her...."?

Don't judge me. It's how it is at our house. I told Tim to make up for all this nonsense, he has to put "Wee Sing" on his ipod and play it while he's got the kids in the car. That will go over big, I'm sure.

catching up..




(I thought I'd share a picture of our new table - see previous post about selling old table on a whim at garage sale...- I have since stained the top, but have not yet painted the legs..you get the idea anyway. Isn't it grand and sturdy-looking?)

I have spent the last few weeks enjoying my friends' blogs, fully intending to upload some pics and post something new (Tim says I need more pics on the blog...true..I'm just lazy and half the time can't find my camera..). There certainly has been no lack of blog material around here...I've been storing them up in my head. So each night when everyone is finally tucked in and quiet - the perfect time to recall the day's happenings - I sit down for just one or two episodes of the office on Hulu, and then it's all over from there. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ's. And more ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ's. You get the idea. I've tried posting in the middle of the day, but you know how I have a hard time keeping it short and sweet...and so many distractions...and it ends up all rambling and not making much sense.

LAND THE PLANE, as my friend's husband always says..in other words, get to the point.

So I'm trying to get back in the blogging saddle. It has been an adjustment around here getting used to six rather than four. I don't adjust very quickly. It's always a messy emotional ride. Usually not pretty. And messy. Isn't life just messy? Ours is. Anyway, the adjustment period is settling down. So I'm going to try to get some things blogged so I can look back and be glad to remember the little things.

Friday, May 15, 2009

another animal

Once again, a conversation with Pete goes unresolved. Pete has himself laid out between the two arms of a chair:

Me: Pete, you look like a hammock.
Pete: Is that an animal?
Me: No, it's like a swing for your whole body. You can lay in it.
Pete: But is it an animal?
Me: sigh.

(see April 29th's post about "heights" to fully grasp the sigh)

murphy's law

Two weeks ago we had a yard sale. I finally came to terms with selling all of my baby and toddler girl clothes, which I have held onto for NINE years. We just kept hoping we'd get to dress up another little girl in them somehow or another! But all of our foster placements so far have been boys, and those bins of clothes were just taking up a lot of room. We also decided to sell our dining room table and chairs. It was kind of a quick decision...the table was very poorly made, and the chairs were all falling apart. So we sold it, thinking we could squeeze around a card table for a while until Tim could build me a big farm table. So. Girl clothes gone. Dining room table gone. So what was the next logical thing to happen?

Well, three days after the sale, we got a call asking if we could take care of two LITTLE GIRLS, ages 1 and 3, for a while! Murphy's law! The girls arrived the next day, and thankfully I held on to just a few girls' clothes. The table situation, however, has been interesting. The little one uses the high chair, but the five other kids have eaten around the card table. Tim and I have pretty much eaten while standing up for every meal. We've had fun amidst the chaos, though, and our new little girls have rolled with it beautifully.

Tim and our friend Jeff (a master carpenter who has gotten himself roped into more than one of our harebrained projects....our friends are going to start changing their phone numbers) spent a day this week building me the coolest, sturdiest farm table ever!! It's seven feet long, and there isn't a wiggle or a wobble in the thing! I put the last coat of poly on this morning, and we'll christen it with waffles or pancakes or something messy and syrupy tomorrow morning.

Whew. It's been a crazy week. Each time we've had children placed with us has been different, and it's immediate readjustment of time, schedules, expectations, you name it. I admittedly spent about three nights after the girls arrived unable to sleep...worrying that I wouldn't be able to handle it, worrying that the kids wouldn't get along, worried that I was scarring everyone for life (I'm always worrying about that :)....but each day has gotten easier, the kids are all doing great, schedules are working themselves out, and the girls seem to really enjoy being here. And I can sit down for breakfast tomorrow! Hooray!

Murphy's law. Sure does keep things interesting! Isn't there a verse in Proverbs about man making plans, but the Lord's plan prevails? I'll have to look that one up and write it down! Until next time.....I'm off to get some sleep!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

false alarm

A few weeks ago, we did a fire drill at home. Before you think that we are the kind of family that is organized enough to think of this on our own, this is something required for DCFS foster families, and we've been very delinquent in getting this checked off the list. Anyway, this was the first time we did it, and it was a little upsetting for Joe and even more so for Pete. We had them go lay on their beds and wait to hear the alarm test, then proceed to the said meeting place, etc. We had to spend quite a bit of time explaining to Peter that there wasn't a fire, and that this was only practice in case a fire were to happen.

