Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Prayer Power

A couple of snippets from my kids' prayer time each night:

My daughter, in her sweet 8-year-old voice:  

Dear Jesus, please guide me to the right man for me when I grow up.  That he is kind and gentle and sweet.

Every night, this is her prayer (among other things).  Her father and I pray for this also (and we add that he loves Jesus as well!), and I am so thankful she is choosing to sincerely pray for her future husband too.

My son:

Every night for well, years now, he has been praying for those people in his life who might not know Jesus.  His prayer goes something like this:  

Dear Jesus, please help anyone who might need their faith strengthened. ..please help great-uncle____, ______'s uncle, and _____ and ______ (our neighbors).  (Names omitted to protect privacy!).   

These friends and have family members have been prayed for faithfully for months upon months upon months!  And God hears our prayers! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Find my Family!

If you read my blog, you might recall that my eldest child has her driver's license, and my second child has his learner's permit.  All this driving means more travel, more freedom, and more of the unknown.  My kids know to text every time they are about to leave a location, and then text when they arrive as well.  My daughter has been really good about this, understanding I am just concerned about her safety and her relative inexperience in the driver's seat.

A couple weeks ago, my daughter texted me at 3:08, telling me she was on her way from school.  At almost 4:00, she was not home yet.  Her school is 25 minutes away, but even with some extra wiggle room, I was definitely feeling concerned.  I was weighing my options: I could text, but if she was driving, I knew she wouldn't text or pick up her phone if I called (good girl!); I could begin driving the route I knew she took toward school and hope we passed each other quickly; or I could pray fervently.  I choose the last option, and bided my time for a bit.  In just a few more minutes, she arrived home, knowing I would be worried and was full of apologies.  She had stopped at the grocery for a muffin and Starbucks and forgot to text me to let me know.

The situation reminded me of a conversation I had had with a friend whose children are a few years older than mine.  She used the Find My Friends app on their iPhones -- they all joined and could check each other's location when there was a concern.  I brought this up to my daughter that evening, and she quickly agreed that it was a good idea to sync our locations.  Good.  Done.

The next day, when my teenage son arrived home from a friend's house, I mentioned the story to him and told him I wanted him to sync up as well.  I was met with resistance.  "Don't you trust me?", he said. I explained to him that I trusted him very much (which is true, and a gift I don't take for granted!), but it was for his safety.  After a few more minutes of conversation, he understood my point and synced up too.  (Although I had also explained to him that, whether he agreed with me or not didn't especially matter in this case.)

My husband and I don't consider ourselves helicopter parents -- we don't check their daily assignments online, I don't monitor their grades every day.  We try to let them fight their own battles, and approach teachers on their own when there is a concern.  We expect them to do their chores around the house without constant badgering, and we think kids can clean toilets!  In general, we try not to coddle them or hover.  

BUT - I felt the Find My Friends app was a different bird.  This app will give me peace of mind when my kids are driving, and could help us find them if they have trouble (one friend used this app to find her daughter when she had had a car accident!).  I don't plan to use it unless I am concerned about their travel time, and when they are away at college, I will turn it off (sniff, sniff!).  

After I synced my family to my phone, a lovely thing happened:  Each of the four of us has a little circle with our picture in it. And when all of us are home, the circles are all stacked up on one another, right on our street.  I can't tell you what happiness all those circles stacked up together at our house brings me.  

When all of us are home together, all is right with the world. ❤️

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Our Lutheran School's theme for the year is Faith Works.  For the entire year we are focusing on our Faith -- God's gift of grace that works in and through us.  As a facet of this theme, each month we are studying a virtue as a school.

Last Friday, each family received a cardstock gear that we are to write our names on and decorate.  All the gears will be added to a giant bulletin board displaying all of our gears working together.  On the gear, we are also to write which virtue our family is going to focus on for the year.  Each family is to choose a virtue from the list as a family focus and goal -- something we will make an effort to grow in intentionally.

Here are the list of virtues we will be focusing on at school:

So last night at dinner, my husband and I began the discussion -- which virtue should our family focus on for the year?  And thus began a heated debate of which virtue we needed to work on most.
"How about Justice?"  "No, we have too many people demanding justice already!"
"Honesty!", said one child, while pointing at another.  "That one needs to be more honest!"
"Gratitude? We could all work on being more grateful for what we have."
"Stewardship? We could focus on being responsible with our time and talents."
"How about Reverence?"

And Reverence is what stuck.  We are taking a broad look at the word, applying it to both our family members and our faith.  We brainstormed some goals, which I will post in the kitchen and dining room to serve as reminders when we (frequently, inevitably) stray from the focus.  Here are a few of our goals in the area of Reverence:
  • Listening to each other better
  • Communicating respectfully
  • Honoring our father and mother
  • Putting another's feelings above your own
  • Listening at family devotions and worship
  • Participating at family devotions and worship
  • No silliness or distractions during family devotions and worship
So over the next year, we are hoping to make some strides in these areas.  I told the kids I was going to write about our goals so we can hold ourselves accountable.  I hope and pray in the spring I can write again about our reverence, both to one another and to God, and say that we have improved.  With prayer and dedication to the task, I hope it will be so!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Family Dinner and Devos

The scene:  Our deck at dinner time with devotions following

The characters:  My family, sans my eldest daughter who was at work

The sitch:  A snapshot of a day-in-the-life at our dinner table

  • One boy regaling us with how he cracked up all his friends recently with a well-timed musical rendition of "Why do my nostrils whisper to me".  Don't ask.  I have no idea.  But it was apparently hilarious to the intended audience.
  • One boy lets out a massive burp (followed by a quick 'excuse me', which apparently erases the burp from existence and makes it as if it never happened).
  • During devotions, one boy bolted from the table with a some sort of oral crisis and the rest of us were left wondering what on earth was going on (we were later told there was a large amount of tooth pain that had to be dealt with immediately).
  • My husband was reading our devotion book (a great CPH book called Celebrating the Saints by William Weedon), and the saint we were hearing about was Augustine.  He has a very interesting story and I was listening intently. . .until my husband read that he lived in Hippo.  Several people couldn't control their laughter and we had to stop for a moment while he explained that Augustine did not in fact live in a hippo, but in a town named Hippo.  Carry on.
  • At the very beginning of the hymn we were closing with, Shadow puppy made his move.  He noticed our distraction with our hymnals and swept up to the table, grabbed a morsel of meat and whipped back down to the deck.  We had to stop the hymn while we all cracked up (and dad had to discipline the bad boy - who looked largely unaffected).
  • When we finally were able to sing the hymn fully, my heart sang along with our voices.  We sang "The Day You Gave Us, Lord Has Ended", an old favorite of mine from childhood.  And indeed, today was a gift from the Lord, complete with its serious and silly moments.  

1 The day you gave us, Lord, is ended,
the darkness falls at your behest;
to you our morning hymns ascended,
your praise shall sanctify our rest.

2 We thank you that your church unsleeping,
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping,
and rests not now by day or night.

