Friday, December 25, 2009

Boughs of folly?

The boys are getting into that festive holiday spirit. Yesterday I heard Seth singing his heart out. "Away in a danger..."

Alan was holding Skyler today singing to him (to the tune of "Happy Birthday"), "Merry Christmas to you, merry Christmas to you..." Skyler waited until he finished the song, then pointed out, "But I'm not Mary!"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Name-calling again

The boys are still experimenting with name-calling as a sport. However, while they have the concept down, there is quite a bit of room to hone those skills. "You a towel!" "I not a towel!" "You David!" "I not David!"

The other day Skyler began wailing in the bathtub. "Sethie called me a name!"

I sighed. "What did he call you?"


Another verse from the Revised Substandard Perversion

"I don't like being bossed around," Anaya grumbled today. "Why do we always have to obey you?"

"Because the Bible says so," I explained for the bazillionth time. "It says, 'Children, obey your..."

"...parents in the Lord," Anaya growled. "But I wish it didn't. I wish it said, 'Parents, obey your children in the Lord.'"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Size this up for me

Anaya has just been proudly going through her drawers with me, getting rid of her size 5 clothes now that she is a solid size 6. You can understand her surprise when I received a box from my sister Valerie with clothes in it for me. "Look," I exclaiming, showing Saralyn a skirt I was trying on, "it's a size 4 and it fits me!"

Anaya came around the corner round-eyed. "You're a size 4?!"

My heart pleads for you

Anaya came to me today with a package from under the Christmas tree. "Mommy," she said, "Can I open my presents? I plead with you to let me!"

I laughed. "No."

She sighed, returning the box to the tree. "What does 'plead' mean?"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Postmodern thinking

My children have boundless energy--except when it comes to cleaning up their messes. They demonstrated this yesterday in an ardent protest against the evils of cleanup time. "Cleaning up will take forever," Anaya moaned.

"No, it won't," Saralyn assured her. "If you put your mind to it, it won't take long at all."

"It will take forever," Anaya protested. "If it were not so, I would not have thought it!"

Philosophies on turning three

Speaking of going in circles, Skyler demonstrated his philosophy on aging yesterday (though his birthday isn't for another month). "Mommy, I turning three," he crowed. Then he carefully spun around. "Now I turned three!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Circular reasoning

"Skyler announced a newfound skill to me this morning. "I 'pin awound!" He spun in circles to demonstrate.

"Careful, Sweetie," I warned. "You might fall down."

"I 'pin awound so the house can 'pin awound, Mommy," he explained, zooming around again. Then he stopped and looked around. See, now the house is 'pinning!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

At least he's honest

Today I set Skyler on my lap to cut his fingernails. After a couple of fingers, he began squirming.

"Skyler, sit still," I ordered. "I'm trying to cut your fingernails."

"I can't, Mommy," he protested. "I'm going pee-pee!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Object lessons from a 6-year-old

Today we drove by a tree that had lost a branch during the windstorm last night. It was evident at a glance that the wind was not the real problem, though. The heart of the branch had rotted out, and even though it was covered with leaves and buds, it had not been able to withstand the wind.

I pointed it out to the kids. "Anaya," I asked, "what does that teach you?"

"That's just like how Satan gets into our hearts!" she exclaimed. "He starts out small--I'm sure that started out tiny! But then he makes us do bigger and bigger bad things."


Yesterday Anaya announced at lunch, "Mommy, I don't think you should kill the ants anymore."

"Why not?"

"Because I can watch them, and then I will learn how to work hard!"

Out of the mouth of babes

Today we were discussing the tragedy at Fort Hood with the man who shot several people. "What happened?" asked Anaya.

"There were some people who were working to make our country a safe country, and to stop bad people," I explained. "A bad man killed some of them."

Anaya's eyes glinted. "Jesus will give him what he deserves," she spat. "Fire and brimstone!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Parker Brothers Games

The boys have a new favorite sport, one in which they engage regularly every day. It could be called a game, I guess. But the problem is, it's only fun when someone isn't having fun.

Here's an example of it from yesterday's breakfast.

"You a napkin!" Seth launched the first missile.

Skyler was quick to react. "I not a nakkin! Mommy! Sethie called me a nakkin! I not a nakkin!"

"Are you a napkin, Skyler?"

"No, I not!"

"So don't worry about it. Sethie's just being silly."

Wrong words. "Sethie, you silly!"

Now Seth is in anguish at being so cruelly attacked. "I not silly! Mommy..." The wails begin.

Finally I tired of hearing it and positioned a row of cereal boxes between the two of them. Seth couldn't bear this. He leaned out as far as he could, trying to peer around the barrier to re-establish abrasive communication.

"Seth, leave Skyler alone. You're not allowed to talk to him."


Well, I guess at least they're playing together, right?

Not quite...or quiet...

The other day Anaya mused, "Wow, Mommy, this house must have been so quiet before we came out of your tummy!"

"We didn't live in this house back then, remember?" I told her. "We lived in California."

Oh, yes," she sighed. "But you must have been so bored and lonely back then!"

Right! I must have forgotten. There's a reason that when Alan and I sing one of our wedding songs, there is a line that invariably makes us laugh as we apply it to our kids. "I will be here when you feel like being quiet..."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spanking clean

Tonight I popped two little boys into the bathtub and left them for a few moments while I cleaned the kitchen. I returned just in time to see Skyler pour a cup of water over the edge of the bathtub, forming two neat waterfalls, one down into the bathtub and the other, naturally, onto the tile floor. I shrieked and then realized that this was not the first time this delightful event had taken place, since water was already spilling out into the hallway from the bathroom.

I picked my way gingerly into the bathroom, spluttering threats and wrestling towels from the cupboard. I pulled first one, then the other from the bathtub and swatted their dripping bottoms, all the while trying to stay calm and explain to them the consequence for deliberately pouring water all over the bathroom floor again. We sopped up the water and I marched them, still dripping, to the bedroom to get dressed, amid wailed protests about how desperately they needed a bath tonight.

"Seth," I continued, vainly trying to remonstrate as I pulled pajamas over his head, "what you did was just like Adam and Eve. Remember? They knew God didn't want them to eat the fruit, but they ate it anyway. That's rebellion."

"Oh," responded my mournful little man. "Did they get a spank too?"

Irresistible force meet immovable logic

"Mommy," Anaya asked me tonight as we were cleaning the playroom together, "how many hairs are on my head?"

"Only Jesus knows," I responded.

"But couldn't you count them?"

"There are too many to count. I don't have time."

"But I want to know!"

"Count them yourself."

I watched as she pulled a tuft of hair forward and studied it for a few seconds. "Mommy, I'm tired of counting," she concluded. "You count them."

"I have too much to do. I'm not counting the hairs on your head. Anyway, by the time I got them all counted, some would have fallen out." Mommies are so logical.

"Maybe they won't fall out."

"They do. Whenever you brush your hair, hairs fall out."

"Then I will just never brush my hair, and you can count them all."

"Anaya, I'm not counting your hairs! And even if you didn't brush them, hairs would still fall out."

She pondered this. "But we could wait until one was about to fall out, and then tape it on."

"Anaya." I sighed. "Remember how much it hurt when I pulled off the big Band-Aid that was stuck to the hairs on your arm? Tape hurts when it comes off of hairs."

"But what if we put the tape on a dead person's hair? Would it hurt them?"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fun is in the eye of the beholder?

This past Sabbath, Alan had to haul a howling Skyler out of church. He passed a friend on the way, and she gave him a knowing smile. Skyler, seeing this exchange, caught her eye and glared at her. "It NOT FUNNY!" he growled.

Potty parties

Boys seem to have a perennial fascination with bodily functions--or is it just me? This has led to a preoccupation with being able to flush the potty, and careful dividing of the privilege so that all get their turns to flush. Especially when there is something exciting to flush!

