Tuesday, January 31, 2012

School outside the lines

Working on an Early American History coloring book.  Right now, it's on the schedule every Tuesday and Thursday.
He can (and does) spend over an hour on two pages.  Usually closer to 2 hours.  Stopping occasionally to eat or to wrap a sore blistered finger in a bandaid, he then returns to his labors, never rushing, taking time to search for just the right color, completing the pages to his satisfaction.
I resist the urge to tell him to "hurry up!", because really, coloring, compared to the rest of his schoolwork is below important, even frivolous.
However, the work ethic he's displaying along the way makes it worth his time.  Every agonizing minute.


Today was a first.  A first for Noah, who was invited on his own to a friend's house to play.  As we were talking about how to behave as a guest in someone's home, his littlest brothers gave him some advice:

Josiah: "Don't be shy!"
Isaac: "Don't scare everybody!"

These littles pick up pretty much everything that goes on in this house, apparently.

The other first was that I allowed Sam and Caleb to stay behind at the house while I and Noah and the twins dropped him off.  According to the GPS, the drive was to take 34 seconds.  We went over house rules anyway:

- No using any appliances.  I don't know what you'd use the oven for, but if I don't mention it and you think of something, you'll say, "But you didn't tell us we couldn't do it!"  Sam's response to this: "Good point, Mama."
- No Caleb, you cannot answer the door for anyone.
- Stay inside the house.
- Call Daddy if you need to.
- Call the emergency number if you need to.

Most important rule: DO NOT MOVE from those chairs for ANY reason!  Do your schoolwork and have something to show me when I get back!

I was literally gone for about 6 minutes total.

Are you horrified at the thought of a 7 and almost-9-year-old at home alone?  Or do you think I'm over-the-top-protective and don't give my kids enough responsibility?  Keeping in mind that all kids are individual and can handle different responsibilities at different times, how do you handle the doling out of responsibility, namely being home alone?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Thanks for all the extra legos, Papa Louie!  Our living room can barely contain itself with the excitement of them all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Music class

Thursday morning band
"I will magnify the Lord" is the featured song, along with 
"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", courtesy of Sam's keyboard.

It's also Isaac's first day of potty training.  No turning back.  He's doing really well so far!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Moses' "If Only"

Today we read the passage in Exodus about Moses' encounter with the LORD and his reluctance to obey.  Several times, after God outlines what He wants Moses to do, Moses responds with basically a "but, Lord!"
In Exodus 4:13, Moses even is so bold as to say, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
This after God just finished telling him that He would be the one telling Moses what to say and that God Himself would be with him.
In verse 14, God's Word tells us that the Lord's anger burned against Moses - yet His grace as well, as He offers Aaron as Moses' "prophet" (Exodus 7:1), to go with him and speak for him.  Because for Moses, it just wasn't enough that God Himself promised to do those very things.
It's interesting that Aaron followed through in front of Pharaoh, but out in the wilderness, it was Aaron who gave Moses so much trouble by building the golden calf for the people to worship in place of the One True God.
Aaron failed to lead the people in Truth.
I wonder, if Moses had obediently accepted what God was telling him to do, would Aaron have entered into the picture in this manner at all?  Was Aaron's disobedience a result of Moses' disobedience?
We see Moses with the Law in his hands, written by the hand of God Himself, coming down the mountain to the scene of adultery against the LORD, and he is filled with righteous anger.  Resulting in him smashing the original Law to bits.

Sin has far-reaching effects.
Praise the Lord for the covering of Jesus' blood, our atonement.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pregnancy symptom 1,241

It's kind of a joke that anything unusual you experience during pregnancy can be chalked up to said pregnancy.  Runny nose?  Common with pregnancy.  Hair loss or hair abundance?  Yep.  Unusual rash?  That too.  Along with the typical symptoms of tiredness, nausea, increased appetite, increased sense of smell, and muscle pain, feel free to add anything you've never dealt with before that happens along while you're pregnant.