3 As to each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.

4 The sun that bids us rest is waking
your church beneath the western sky,
and hour by hour fresh lips are making
your wondrous doings heard on high.

5 So be it, Lord: your throne shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
your kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all your creatures own your sway.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Sacred Work of Mothering in the Pew

I was recently talking with a friend about the challenges of worshiping with small children.  She was lamenting how hard it is to teach her children how to participate in the liturgy while juggling wiggly siblings and easily distracted littles.  And with every fiber of my being, I got it.

I have blogged here and here and here and probably scores of other places about how hard worshiping is with little ones.  I can't count how many times I came away from worship frustrated, exhausted, sad and even angry.  Not exactly the emotions one would hope for after worship! While we always wanted a large family, I used to joke with my husband that I couldn't even consider talking about having another child until at least Tuesday -- when the Sunday worship struggles were less vivid in my mind!

My children are older now, and while not perfect, worshiping with them is ever so much easier.  And for the most part, I hear everything and am able to actually worship.  But those days of pew struggles are still very fresh in mind.  I recall one Sunday when I was very pregnant with our third child, my husband called me up to the front of the church to use my pregnant belly as a sermon illustration.  I was unaware he was going to do that, and was not dressed for it/mentally prepared for it/psyched up for it.  And directly before he called me up (again, this was unexpected!), I was tending to my normal circus in the pew and my 2-year-old son spilled Fruit Loops all over the floor.  As I was leaning over (around my giant belly) to clean up the mess, my husband called me and the kids to the front. I was mortified as he spoke while I stood with the kids next to him -- in my un-thought-out,  rumpled maternity dress with my unruly children.  I felt like those first moments of going to the front summed up my life perfectly - messy, unprepared and a spectacle.

 Since my husband only sits with us a handful of times per year (mostly when we are on vacation), training the kids in the actual worship setting has been largely my job. It's a job that weighs heavy on me, even now.  I want my children to desire to be in worship every Sunday.  I want them to participate fully and crave God's word and sacrament.  I want them to never see going to worship as just an option -- one to be chosen only if they aren't tired or busy.  I want them, as young adults out of our nest, to first and foremost in a new environment find a church home.

But man!  Wiggly, loud, often complaining little ones don't exactly lend themselves to my lofty model! And it can be so easy to say "It's not worth it!  I'll come back to worship when they get older and can sit still!"  I felt those thoughts too - 'why am I even coming to worship?  No one is getting anything out of it!!'  But in my more lucid moments (and often those distanced a bit from the trauma of Sunday!), I knew that was Satan getting under my skin.

Even when it doesn't feel like it, little ones are getting so much out of worship!! They are watching and learning at every step.  They see you close your eyes (briefly, mammas, I know -- or someone will yank his sister's hair causing a loud wail!) when you pray.  They see you kneel and commune and share the peace.  They watch those around them do the same things.  And even if they appear to be busy torturing their siblings, coloring their children's bulletins or flinging their Fruit Loops, they are watching.  And they are learning and worshiping.  When they see you take them to church, every Sunday, without fail, they see that worship is the number one priority.  And they begin to pick up these habits themselves.  Sure, they will still poke their brothers and refuse to say/sing/pray now and then, but as they get older, your habits become theirs, and the faith that was given to them in their baptism is nurtured and grows.

And as for your own worship (or seemingly lack-there-of), mammas, my mother-in-law used to comfort me with this truth:  Even if you can't fully listen to the readings and homily and liturgy, God's word is being proclaimed, and your ears are hearing it, whether you are absorbing it all or not.   Did you catch that?? What a blessing that sentiment was to me in those early years! I might not have been able to process all that I was hearing during worship, but God's word was still pouring over me.   And even more: in communion, I was receiving Christ into my very body! Even though worshiping with children is not exactly the experience it used to be, it is valuable nonetheless -- and in some ways it can be even more meaningful!

Remember when my husband called me up to the front?  I don't recall exactly what he said, but I remember it addressed the idea of mothers giving up their bodies for their children, and likening it to Christ giving His body up for us in the Eucharist.  My mortification turned to reflection and tears as I listened to his words.  Motherhood is a sacred vocation, and through it, even in the pew -- perhaps especially in the pew, we are being made holy.  Mothering little ones is hard work, without a doubt.  And teaching little ones the faith week after week is not for the feint of heart.  But through these sacrifices each Sunday, our own faith continues to grow, and the faith of our little ones blossoms through our example.

If you're a young mother struggling in the pew, keep at it!  You have a most sacred job -- nurturing and teaching the faith to the next generation.  You are their most important teacher of Christ! No one else will be able to impact their faith like you can.

Stay strong, mammas! Your work is holy!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Week in Pictures

A few snapshots of our last week:

Last Friday, our two older kids and my husband and I went to The Art Institute in Chicago and to see Hamilton.  It was our birthday/Christmas gift to them, and it was worth the wait.  We saw some amazing pieces of art at the Institute, including this one above, one of my long-time favorites:  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.  It was an enormous painting, and truly amazing to see!  After a quick dinner with our brother-in-law, we saw the much-heralded (and much, much listened to in our house!) Hamilton.  It was amazing. The talent was out of this world!  We all loved it!  

For the past week, I have been working on my classroom to get ready for my little ones.  I have enjoyed cleaning, planning and painting this week in anticipation of their arrival.  I'm looking forward to getting to know all of them!  I never in a million years thought I would enjoy teaching three-year-olds so much! 

This.  This is Target's back to school wall (plus a few colors to my right you can't see - I was trying not to get the Target employee who was zoning next to me in my picture).  This wall brings me Great Joy.  The color-coded organization seriously gives me peace and happiness.  Target is not especially close to my house, but for each of my kids' back to school Mommy's nights, I have driven to Target for the sheer pleasure of having everything organized thusly.  I took KK to Walmart this week, and after about five seconds realized that it was an impossible mess and we had to go to Target.  Within seconds of arriving at this wall, my world was again set aright.

This is the pile of plates and forks I needed to set the table tonight for dinner.  Know how many are there?  Seven.  The magical, perfect number for our family.  This week I've had kids at camp, and have only needed three or four or five plates, depending on the night. But tonight, everyone is home, and I needed seven.  Pulling them all out of the cabinet and counting to the correct number made me so happy.  I am thankful for my kids' experiences, which most definitely include camp, but I can't help but sigh with happiness when everyone is back home again.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Girl

My eldest daughter is a gem.  She makes me think, she makes me proud, and she makes me laugh.  Her siblings love her, and she loves them.  God has really blessed our whole family with this girl.  Here are a few recent things of note regarding this girl:

On vacation, it became very apparent how much power she wields over her youngest siblings.  She and my 10-year-old son were doing time in the "way back" of the suburban (the most undesirable seat in the vehicle), when I hear quiet discussions about eating chocolate Twinkies.  The general rule in our house (which extends to the car on vacation) is that the kids need to ask before eating something, otherwise they would eat junk 24/7.  Well on this particular car ride, I noticed that my son was eating a Twinkie without asking.  When I asked him about it, he said, "But Second Mom said I could have it!' My eldest daughter had given him permission, and he truly felt like her word was law.  I think she could have told him he could take the suburban for a spin and he would have grabbed the keys and ran.

