Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mice aren't nice

Seth dashed up to me this evening. "Mommy," he shouted, "I saw mouse!"

"Where?" I asked suspiciously. We DID have a mouse not long ago, but he has gone the way of all the earth, and I am hoping none of his cousins have come to inherit his estate. So I asked the obvious question. "What color was it?"


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The sincerest form of flattery

Anaya was peering over Alan's shoulder this morning as he was going through pictures of his students. He explained, "These are students who are going to come and listen to me in classes. Maybe someday you will come and sit in my classes."

"Someday," Anaya responded, "I will be preaching instead of you!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bright idea

Last night I was reading Seth a favorite book in which the song "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" is put into pictures, with lots of sunbeams and a little yellow duck featuring prominently. I guess I thought that since Seth knew what the sunshine was, he must realize what sunbeams were. Until he looked at a picture and commented, "'E not sunbeam. 'E duck!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flights of fancy

Today when we went duck-feeding, Anaya found a feather. "Look, Mommy," she crowed. "If I find another one, I can put them on my arms and fly!"

Monday, August 18, 2008


Anaya came to me distraught this afternoon. "Mommy, I want to be alone in my room, but Skyler won't leave me alone!"

"What's wrong with having your brother in your room?"

"I want to talk to myself. Can you please make him go away?"

We talked through the options, what Jesus would do if His little brother wanted to be in the room, how she could make the choice to be happy, and why Skyler wanted to be with her. But she was adamant. "I really don't want him in my room. Would you please take him out?"

"Okay," I sighed. "Skyler, you can come watch a video."

"Wait!" Anaya squealed. "I want to watch a video!"

"If you want to watch a video, you still have to clean the playroom," I pointed out.

Anaya marched in and surveyed the disaster. "I don't wanna clean the playroom..." she began.

"That's complaining," I reminded her. "Let's look at the chart and see what the consequence is for complaining." Since she can't read, I pointed to it. "What is the consequence here?"

"I can't...remember," lied my little trooper.

"Bad idea," I said. "Here's the consequence for lying: a spank and a time out. Now, are you going to tell me that you don't remember? This is your last chance."

Anaya muttered and grumbled through the discipline session, and would never come out and tell the truth. In the end she got a spank and three time outs (12 minutes total). So I took her to her room. "You'll have to stay here for 12 minutes, until the timer goes off," I stated.

The punishment was too great to be borne, apparently. "I want Skyler with me!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When cleanliness is nowhere near godliness...but had better develop some

So it was bathtime tonight, as usual. The boys were first, so I caught Skyler, then Seth, and popped them in the tub. (Seth escaped when I called, so I had to spank him and then pat kisses onto his penitent bottom after he proclaimed himself "sowy.") While I was undressing them, the phone rang, so I answered it and settled into talking to a friend. I went out of the bathroom for a moment to get pajamas for the boys, and returned to an unwelcome sight: a "log" in the bathtub.

"Oh, Sethie," I groaned. "Is that yours?"

"Yets. Look, guckies!" (At least he's honest.)

I hauled both boys out of the bathtub, let out the water and commenced cleaning and sanitizing everything. Skyler, standing beside me on the bathroom floor, suddenly sprouted a leak. Right onto the clean towels I had laid out, of course. He marveled in glee at this talent, so rarely displayed openly. I groaned and kept cleaning the bathtub.

Then Seth called to me. "Wook, Mommy!" I looked around and saw that they were both cheerfully fishing in the potty.

"No! Stop!" I dashed over and removed their hands from the water.

Back I went to cleaning the bathtub, then started filling it with water. "Come here--hey, stop that!" I spanked them both for playing in the potty again, then re-deposited them in the warm water and quickly scrubbed them down. Anaya and her little friend Aileana visited the bathroom periodically to add to the general mayhem. "Mommy, come look at this!" "Mommy, can Aile and I..."

Keep in mind, I was still on the phone, trying to have a serious conversation with a somewhat distraught friend.

Finally I fished Skyler out of the tub and dried him off (don't ask what towel I used; they were big towels, anyway). Halfway through dressing him I realized I was putting him into Seth's pajamas. Oh well; he fits into them fine. Seth just doesn't fit into his. So I returned Skyler's pajamas to the boys' room and retrieved another set for Seth. I returned just in time to see Seth adding to the water in the bathtub. "Wook, Mommy!" he pointed in delight.

So, out went another batch of water. Two kids down, one kid still to go.

But they're awfully cute.

Death cake?

Anaya is obsessed with birthday parties. Now that Aileana's is just around the corner, Anaya is ready to plan her own too.

"I want a Good Samaritan birthday party," she informed us yesterday. "Can you make a cake with a picture of the nice man on it, and then a button, so we can push it and change the picture?"

