Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Would an outhouse violate our HOA?...

Chris and I sent the boys to bed with an admonishment to BE QUIET AND NOT WAKE THE BABY.  As we were discussing how and when we're going to repair the money pit that is our master bathroom,* we heard blood-curdling screams from the top of the stairs.  I rushed up the stairs and found Bryan soaking wet and screaming...
Bryan:  (screaming)  Mommy, I FELL DOWWWWN.
Me:  (confused)  Bryan, how did you get so wet?
Bryan:  (crying)  I swipped.
Me:  (confused)  Did you fall into the bathtub? (Walk to the bathroom and find an inch of water covering the floor.)  BRYAN DID YOU STOP UP THE SINK AND LET THE WATER POUR OUT?????
Bryan:  (scared)  Mommy, it's okay.  When the water runs out it makes a cool sound like this - shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Me:  (stifling laughter)  Go downstairs and tell Daddy what you just told me.  (yelling downstairs)  Chris, first remember that in twenty years you're going to think this is really funny.
As I was cleaning up the bathroom, Bryan came down the hall dragging an evening gown to help me soak up the water.

Here he is in one of his more angelic moments.  He fell asleep during lunch.

In other news, I took this picture last night when the boys were playing a game called Kill David.  I think the rules are self-explanatory.

*The first time water started seeping through the living room ceiling was when I was barely pregnant with Jacob.  Since then, we've been paying a couple hundred dollars a year.  I'm seriously contemplating the advantages of life without indoor plumbing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A shepherd not a warden...

So there are some good things that God is leading me away from right now.  It's not stuff that's wrong for everybody, and I'm confident that it will not always be wrong for me.  I've thought that this leading was primarily about God teaching me obedience.  I've had some crazy busy days lately, though.  At the end of such a day a few weeks ago, I had one of those 'Aha' God moments.  It hit me that it's not just about obedience.  He has my best interests in mind.  He knows that in my current circumstances, there are a lot of good things, even great things, that I just cannot do.  I felt loved.

*When I saw this picture, my first reaction was, "Yikes, I can't use that.  The sheep looks really undignified."  Then I remembered my place in the whole gospel story and got over myself.

Friday, September 24, 2010


We put David in soccer when he was four, and it was a nightmare.  The first three Saturdays were practice days.  Each kid had their own ball, and the coach gave them various drills.  He enjoyed that.  He also loved pretending to be a soccer player which is completely different from actually playing soccer.  When you pretend to play soccer, you dress in the uniform, put on all the equipment and play a game with a soccer ball where you make up all the rules and quit as soon as you're bored.  This is a fundamentally different experience from playing a game of soccer.  

About two minutes into each of his four-year old soccer league games, David realized he wasn't going to get the ball much, didn't get to make up his own rules and was completely done.  So we ended up paying $100 for the privelege of getting out early every Saturday morning with a baby, a two year old and a four year old who hated playing soccer.  I swore off preschool sports.

Fast forward one year.  I put Jacob in a soccer class.  They played games where they each had their own ball.  He loved it.  I began to rethink my preschool sports position.  During the last class they played a scrimmage.  About two minutes into it he started crying because the other kids weren't sharing the ball.  Those tears saved me $100 and a lot of frustration.

David and Jacob just started soccer a few weeks ago.  Jacob scored a goal and now LOVES soccer.  I still have some angst about organized sports for young kids, though.  Is it one of those crazy cultural blindspots like corsets or duels or public executions?  Are people going to look back on us 100 years from now and wonder how we could not see how nuts this is?  Is it worth the time and energy we're investing in it?  I don't know.  But, if you're homeschooling your kids* it's an awfully convenient way to get them around other kids, so for now, the brothers h are in.

*  There's another interesting question.  What is the current practice of homeschooling going to look like to future generations.? Nuts or cutting edge?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daily office...

My church has just started a project called Daily Office, and I'm really excited about it. The vision is to make the pursuit of God a part of your entire day.  You get a morning devotion, an evening devotion and a text at noon and 5:00.  You can sign up online through September 29 at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dark ages...

We have no land line, phone or Internet. I had a post all ready. It's witty. It's insightful. Your life will be changed. But I'm just not going to type it with my thumbs, so I'm on vacation blog mode until we re-enter civilization. I'll try to post pictures each day.

Brothers h watching a thunderstorm

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Nana wuz here...

You can tell my mom was here last weekend because...
  • We have Nutella, a varied selection of sugar cereal, Rice Krispie treats and oatmeal cookies.
  • All of my kids had a bath last night and I didn't yell at anyone.
  • All of my dirty clothes hampers are empty.
  • Chris and I both slept until 8:00 two mornings in a row.
  • I didn't prepare a meal all weekend.
  • Chris and I went on a date.
  • We have a pumpkin on our porch in mid-September.  Apparently, if you're Bryan and you ask Nana for a pumpkin, it's in the bag.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We should make a movie...