This afternoon Seth went potty, advertising to all concerned that he was going to "make guckies." Skyler peered excitedly into the potty afterward and announced, "There are no guckies!"

"He probably just had gas," I explained.

"Oh. Can I fwush the gas?"


A couple of weeks ago I had a brilliant idea for how to maximize the boys' interests and use them to facilitate learning. I gathered all of our homeschool boys (5 of them, ages 1-3) in the bathroom with some food coloring and demonstrated how the water goes from the back of the potty into the bowl. We put a couple of drops in the back of the toilet, flushed and oohed and aahed at the glorious blue water. Then we added a couple of drops of red food coloring and transformed the potty water into purple. Another flush and we were on our way to making green! The results were thrilling to all concerned, and the boys did seem to understand the concepts (both of how the potty works and how different colors mix to make other colors).

Problems: I discovered food coloring needs a little stirring to mix well. Just what I wanted, to teach them to stick things into the potty to stir....And of course, I didn't think about all of them begging to put food coloring into the potty for days afterward every time they used it.

Monday, September 7, 2009


This afternoon Anaya and I took advantage of the boys' naptime to make cashew "cheese" sauce to go on top of the stuffed shells I made this morning, and muffins. Anaya loves baking muffins. The boys woke up to assist in the final stages of the muffins, but I noticed Skyler wasn't feeling well. Sure enough, he had a fever and began complaining of owies in his mouth. I comforted him as best I could and hastened the process of getting the muffins in the oven.

"Mommy, can we lick the bowl?" Anaya pleaded as I scraped the last of the muffin mix into a pan.

"No, not today," I replied. "It's not even close to suppertime."

"Oh, please, Mommy--" began the old refrain, broken by a suspicious sound from Skyler.

"Skyler, are you about to throw up?" I gasped, grabbing the aforementioned empty bowl and holding it under his chin just in time to catch the contents of his little stomach.

"Well," Anaya observed, surveying the new contents of the bowl, "I guess we can't lick it now."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Take the potty train...

"Mommy," Anaya informed me today, "Skyler is my son now."

"Good," I responded, opening the potty chair. "You potty train him then."

Skyler dashed to me and peered inside the potty. "Where's da potty train?"

We miss Saralyn!

Seth may have set his sights on marrying Mommy, but Skyler seems to have found another woman worthy of his affections. As I was dressing him last week, he began the usual wail, "I want Daddy!"

"Daddy isn't here."

"Sarayen," he whimpered. "I want Sarayen!"

One big happy convoluted family

I overheard this priceless little interaction in passing this afternoon. I only wish I could have gotten it on video, as nothing else will ever do it justice.

"Mother!" Seth called to Anaya. (Apparently there had been some instruction given previously that I had missed.)

"No, you're my husband now," she corrected. "Say, 'Are you okay?'"

"Are you okay?" he chirped.

"Augh!" Anaya groaned, collapsing on the couch. "Say, 'You've had a big tummy for a long time. What's happening?'"

The obedient husband repeated this, gallantly dashing to her side.

"Okay, just wait a minute," Anaya instructed, positioning a doll under her shirt. "Now say, 'Look, a head!"

"Look! A head!"

Anaya dragged the baby out from under her shirt.

"It doesn't have any clothes!" Our hero was honest.

"That's because they don't have any clothes on when they come out," explained the wise mother, cradling her baby and beaming adoringly into its plastic face. "Now, go into the kitchen and come back to visit me."

After a little protesting, Seth did as instructed. "Hello, Miss Franken. I see you have a baby."

"Yes!" The new mother glowed with joy. "What name do you think we should call her?"

"Mawie." (Marie is Anaya's current favorite name, and Seth is a quick learner.)

"Okay. Go and get some clothes for her."

"I don't have any clothes for her."

"There are lots of clothes in the playroom," corrected Anaya. "Here--"she hopped off the couch and bounded to the playroom, naked baby under one arm, "here are the baby clothes. Choose one of these outfits."

Seth came back with a dress the doll would have to grow into, and some pink dress-up wings. A brief interaction brought the conclusion that wearing the wings would not help the doll to fly, but would only help her pretend to fly.

Now Skyler sauntered over and was confidently recruited. "Say, 'Oh, Mother!'" Anaya ordered.

"Oh, Mother!"

"Say, 'I'm so glad you had my baby sister come out of your tummy!'"

Skyler obliged, but soon lost interest in said new little sister. Fortunately it was time for Mother to get out of the hospital by this time, though, so she did so, singing as she dashed to the playroom to look for a more fitting outfit, "I'm so glad to be going home now!"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happiwy ever after

I was playing a little game of "guess what I like about you" with the boys on a long trip from Mississippi to Tennessee, telling each of them things I loved about them. (Anaya was in the other car with Daddy.) "Sethie, I love how you make me laugh! You have a great sense of humor, like Daddy," I told him. "That was part of why I wanted to marry Daddy, because he made me laugh so much."

He chortled in glee. "I want to marry Daddy too!"

"You can't do that," I chuckled. "Remember, boys marry girls, and girls marry boys."

He was silent for a few moments. "Mommy," he burst out, "when I get big, I want to mawwy you!"

Daddy's little shadow

Due to runny little noses around our house lately, I have been lax on the "don't unroll a whole bunch of toiletpaper" rule. Seth hauled a long strand of it to me last night, supposedly to wipe his nose. Then he wrapped the remainder around his neck. "Tie it, Mommy," he begged, "so I can be a MAN!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

No wedding plans yet, thankfully

Anaya has picked several prospective husbands lately, assuring me she's going to marry little boys we know, her own brothers, or admired adults (such as Doug Batchelor, who she adores). I have attempted to explain appropriately that while some of them are ineligible as husbands, others may be possibilities someday, if they choose to grow up to be men who are like Jesus.

Last night she came to me with a new idea. "Mommy," she gushed, throwing her arms around my neck, "I wish I could marry YOU!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

This is your conscience speaking

Anaya and I have been discussing issues of dress and adornment lately. Recently we talked about shorts and skirts that are too short, shirts that don't have enough sleeves for my personal comfort (i.e. spaghetti straps), and other such clothing styles.

Then one very warm evening Anaya caught me wearing spaghetti-strap, too-short pajamas. "Mommy," she reproached, surveying my outfit. "Why are you wearing immodest clothes?"

Cloud art?

"Mommy," Anaya asked me this afternoon, "I can't find my purple crayon that I was coloring with. Do you think it could have just vanished and gone up to the angels?"

Monday, August 10, 2009

A new perspective on waterskiing

Yesterday my mom and I took the kids to the lake to swim. They were enchanted with the boats zooming around nearby.

"That boat is driving on the lake," Anaya commented after a while. "But it doesn't have a person skating behind it to make it go."

No horseplay

Last week we stopped to visit some of my parents' neighbors who have horses. Seth, true to form, couldn't bring himself to hold a handful of grass up to the fence long enough to allow a horse to nibble. He was simply too afraid of being bitten. Skyler, on the other hand, was thrilled to feed the horses. He continued even after one of the ponies accidentally nipped his hand (still wailing while holding the next handful of grass).

On the way home, Seth confided in me, "I am so scared the horsies might eat me."

"Horses don't eat little boys," I assured him, "they eat grass."

"But," he countered, "I'm afwaid they will think I am all grass!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Here, kitty kitty

A month or so ago we accidentally acquired a cat. It's a long story...suffice it to say it's living in our garage and its owner is coming to get it soon--we hope! But in the meantime Skyler has been enchanted with going to visit the cat, spontaneously popping out into the garage to see the "ki-cat" whenever it strikes his fancy.

Due to kitty fur getting on the suitcases we had stored in the garage (since we were packing to leave home and are now hundreds of miles away in Mississippi), we used a sticky lint roller thing to clean them. Skyler found it lying on the floor today and remembered the explanation for why we used it. "Is this for the ki-cat?" he queried.

