Monday, December 6, 2010

Streets of gold

Today Seth found out about the Gold Rush while listening to an educational DVD from the library. "Mommy, guess what!" he shrieked. "Dere's gold in California! We can go get some!"

Feeling sluggish?

Today the boys were battling for control of the bubbles in the bathtub until I warned them one more fight would mean they both had to get out. A little while later I came back to spy on them and found them happily engaged in conversation.

Skyler greeted me in delight. "Mommy! Yook! We have syugs!"

There are a few things in the world that I hate passionately, and slugs are right up there at the top of the list. These "slugs" were harmless enough--the boys were just poking their fingers up through the bubbles in the bathtub--but it was still an alarmingly realistic imitation of slugs. Ew.

"Don't wowwy, Mommy." Skyler must have seen the look of distaste on my face at the mere mention of living blobs of slime. "We killed all the bad syugs. We onwy have nice, yittle baby syugs!" Great.

"See, Mommy," added Seth, wriggling his finger slugs, "dey are weally nice. Dey are kind and loving slugs." He introduced me to them by name (sorry, I've forgotten their slug names, but they were interesting), after which Skyler also introduced his by name.

"Dey were on our hands even before we got in da baff-tub," Skyler assured me. "And dey are going to stay wiv us. For weally in yife."

(This expression, "for really in life," is one of Skyler's current favorites, but its meaning is varied. I was pretty sure that in this case the imaginary slugs wouldn't be around for long--thankfully.)

But the slugs stayed around even after bathtime, carefully wending their way through sleeper sleeves and riding around the house on the boys' hands for a while. As I was scrubbing the bathroom floor later, Skyler came to me to talk more about his "syugs." Thankfully, it was because they had left. "Da syugs went to be wiv deir fwiends," he began. "Dey went to," he paused to think, "a syug house."

"That's wonderful," I said. "That's exactly where slugs should live."

"Yes," he agreed graciously. "In da syug house, dere are only nice baby syugs! No big, bad syugs."

"So there are no mommies and daddies in the slug house?" I asked. (Forgive me, I have nothing else to amuse me when I am scrubbing bathroom floors. Call it severe deprivation of intellectual stimulation.)

He thought about it carefully. "Well, when dey are hungwy, the mommy syugs come," he admitted. "But dere are no daddy syugs. But when dey get to heaven," he assured me, "den dere will be daddy syugs!"

"Dey are not bad syugs," Skyler concluded. "If they could fly, they would be bad. Wight, Mommy?"

I heartily agree.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just spell it out

Lately we've had a sudden rash of notes popping up around the house, designating who sits where at the table, whose bathroom is whose, etc. Anaya is also currently making "coloring books," such as the one about Noah and the Ark she was working on today, in which she draws pictures and writes titles explaining them. This necessitates a lot of shouting around the house. "Mommy, how do you spell 'people'? Mommy, how do you spell 'Noah'? How do you spell 'animals'?"

Skyler is apparently feeling rather left out, because he decided to make his own sign this morning. "Mommy, I want to wite 'twain twacks,'" he announced. "How you do spell 'twain'?"

"T," I began.

He paused, pen over paper. "How do you spell 'T'?"

High aspirations

I overheard Anaya this morning exuberantly working on persuading Skyler to do something. "Skyler, you wanna come do something really fun right now? Come on! Let's go in the bedroom!" And then the clincher: "It's something we can't do!"

"Anaya," I called, "what are you doing?"

She came slowly into the kitchen. "It's not dangerous, Mommy," she began. "We did it before and no one got hurt."

That's never a good sign. "What are you doing?"

"We put him in a blanket on Sethie's bed and lower him down to the bottom."

"Sethie's bed? You mean the top bunk?"

"Yes..." she started slinking toward the door.

"Hey! No! You're not serious, are you? Did you lower your brother from the top bunk in a blanket?" Somehow I suspect this adventure wasn't imaginary...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pray for me

Anaya has had a great burden lately to get one of her friends to treat her more nicely (i.e., do what she wants, I suspect). I have explained to her that it is more important that she pray for herself to be who she needs to be rather than Aile.

However, tonight her prayers took the usual turn. "Dear Jesus, please help Aile to be nice to me..."

"And help me to be who I need to be," I prompted.

"And help Mommy to be who she needs to be."

The Collegedale Tea Party

This morning Seth begged to wear a t-shirt. Even though it was below freezing outside, I relented and gave him permission to put one on.

He wriggled into his t-shirt joyfully and bounded around the room. "Yay!" he shouted. "Now I can dwink tea!"

Skyler watched enviously from my lap. "I hope there is weal tea inside it."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pro choice

The other day I asked Anaya to help Skyler go potty while I was busy. Apparently the task of walking him to the bathroom was rather overwhelming, because she informed me a few minutes later, "This is so much work! I don't want to ever be a mommy!"

"I feel that way too sometimes," I answered.

"But you don't have a choice," she laughed. "I still have a choice!"

Growing pains

I told Skyler to go make his bed this morning. He responded, "I need help. I'm not big enough to make my bed by myself."

"Yes, you are," I said. "Go make your bed."

Instead he came around in front of me and stood silently for a moment. "See, Mommy, this is how big I am," he said solemnly. "You see, I'm not big enough. You have to be dis big," he held his hand about an inch above the top of his little curls, "to make your bed by yourself."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Talk about word problems...