John put together a timeline for our vacation last week.  I wish I had a recording of him telling the story.
Looking at our vacation, all you can do is laugh.
Tuesday – John’s stomach virus; Mark’s stomach virus; Isabella gets stung by a dozen jellyfish; Jacob is stung by jellyfish.

Wednesday – John’s stomach virus; Papa sticks his feet into oven on broil for 2 to 3 hours (horrible sunburn); Jacob is stung again for good measure and JT too; Layla sees how many marbles can fit into her mouth; Andrew spends the whole night throwing-up.

Thursday – John is now even sicker than before and joined now by Angela who is very sick;  In an attempt to make it to Medieval Times before all the children get sick we return from dinner with Summer throwing up; Nan and Bella get sick.

Friday – Nan cooks a wonderful dinner to have Jacob disrupt it by puking in the living room.  Next Aaron’s a crazy itch attack on his sunburned back – sending Angela to retrieve drugs.  Jacob is up all night throwing up.

Saturday – (get ready……..) John wakes up at 4:00 A.M. to pack scuba gear for long planned trip with JT, but 10 minutes after JT is woken up he gets sick (VERY SAD JT),  all the women go out to breakfast together until called home because Layla has swallowed a bottle of medicine, called poison control, Aaron discovers his wallet is missing when trying to take daughter to emergency room, oh yeah and his phone too, don’t worry say the police when they call – we found your wallet, Aaron/Angela/ Nan go to emergency room, police bring EMPTY wallet back to Aaron, John packs car by himself while watching kids because Karen goes to knitting store (should really hear John telling that part), finally John and family head back home at 4:00, Ian gets sick and pukes all over inside of suburban – pull over into only gas station around named “El Cheapo” to begin insane cleaning to remove puke from all over suburban – get text to let us know that Layla has cut herself with razor - drive down the road and Ian pukes again, now there are no more clothes for him – we go to Cracker Barrel and buy Ian a shirt and clean up puke – Andrew informs John that he doesn’t like his chicken, John asks Andrew if he likes his life – 5 miles later Ian pukes everywhere again – immediate pull off exit and head towards only gas station – Karen laughs and says look at the sign, you guessed it “El Cheapo” – Ian pukes again (rest station) – Ian pukes again.  Karen heroically catches the puke in a take-out container.  John hits a curb pulling into the gas station and Karen inadvertently throws the puke all over the car.  The gas station is full of hookers and taxis and the light turns off as soon as we pull in – Bella wakes up Karen to inform her she has wet her car seat on accident, followed by another Ian puke  - John rolls into his house just past 2:00 AM (22 hour day) with Ian and Bella naked and wrapped in the last two clean blankets in the car.
Sunday – David is sick on the way home; Rand falls down basement stairs and goes to hospital but CT scan is clear. Rand wakes at 1:00 and cries inconsolably for an hour. Bryan wakes at 3:30 and pukes in the hall. Summer finds it by stepping in it. Bryan wakes at 4:00 and pukes again. Summer finds it by stepping in it AGAIN. The next morning water is leaking through Chris and Summer's living room ceiling. Rand is still very cranky. Subsequent x-ray shows that his leg is broken :(. First pediatric orthopedist suggests an appointment in October. Seriously. For a nine month old with a broken leg. Should we just go ahead and schedule him for surgery?
Even with all of that, it was still a great vacation. I love seeing my family and watching my boys with them.

The cavalry has arrived, and things are looking much better at my house.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Touching, yes. Helpful, errrr...

After Rand fell down the stairs, David and Jacob dressed in battle gear.
David:  We're going to protect Rand from falling down the stairs.  
Touching if not exactly helpful. It's another way they're turning into little men that I don't quite understand. "Someone is hurt. I will pound something or somebody."

Less than 24 hours and he pulled off this cast.

Hopefully cast number 2 will last a little longer.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison for letting me fall down the stairs when I was just a baby...

I can't write a witty or soul-searching blog post on the main event here.  It's just too sensitive.  Here are the last 24 hours.

Email to friends:
R fell down stairs last night.  Went to ER.  Did CT.  Clear.  R up at 1:00.  Inconsolable.  Finally slept.  B up at 3:30 and 4:00 puking.  Clean puke in middle of night.  Twice.  Water leaking through living room ceiling this a.m.  R won't bear weight on leg this morning.  Go  for xray.  Broken leg.  Waiting to get into ped ortho.  Sigh.
Response from friend whose toilet broke.  Ensuing leak destroyed main and basement level of her home:
Oh my goodness. Together we could write a really moving country music song.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pawley's island day 6...

7 of us got a stomach bug

Guys took over during

Traditional women's breakfast

Which got interrupted when

2 year old ate most of a bottle of pepcid.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pawley's island day 5...

Papa telling stories to J.T. and David

On our way into Medieval Times

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pawley's Island day 4...

John: Ian, the guy with the glasses always wins at that game.

Missed him.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pawley's island day 3

A Nana hole...

He fell asleep on our walk. I saw a school of dolphins.

He's getting better, but he's not quite back...