"Yes, that's right," I answered absently.

A few moments later I noted him wandering around our apartment waving the lint roller. "Here, ki-cat! Here, ki-cat!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hick beaches

Today we were luxuriating in Southern life at its best--eating boiled peanuts from their shells. Skyler held up a peanut shell to me. "Mommy, what is dis?"

"That's a peanut shell," I answered.

He held it to his ear. "I hear de ocean!" he exclaimed.

Curiosity killed the kid

This morning at breakfast Anaya was in a contemplative mood. "Mommy," she queried seriously, "What if I had a broken--" She pondered and changed her mind. "What if I had two broken legs--" Apparently that wasn't good enough either. "Mommy," she began again, "what if I was dead? Would you take out the garbage?"

"Yes, Anaya," I assured her, "I could take out the garbage if you died. But I would be very sad, not because I had to take out the garbage, but because I love you. Your brothers could take out the garbage, too, but nobody can take the place of my little girl."

This was not sufficient. "But what if my brothers died. Then would you take out the garbage?"

"Yes. But I would be sad because I missed them."

"And what if I was really sick, like my tummy hurt a lot--then would you take it out?"

"Of course. Why are you asking?"

She looked puzzled herself. "I just wanted to know."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I have NOT learned, in whatsoever state I am...

Have I mentioned that my daughter can't get enough of people? This week she had one day in which she was with a whole horde of little kids her age for 11 hours straight. As she buckled herself into her car seat to leave, she wailed, "Mommy, there aren't any children here for me to play with! I need some other children."

"You don't need other children," I admonished. "You need to learn to be content with whatever circumstances you face. Remember Paul? He was content even when he was in prison."

"Mommy!" She rolled her eyes. "Paul wasn't alone! He had Silas."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not so fast

And on the topic of bedtimes, this week one night I put all three kids to bed, only to find Skyler popping out of his bedroom a few minutes later with a novel explanation.

"I need walk!"

Night delights

Many years ago, I remember my evening routine as being something like this: Eat something good. Relax with a good book, maybe take a hot bath, snuggle into bed with a good book, turn out the light when I was too tired to read anymore. My main complication was that I didn't always get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

I was pondering the comparison between this and my present evening routine this week. Here's a sample of my present evening routine:

Make something good to eat. Repeatedly shoo small people back to table to eat it. ("You guys, remember, when supper is finished, you're not going to eat again until morning." "I want more smoovie!") Gulp down a little smoothie myself between cleaning up disasters and mediating between little people. ("Sethie talked to me!") Wash sticky little hands and faces and put some water in the bathtub. Undress small bodies and shoo toward potty, then soap and rinse one by one. ("Please quit splashing water all over the floor. Stop pouring water over your brother!") Go find pajamas for everyone. Towel off slippery, wriggling bodies, and release them to dash around the house briefly, squealing. ("Mommy, I a noonist!") Then diaper and dress sweet-smelling little bodies appropriately. Mop up bathroom floor with towel reserved for that purpose. (Don't ask me why it always ends up sopping wet.) Shoo leaping little bodies toward couch. ("But I hungwy, Mommy!" "No, you're confused. Supper is over.") Fill Sippy cups for bed, and bring pacifiers and clothies (Seth's comfort--cloth diapers) to couch to help calm little people down. Shoo everyone back to couch. Sing a few songs. (Skyler's plea every night right now is, "I wan' sing, 'Sing, sing, sing, sout, sout, sout, I gon' sing, I gon' sout, pwaise da Yord!--wan' sing dat song!") Read "stowies" while hugging writhing small bodies, disciplining when necessary to preserve some semblance of order. ("But it's my turn to sit on you yap!" "No, I wan' sit on Daddy's yap!") Then it's time to wrestle little squirmers down while I brush two small mouthfuls of teeth (Anaya brushes her own). This necessitates some creativity, by the way, since I need the small mouths to be open. I used to have them sing the chorus of "Angels We Have Heard On High." Gloooooria... But then I realized that someday they were going to be in church and when the hymn was announced, someone would be sure to bellow, "The toothbrushing song!" Hence, we abandoned that method. Currently I request animal sounds. "What does a baby lion say?" "ROWR!" "What does a big bear say?" "ROOOOWR!" "What about a baby monkey?" "HOO-HOO-HAHAHA-HEE-HEE!" The atmosphere is rather zoolike already.

Then, depending on the rambunctiousness of the evening and the time of night it is by now, events vary. Skyler usually goes to bed first (because putting both boys to bed at the same time provides severe temptation for small giggling people to leap around on beds instead of snuggling into them). Seth and Anaya get a more advanced bedtime story after he retreats for the evening. Usually I lie down with him, sing him a song ("When He Cometh" is his special song), tell him a "talking stowy," (which consists of telling about a little boy with brown eyes and tiny nose and tiny toes, who grows up to read the Bible and teach other people to love Jesus, until Jesus comes in the clouds to take him and everybody he loves flying up to heaven), and help him pray.

In the meantime, Daddy is reading and/or acting out stories with Anaya and Seth. When all is finished, they, too, are trundled off to bed for "talking stowies" and prayers. After all of this, two parents collapse in a heap to recuperate and catch up on cleaning, emails, reading and such for an hour or so before we crawl into bed ourselves.

It's hard to remember what it was like to be a lady of leisure, relaxing at the end of a long day instead of dragging myself through the hectic routine.

But I'll tell you a strange secret: I like this routine better.

Genuine repentance

We've been working on potty training for Skyler. I would especially love for him to make his "guckies" in the potty. When asked, he always assures me that he is going to make his guckies "in the potty" today. However, until recently, he has been happily announcing, "Mommy, I making guckies!" immediately after the dirty deed. My remonstrances are met with a cheery, "Sowy!"

But the last couple of days, he is getting better at warning me mid-stream. Whenever we succeed, we have a "chip parade" in which everyone marches around the house singing and eating corn chips. (This has been a motivational hit.)

This morning, I asked him again, in hopes of jogging his weak little memory, what he would do when the need arose. "Where are you going to make your guckies today, Sweetie?"

He grinned. "In the potty!" (Of course.)

And when you need to go, what are you going to say?"


Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm dweaming of a white Cwistmas...

Today Alan and I were discussing what to do for Christmas. "Would you like to go see Uncle Roland and Auntie Mandy, and Kirsten and Craig?" I asked the kids.

This was met by squeals of glee. "Yes! Yes!"

Seth was especially enthusiastic in his response. "Yet's go see dem!"

"We have to wait until Christmas," I reminded him.

Two minutes later Seth was back. "Is it Cwistmas yet?" He peered out the window at the blazing heat outside. "Is it snowing?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raising cannibals?

This morning for Father's Day, I made a pancake breakfast, complete with scrambled tofu and fruit smoothie. However, the highlight of all pancake breakfasts for our children is the "tiny pancakes" made with drips of batter. This morning they featured as the morning's entertainment.

The fun was sort of my fault, initially. Anaya bragged to me, "Mommy, I have little pancakes in my tummy!"

"Wait, I hear them!" I gasped, cupping my hand to my ear. "They're crying! They said they are lonely!"

That was all she needed. Grabbing several other pancakes, she named them all. "This is Aile, and these are Sarah and Daniela," she explained. "Here we come!" The enthusiastic pancakes leaped at the chance to "go down the slide."

Suddenly little pancakes were everywhere. Skyler soberly introduced me to his pancakes. "Dis one is Daddy. Dis one is Mommy. And dis one is Saralyn!"

Seth's pancakes were all little boys we know. A tiny one was his "baby," which he cradled in his fat hand. "Dis one is Caelum," he informed me. (Caelum is a baby we know.) His dramas took a slightly different turn than Anaya's. While Anaya's pancakes were thrilled at the prospect of "going down the slide," Seth's were not. "He scared," Seth assured me. "Aaaagh!" his pancake promptly yelled. "I scared!" Then things took an even more sinister turn, as Seth took a bite out of his pancake. "Aaaagh! I yost my head!" Not to worry--soon the rest of the "body" followed the head merrily down the hatch.