Recently when I plopped Anaya down to do her math, I explained her page of work and left her to get busy. Moments later she burst out, "Mommy, why do I have to do it this way? It's so boring. Why can't I make it a story?"

"How in the world would you make it a story?"

"Like this, Mommy!" She examined the next problem on her page. "It says 5 plus 2. Once upon a time there was a village with five people in it." Wide-eyed, she held up the fingers of one hand. "Then two more people moved to the village. They were a daddy and a little girl. The mommy had died," she added solemnly. "So now there were seven people in the village. See?"

Little prayer, big heart

I love Sethie's prayers! They're always straight from the heart, and usually focus some on God's power. Here's what he said tonight, pretty much word-for-word:

"Dear God, we love you so much we can't get enough of You. You are so big and kind. We don't understand how You can change hearts, but You can. We don't understand Your power! You made the trees and flowers. You made ev'ything in the world! We don't know how You can make ev'ything, but you can."

all before 10 am

This morning Seth looked up at me, concern in his big blue eyes. "Mommy, I think I need to be tooken to da doctor."


"Because I always don't know where I'm going, sometimes."


A little while later, Skyler showed me a twenty-dollar bill he discovered in the living room. "It's mine!"

"No, it's not," I said, taking it from him gently. "It's mine."

"But Mommy," he protested, pointing to the face on the front, "it has a boy on it!"


This morning while I was helping Anaya get dressed, she told me, "I'm getting new hair."

"Really," I responded. "How do you want your hair cut this time?"

"No, I'm not getting it cut," she corrected. "I'm getting new hair. I drew a picture of what I want it to look like, and I sent it to the people who are going to give me new hair." She was so poker-faced, I didn't know what was going on in her head. "They are going to send it to me soon."

A minute later she poked her head around the corner to me, with her nightgown over her head as "hair." "See, Mommy," she crowed, "I got new hair! It even has ponytails!" She scampered away laughing hysterically.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning is your time...the earth wakes up with you...

Time changes were not made with parents in mind. For example, it meant that Skyler bounded into our bedroom at 5:50 this morning. Alan snuggled him into bed beside him in hopes of another hour of sleep (I'd already returned the little guy to his bed about 1 am after he crawled in with us around midnight). No luck--he began snuffling loudly and waving his arms vigorously. So I lugged myself out of bed (noble woman that I am) and brought him out into the kitchen for breakfast.

"Mommy," he chirped a little while later, "why are you so tired?"

"Because I want to go to sleep."

"Den go to syeep."

"I can't. I have a little boy who is awake."

"But you can go to syeep. I will follow you to your woom."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

"Don't worry, Mommy." He snuggled next to me. "You can go to syeep, and I will be wiz you."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don't box me in

I came in the schoolroom this morning to see all three kids busy with scissors and typing paper. "Mommy," Anaya chirped, "Sethie and I are making boxes!"

"I'm not making a box," Skyler assured me. He paused and looked at his piece of paper. "I don't know what I'm making."

Who is the greatest?

My children get a pretty regular diet of Your Story Hour. (If you don't know what that is, check out A lot of these stories feature kids in school, sometimes even high school, so I guess shouldn't be surprised at some of the more mature content of their imaginary adventures.

Yesterday at supper the boys were pretending they were in high positions. "I am a king!" Seth boasted.

"Well," retorted Skyler, "I am a principal!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

So proud of my little guy!

Seth is reading now! It's still 2 weeks until his 5th birthday, and I haven't even really worked on teaching him to read. (I didn't think it would be good for his eyes to try at this age...but I guess it's too late now.) He's starting to sound out words. I love how he writes his name--completely backwards, with a huge curl on each end of the S. My little artist.

How to accidentally host a fundraising dinner

This past summer, we spent a couple of weeks in California at Weimar College, where we will be moving in January. Anaya had the opportunity to make some new friends, which she enjoyed immensely. I was sitting in the house when Anaya dashed inside with her two little friends, shouting, "We got a dollar!"

"Where did you get a dollar?" I asked.

"A man going past gave it to us."

"Why did a man give you a dollar?" Call me a pessimist, but I am a little suspicious of random strange men who hand out money to groups of little girls.

"He just read our sign." She held up a crayoned sign proclaiming, "Money and food for the poor." Having friends old enough to spell had been beneficial to my little philanthropist.

"What are you going to do with that money? He gave that to you so you could help the poor."

"We're going to keep it! I'm poor!" she shouted gleefully. "I don't have any money!" Her friends seemed to think there was nothing wrong with this suggestion, either.

"Well, no," I remonstrated. "You can't keep it. But we can figure out somewhere to send the money to really poor people."

Encouraged by the success of their fundraising venture, Anaya and her little friends launched an expanded campaign. Lunchtime was just beginning, so they darted to the cafeteria and canvassed tables asking for more money for the poor. Soon she was back, exulting over their success.

"Look, Mommy! We got lots of money!" she burst. "And now we're going to have a party!"

I counted 38 dollars from her eager hands. "A party? What do you mean?"

"Oh, I invited them all over to our house for a party," she informed me nonchalantly. "I told them we're going to have snacks and a movie."

"Anaya! We don't have any food, or a TV or VCR or anything."

"Yes, we do have snacks! We picked plums off the tree outside!"

"What about a movie?"

