Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Authentic Thanksgiving

Yesterday we participated in a little homeschool Thanksgiving play with a group of other kids and parents at a nearby park. At the beginning, a woman stood up to explain the upcoming program.

"...And then Squanto will come up and tell us about..."

"Is that the Squanto we read about?" Skyler whispered to me.

"Yes, Sweetie," I answered, thrilled that something of our Thanksgiving studies had actually sunk in.

His eyes widened. "Is he still a-yive?!"

Renewable resourcefulness

Today we were talking about fire safety. "What would you do if your hair or clothes caught on fire?" I asked, testing the kids.

"I would run outside and roll on the ground," Skyler assured me.

"Sweetie, don't run outside," I said. "If you are on fire, drop down on the floor and roll. I don't care if the house catches fire. I can get a new house. I don't want to lose my little boy."

"We could get a new house," Anaya put in. "But we couldn't get a new you."

"That's right," added Seth. "There are lots of houses in the world."

"But we could adopt another boy." Anaya thought that was worth mentioning.

"No other boy could ever replace you, Skyler!" I told him.

He wasn't so sure. "But what if he obeyed?"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A new definition of forever

Recently we talked about how many times Jesus says to forgive someone. Skyler is still having a difficult time understanding numbers, so seventy times seven was confusing to him. "That's lots more than you can count, Sweetie," I explained. "Four hundred and ninety!"

This concept is so amazing to him that it bears repeating regularly now. (Of course, he finds it most necessary to rehash this concept when his own transgressions necessitate forgiveness.) Yesterday he felt the need to preach a mini-sermon on forgiveness to Anani, an enchanting little visitor his age who is staying with us this weekend.

"Mommy," he asked me, "how many times does Jesus say to forgive?"

"Seventy times seven," I answered yet again.

"Anani," he addressed her solemnly, "you have to forgive sevenny times seven. That's for-ever."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flying leaps of illogic

I skipped writing almost everything that happened over the summer, due to being on the road and not having internet access. But at least one incident stands out in my mind as blog-worthy.

We were in Arkansas, visiting my family for a few weeks. One of the rules at Grandma and Grandpa's is "no running in the house!" Even though we have the same rule at home, for some reason this is incredibly difficult for my children to remember.

One day Skyler scampered into the bedroom and suddenly let out a piercing shriek. Rushing to his side, I saw blood gushing from his knee. I carried him, howling, into the kitchen and began dabbing at the deep wound. It was very deep, so I called my mom, who came to examine him. (Both of my parents and all three of my sisters are RNs, so I usually leave medical decisions up to the family vote when they're all around.) She decided to repair it with medical tape, so after the bleeding finally slowed, we did our best to patch him up. Through sobs, Skyler explained that he had fallen on the edge of the bed and cut his knee.

"You see, Skyler," I admonished, trying to glean golden lessons from the situation, "this is why you aren't supposed to run in the house."

"But Mommy," he protested in wide-eyed innocence, "I wasn't wunning!"

"What were you doing?"

He flapped his arms to demonstrate the obvious answer. "I was twying to fly!"

The root of all evil

Anaya is the quintessential entrepreneur, especially when it comes to making money. The child would be thrilled to sell the clothes off her back and dash home wearing nothing but a smile, if she could get money from such an endeavor.

The other day I caught her trying to sell a string of beads to her gullible little brothers, in exchange for emptying their little piggy banks.

"Anaya, you can't do that," I explained. "The boys don't understand how much money is worth."

"But I want the beads!" I heard the pleas as soon as I went into the next room.

"No," grumped Anaya, determined to paint me as the villain. "Mommy won't let you have them."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Racially challenged

Of all our children, Skyler is the most competitive. One of the ways he expresses it is by pretending we are racing with all the other cars on the freeway. I largely ignore this (turning a blind ear to his urging that I pass everyone in sight), but occasionally I try to help him overcome this great need to win.

The other day on the way to church, he and Seth decided we were once again racing. I endured the shouts of "Faster, Mommy! They're passing us!" and such, calmly reminding them that we were not actually seeking to beat anyone to church. They compensated by racing only those that were behind us. However, as we pulled into the church parking lot, I couldn't resist making one more attempt to help them overcome the urge to compete.