We didn't have enough little pancakes to satisfy Anaya, of course. Soon her bigger pancakes were being torn into little pieces to accommodate the other pancakes' social needs. She divided them into two equal piles. "These are my friends in Tennessee," she explained, pointing to one pile. "And these," she gestured toward the other, "are my friends in California."

"I see you have lots of friends in both places," I pointed out.

"Wait!" she swept the majority of pancake pieces over to the California side, leaving only a few on the Tennessee side. "I have MORE friends in California!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Planning ahead

So I'm still studying all the time, right? Still slaving away on that elusive master's degree.

Today Anaya came to flop down beside me and ask what I was doing. "I'm reading a book about how to be a good mommy," I explained. (It's for my Counseling Adolescents class, and by the way, there's no better remedy for the toddler blues than reading about parenting teenagers!)

"Just before you die, you should give me that book," she bubbled, "so I can learn to be a good mommy too!"

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The little things

This morning Skyler saw Anaya playing with a button and started a protest that he wanted it. "Skyler," I reminded him, "it's selfish to want Anaya to give you whatever she's playing with. You can wait patiently. You don't want to be selfish, do you?" He stopped.

"Anaya," I continued, "you're being selfish too. You know your brother would like that button. Wouldn't you like to share with him?" After a moment's thought, she handed it over.

(Yay! A victory!)

Then Seth started. "I wanna button..." I started the same process with him, but no sooner did he cease wailing than Skyler handed over the button without prompting!

I wanted to shout. (In fact, I did.) Hooray! It's working! They're learning!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Britney Spears I ain't

Anaya is enchanted with the fact that she used to be in my tummy. But she finds it fascinating that she can still see the evidence she was once there, in the form of stretch marks. Today she came to me and patted my tummy. "Mommy," she exclaimed, "your tummy looks old!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Amazing Fact?

This morning Seth touched Anaya's hair and giggled. "You hair is falling out," he declared. "You are Pastor Doug!"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Modern art?

Here's a random sample of my boys' artwork. They had to climb on a chair to reach this nail on the wall. I have NO idea how they even knew there was a nail up there.

Blessed are the peacemakers

Skyler has a little problem right now with his temper. Actually, temper problems are never little problems, but we're working on it in little ways (the only ones that work). The crucial element is that anytime he hits or pinches anyone, he gets promptly disciplined. Here is where my boys are light-years apart in personality. We never would have had this problem with Seth--as you may be able to guess from yesterday's happenings.

Yesterday I was working outside while all three kids were indoors. Soon Seth came bounding outside. "Mommy, Skyler hurt Anaya! You need to come spank him."

"What happened?"

"He gave her owies. I held his shirt and tried to stop him," my little peacemaker insisted, "and I gave Anaya love and kissed her owies."

I came inside to find an unperturbed Anaya doing My Place with Jesus on the computer (great site for kids!). "Are you okay, Anaya?"

"Yes," she assured me, not even looking up. "Skyler hurt me though."

"Sowy," put in Skyler.

I spanked Skyler's hand and sent him to give Anaya love (which he did willingly). Then Seth bounded over to her too and both of them gave each other exuberant hugs. They celebrated the triumph of love by singing a line together from one of their favorite, self-made songs. "You never heard a diaper sing!"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This morning Skyler came to the bathtub with an unusual request. "I want jump in bathtub!" he squealed. Sure enough, he bent his fat little legs and was about to try to do just that. Then common sense apparently struck, because he paused, obviously realizing the impossibility of leaping over something that was presently at his nose.

Suddenly it dawned on me what had caused this outburst. "Alan," I called, "did you happen to tell Skyler to go jump in the bathtub?"

Mystery solved.

No bones about it

I got a sunburn last week, working in the garden. It wasn't much, but this morning Anaya noticed it. "What is that white stuff on your back?"

"It's Mommy's skin peeling from her sunburn," Daddy explained.

Anaya examined it closer. "Is all her skin going to fall off, and we will see her bones?"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

True sacrifice

Seth came to me this afternoon with his Sippy cup in his hand. "Anaya wanted to take my Sippy," he announced. "She wanted to drink it all up!"

"Maybe you should share," I suggested. "Couldn't you give her a little bit to drink?"

That's quite a proposal for a three-year-old, and Seth wasn't sure at first. He pondered this mighty sacrifice for a few seconds, then strode purposefully over to his sister. "Anaya, you can have a little bit to drink," he offered graciously, handing her his little cup. (I was surprised!) "But don't drink it all up! If you drink it all, I will be sad."


Anaya loves clothes. Lately she enjoys whirling through several outfits in a day sometimes, wearing each hour or so at a time and leaving a mountain of unfolded clothes on her bedroom floor.

Well, that's not going to work. I informed her of this a few days ago, telling her to put everything away. Each time she came out with a new outfit, I asked her if the previous one had been put away. "Yes, Mommy, I put it away," she assured me each time.

I checked her floor, and sure enough, it was clean.

Until the next morning, when I pulled her laundry hamper out of her closet and found a heap of clean clothes in it. Not to be defeated in this game, I laid them all on the floor and sent her to her room with instructions to fold them and put them away. On the way past her, I noticed a shirt that was still in the laundry and didn't need to be. I pulled it out and held it out to her. "Put this one away, too."

"But Mommy, that one was wet!"

"How did it get wet?"

Her creative powers momentarily deserted her. "I didn't want to put it away. So I licked it."

When "responsible" isn't enough

Since Anaya is five years old, I have tried to institute responsibilities for her to do every day. These are limited, and so far consist of making her own bed, putting away her pajamas, keeping her laundry in the laundry hamper, getting dressed, and taking the compost to the compost pile. Not too complicated. Putting away pajamas is a difficult one for her, though, as evidenced by repeated violations. Finally I began confiscating favorite pajamas for a week whenever they were left on the floor after one reminder.

Well, maybe that's not enough. Anaya's favorite bedwear is her pink flannel nightgown. After two week-long confiscations, I thought that things were becoming clear to her, thanks to my faithful consequence-ing. Then a few days ago, I spotted her nightie on the floor again. "Anaya, that needs to be put away," I reminded her. "I don't want to have to take it again."

"No, Mommy," she responded with an aggrieved, sacrificial air. "I think you need to take it. I didn't put it away on time."

"Just put it away now, and you won't have to lose it for a week," I encouraged.

"The consequence will help me to learn."

I was a little suspicious of this dramatic surrender. "Okay," I responded. "But you still need to fold it and put it away. Just put it on the top shelf."

"But Mommy," her voice took on a wailing edge, "I don't want to have to fold it! That's work!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Parker Brothers games continue

I don't think I should have had two boys so close together.

Especially Parker boys.