Our Western Adventure was pretty long, and involved lots of togetherness and volume.  Our family is not quiet or diminutive, and things can get crazy fast.  My 17-year-old gal takes so much of it in stride, and often joins into all the insanity.  But other times, she theatrically flops on the floor, or curls up in her seat spewing dramatic statements such as, "I can't believe this is happening to me!" and "What did I do to deserve this?" and "I'm so done!" and "I'm sorry to inform you - all my limbs are broken!".  She cracks me up constantly, and she rarely gets truly frustrated with her family.

During our trip she composed the following list on a napkin, of

Things I No Longer Want To Hear:
Goog and all variations of the word (my eldest son's COMPULSIVE nickname for his youngest brother)
Lego Batman quotes (such as, but not limited to: "The Monkey and Dawg are friends!")
LAX is Life (constant references to Lacrosse)
Shooter gun noises from my 10-year-old's plastic gun
ANYWAY! I'm Bleb (my 15-year-old son's catchphrase for her, said in a ridiculous voice)
Fighting brothers

She got her driver's license right before we left on vacation and this morning did her first long solo drive.  My heart was in my throat as I prayed for her (and her brother) while they were gone.  But she did just fine and gained some new confidence.  It's just yet another step in her growing up.  I see great things on the horizon for this girl.  I can't wait to see her continue to mature, and someday, mother her own children.  I've generously provided with her lots of opportunities to practice parenting!

Friday, July 21, 2017

We're Baaaaack!

We just returned home from our epic Pacific Norhtwestern vacation.  It was an amazing trip in so many ways.  A few highlights:

120+ hours in the car, spent chatting, laughing, sleeping, watching movies and getting along every second (ha!  you know better than to believe that, don't you?) Truly, though, the kids did incredibly well with all the extreme togetherness, and we enjoyed so much wonderful family time.

6632.2 miles logged on the suburban and pop-up.  My dear, dear husband drove ALL of them, save about 4 miles I drove locally one day.  He is a rockstar.  During all that driving he was doing, I was playing butler to the children, holding trash and about another thousand things and breaking up fights (I told you it wasn't all sunshine and roses!)

14 states traveled through

43 states, 1 US territory and 6 Canadian provninces represented in our license plate game (we were SO close to 50 states!  Darn you, Eastern seaboard and deep south!)

During the 120+ hours and 6600 miles, we saw the following sights:  Seattle, Vancouver BC, Victoria BC, North Cascade National Park,  Olympic National Park, Washington beaches, Oregon coastline and beaches, tide pools, whales, seals, beautiful lakes and mountain hikes, Redwood National Park, and Crater Lake National Park (more elaboration below)

Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and just about every other place we saw in the Pacific Northwest was full of redheads.  Seriously.  I have redhead radar and it was binging constantly!  Redhead!  Redhead! Not sure why the Northwest had such a high ratio of redheads, but I was with my people!

Doing laundry once a week-ish, with six helpers, in 1.25 hours is THE BEST EVER.  We would be totally broke if I used a laundromat all the time, but I would have tons of extra time on my hands.  Maybe it would be worth it. . 

I am not a fan of tall bridges over major expanses of water.  Like, I close my eyes, pray, and go to my happy place.  The kids know this and are generally respectful of my anxiety, but every now and then someone busts out with a quiet refrain of "free-fallin", or the Veggie Tales' song "Drive into the river, Bob,".  They're special like that.

The scenery we took in was breathtaking.  The Northwest is among the most beautiful areas I have ever seen.  The beaches were mind-bogglingly expansive - we could see for miles.  The mountains, the lakes, the landscape in general was gorgeous.  The Redwoods were impressive and stately - everyone marveled at their height and girth.  Truly, this area of the country lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful areas in the country.

Each of these major trips we take with the camper usually inspires a theme song or two (here are some from other years).  This year was no different, but we all had differing ideas about what song should win.  Many people thought the Lego Batman soundtrack (dialogue as well as songs) should win, since the kids watched it several thousand times quoted it ad nauseum (after renting it twice, I bought it at a Walmart), others thought it should be Shenandoah, a favorite song of my husband's to play when we are in serene countryside. But ultimately, the Moana soundtrack won out as the theme.  The song "How Far I'll Go" seemed to work well with its line "It calls me", and the way the beauty called all of us in.

Number of Thrivent shirts spotted (not including the ones worn by us!): two

During the long drive home (spanning three days), one of my children got stuck in the seatbelt.  The child had twisted around so that the seatbelt was literally locked into place around the child's tummy.  Even with the seatbelt unlatched, the child could not get out.  After some general wailing and anxiety, we pulled over.  One child checked the situation, then I went back, and ultimately, my husband, with his killer problem-solving skillz was able to remove the child from his seatbelt prison.  Thankfully we did not have to "cut the seatbelt!!" per the seatbelt victim's wishes.  

On the day we went to Victoria in British Columbia, the girls and I went to a proper British high tea.  We drank tea as we chatted with English accents and pointed our pinkie fingers out.  We nibbled on tiny sandwiches and pastries as we took in the beautiful gardens and scenery surrounding us.  All three of us loved the experience and I'm so glad my older daughter suggested it.

We've all worked hard today, cleaning out the camper, putting things away, washing dishes, clothes and people, and generally getting things back to normal.  I'm glad to be home, for sure, but I am sorry to be done with both the vacation and all the family time.  Now that we're back, regular life starts again and we're all pulled in different directions. There was something wonderful about all the time away with just our seven.

I am so thankful my husband pushes us to take these adventurous trips.  If it were up to me, we'd probably go to the beach every year and sit on our tushies.  But he wants to instill a sense of adventure in our kids, and he wants them to see the country.  And see it they have.  To make it affordable, we've camped across the US, and in so doing, we've all seen a lot of beauty.  My husband tirelessly plans our elaborate trips and knows all the places we should stop along the way.  I am grateful for his effort and desire to foster our kids' sense of wonder and adventure, as well as show them God's glorious creation.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bits and Pieces #20

  • Sanuks.  Sanuks are sandals that are like heavenly pillows on your feet.  The sole is called a yoga mat (having never touched a yoga mat, I'm gonna take their word for it), and the top of the shoe is just fabric that lovingly cradles your foot whilst you walk miles with nary a care.  Seriously.  These shoes are the. best.  I bought a pair on Amazon and a pair at DSW.  Check them out and tell me if you buy some so I can do the happy dance for you (with my feet encased in heavenly pillows, of course!).    Neither Amazon nor Sanuk are paying me for this ringing endorsement, though compensation would be welcomed. 😊
  • Sigh.  Bath and Body Works is indeed not going to be paying me for enjoying their products.  In fact, the direct opposite seems to be more likely.  When I like a scent at BBW, it is the kiss of death.  Without fail (that may be a slight overstatement), all the scents I like get discontinued.  Mango Mandarin?  GONE.  Spiced Cider (hands down the best fall scent known to man)? GONE.  And the latest casualty -  Limoncello.  Luckily I happened to see it clearanced out and bought several tubes of body cream at a fabulous price.  But seriously!  Can I be the only one who liked these scents?  I'm not sure what's happening in their marketing department, but they have not consulted me for some reason.  #firstworldproblems
  • The following is a picture of Shadow babies (our latest nickname for him).  It is hard to see, but  I am giving him a hug (can you see my messy bun at the top right?).  Shadow is displaying what we call "crazy eyes".  It can't be that he is not enjoying my overture of love, or that I am disturbing his personal space, right?  He must be thinking of a life without tennis balls or something, and is a bit spooked at the thought. 