"Look, boys," I pointed out, "see all the cars that got here before us?"

"No, Mommy," Skyler protested. "All dose cars were in a diffewent wace!"

That's the Spirit

There is a positive side to having your kids all at once, like triplets or something. They all can be at the same developmental stage. While this may drive you absolutely nuts for a while (like breastfeeding), later on it seems to me it would get much better. We didn't do this, though we came close with the boys. Since they are only 13 months apart, they appreciate each other's ludicrous attempts at hilarity, thus sparing me the need to attempt to laugh. ("Knock knock! Who's there? Gompy. Gompy who? Gompy banana! Bwahahaha!") In most ways, I'm very grateful I didn't have multiples at once, largely because I thought I would go nuts each time I added only one arrow to the quiver. However, having all of our kids as a batch would have made illustrations age-appropriate to all of them at the same time.

For better or for worse, that is not how we have been blessed. The other night we were talking about surrender to the Holy Spirit and how God changes our stony hearts to hearts of flesh. To illustrate, I lightly pinched the skin between my thumb and forefinger. "See, this is flesh," I explained. "It's not hard like a rock. When God changes our hearts, He makes them soft like this, so they aren't hard and mean."

The next day when Anaya was battling with an attitude issue, I reminded her of this. "Anaya, What kind of attitude do you have right now? Are you letting the Holy Spirit be in your heart?"

Skyler jumped in to aid his sister in grasping spiritual realities. "Anaya, you can tell if you just pinch here." He pinched the skin between his thumb and forefinger. "If it's soft, you have Jesus in your heart."

I tried to help him out without offending him. "Sweetie, that's almost it. But we're talking about your heart..."

"Oh!" He slapped his chest. "You have to be soft here instead!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nibbling at my conscience

I could write so many blogs, if I just had time. I hope I can remember them sometime when I actually have an hour. But one of the things that has been absorbing all my extra moments has been vacuuming and cleaning out areas of the house that were dirtied by our recent mouse invasion. (Three mice have been sent to mouse heaven and the traps have been empty since.)

Yesterday I was reading a little book of inspirational child-friendly poems to the kids. It ran through blessings. "Bless the sun and bless the sleet/bless the road and bless the street...bless the nest and bless the leaf/bless the righteous and the thief...bless the mill and bless the mouse, bless the miller's bricken house..."

"But Mommy," Skyler interrupted, "why don't we bless the mouse?"

Friday, June 24, 2011


Dividing up our food at McDonald's, I poured smoothies into everyone's cups. Skyler watched the process carefully, then addressed everyone. "There is Sethie's, and Mommy's, and Daddy's, and Anaya's, and me's."

"Mine," I corrected automatically.

"No," he corrected emphatically, "I alweddy said you."

Ad-ditional joy

We've spent the last 6 weeks in Florida staying in a condo that unfortunately had three TVs. I let the kids watch a little bit now and then, usually watching with them to be sure I knew what they were seeing. Once when a McDonald's commercial came on, squawking something about the box that joy comes in, I confronted that declaration by asking a few questions such as, "Is that really where joy comes from? Where does our joy come from?" Based on the kids' enthusiastic and accurate answers, that joy comes from Jesus and not food, I felt pretty confident that they were being impacted only minimally by the ad.

Or maybe not. Yesterday, returning to Tennessee from Florida, we stopped at a McDonald's. As I stood in line to get our salad, fruit smoothies and French fries, Anaya came to me. "Mommy," she pleaded, "can you get one of the toys that comes," she paused, searching for words, "that comes from the box that joy comes in?"


This morning Skyler crawled into bed beside me. "Mommy," he exclaimed, snuggling up to me, "if I found a mommy who was better than you...I would still keep you."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Heavenly hell for Mommy!

I've been trying to help the kids understand how wonderful heaven will be. When they get hurt, I often remind them, "In heaven you won't get owies." Or when they are hungry/hot/tired, we all rejoice that someday we will be in a place where nothing bad will ever happen to us. In heaven we will be reunited with our dear parrot Edie, in heaven we will have all the fun we ever want, etc. In general, they are understanding that heaven is the place where all dreams come true.