"Oh, I don't know." She shrugged off my obviously silly objections. "We'll figure out something."

Fortunately, her most significant donors didn't take her seriously, so we ended up with a haphazard group of about 8 children under the age of 10, eagerly munching plums and watching a YouTube video about children who raised money to educate children in India. And the fundraising campaigners cheerfully agreed to send their money to help children in an orphanage in Ethiopia.

Split personality

Anaya's dramas continue. (I know you're all shocked by this.) She loves acting out conversations between imaginary people. Last week I caught her acting out both sides of this one.

"Did you just shoot that wolf and kill it?"

"Yes, I did."

"Why did you do that? Don't you know that's one of God's creatures?"

"Well, I thought it was going to kill me. So I shot it."

"But it was my best friend!"

"Well, it's dead now."
Lately I look forward to listening to Seth's prayers at night. They are hilarious! And so straight from the heart.

"Dear Jesus. We love you. But we can't see you! We know you are so big. We know You are coming soon. But we don't know how soon. Your bwain is so much bigger than our bwain. You are so stwong, and we are not stwong. Thank You for being so stwong. We love You."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Indian roots

You know the old joke about how Indians can't play soccer, because every time they get a corner they set up a shop? I think my daughter is an Indian after all. This is the corner beside our front porch. She has set up a store and has been making little pots (mud balls with a finger poke hole down the middle) to sell. She has already sold a couple to a hapless visitor, but since she's only charging a few pennies each (gotta get to that education about the values of different coins), I'm not bothering her about extorting.

You can see her "Closed" sign in the background if you look for it. And yes, it says "Open" on the other side.

A picture is worth...

This was the result of making it through church without taking a nap. When we got home, I hauled Skyler in from the car and dropped him in his bed unconscious. (And yes, that was his bed, because we didn't have beds yet, even though we moved in a couple of weeks before this.)

First comes love...

The other day Skyler came in our early in the morning, but just at the brink of early enough I thought he might go back to sleep. Not wanting to wake my darlingest husband, I crept out with Skyler, promising him I would lie down in his bed with him. My littlest snugglebug was thrilled at this idea (surprise surprise), so we snuggled into his bed and I tickled his little back and arms softly to relax him.

Soon he gazed up at me with the purest adoration in his meltingly big brown eyes. "Mommy," he whispered, "when I grow up I will mawwy you."

Accountable Kids!

Well, after a summer of complete chaos as we moved from one hotel or spare bedroom to another for three months, we have moved into a new house for the next four months. The kids had been getting out of bed several times each evening and pushing boundaries in all sorts of ways, and I felt a desperate need to get the household back under control. So I pounced on a system a friend told me about called Accountable Kids. You can read about it at

I'm sold. This has been a great investment for our family. It's not just a chore chart (which we have tried before without much success). The kids have reminder cards hanging on the first peg, telling them what their responsibilities of the day are, in order. When they finish something, they hang it on the second peg. The third peg is for tickets (of which they get three a day, one each for morning, afternoon and evening responsibilities completed), Best Behavior cards (special cards given randomly when they do something especially thoughtful or responsible), and Privilege Passes (given for conquering some specific bad habit we're working on). The fourth peg is for Date Night cards, and they get a star for each day that they don't lose any tickets. The fifth and final peg is for extra responsibilities they can earn money for doing.

Not only is it helping the kids to realize that they are responsible members of the family, but it also is helping them to recognize limits. It's done magic in getting them to go to bed and stay in bed, and we are hardly ever watching DVDs anymore (since they have to pay the tickets they earn if they want to watch something).

I realize that much of the benefit of the program is its ability to keep me accountable. When the card is staring me in the face each morning reminding me that it's time to have worship with the kids, it's hard to just dismiss it for later, which often meant we would forget about morning worship altogether. And I realized that I have often reminded the kids over and over to do something until I get frustrated. Now, instead of having to tell them again and again, I just tell them they have to do it anyway, but they have lost a ticket. Our house is cleaner, the kids are more obedient, and we are enforcing Biblical principles (such as if a person doesn't pick up their toys, they don't get to eat until it's done). Of course, their jobs are small, but I don't want to wait until they are older to instill in them a sense of responsibility. This has been a terrific blessing to our family, and it's going to be very helpful in our homeschooling too!
Yesterday the kids came bounding to me in a wild wave of excitement. "Mommy, come turn on the fans!"


"We need all the fans on in the house!" Anaya burst out. "Then we will be able to fly!"

After a brief, vain explanation that turning on ceiling fans does not increase the amount of air in the house, only the movement of it (why do I bother?), I concluded the easiest course was to let them try. We turned on all the fans in the house, and the kids vainly leaped from the edge of the couch time after time in hopes that once they figured out how to flap their arms effectively, they would take off. I made a video of it, complete with cries of "You just have to flap this way!" and confident declarations of, "See, Mommy, I stayed up a little bit!" I'm afraid the primary research method is not always productive of learning. But at least they got their exercise.

A Little Nutty

Sabbath afternoon Skyler found an acorn while we were out hiking. (Hooray for being able to actually go on a hike on a non-stroller-friendly trail!) He hauled it around, flying it like an airplane and asking for help to tuck it into his little bitty pocket so he could keep it. Sunday morning I found him cradling it in his hand. "Mommy, this yittle nut is my fwiend," he announced. "I'm going to call him Yittle Nutty."

