Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Colorado day five...

Rand was born to be a nomad.

What's up with this one tree?

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Colorado day four...

The view from the cabin...

Pony ride...

"It's too shiny"...

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Colorado day three...

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Colorado day two...

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Colorado day one part two...

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Colorado day one...

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Five years old...

I love this guy. He turns five on Monday. He has such a good heart. He wanted to let each of his brothers open one of his birthday presents. He wanted me to write "This is Jacob's birthday cake. I love Mommy, Daddy, David, Bryan, Rand, all my cousins and all my friends" on his cake. ( I think I'll abbreviate that to "Jacob"). I love his smile. His face looks like this if he's sharing his last cookie or if he's just poured milk all over the floor.

Recent conversation:
David comes walking down the stairs after he's been put to bed by a woman who is at the outer edges of exhaustion.
Me: "Are you bleeding?"
David: "No."
Me: "Is your brother bleeding?"
David: "Yes."
Me: Sigh.
Chris: Hysterical laughter
(Jacob had a bloody nose).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Escapes justice on a technicality...

Recent conversation with Bryan:

Bryan: (in tears after eating) I ate my mouf.

In the middle of the night.
Bryan: David and Jacob's room is dark.
Me: Turn on the light in the bathroom and open the door.
Bryan: (in tears) The light isn't shining on the dark parts.

Bryan: Can I have one of your olives?
Me: No, you already had dinner.
Bryan: Can I have one of your olives?
Me: No, I want to eat my dinner in peace.
Bryan: Can I have one of your olives?
Me: If you ask me if you can have one of my olives again, I'm going to send you upstairs to bed.
Bryan: Can I have one of those fings on your pwate that I wike?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road warriors...

The Brothers H have driven about 3400 miles with me in a three week period. Technically, the last 1000 miles (Little Rock to home) were the most difficult. It was the longest drive I've done with them on my own. Rand had bleeding diaper rash. Fifty percent of the brothers lost an article of clothing to poop incidents along the way. We had to stop for the night three hours earlier than I intended. The next morning I had to stop 3 times in the first 3 hours.

BUT, it was our best road trip to date. I decided at the beginning to not focus on getting there but to enjoy the trip, such as it was. What if I didn't just try to survive these two days?
Could these be good days? There were some challenging moments, but I didn't flip out on the kids.* For this jar of clay, that is evidence of the power of prayer - really. And we had some great moments - Rand laughing, Jacob sharing his last lifesaver to "make God happy," Bryan crying because he needs somebody to hold him, listening to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with David, watching the three big boys play on an unexpected playground in Tennessee.

This is how I want to do this stage of life - not surviving until Rand is two, until they're all in school, until everyone sleeps through the night, until no one needs help in the bathroom, until no one has accidents, until, until, until, ... I want to be in the moment with them, redeeming the time. I want to live the way Jesus did - surrounded by need but not frantic, never in a hurry. How's that for a God-sized task?

* Disclaimer - This is not meant to imply that I was never verbally irate on this trip but merely that I never launched into a full-fledged flip-out (generally beginning with "Oh my freaking word...").

Monday, June 21, 2010


Father's Day has me thinking about all the dads I love. On the way home from Arkansas, the boys were asking me about my dad's father, Papaw. He passed away when my oldest nephew, then his only great-grandchild, was a baby, before the time of the Brothers H. He was quite a character - a crusty old WWII veteran who mellowed considerably with old age, at least where his only granddaughter was concerned. This picture was taken at the hospital when my oldest son was born and died. I wish he had lived to see my other children and nieces and nephews. He would have thirteen great-grandchildren now - most of them very young. It's blessed chaos when we're all together. In Papaw's younger days, it would have pushed him over the edge. In his old age, I think he would have reveled in all these wild boys and girls, at least in small doses.

When he is introduced, Jacob's opening line is invariably, "I'm four and three quarters, you know." On our drive home he said, " I wish I could know Papaw so I could tell him how old I am." Me too, buddy, me too.