We've also been reading through The Bible Story books by Arthur Maxwell, and the kids love the stories. They are getting all caught up in the dramas of Bible characters and are able to ask thought-provoking questions and make insightful remarks. And other remarks...

Last week we were reading about Abraham taking Hagar as a second wife. I stopped mid-story and asked, "Do you think that was a good idea?"

"Nooooo..." chorused my obedient students.

"How do you think I would feel if Daddy got another wife?"

"You wouldn't yike it," came back the wise replies.

"But," Seth put in sagely, "in heaven he can have two wives."

Vegetarian chicken meets vegetarian bear?

Skyler came to me this morning with a crayon and a piece of construction paper. "Mommy, I want to wite a stowy," he announced. "I need you to wite it for me."

I obediently took the paper and crayon and wrote as he dictated. "I was going on a camp. I saw a bear. I thought it was a statue bear, but it was a weal bear! I wan away! But then I yooked, and I saw it was a vegetawian bear and it wasn't going to eat me."

Monday, May 16, 2011


"Mommy, what is your weal name?" Skyler asked me the other day.

"My real name is Nicole," I answered.

"But what is Daddy's weal name?" he persisted.


Skyler was still not satisfied. "But," he paused, "who is named 'Honey'?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our unstable family

Haven't had time to blog lately--we've been feverishly packing up our whole house (for the third time in one year) in preparation to leave for 3 months this summer. We finally launched our trip to Florida this week, breaking the drive into two days (five hours and six hours, respectively).

Even so, it was too long for Seth. On the first evening, he finally had enough. "Mommy," he complained, "we've been driving for ever. When are we going to find a stable?"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The patience of the saint

After being well for months, the kids have all come down with a nasty cough this weekend. However, Skyler took it with fortitude. "Mommy," he pointed out to me yesterday, "even though I'm sick, I am not whining. I'm being nice!" He looked up at me with wide brown eyes. "I'm per-se-vering!"

Wresting the Scriptures?

The boys were in a contest for attention today (how unusual). Both were pestering Anaya unmercifully. When Skyler abated for a little while, Seth tried to get him to continue.

"Skyler, no man can serve two masters," Anaya admonished him solemnly. "So you're going to have to choose: me, or Sethie."

A drinking problem

This morning Anaya was feeling a little queasy. So this afternoon when I gave her a glass of water to drink, she was cautious. "Mommy, I am just going to drink slowly. If I drink fast, my stomach might get mad." She paused. "Then it might do a revenge."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Facing the problem

Skyler is learning to dress himself. Hooray! My youngest child is gaining independence! With potty training behind us, this is the next groundbreaking cause for celebration.

But it is not without its pitfalls. For instance, he is consistent at getting his clothes on backwards. Yes, consistent. This is not a 50%-of-the-time thing. EVERY SINGLE TIME he dresses himself, he comes out with his clothes on backward. Alan watched him the other day and explained to me--Skyler holds the shirt up in front of him, turns it so he can see the front of it, then smugly puts it on. Simple. Except the learning-to-do-it-right part, which is not so simple.

The other day, I attempted to help him correct his problem. "Honey, your underwear are on backward," I explained, showing him that the little dinosaur was in the front and the fly in the back. "You need to turn them around."

He peered down over his bellybutton in astonishment, then very sensibly grabbed the waistband and heaved it to the left.

"No, Sweetie, you have to take your legs out of the holes to turn them around." (How do I say these things without bursting into laughter and bruising little egos? I wasn't entirely successful, but I tried...)

Distracted by other responsibilities, I left him to his devices briefly (OK, was that a pun?), coming back to find him with his underwear on correctly, but his shirt and pants on backward as usual. Even his socks were upside down. "Sweetheart, your clothes are on backward again. You need to turn them around."

"Yeah," Anaya observed, walking past. "You look like you put your head on backward."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In love...

Last week the kids and I went for a walk on the Greenway, a popular sidewalk here that winds through the woods. Seth was borrowing a scooter from a friend and racing ahead, then pausing to wait for the rest of us, watching people go by as he sat on the side of the sidewalk.