  • This, my friends, is the deuce.  It's our Astro van, which we bought in December of 2008, when I was newly pregnant with our fifth child.  This van has taken us on cross country trips, back and forth to school and sports and theater and scores of shopping trips and doctors visits.  This van has been with us for a long time, and now it is no longer ours.  Yes, the deuce has been sold.  A friend of ours sold it for us, and he reports that the guy who bought it is going to trick it out and make it into a hippie van.  Yep, the family truckster is now going to be touring the country like her Volkswagen predecessors did before her.  The ol' Astro is about to see a a whole lotta changes! 😳

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Three Teenagers in the Hooooouse!

Today marks my third child's entrance into the teen years.  We now have more children in their teens than not - we have a teen majority.  This basically feels crazy to me.  How on earth so much time has passed literally boggles my mind (not a hard task, btw).

We have had thirteen years to love this child, and each day feels like a gift.  He is funny, generous, passionate, loving, kind and sincere.  I am unable to imagine our life without him.  As I generally do on my children's birthdays, I've spent the day pondering his birth and his years with us.  And after I tucked him in tonight, I laid down with him (which he still allows, even welcomes) and stroked his cheek after he fell asleep.  I looked at his face -- his nose, his eyelashes, his cheeks, and thought of all the times I had done that very thing - gazed into his precious face.  And as I always do, I recalled the story of his birth:

Thirteen years and three days ago, I was admitted to the hospital at 31 weeks into my pregnancy.  I was huge and looked ready to deliver. An ultrasound had shown there were complications, and no one knew exactly what was going on, but it certainly wasn't good or routine.  The plan was to admit me, monitor the baby, drain some excess amniotic fluid and send me home to try to get baby to wait until closer to his/her due date.  Since all of this hospital staying/major test administering/very sick baby was very stressful and worrisome, we decide to find out the baby's gender so we could name him/her and be able to pray for the baby by name.

We were delighted to be told our sweet baby was a boy, but a bit stymied on a name for him.  Since there was a very real chance that he would be coming early, we knew we needed to decide soon.  We had been going back and forth with a few options, but nothing was seeming quite right.  I vividly recall laying in my hospital bed discussing names with my husband, who was sitting across the room. Slightly hesitantly, he told me he had thought of a possibility.  Looking vulnerable, he made his suggestion:  Isaac.  As I thought about the name, he went on to explain why it had come to him.  He recounted the story of Abraham and Sarah in the bible, who had longed for a child for years, and were given their son Isaac.  But when Isaac was a boy, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, and Abraham was obedient.  But just before Abraham went through with the sacrifice, God told him not to hurt the boy, for He knew now that he feared God, seeing that he had not withheld his son from Him.

Through tears, we decided to name our precious son Isaac, and prayed that if God saw fit to take our son home to Him, that we might have faith like Abraham and Sarah's.  And that was our prayer -- as he was born before I ever left the hospital to wait it out.  As he was born not breathing and was immediately put on a ventilator.  We prayed that prayer while he was being sent that day by ambulance to the nearest children's hospital, three hours away, my husband driving behind the ambulance in the night.  We prayed that prayer as he stayed 7 weeks in the NICU at that hospital, and when we brought him home with all manner of medical paraphernalia we never thought we'd be able to handle.

And as we prayed for God's will, God's will for our baby began to take shape.  It seemed God's will was that our sweet boy grow and get healthier as the years passed.  And as he grew, we discovered another facet to his name -- laughter.  The name Isaac means laughter we later realized, and nothing could fit this child more perfectly.  He exudes happiness and joy and brings that to those around him. Laughter indeed -- so very fitting.

So thirteen years ago today was a pretty scary time.  We were holding on by faith, not by sight, and we didn't know what the future would hold. Thankfully, God knew all the time the plans He had for this child.  We have seen thirteen years of His plans and I'm in awe.

 I can't wait to see what else God has in store for Him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Seize the Moment

Within the last 2 months, my husband and I have gone to six funerals.  We've witnessed (and felt) lots of sorrow, pain, laughter through tears, memories shared, and ultimately -- hope.  Each of the services we've attended focused on the victory Christ gave us through his death and resurrection.  Each pastor pointed us to the cross and the reunion we will have with our loved ones in heaven.  What comfort and hope we derive from those promises!

These passings have been hard.  But I've watched a beautiful thing happen, and I've seen it happen many other times over the years.  This:  a massive outpouring of love.  On Facebook and social media, and then in person at the visitation and funeral services, those whom we've lost have been showered with an overwhelming amount of love.  These friends were beloved, respected and cherished.  Their families were flooded with hugs, prayers, memories and love.  I was so thankful to witness such a testament to who each of these people were, and what they meant to so many around them.

But what I kept thinking, was. . . I bet he had no idea just how much he was cherished.  I bet she had no idea what she meant to those around her.  I bet he had no idea how many lives he changed.  I bet she had no idea how much she will be missed. And while I was thankful the family was able to see all of these things, I felt this pang that, in life, the friend who had passed was not aware the difference he had made to those around him.  And it made me so sad, but also resolute.

I have pondered this subject before - the concept of building one another up.  Of taking a moment (or two or 500) to tell a friend what she means to me.  Of pausing my life's busyness and getting together with a friend.  When I value something in a person (a good friend or a virtual stranger) I need to voice it. Life is fragile, and I am renewing my vow I made in the link above to tell people how much I value them.  I don't know why, but sometimes this is hard!  Fear of rejection; of sounding silly or over-emotional?  Fear of embarrassing yourself or the other person?  I don't know, but I need to get over it.  Because when someone goes out of their way to encourage me, compliment me, or build me up, I am buoyed by it. I'm guessing others feel the same.

So let's not wait, my friends.  Let's cherish our friends and family members.  Let's let them know how much they have impacted our lives.  Let's take a moment to tell someone what they mean to us.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving
 one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
Ephesians 4:32

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The (last couple) Week(s) in Pictures

Here are a few visuals from our house the last couple of weeks:

I recently switched over my (very small) closet from winter clothes to summer clothes.  These, dear reader, are my winter clothes.  Do you notice a theme? Black, gray and brown are great colors - with a small splash of denim and burnt orange!  Don't be a hater! Neutrals are my friends!