We made a tiny beanbag bed for Little Nutty to take his nap beside Skyler's bed after lunch, complete with Band-Aid blanket. ("He needs a byanket!") But the bed was empty at bedtime.

"Skyler, where's Little Nutty?" I asked.

He pondered for a moment. "He wanted to hide from me. So I hided him. I will find him yater."

So much for Little Nutty. Hope he's not hatching worms somewhere in my house.

Get a grip

(OK, so it's been a long summer and there are a hundred things I could post on here if only I had time and could remember them all! I thought I would try to start putting little ones on as I have time.)

This morning Seth brought the childproof bottle of kids' vitamins to me. "Mommy, could you open this? It's locked."

Monday, June 28, 2010

The letter killeth...

We're in Atlanta for the General Conference Session of the SDA Church right now, so this morning I found myself getting on a subway train with three small children--by myself. (Alan had gone down ahead of me for meetings.) This wouldn't have been so bad, if I hadn't had a stroller, a backpack and a large suitcase full of clean laundry I was returning to my friend Bianca. Driving into the train station, I noticed there were no parking spaces close by the entrance. But there was a whole string of handicapped ones...looking down at the handicapped hanger I still had in the car from driving around with Bianca and her wheelchair, a naughty thought hit me. I paused, then swung into the farthest handicapped space (wanted to leave the others for those more handicapped than myself!), hung up the decal and herded my brood out to catch the train.

All went smoothly. But on our return from the train, the trouble began. Anaya spotted the handicapped space.

"Mommy," she reproached me, "did you break the law?"

"Well," I hedged, "it's true that the law keeps those spaces for people who are in wheelchairs or have handicaps. And we didn't have Auntie Bianca with us today. But we did have her laundry. And I had three wild children to take through the parking garage, and a stroller and a backpack, which wouldn't have been too difficult if I hadn't been pulling a big suitcase...."

"Mommy. You broke the law!"

Eventually Anaya grasped the concept that I truly was as handicapped as people who were supposed to use those spots, and that I was doing it because I didn't have two hands to hold onto little boys going through a parking garage, that though I wasn't following the letter of the law, I was following the spirit of it, and that I would never do it again because I didn't have a suitcase full of laundry.

Then Skyler started in. "Mommy, I'm so sad you bwoke the yaw..."

Needless to say, I'm not bweaking the yaw again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Whose kid is that?

So today we were in a restaurant, and the waiter walked past with a plate of something that was literally on fire. The kids were awestruck. "Wow," Seth bellowed across the restaurant, "does that have dead animals in it?"

Monday, June 21, 2010

First comes love...

We've been reading The Bible Story books to our kids for worships. They were all wide-eyed last week at a story about Nadab and Abihu drinking and taking profane fire into the sanctuary, and being devoured by fire themselves as a result.

"Mommy," Seth whispered in my ear solemnly after worship, "when I get big, I will never drink alcohol!"

"I'm so glad to hear that, Buddy!"

Skyler pulled me close so he could whisper in my ear too. "Mommy," he pledged with equal solemnity, "when I get big, I will mawwy you."

The perfect number

Anaya loves being taller than average. Most people think she is 7 or 8, though she is only 6. Well, 6 and a half, as she always points out.

The other day she was looking in the mirror with her sunglasses on. "Look, Mommy," she said, striking a pose and looking at me seductively. "Don't I look like a 7-year-old?"

Sleepy...but never tired

So I wish I could upload videos...I have a great one of Skyler insisting he wasn't tired, while unable to hold his eyes open. But with being on the road, we end up with a lot of such situations.

A couple of days ago I tried vainly to keep Skyler awake while we were driving. I tickled his feet, asked him questions, pointed out everything I could think of going was no use. The long lashes were drooping.

"Skyler, are you tired?"


"Don't go to sleep."

"I'm not!"

"Then why are you closing your eyes?"

He didn't even open his eyes. "I'm pwaying to Jesus."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A pretty penny

Anaya came to me yesterday morning during my devotions and dropped a penny on the bed beside me. "Mommy, this is for Skyler."

Even though I'm old, I catch on quickly sometimes. "So you're buying him from me?"

"Yes," she smiled smugly.

"I'm afraid he costs more than that," I responded. "It'll cost $30,000."

She pondered. "How about five?"

A little while later she came back with a dollar bill, which she pointed out had a seven written on it so should be worth even more than a dollar. I was unmoved. "That's fine," she retorted, "I'll sell my scrapbook. How much did you want for Skyler?" She brought me a piece of paper, requesting that I write out the price for her. "Anaya, that's more than Daddy makes in over half a year," I explained.

"But I can make that much money easily," she laughed. "I'll just make things and sell them!"

A little while later, Seth came shrieking to me complaining that Anaya had taken the dollar bill that he was playing with. "Well, you could solve this easily, Seth," I responded. "Just tell her you're not going to marry her."

He glared at Anaya. "Anaya, I'm not going to mawwy you!"

"Well, I'm going to marry you anyway. I love you."

But three minutes later her tune changed (what a woman!). "I'm going to marry Skyler now!"

I found Seth wailing disconsolately outside my bedroom door shortly thereafter. "What's wrong, Bud?" I asked the rejected suitor.

"I want the money!"

