Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was brushing my teeth last night and the memory came. I was in the hospital room with my mom, dad, sister, and baby Will. There is a cot set up under the window which looks out over the highway through Jacksonville. I remember saying to them, how can they just keep driving? Don't they know what is happening here in this room? Don't they know she's leaving us?
I continue brushing. Jeff is showering, getting ready for work but I don't say anything to him, it's too difficult to explain this altered reality of past and present residing in the same space. Again, I stop the toothbrush as it comes - sitting on her bed, trying to hug her, but she's not really able to put her arms around me, so it's really just me climbing onto her lap and pushing my body onto hers. I just want to be close to her, feel my weight on her as if somehow this will hold her here on earth a bit longer.
These bits of our time there sneak into my consciousness. Sometimes all at once, making it impossible to continue whatever it was I was doing. Other times it's just strands of those memories, seeping in and then leaving before I am paralyzed with the enormity of being motherless.
I am blessed to have an earthly father who is caring, involved, and who strives to cover all the bases as a grandparent and parent. Not in a overcompensating kind of way, merely in the knowledge that he is running the show solo. He is great. He is amazing. He stayed with my family for the entire time Ryan was in the NICU! And I know that my mom's story is not over, just being written in a different language, that of our Heavenly Father. The setting is an exotic location, a place I cannot even imagine in my humanness. The cast includes some incredible people: Christ, my grandparents, great-grandparents whom I never met, the saints of history. I rejoice in her wholeness, her health, and I envy her place with the Savior. I envy her peace and joy. But my heart still hurts. I walk among the living thinking of the dead. Admonishing myself at times for having forgotten her for a bit. Continually replaying the memories in vain attempt to not forget. Fearful that in 20 years what I can barely remember now will be lost forever. Clinging to the promise that my story is not over either and perhaps we can again share a chapter together.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Better late than never, and why can't my children smile nicely?

In the annals of top-notch parenting, Jeff and I have logged in some doozies. There was the forgotten tooth-fairy visit(s), letting the kids play with a dead bird (really can't blame Jeff on that one it was all me,) the month delay in pumpkin carving, and finally, we forgot to get our own child a birthday gift. Well, we actually didn't forget, we were just so dang busy getting ready for his party and then Sundays are a complete wash, and then well there was Mon and Tues, but I guess we were just busy??? So finally on Wed, Jeff went out and got the stuff we had planned on getting him - compass, headlamp, and some misc. camping stuff. Jack is very much into the outdoors, guns, hunting, camping etc. After school we let him open the gifts -kind of sad though, cause when he came in from school I nodded over at the table where everything was stacked and he kind of nonchalantly meandered over. I guess the boy was just in disbelief that we had finally gotten around to giving him something! So here are some pics of him opening his stuff - sweet boy even let his brother and sister do some opening.

What these pictures, and many others, have made me realize, is that my two eldest children are the worst smilers. Now in real life they have great smiles - the kind that make you smile because they are such honest expressions of joy and happiness. But when it comes to "posed" pictures, boy howdy they take some duds. I had both of their school pictures retaken and with a stern lecture on smiling nicely so that mommy and daddy aren't throwing away perfectly good money (as opposed to bad money?) for goofy photos. Well, they certainly took my pearls of wisdom to heart. When the new set came back, the made sure that I got my money's worth - in the history of goofy school pictures, these take the cake. Jack is biting his bottom lip and smiling as if to say, "well golly, I never did see one of those new fangled photomographic machines." And EK, bless her heart (Christian code for oh my goodness what a goober) has her upper lip tucked under so tightly it's as if she didn't have one at all. Oh well, in the grand scheme I guess it really doesn't matter. I had only hoped to have at least EK's kindergarten pic - we are from here on out no longer getting the school pics. I'll have to scan in the pics from school as proof that I am not exaggerating!
This last one is Will taken right after he woke up from his nap. Too cute! He is such a trip. He has recently discovered just how funny he really is and will ham it up for any one of us. He's latched on to the days of the week, but really only knows Monday and Friday, so when we try to tell him that it's another day, he says, "oh yeah, ____(whatever we told him the day was) yeah, yeah, yeah" while shaking his head and waving his hands at us like 'whatever'. Yesterday on the way to church this was our conversation:
Will: "bird"
Me: "you see a bird, cool."
W: "pump"
Me: "You want to pump?"
W: "yes, pump"
After some thought I figure out that he's referring to pumping the shotgun, or Jack's BB gun.
Me:"Oh, you're going to pump the gun?"
Will:"Yes. Guy."
"Guy" is often used in reference to God when we're praying (Will's reference, not mine:)) so I am smiling, thinking, oh how dear, we're on our way to church and my baby boy is thinking of God. WRONG.
Me:"Oh, you're talking about God?"
Will:" No. guy. pump. bird. shoot."
Hmmm. Slow dawn of understanding...
Me:"Will. Are you saying you're the guy whose going to pump the gun to shoot the bird?"
Will:"Yes!! Me guy, pump, bird, shoot!" Big smile and as I look in the rearview, I see two other smiling faces. Oh well, just one big happy family on our way to worship!
Good grief - this one's a handful!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Big 8

The birthday boy picked out his hunting themed cake!
We are blessed to have children who genuinely loved each other.