Look at that large even number!  This is the odometer of our suburban, which we are hoping has lots and lots of more miles left in her.  We have a few more adventures planned and we hope the old girl can hang on to take us on them!

Tuesday night, my middle son got the game ball at his game.  He had possibly the best game of his life - a triple (to the fence!!), great pitching, and several infield plays.  I was not able to see it (I was watching my older son's game at a different park), but my husband gave me some play by plays as the game progressed.  My son's coach is great - he encourages my son and gives him opportunities to learn and grow.  We couldn't be happier with all his coaches and his team this year.  But his coach told my husband that I couldn't come to his games anymore - apparently mom is bad luck (this seems to be a common theme for me and my kids' achievements)

Our Blessing Chapel is a tradition at our Lutheran School.  In the top picture, I am blessing one of my students, and in the bottom, my youngest daughter is being blessed by her teacher.  These blessings are amazing.  As a teacher, I am incredibly moved as I bless each child at this last service of the year. What a joy to give my little ones God's promises as I tell them good-bye.  And as a parent, what a privilege to witness the same between my children and their teachers.  Our Lutheran school is a partnership between parent and child, and I am ever so grateful for it!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hello Summer!

School is out, though things haven't quite slowed down yet.  I just finished up a heaping dining-room-table-full laundry marathon, which featured two items of note:  FIVE sweatshirts that my middle school son unearthed from his locker on the last day of school, and the last of the school-year uniforms.  This means fewer hanging shirts and more folded T-shirts, fewer socks and fewer khaki pants.  Woo to the hoo!  But the school uniforms have been replaced by baseball uniforms. . .pants, shirts, socks, special baseball boy undies. . . I don't mind - it's a nice change!

Speaking of baseball, have I ever mentioned that I love watching my kids play?  On average, we have  about 10 games a week between the four kids who play.  Add in practices and actual other life things, and it makes for a nutso schedule.  But that aside, I really, really love watching them play baseball.  Until they started playing four years ago, I hated baseball.  I thought it was so ridiculously boring and slow.   But from the first moment my boys stepped on the plate, I was hooked.  It isn't slow at all (well, the younger kids' games can sometimes be a bit laborious--), and watching my boys grow as players and young men has been a gift.  They've learned from their coaches, both good and bad, and they've learned valuable team skills.  I'm thankful for all the time we've spent on ball diamonds in the last four years -- and I'm also super glad they aren't into soccer!  Play ball!

Since school has been out, we've also had a few conversations with our kids about screen usage.  We are really trying to encourage them to self-regulate -- to watch their own activities and make healthy choices. We are also trying to make some changes ourselves:  be less reliant on our phones and more present.  We have seen a lot of good already -- brothers playing blitz ball, lots of books read and art created.  I am hoping for some long-lasting shifts in all of us.

So hello summer!  Here's to sleeping in, late(r) nights with the kids, reading a book (or two or twenty), vacations, camping, family reunions, and togetherness. Cheers!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bits and Pieces #19

School is out for me on Friday, and next week for my kids, and May has been a race to the finish.  May is chock full of baseball, awards banquets, musicals, concerts, graduations, work commitments, track meets. . . the list is endless.  All good stuff, but why must it all happen in the same month?  Anyway, due to the severe amount of activities over here, we've been limping along, hoping to make it to the last day of school.  Our house, laundry, and meal planning is suffering.  But I'm optimistic, as May is always hairy, and we always make it.  But I'm a bit weary, I'm not gonna lie.    So here are a few snippets of what has been going on over here amidst the crazy.

  • In the preschool pod where I spend lots of my days each week, we have had so. many. babies. born in the last couple of months.  It has been awesome to see all these moms with their tiny little ones.  There are lots of preschool moms still pregnant too, and it truly makes me weepy with delight.  What a blessing a new life is!  How glorious to be carrying new life, and then caring for that precious infant.  Love, love pregnant mammas and new babies! Keep having babies, mammas!
  • Speaking of preschool and work, as I said above, this is my last week of teaching (I'll still be working in my room for a bit after that, though).  And man, as it approaches, I am truly sorry to see these little ones move on from me!  This has been a great class, and I'm going to miss their little faces and personalities.  Thankfully, most of them are simply moving across the hall from me next year so I'll still get lots of hugs and updates.  
  • My teens have received several awards in the last week:  my son won four academic awards for being at the top of several of his classes, and my daughter won a theater award for her dedication to the department.  I was so proud of both of them, and it's possible a few tears escaped (ugh!  you know I can't help myself!!)
  • A few weeks ago, my husband and I took my 17-year-old on a college visit to our alma mater.  It was so surreal to be there again. . .so different, yet so much the same.  At one point, as I shared yet another memory (about when my husband and I first met for goodness sake!), my daughter dramatically rolled her eyes at me and made me laugh.  I put my hand over my mouth and cried, "If you only knew!  I am only sharing about an eighth of what I am remembering!" Seeing the school through her eyes and hearing her take on it was fascinating.  I look forward to more college visits with her and walking with her on this journey.
  • Changing gears completely. . .my eldest daughter told me about a new adaptation of my beloved Anne of Green Gables on Netflix.  I was skeptical, since I am a purist and love only the Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie version from the 80s.  But, since she is also a fan, I thought I would give it a try.  We watched episode one last night and I actually thought it was pretty good - good acting, beautiful scenery, mostly sticking to the book's story line.  My youngest daughter and younger two sons also got pulled in and were enjoying Anne's escapades. . . until episode three, when all came to a screeching halt.  I was incredibly disappointed in Anne's dialogue - delving into euphemisms that were completely inappropriate for younger audiences. Thankfully my younger two didn't catch what she was talking about, and I quickly pulled the plug on the show and looked up some reviews.  Turns out, many people like it, but many are also calling it dark and a turn away from the book's true storyline.  Shame on you, Netflix, for tarnishing a classic!  I told my kids that I would check out from the library the "real" Anne from the 80s and we would enjoy it without worries.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This month, my eldest nephew will graduate from high school.  It's hard to believe he could possibly be that old!  But he is ready for the next chapter, and it's exciting to see what is in store for him.

And behind him, in rapid succession, two of his sisters and two of his cousins will follow suit.

Rewind 19 years ago:  my husband and I and his brother and wife were still relative newlyweds, both couples beginning to think about starting families.  And my in-laws** were excited at the prospect of both of their sons soon giving them grandchildren.  But I don't think they knew quite what was on the horizon.

Snap - in a period of 2 years and 9 months, my in-laws had 5 grandchildren!  My brother- and sister-in-law were gracious enough to have twins, making that number possible.  Suddenly, we were getting together for births, baptisms and birthday parties.  Holidays were fun, crazy and often exhausting.  My in-laws were thrilled with the almost-instant big family.

