Thursday, December 02, 2010

Table Manners

I think we're the only family out there who hasn't mastered table manners, but we're working on it.

The other night we were correcting one child's table manners, and Hannah exclaimed "There are SOOO many rules! I just can't keep track of them all!"

It wasn't long afterward that I found the following posted on the wall next to the table. Apparently, she made a list of as many things as she could think of.

Here is a transcription:

1. Children (12 and under) cannot talk [when food is] on their plate.
2. No interrupting.
3. No touching the mirror.
4. No water spitting.
5. No talking with your mouth full.
6. No eating fork foods with your hands.
7. No food playing.
8. The one you touch is the one you take.
9. Toddlers (3 and under) cannot pour liquid.
10. No complaining about your food.
11. Don't add too much salt and butter.
12. Ask for everything you get.
13. Say please and thank you.
14. If you might fall asleep, excuse yourself.
15. No toys except centerpieces.
16. No books except centerpieces.
17. No teasing.
18. No burping.
19. Chew with your lips closed.
20. Keep babies older than nine months in a high chair.
21. No nursing at the table.
22. No being rude.
23. No mocking.
24. Don't steal food.
25. No hitting.

Does she have a career in law, law enforcement, or politics ahead of her?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Best Friends

Tonight while doing the dishes, Hannah asked Daniel "Do you have a best friend?"

Somehow this was not a question I had ever thought to ask my 6 year old boy. I knew that Hannah had a best friend, but she's a girl. It's different.

There was a long pause.

"Daniel, did you hear the question?" I asked


"Buddy, who is your best friend?" Hannah asked again

"Is it Hannah?" I asked, thinking that he had probably never thought about it himself.

Another long pause.

And then, as if it had just dawned on him, he said quietly "Caleb."

And my heart melted. It's a dream come true to have your children call each other best friends, especially when the one asked is speaking of their 4 year old little brother. I only wish that Caleb had been in the room to hear when Daniel said it. Caleb absolutely loves Daniel and looks up to him, copying him in everything. It is a beautiful evening here. My heart is still warm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Peace, Dude.

I've gotten a number of emails from people from readers far and hear about a post I wrote a few months ago that mentioning a biblical way to help your children resolve their own differences. I've been responding individually, because I didn't know how to insert a link until today. I just spent several minutes of desperate searching, and of course, found it totally easy - as long as you think like Blogger. Anyway, let me know if the links don't work.

I had originally seen a link by a friend on Facebook to a post to Raising Olives, and I went over to investigate. Folks, I am barely making it with 5 kids, so I figure if a woman has 8 kids and she finds the time to blog and run her family too, she must be worth a few minutes of reading! In this case, I think it was a providential find, as I was really blessed by her post about Solving Sibling Squabbles. (If I'm doing overkill on the links, it's because I'm trying to repeat the process a few times so I don't forget.)

By way of update on the results of our using a Biblical approach to help our children solve their differences, I can tell you that it has really worked for our 6 and 7 year old children, and to some extent with our 4 year old. Conflicts between our 6 and 7 year old kids are being resolved regularly without parental oversight. Conflicts between either the 6 or 7 year old with a 4 year old sometimes need a little oversight. Conflicts that involve the 2 year old ALWAYS need oversight, because well, toddlers don't reason very well. I honestly think that is just a developmental issue, and that they'll get it as long as we teach them, and stick with it.

Peace, Dude. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daddy and the Toe Volcano

This is the story of Daddy and the Toe Volcano, which could also be called "Peter, the Best Daddy in the World."

This morning Daniel came into our room with a very bloody big toe. Apparently, he had a corner of his toenail too long, and it had snapped backwards, but not snapped off. He was tough, and wanted a bandaid. It was gross.

I turned away at the sight of it. I set him on the counter by the sink to wash it, but I was just plain repulsed, so I asked if Daddy wanted to help. Daddy came up, and he turned away in horror too. It looked painful. He told Daniel that we were going to need to put some hydrogen peroxide on it.

"Will it hurt, Daddy?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe a little, just a sting, while it gets the bad bacteria out." Peter replied.

"Not as bad as a bee sting, Buddy." I added.

"Yes, and it will do some a volcano!" Peter said.