Jack and one of his dear friends T who will be 9 this year. Our other sweet friend Z just turned 9 two days ago and Fri. night was his party. Jack was up until almost 10 last night and then of course up at the crack of dawn this morning in anticipation of his FastLane party today. Our VERY generous Aunt LaLa surprised him with an offer to have his party there. Wow! They did an amazing job and the kids (and adults) had a blast. They bowled, played laser tag, had pizza, and then rode go-karts. What more could a group of boys ask for?
So, 8 years ago today, Jeff and I headed in to the old Washington Regional hospital, with great hopes of meeting our baby boy that night. Well, first baby decided to stay put for a bit and didn't arrive until 3:30 AM! We were exhausted, but he was well worth the wait! As I think back to the first morning, I remember telling my mom and dad that I was so sorry for every bad thing I had ever done to worry them! This had come to mind as the enormity of what it meant to be a parent washed over my tired heart and mind. Could we really do this? Were these crazy people really going to let us take this tiny human being home? No one stopped us and after our hospital stay, we headed back to our tiny duplex that we were renting at the time. I was still in grad school and this had been one of the only places that we could find that would allow dogs. 2 bedrooms, 1 small bath, and a tiny kitchen. But it was home and we were a family. God had chosen us to be your parents. The years have truly flown by - though more so as we added more siblings! You were a healthy baby who didn't care much for sleep. As a toddler I thought you were willful, only to throw that completely out the window when your little brother Will came along (that boy was so aptly named it is unbelievable!) Jack, you are tender and sensitive. You are smart, but school has taken a toll on your spirit. We are hopeful that the changes that we are going to make in your education will reignite your enjoyment of learning and remind you that "school" is fun! You love to be out in the woods, especially now that you have your BB gun and pocket knife. You are super creative, making books and cool ships out of your legos. You love Jesus and it is truly humbling to see the Lord at work in your life. Just when I think that you haven't been listening to a word that I've read during our daily bible time, out pops this thoughtful and intelligent comment or question. Your dad and I are so proud of you - and we can't wait to see what this year holds in store for you! Happy 8th Birthday Jack!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


As we have begun this journey of praying, researching, and discussing homeschooling, I have learned so much about myself already. As a mom, wife, follower of Christ, this process has forced me to clarify those statements I have for so long made about myself. It hurts a bit, this refinement He is walking me through. I am not unbruised. Things that I have long clung to, I am having to release. Ways of thinking, safe ways of thinking, I am having to turn over in my hands to look at from a different perspective, and say, "oh, wow, look at that, it's totally different over on this side." Most painful, was the realization that I shared with Jeff this morning. I don't think for myself very often. In my laziness, which I have posted about before, I have simply gone along with the crowd, whichever crowd I was in at the time. This is not to say that in a group of unbelievers I just up and abandon my faith, but I will hang back, not speak too loudly, perhaps not defend Him at all? And so, as I scour other's accounts of homeschooling, I am drawn to those who emphasize a Classical approach - there is much memorization and narration initially, which evolves into more independent reading with the ultimate goal of rhetoric and in a Christian environment, "mastering" the Apologetics. We so desire our children to be able to intelligently and articulately defend their faith. To head out into this great big world and be strong believers, sure of Who they follow, and be unafraid to speak FOR HIM. We are only wading in here, so I know this post leaves much unanswered and unclear - as it is my mind! Additionally, I am very emotional right now - lack of sleep perhaps since last night I was totally under attack from satan - dredging up every bad thing I have ever done. In.My.Life. YUCK! Prayed all through the night and did manage a few hours of rest, but certainly am very touchy today as a result. There is comfort in knowing that he doesn't spend time on those who are not drawing closer to God, but geez louise, GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!! I need some dang sleep:)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My biggest helper! This goes with the post from the other day - Will loves to step on the cord retractor:)
Jack sledding in the backyard with our neighbor/friend J.