So far this pregnancy, mine have been:
- one extremely swollen gland right below my jaw; thankfully this has resolved.
- inability to control body temperature; I'm freezing, I'm hot, I'm freezing...
- sensitive teeth

But what tops it all, is that my scalp has heartburn.  Normally I get extremely bad heartburn about halfway through the pregnancy, continuing until delivery.  But right now, after eating any and every meal, the very top of my scalp tingles to the point of hurting and lasts for about an hour after the meal is over.

If any of you can shed some light on this, I'd be grateful.  If any of you think this is really weird, don't bother to comment - I already know :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guilt of a Monday


Walking into the boys bedroom, I notice that their clothes are still all over the floor.  I call them to take care of them.  In a few minutes, I come back and sure enough, Caleb has piled his into the laundry basket.

"Caleb, your clothes are not all dirty.  I don't even think your sweater is dirty.  You need to pick them up, fold them nicely, and put them away."

Caleb: "So Mom, I'm pretty sure that sweater is dirty.  I don't know exactly where, but I was wiping my tears all over it today."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gum, laundry, a rich aunt, and sin

Welcome to states and their capitals review day!

What is the capital of Arkansas?
What can you saw?
I can saw a Little Rock!

How about Virginia?
Who, that rich aunt?
Oh yeah, Richmond!

(stick with me here...)
Ten you see! (Grin really big)
And what are they doing?

That must've been the big mountain of  gum exploding again.

Poor Jackson, he misses his sippy!

I've neve' hadda -  car.
Carson City

That farmer gets so annoyed whenever he looks out the window and sees his chicken springing across his field.

(just a tad bit of liberty taken here)
Mad is sin.

All that wash hanging limply on the line.
Oh limpia!

Every can has a top.

(pronounced along with a broad, exaggerated wave)
Oh!  Hi!  Oh!
Said Columbus excitedly when he spotted land.

I'll ask ya.
J'you know the capital of Alaska?

Oops, I missed again with that lance!

The beautiful lady of the mountains.
Named Helena.

Where do you keep a pencil when you're not using it...at least for the sake of remembering this capital?
In your hair!

Apparently, Lincoln always wore brass buttons.

Why, oh, why are you so shy?

Hey, some people like the chicken.
Others prefer the frankfurters.

It's a big state!
Don't get lost in Texas!

OK!  This one's easy!
Oklahoma City!

Just a few of our quirky examples.  Believe it or not, it really works!  They remember it all, no matter how far-fetched the story or memory clue is - as long as it's memorable!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shopping at malls with boys

Do you know the boys were actually excited to take a trip to the mall today?  I needed maternity clothes.  That's right, I interrupted our homeschooling day today to take all five boys out with me to shop for maternity clothes!

Boys at the mall do not shyly stay by the double stroller taking everything in with big eyes.  They dash ahead, chase each other around the kiosks, nearly knock sweet little old ladies with their walkers over, and yell to each other not to fall and die when they're looking over the rails to the bottom floors.

Boys at the mall beg to ride the escalator.  Just once, I'll come right back up.  I'll carry one end of the stroller and you can carry the other, Mom.  Boys at the mall are never content just to ride the elevator, but if they must, they must always fight over who gets to push the button, and then little fingers reach out and push all the other buttons too.  Just not that great big red one!  Thank you.  They must also always jump up and down as the elevator is moving to get the ultimate ride experience.  And they must always be first to get on and first to get off.  Sometimes they must apologize to others.

Boys at the mall apparently love to go clothes shopping for themselves.  Because Mom, I need something really awesome to wear when I fight Darth Vader when we play Light Sabers.  Please, Mom.  Apparently, Tom and Jerry shirts work for this.  As well as an actual Darth Vader shirt.  Because everyone knows the secret to mastering your enemy is to wear a picture of him.

