August 30, 2009

Here We Come!

We are spending a week with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Then, driving a few hours to Branson to spend the weekend meeting friends we've known for a while but never 'met'. Hope to see you there!


August 21, 2009

Sheer Determination

I spent an afternoon coercing my mom to admit defeat in the potty training realm. I'm sure that the next administration will fund research to use dirty diapers to make clean fuel. Thus, keeping Sir Pudginess in diapers is actually doing an environmental service.

Second only to potty training is the Bike Riding Without Training Wheels Challenge. When my mother sees a grandchild on training wheels she takes it personally. No matter their age nor experience. I thought I had her convinced by saying, "Ella's neurologist said she CAN'T ride a bike without training wheels. She might have a seizure. And Sally just got that big bike, she doesn't even know how to stop yet."

No grandchild of hers will pedal with training wheels. I came outside one afternoon to be greeted by two girls careening down the driveway. Legs and arms akimbo, smashing into the gravel, and laughing the entire time. It took the three of them a week to master the balancing. Ella needed a mere afternoon to get the art of stopping and starting. Alas, Sally rides like a speed demon but is unable to stop herself. Her favored stopping method is aiming into the crowd of onlookers. They are softer than pavement.I jest, but this is a feat for both girls. Ella's prosthetic and little hand are on her left side. She favors that side and leans to the right to pedal and steer. I used her epilepsy as an excuse to keep the training wheels on, but I really wanted to save her the heartache of crashing over and over again. Then being defeated because of her differences. I'm so glad I was wrong.

August 19, 2009


And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3-5

The simplicity of the gospel is beautiful. Unfortunately, the gospel of Jesus Christ has become corrupted in our country. "Christians" have ruined Christianity. I have pictures in my mind of televangelists who claim Christ as their Lord, but live their lives in a way that they discredit the gospel for which He died.

Ella doesn't know about money grubbers who are perverting the gospel to their advantage.

She knows Jesus loves her. She talks to God at night. She watches her family and learns that we live a certain way because we want to please our Lord. In her literal world, this was it.

A few weeks ago, we began memorizing scripture as a family. Our first verse was, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23" She memorized and repeated it with clarity. I explained each day what the verse was saying. Each one of us has done something wrong. We cannot be in the presence of God because we aren't perfect. So simple.

The next verse gives us the good news. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23" Without intending to, I was methodically explaining salvation to my daughter. I didn't intend to lead her down that road. As a rule, there is no pressure in our family. We read the Bible, pray, and try to live our lives to His glory. We don't shove Christ at our children. It needs to be something they hear and desire on their own. We don't ever want them to feel like they have to choose the gospel because, "Mommy told me to."

Imagine my surprise when I was tucking our kids in one night and Ella began crying. She said she was crying about heaven and Jesus. I wasn't sure if she was being sincere. She is seven--she was tired and possibly trying to stall. I was unwilling to get into a big discussion with her late at night. We prayed together and told Jesus we love Him. That was all.

The next day we continued our discussion. I was using analogies and getting flustered. Finally, I wanted to admit that she really wasn't able to understand Christ's sacrifice for her. She was upset, so I felt like pacifying her was not right. The gospel is simple...childlike faith. Why am I getting in the way of this being simple? I didn't care if she chose to walk away, but I felt like it was ME that was keeping her from getting a clear understanding.

So I nixed the analogies and asking her what she thought. Then, I drew a picture of two hearts on a sticky note. One heart was hers and the other was Christ's. I explained that to be in heaven with God you have to have a heart like Jesus--clean and perfect. Then I showed her heart, starting clean and perfect but then drew a spot for a lie. Another spot for hitting, another for cheating, another for disobeying. Ella started crying. So I quickly gave her the rest--the second half of Romans 6:23 'but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' God loved Ella so much he sent his son, Jesus, to live a perfect life. Then, Jesus said I'll take your heart and give you mine. I'll take the punishment (for the wages of sin is death) for you, Ella. Romans 5:8 (our next verse to memorize) says that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

At this point, she reached out and grabbed the clean heart I was holding and said, "I want that. I want Jesus to take my dirty heart and give me his."

The beautiful simplicity of the gospel. My daughter, raised up seeing the gospel, but never knowing it. Believing that talking to God at night would secure her a place in heaven. Believing that she is good enough to spend eternity with God. And a mom who didn't think she was capable of understanding the simple truth.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10

August 18, 2009

That's a Lotta...Hair?

This would be my daughter after I gave up two days of my life braiding yarn into her hair. I heard rave reviews about yarn extensions. I heard bad reviews. I thought she would *love* to have long hair for a while. That won me over. We visited the variety store and bought some funky yarn. That may have been a bad choice, since funky yarn produces funky lock-like braids.

She loves her yarn-ey head. The endless braiding was traumatic enough to keep us from doing this on a regular basis. The payoff has come in seeing her flip her 'locks' around throughout the day AND the daily hair regime is on hold. We moisturize and that's it.

Just for fun, here are the pictures chronicling the experience. I watched a video on Youtube to get instructions, but it was really pretty easy.

August 17, 2009


I could spend months listing off all of the bothersome incidents that happen with five children. Add two more children and a week of teaching Vacation Bible's a recipe for disaster. Someone is always tired and cranky (probably me). Something is spilling on a clean surface. Someone is hitting, stealing, or lying and needs a reprimand. The offended party needs a hug. It goes on and on.