Daddy and Will sledding - he looked like Ralphie's little brother:) He loved sledding, a bit scared too since Daddy makes the sled go fast, but had so much fun.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Monday, Monday

Last night, Will was saying something that Jeff thought sounded like 'Monday.' So Jeff starts saying "Monday, Monday, Monday" (like Sunday, Sunday, Sunday the football announcement). And within minutes, Will has learned the word Monday and starts using it in all sorts of interesting ways. "Monday I get puppy?" "Monday day?" "I go Monday?" You know, the usual toddler banter:) Then, this morning, he comes over to me and says, "Monday?" I reply, "no, Friday." "Oh," he says, "Frffray." Slowly and clearly I say, "FRI-DAY. Can you say fri-day?" Will, "Frfray." Me, "very good, try again..." And on we went for a minute until he got it (sort of). He walked away to find Jeff who was scrambling to get out the door. From the hall I hear, "Daddy, Monday?" Oh well, we'll work on it some more later:)
We sat down to breakfast, listened to DABkids, and then cleaned up. Re-gathered back at the table to do some copywork. The kids know to grab their bibles, notebooks, and pencils and take a seat while I put the day's verse on the board. Ella-Kathryn doesn't have her own bible yet, so she uses whatever is available, usually my red-letter bible. So she holds that one up and says, "Mom, is this the brand New Testament?" Tee hee! I told her it wasn't all that new:)
Sidenote: I was talking with my sister yesterday and mentioned what I had posted about, specifically how happy I was to have the kids home and about how other moms were ready to get their kiddos back to school. She called me out reminding me that there have been times when I have also felt frustrated and exhausted and ready for a break from my kids. True! So in the name of transparency and to avoid misunderstanding, I wanted to make sure it was clear that I am not walking around my house in La-La land with my rose-colored glasses on. We have squabbles and all out fights, but the last few breaks we've had around here, where the kids are all home together, have been quite pleasant. Also, this an area of focused prayer for me. I have been praying for a changed heart. To not anger so quickly. To not be so frustrated when things go off track. They are children after all. I know, I know. How many kids did I have to have to figure this out???? God is changing me too! I am more focused on who they are and who they will become, than if every surface has been dusted. Still a work in progress, but so grateful for what He's done already!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Snow day #4. At 4:30, I awoke to Will yelling my name. Not sure how long he had been hollerin' before I finally heard him, but I got up, went to him and told him it was still nighttime and to roll over and go back to sleep. Thankfully he did. As I made my way back across the house, I couldn't help but peek outside to see what Mother Nature had brought us. We had read that there was more snow coming, but only an inch. More importantly, there was an arctic front pushing through that would cause our temperatures to plummet. And they did. I saw that there was a dusting of snow, and I would see the wind blowing the snow across the yard. Hmm. Would it be cold enough to cause all that had melted yesterday to freeze thereby making it too dangerous to head out this morning? I hoped so:) You see, I'm not sure who was sadder about having to get back to our normal lives. Me, or the kids. They certainly didn't want to return to school, nor did I want them to. I told Jack last night that it was OK to pray for more snow/no school, but just to not be disappointed if it didn't happen. I prayed too:) So, after shuffling back to bed at 4ish, I managed to fall back to sleep for a few hours, until my alarm went off at 6:30. I was confused at first, it has after all, been three week since I've used that blasted thing. When I was aware enough to roll over and turn it off, I immediately came out to boot up the computer. Within a minute the day's plans were all off. NO SCHOOL! Yippee! I'm not sure who was happier. So, one more stay. One more day to hang out and drink hot chocolate, watch a movie, play the Wii, do some worksheets, read some books together, whatever. Only today, we will NOT be going outside since the high will be a whopping 18! Yesterday I ran into some other mom's at Wal-Mart (my first time out of the house in 4 days and no I was not stir-crazy or anything like that, simply needed to get some groceries) and each of them were so ready for their kids to be gone, back to school. Is there something wrong with me? Sure we've had some bickering, yelling, etc. But truly, it's been a pleasure to have them here. It gives me some hope that if we do choose homeschooling, it won't be a complete disaster:) For now, I'll keep my fire stoked, clean house a bit, do some work with the kids, and just enjoy the day. Hope it brings blessing for each of you too!
PS - as I read this to EK, she informed that she did want to go back to school but when I asked her well, what if we ended up homeschooling, then would she miss school? She said, no she meant she wanted to do school here! I then asked her what she would miss about Cooper to which she replied: I get to pick all sugar stuff at lunch, and specials, and centers. Well, I think I could match the specials and centers, but sugar stuff for lunch?????

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow Days and a boy after my own heart...