That evening, I told my sister the tale. "Ah!" she laughed, "that explains why Anaya showed me her scrapbook and then offered to sell it to me for $30,000."

Presents of mind

Since I'm helping coordinate a wedding this week, I've been doing some shopping for wedding things. Anaya wanted to know how she could get in on the action. "Mommy, how come she gets all of the presents? I want some presents too."

"Anaya, she's getting married," I responded. "You're not."

"Well, I'm going to marry Sethie," she burst out. (Why am I not surprised?) "Sethie, let's get married! Then we can get presents. We can adopt Skyler as our son."

The boys were eager to go forward with this plot to alter our family, so they joined exuberantly in the fun. Anaya planned to wear her white dress (which she's supposed to wear as a miniature bride next week). Despite my vain attempts at foolish things like logic, she declared that this would be a "real marriage."

"Anaya, why don't you wait until Daddy is here for your wedding?" I asked at last.

"You had three weddings," she pointed out wisely. "I'm going to have two. Daddy can be at the other one."

"I'm going to have fwee weddings," Skyler cut in. "I'm going to mawwy Daddy and Sawah and Daniewwa."

"You can't marry Daddy!" Anaya retorted. "By the time you're old enough to marry, Daddy will be dead."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My little songbird

Seth loves to sing. My little melancholy, he started singing when he was only about 4 months old, crooning tunelessly as we sang at family worships. Now he is starting to make up his own songs, which he merrily sings to himself as he wanders around the house. A few of the lyrics have floated to my ears...

"Share, share, shaaaaare. I will kiss your owies. I will be kind and loving. Jesus wants us to share, so I will always share."


I have been trying to impress on my little men and lady the glories of chivalry. Seth has become especially proficient at opening doors for me and refusing to go through them until I have gone first. (Have I mentioned lately what a jewel he is?) :D

This week the boys discovered how a handicapped button can be pushed to open a door automatically. "Wow," Skyler breathed as he watched the door open for my mom, "that's a gentleman door!"

You know you have boys when...

...Every visit to a public bathroom, a main topic of conversation is whether the potties flush automatically or have "fyushers."

...Every time they get out of the car your children pry dried earthworms off of the cement of the parking lot and examine them.

Relaxing those pwonunciation wules

I love how r's become w's and l's become y's for Skyler. I'm really going to miss it someday. This morning when I sat down to read to the boys, Skyler reached up and stroked my hair. "Mommy, wee-yax!"

Stop bugging me

My children have been thrilled with the assortment of bugs they have found this spring in and around the house. They regularly come shrieking to me to come see something that's hopping or crawling under a bed. Yesterday they found a cricket and swooped down on me yelling for me to come catch it and put it outside. "Hey, Cricket," Anaya yelled, "Mommy's going to arrest you and take you outside!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pick your battles

This morning I was high on a ladder, picking cherries from my dad's tree, when Seth came to me with a request. "Mommy, can you get me a drink of water?"

"Sethie, I'm almost done up here," I answered. "Can you give me five minutes?"

He pondered. "I'll give you two."

Lesson learned

Being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house affords the unusual opportunity to watch TV. We stay at my grandmother’s usually-vacant house just down the road from my parents’, but we can go to their house to watch. The children’s favorite is America’s Funniest Home Videos, and right after that is Grandma’s favorite, Extreme Home Makeover. Figuring that they would learn something useful about helping others (and feeling lazy about getting up to go home), I let them stay up past bedtime to watch it.

They learned something, all right. “Mommy,” Anaya burst out, “can we move back into our house in Tennessee, so those people can come and wreck it and build us a new house?”

Twenty years from now

If I could prophesy what my children would grow up to be based on their current tendencies, Skyler would definitely be something to do with animals, or “aminals,” as he calls them. (And incidentally, if you call animals “aminals,” and you go to a zoo and see a camel, it’s not much of a jump from “aminal” to “caminal.”) I can’t say he would be a veterinarian, because he is happy enough to torment them (the slug he was poking the other day comes to mind). But he is obsessed with all things “aminal,” and can’t get enough of spiders and snakes, tadpoles and tigers, beetles and bears.

Seth, on the other hand, will be my little doctor or counselor. He is so thoughtful and loving when anyone has an owie or is sad. His tender little heart just melts when someone is hurting. He’s been that way since he was a tiny little guy standing up in his crib, so I think I’m safe in saying compassion is a part of his personality. He also loves to make little jokes and sing, so I guess you could say he will be a multi-talented doctor.

Anaya…is there a salary offered anywhere for “drama queen”? :D No, seriously, she has many other characteristics and talents. I might guess she will be a lawyer (based on her thirst for justice and seeming tireless enjoyment of arguing). She shows tremendous artistic interest, though not a notably unusual talent yet. Probably my best bet is writer, though. She just loves to make up stories. Hopefully we can nurture that talent in the right direction!

The Sword of the Spiwit?

I make a mighty effort to keep my children from playing with weapons (or making weapons out of everything they play with, to be more accurate). However, as anyone with little boys knows, this is not an easy task. I don’t know if it should be alarming or gratifying, but this week I saw Skyler attempt to use his natural warlike tendencies positively. I overheard him playing with a toy sword at my sister’s house the other day. He pointed it at an imaginary foe. “You have to we-pent! You have disobeyed the Howy Scwiptures!”