I don't know how the idea evolved. Maybe it was the bag of water balloons that has been sitting on the counter. Maybe one of the children said they were bored. I do know that by the end of a long week we needed to get some revenge. We decided to make an obstacle course. Not just an average, pansy obstacle course. This one has an added twist. The kids compete and we pelt them with water balloons and spray them with hoses.

I only wish we would have cooked this up earlier in the week when my fourteen year old cousin was in town. We could have sat in the shade while he assembled the madness. Instead, we grunted for an hour in the hot sun to get everything into place. So far: kiddos-1, adults-0.

Bring on the revenge...

Crossing the gauntlet...
Did my grandma throw that water bomb?
If you find yourself at the end of your rope, but have a few hours, tarps, pool, bubbles, and an acre of open space...get some revenge on your kids for all those little things that make your life hard. From the look of it, they were miserable the entire time. (Actually, the first time my mom hit Sally with a water balloon, it didn't burst. It hit her back and bounced off. She was maddened that her dear, sweet, grandma would dare throw something at her. My mom made sure to throw the next one with added force. So it would explode on impact, of course.)

August 10, 2009

Future Ironmen

Our boys just did something impressive.

They competed in their first triathlon.

I was sick with nerves the night before. I knew that we would pull into the aquatic center parking lot and be met by children who have spent their summer training to slaughter my innocent-never-before-done-a-tri boys. Four days before the race, we did a dry run--swimming small circles in the backyard pool, biking to the end of the driveway and back, then dropping the bike and running like the wind. I knew we wouldn't be prepared. I knew other kids would be wearing speedos and triathlete shoes. I kept having flashbacks to the Mutton' Bustin' chap-wearing buckaroos that competed against the kids in the rodeo. So I started freaking out about the preparations after getting everyone to bed. It didn't help that my mother is frenzy-prone like me. We both frantically ran around putting air into tires, gathering helmets, goggles, shoes, clothes, towels, snacks... The accoutrements needed for swim/bike/run could be one good reason to stick with running alone. Shoes? Check.

All the while, Seth is trying to calm us down. I think he said, "It's not like they are going to die or something." What?! Is that a possibility? Because I wasn't planning on that. Let's just cancel the whole thing and sleep in.

As prepared as we could be, the morning comes. It's early and we are running late. As usual. It seems frantic with kids and equipment everywhere. Soon enough it was time for Eli to get into the pool. Now, Seth's frantic because he's the "transition guy" and he doesn't know what he's supposed to do. Run after Eli into the bike area or just let him go? Dry off his feet or just let him go? What are the professional's parents doing right now?

Both boys tried incredibly hard and did amazingly well. They beat the speedos off of some kids! When we got the race results, we asked Eli if he wanted to do another one. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Nah, it's going to take me a while to recover."

It's going to take his dad a while, too. We checked the times and Eli only missed third place by four seconds. Probably the amount of time it took to dry off his feet.

August 6, 2009


Josiah was getting ready to take a bath and had an accident. He looked up at me and said, "Peepee."

When my mom heard him she saw a challenge--potty train the 22 month old before he moves. Today, Josiah is running around without a diaper, drinking obscene amounts of juice, and racing to the potty every 30 minutes. So far little to no success with making it to the potty.

I fall into the category of moms who wait until their little boys are nearing three years old before potty training. Maybe I'm lazy or a quitter, because the messes on the floor today made me see failure. As a result, I pulled out the big guns and promised a treat if he actually goes IN the potty. A candid conversation between the two of us followed.

"Josiah, lets try not to go on the floor. Mommy will give you a treat if you go in the potty. Peepee in the potty. Where do you need to pee?"
His reply was astoundingly clear, "In the grass."


I'd almost settle for that.

August 3, 2009

Snot, Vomit, and Maggots...Oh My!

I'm at my parent's house. I took this picture as Josiah and I walked onto the deck this morning to enjoy a cup of coffee. So peaceful...

The kids have gone fishing in the evening with my dad.

We've worked in the garden and visited the parks for an afternoon walk. We picked strawberries and visited the historical working farm. It's been great.

Except for the chaos that follows us everywhere we go. Chickens escaping from the coop and the madness required to catch them and return them to safety. The 'puppy' catching rodents, birds, and even fish.

By far our worst day was when we woke up to the guinea pig laying rather still in his cage. That ended with a shoebox burial. Then my nephew and Sally shut themselves into our newly purchased refrigerator. It was in the barn, waiting for the new house (we close at the end of August). It took the two of them only a few minutes to discover the "great hiding place" and shut themselves in. Thankfully, my nephew pushed the freezer door open and then let Sally out of the fridge. Seth immediately strapped the doors shut. Then scoured the rest of the area for other death traps and firmly warned the kids that they are NOT allowed in the barn without an adult. It was terrifying. It was also just after lunchtime and the day had much more in store for us. That evening, my dog tried to drown my sister's dog in the pond. My sister had to jump in and pull our long legged water dog off of her drowning, short legged bulldog. Neither of the dogs would look at each other for the rest of the day.

That day alone was exhausting. Our family is a swirling tornado of madness and if you get too close...we'll pull you into the storm. It comes in waves. We have calm times and times where wacky things happen. Those wacky things are included in the title, but I won't expound on all of them.

....Like the morning Josiah grabbed a game piece from the princess game Ella was playing and shoved it into his mouth. In one foul swoop Sally poked her finger into his mouth and jammed the piece down his windpipe so that he started choking. Thankfully, he gagged enough that the game piece came out--as he vomited.

Okay, I'll leave out the snot and maggot stories...