Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We went to Galveston today, and I hereby resolve, again, to remember that I live an hour away from the beach and take advantage of that fact more often.  It was one of those ominous, stormy beach days.  We had a good 3 or 4 hours of playing before the bottom fell out in a slightly terrifying deluge.  Here are some pictures.





For Chris' birthday I surprised him with a visit from his childhood best friend, Jason and family.  We had a great weekend.  Who knew, 25 years ago, that two awesome wives and 7 beautiful children later they'd still have a lot to talk about.

The surprise
 Kids chillin' at the pool
 Some really chillin'*
 And the dads chillin' at our house.

* Poor Rand got kicked in the mouth at the park (swings), bled all over himself and then fell asleep on the way to the pool and woke up just as we were leaving.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


My family has never been accused of half-heartedness.  We tend to go all-in, and wisdom or even sanity doesn't always play the role it should.  Sometimes this is a beautiful thing.  Like when Mom and Dad took all of us - 10 adults and 10 kids (aged 11, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 4, 3, 21 months and 18 months) on a cruise, or when my mom came out and painted my kitchen, living room, study and basement almost entirely by herself in a long weekend, or when we somehow got the entire family across the country to Seattle for Aaron and Angela's wedding.  That excursion involved about four airlines, two pregnant women and five children under the age of 7, plus a slew of extended family and friends.  Another time I took 21 hours in summer school.  Why?  I really can't remember.  Maybe because taking 18 was just plain old hard and I was shooting for crazy?  Other times, this over-the-top mindset doesn't work out so well.  Like when I decided to take my 4-year-old, 2-year-old and 8-month-old hiking by myself.  I ended up with Jacob strapped to my back, Bryan strapped to my chest and David having a breakdown because I wouldn't carry him.  I think the only reason he made it back to the car is that he really thought I would leave him in the woods if he didn't keep going.  Then there was the time I flew by myself halfway across the country with 4 small children.  It was ugly.  (See here).  Truly.

Well, in a more recent part-ill-advised, part-fierce-and-cool adventure, a group of us did the Tour de Rock bike ride last weekend.  Part of it turned out well.  Mom was awesome in the 62-mile ride.  Even after a crash, David rocked out the 30-mile ride with his dad.  I know you're waiting for a "but".  First let's discuss the butthead.  That would be the man who sent his wife a video of an approaching ambulance, their son's bike crashed on the side of the road, then their son sitting on the side of the road with a scraped knee (but possible head injury!!!) and no accompanying text.  It reminds me of the time my little brother went to a camp that required he write a letter home periodically.  He sent my mom this characteristic gem of male communication:
Dear Mom and Dad, I went to the hospital.  Love, Aaron.
Anyway, David got back on his bike and finished like a rock star.

Moving on, the other four of us did the 100-mile ride.  Wait, you might say, wasn't there a 62-mile option?  Isn't that still a really long way?  Is it really necessary to ride another FORTY miles beyond that?  Well, we did 60 miles with flair.  But at mile 60 we hit a strong headwind and must have limped into the 70 mile rest stop looking pretty rough because the ladies at the stop ran out to us carrying water and iced towels.  But once you decide to do a 100-mile ride, you finish - even if that means one of you loses consciousness and two require IV fluids at the finish. 

At the finish line, John's face was twitching in a weird way, so the medic started him on an IV.  While that was happening, my dad started looking a little spacey and said, "No?  No?  I'm not okay?" in a marijuana kind of voice when asked if he was okay.  HUGE RED FLAG.  In my family we whine, we moan and complain, but while continuing to soldier on through whatever insanity we've decided must be done.  We do not ever, under any circumstances admit we are not okay.

Everyone is fine now, although I sustained psychological damage because my dad can't close his eyes and faint gracefully like in the movies. He did this open-mouthed, eyes rolling back in his head thing like he was having a stroke.  I started to lose it but then remembered that the unconscious guy on the pavement probably needed all the attention. 

Both guys are doing fine now, and really, why finish here

Dad was the only one of us not sprawled on the ground at this 70 mile stop.

when you can finish here?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Things I learned with the cousins...