Let's the last few days, I have:

Thrown them out of the garden.
Found them brushing their teeth in their bathroom, with their toothpaste, but with our toothbrushes, cleverly stolen from our bathroom. This was being done while sitting on the counter with their feet in the sink with water running in it, again.
Had to separate them umpteen times at bedtime (think, every night but one for the last week) and make Skyler go to sleep in his Pack-n-Play in our room, thanks to them standing up and gleefully bounding around their beds every time I put them to bed and walk out of the room.
Caught Skyler umpteen times after he has climbed out of his Pack-n-Play to return to his "bog boy bed," as he calls it.
Thrown them out of the garden again.
Rescued the broken tomato plant from my garden, which Seth assures me "Skyer byoke," not him. It's in water in the windowsill in the living room now.
Thrown them out of the windowsill where they had spilled the water of said tomato plant.
Found them standing by the road (thank God for the "it's quiet around here" sixth sense).
Discovered (too late) that Skyler fell into a hole about three feet deep in the yard. (Thankfully, he was unhurt, just soaked to the knees. Again.) Seth was the one to alert me to this situation, nonchalantly informing me, "Skyer fell in the dirty water." Sure enough, when I raced to the door to check, he was sauntering up the driveway, soaking wet.
Thrown them out of the windowsill where they had spilled the tomato plant's water again, and sopped up the water once more.
Found Skyler standing on a stool stirring a bottle of grape juice with the handle of a spoon.
Stopped both of them from ripping all the leaves off a decorative bush by our porch.
Rescued (or tried to rescue) my herbs as the boys gleefully marched through my garden again.
Tried (in vain) to vacuum around the two of them, who plant themselves directly in front of the vacuum and laugh like maniacs while I try to get the dirt out from under them.
Found them pouring Bragg's Liquid Aminos (a healthful soy sauce substitute) on apples and eating them. (?!) (They had already finished off the lemon juice onto the apples--the bottle was lying empty on the floor.)
Discovered Skyler on the laundry room counter, having used a bar stool to climb up, and peering into the washing machine looking for the water. ("It all gone.")
Found them gleefully climbing all over big stumps in the bushes, just beginning to get tangled in the blackberry bush thorns. (I caught them just in time to keep them from getting hurt.)
Found them stealing biscuits from a platter.
Cleaned up after they both threw their plates full of food on the floor, laughing like maniacs at each other's apparently incredibly funny antics.
Repeatedly tried to stop them from poking their fingers through a hole in the screen door.
Listened to hundreds of "cookie!" jokes, which consist of replacing some word in a sentence with "cookie." That, apparently, is very funny to a three-year-old. VERY funny. So funny that it's been going on for weeks now. "Mommy wants to read her...COOKIE! Ahahahaha!"
Had to discipline amid repeated giggles. No matter how sobering their consequence, the fact that they BOTH got in trouble, and BOTH had a blast doing it, seems to outweigh all of Mommy's remonstrations.

And so on. The upside of this is, they consider each other hilarious, and are becoming best friends, which is why I wanted to have them close together. (Although, not THIS close together, for sure.)

Still, it's really sweet to see them show love to each other. Yesterday we went to visit some friends who have sheep. Seth, always the wary one, grabbed Skyler and pulled him away from the fence as the sheep approached. "He hurt you!" he warned.

And today, Seth came to me after my stern warnings about not getting close to the road (which, fortunately, isn't very busy anyway). "I sowy I went to the woad, Mommy," he apologized. So something's getting through somewhere, anyway....


I overheard Anaya and her friend Aileana discussing consequences the other day.

"My grandma doesn't give me consequences," Anaya boasted to Aile.

"Since you know you should get consequences when you make bad choices," I suggested, "maybe you should tell Grandma when she doesn't give them to you, that you need them."

(Right, Mommy.)

"No," Anaya was quick to answer, "I like her just the way she is."

O Brave One

During lunch last week, Anaya spotted a wasp banging its head against the window. "Mommy, a wasp!" she blurted in horror. "Let's let Daddy get it. He's the brave one."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Parker Brothers games, inc.

And in case you're wondering why I don't blog much...

I sat down a little while ago to write the previous blog. Within minutes I heard a crash. Suspicious, I checked the bathroom. Sure enough, there sat two gleeful little boys on the forbidden bathroom counter. The water was running in the sink, and both of them had their feet in it, complete, of course, with sopping little socks and jeans. Almost everything that had previously been on the counter was now on the floor (candles, shells, etc.), with the exception of two Anne Geddes pictures, which were lying face down on the counter, being used as seat cushions for two soggy bottoms. Beautiful. (I took them out of their frames and hopefully they'll dry out. Any chance water stains may become an in-style antiquing effect?)

I spanked, cleaned up, and changed two moderately repentant (at best) little boys into their pajamas (hey, it's already 5 pm, why waste another two outfits?). Then I deposited soaked clothes in the laundry and sat down at the computer again to try to finish. Within seconds I heard pounding feet and something about the sound of them made me get up to investigate again. Sure enough, they were now in the forbidden bay window, stomping around among the pictures, lamps and African memorabilia.

So now they're watching a video. Call me a neglectful mom. I'm trying to protect the furniture. Or my sanity.

Bilingual already?

Anaya has listened very attentively to my explicit orders to stay out of our newly planted garden, or when in it, to stick religiously to the pathways. So far she hasn't stepped on anything in it (knock on wood). She has tried to keep her brothers out of it too, and so far no one has squashed anything. I credit her scrupulous guardianship, at least partly.

Yesterday Anaya spotted a stray dog bounding through our yard, headed for the garden. She dashed outside, shouting, "Don't walk through our garden! You might step on the plants!"

"He can't understand our language, Anaya," Saralyn explained.

Anaya was undaunted. With identical intonation, she bellowed, "Woof woof woof, woof woof woof!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's all in the way you look at it

Seth is my everlasting literalist, my budding accountant. He thoughtfully files away all details to be pondered. I find it hilarious when he comes to me, sometimes days later, to ask me somberly about an occurrence.

For example, my friend Harry came to stay with us a few weeks ago. He mentioned something in passing, saying, "I'd be tickled to death if..."

Days later, a poker-faced Seth came to me. "Mommy," he queried, "why Uncle Harry said he be tickled to death?" His sober blue eyes peered up at me. "He die?"

Yesterday, Seth was listening to a story that mentioned an orange tree. Later, he came to me and announced, "That a silly stowy."

"Why did you think it was a silly story, Sethie?" I asked.

"Because dere no owange twees!" He giggled. "Twees are byown!"

(OK, just in case that's unintelligible in writing, that sounds like "brown.")

Monday, April 13, 2009

Legislated morality?

Yesterday I asked Anaya to go outside to pick some wild onions for our soup, a job that usually brings great delight. However, being in a lazy mood, she began to whine and argue, which soon culminated in a little trip to bed for a ten-minute time out (a fitting consequence for insisting she was far "too tired to help Mommy," I thought). When I came to let her out, I asked if her attitude had improved.

"Mommy," she began, pulling out a little Post-It note with a drawing on it, "see this picture? Over here, see this sad face?" She pointed to a mournful stick figure on the far right (her current drawing style makes them look a little like jellyfish). "That's Jesus. He's sad because of how you're treating me." She paused to evaluate if her artwork was having the desired effect. (It was not.) "See this person here?" she pointed to the very cheerful-looking stick figure on the far left. "That's you. You're happy about how you're treating me." She poked the one in the middle. "That's Satan. He's happy too."

"Well, Anaya, that's very interesting," I answered, getting up from her bed. "I can see you need more time out. But tell me," I was really struggling to keep a straight face, "why do mommies and daddies have to give their children consequences when they make bad choices?"

"Because it says to in the Bible," she growled, "in the law. But Satan wrote that." (Is it just me, or does my daughter do everything 110%?)

"That shows me that you need more time in your bed," I responded, "because you know that is a lie."

"It's not a lie!" she protested as I disappeared down the hall. "It's not a lie! Oh, wait, it is! I'm sorry!" This, all in one breath, was followed immediately by, "Can I get out now?"

We compromised. I asked for a revised drawing, which was produced with remarkable rapidity, and explained very cheerfully. Here it is for your enjoyment. That's Jesus on the left. It was also, very fortunately, followed by a prayer thanking God for telling mommies and daddies to "give children consequences."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One more lap around the house

Sibling rivalry is still alive at our house. (I know you're shocked.) A few nights ago during worship, the boys had a big fight because Seth was pretending to pick pictures off of the pages of the book and eat them. Not to be outdone, Skyler started doing it too. This was, of course, followed by battling over who had "eaten" which picture first.

Another worship recently, Skyler clambered into my lap at the beginning. Daddy wasn't here, so that left Seth and Anaya spots on the couch. "I want to sit on you yap!" Seth wailed.

"Sethie, you and Skyler can take turns," I reminded him. "This is Skyler's turn."