"No," I answered this child of the digital age, "I don't know how to do that."

"Well," she conceded, "Then you can just make it with the dead man on it."

Ten things I say pretty much every day

1. "No, you don't need a Band-Aid. There's no blood."

2. "Please don't step on your brother!"

3. "I'm sorry you made that bad choice. Do you remember what the consequence is for that? Let's go look at the chart."

4. "We don't whine in this family."

5. "Well, Daddy's not here, and you're not going to get him here by howling for him."

6. "It's not time to eat now. Too bad you didn't eat more when it was time to eat."

7. "Mommy needs a kissie. Oh, thank you! That was so sweet!" (wiping slobber from cheek or mouth)

8. "No, you can't watch another video. Too many videos turn your little brain into potato soup."

9. "Rowwwr! I'm gonna get you! I'm gonna tickle your sweet tummy! Run for your little life!"

10. "Wow, you're such a big helper! With so many helpers, I wonder why I don't get more done!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Olive them

Anaya came to me at lunch with olives on all of her fingertips. "Mommy, which finger to you choose?" She pointed to two. "You have to choose this one or this one."

"Okay, I choose that one."

"No, you have to choose the other one."

"Which one?"

"This one."

"Then you are choosing, not me."

"No, I don't want to choose! I want you to choose. But you have to choose THIS one."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Boy meets girl...again

Anaya's dolls came to breakfast this morning, and Seth had a little boy doll that joined us too (all about 3 inches tall). Suddenly Anaya's doll dashed up to Seth's doll and stood in front of him.

"Do you want to marry me?" she asked.

"Yets!" came the gallant declaration.

"Are you in love with me?"

"Yets!...Oh, look! There yi-on! Aaah!" And Seth's boy was off to fight the lion, leaving his plucky fiancee to fend for herself.

However, he dutifully came back to "give her love" later, upon request.

This may not be the end of the story. "Sethie, you want to make them marry?"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another weigh to see things

Anaya hopped on the scale this morning. "Mommy, see how much I cost!"

The balm for bleeding hearts

This morning Anaya had an accident while riding her little bicycle, plunging into a plant pot and cutting her lip. She wailed for Daddy to stay home instead of going to work, but after comforting her for a while, Daddy headed for the door. "But I want Daddy!" started again as soon as the door closed behind him.

"Daddy has to work," I explained. "You're fine and not even bleeding anymore now."

"Mommy," Anaya gulped, "go get Grandma."

"Anaya, remember how long it took us to drive to Grandma's house? Let's call her instead."

"No, you go get her and come back. I can stay here and watch Sethie. Please, go get Grandma. I need her!"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Financial planning

Yesterday I indulged in a time-honored family tradition, one which I hardly ever get to enjoy anymore. I went yard-saling. (Didn't find anything, by the way.) Anaya would have loved to come along, but she settled for giving me instructions. Having heard my declaration that you can sometimes find great things, she put in her order.

"I want a Samantha dolly, like the one I saw in the pictures."

"Those are expensive dollies, Anaya, and I'm not paying that kind of money for a doll. Forget it." (Like I'd let her play with a hundred-dollar doll even if we had one.)

"But I want one!"

"Get a job."

"But Daddy could work harder. And then he could get the money to buy one!"

"Daddy's not working any harder."

"But I want a dolly!"

"Too bad." (You're getting the idea now of what a hard-hearted mother I am.) "Daddy can't work any harder, and if he could, we wouldn't waste the money on a doll."

"Well, I have an idea," my little entrepreneur continued. "YOU can get a job! Then you can work. You can do something that nobody ELSE can do," and more pointedly, "something that I can't do. Then YOU can get the money to buy me a doll."

"Sorry, Anaya. You will have to get a job, work and pay all of your money to buy the doll."

She sighed. "But I don't like to work."


"It's yellow because Sethie went pee-pee in it."

"Skyler's picking flowers in your garden!" (not many, fortunately)

"The boys are playing in the big potty with their hands!"

"Why does the sand have to stay in the sandbox? You can buy more."

"Can I eat more flour?" (This right after I saw the white-bearded little chins)

"I love cutting out pictures!"

"Skyler's picking up the dead fly!" (This while I was on my way to get something with which to play the mortician more graciously.) (And incidentally, he was only trying to help--he threw the little body at the trash can.)

miracle worms

A few months ago, our resident wise men, Auntie Net and Uncle Brad, came to visit, bearing gifts as always. This time the gifts included gummy frogs and worms, which have been so carefully rationed that the kids forget they exist in between times--I thought. More on that later.

The worms have come out this week for Seth's potty training rewards, and he has been obediently holding each tiny morsel of earthworm segment in his hand until he earned the reward. However, today he was not quite as patient. "Wook, Mommy!" he crowed, licking his worm morsel.