My niece and nephews stayed with us last weekend. Here are a few things I learned.
  • If you get shot in the heart, you don't die, but you can't have peace because you can't know Jesus.
  • In a light saber battle, it's debatable whether having your arm sliced off is a mortal wound.
  • When you are 9-years-old, you can talk your uncle/father into paying $4 for a ticket to park in his own garage (if your aunt/mother is involved).  You cannot, however, talk him into paying $50 for 9-year-old valet.
  • The mental health of some 4-year-olds hinges on whether they're allowed to strictly adhere to the open slide/closed slide/open slide/closed slide rotation at the pool.
  • In general, you can get a lot more information from a 7-year-old girl about the Sunday School lesson and about whether anyone was supposed to be sitting under the table during the lesson than you can from a 6-year-old boy (particularly if he was the one under the table).
  • Apparently it's possible to be hurt horribly by jumping on your own thumb.  Try it.  It's actually extremely difficult to do.  Watching the other kids try to reenact the injury was almost worth dealing with the melodrama of the original incident.*
  • Zombies make everything more fun.  Chris came up with Zombies vs. Survivors, Nerf style.  It was a hit.

I love these guys and, as much as I love their Mom and Dad, I really enjoy the way I get to know them when Chris and I are the only food source, entertainers, hold-me-when-I'm-tired option and tucker-in-at-nighters.
* In fairness to their cousins, I need to say that this was one of my kids.

Friday, June 1, 2012


This week I had the kind of parenting epiphany that I have had periodically since May 2003.  These are the things that people tell you but you mostly have to learn for yourself, sometimes painfully.  Here are a few

Summer 2003, D a few months - Your life is no longer your own.  You can no longer just decide to go to the dentist, go to the movies, sleep, ...

Winter 2004, D 9 months - You should enjoy the snuggly baby stage because it will eventually end. 
Summer 2005, D 2, J newborn - Your life is no longer your own.  For real. 
Winter 2006, D 2, J 6 months old - If you continue living for naptime and bedtime, you're going to miss a lot of good stuff.

Fall 2006, D 3, J 1.5, B newborn - Diapers/Pull-Ups for 3 kids are expensive. 
Winter 2010, D 6, J 4, B 3, R newborn - You only have time for the essentials.  After caring for everyone's basic needs, there's no time left, so you're going to have to figure out how to really give yourself to being a wife, mom, friend and follower of Jesus while going to the grocery store, doing laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning the house and teaching kids because there's no time for anything else.  Those are no longer the things to hurry and finish so you can do the important stuff.

Two things happened on our family campout that elicited another of these parenting realizations.  First, one of my boys asked to go kayaking in a single beside the bigger canoe instead of riding inside it with me and a few others.  He's a good swimmer and would wear a life jacket and stay with the group regardless, so I wasn't concerned about his safety.  But I tried to talk him out of it, not because of his age or safety concerns but because I didn't think he had the perseverance or gumption to row himself any distance that would be worth the trouble of getting him launched and back to shore.  Shame on me.  That's the opposite of what I should be doing.  He insisted that he wanted to try, and you know what?  He was great.  He rowed all over that lake without a complaint.  What kills me about this is that he might have believed me that he couldn't do it.  

The next day there was an incident on the campgrounds, and it was unclear which kid was the culprit.  It became apparent that my three big boys were the only ones with opportunity.  I immediately dismissed one of them as a suspect.  I was absolutely confident that he would not have done it.  So sure, in fact, that I didn't even ask him if he'd done it.  The other two boys repeatedly denied responsibility.  I had multiple lengthy conversations with them, and, I'm ashamed to admit, I told each of them that I knew they'd done it.  They continued to deny it.  I made them sit for a while and think about it.  It made me sick to my stomach.  I knew one of my kids was telling a persistent lie - one that was getting someone else in trouble, too.  Well the next morning, the guilty party came forward, and it was the kid I had never even asked, the one I was confident would not have done it.

So while my son is absolutely responsible for his lie of omission, my unshakable faith in my own understanding of three of my children, along with a shameful lack of imagination for what it's like to be a kid, made this situation so much worse, maybe even allowed it to happen.  And it was so ugly.  So
Spring 2012, D 9, J 6, B 5, R 2 - (1) You don't know everything about your children.  (2) Don't accuse a child of lying without compelling evidence if he has been honest lately.  (3) Don't ever say, "I know you did it," unless you really do.  (4) When a really difficult parenting situation comes up, if at all possible, stop, think, and pray for about  10 minutes before saying or doing anything.
So in ten years, if I turn into that sad mom who, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, refuses to believe that her child could have _____________, please refer me to this post.  And, from the depths of my heart, Lord, when my kids do something really bad, please let them continue to get caught.

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