Seth had a better solution. "Mommy," he pleaded, "go to the store and buy more yaps!"

This is your conscience yelling

"Skyler, don't touch that!" Anaya warned him this morning. "I'm watching you! Be sure your sins will find you out!"

Monday, April 6, 2009


Tonight I asked Seth a question, but received no answer. Within a few seconds, he sneezed. "I couldn't answer, Mommy," he then explained. "I was byessing."

Friday, April 3, 2009

The people don't have a mind to work

This morning I had a very frustrating time getting the kids to do anything toward creating a cleaner house. Afer several discipline sessions, ardent claims of exhaustion, and such, I warned Anaya and Seth sternly that the playroom needed to be cleaned.

"But Mommy," Seth responded, picking up his Sippy cup, "I need to dwink so I will be helfy and stwong."


Skyler is in love with creeping things.

Creepy things.


Most notably, he is enchanted with ants. This is unfortunate, given that we are facing a sudden plague of them in our playroom. Several times a day he dashes to me, eyes wide with delight. "Mommy, wook! I have an ant!" The poor ant has often already gone to his eternal rest by this time, and is lying in the palm of his chubby hand. I ooh and aah over the poor creature appropriately. "Here, Mommy," he offers generously, "You hold it!" I hold out my hand and he empties the grim little carcass into it, proud of his hunting ability. Then I return it to him, where he gazes at it in quiet awe. "I wan' keep," he announces, setting off to stash it somewhere.

Of course, he can't make it very far without dropping it. "I d'op it, Mommy!" he will shriek inevitably, at which point I either have to get down on my hands and knees to search for the little crumpled body, or assure him that he can find another one. (Sorry, other ant.)

The other day he was out playing on the porch and dashed inside in sheer glee. "Mommy, wook! I foun' a calapillar!" Sure enough, the poor thing was pinched between his fingers. "Augh--wonderful!" I managed. "Don't squish it! Here, give it to me." I showed him how to hold it gently and let it crawl across his hand (thankfully this critter was still alive). Then we allowed it to carefully scoot onto his hand (have I mentioned how dumb caterpillars are?). We carried it outside and he reverently allowed it to go free.

The wonder and joy in his eyes almost paid for the creepy feeling of having a potentially squishy animal above my living room carpet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A new cult?

Yesterday trying to dress Skyler was like wrestling an armful of snakes. "Skyler, hold still! I need to put your clothes on!"

"No!" he protested. "I want to be a noonist!"

Monday, March 30, 2009

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

This morning Anaya kept singing loudly, over and over. "Many colors, many colors--Joseph had a coat of many colors!"

Finally I couldn't stand it anymore. "Anaya, please stop singing that over and over!" I ordered.

"But Mommy," she protested, "I want the neighbors to hear it!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009


My boys don't like haircuts. It really doesn't make sense, especially since I set them down in front of the TV and let them pick out whatever DVD they like to watch while I cut away. But, knowing the penchant to howl, I tried to prepare Seth gently the other day when I saw a haircut was needed.

"Sethie," I told him as he snuggled on my lap, "your little wild hairies are getting very long. I think we need to cut them."

"No," he asserted, "I tink we don't."

"But they are very long."

"I don' tink they're very yong."

"But they are long," I explained vainly. "Anyway, Mommy has decided to cut your wild hairies, and we are going to do it today."

He wasn't ready to go down without a fight. There was a long pause. "Mommy," he pointed out, "you hairies is bigger den mine!"

Relationship counseling volunteers needed

Anaya came to me this morning with a major concern. "Mommy," she began, brow furrowed, "I've thought about it, and Sethie and I have a really good er'lationship. I just want to marry him. I've tried to decide not to marry him, but I just love him! So," she concluded seriously, "even if God sent someone else for me, I would just have to marry Sethie, because of my er'lationship with him!"

Thankfully, I could assure her that this wasn't a decision that had to be made today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Referred pain

Well, the good news is, Anaya is getting big enough that she doesn't screech and howl whenever I brush her hair. "Ouch, Mommy," she will say, "that hurts." Finally.

And the other news is that she doesn't need to say a word. Now her brothers gather around in glee whenever she gets her hair brushed, keeping up a running commentary of their own in imitation of her past performances. "Ow! Ow! Waaah! Owie!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3-year-old jokes

Here's another morsel of Seth's humor. We have a set of DVDs of Scripture songs called "Plant a Seed." The words to the title song begin, "Plant a seed, watch it grow." Yesterday I was working in the garden planting tomato plants. Then I saw Skyler wading into the tomato row to slaughter the muddy tomato plants. "Skyler!" I wailed. "Get out of the tomatoes!"

Seth giggled and looked at me, a naughty twinkle in his eye, and sang, "Pyant a seed, watch it die."

Monday, March 23, 2009

The lamblike beast?

Seth is developing quite a sense of humor. When we were acting out a Bible story a couple of days ago, Seth was supposed to be starring as a lamb. However, our grinning lamb came around the corner and said, "Meow!"

Yesterday I saw him playing in the dry leaves, throwing them up in the air in glee. Then he gathered up as many as he could hold in his hands and marched aross the yard to Anaya's playhouse. I watched him sneak inside and up behind Anaya and toss the entire bunch of them over his unsuspecting sister.

The wrong side of the bed, or the wrong Mommy?

Lest you think that all is always well in paradise, here's a glimpse of this morning.

I was gathering trash to be put outside for the trash man, and came in Anaya's room to check her trash can. Since hers is in the office/schoolroom, it is usually just papers, but I discovered a wet Pull-Up in it today. "Anaya," I cautioned her, "I don't want you to throw Pull-Ups in your trash in here. I don't empty it very often, and it might start to stink."

"But Mommy," she wailed, "then I will have to walk all the way down the hallway, and sometimes I'm so tired, and it might be so hard I might get hurt."

"Right," I pronounced heartlessly. (A common weakness of mine, heartlessness.) "Now you lose your trash can from your room."

"But Mommy..." the howls continued.

An hour or so later, Anaya's condition had not improved. "Anaya, it's time to get out of the bathtub. Put your toys away."

"But Mommy, you never let me do anything fun!" went up the cry. "I just want to take a bath, and you're always taking away the nice things..." The diatribe apparently needed to be confronted, because she was really getting into the swing of things.

"Anaya, that's whining and complaining. You know there are consequences for that." I calmly spanked her, eliciting further anguish. When I tried to reason with her, she demanded, "Mommy, don't talk until I tell you that you can."

"What?" I spanked her again. "That's completely disrespectful, Anaya! You know better than to talk like that."

Apparently deciding to discharge all her ammunition in one battle, Anaya unleashed her clincher. "I think Daddy married the wrong Mommy!"

Saralyn and I suddenly found it necessary to look other directions. "Anaya," I managed, "I'm afraid that means another spank."

"Oh, no, Mommy," was her hasty (and futile) defense, "I think he married the right one after all!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

To the God who reads hearts

Last night Seth decided he was big enough not to have to repeat his bedtime prayer after Mommy.

"Help me make good choices. Help me be good boy," he began. "T'ank you for toys we pyayed wiv on Daddy's chair. T'ank you for food. T'ank you for juice. Help Skyer not to die again [?!]. Help Mommy not to die again. And..." he sighed, "You wemember the rest. Amen."

Mind reader

This morning Skyler asked for a certain little book. I left it out for him, but before he got to it, Seth snatched it.

"Seth," I reminded him, "Skyler just asked for that book."

"He doesn't want it," he assured me, " he wants this one." He handed Skyler Good Marriages Take Time.