And the grandchildren kept coming. . .in 13 years, the grand total was 10 grandkids.  Family get togethers are awesome.  There are kids everywhere, playing games, putting on shows and laughing.  It's the best.

The kids seem to have naturally fallen into two groups.  The older five (currently known as the teens, though this summer two more will join that category) and the younger five.  And for this year only, all five of the teens are in high school.  It's been great to watch them become friends over the years, and as teenagers, stay in touch on their own now.

When the first five kids were 2 and under, it was hard to imagine the day when they'd all be in high school.  Impossible, really, to imagine what our lives would look like.  We had no way of knowing how fun teenagers would be, and what a blessing these cousins would be to each other.  And now, my nephew will be the first to bring on a new change:  college.  I pray that all these cousins (including the cousins on the other sides of their families as well) will stay close -- that they will share their new adventures with their closest family members.  It has been and will continue to be a joy to watch them grow together.  There is only more beauty to come!

** When I hear the phrase "in-laws", I often think of the 1991 version of Father of The Bride, when Steve Martin is on his way to Bel-Air to meet his daughter's future in-laws.  He isn't thrilled and doesn't like the phrase "in-laws".  He says:  "What does it mean anyway?  That we're legally bound to these people?  I don't wanna be in-lawed, especially to people who live in Bel-Air!" This scene is just before he almost gets attacked by the Dobermans and falls into the pool  If you haven't seen this movie, watch it immediately.  You can thank me later.

And let me also take a moment to say that my in-laws are THE BEST.  My husband's parents and his brother and his family are not "in-laws", they are simply family.  I am ever so thankful for the blessing of more family!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Week In Pictures

A few visuals from our place this week:

Yes, the obsession with butt-enhanced foods lives on in our house.  Perhaps you recall reading here about some "almost butt" spread. . .I'm thrilled to report that many more items have shown up in our pantry with this all-hilarious secret ingredient:  cookies made with chunks of butt, crunchy butt, and butt flavored syrup. I have to admit, I crack up every time I take something out and find this child's handiwork.  

We went to Florida over Spring break with my in-laws, and my dad made this bag to send with us in the car.  It had a bag of gummy bears in it for each child.  This gift is just like my dad - thoughtful and creative and goofy! ❤️

I found this in the freezer.  I don't really know what to say about it. . . The master chef who created them called them cake pops.  
That is all.

This is the back of my beautiful 17-year-old daughter's head.  She went to her junior prom over the weekend with a big group of her friends.  She looked amazing and she and her friends had a great time.  I was so proud of her!

And this:  "If I could do something all by myself I would ride my bike around the big circle.  This would make me feel like a grownup".  Oh - the sweet dreams of a 7-year-old!  I love her so!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm Not Fancy Part Two

Quite awhile ago, I blogged about not being fancy.  I talked about how I don't wear much makeup, and what I do wear is Cover Girl.  I'd prefer comfort over style if I really had to choose, and a ponytail is my hairstyle of choice.

Well. . .I'm not fancy in lots of other ways as well.

House/Decor:  My house is a modest two story.  We have enough rooms, square footage, furniture and family pictures to make it just right for me. We may not have an enormous en suite in the master bedroom, or a gourmet kitchen.  I'm not an interior decorator, and my house doesn't look like a spread in Better Homes and Gardens.  But it's comfortable, decorated well enough, and full of people I love.  So what if I don't have Joanna Gaines' touch?  It's just right for us.

Meals/Food:  I can't say I don't mind a fancy meal now and then, but I would prefer to cook simply.  Early on in our marriage, I remember having people over for get togethers and thinking I needed to cook some fabulous meal that was completely out of my repertoire (and comfort zone!), because the people we were inviting were foodies (well, that was before the word foodies was coined, but hey. . .).  Nowadays, if you come over, we might order pizza, or I might cook or grill a well-loved meal.  It might not have sixteen ingredients you've never heard of, but it will be cooked with TLC and love.

Cars/Phones/Possessions:  Let me start with this one by saying one of our cars is a 2004 Chevy Astro Van.  I could basically stop there, as that pretty much sums up this category, but I'll continue. A beautiful car in my book is one that holds all seven of us and is paid for.  The Astro passed both questions from the get-go and therefore was a winner.  We may not have the fanciest, flashiest cars on the block, but they get us from point A to Point B without breaking the bank, and that's what a vehicle is for, right?  In the same vein, we have 3-year-old iPhones that are still limping along.  We have to charge them a little more frequently now, but they're still working and they are freeee!

Vacations:  Dear reader, if you know me at all, you know we camp for most of our vacations.  The price is right, we make great family memories, and we see the country!  No, we don't have pristine hotel suites or zero-entry pools, we don't buy top-notch travel packages and we don't eat at all the best restaurants.  But we can still spend a lot of time together as a family without all that stuff, and that's what a vacation is for, right?

As I said in my original "I'm Not Fancy Post" (link above), the older I get, the more comfortable I am with who I am.  If someone else always has the latest iPhone and takes award-winning vacations, awesome!  But that isn't me, and that's okay too.  I'm happy being me: a pop-up-camping, iPhone 5-using, comfort-food-cooking mamma.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

National Sibling Day

Last week for Spring break, we went to Florida and stayed with my in-laws for the tail end of their snow bird season.  It was fabulous - Florida is my place!  We sat on the beach, laughed, shopped, played cards and just had a good time together.

Florida is no quick trip for us, so we spent many hours in the car on the way down and home.  Our kids are certainly no strangers to long road trips (our next adventure will be driving to the Pacific Northwest!), and they understand driving saves lots of money and enables us to see the country (that, coupled with camping!).  But still, being in the car for 12 or more hours a day isn't exactly anyone's idea of a great time.

Well, maybe that's not true.  My daughter's first grade teacher told me what my daughter shared yesterday at school.  The teacher was asking each student what his/her favorite part of Spring break was, and this was my daughter's response:  "The best part of Spring break was being in the car for 13 hours with my family.  We're usually so busy, that it was great to be together with nowhere else to go.  We laughed and sang songs and had a great time!"

Wow - we did laugh and sing and have fun!  There were also fights and complaining, but those things apparently didn't stick in her memory - just the good times with her family made an impression.

As we were driving home from school yesterday, we were talking about childhood friends.  One of the boys asked me if I was still close with any of my childhood friends, and I replied that I keep in touch with several on Facebook, but that we don't see one another regularly.  "Who is your best friend now?" one of the kids asked.  After I moment, I paused and said that my sister was my best friend.  After a moment I laughed and turned toward the back seat, knowing the kids would say that she didn't count - she's my sister!  And indeed, they were ready to tease me about it, but I took a moment to tell them it was true, and remind them once again, that their siblings are the ones who will stick by them through thick and thin, and that no one will know them longer than their siblings will.  They've heard these lectures before, but I pray they hear them.  Brothers and sisters are life long best friends!

As it turns out, Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was National Sibling Day.  I posted a picture of my kids, with a comment about their lifelong friendships blossoming.  And I also posted a picture of my sister and me, thanking God for giving me a lifelong best friend.