Ear me out

Yesterday we went to a nearby animal sanctuary that houses many exotic animals that have been rescued, mostly big cats such as lions and tigers. However, they also have a motley assortment including donkeys, ducks, and even a monkey. When we finished visiting the donkeys, the children waved goodbye to them. “Yook, Mommy,” Skyler squealed, “the donkeys waved back wif their ears!”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eat your heart out

Since we're in Arkansas right now visiting my parents, I had the privilege of leaving my kids with my mom for a few hours today. I called to see how it was going, and Mom said Anaya had been talking back. After several problems, Mom warned her that if she continued, she would be sent to bed without any lunch. Anaya was horrified. "You can't do that!"

"What do you think your mother would do if you talked to her like that?"

"She'd spank me and send me to bed," Anaya responded. "But she wouldn't starve me to death! Then she'd be so sad if I was dead. And if you sent me to bed without eating, when I woke up I'd be so hungry I'd eat every single thing in this house!"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Slips and snails and puppy dog tails...

You know they're boys when:

You overhear them arguing with other little boys over whose mommy can drive her minivan faster.

You let them pick any cool kids' book in the store and they grab one instantly and say, "I want dis one with dinosaurs on it! Dey have yots of BLOOD in da pictures!"

They are asking you at age 3 and 4, "When can I wide a motorcycle?"


"Mommy, what is an ex-pert?" Seth asked me the other day.

"It's someone who knows a lot about something or is very good at it," I answered.

"Oh," he said. "I'm an ex-pert at going vewy fast!"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

At least he's listening...

My husband tells some great children's stories. One he told recently was about a little girl who committed to always telling the truth. When a hunter asked her if she knew where the deer he was chasing had gone, she looked him squarely in the face and announced, "Yes, I know, but I am not going to tell you!"

Later in the day I was disciplining Seth for an incident. As always, I try to appeal to his heart and his little logical mind, so I asked him, "Seth, who made that bad choice--you or me?"

He gazed up at me with tear-filled eyes. "I know, but I'm not going to tell you!"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some furniture punch-line should go here...

This morning I was in my room trying to have devotions (with Seth crawling all over me, literally) when we heard a howl from the living room. Soon Skyler came pounding down the hallway.

Seth was ready for him. "Did Anaya give you an owie, Skyer?"

"No." He sniffed.

"Did somebody hitted you?"

"Yes." He held out his hand with the apparent owie needing to be kissed. "The couch hitted me."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hybrid bicycle?

Yesterday Seth called to me from outside for help pushing him on his bicycle. "It's not going," he shouted. "I think it's out of gas!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The con-TROLL freak

Anaya is thrilled to have inherited two new toys--a broken cell phone and a broken camera. She showed me her gifts proudly this morning. "See, Mommy? I have a real phone and a real camera. Now all I need is a broken computer, and I will be like a real grownup!"

Apparently that wasn't her last thought along these lines. At lunch she filled her plate without asking for help. "Mommy, can I do everything for myself today, like a real grownup?" She pleaded. "Then I can be in troll of my life!"

Monday, April 12, 2010

When you hope your house slippers aren't slippery...

Anaya was darting around the yard yesterday afternoon when she stopped suddenly and reached her finger out into the air. "Mommy," she shouted, "I just found an inchworm!"

Beaming, she brought it to me to examine. "It was hanging on a string in the air! I found it!" I braced for the next natural announcement. "I'm going to keep it as a pet!"

I watched the pale green critter inch cautiously along her hand and tried to think of a good excuse to return it to Mother Nature's tender care. "But it might not be happy. Don't you think it will miss its family? Don't you think it will get hungry?" But it was too late. "Finally I have a pet!" she exulted. Before I knew it we were punching holes in the top of a plastic container and filling it with leaves.

Great. I hate having "pets." I can never seem to remember to make sure they are not languishing in some corner dying of thirst--until I smell them. But this one had no such privilege.

"Mommy!" Anaya called to me at 9:30 last night from her bedroom.

"What?" I responded, coming to her door.

She sat up in bed. "I forgot. My inchworm got out. I took the leaf out of its house and the inchworm was on it. It's in the playroom somewhere."

"Anaya! That's terrible! What if I step on it?"

She pondered a moment. "I think I can find another one."

Pause for thought

Today I was reading Anaya a story when she interrupted. "Can you pause the story while I go potty?"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Runaway problems again

This morning was a difficult one for Seth. Time after time we had to send him to his room with instructions not to come out until he finished whining. On one such excursion, I finally went into the room to deal with his wailing more personally. "Seth," I said, sitting down on the bed beside him, "I need you to stop whining."

We went through the usual routine of him admitting that it was his attitude that was causing the problem, but he was still reluctant to surrender. Finally he burst out, "It's so boring here! I just want to run away."

"Really," I responded mildly. "Are you going to get dressed first, or go in your pajamas?"

"I don't know!"

"Well, I think you'd better get dressed if you want to run away."

My horrified son began wailing again. "You mean you don't want to send a grownup with me?"

Friday, April 9, 2010

How catty of me

So apparently, according to Anaya, we need a cat.

She informed me of this the other night at bedtime (Her favorite time for coming up with topics that she thinks can start long conversations). "Mommy, I just know that somewhere out there is a kitty that wouldn't cost any money to get." (If she only knew how many...!)

"But it would cost money to buy food for it, and to get it shots so it wouldn't get sick."