We dug for clams. Watching them dig back in the sand is fascinating to me. Bella and Jacob got stung by jellyfish. They have tentacle marks. They look FIERCE.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Pawley's Island day 2...

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pawley's Island Year 4 Day 1

Rand playing on the floor of the car on the way to South Carolina. He took two 20 minute naps all day. Every time he fell asleep someone had a desperate need to pee.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

"Grace is not opposed to effort, it's opposed to earning"...

I'm turning into a Dallas Willard groupie.  I read The Great Omission and it rocked my world.  His main point is that as a church, we are not seriously pursuing discipleship - actually trying to do the things Jesus said we should do and thus become more like him.  We have shifted the focus from giving our lives over to Jesus and his leadership - his leadership in the things we do every day.  The focus is on our eternal destiny.  We "make converts and baptize into church membership."  Serious discipleship is optional.  It's for the super-Christian.  This adjusted version of Christianity results in believers (i.e., me)whose lives do not look appreciably different from non- or anti- Christians.  Willard connects this fact with the declining acceptance of the exclusivity of Christianity.  Why should people accept that Jesus is THE way when our lives don't look any different from the lives of people who don't follow him?  

At this point the Baptist girl and teacher's pet in me starts to freak out and jump into "frantic faithfulness"* mode.  How exactly are you supposed to pursue Christlikeness?  You cannot get at the fruits of the Spirit** directly.  (Have you tried?  It's a completely demoralizing exercise.)  A physicist at church used a gyroscope to demonstrate this.  To move a gyroscope straight forward, you push diagonally (I think).  To become patient you can't just grit your teeth and push forward.  So what do you do?  Well, we're not blazing a new trail here.  Others have gone before us.  Dallas Willard writes of the spiritual disciplines as "activities in our power that we engage in to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort."

The overwhelming majority of things that pull me away from God are pretty mundane.  They don't seem like a big deal, but when I consider the impact they make in my life in terms of time, emotional energy and distraction, they're HUGE - food, TV, shopping, the way I speak to my children and about other people (Interesting aside - As I was typing this I realized that I basically never struggle over speaking poorly ABOUT my children or TO other grownups.  I like to brag about my kids and I don't want to offend other adults, at least not to their faces. What if I shifted my bragging energy toward other adults and my kind tone of voice toward my children.)  There are spiritual disciplines that address each of these hangups:  fasting, frugality, simplicity, silence and solitude.  It's not direct, and the specifics of how it works don't really make sense to me.  I know as a mom that I'm going to be gentler with my children if I wake up and have some quiet before they come hurling down the stairs.  I don't know why, but I know that I don't hear that quiet leading from God very often when I'm in a pattern of overeating.  I'm just taking baby steps here, but the living testimony of people like John Bunyan and Mother Teresa is that this stuff works.

Wow, this started as a book report and turned into a sermon/confessional.  Back to the subject at hand.  Willard also points out that grace is not only about the forgiveness of sins.  It is also about living life in a different way.  It takes A LOT of grace to seriously pursue Christlikeness. 

He challenges churches to consider how much of what we do is "futile ways received from our fathers" and be willing to omit anything, salvage nothing but what "brings ourselves and others to do whatsoever Jesus has commanded us." 

Here are some quotes from The Great Omission:
"The idea that following Jesus as a disciple is optional has slowly crept into church thinking.  Is that true?  On what do we base that idea?"

"Am I a disciple or just a Christian by current standards"

Speaking of solitude and silence
"Accept the grace of doing nothing.  Stay with it until you stop jerking and squirming."

"Grace is not opposed to effort, it's opposed to earning.  Earning is an attitude.  Effort is an action."

"Character is formed through action, and it is transformed through action, including carefully planned and grace-sustained disciplines."

Concerning the good church member approach to following Jesus - "The problem of life is too radical for that to be the solution."

This was written to ministers, but I've adapted it for mothers.   "The most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of all our [mothering] duties is the kind of persons we are becoming." 
*From Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster
**The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  I have been able to recite these since the tender age of fifteen when I participated in a psychotic game at Baptist church camp (that was mostly not psychotic).  A handful of teenagers in a room of a couple hundred is taught the fruits of the Spirit.  It is their job to spread the word throughout the room.  Every couple of minutes a group of people "dies" based on a recognizable trait like eye color.  They get to go to "heaven" or are condemned to "hell" based on whether or not they can recite the fruits of the Spirit.  So, the downside is that I went to hell because I have green eyes.  The upside is that while they are psycho sometimes, the Baptists (among whom I count myself) can inspire memory work in a teenager like nobody's business.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And then there were none...

Chris is out of town.  I hope he still has four children when he gets back home. Who knew that homemade pizza could unhinge me so quickly.
Children who cannot wrap their minds around the concept of a napkin +
Homemade pizza with too much sauce +
Melodrama when the cheese slides off +
Baby awake thirty minutes too long =
Unhinged me

Man, it doesn't take much.  Single parents of the world, you are rock stars.

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