"Don't eat it yet, Sethie," I warned. "Wait until you go pee-pee."

Soon I was summoned by an alarmed wail. "Mommy, 'e wun away!"

"Who ran away?" I surmised the truth quickly. "Did you eat your worm?"

"No, I not eat it," he assured me, pointing down his throat, "but 'e wun away."

"Seth, you weren't supposed to eat it yet," I scolded.

"I not eat it! 'e wun away!"

The false accusation was apparently too much for his tender heart. Hours later after his nap, when I came to get him out of his bed, he greeted me with a fresh declaration of his innocence. "I not eat it!" he asserted again. "He wun away down my froat."


Anaya asked me a puzzling question yesterday. "Mommy, did our worms have a miracle?"

"What worms? What miracle?" (You gotta start somewhere.)

"Well, you know the worms you've been giving Sethie for going pee-pee."

"Yes, I know those worms."

"Well, they used to be froggies!"

broken legs

"Mommy, I can't walk! I can only run!"

"Really? What a tragedy."

"Oh, Mommy! My legs are broken! I need med'cine."

"Hmm. If your legs are broken, how can you run?"

"It's just the way my legs are. They're broken! I need med'cine!" She lowered her voice to a more conspiratorial tone. "Pretend the grapes are med'cine."

I handed her a bowl of sliced grapes Skyler had rejected. "Here, sit down and take this medicine."

"I will take it with me." Anaya scooped the bowl into her doll stroller, then switched into movie director whisper again. "Tell me to take all of it right away."

"Take all of it right away!" I ordered, and she dashed off to her room.

Another emergency arrived promptly. "Mommy! My yeg b'oken! Need med'cin." Not very much, apparently, because he flew off behind his sister to see what was next in the script.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The silent treatment

No sooner had our boys started dashing around the house than they promply slimed Kristin with germs, resulting in a sore throat and eventually losing her voice this week. This interesting event did not go unnoticed by Anaya.

"Mommy, can I watch a video?" Anaya asked me this afternoon.

"Well, maybe, if the living room and playroom all get cleaned up."

Anaya lugged an armload of toys from the living room to the playroom. "Good start," I encouraged. "Now how about cleaning the playroom? I can help you."

Anaya meditated on the problem briefly, then returned to the living room. "I'm sooooo tired," she breathed, slumping down on the couch. (I swear, this bears no resemblance to me.)

"Too bad for you. You're obviously too tired to watch anything."

Anaya returned shortly, still evidently in fragile health. "I'd better be careful," she warned delicately. "I might lose my VOICE."


Anaya FINALLY cleaned the playroom just now (amid the steady reminders that she wouldn't be able to watch "Joseph" until it was clean). "Mommy, come see! I cleaned the playroom!" Sure enough, the floor was clear.

"It didn't take very long!" she rattled on, amazed at her own productivity. "I thought it would be NIGHT when I finished."

wan' go pot-tee!

I'm trying to potty train Sethie. I repeat, trying. It's not working very well, mainly because he's very cheerful about not being potty-trained. "Does Daddy wear diapers?" I ask grimly. "Does Mommy? Does Anaya?"

"No!" he answers glibly.

"Are diapers for big boys, or for babies?"


"Are you a big boy?"


"Then do you want to wear diapers?"

Pause, then giggle. "Yets!"

Yesterday we had a long day of, "Sethie, do you want to go potty?" "Sethie, how about sitting on the potty?" All such suggestions were met with varying versions of, "No, don't want go pot-tee now."

Until bedtime. Suddenly as I was carrying him to bed, he wailed, "Mommy, I wan' go pot-tee now!"

Which is what he wailed for the next half an hour. "I wan' go pot-tee!"

And no. No way. I am NOT going to let him get out of bed so I can sit on the floor by the potty for an hour, reading him stories.

Because I already tried that last month. And it didn't work anyway. I may look dumb, but I only fall for something once.
Anyway, hold your breath--right now he's sitting on the potty. (That's our lone America's Funniest Home Videos video he's watching--guaranteed to keep him sitting still.) I took a picture to preserve the record for posterity. And to prove, when he's out playing soccer with his teenage friends at age 16, still in a diaper, I can prove, I DID try.

So there he sits, little piece of candy in his hand (he patiently holds it until he pees), waiting for the big moment.

And by the way, aren't those cute pink butterfly wings on his back?

Skyler, on the other hand, is a much more enthusiastic potty patron.

Off the road again!