Once when I caught up with him, he announced to me excitedly, "Mommy, I am getting in love with people!"

"Really? How are you doing that?" I asked.

"When people go past me, I smile at them," he answered, "and they smile back at me. Then we get love together! So I am getting in love with people!"

A man that hath friends...

For Skyler right now, a hundred is the biggest number imaginable. "Is it a hundwed yong?" "Will it be a hundwed minutes?" "Is it going to be a hundwed days?" are regular questions nowadays at our house.

"Do I have a hundwed fwiends?" he asked me the other day.

"Well, Sweetie, probably," I reasoned, "if you count your grownup friends. You have Annie, and Zeke..."

"And Jeff!" he pointed out.

"...And Monkey Man, and Erica...yes, I think you have a hundred friends."

He paused to think. "Are there more than a hundwed people in the world?"

"Yes, Sweetie, there are."

"Are they all my fwiends?"

"No, they're not, because they don't all know you."

"But if they knowed me," he assured me, "they would all be my fwiends!"

Cross-cultural miscommunication

Yesterday I had to be out of church briefly to deal with a little issue with Skyler. When I returned, special music was being played--a double feature with "Deep River" followed by "Balm in Gilead," as I discovered. Anaya gave me a whispered update on the proceedings.

"It's time for the song now, Mommy," she informed me. "Don't worry--they said it's a spiritual song." She paused. "Is this Bomb in the Galley?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Freedom is coming

We've been studying slavery and civil rights for some time at our house. I don't know how much good it is doing, though. This week Skyler found a piece of string and began waving it around in delight. "Yook, Mommy," he exclaimed. "I have a whip! Now I can have some slaves."

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"Mommy," Seth wailed, clutching his piggy bank, "Skyler wants to take my money and give it to Anaya!"

"No, I don't," Skyler protested. "I changed-ed my mind. I want to give it to myself."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Warm your heart

This morning Seth announced, "Mommy, I wish I was a marshmallow. Then when it was cold," he swung his hand in a little circle to represent a marshmallow on a stick, "I could be roasted around."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Which makes sense, unless you think about it

This morning I overheard Anaya in the other room talking with Skyler. "OK, so we can make a deal then...."

Suspicious of deals between seven-year-olds and four-year-olds, I came into the room. "What deal are you making?"

"Well, you see," my daughter began with an ingratiating smile, "Skyler got five dollars for his birthday. And then he bought this gum with some of it. But I love this gum! So he is going to give me the rest of his five dollars, and a piece of gum. Then," she rushed on, "when I go to the store, I will buy more gum. Then I can have some too."

Little Mr. Gullible was sitting here meekly agreeing to this whole thing, so I asked incredulously, "So you mean you're going to take his money and his gum?"

"Well, yes. that's the deal."

"But that's his birthday money. You just got birthday money a few months ago, and you could have bought gum. You bought toys instead."

She began to wail. "But that was before I knew how yummy this gum was!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011


This morning Seth came to me with a stethoscope in his ears, asking to listen to my heart. He put the stethoscope on my chest for a moment and listened. "Well, I'm sad to say this, Mommy," he pronounced, "but it looks like your heart isn't pumping. But don't worry, lots of other things are working!"

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?

This morning Anaya came to me clutching her Bible and solemnly announced, "Today is the beginning of my work for God."

"That's wonderful," I enthused. "Jesus can be with you all day long and help you be kind and loving. Then you can be like Jesus."

A couple of minutes later I stopped her midway through a chase-Skyler-down-demanding-a-toy episode. "Anaya, I thought you were going to start today to be like Jesus. Did Jesus chase his brothers demanding toys?"

"You don't understand, Mommy!" she said, exasperated. "I don't mean I want to be like Jesus that way. I just want to sell things for Him."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Naturally sweetened

"Should I eat you, or just kiss you?" This is an ongoing game Skyler loves to have me play with him. This morning I promised, "I won't eat you. I'll just suck all the sweetness out of you." I hugged him and kissed his little neck while he giggled and squirmed in delight.