For whatever reason I can't get the blogger to open up my pictures file so that I can show you the one of Will jackin' up his right leg to step on the retract button for my vacuum cord. The boy loves to be the one to retract that cord! As soon as he hears me turn off the vacuum, he comes a runnin'. "Me turn" he gleefully shouts, simultaneously running towards me, pushing any potential competition (i.e. a sibling) out of the way. Who knew 2 could be so tough? If, by some chance I didn't hear him hollering from across the house that he would be in charge of said cord retraction, well then good gravy, the world is most likely coming to an end. Right then and there. Of course there are days when he really surprises me and just says, "Oh shoot" which of course sounds like "oh sheet" of some reasonable facsimile thereof (nudge nudge wink wink). I can swear on a stack of bibles that this is not a case of a child repeating some expletive that he has heard from his parents. I cannot say the same for the time Ella-Kathryn said "damn it" when she dropped her peanuts all over the floor. Yes, please pray for us. Anyhoo, Will is at that stage where helping is still fun. It only lasts for about a year, so we take full advantage training our kids to do everything from clean toilets to changing the oil in our cars. Free labor people, that's what kids are all about. Of course I'm kidding. Sort of. We do seriously believe that it is our responsibility to train our children to be capable people. Capable of taking care of themselves, washing their own clothes, dishes, paying their bills, making smart financial choices. Of course, it is all age appropriate and of course they see us make mistakes and have to then deal with the consequences. Our hope is that God will grant us the grace to cover our mistakes with His grace and mercy and that at the end of day what our children remember is who we are as kingdom-minded people. We want our kids to be able to go out into the world and help others, but how can they do this if they can't even help themselves? Yet again, I am overwhelmed by the "job" of parenting, but am also growing in the peace that no parent is perfect, nor child, nor family, and when the crowd questioned Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, "The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:28-29
So simple. Teach my children about Jesus. Who he was, is, and always will be. What his life, death, and resurrection mean for us here and now. How his greatest commandment was to love. Simply love. All.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Leaning in

Tangent 1: I spent the whole day at home moving from one space to the next just trying to get a handle on this life. I let so much go while Dad was here and with the kids home and Jeff off from work, well, it's a disaster. Not so much the physical space, although these floors have been much cleaner, rather it's the paper. Around here we have bills, stuff to be filed, school papers, scout papers, dr. papers, classwork papers, after-school reading/math papers, well you get the picture. I managed to wrangle them into neat piles over the past 2 weeks, but today it was time to tame the beast before it took over my soul. Note about me: I hate clutter and I hate feeling out of control of my home (and all that being a home-manager entails.) "A place for everything and everything in it's place" was written as a love letter to me! So, today was the day. Much was accomplished, yet there's still much to be done. I will most likely leave it as is tomorrow, except for the Daisy troop stuff. Somehow I am now the Daisy leader? Note to self: even when all hope is gone for another responsible adult to step up and take over the leadership role of daughter's girl scout troop, do not cave and say that you will "temporarily" assume said position, because what that really means is that all other responsible adults are clear-thinking and know that this is not something they should take on. Oh well. We'll muddle through somehow...
Tangent 2: On New Year's Eve we asked the kids to give us some of their highlights for '09. After explaining what highlights meant (not the magazine or what mommy got done to her hair over the summer), the following were given in response:
Ryan's birth and healing - from all
Riding bike w/o training wheels - EK
starting Kindergarten - EK
God is with me at school - EK (persmission to go awwwww)
hospital stay and recovery - Jack
getting a dirtbike - Jack
getting a BB gun - Jack
going to FL - Jack, EK, Will (me and Jeff too:))
not breaking any bones after falling through the attic floor - mel
having another safe year at work - Jeff
cake - Will (really all agreed here too)

Tangent 3: Jack and Jeff got to head out for a bit of hunting today. Really more for the experience of gearing up, driving out, and then hiking in to a spot in preparation for next season. Jeff said he spoke in earnest with Jack about the importance of not talking and if one must speak then to do so in a whisper and lean in to the other person's ear. Does he not know our child???? He did manage to whisper, but Jeff said he pretty much talked the whole time:) Oh well - maybe he'll gain some maturity in this area over the coming year.
Tangent 4: We head into this new year prayerfully considering schooling options for next fall - public, homeschool, private. Considering Jack's needs specifically, we are anxious to hear from God on this one! I am lazily researching the homeschooling route, but am intent on preparing a summer curriculum for he and EK. A test run of sorts, as well as keeping them sharp while out on break. There is so much information out there, just sifting through it all is yet another time consuming task, although one I enjoy. Scanning suggested reading lists and Latin texts, geography sites, the whole kit and caboodle really speaks to my inner student. Not much for test taking etc, but I love being in school. We'll see what happens and covet your prayers in this area.
Tangent 5: Jeff's uniform is not going to iron itself, so I'm off. The kids and I are reading through the Daily Walk Bible and listening to a reading from the NT on for kids - they seem to enjoy it and it's another way to feed them scripture. Yesterday's start in Genesis brought up some good questions from Jack (as usual) and after discussing how Adam was our "first father" last night at prayer time, I said dear Father and Jack interjected, and we don't mean Adam!