Last night as I was cooking supper, the smoke alarm sounded (which it often does if something gets smoky...I'll skip the obvious jokes about my cooking :). Peter, without saying a word to anyone, went straight out the front door and stood there on the porch with this terrified look on his face that just about broke my heart into a million pieces. It took Janie and I three or four minutes of coaxing to get him to come back into the house.

I'm glad he remembered what to do when he heard the alarm, but I hope I never have to see that look on his face again.....it just about did me in!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a new kind of animal

(This one will be short. I promise.)

Today in the car, Peter asked me if "Hites" were a real kind of animal. I couldn't figure out what he was talking about. Joe did, though, and asked Peter, "Do you mean, like, 'afraid of heights'?" Yes, that was what he meant, although we couldn't get him to understand the concept of "heights". He still thinks it's an animal.

a mom's birthday

Today is my birthday. I am 36 years old. I've been thinking 36 for a few months now, so I had to stop and remember if I turned 36 or 37 today. But it's 36. I had a great day, which actually started last night. I had a meeting, so Tim took the kids birthday shopping (and out to eat at La Rancherita -- NO FAIR!!). I returned home around 10pm to a quiet and dim house, but was greeted by a huge "SURPRISE!!!!" from the kids (they hid in the office until I came around the corner). It made my day! The kids get so excited about birthdays!! So they let me open my card and present early because today was going to be really busy. The card (homemade by Janie) read: DON'T JUST STAND THERE! YOU'RE 36 FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!!!!! My gift was five new scents from Bath & Body Works....individually chosen by Tim and the kids...how fun is that???

Today was, in fact, crazy. It was the birthday of a mom. Here's how it went:
8:30am - termite guy showed up for yearly inspection
9:00am - Tim and Sam brought donuts and chocolate milk home for fun bday breakfast
9:30am - got a couple of items out for the mail...started schoolwork...history, writing, spelling, math...reading, etc)
Noon - made lunch (ate the rest of Tim's La Rancherita burrito)
1:00pm - finished schoolwork, cattle-prodded older two to get their math done and stop paying attention to four-year-old in dog costume
2:00pm - remembered to do a white load so Sam's baseball pants would be clean for his first Little League game tonight (why they needed to be clean? Not sure)
2:30pm - remembered to do a dark load so Dad's HUGE coach's t-shirt would hopefully shrink, again for the game
3:00pm - took kids to Target so Joe and Sam could purchase the Lego Star Wars item they have saved for and was on sale for a short time....picked up toothpaste while I was there, and a Diet Coke (a little birthday indulgence). Explained four times to Janie why we didn't have time to stop by Mrs. Maxwell's so she could pick out some AG clothes to spend her money on..that we'd have to plan that another time.
4:00pm - got home...remembered to put darks in the dryer so Dad's shirt would be dry for game
4:30pm - assisted with some assembly of Legos, mostly gave impressed comments about how stormtrooper clones were born in a factory
5:00pm - Got Tim and Sam out the door for the game...t-shirt wasn't dry yet
5:30pm - realized dryer wasn't heating (we may need a new one, this happens a lot). Used hair dryer on t-shirt, drove down the hill to the ball diamonds to deliver shirt and see the first inning.
6:00pm - left ball diamonds with Janie, Joe, and Pete to pick up friend Joel and take the kids to Pizza Night at AWANAS.
6:30pm - dropped kids off at AWANAS, headed back to ball diamonds to see the rest of the game, froze my buns off on the bleachers, but had fun watching the first Little League game (realized we're into a whole new season of life)
8:00pm - picked up Janie, Joe, and Pete from AWANAS, headed home.
8:30pm - had cake and ice cream with my family, got lots of hugs and kisses
9:00pm - got everyone tucked in, chewed out one child for lollygagging (sp? I love that word) until 9pm with yet unbrushed teeth. Gave (and received) more kisses and hugs.
9:30pm - sat down. considered eating the rest of the chocolate cake, but did not. yet.
10:00pm - Checked email, enjoyed many bday greetings via email and facebook, listened to exhausted hubbie snore on the couch, observed with great lack of motivation the piles of garage sale items waiting to be organized and priced. again considered eating the rest of the chocolate cake.