And that is when the crisis became fun, like 'a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.' Thank goodness for Peter.

Yesterday was Daniel's 6th birthday. We only have friend birthday parties every 3rd year for each kid (3,6,9...) and this was Daniel's year. He had his volcano birthday party yesterday. He and Papa spent a week making a very awesome volcano which they had erupt during the party, and we had rootbeer floats that ran over instead of birthday cake.

So when Daddy mentioned the possibility of a toe volcano, it was like he had suddenly been BLESSED with this injury!

Peter gingerly put the peroxide on his toe. It foamed up nastily, complete with Daddy making volcano sound effects. Daniel got in on the sound effects. And before we knew it, the toe volcano had erupted, and was done.

"Can we do it again later, Daddy?" he asked.

"Yes, probably twice a day, until it is safe enough to trim the nail. We'll keep it covered with a bandaid in between times." Peter said.

It made me so glad to be his wife. I would have never thought of that! I'm sure he is the best Daddy in the world.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Hot Dog

Last night during dinner Hannah looked up and exclaimed "There's a four- footed animal on our property!" Since we don't have any animals with 4 feet, I ran to window to get a look.

This is what we saw. Some neighbor's dog wandered in the gate and was taking a swim in the pond. That's one hot dog. When I took the picture he just looked at me like "Thanks for having this pool, lady. I needed it!" Then he jumped out and headed out the gate. There is never a dull moment here.

When Peter got home from I told him about it and he wanted to know if I had turned the waterfall on to scare him out (the switch for the waterfall is in the house). Why didn't I think of that? Not that I wanted to scare him away, but it would have been pretty funny to see the dog's response!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Abby is 21 months now, and is a bundle of joy. This morning my heart melted when we were having our family worship time, and she volunteered "I want be wise!...I want make Mommy Daddy happy!"

As much as my heart is so pleased that she wants to by wise, and to please her father and mother, I couldn't help thinking of how it would make God happy if we as adults were striving to "Be wise! Make Heavenly Father happy!"

Recently, Peter and I have struggled with how to steer our children towards sibling harmony. The 7 seater minivan is full, and we're just going to have to learn to get along in that amount of space for the time being. As a parent, I've felt like I'm just stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out how to get family harmony back.

Then I saw a blog that I've never seen before and it was talking about applying principles from Matthew 18:15-17 to peacemaking within a family. I showed it to Peter, and we both wondered why we had never thought of it ourselves. I don't feel qualified to go into much depth on it right now, because I'm still trying to figure out myself, but the next morning we read Matthew 18 for our family devotions, and talked about settling conflicts between siblings peaceably and biblically. We even did some role playing, which the kids found both funny and helpful.

Then this morning Abby declares that she wants to be wise, even if just to please us. Talk about out of the mouths of babes...They teach me so much.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Click to play this Smilebox photo album: Here He Is!
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Another photo album by Smilebox

Here are some photos of our precious boy. You will need to maximize the screen to see it correctly. Samuel is the perfect addition to our family!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Whoa Nelly!!! Let's just say a lot has happened since I last blogged. For starters, we had a baby, and he's now more than 6 weeks old. His name is Samuel Lorne, a family name on Peter's side of the family. It really doesn't do him justice to write without putting a picture of how adorable he is, so I'll have to write again and post pictures - when I am home.

Today - I am not. I am actually nextdoor at my parents' house (they are out of town - hope we can keep it clean!) with my 5 kids, and 4 loads of laundry, because my washing machine has stopped. Believe it or not, I actually packed up the car with the hampers and children and drove next door, because it was too much for me to ferry back and forth by myself. I'm sitting here enjoying the sounds and smells of clothes being washed, while letting the bigger kids watch Bob the Builder, and the little kids play next to me. Abby is systematically emptying every toy consisting of 30 pieces or more, and Samuel is contently watching a singing frog light up, because that's about all a newborn can be entertained with.

Things are so busy here. Sometimes I try to estimate when things will slow down and be more manageable, and so far I'm coming up with something when I'm in my forties. Please tell me it will be sooner! Life with 5 is not much more complicated than life with 4, except for nursing and nap schedules. Life without my washing machine is significantly more complicated by having #5 though, as he creates a lot of dirty laundry, besides our regular laundry for small children living in the country (read "dirt"), and an increasing volume of pool towels (which is a good thing).