I haven't been blogging much lately, have I? Sorry, we have been on the road a lot this summer. And I do mean a lot. The kids and I have officially hit at least ten states I can think of offhand, and driven entirely across most of them. We drove to Arkansas (12 hours straight), spent a month there, drove back to Tennessee (12 hours back) and then to South Carolina (6 hours), where we joined Daddy. This was followed by traveling to North Carolina (4 hours?) ten days later. Then we drove back home to Tennessee (11 hours) and spent three grand days reorganizing disaster. Then it was off to Texas (at least 14 hours on the road; we split it into two days). We flew to Loma Linda, California after that, spent a weekend with my sister while Alan and I did seminars on relationships and Alan married off two of our good friends, Tim Arakawa and Sunny Kim, to each other. Then we rented an SUV (and wow, those things drink gas like we ought to drink water!) and drove to mid-California to spend the night at our good friends Bill and Heather Krick's house (only 4 1/2 hours). Then it was on to Weimar, California (another 3 1/2 hours) to spend the weekend with friends and for Alan to attend important meetings on the future of the great project Amazing Facts and Weimar are working on together. Then off we flew back to Houston, Texas to reclaim our car and drive back to Tennessee (another two days of driving).

Okay, I'll save you the trouble of counting that up. It was at least 81 hours of long-distance driving (3-12 hours at a time), plus all the in-between airport runs, etc. as well as two full days of flying.

If you have never flown or driven long-distance with three kids under the age of five, there is no conceivable way you can understand what that means. I won't even try to explain--the shrieks, the dirty diapers, the backaches from turning around to hand back toys and snacks, the nausea from going around corners when you're turned around...all that and so much more. Yeah, I won't even try to explain it.

But if you shrug and say, "So what's her big deal?" all I can say is, I hope you get the privilege someday. Take a videocamera, so you can send me a video and I can laugh my head off and say, "I'm so glad it's not me!" Because it never, ever will be me again. No way.


But here we are, home again. The kids are putting their toys away, we are having regular worships again, everyone under 5 is in bed by 8 every night, and when anyone needs a time out, I can put them in their rooms. When the kids have runny noses, I don't have to worry about who they're going to smear with germs, or how many people are frowning at them wearing dirty shirts, or having dirty faces, or messing up clean houses. Or frowning at ME when I give a time out, harrumphing, "You know, when I was a kid, I got spanked for doing things like that!" (Does it do any good to say, "Spanking actually makes this particular kid rebellious, and time out calms him down so he repents more quickly"?) I can do laundry in my own washing machine, whenever I have wet or smelly things, or just want an outfit again. I can feed the kids whole grains, lots of veggies and fresh fruit smoothies instead of chips and Goldfish crackers, and we haven't eaten store-bought bread in a week! We can play in the sprinkler without me wondering how we'll get those clothes dry before we leave. I'm not evaluating everything we eat to try to hide the most road-worthy snacks for later. Best of all, everyone's starting to sleep through the night again (hallelujah!), so I'm not worn out, and I am usually getting in my 8 hours too. This morning Seth got me up at 5:45, but since I'd already had 7 hours of sleep, I just got up and read the Bible for an hour. What a great way to spend a life, after being homeless for so long. I have so much to be thankful for. I even weeded the garden yesterday. What a luxury. And can you believe it, we have a babysitter we can trust (thanks a million, Kristin!), so Alan and I actually went out to lunch yesterday to finally celebrate our 7-year wedding anniversary! (Which, btw, was June 24, but we haven't had a break until now.)

Once again, if you don't have kids, I can't explain. And if you're rolling your eyes, I hope you have triplets someday.


I have to borrow something Anaya told Kristin the other day (Kristin is a wonderful student staying at our house until she leaves to go to Chad as a student missionary). Anaya asked Kristin what her computer case was. "It's a case to protect my computer. That way if it gets dropped, or if I take it somewhere, it will be safe, and it won't get broken," Kristin explained.

"You know that's kind of like people," Anaya answered. "When they drop their love, they get all filled up with sin."

Okay, so I'm not saying she's mastered abstract thinking. But I thought it was pretty sweet.


I have to admit, my kids are amazing. In all kinds of ways. Currently I'm thinking of their ability to stop mid-bloodcurdling-shriek when they're not getting what they want, and change to a watery, "Pweeze?" Even Skyler can do it!

So why can't they stop the shrieking thing altogether?

I guess because it's all a sinister plot to rob me of my sanity...or build my character...and I don't know which one it's doing more thoroughly.


I had warned Anaya about the consequences if she disobeyed, which she had most flagrantly. "Sorry, Anaya," I informed her. "You are going to have to sleep in another room away from your brothers tonight." Despite wailing protests, I banished her, along with a little mattress, to the extra bathroom (the only other room in the house where we were staying).

A little while later, Anaya called me to the bathroom with an important announcement. "Mommy," she began, sidling up to me coyly, "Did you know, SOME mommies and daddies CHANGE the consequences for their children after their children make bad choices? And they are good mommies and daddies, too!" she assured me. "Don't YOU want to be a good mommy?"