So that's it in a nutshell. I'll bet you other moms' birthdays might look similar? Can I get an amen to that? It was a great birthday. My husband brought me a fun breakfast, and at cake time refused to let me cut the cake into pieces without singing and blowing out candles first. My eight year old had his first Little League baseball game...he is so proud to be in Little League. My kids finished up the year in AWANAS, and I'm so thankful for the people who make that program happen and work with our kids week after week. A dear friend left a card and beautiful Begonia on my porch while we were gone. Chocolate cake ('nuff said). My kids GOT ALONG today (glory hallelujah!!!!!)okay, for the most part - the acts of violence were minimal. I got birthday hugs and kisses all day, which is just the best. AND the termite man said there were no problems (SIGH of relief...we've had termites. It's not cheap).

Would I have rather spent my birthday at a spa? You know, maybe some year that would be fun. I actually have in my desk a gift certificate for a massage/manicure/pedicure at William Wesley. Thankfully it doesn't expire (at least it says it doesn't), because it has been in my desk for FIVE YEARS!!! :) Don't think I'm being a martyr here...I could use it anytime...I just keep forgetting to. Anyway, this year's birthday was great because it was full of life and full of love, and really that's all I can ask for. And with that, I thank you for reading this very long post, and I bid you goodnight. (still considering that chocolate cake...)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Go Cubs Go!!



"I can't believe I'm going to my first Major League game, and it's at Wrigley Field!!!" --sam

"Dad, can we get a hot dog, Dad, can we get some peanuts, Dad, can we get some pizza, Dad, can we get some fries, Dad,......." --joe

Totally priceless.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

who's in charge here?

In the van today, Peter said,and I quote: "Dad's the boss. Mom's in charge." :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ending up at "sisters"



My friend Deb from church offered to have Janie and Sam, along with Lizzie and Sarah Masterson, over to her house for a series of art classes. Most folks may know Deb by her beautiful and whimsical cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cream eggs....many a wedding has boasted a Deb Kroeger cake! But her artistic flair doesn't stop with sweet treats. Oh no....a visit to Deb's house is a treat because you get to sit in her hot pink kitchen with black and white checkered floor, go upstairs to see the gallery of her son's many drawings, enjoy the sparkle of an entire wall of cake plates, glass domes, and teacups backlit with twinkling white lights, peruse through the stacks and stacks and stacks of fun art books and various magazines...all marked with circles and comments of Deb's about ideas and inspirations...you get to study the six (going on twenty) doors in her house that she has completely covered with glass mosaic in the most wonderfully creative expression of her faith in God. I would try to explain them or post a picture, but it wouldn't do them justice. You need to just call her and ask if you can come over and see them. Seriously. Do it. Anyway, the kids met at her house once a week for about six weeks. She shared ideas about "found art" and examples of artists who work outside the box with them, provided all kinds of materials, but mostly poured inspiration into them and encouragement to be who God created them to be and not worry about trying to be like everyone else. It was great. Not your everyday art class. Deb told us about a place outside of Iowa City that she loves to visit just to be refreshed, get ideas, and just enjoy....so on Friday we all headed out to "Sisters". I think it's near Kalona...I don't know, I didn't drive. I just talked. No surprise. The place is two old houses off of Hwy 1....full to the roof of antiques, vintage stuff..but it's not just an antique store. The way these ladies use old and broken stuff to make beautiful creations is so great! Broken dishes mortared onto a wall....a "chandelier" of a cluster of old goblets and white lights...lines of verse written on the walls....you could get lost looking at all the nooks and crannies of treasures and found art and the appreciation of creativity for the sake of being creative. The kids really enjoyed it. Even Sam, whom I'm sure would have much rather been playing baseball or Star Wars, found some fun treasures..not to mention the free cookies. He wisely steered clear of the room full of old clothes which, as you can see, the girls delighted in! It was a wonderful culmination of our art class/mentorship experience with Deb. That may seem silly....just a trip to an old vintage place. But it's the example, the inspiration, the conversations, the encouragement, the relationships. What blesses me most about it is the willingness of one person to pour her unique gifts and passions and faith into a handful of kids and expect nothing in return. A reminder of the many other people who pour themselves into our kids' lives and our lives. Isn't this what true wealth really is? I think so.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