There is no shortage of negative behavior over here between my children.  But I pray that as the years pass, those memories fade and like my youngest daughter's road trip recollection, the sibling bond remains strongly at the forefront.  Best friends for life!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Memes for Me!

If you have any teenagers, you probably know what a meme is.  I first heard the word a few years ago and was stymied with how to pronounce it.  Was it mee-mee?  Or meh-mee?  My teens quickly set me straight:  It is pronounced meem.

I run across memes when I scroll through Facebook and they often make me smile.  Here are a few that came across my feed:

I love this one!  The original "Little Old Woman" rhyme always annoyed me, and I felt like it gave big families a bad name.  But this one is lovely and reminds us that God always provides. ❤️

But in a similar vein, the above meme is also true. . .and I happen to have just the right number of kids to hit rock bottom.  But just because I morph all their siblings' names into their own name (finally, and with frustration!), doesn't mean I have too many kids.  It just means my brain is tired.  Hey - I'm getting old.

Yup.  And I might sometimes call it chaos too. . .but I wouldn't have it any other way.

And finally, this one.  I love this sentiment.  I looked it up to verify its origin, and although it is a slight paraphrase, the meaning holds fast.  Sometimes we as mothers and wives might feel like we are drowning in household affairs, with little meaning to any of it.  But it is here, in our homes, with our families, that God calls us!  In our ordinary lives, full of cleaning and diapers and toddlers and teenagers, God calls us to holiness! So offer your work up to Christ, mammas!  We are right where God calls us to be. ❤️

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Week in Pictures

A few visuals to sum up the week around our house:

Here is one Shadow puppy, freshly shorn.  We think he looks like a wee black lamb after he gets fluffed and buffed.  But no matter how adorable we think he looks, in every picture we take of him, he looks morose and depressed.  Cheer up, Shadow!  It can't be that bad to be a dog!

My littlest gal was student of the week last week and she requested we make snickerdoodles for her class treat.  We started hauling out all the ingredients (snickerdoodle-making is no small undertaking, I quickly remembered!), and my little K zipped to the closet to grab an apron for me.  I rarely wear an apron, but every time I do, I remember how much I love wearing one - they're so convenient!  Anyway, K grabbed this one, which is my favorite.  It was made by my mom for my grandma -- in her favorite color: mauve.  Every time I wear it, I think of her wearing it, bustling around her (mauve) kitchen in her skirt and nylons, heels kicked off by the door.  Fond memories of a beloved woman.

I recently bought this little gem for about $1, and it is the best.  Seriously, I don't know how I ran a grown up kitchen without one for all these years.  My whole adult life, I've been dragging out a colander or using a lid to strain the pasta, or if I was feeling lazy like tempting fate, I would precariously hold the pasta with a fork while draining the liquid.  But this little plastic game changer is the goods.  I simply hold it over the pot and all is good!  No huge colander to hand wash, no risky fork method. . .just pasta sans liquid.  Does everyone already have one of these and I was just out of the loop?  Or am I a trend setter?  I truly have no idea.

I bought this shower curtain the other day for our hideous upstairs bathroom.  This bathroom is in dire need of an overhaul, but we haven't had the money or time to do all that needs to be done, so there it sits, in its late-90s decor, frustrating me every time I pass by.  I had finally had it with the old shower curtain and wanted to buy an inexpensive one to tide us over until we actually redo the room. I found this one at Walmart and it fit the bill.  The tree was pleasant and would work for the time being.  The other day I was putting towels away (these ΓΌber awesome ones from IKEA) in the bathroom and one of my boys wandered in and appeared to suddenly attack the shower curtain.  "What are you doing?", I quickly asked.  Without missing a beat, he replied, "I'm a tree hugger!"

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bits and Pieces #18

  • Brace yourselves, delicate readers.  I am going to start this blogpost out with a disgusting Shadow report.  We had snow this week, which seemingly causes our annoying beloved dog to have temporary amnesia.  He appears to forget where we have grass and where we have  decking.  And since he is inherently lazy, he only walks out a few feet from the back door when we have snow on the ground, and does his business right on the (snow-covered) deck.  The piles of poo get buried under the snow and we don't always know they are there until the snow melts.  Then we look out our kitchen window (appetizing) and see all the poo on our deck.  And this time, as I gazed upon the sight, I noticed that all three piles were riddled with orange nerf darts.  Our stupid dog eats the tips off of nerf darts like they are candy, and then poops them out for our viewing pleasure.  He's thoughtful like that.
  • On Ash Wednesday, one of our sons decided that he was going to give up eating breakfast for Lent.  My husband and I told him we didn't think that was a good idea -- we didn't want him giving up something that might cause him harm, we said.  He quickly retorted - "Do you think dying on the cross was good for Jesus?"  
  • My daughter is reading The Grapes of Wrath for school.  One of the younger siblings, however, quickly nicknamed it The Peaches of Anger.  I think it's catchy!
  • Some of my children had a rough day on Saturday, and as a result, lost all screens for an indeterminate amount of time.  This edict was not well received.  An hour or so later, another child (not in the no-screens-camp), wanted to use the TV and Apple TV, but it appeared the batteries were missing. Upon further inspection, we realized that all the remotes (including the tiny Apple TV one) had no batteries.  It seems that one of the punishees was a little miffed and removed all the batteries in every remote in the room.  Said child was no longer angry when this was discovered and was apologetic and helpful in replacing them all.  
  • Awhile ago, I received two $1 bills as change.  I noticed right away that they were different than regular $1 bills, so I looked a bit closer at them and discovered they were issued in 1957! I was fascinated thinking about their history -- where they had traveled for all those years.  Both of them are in remarkably good shape, so I wonder if they were out of circulation for a number of those years.  Still - if money really did talk -I bet it would be an interesting tale!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lost and Fit

Several weeks ago, I blogged about how I got a Fitbit Flex 2 for freeeee!  Yes, our insurance has paid us for good habits for several years, and this year upped the ante slightly and gave us the option of getting a Fitbit or the like.  So, of course I ordered one, and got my husband to order one too.  Who doesn't love free stuff??

So, my Fitbit has been attached to my wrist, monitoring all manner of things. . .sleep, steps, miles, caloric intake (with my help on the app), calories burned, etc.  It's been interesting watching all the data each day.  When Ash Wednesday rolled around, I decided to add to my Lenten disciplines that I would achieve 10,000 steps each day.

Some days, that's been easy (the days I work), and other days, a bit harder.  On days I'm off and primarily doing paperwork and laundry, I find myself at the end of the day with a couple thousand steps to take.  So my kids (and husband) have laughed at me as I will, mid-conversation, start walking in place (admittedly, I do this in a rather over-the-top way).  I also have discovered that I can walk laps in my house** and rack up the steps pretty quickly.  On any given night, you could come to my door and see me speed-walking circles in my living room and hallway.  I'm fun at parties.