Aside from increased laundry and the inability to wash it, the only thing I had not forseen about having another family member is that our car has shrunk. We have a very fine Honda Oddyssey that seats 7. I love this car, and that's saying something for someone who very reluctantly went from a really fun little Acura to a Mommy mini-van. Last night we had a very serious talk about a full-size van. This is the one change I am having trouble with. We can't get an SUV (we already shopped them), because we have so many car seats that we would have to take at least one out every time we wanted to go anywhere, just to climb into the back seat. As much as I am reluctant to have a giant van, that's too much inconvenience even for me. After taking a 4 hour trip yesterday (2 hours each way), a van is looking REAL GOOD. There is just no room left in there, and the kids need a little bit of space. Caleb finally fell asleep - on Hannah. She shoved him off, he started crying, and this woke up Samuel. The chain reaction continued until I think all 7 of us had weighed in on the issue. Yes, I need a van, and a washing machine.

The repairman will be here late this afternoon. I won't be here then, so I'm hoping he can fix it without needing any more information. Peter thinks I just wore it out. I looked up the average life expectancy for washers (no actuarial tables, just the web) and it said with an average of 400 washes per year they will last approximately 14 years. Ours is 7 years old, but I think I wash approximately 650-700 loads per year. Hmmm...We'll see what the repairman says.

Well, I must dash off now and make some lunch for the happy crowd. It's nice to be out of the house for a few hours, blogging and listening to my baby coo. I don't even mind have 4 loads to fold, because it is CLEAN laundry. How nice.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Step-by-Step Guide to Labor - by Hannah, age 7

1. Have the baby get ready
2. Get ready
3. Have the kids get ready
4. Tell the baby he's almost ready
5. Tell the children about labor
6. Check baby sup[p]lies
7. Decide what to pack
8. Pile packing things
9. Check the things you need
10. Correct anything needed
11. Check it off!
12. Start commanding
13. Settle unkindness
14. Settle any argu[e]ments
15. Tell baby to be still
16. Tell kids to be quiet
17. Stop any contractions
18. Say goodbye and kiss/hug
19. Take out suitcases
20. Pack for the hospital
21. Drive to the hospital
22. Labor

Glad we got that settled now...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Your Ways or My Ways?

The past couple of days have not gone according to my plan. Yesterday we woke up to find all of our hens had been killed by something (probably a raccoon), and the chicks are missing. Not only was it disappointing and frustrating to all of us, but it was a major cause of grief to one little girl here in the house who cried for probably 2 hours. On the practical side, we ended up not even cracking open a book for school because trying to bury 4 hens in the rain, with mud up to my ankles, kids crying and mud flying, and chickens in various pieces is not real easy when you are only 2 weeks out from your due date, and you're digging through the contractions. Ugh. All the kids - and me - had to have a bath or shower immediately following.

Then today I got Peter out the door for work, and promptly came down with a migraine headache. Thank goodness my parents are nearby and were available to come and read quietly while I waited for some pretty powerful coffee to hit my head and clear my vision. When I could finally see and walk around again, I sent the kids outside and they got literally stuck in the mud. My mom went outside just in time to find Daniel with a hoe about to "chip" Hannah and Caleb out of the mud. Caleb was truly stuck in something like quicksand mud and could not move. Thank goodness my mom rescued him from what would certainly have been bloodied ankles, as he mysteriously decided to wear his crocs into the mud, instead of rain boots. Again, no school today.

Then again, the last few months have not been according to my plan. In December, the Monday after Christmas, my Nana became suddenly so sick that she was hospitalized. She never went home. She went to a convalescent home, and made it 6 weeks - dying on Valentine's Day. Largely due to the stress of her passing, but also many other factors, before she was even buried the next week I went into preterm labor at 29 weeks. Not good. I was put on medication to stop my labor and told to rest. Rest? Dr.'s orders - the Dr. is crazy! Who rests when they have a houseful like mine? I tried resting. We did school while I laid down on the couch every day. I gave up having a tidy home for having a healthy baby. Our wonderful church came to rescue with meals to keep us going.