Friday, June 18, 2010


It's hard to watch someone you love being wheeled away to surgery. My brother has thyroid cancer and had his thyroid removed today. He's a powerful, young man, and there was something wrong about him in a hospital bed - like some rule of the universe had been violated. We were concerned at times this past week that we might lose him. There was a lot of painful waiting. Now we have John back, but John may not get his singing voice back. My brother loves to sing. I am praying that God will give him back his song.

I've been thinking this week about things I love about John.

- He gives great parenting advice.
- He's fearless, as evidenced by the broken bones and concussions.
- He loves my children and is intentional about spending time with them.
- He shows up. When I went into labor with Caleb, he got pulled over twice on the way to Houston.
- He's a wonderful father.
- He loves to sing.
- He wrote a song for Caleb.
- He loves the Lord.
- When Chris and I were first dating, John told Mom and Dad that Chris was exactly the kind of guy they would imagine that I would marry.
- He can make anything fun. When David got stressed about his testing this week, John made him a test. Question 1 showed a dog pooping and asked whether it was a) dog poop b) dad c) mom. David had a good laugh and forgot his stress.
- A hundred other things ...

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Monday, June 14, 2010


Bryan to me: "If enemies are attacking you, you can call me on your phone and I'll answer you on my walkie-talkie wif my mouf and I'll go downstairs and get a weapon and I'll fight them for you."

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Brothers h conversation in 2009...

Flipping through my 2009 journal I found the following notes about the brothers h...

Jacob wants to name the new baby Boy Bella and call him Jack or Terrible.

One of the first times David was in big church with us, we took communion. We didn't let him receive it and gave a quick whispered explanation that you receive communion after you have accepted Jesus. A few days later, David told me he wanted to accept Jesus into his heart. I probed a little to determine what was going on and if he understood what he said. Eventually he said, "Sometimes I get really hungry and thirsty at church." I assured him that it was a small bite of bread and one sip of juice and so would not help much in terms of a snack.

Bryan, after hearing we were having lasagna for dinner: "But I don't wike zawnya. Zawnya is the stinkiest."

Jacob had a pretty spectacular poop accident in the bathroom. I was cleaning it up. He stood in the bathroom and said, "Mommy, you're doing a great job cleaning up. You're one of my best friends." (Please don't dwell on why he felt compelled to butter me up in this situation. It's not nice.)

We go to the beach every year with my family. There are some large shrubs beside the walkway leading to the beach. I had taken Jacob back to the house for something. We held hands on the way back to the beach. As we passed by the shrubs he said, "When I'm a grownup I will not be scared of those bushes."

Jacobism: "I wis," as in we are, he is, I wis.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The princess and the pea...

My most sensitive child is the only one who requests The Princess and the Pea at story time. I have never cared for that story. The princess irritates me. Heaven preserve me from such a daughter-in-law. (Future wives of The Brothers H - I'll be doing well if I can get clean sheets on the bed when you come to visit.) Then I read the following:
"And they [children] all understand princesses, of course. Haven't they all been badly bruised by peas?" from Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
I wonder if this story speaks to my son in this way. In a house with four rambunctious boys, the inevitable injuries, self-inflicted and otherwise, completely derail him. I am often unsympathetic because good grief, it's only a pea. I think I need to reflect on what it feels like to be four (and three quarters). I still remember a few peas that left marks on me.

When I was six, my mom let my brother sign up for the Sesame Street Club using his first two initials as a first name. I wanted to sign up using the name Sarah as I had recently visited my thoroughly cool cousin, Sarah. My mom said no. In my six year old world, the injustice of this situation defied words.

In kindergarten, the other girls said I couldn't be the bride in our play wedding because my tummy was too big. That one is still a little painful, and I'm thirty-three.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Testing sucks...

I have to test David to stay in compliance with our state homeschool laws. We are going through a test prep workbook this week. I know, we are homeschooling partially to avoid this nonsense, but a week is hardly detrimental and perhaps even helpful? The title of the booklet is "Testing Success." David said, "I know what that says - 'Testing Sucks.' " I try not to laugh when he says things without intending to be funny, but I could not control myself. Out of the mouths of babes.