"What are shots?" This is difficult to explain to an unvaccinated kid, but I tried, concluding with, "Anyway, it costs lots of money to have a cat. And it is lots of work. You still have a hard time doing your responsibilities, and you complain about cleaning the playroom."

"But Mommy, I wouldn't complain about feeding a kitty."

"Right. But even if you didn't, we have to drive to Grandma's house in a few weeks, and it's more than enough for me to have to drive 12 hours with three howling children, never mind a cat."

"But I would have so much fun playing with a kitty!"

"Until it got hit by a car. We can't keep a cat in our house. We can't take good care of a cat. You can play with Grandma's cats when we get there. We can't take a cat with us there, because her cats wouldn't like it."

But Mommy," she sighs at my obviously illogical arguments. "We can give it to our friends!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something's bugging me

During the winter, we occasionally came across dead ladybugs. Each one was buried with due reverence in the flowerpot containing my little mango tree (which obediently died too eventually). A paper gravestone erected by Daddy still stands solemnly over the gravesite, "The death of Asha the ladybug. She will be missed." (I asked Anaya about names--apparently all of them were collectively named Asha.) Given the care each dead ladybug was given, I ascertained the live one I found this afternoon would be popular. "Hey, look, you guys," I called to the kids. "Here's a ladybug."

Three pairs of little feet thundered into the room, accompanied by squeals. I picked up the hapless beetle and handed it over to Anaya, who promised the boys they would have their turns soon too. "Hey ladybug," she shouted, "I'm gonna take you to see all of your friends." She paused. "They're dead."

Anaya dashed up to me a few minutes later holding a Play-Doh container. "Mommy!" she burst out. "I put the ladybug in here! And I put all the dead ladybugs in too. (Help us all--my daughter's a grave robber now.) Then when the ladybug tries to relate to the others, it will find out that they're dead. Then it will go back and tell all the other ladybugs, and then we will have thousands of ladybugs in our house!" She looked at me triumphantly. "Isn't that great?!"

It was useless to ask how it would tell all the other ladybugs, or point out that ladybugs don't actually relate in quite that way--not to mention that I don't really want thousands of ladybugs underfoot. (I know, I tried--why do I bother?) Soon she was exclaiming in delight that she had helped the poor bug "relate" to at least one of the dead ladybugs. She was confident this meant it would understand death and go advise the living about the realities of eternal sleep.

Apparently it soon tired of its "friends," as I overheard her passing out the recently exhumed bodies a few minutes ago. "Here's a dead ladybug for you, Skyler," she said, placing one in his damp little palm, "and I'll keep one for me."

The rich man

Skyler dashed to me with a coin jar today. "I have some yots of money in here!" he crowed. "Now I'm wich!"

Time travel

This morning I was snuggling with Seth. "I'm gonna squish you down so tiny you will be 2!" I told him, squeezing him.

"Squish me until I'm 3," he giggled.

"Why do you want to be 3?" I asked.

"Because then I can suck my thumb!"

Monday, March 1, 2010

Puppy love (or dogged pursuit)?

My daughter, at age 6, has fallen for her first crush. I think it's her father's fault--he was already two-timing on his girlfriends at 6. I, on the other hand, had much more sense and waited until 8 before I fell in love.

Anaya didn't leave us to do much guesswork. Early the morning her chosen suitor was coming over to visit, she confided to me, "Mommy, you know how Zane is rough sometimes? Well, I'm going to help him change. I'm going to dress really beautiful today, like a queen! Then he will want to be nice!" Soon she pranced out of her room in a long pink skirt. The mere mention that her hair didn't look like a queen's sent her scurrying to the bathroom to brush it. (This could be contrasted with her typical attitude, demonstrated a couple of days before when Saralyn asked to brush her hair and Anaya protested, "No, I just want it to be the way Jesus made it.")

We were headed to a women's Bible study, and without enough room for all of the children in my car, I had my friend Lindsey pick up Anaya. Anaya's friend Aile, also age 6, was sitting in the back when Anaya clambered in. Lindsey later filled me in on the details of their conversation.

"Aile," Anaya announced, "we are gonna change the world! First we'll change states, then countries. We need to change the way boys are, and make them nice and kind."

Aile was game to join in the fun, so they began naming friends who could help them. Aile suggested, "I know a boy..."

"I don't think that is going to work," Anaya cut her off.

"But he's a nice boy," Aile pointed out. "And what about Zane?"

Anaya threw her hands in the air. "That's the whole reason we are doing this!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This rings a bell

Seth and Skyler, as typical brothers only 13 1/2 months apart, struggle with not a little competition between them. This is evidenced currently in both of them needing to play with exactly the same toy at exactly the same time. All the time.

Yesterday Skyler had a bell that was, apparently, the only thing in the entire world that Seth needed for happiness and prosperity. Amid his wails, I pointed to a toy car on the floor. "Look, Seth," I reasoned with him, "there's the car that Skyler was playing with twenty minutes ago that was the only thing in the entire world you wanted to play with. There it is! He's not playing with it!" And then the clincher, "If you get your hands on it before he does, you can play with it!"

The sobs stopped at that compelling statement. He marched over to the car and snatched it.

"There's the helicopter beside it," I added. "They can play together. Hey, you can go get as many toys as you want from the playroom, and play with them all! Why would you need that bell? You can go be selfish."