How to get it all done

People keep asking how I get so much done. Well, it's not by writing blogs (hence, long silences). But I have to admit, I'm not superwoman. The house is often messy and there are never enough hours in the day. I'm trying to keep my priorities straight and get in quality time with God, husband and kids, exercise, 8 hours of sleep, counseling and schoolwork and a life on the side.
But I do have a secret that makes a huge difference. Here's an example: This morning I was up at 5:50 and off to the gym. I'd only been up once with the kids in the night, but I had still only gotten about 6 hours of sleep. After devotions, shower and breakfast, I went back to bed at 8:30 and woke up at 10:30. And what was happening with my kids during that time? Here's a clue of what I saw in the kitchen when I came out.

Saralyn and the kids were making bread sticks. (Anaya isn't in the pictures because I whisked her off to Lindsey's house for school.)

Have I mentioned lately how I thank God for Saralyn's quiet, cheerful ministry in our house?


With this title you might wonder what is going on at our house now. Well, actually this post is NOT about our house. Just a note for all who are in the Chattanooga area, we are having a wonderful revival series here at Southern Adventist University, starting this Friday evening at 6:30 pm. It will be in a tent outside at the entrance of the campus. David Asscherick is our speaker.

At the meetings, you may expect to hear us before you see us. Our row promises to be a little lively. (Any babysitting volunteers? We will be easy to find, somewhere at the back.) It might sound like we're speaking in tongues, too, but hopefully our shouts won't be Pentecostal. And hopefully Mommy and Daddy can get a blessing too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No concentration necessary

Seth is still our little imitator (with Skyler following eagerly in his tracks--I see a gloomy future looming). He loves to copy whatever anyone else says. Sometimes he stands beside me when I am on the phone, parroting every word I say. It's a little unnerving, hearing my words taken completely out of context and repeated, while I'm trying to get my next thoughts together. Not to mention irritating.

Tonight Anaya was asking Saralyn for some food for supper. "Can I have butter on my waffle?" she queried.

"Can I have butter on my waffle?" echoed Seth.

"Sethie," Anaya heaved an exaggerated sigh. "Do you have to keep concentrating me?"

Skyler's Last Stand

Skyler is in the terrible twos. There is no doubt about it. Conversations are liberally punctuated with, "I don' wike it!" (which I thought would be preferable to "no," but it's getting to where I don' wike it either). Periodically he evaluates his surroundings and settles on something that he approaches with the courage (and foolishness) of Custer's Last Stand. Summoning the strength to rise to his full height (still well below my waist), he will look me in the eye and announce that he will now do this new task "by self."

I first noticed this at my parents' house at Christmas. The best place for Skyler's Pack-n-Play was right next to the bed in the bedroom. However, this meant that he was close enough to the bed to climb out all by himself. This intoxicating power trip had to be repeated over and over, no mattter what consequences he suffered. I thought we had won the battle one night, but when I came in to check on him, I found he had succumbed one more time, but was so tired out he fell asleep halfway through his escape. I had to capture that on film.

Climbing into his booster seat at the table is another such issue. Lifting him into it instead of letting him climb in by himself is seen as the equivalent of swaddling him in a baby blanket. "NOOO! I wan' do it by self!" he shrieks in anguish. He must slide out and then immediately climb in, "by self." Swimming is another such issue. "No, Mommy," he assures me, trying to writhe out of my grasp. "I wan' s'im by self." Climbing into the bathtub? No matter how cold the side of the tub, he MUST slither his own bare bottom over the edge into the water, with no aid from Mommy. Any touch from my hand necessitates a complete exit from the water, both feet planted on the bathroom rug, and then a re-entry into the water "by self."

Bedtime is another common Last Stand. No sooner do I deposit him in his bed, turn out the lights and close the door, than he pops out and dashes across to Seth's bed. "Mommy, Skyer got out of his bed," is a familiar cry from the bedroom. (Seth finds this delightful--himself being the good boy, and Skyler getting disciplined--but that's another battle.) I heave a sigh and return to deposit the flailing child in either his own bed (with a solid spank), or in his Pack-n-Play, amid cries of, "I don' wike it! Wan' s'eep in big boy bed, not baby bed!" Or I see the lights being switched on and off (the light switch was unluckily placed on the wall right above the only place that will work for Skyler's bed).

The other night I heard strange mutterings coming from down the hall long after bedtime. Sure enough, the light was on in the boys' room. I ground my teeth (this was about the fourth time that night) and stomped to the room to open the door. A merry sleeper-clad Skyler was perched on Seth's bed, book in hand, "reading" animatedly to the slumbering Seth, who had apparently signed off long ago.

Well, I know that children inherit their parents' weaknesses, and I'm not going to deny this one. I guess this is how God uses our children to purge out our weaknesses! I see myself in my son's eyes, defying God as He offers His help. "No," I assure Him, assaulting impossible obstacles in my foolish self-confidence. "I wan' do it by self." Overcome sin? Use time wisely all day? Keep from getting irritated? No problem! Surely I can do all of those today, by self.

Or not.

Illusions of grandeur and other things

This morning Anaya chose a dress-up dress, a long silver and velvet one someone gave us, as her morning attire. She surveyed herself with satisfaction and informed Daddy, "Now I'm a mommy. But," she added, "now I need to go make Skyler's bed. I want everybody to know I am a real mommy, not just a little girl dressed up as a mommy."

Soon finished making the children's beds, she flounced into the living room where Alan and I were chortling over her antics, and sat down unperturbed on the couch beside Daddy. "Let's talk about the children," she invited. A brief discussion followed, of which I caught telltale morsels about the children who "didn't come out of her tummy, just came out of the closet." Soon the talk with her husband was finished, so she sauntered over to me. "What do you want to pretend you are, Mommy?"

"I'm a wild, irresponsible college student without a care in the world," I responded.

Alan laughed from the couch. "I'm afraid the illusion isn't going to last long."

"No," Anaya suggested, "why don't you pretend you're like Saralyn. You are a person who stays with the children, so we can go bye-bye. And then, when you go bye-bye, we stay with the children."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Helper boy

This morning Seth wanted to move a toy picnic table from one room to another. Not finding the strength in his own little arms, he bounded to me. "Mommy," he announced, "I need you to be a helper boy."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not exactly what I had in mind

Last week while we were driving, Anaya tried to convince Alan and me that she was going blind. (I think it was a bid to get glasses.) "No, really, Mommy," she protested when I chuckled. "This is not my 'magination! My eyes just stop seeing, and everything gets dark for a little while! I'm serious, Mommy!"

"Does it all get black for a few seconds?" Alan queried. "And then do you start seeing spots of pink and purple?" (My husband is good at this.)

"Yes," Anaya breathed. "How did you know?"

"Is it happening to you now?" I put in.

There was a short pause. "Yes, it is!" she shouted.

I looked back and saw her in the back seat, eyes squinted shut tightly. But the suspense of not being able to see what was going on was too much. Soon one eye opened cautiously. "Sometimes it just happens to one eye, and then the other," she added. "Like, right now it is just one eye."

"You can relax, Anaya," I assured her. "The problem is not with your eye. It's behind your eye."

"What's behind my eye?"

"Your brain."

She wasn't going to be satisfied that easily. "But what about my other eye?"

"The problem is behind that one too."

"Wow!" she blurted. "You mean I have two brains?"

Racism rears its not-so-ugly head

I think anyone who knows Alan and me knows that we have a thing about racism. We hate how some people think that their own skin color (or some other factor) is superior to others. You might be surprised, then, to find that I don't have a problem with my daughter's racist remark yesterday.

I had just told Anaya that we had a visitor coming to stay with us, one she didn't know. "Oh, goody!" she squealed. Then, out of the blue, "What color of skin does he have? I hope it's chocklit!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Though I haven't yet finished my master's degree in Biblical counseling, I seem to do a lot of free counseling in our living room. Those who need it just have to take into account that I have three children, who wander in and out freely, watching wide-eyed as big people sniffle and sob now and then. I figure that, for the most part, my kids are still small enough not to "get it" most of the time.

Well, most of the time. Yesterday Anaya came to me, once again playing a game in which she featured as an imaginary person. "Mommy, Sethie and I have no home! We need to come live in your house."