That conversation keeps coming to mind today. I think there is something there beyond phonetic reading. I look at testing with grown-up eyes. I want him to succeed. I want our homeschool decision to be validated. He looks through the much more honest lens of childhood.

No test is going to show how excited he was when we read about Louis Pasteur. He made a microscope out of paper and pretended to examine poker chip slides.

Or what about when he decided he really wanted to know how to add and subtract big numbers. We read The Year of Miss Agnes, and the kids in the book taught their uneducated parents how to add and subtract. They were thrilled because now they would not be cheated at the market. David hates to be tricked, and that changed his attitude toward arithmetic. I had told him why he needed to know, but sometimes you need to hear it in a story. Jesus was on to something with parables.

I have no idea how he is going to test in reading. I believe he is on track for a first grader, but I don't really care, or more accurately, I don't think I should care. At the beginning of the year he could read phonetic words slowly and with much labor. Something flipped in his brain a few months ago. The process was exciting to watch. He can read independently now. He came home from kindergarten saying, "I'm not smart at reading." This year I've heard "Mommy, I am so loving this book." and "I'm a reading kind of guy." and "I'm good at reading."

Testing sucks. I know it's necessary, but it still sucks.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wipe clean with damp cloth...

I bought new shower curtain rings last night. We had cute ones that didn't work. Periodically I found pieces of them scattered around the bathroom. It got ridiculous. There were two poor little monkeys desperately trying to hold up an entire shower curtain. While contemplating hot gluing the broken ones back together, I realized that I would be willing to pay at least $20 to not have to do that, and shower curtain rings cost about a dollar. When I took the new ones out of the bag, I noticed care instructions: "CARE: WIPE CLEAN WITH DAMP CLOTH."...

Do they think that I would be baffled by dirty shower curtain rings - that it would never occur to me to wipe them clean with a damp cloth? Or are they suggesting that my regular housekeeping should include wiping the shower curtain rings? Do people really do that?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Condiments and the brothers...

So it occurred to me that the boys' condiment choices reflect their personalities. David requires mustard. He will not eat a sandwich with mayonnaise on it. He likes mustard - inflexible but reasonable. Jacob likes mayonnaise and mustard. If I give him a sandwich with nothing on it, mustard only, mayonnaise only, ... he will not complain - flexible and reasonable. Bryan requires mayonnaise on his sandwich. He does not eat the bread - inflexible and unreasonable.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Highlights from the trip to see my brothers...

- Explained the lyrics to various "angry girl" songs to my boys.
- Cheered for Karen and Angela in their first triathlon.

- Had a couple of fantastic meals with Aaron and Angela.
- Layla: "David, hold my hand."
- Ian: "Mom says I can't have water cause it makes me sick. Mom says I need chocolate milk."
- Watched the cousins play.
- Jacob: "Come here, Layla. I'll hold your hand."

- Hung out with two of the three best sisters-in-law in the world.
- Analyzed the lyrics to Hallelujah and Jacob and 2 Women with Mom, Dad, John and Karen
- Heard Rand laughing hysterically. Found Layla in his bed with him.
- Watched the boys play tag and roll down a hill at a rest stop in Tennessee.
- Held Bryan's hand through the "Small Fry Try" kids triathlon.

- Listened to Harry Potter with the boys and realized I sounded more like Mr. Dursley than Dumbledore. Helped me chill out for the second half of the drive.
- Two-year-old Layla shaved her legs, ate dog food and rubbed her body down with liquid hand soap.

- Ate the best carrot cake I've ever had.
- Had dinner with an old friend.
- Let David (7) and Andrew (8) put the baby bed together by themselves.
- Great conversations with my brothers.
- Played Carcasonne with J.T. and David.
- Broke it to my dad that even though I've been at my brother's house for a week, I still don't know which way the interstate is from his house.

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