Last week, I was sorting through some clothes in my boys' closet and doing other various chores upstairs.  I headed down some time later and realized (to my horror!), that the tiny Fitbit was missing from my wristband.  Retracing my steps (and fearing that it had fallen in the washing machine), I looked all around the upstairs and shook out all the wet laundry in the washing machine, to no avail. Because I am super smart, I realized I could look at the app and see if/when the Fitbit had fallen asleep.  Piecing together the time it had fallen asleep and a phone call I received, I was pretty certain I was in my sons' room when it had fallen out.  But I couldn't find it, and I was stymied as to how to find it.

Enter - my teenage daughter, who had just arrived home.  I lamented to her about my desperate situation, and within in two seconds, she said, "I'll just text it and it'll vibrate!".

Oh my.  So much for super smart.  We started in the boys' room and after several texts from my daughter (all consisting of different colored hearts πŸ’œ πŸ’š πŸ’› πŸ’™ ), I pinpointed the vibration sound and found the tiny Fitbit.  Kids -- when did they get smarter than me?

I wear it tighter now, to escape random slippage and minimize loss.  So far so good.

**When I was a child, I used to envy people who had a circular floor plan.  We lived in a ranch that had an uninspiring floor plan in my young mind, and I thought it would be living the dream to be able to walk a lap, or even more amazing -- a figure-eight! -- in your own house!  I am happy to report, I am now living the dream. #whoknewlifecouldbelikethis

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons

My dad is known for being goofy.  He has joked with us since we were little -- we have a priceless cassette tape of my sister, my dad and I doing silly interviews when I was ten.  He claims he can sing a song about any word we name.  When he really laughs hard, he starts to giggle-cackle.  He showed my sister and me funny parlor tricks when we were little and has continued the tradition with his grandchildren.   He used to take my sister and I on a 'scar tour' - of all the scars he had incurred in his childhood from questionable outdoor activities.  I've never seen someone have a way with rigging things up like he does - MacGyver doesn't have anything on him. He always gives the high sign from the little rascals to his grandchildren by way of greeting. He has a steady stream of (mostly dorky) jokes.  For thirty or more years, he has told us he is the world's champeen of basically every game we ever play with him. I could go on and on about his wacky sense of humor.

In keeping with this nature, recently he was talking to my eldest son about tying his tie. As if we all knew what he was talking about, he said, "That's number four on Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons List -- when wearing a tie, always tie a double Windsor".  No one knew what he was talking about, but after some questioning, we discovered he had been compiling a list on his phone.  We all enjoyed reading it, so I give you:

Grandpa's Top Ten Life Lessons

 1. You can never have too many bungee cords.
 2. If anyone asks what your name is, always answer:  Puddin' Tain.  Ask me again I'll tell you the same.
 3. When you arrive home, always say: Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
 4. When wearing a tie, always tie a double Windsor.
 5. When camping, the oldest person must do all the work. 
 6. When you are young and working, you do not have to be smart, just smarter than your boss.
 7. Always remember God, family and work, in that order.  Also, move this to number 1.
 8. You may have friends in life, but only family will stand by you 'til the bitter end.  Move this to number 2.
 9. Never do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow.
10. If you see a tool you don't have, buy it.  You will need it sometime in your life.

As you can see from this list, my dad is also tender hearted and puts God and family first.  He's a good man, and I am ever thankful that God gave him to me as my father.  He and my mom gave my sister and me a stable, loving, Christian childhood.  He's a hard worker, he's thoughtful and generous to a fault.  I am blessed to call him dad!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Remember You are Dust and to Dust You Shall Return

My day yesterday started with three-year-olds, learning about Ash Wednesday. We discussed Jesus' sacrifice, and how He made us from dust.  We told the kids that getting the ashes on our foreheads wouldn't hurt, and that it would be a great reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  And, as it does every year, it blessed my heart to watch these children come forward and receive the sign of the cross.

And tonight, my whole family (with my husband a just a few feet away) was together for worship. What a wonderful opportunity Ash Wednesday is to still the busyness of our lives.  During the service we heard about the three lenten practices:  fasting, prayer and helping those in need.  We pondered how often we "fall asleep" when Jesus asks us to wait and keep watch.  We sang songs and hymns calling us to a deeper understanding of Christ's saving work on the cross.  We received ashes on our foreheads that reminded us that "dust we are, and to dust we shall return".  And finally, most importantly, we received the Eucharist.  Christ's body and blood, given for us.

The weather was a little sketchy in our neck of the woods, snow blowing and gusting when we glanced out the sanctuary windows.  But inside the church, we sat with our church family, together and warm.  We were sitting in the back row (still the best choice for my family!), so I was able to see many of the people gathered for worship.  And I was overcome with my love for them -- our church family.  These people love us, support us, and and strengthen us in our daily Christian walk.  I am so thankful God placed us here, a place full of His servants.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bits and Pieces #17

  • I am a grammar freak.  I know this and I know it's annoying to others around me (it's annoying to me quite often!), but I can't help it.  Grammar mistakes usually jump out at me and drive. me. crazy.  Keeping that in mind, imagine me at the Mommy and Me class I teach.  We sing songs, play with instruments and dance a bunch (I'm super good at the dancing part - ha!).  Recently I was singing one of the songs with an egg shaker with the kids, and the verse ended like this:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slow!"  And oh my word.  I couldn't handle that last word!  So as I sang it, I quietly changed the last word, though I'm sure those around me could hear me and think I'm a nut case.  But I had to do it.  I felt so much better singing it this way:  "Oh what fun it is to shake my shaker oh so slowly!".  Whew.
  • Our cute but naughty doggie, Shadow, loves to chomp on all manner of things, as you might have heard.  He loves to eat the tips off of nerf darts, gnaw on pencils, swallow bouncy balls whole and rip apart stuffed animals which have great sentimental value.  Yes, he loves to rip out the eyes and noses of stuffed animals, pull the stuffing out and basically kill the poor defenseless creatures.  But thankfully, my eldest daughter is a saint.  Whenever we catch him in the act (or happen upon a grisly murder scene), we take the stuffed animal directly up to my daughter's room, which doubles as an ER for dying stuffed animals.  Patiently, she restuffs their innards, stitches up their limbs and sews on eye patches when needed.  Seriously, she never complains about the frequent patients that just appear on her desk.  She's a gem, and my youngest son and daughter are reaping the benefits of her kindness.  And Shadow the naughty doggie keeps her in business.
  • Every Tuesday and Thursday, when I am off from work, I have a uniform:  jeans (or sweats if I'm just home), and a Thrivent T-shirt. I have about 5 of these T-shirts (I admit some of my teens' shirts have made their way into my drawer).  They are the most comfortable shirts on the planet.  I adore wearing them and find it rather annoying if I have to go somewhere or do something that necessitates me wearing something nicer than one of these shirts.  The older I get, the more I value comfort, and Thrivent T-shirts are my jam (hey - just because I look like a 40-year-old bum doesn't mean I can't talk like a teenager!
  • The weather in the midwest is crazy.  That is all.