doughnuts with dad


A few years ago, we wanted to start having individual "date nights" with the kids. One of us would take one child out for a treat or some time at a park, etc....we could sense they needed some one-on-one time..especially with Tim. Of course, we thought our children would be so excited just at the thought of having this quality time with mom or dad, and wouldn't care what we did.....just being together would be a treat! (most of you - especially if you have children - can read between the lines here and see what's coming...) We were blindsided with how quickly the expectations rose....honestly, I didn't know these kids had it in them! It started out with maybe a breakfast at Panera playing tic-tac-toe, then it was going to the park to hit balls (all good things, yes)...then the stakes (and the $$) got higher and we heard "can we BUY something fun on my date, mom?" and even "on MY date, I want to go to a BEARS game!!!". We quickly put a stop to this before any trips to the windy city were made, and we set the necessary boundaries (only TIME spent...not money). Anway, we've tried various forms of dates and have admittedly, on the parental end, not been able to keep them consistent. So this week we're trying a new one: doughnuts with dad. Tim spends Wednesdays working at church and doesn't have to be out the door as early as on other days. Also, mornings don't usually have the scheduling conflicts that weeknights so often do. So the plan is that each Wednesday morning, Dad will take one child to Donut Delite for a fun breakfast and a little quality time....they can each look forward to their turn, and there are no variables on who gets what or goes where. Peter got to have the inaugural doughnut date this morning, and he did feel special! So I'm thinking we may have found something that works. But just in case, since I know most of the folks who read my blog are fellow moms......any other ideas out there?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nostril trouble

Peter, who has had a cold for a few days, woke me up this morning with the following announcement: "Mob, I can odely breath out of wud circle."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

seriously..

Peter emerges from the office, disgruntled, saying "My puffle isn't behavin'." Others emerge behind him saying, in a kind of tattle-ish voice, "It's because he hasn't walked it, Mom." Has this dialogue occured at anyone else's house? Anyone? Can I get an amen? Being the hip, tech-savvy mother that I am (um, not), I am aware of the puffle. It is the pet of the penguin on the "Club Penguin" website. On Club Penguin, you create a penguin and can play games, earn penguin coins, buy things for your penguins with your penguin coins, etc. And you can "purchase" a pet, called a puffle. Apparently you can feed, excercise, and rest your puffle. If you fail to do these things, your puffle may "misbehave" in some fashion. I have spent more minutes than I care to admit helping the kids on these websites......Webkinz is another example.....trying to find the scrap of paper where we wrote down the username or password, figuring out why something or other isn't working, or repeatedly saying "no" to requests to become an official member for just $9.99. It borders on the ridiculous. I mean, really. My four year old disgruntled because his puffle isn't behavin'. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

grace

It's Tuesday afternoon. It's the end of March. It's the end of a school day. When I think back to a few years ago, that combination would have meant me at the end of my rope, pasted to the front window waiting for Tim to get home, angry if he called to say he was stuck at a job or ready to check out the minute he got home. Now, let me preface by saying that those days are certainly not a thing of the past, but they don't seem to be the norm anymore. What's different? Are the kids better behaved? Well, they're older and more independent - and that surely helps - but really it just means they can duke out their fights on their own most of the time and can get their own snacks! :) So, what....better organization around the house? Not really. Got parenting and marriage down to a expert science? Definitely not. No, I have to say that for the first time in my life, grace may actually be sinking in. Not in the trite sense of the word grace, but the kind that assures you of your identity in Christ. The kind that gently loosens your white-knuckled grip on all your expectations of yourself, your husband, your kids, your church...you name it. The kind that reminds you of how much you have to learn, but gives you the freedom to stumble through the lessons and truly trust God for today. The kind that takes all of my opinions and soapboxes and pity parties and places them in light of the cross.......whew. Humbling perspective. Of course now that I've put these thoughts into words, I'll freak out about something or other by the end of the week and put my husband through the all-too-familiar emotional spiral. :) And, as I hear my four-year-old having a temper tantrum (right now, actually) in the other room, I will resist the temptation to yell at him to "knock it off! Mommy's blogging about grace!!!" :) Yes, my pensive train of thought is officially broken, so I must go. Tuesday afternoon. End of March. End of a school day. Grace. Thanks for being pensive with me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines....