"You didn't get all my sweetness!" he squealed. "I still have more! Jesus has filled me up with yots of yuv."

At least he's honest

This morning I sent the boys to their room for fighting, only to hear another outburst. I opened the door to see Skyler attempting to whip Seth with his blanket.

One solid spank, many tears and sobs later, I came back into the room to find Skyler spilling his woes to Daddy (conveniently leaving out the details of his own guilt). "Tell Daddy what you did," I prompted.

After initially declaring his innocence, Skyler at last could not hide his wrongdoing. "Didn't we tell you not to hit?" Alan rebuked him.

Skyler lifted his big brown eyes to Daddy. "You didn't tell me this day."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eyes on the back of my head

This morning I called Skyler to finish drinking his water. "Skyler, come here."

He came reluctantly down the hallway. "Mommy...Sethie did it too."

I love it when they make it so easy to ask the right questions.... :)

Learned THAT lesson!

We had a huge snowstorm this week, thoroughly blanketing our yard and even keeping Alan home for two days from teaching. It was wonderful, but the kids aren't used to getting that cold. (Plus, we hadn't unpacked our hats, gloves, etc. yet so it was hard to play in it.) Last year we built a snowman and went sledding, but this time we did neither; we only went out to enjoy it in short spurts.

At one point, though, I asked Skyler if he wanted to build a snowman. "No," he replied decisively. "We did that before. It melted."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Follow the Leader

Yesterday at the aquarium Skyler and I were examining coral together. He pointed to a ball-shaped one with what looked like a maze all over it in ripples. "Yook, Mommy," he exclaimed, "that's where the fishies can pyay fowwow the yee-der!"

Heading in the wrong direction

My sister Annette works for the Air Evac Lifeteam, as a flight nurse. A highlight of visiting Arkansas is going to see Auntie Net and clambering around in the rescue helicopter. However, visiting this last time took an interesting twist when I led the boys down a hallway toward the bathroom.

There was a pile of medical supplies at the end of the hallway, including two mannequin heads used for intubation practice, which I didn't even notice until Skyler stopped in his tracks. "Mommy," he whispered in horror, "are those p'etend?"

First comes love, then comes marriage...

This morning Anaya came to me with her doll stroller packed full of dolls. "Mommy, look! I have four children!"

"Wonderful!" I responded. "But where is your husband?"

"Well, I don't have one," she admitted. "But I had one! And he was a good man. I married a pastor. But then," she paused to think, "one of his friends persuaded him to drink alcohol. And then he became bad, and didn't care about God. So I had to break up with him. But," she assured me, "I did marry a good man!" (Apparently all of the conversations around our house about how important it is to be careful who you marry have sunk in!)

"My husband just left me yesterday," she went on brightly. "But we had all these children before he started to drink alcohol. This one is ten months old," she explained, pointing to the doll in the front of the stroller, "and this one is one month old. This one is two months, and this one," she pointed to the one on her back, "is three months old."

Midnight musings

I learned a bunch of things just before midnight last night:

1. How much laundry a 5-year-old repeatedly vomiting in bed can make. (Well, depending on your definition of bed, since we don’t have any beds right now—vomiting on blankets on the floor.)

2. How far the shards of glass fly when you drop a Pyrex bowl on the floor while attempting to take it to said vomiting boy.

3. How dirty my kitchen floor was, when wiping it with wet paper towels to pick up remaining glass.

4. How many times a seven-year-old can pop out of bed after she has been told to stay there.

5. How tired my poor husband was, who fell asleep midway through this adventure.

6. Most of all, how gracious God is, filling me with peace in the midst of everything. I found myself singing, “He is good always, in big and small ways; He is working all things together for our good…” throughout it all. While this has been an incredibly hard week, He really is so good. Someday I know I'm going to be grateful for all I'm learning now (besides these things, of course). :)

Freedom is coming...

“Grownups get to do whatever they want,” Skyler grumbled this morning.

“That’s not true,” Anaya interrupted (having made similar accusations herself recently and been informed otherwise). “Like, Mommy would like to be going out on a date right now with Daddy. But she can’t, because of us.”

Skyler was not convinced. “She could just take us all with her on a date with Daddy.”