Then I got sick. It is not easy when Mommy is sick. 3 weeks of not being able to keep anything in. Finally we discovered that I was allergic to the anti-contraction medication! We stopped that quickly, and I just went on more strict bedrest. We made it. I'm 38+ weeks now - and still pregnant.

Now that I am full term, I am super healthy and ready - and he's not coming out. The irony of it all! Do I need to learn this much flexibility Lord?

Then today I was resting (Mommy's maxim "When the kids rest - Mommy rests!") and I remembered Isaiah 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Oh how true. His ways are not my ways. If I had my way, Nana would not have died a painful death. If I had my way I would have sailed through this pregnancy. If I had my way there would be no mud outside!

But I'm glad that His ways are prevailing. There are some wonderful moments to be remembered these past few months. Reminiscing with my mother, while we cleaned out my Nana's apartment. Watching Daniel insist on being the first to eulogize Nana at the viewing service ("That's my Nana," he said, grabbing the microphone and pointing a long bony 5 year old finger, "and she is...DEAD! She's not moving because...she is DEAD!"). Working with Hannah on her memory work, and listening to her share her heart with me. Potty training Caleb. Watching Abby become more than a tummy on legs - but a little person - with lots of fun personality. Reading endless books on the couch. Cuddling on the couch with Peter while we talk about the day each evening, watching God's plan unfold. Learning to trust that God's ways ARE really better and higher than mine.

Yes, it has been a rough couple of months. I'm hoping we are nearing the end of the challenges.

But even if we are just beginning, I think I'm starting to get it. His ways are not mine - they are better. It's going to be OK. Actually, it's not going to be OK, it's going to be better than I could imagine. I have hope, because I know the Giver of Hope, and He's good on His word. May He be glorified through my life - even today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I don't want the IPad, but what do I want?

I checked out the IPad to see if that is something that would work for me. Unfortunately, it comes short in a lot of areas. But it set me thinking: if I had the ideal electronic thingy, what would it do? That is what this post is about. I think there may be something out there that could accomplish this, but maybe not in as small of a form factor as I want. Here's the list:

1. Small form factor, but not too small. I like the netbook weight, but maybe slightly bigger screen.
2. I want a real keyboard, but the option of turning the monitor around into a tablet like the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet X200 (that may end up being my answer to all of this, but it is kind of heavy).
3. Both WWAN and Wifi built in. And it would really be nice if the software for connecting was not clunky (See Verizon's VZAccess software), but connected automatically, unless it was turned off.
4. Any document that I might need or e-mail that I need to read/answer would be available. This is not as much about the device as about my own system, but I think it could happen. I think the Google e-mail system is the closest I have seen to this so far. I'm testing out Sugarsync for document availability and so far it seems to be working pretty well. So, I think I may be close. But I'm having a hard time letting go of MS Exchange. It's working really well for me right now and I hate to kick out something that is working, just to get something that might work better . . . or worse, much worse.
5. I would love for it to boot up fast, but I'm not sure if it is worth it to give up the features that come with a full-featured operating system.
6. I also want enough storage so that I could store a substantial amount of files in the event I was somewhere without internet access. By substantial, I'm talking about 100 gig worth of files.

So, there you have it. If you see it, let me know.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What They're Saying

Hannah...Today in ballet while doing "butterfly" warm-ups, the instructor asked each girl where they were "flying" to. Typical answers were things like "Grandma's house," "Disneyland," "my friend's house," etc. Until we get to Hannah. "Hannah, where are you flying today?" Without skipping a beat we hear "I'm flying to a meeting house in Spain where we are meeting to discuss taking back Mexico as one of our own." Totally random...

Daniel...Today in choir the director began to clean the white board. All of a sudden Daniel blurts out "Watch out for those DANGEROUS CHEMICALS!!!" All the parents giggled. Mrs. Clark tried to assuage his fears by explaining that it is only water by flipping the bottle around and reading the label - in Spanish. Now my Spanish isn't great, but even I was able to understand the "flammable" warning! As if this isn't enough, a girl in the front row began to freak out over the whole idea and started yelling "I need safety goggles!" It caused quite such a stir that the director just abandoned cleaning the board altogether. Sorry about that Mrs. Clark! Daniel also got to sing a little solo this morning. She gave him the microphone, but he certainly did NOT need it. This guy has got lung power.