A few weeks ago the kids participated in the hallowed AWANA Grand Prix race. They were so proud of their cars, and the church where they attend AWANAs makes it a very special event. None of their cars won a trophy, but everyone had great attitudes about it and had a great time anyway. Well...almost everyone. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

refreshed

This past weekend I was very blessed to have attended the Hearts at Home conference in Normal, IL, which -if you're not familiar-is a conference for moms. New moms, old moms, moms with one child, moms with 19 children, moms with tattoos, moms-to-be, moms who have outside jobs, moms who stay home, and every mom in between. This is the fourth time I've attended this conference, and each year when it comes time to register I always wonder if I really need to go..to spend the money...to take a weekend away from my family, etc. Do you know the feeling of not knowing you needed something until you had it? Well, that is exactly what I experience as soon as I sit down on Friday night in that huge auditorium with 5,000 other women - entertained, uplifted, and encouraged by great speakers, comedians, and musicians.....all there with the purpose of affirming the job of motherhood. I suddenly realize how much I need to be there. But I'll tell you what my absolute favorite part of the whole thing is: When all of those 5,000 women-all mothers with struggles and joys and heartaches and stories of their own- lift their voices to worship God. It is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, and I weep every time. I do believe it's a taste of what heaven will be like.

In addition to these huge sessions, you get to choose from many, many workshops to attend...all with different topics...and you can choose to pack in as many as you can or take it easy and attend just a few. The first year, I packed 'em in and picked all workshops that I thought would "fix" various issues.....how to deal with a strong-willed child, how to have a perfectly behaved child in five easy steps, how to have a deeper spiritual walk, how to be a perfect wife, how to organize your home.....are you getting the theme here??? HOW TO...in FIVE EASY STEPS!! Of course those weren't the actual names of the workshops, but that was pretty much what I was hoping to get out of it. So I came home from the conference to my loving husband and proceeded to, in GREAT detail, tell him everything I learned from every speaker and how we needed to implement all these great tips and ideas and "how-to's"....and NOW. Can you imagine his bewilderment at what I was asking him to do, and my utter disappointment that he didn't share my desperate enthusiasm?? Ahh, the clarity of hindsight. Over the years, I've learned to maybe attend ONE workshop that focused on a "problem" issue. I've learned to take the easy schedule and enjoy having an hour and a half to eat lunch....SLOWLY. I choose my favorite speakers, no matter what topic they're speaking on, because I know whatever they have to say will be encouraging and insightful and honest. And I come home rested, rejuvenated, encouraged.....ready to be a grace giver. (And I don't puke everything I experienced all over my husband within the first hour of my returning home....I actually wait until it FITS into a conversation over the course of days and weeks! I may quite possibly be becoming LESS of an emotional freak of nature! But I'm going to ask that you not hold me to that statement.)

Hearts at Home not only renews the love I have for my husband and children, but it also reminds me of the gift of having so many amazing women in my life. Women who put up with me, for starters.....who listen to me verbalize every single thought and bit of minutia that passes through my brain (I really do wish I had better control of that particular idiocy-oops, I mean idiosyncrasy), who inspire me, who encourage and challenge me, who remind me of God's truth, and who sometimes have to thump me upside the head. That they are willing to love me despite all that's messy about me is a humbling and beautiful picture of Jesus, and I am so thankful for each of them.

One of these days I'll post something short and sweet.

But it probably won't be tomorrow. Life is just too full of good blog material!! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

financial motivation

*Vacuuming the stairs on Saturdays: $1
*Scrubbing the kitchen floor: $1
*Doing chores for Mrs. Poppy: $2
*Earning $35 of their own money to buy a 929-piece Indiana Jones Lego set (which actually retailed for $100 and mom bought on clearance for $35...yesssssss) which took three straight days to build: PRICELESS!

Friday, March 6, 2009

for the Dad...

Tim has lately become our resident photographer. He takes tons of pictures, not only at events like birthdays (I'm always too busy making sure the child reads the cards BEFORE opening the presents and says "thank-you" to the right person for the right gift. Somebody has to be controlling like that, you know..), but just randomly around the house....he takes pictures of things. I love it. Anyway, as I was looking through some of his random shots, this particular photo struck me as symbolic. Dad's work boots. I was having a conversation with one of the boys the other day about how we have to pay for things like food, homes, water, electricity, etc....pretty much everything....and how Dad goes to work every day to earn money to pay for those things. I'm not sure if this boy fully understood the correllation there, but I know I do. I know how that responsibility in our family rests fully on Dad's shoulders, and I know how daunting it can be sometimes. Pretty thankless, too, since kids don't really get it........they just know that when Dad gets home they can ask him to wrestle or play games or fix their ipod...and then tell him that they'd rather have mom tuck them in for bedtime. :) But this mom gets it. And she's thankful. Thankful isn't even an adequate word. She just wanted the wearer of these work boots to know that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Only a mother...(warning: those with weak stomachs should read at own risk)