Boys at the mall absolutely dread going into women's clothing stores, and the ultimate agony is a maternity store.  Boys in this situation, when instructed to sit down and play quietly with their lego guys they brought along for just such an emergency will find the smallest corner of the store to squeeze into.  The great benefit of this is that they can then be seen both inside and outside the store.  When told to come out of smallest corner and stay out of the clothing racks, they will find the empty dressing rooms.  They will think that the strap-on pregnancy belly is interesting and wear it as a hat.  After vacating the rooms, they will poke pregnant mannequins in the stomach and compare the size with animals.

Boys at the mall will love stopping at the play area, even if two of them are too tall to play and are made to sit and watch.  The little boys will climb on everything.  They will even climb on the stuff that's actually designed for climbing on.  They will also climb on each other, sit on each other, and hoist each other up tall objects.  Sometimes they will accidentally do these things to other children.  Boys at the mall will also tend to shout things from the top of tallest play things like, "Look at that fat woman over there!"  And when informed that their words are impolite they will declare that the woman's not real, she's one of the fake people.  Then that woman will move and Mom will instill into them the message that things that are unkind to say are unkind to say about anyone.  Fake or real.

Boys at the mall will always beg for food.  They will delight in the fact that their mother can't say no because she is starving.  They will beg to play mini golf and video games as they head to selected eating spot.  They will also all gather around in the family restroom to watch each other pee into the tiny toilet.  When commanded to sit still and don't move while mom orders the food 5 feet away, boys tend to dismantle things.  Like the entire back of the booth they're sitting on.  And a mixture of horror and delight will cross their faces as they hold said back of the booth in their very own hands.  Much fist pounding will go into its replacement.  They will eat everything placed in front of them, even the extra containers of ketchup, and then moan about how hungry they still are.

 Five boys at the mall will receive all kinds of looks.  Endearing looks.  Disgusted looks.  Annoyed looks.  Patient looks.  Amazed looks. Curious looks.

A mother of five boys at the mall will receive those same looks.

I am so thankful my boys are not like those boys.  My boys just tend to shyly stay by the double stroller taking everything in with big eyes.  Whoever owns those boys obviously needs some lessons in parenting.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday's Graces

Today we started up school again after a 3-week break.  This is hard.  Good to get the boys on the routine again, hard to break through the thick vacation fog.  So it helps to look for the blessings in such a day.

* Caleb and Noah were extremely excited to be going to their yearly checkup at the doctor's office this afternoon.  Seriously, Noah thanked me for making the appointment.
* At that appointment, Noah received three shots.  He made no sound even though the nurse told him he could scream as loud as he wanted.
* At lunch, Isaac was assuring his brothers that his sandwich was very cold.  His classic "Mmhmmm" was followed by, "I smelled it and it was cold!"
* We're back to regular chores, which means that I didn't have to empty the dishwasher, sweep, or do the lunch dishes today.  And I got help folding the laundry.
* I did 7 loads of laundry today and only have 1 small one left to finish.  They're not all folded, but they're all clean!
* No toilets were clogged in this house today.
* We're all currently healthy!
* We found babysitters for next weekend!
* I got to pray individually with the boys tonight, which goes a long way in making an emotional connection with them, especially for my oldest.
* I plan on doing nothing tonight.
* Except eat ice cream.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two fancy

At 2 1/2, Isaac (left) and Josiah are almost a whole head apart in height and about 4-5 pounds apart in weight.  Yes, they're fraternal, but definitely brothers!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Safe Families for Children

A few months ago, our family was called into ministry.  This ministry, called Safe Families, is fairly new to the Twin Cities area and is an awesome opportunity for the body of Christ to be just that.  What it works to do is to first get the word out - clinics, hospitals, shelters, counseling offices, etc. - to families (usually single moms) who have no built-in support system of their own and let them know that families are available if they need help with their children for awhile.
So the "safe family" becomes that support system, being there both for the kids and for the mom or the dad or whatever the case may be, as they work to get their lives together, just have a little breather, or even if they just need to go into the hospital for a day and have no one to watch their kids.  There are homeless families, addiction issues, moms trying to get out of bad relationships, parents trying to find work or housing, the issues are as diverse as the children.  
Sometimes the need is immediate.  Sometimes it's short-term, sometimes longer (up to a year).  The two opportunities we've had have both been just extended weekends.  
First we took care of Jamari and Jeremy, aged 2 and 5.  They fit in well with our boys and our walls are still vibrating from all that energy!

