Saturday, December 27, 2008

What to Do Next Year for Christmas (Note to Self Part Two)

Next Christmas will be different. Why? Because I will read this entry and listen to my own advice. Hopefully... I want to do what really matters and reject what doesn't. I want to get it right, be a blessing, and not miss opportunities to strengthen relationships with my husband, kids, friends, family, neighbors, and those I have yet to meet. In an attempt to make that happen, this is my brainstorm list of what I'd like to do different, or what I have done that I need to do more. Ok, here goes!

1. Play games with the kids. Board games, card games, silly games.

2. Teach them to give gifts. Include them.

3. Sponsor a local family in need.

4. Sponsor a child or family in need from another country. Write letters to them. (i.e. Comapssion International, etc.)

5. Decorate the house more. We really do enjoy that. Put lights up outside, set up the village, put little Christmas-y things here and there throughout the house. It makes every room cozy and inviting. BTW, we have enough stuff, this does NOT mean buy more decorations, except maybe green garland and white lights for outside. Also, send a Christmas letter, and a picture. Be real.

6. If I don't listen to my own advice and DO bake cookies, give them all away before Christmas. I will not need them for the holidays. There really will be plenty. Let it go...

7. Visit friends and family.

8. Rather than buy gifts for our immediate family, take a vacation. We will not remember what we got a year later, but we remember vacations and so seldom get to take them.

9. Look for opportunities to bless others. Outreach rather than inreach!

10. Finally, remember the one we are celebrating. Spend more time, not less in worship, prayer, and the Word. Cultivate intimacy with Jesus over the holiday, He will definitely make it worth the time.

May God richly bless you with His presence this coming year. Merry Christmas!

What Not to Do Next Year for Christmas (Note to Self)

Ok, I tend to overdo it. Those who really know me are not surprised by this. I did it again this Christmas... I spent too much, I baked too much, I worried too much, I ate too much. Next year will be different, right? Here's what I don't need to do anymore:

1. Feel like my gifts to others need to be their "wow" gift. Something little and thoughtful is enough. I don't need spend a lot.

2. Less is truly more with the kids. They don't need several gifts to be happy. One thing each is enough. Besides, Grandma makes up the difference :-)

3. I think that by the time we get to Christmas morning, they would actually prefer fruit and beef jerky in their stockings rather than loads more candy. Remember all the pie and cookies at Grandma's the night before? Also, pies and cookies Christmas Day... Candy is NOT needed, or appreciated!

4. I don't need to bake Christmas cookies. Again, Grandma makes up for it.

5. I don't need to make lefse, unless I make it with a group of friends and it is a fun event. Otherwise, it is just more fat and sugar I feel compelled to eat.

6. Don't go shopping with only a list of names and no ideas. This is bad. :-(

7. Don't go shopping alone. I need a chaperone!

8. Don't buy wrapping paper. I have enough.

9. Don't assume I have bows, ribbon and tape. I don't.

10. Don't get so busy I forget to spend time with Jesus, my family and friends. They are the point of the whole holiday, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cute Kid Story

John just turned 5 on Dec 1st, but all of a sudden seems so grown up. First of all, let me tell you about his dream. Every night when I tuck him in, I pray that the Lord would reveal himself to him in his dreams. John has always said that he has never had a dream. Wednesday morning, I woke up to hear him laughing out loud in his bed. I asked him why he was laughing and he said, "I had a funny dream!"

"What was your dream John? What happened?" I asked.

"I dreamed I was climbing on a big rock and everytime I climbed up, the rock asked me, 'Do you love me?' "

"John! did you know that one of the names for Jesus is The Rock? I think that the rock in your dream was Jesus and he was asking you if you love him! That's really neat!" I exclaimed.

"No-o-o!" John said while laughing, "It was the Robots video game!"

Arrrgh! I HATE video games!

Then, later that same day we were on our way home from the dentist, following the snow plow. It was spreading sand and salt on our road. Hannah asked what he was doing and I told her that the sand helps you not to slip and the salt melts the snow and ice. When we got home and were getting out of the van, I noticed John crying in the backseat. I asked him why he was crying and he replied, "The snow! I can't go sledding anymore!"
He thought that the snow plow's sand and salt would make ALL of the snow go away! Too cute. He was very relieved when he learned the truth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adventures in Sewing

It's weird how sometimes you get a crazy idea to do some project and then you find out that two, or maybe even three of your close friends or family had the same idea. No? this never happens to you? Well, it happened this week and it's just strange. I'm sure it means something deep and profound, but I can't quite figure it out. I don't believe in coincidence... only providence.