After two weeks of various sicknesses, we are finally well. We missed two weeks of AWANAs, various music lessons, art classes, science classes, and church. Only a mother knows what happens when four children are confined to the same four walls for two weeks with varying degrees of sickness/wellness (at times competing for the "sickest" title) and a mom who could really use a sick day herself. Throw in the fact that it's late February and you can safely add "cabin fever" to the list of ailments! LOSS of PERSPECTIVE is what happens....to the mother, anyway. Over the weekend I thought we were pretty much in the clear. I was confident of this until I was standing in the check-out lane at Target on Sunday afternoon with Joe and Pete. Pete was laying down in the big part of the cart, Joe was standing by the tabloids being exposed to who knows what kind of damaging smut. I was waiting to put my items onto the checkout, and I heard Peter cough rather strangely. I look down to see him vomiting. Again. And again. Oh. Dear. My child just puked in the check-out line at Target. At this point I wasn't sure if the MAN in front of me or the SEVENTEEN year old clerk saw Peter throw up. However, when Joe blurted out, "Man, that puke really STINKS!", I'm pretty sure they figured out what happened. Fortunately, Pete had been sort of laying on his side, so all of the vomit was sort of on the inside of his unzipped coat. There was literally none outside the coat. AND all the items I was purchasing were in the "seat" part of the cart....safe from the catastrope. So in my mind I'm frantically weighing the options (while hissing at Joe to stop carrying on about the stink), and I decide that it would be futile to try to clean him up right there. Besides, we were next in line, and I had a stack of really great coupons I had made this specific trip to the store to use. So I zipped up the coat - sealing all the vomit inside, went ahead and paid for all of my items (and saved $15 in coupons, yessirree), ignored the seventeen-year-old's look of utter disgust, and got outta there. I mean really, what was I supposed to do - take him in the bathroom at Target and start scraping vomit out of his coat, shirt, and undershirt with one-ply toilet paper? I don't think so. I mean, any mom would have done the same thing, right? Right? Anyway, we got him home and into the tub and all was fine. And I don't know what made him sick, but whatever it was did not travel to the rest of the family (thankyouthankyouthankyou). So today is Wednesday...it was sunny today and warm enough to go to the park. The kids were in great spirits, and we got a little taste of spring. As thankful I am that our bout with colds, influenza, and the stomach flu seems to be over, I have to say that the one part I really didn't mind about the last two weeks is the excuse to snuggle with my kids pretty much 24/7. And having them lay their head down on my lap and fall asleep. And serving cozy little comforting meals with 7-up on trays.

It's a tough job, being a mother...but somebody's got to do it. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tooth Fairy

Oops! I didn't mean for a week to go by with no new news. Well, there really is no news. We're sick. I don't think Sam has left the house in seven days...I'm not sure about everyone else..it's all a blur. Just yesterday I was considering myself such a stud-mom germ-resistor, because with all these sicknesses I hadn't felt one symptom. I'm sure you know what's coming.....I woke up achy and feeling like my face was being squeezed in. Pride cometh before a fall. So I haven't had the camera out much this week. I'm not even sure where it is. Anyway, I like to go through old pictures on the computer, and some of them just bring back the greatest memories. This picture isn't too old...from last fall. Joe lost three or four teeth last fall, and this one he really wanted Dad to pull out with the pliers. I have no idea why, but that's what he wanted. He was so excited! Isn't this a great picture? That brings us to the issue of the tooth fairy. Our house has a tooth fairy, but we really need a replacement. Our tooth fairy is completely incompetent. I don't know if any of our kids have ever been visited by the tooth fairy on the actual night when they put the tooth under the pillow. They used to come downstairs the next morning in tears, and I would have to explain that sometimes the tooth fairy has a really busy night, and they should just leave the tooth under the pillow and check later. For a while, it seemed like she would show up within a few hours, but lately it seems like it's taking days..sometimes longer! Every now and then she will leave a note of apology and even an extra quarter or two for the mental suffering. Now I don't even hear about it if she doesn't show up. They might say, "Mom, the tooth fairy never came when I left my tooth under my pillow last month." But it's sort of matter-of-fact, not really an issue of personal strife. Janie has asked me for years if I'm the tooth fairy, and I always say, "Don't you think I would KNOW if I was the tooth fairy??" So I don't know. Maybe we should get a MAN tooth fairy. Maybe he'd get the job done a little more efficiently...none of this procrastination nonsense. I don't know if he'd be a cheapskate or if he'd be more generous than our current fairy. Peter hasn't started losing teeth yet, and maybe he's accustomed to hearing about the tooth fairy being late all the time. Either way, I suppose it's just one more thing they'll discuss in therapy twenty years from now. By then, our tooth fairy will be long retired. :( And I'm sure she'll miss those precious days!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This picture has nothing to do with today, but I love it. It was taken over three years ago during the "cowboy" phase. The birthday that year was "cowboy" (complete with an outline of the state of Texas on the cake), most outfit choices were "cowboy", all drawings were of cowboys, horses, cacti, and tumbleweed. I think this is one of the most precious pictures ever taken! We are so over the cowboy phase now. Since then, we've had pirate, samurai, Indiana Jones, football player, and soldier. We're currently on soldier, but not too long past football player (football season being over now and all). Today we are all about camouflage and questions about enlisting in which branch of the military. Or which NFL team will draft him. (There is always a little overlap of interests.) I love how boys go all out, over-drive on their interests....completely one-track-minded about it. Then one day it's all done and we're on full-throttle to the next thing and "Mom, I'm not into pirates anymore". Moms have to be on their toes. Seriously.