Then last weekend, we took care of Precious, who was indeed a precious little 10-month-old girl.  The boys loved her!

See her piggies?  I did that!  Well, yes, it took Brian holding her still and several tries on my part to get the piggies straight in her hair, but I managed it!

There are many amazing things about this ministry.
First, we are not compensated in any way to care for these children, as we would if we were foster parents.  In other words, the body of Christ is just expected to step up and do their part in a very hands-on way to "care for orphans and widows".  Sometimes the kids come with very little clothes and such, so there is a bit of an expense.

Second, there is absolutely no government involvement!  And it's saving the states it helps many millions of dollars because many of these children would end up in the foster care system if not for this ministry.

Third, we get the opportunity to minister to the whole family.  Contact with the parent is encouraged if it is welcome, and with longer visits, the safe family really has an opportunity to make a lasting connection with the parent, becoming a much-needed mentor, and often just what that parent needs to be able to start setting goals or figure out what their next step toward stability needs to be.

Fourth, we get the opportunity to minister as a whole family.  This I absolutely love!  The boys, who have been hearing us talk about how wherever we go, whomever we run across, we need to show the love of Jesus, get the opportunity to do it in their very own home.  And as they're discovering, there are the easy cases and the harder cases.  But the most rewarding and blessing-filled are usually the hard ones.

We are planning on starting a special photo album of pictures and names of our safe families kids, so that we can pray for them and their families after they leave us.  We never know if we'll see them again, but we've had the amazing blessing of being able to, in a small way, touch their lives with the love of Jesus.  Then we trust that He is faithful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beyond Bible 101

As we start a new year, we're also starting a new Bible-reading plan with the kids.  We've gone through our Day-by-Day Children's Bible two years in a row now, and it was time for something new.  No, not the Book of Mormon, not that kind of new.  Rather, a full Biblical account.  No paraphrasing, no omissions.  The real deal.

So far, the following questions have sprouted, mostly from my oldest, all without prompting:

- "Why does evening always come first when it's talking about the days of Creation?"
- "Our image?  Is that like the Lord of the Rings when Gollum talks like he's talking about more than one person?"
- "So woman is just one giant bone?"
- "Why did Adam get to name the animals?"
- "Wait a minute!  Eve wasn't even created yet when God gave the command about the tree.  Did she know?"

In response to my asking why they felt the need to clothe themselves after choosing to disobey God, my 8-year-old says, "Because God wasn't clothing them with Himself anymore."

- 6-year-old: "So before they sinned, they could just eat from the tree of life whenever they wanted?"  8-year-old:  "Yeah, and they could also use its leaves to heal all their wounds."
- "Adam was with Eve when she ate the fruit?  Why didn't he stop her??"
- "Who did Cain marry?" .....  "But that's against the law!"

Casual dress

Yesterday I was so, so tired all day long.  Maybe that's why I laughed so hard when this conversation ensued:

Scene: I'm getting the twins ready for bed.  My darling little 2 1/2 year-olds who we still refer to as "the babies" around here.  Gotta stop that soon, I guess.  We've been working on getting the twins fairly independent with dressing/undressing.  Isaac is struggling with his undershirt, so I help him pull out one arm, but then he proceeds to pull his arm out through the neck hole.

Me: "Isaac, sweetie, not through that hole.  Through the bottom."
Isaac: "This is the bottom?", pulling his arm out the right way.
Me: "Yep, that's the bottom!"
Isaac, pointing to the neck of the shirt: "And this is the **** (male part)!" Said confidently like he just figured everything out.