"I already have children," I informed her. "You'll have to ask Jesus to send you a home..."

"But I don't know about Jesus," she countered. "I need to come to live in your house so I can learn about him. I need," she hesitated, apparently struggling with her expanding vocabulary, "a 'lationship. You see," she continued, "once there was a little girl who didn't have a 'lationship with Jesus. So her parents gave her a 'lationship. Then she had a 'lationship. And then she got to have a 'lationship with Jesus, too."

Kissing up

From time to time I notice that my two older children get a fascination with playing games that focus on Skyler. Skyler, a dyed-in-the-wool youngest if ever there was one, laps up this attention in glee.

Yesterday I saw the three of them playing a new game. Skyler was standing by the couch when Anaya raced over to him. "Spank spank!" she announced, swatting the seat of his little blue jeans.

"Kiss!" bellowed Skyler on cue. Anaya bent down and kissed his ample backside. Then it was Seth's turn to "spank spank," which brought on another delighted, "Kiss!" I watched my elder son bend and peck his little brother's derriere.

Now THIS is going to be an unpopular post in another ten years!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Have I mentioned how thoughtful my little Sethie can be? He is such a sweetheart. (Despite his problem with whining.)

The other day Seth was sitting at the table eating supper. He glanced into the kitchen and called to Saralyn. "Saralyn, come sit down and eat! You tired."

Now, THAT'S a sensitive three-year-old!

Of course, when I noticed and praised him for his sweetness, there were immediate repercussions.

"Mommy, come sit down," Anaya echoed. "You're tired. See, I'm nice too, right?"

"Mommy," agreed Skyler, "sit down. You tired."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cough up some pity

All of the kids have fallen in love with cough drops. I have a fairly healthy version, Slippery Elm, with virtually no sugar and all natural ingredients. They have taken to asking for one before they go to bed at night, which I have been willing to supply on the scant hope that it will help them not to cough all night.

But last night we forgot, and Anaya was already in bed when she remembered. "Mommy, can I have a cough drop? Pleeeeeze?!"

"I'm so tired, Anaya. I don't think you need one tonight," I sighed, thinking of having to give the boys each one as well, to be "fair."

"Waaaaugh..." the siren began. (If you want to be firm with a tired, cranky girl, prepare for the onslaught.)

"I'm sorry you made that bad choice to whine and cry," I said, leaning over to spank her leg. "Now you won't be able to have a cough drop anyway, because you cried for it. You know we NEVER get ANYTHING we cry for."

"But Mommy," she wailed in desperation, "I will cough and cough all night. I won't be able to sleep at all! I don't even feel like I can sleep now!"

"I'm sure you'll be fine," I answered wryly.

"But I will cough all night. I won't be able to talk tomorrow!"

"Alas." I reached for the doorknob.

She flung her parting stab at my departing back. "Mommy," her voice grew fainter in pretended agony, "you will never hear my sweet little voice again."

I don't know how to tell you this, but...

My children have eloped.

Yes, with each other.

Apparently it happened about a month ago, but they didn't break the news until Anaya told me in casual conversation yesterday. We were talking about the seating arrangement Anaya had chosen when she set the table.

"Sethie will sit on this side of me," she explained. "He's my daddy. And Skyler will sit on this side of me, because he's my child."

"You mean Sethie is your husband?" I corrected.


"But I thought he said he didn't want to marry you."

"We already got married!" she giggled. "We got married a loooong time ago. At Grandma's house."

"Was Grandma there?"

"I don't remember!" She chortled at her own brilliance. "We just got married. Sethie wore his blue blanket. I just wore..." she shrugged, "some dress."

"Who was your preacher?"

She cackled in glee. "I guess--I was! So we've been married a looooong time now. We have a child."

Monday, January 19, 2009


The other night Anaya raced off to crawl in bed, only to come back howling. "I caught my finger in the door!"

I comforted her and directed her to Saralyn to get a Band-Aid while I put the boys to bed. I went in their room and started getting Seth's bed ready in the dark. Then I noticed that he was still over by the door. Silhouetted in the light coming through the door, I watched him poke his little index finger out, then carefully position it in the doorframe. Slowly he closed the door on it. At last there was contact. "Owie, Mommy," he announced. "I got my finger inna door! I need a Bann-Aid!"

We trooped out and explained to an amused Saralyn that Sethie, too, had miraculously managed to get his finger in the door. We chose a fishy Band-Aid and returned to settle him into bed.

"Sethie," I whispered as he snuggled in bed, "I know that you caught your finger in the door on purpose."

There was a pause before his barely audible response. "I wanted be like Anaya."


As I was tucking Anaya into bed last week, she informed me, "I don't want to grow up."

"As long as you keep eating, you will," I assured her.

"Well, if I keep eating, but I don't grow up, I will be happy," she countered.

"I didn't want to grow up either, when I was a little girl. But growing up is fun. When you grow up, you can drive a car, build fires, and do lots of nice things. I couldn't have married Daddy, if I hadn't grown up."

"Well," she declared confidently, "I'm going to marry Daddy!"

"We'll see what happens," I deferred. "Maybe God has somebody else for you to marry. Maybe there's a little boy somewhere growing up too, and we can pray for him..."

"Non-sense!" she spouted. "Anyway, I don't want to get married. I don't want to have children."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Jabber-walkie

Skyler really has remarkable conversational ability. At the ripe old age of two years and three days, he jabbered away to Saralyn this morning at the breakfast table.

"Mommy make bed Sethie." (Mommy just build a new bed for Sethie yesterday.)

"There no fire in other room now." (True--the fire went out last night and hasn't been rebuilt yet.)

"People say Jesus had bad owies."

Ill feelings

Anaya loves to read The Bedtime Stories, a large collection of character-building stories. We are fortunate enough to have the ones I had as a child, which include a few old-fashioned words to enrich her vocabulary. One of her favorite stories is the story that includes a woman who got very sick ("ill" in the story) and was in danger of dying.

Recently Anaya got sick. Apparently she felt pretty awful, because even though it was only a fever and runny nose, the effects were pretty dramatic. She went to bed and laid there a while, then called me into her room.

"Mommy," she murmured, reaching out her hand to me, "I think..." she lowered her voice, "...I'm ill."

Revised Substandard Perversion

Yesterday Anaya had a flare-up of one of her common afflictions, Order Brothers Around disease. After several sessions of commands to an uncooperative Sethie, I reminded her, "Anaya, the Bible says, 'Children, obey your parents in the Lord.' It doesn't say, 'Children, obey your big sisters.'"

"Well," she muttered, "I wish it did."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Elijah bread

This morning we were making bread (an exciting process that guarantees flour, and often other things, on the floor, clothes and hands). "Mommy, can we make Elijah bread too?" Anaya wanted to know. Bless Saralyn's wonderful heart, she has taught the kids how to make unleavened bread (a sort of chapati), and breadmaking will never be the same.

So after the bread machines began churning, I measured out flour, oil, salt and water into two mixing bowls. (Skyler was napping, thankfully.) Seth bounded over to the blue one (naturally--he's really into blue now, or "byoo!" as he calls it), then raced off and brought back Thomas and Percy, two toy trains. "Thomas and Percy want to make bread too," he assured me.

Moments later I caught his hand holding Thomas mid-air about to dive headfirst into the bowl of sticky flour mixture. "Stop! No trains in the bread. I don't want Thomas to get dirty."

"Percy is dirty," he pointed out sensibly, showing me the flour sprinkled already on Percy's bright green back.

I managed to keep my careening offspring from eating much dough, and eventually we did fry the dough and devour it for lunch. ("I want kale!" Seth howled upon arriving at the table and finding nothing green on it--but that's another story.)


This afternoon I heard Anaya charging around after Seth. "I want you to marry me! Will you marry me, Sethie?"

Seth had only one word to reply. "Help!"