Such words of admonition were, of course, going to be heeded. (What obedient children I have, when I appeal to their lower natures!) Within a minute Seth came waddling back into the room, carrying such an armload of toys he could never hope to play with a single one of them in his current situation. "Seth," I chortled. "Why do you have all of those toys? You can't play with them all at once!"

"I have them all," he spat, "so Skyer can't have any of dem."

"Why are you carrying them all?"

"So Skyer will be sad." (Well, at least he's honest!) "You said I could be selfiss!"

"Well, apparently, you can. But is being selfish making you happy?"

He pondered for a moment. "Yes!"

Oh well. Despite my explanations of how playing by himself would not be fun for long, I'm not sure he got the point. Some lessons must be learned over time, I guess....

Getting off on the right foot

I've heard that there's a learning disability in which you have difficulty remembering numbers, and you confuse your left and right. If that's so, I must confess, I definitely have it. I can remember the whole joke, but I'll never know for sure if it was 5000 or 50,000 or 500,000 in the punchline. I can't remember phone numbers from places I lived for years. And although I can remember how to spell nearly every word I've ever seen, I can't remember a number much longer than it takes to look away.

And then there's right and left. If I say my gut reaction as to which way to turn ("Go right here, Honey!") I'm nearly always wrong. For me, right is left and left is right, and if I want to know which one is which I have to wiggle the finger of the hand I write with (right). Seriously. This is not the least bit helpful when I'm trying to navigate for my husband on unfamiliar country roads. I have to resort to "this way" and "that way."

Sooo...not wanting to pass on this unfortunate trait to my children, I've been working with them on left and right already. They seem to be doing well so far. Tonight I told Skyler, "Put your left foot up." He did so successfully, probably faster than I could have done in his shoes (pardon the pun). :D "Very good!" I congratulated him.

"And dat one," he added, pointing to his right foot, "is my wong foot."

Sweet six, already been kissed...

Yup, my suspicions were confirmed--they've eloped. Again.

It happened yesterday evening. I came around the corner to find Anaya and Seth holding hands, face to face. "We just got married, Mommy!" Anaya squealed.

"Really," I responded. "Shouldn't you have let Daddy at least come home to marry you?"

"We didn't need a pastor," she giggled. "We already knew what to do without him. He would just say, 'Do you marry him?' and I would say yes, and then he would say, 'Do you marry her?' and he would say yes. Then he would say, 'Do you restore her in sickness and in health?' and 'Do you restore him in sickness and in health?'"

"Did you kiss?" I asked, noting the matching jelly stains beside both mouths.


I left it at that--I don't want to know how. Suffice it to say, I don't think the relationship will be long-term. This all happened only a couple of hours after a suppertime conversation in which Seth asked me, "Mommy, will you make a sign for our door that says, 'No girls allowed in Sethie and Skyler's room? We don't want her in there."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Home sweet home?

We've been gone for six days, and while it was a lot of fun, it's good to get home and unpack occasionally. My kids are not very good at long drives, and know how to express this eloquently, even without the letter "L" ("This is taking such a yoooong time, Mommy!"), but we managed. Last night after about three hours of driving, Seth began to doubt his parents' directional abilities. "Mommy," he said in concern, "I think we missed the house."

Skyler, however, had the opposite concern. Undoubtedly many of his thrills with being on the road were due to the escalators and elevators at the hotel in Louisville, but he loved being around people and seeing new things everywhere. When we drove into Collegedale and he started recognizing familiar landmarks, he said, "Mommy, I want to stay where we stayed yast day!"

Child labor laws, anyone?

Today is the first day that Saralyn went to work. That is, somewhere that she gets paid. :D That means that I am going to shoulder more of the housework around here! Bless her heart, Saralyn has been such a lifesaver for the past year, and we love having her as a part of our family! But now I'm going to feel it.

This morning I fed, then bathed everyone, dressed them all and started unpacking from our week away. I made a list as long as my finger of just the NECESSARY things to do today, then began chipping away at them. Shower, buy groceries, unpack, make lunch, clean's kinda overwhelming. While I was in the boys' room putting things away, Seth wandered in howling for something. Trying to distract him from his imaginary crisis, I suggested, "Seth, I want you to go put these shoes away in the shoe basket."

"He accepted the armful of pint-sized shoes grudgingly. "Why do I have to do all the work around here?" he grumbled.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A nameless dilemma

We are at the Generation of Youth for Christ convention in Louisville right now. This is a great time to meet up with old friends and to make new ones. Anaya has, of course, maximized that opportunity by making a new friend that she adores. We were blessed to have the Owitis in the room next to us, and their little girl Melissa is Anaya's new friend.

Anaya came to me the first day after she met Melissa, wide-eyed with joy. "I made a new friend, Mommy!" she exclaimed. "And do you know what? She has chocolate skin!"

It seems it's easier to make friends than to remember their names, however. I keep asking Anaya what her friend's name is, and she nonchalantly says, "I forget." Though she wants to play with her all day, every day (and pleaded this morning for us to stay five more days, so she can play with her longer), it's not important to her to remember her name.

This morning I admonished her again, "You need to remember Melissa's name, instead of just calling her 'my friend' all the time."

"It's okay, Mommy," she assured me. "Since I can't remember her name, I'll just ask her if it's all right if I call her Naomi."