Sigh...this picture brings a huge smile to my face and makes me wonder what my passionate first son will be captivated by next!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HUH????

This week, in honor of Presidents Day, I had Janie and Sam do a little research on the U.S. president of their choice. I didn't think we'd spend a lot of time on it.....just a few facts.....just enough to make me feel better that on the actual Presidents Day, I slept in, helped my husband with kitchen plumbing, and let my kids watch cartoons. If I was a really good homeschooler, I would have taken a day trip to Springfield, IL. Nope. Phineas and Ferb. Spongebob. A Bug's Life. Anyway, a major trap homeschooling mothers fall into is feeling the need to make the child learn more than they actually need to.......go overboard. So I found myself trying to explain the League of Nations (Wilson, Janie's pick) and trustbusters (T. Roosevelt, Sam's pick) and getting really frustrated that they couldn't put these concepts into their own words and write about it!!!! For the record, I totally had to ask Tim to explain these things first to me so I could sound like I had a clue. My lack of history knowledge makes my husband shudder. So this picture of Janie, although taken last fall, is a great visual of their faces as I tried to make "isoloationism" and "industrial monopolies" mean something to them.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God-given gifts

About once or twice a week, I'm asked the question, "Mom, how old do I have to be to babysit?" or "Mom, how old do I have to be to take a babysitting class?" or "Mom, how old do I have to be to babysit just during the day?". It's funny that the boys have never uttered such questions. :) This girl loves to take care of little ones. She is my right hand when it comes to having extra little ones at our house. She thrives on being given these types of responsibilities. Wasn't it just yesterday when SHE was the one being held? That makes my heart ache just a little bit....but my heart swells watching a young woman in the making....God's plan unfolding day by day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It's 11:11pm. The kids are asleep. Over the Rhine is playing on the ipod. I just finished cooking roasted garlic mashed potatoes, Tim is finishing up with the pan-fried ribeye steak (recipes from the Pioneerwoman.com - amazing.). This is exactly how I would choose to spend Valentine's Day. This morning we slept in, then took the kids out for doughnuts. On a whim, we decided to make heart-shaped cookies and deliver them to all the grandparents. Then we came home and made a heart-shaped pizza for the kids and watched "the Bee Movie" with the kids. No obligations today....just doing things for the fun of it. I do love Valentine's Day...because you get to say "I love you" just for the sake of saying it. Tim and Janie brought home these flowers from the store today, and they are so lovely and cheerful. See that beautiful fuscia Gerbera daisy on the left? When we got home from our cookie-delivering trip, we found every single one of its petals scattered on the table. It was either Henry or Charlotte (our best guess is Charlotte...she's sneaky like that). Sigh. Oh, well...the rest of the flowers are still lovely and cheerful! You won't find many things at our house that stay new and perfect for very long......and this condition I would also choose any day of the week! It's now 11:25pm, and our Valentine's Day dinner is ready...........candles lit, great songs on, and my best friend sitting by me at the table. Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

more February...