Caleb...speaking of singing, he has the sweetest singing voice. I just melt whenever he sings. But on to the real news: Caleb has recently become potty trained! Do I hear shouts of relief and gratefulness? (Oh wait, that's me.) This is nothing short of an answer to prayer! God knew that his mommy NEEDED this to happen. He is doing great! He also became aware of one big lack in his life this past weekend. Peter took me out on a date, but Caleb wanted to come along. I explained that it was just for Mommy and Daddy and that when he got married he could take his wife out for a date. "Oh no!" he exclaimed "I don't have a wife!" Not yet little one, not yet...

Abby...thinks she is a big kid. She tries to keep up with the bigger kids and she's pretty good at it. It helps that she has a very large vocabulary for a 16 month old. She is especially fond of bath time, raisins, and making messes. She is our little delight.

Did I mention yet that Baby #5 is on the way? He is apparently destined to be a soccer player. We haven't heard any words from him yet, but if he's anything like the rest of us, he'll have a lot to say.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mad Libs

Today I found some Mad Libs filled out by Hannah, who apparently didn't know that you are supposed to do it with a friend and fill in the blanks without knowledge of the scenario. What's so funny is that I think she put in what was most logical in her little girl mind... I'll retype it here, with her words inserted in all caps:

"Love Letter"

My DEAR darling, I love you more than EARTH itself. Each minute away from you is a/an HOUR, each hour a/an LONG eternity.

I can't stop thinking about the color of your CAT, the way you wear your DRESS, the way you toss your BALL. This morning, when the mail TRUCK brought your special delivery BOX, my HEART skipped a beat, my HEART was in my throat, and my DOG trembled so much, I could hardly SEE your HOUSE. What you said set my HOUSE on fire! Do write again. Until then, I love you from the bottom of my FEET.

I will LOVE you always,


Friday, January 01, 2010


My Dear Hannah,

Today is your last day of being six years old. Today I watched you skip outside while heartily blowing a harmonica with carefree abandon. It brought tears to my eyes to see what a big girl you've become, and how lovely you are becoming.

I remember - as if it were yesterday - going to the hospital 7 years ago today to give birth. I remember crying in the Doctor's office a few days before that I thought I would be eternally pregnant, and you would never come out! The doctor assured me that "Chance of baby coming out: 100%!" It seems so silly now, but even now as I'm pregnant I can imagine one of those kicks to feel like it was yours.

Right now I can hear a happy harmonica outside. I think of how much joy you have brought Daddy and me! We named you Hannah Joy, because #1 Hannah was the first and only name that we liked at the time (and it means "Grace") and #2 We just 'knew' you would be our joy - and you are! Only you know exactly where that silly tickle spot is on my neck, because it is the same on yours. Only you can amaze us with reciting your history cards - something like 150 events in history from creation to Henry V now - in perfect order. Only you could teach yourself to read.Only you would be so stubborn to refuse to be potty trained until YOU were ready! I could go on and on...You make us smile, my dear!

Tomorrow is your birthday, and we will celebrate seven wonderful years of you. Only you would choose pink peppermint cupcakes - because you knew that I always wanted that when I was your age. I'm looking forward to relishing them with you and going to the snow and having a snowball fight!

I love spending time with you. This year I think we should: have more tea parties, play dress-up together, swim every day in the summer, sing really loud together (like Daniel), try and talk Daddy into a trip to Disneyland, and of course do lots of fun school. (Only you would think school is just for fun!) Your interests are so varied! You are the keeper of random facts! You are the memorizer of everything that I can never remember! You are my ballerina girl who I have to make sure who I have to make sure I get you out of your leotard before you go play in the mud! I thought Uncle Andy summarized you well at Thanksgiving when he said "She is the perfect blend of tomboy and girly-girl."

Most of all, you are a gift from God. If there is one thing I hope you remember about me when some day I am gone, it is that I loved you, every single minute of every single day - even when I had to discipline you. You are such a gift and a joy.

I love you sweet girl!