Okay, I really do love Valentine's Day. I love that it's a special occasion just for the sole purpose of saying "I love you". Just because. I love doing something special as a family and then having an "at home" date night after the kids are in bed. I love making heart shaped cookies and letting the kids frost them and pile the sprinkles on. When I was little, my mom always made a heart-shaped meatloaf on Valentine's Day. Some might find that a little odd.....a big lump of red meat and ketchup molded into a heart shape. Okay, it IS odd. But that's what we did. It's a great memory. I loved it. Life was so simple.

My children will be attending a Valentine's Day party with many other homeschoolers on Friday. For the past two years, Janie and Sam attended a school where the class sizes were less than 20. The whole valentine exchange thing was pretty do-able. However, this year all four of the kids will be attending this party.....with 50 other children. Yes, that's right....FIFTY. Now, before your head starts to spin - as mine did- at the thought of coming up with TWO HUNDRED valentines...I am happy and ever so grateful to report that the other moms in charge of the party also thought this was a little crazy. So we've pared it down to each child bringing 30 valentines. A relief, yes, but this still means 120 valentines. I was trying to think of an easy and creative and not-too-lame-looking way to make homemade ones, but finally went for easy and just bought them at the store. Each child signs their name on 30 of them, and off we go. I even thought I'd be really cool and get the ones that come with tattoos! Sweet! What I didn't realize is that each little 1/2" by 1/2" tattoo must be INSERTED into the little slits on each valentine. ARE YOU SERIOUS??? (breathe...breathe......) Tomorrow's homeschooling lesson will be about the value and efficiency of assembly-line production. You betcha! (let it be known that I DID try to convince the kids to just have one collective mailbox and just bring the 30 valentines for all of us.....no deal on that one. They love the mailboxes - which we also will be making tomorrow, and they each want their own!)

Now if that makes you think I'm absolutely NO FUN at all, this next anecdote will pretty much seal the deal. Admittedly, today was not stellar.....I heard the words "DON'T" and "STOP" - both with multiple syllables somehow - SO many times I developed a severe twitch in one eye (not really, but it would have been a nice effect). I was at the store tonight picking up a few things for the party on Friday, and for our family night on Saturday (the plan is to make a heart shaped pizza..or maybe meatloaf). I spotted some cute valentine cards and thought about getting one for each of the kids. This is a significant expense, you realize....times four. That's like twelve bucks! I was still a little hot under the collar from all the bickering today, so I opted not to get the cards....I thought the fun family night is plenty enough. (Actually, what I was really thinking wasn't quite so nice, still being hot under the collar and all. Just bein' honest...) Anyway, Tim came home tonight with a bag from the Christian bookstore and showed me four of the sweetest cards he picked out especially for each of our kids...he even had misty eyes as he showed me each one!!! I know God must have put that on his heart, and I was so thankful He did. I really did want to bless each of the kids by giving them their own individual card, but I let my resentment over the day win. I'm so glad that God wanted to bless my kids, too, and that HE wouldn't be stopped by my indignant spirit. Oh, to love the way our Savior does.....unconditionally. Thank you, Jesus, for a new perspective for Valentine's Day. And thank you, Tim, for listening to the Holy Spirit and for loving our kids so much it makes you cry sometimes...even though you said it was because your allergies were flaring up. :)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"marriage" night

Tim and I are swapping babysitting favors with another family from our church this week. Tonight was our turn to go on a date, and when we were dropping the kids off at our friends' house, Sam said: "Have fun on your marriage!" :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One FULL day...

Yesterday, the kids got to go bowling for the first time ever. We had a blast! We went with a whole mess of other kids and moms. The only mishaps were when one of the kids' balls ended up in another lane, therefore confusing that lane's computer (last time I bowled, you still had to keep score with a PENCIL and PAPER); the other more serious mishap being when one boy dropped a ball right square on his big toe. OUCH!! The older kids really got the hang of how to bowl, while the younger kids did the old "granny push" most of the time. The computers displayed the speed of each ball, and for most of the younger kids it didn't get past 1.5 mph...a good lesson in patience. Phew! It took about two hours to get through one game (six kids per lane). We had a great time and can't wait to go back. The day wasn't over yet, though....we zipped over to piano lessons and then still had UNO night at church to look forward to! Talk about a fun-filled day! Prizes won at UNO night: one bar of Irish Spring soap, one U.S. Navy travel mug, and one foam airplane. Janie was bummed she didn't win the chicken ramen noodles. Good times......