I decided that I wanted to sew. Now, you have to know that my sewing skills are rather limited and I tend to be the sloppy, just git-er-done type of worker. So I have learned to enter into sewing projects with caution. My end product will NOT look like the one on the front of the pattern. I have to be okay with that. Anyway, I decided that I would make matching mother-daughter aprons for Hannah and I. I went to the store, got the pattern, material, and supplies. I dug out my sewing machine, set it up, and even washed and IRONED the fabric. I started to lay out the pattern and had to call my mom for help. She said it was very strange that she had just decided that she need to teach Laura (my youngest sister) how to sew. Just that week she bought a pattern and material for her and was just thinking about starting on it when I called. (Twilight Zone music in background).

Mom came over and stuck with me through the whole first apron. We had a wonderful time talking and having tea while we girls worked on the project. It was very nice to have a quiet evening at home to visit. The next day as I was finishing the second apron, I called her for some phone advice and my Grandma Jule was at her house for coffee. Mom had told her about my sewing project and she remarked that my aunt Rosie had called her that very same week to tell her that she had decided that she wanted to sew aprons. She bought the material and a pattern and wanted to come to Minnesota to learn how to sew (Twilight Zone music gets louder).

I have know idea what will come of this, if anything. It was just so remarkable, I had to share.

I have so far completed 3 aprons and am really enjoying learning how to use my machine and visiting with my sewing gurus seeking their wisdom. We'll see if my skills improve.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Life is Too Short to Spend it Busy

I'm feeling a little out of control lately with family obligations, family emergencies, work, homeschooling, keeping things sort of managed at home, etc. Please keep me in your prayers to get through the month of October and that the rest of the winter will be uneventful. I am looking forward to cold winter days when the hibernation begins.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Retro Mama

I am sad to report that my dishwasher did not survive the zucchini bread making marathon. You can't rinse zucchini shreds out of all the dishes used and I guess it was just to much for the old gal and she choked. After the eighth time of washing, drying, then putting away the dishes, I decided I'm really not enjoying this retro-mama experience. Even with my retro apron on, I cannot smile.
Dewey, the appliance repair man who now is on a first name basis with all of us here (this is the Year of the Appliance), came with his appliance ambulance, loaded her up and took her to his hospital. His parting words were, "I don't think I'll have it done this week, but next week for sure!"
That sounded rather vague, don't you think?
The thing that aggravates me most is nothing makes my kids and husband feel like fixing a snack like an empty sink. Every time I turn around it's half-full of dishes! ARRRGH!! I need to create a menu that does not involve dishes. Like trail mix and water...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Where I Would Rather Be

Where has this summer gone? Maybe it's just me, but it seems like it has been three months of chaos and I really never got any down-time. We booked a week at Fenske Lake for some Boundary Waters canoeing and then we cancelled after getting hit by the tornado in July. Now I am really regretting it. This picture is what I am longing for. Quiet lakes, loons with their babies, the gentle splashing of the paddle, no errands, no garden weeding, no beans that need to be canned, no work calling and asking me to come in on my day off, no fighting, tattling, or hitting. The lawn doesn't need mowing, the projects are all done, the kids are all clean, smiling, and quiet. Michael has no work to do, the checkbook is balanced and in the black, dinner is made and everyone likes it, everyone is healthy, the laundry is done, the dishes are done, the floors are clean, and I can really, truly let my mind relax. Please don't wake me!!

I think that I grossly underestimated the importance of summer vacation and now that fall is upon us and we are back to school at our house I find that I am not ready for summer to be over. I WANT MY VACATION!!

Michael and I do have a date tonight...hopefully that will help.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

No Doubt About It... I'm a Farm Girl!

I have to warn you... this post may be gruesome. Men won't want to read it at all. Alright, you've been warned.

It all started July 5th when we got a call from the local FFA director asking us if we would take the three little pigs from the kiddie barnyard at the Cannon Falls Fair. We didn't want them, but we took them. (that's another story...) Anyway, it turns out that one of the pigs we didn't want was an intact boar, meaning he needed to be castrated in order for the meat to be any good. Usually this is done when the pigs are 2 days old as they are smaller and MUCH easier to handle. After the events yesterday, we agree that this IS the best way to do it.

After the discoverery of "the twins", we began to discuss our dilemma with various farm gurus we thought might be willing to help us out and perform the "procedure". As time went on, we realized we might just be on our own here so we best study up. Michael did research on how to best de-masculinate the poor guy and I shopped for supplies. At least my 3 yrs in the operating room proved of some value! We decided Saturday was "D-day" and we got up early expecting a long morning of hog wrestling. I called all the neighbors to warn them of the almost assured blood curdling screams they might hear and that no one was being murdered on our property (though Matthew argues a bullet to the head would be preferable in his book). We left the kiddos safe in the house watching the Olympics and set out for hog wrestling.

Michael used a garbage can to corner and catch him. Head first in the garbage can then tipped upside-down. Next grab the back legs and tie up to a beam on the ceiling of the barn. We left him with front feet touching the ground, but still in the garbage can so he couldn't kick around so much. I got my soap and scrub bucket, donned my gloves and prepped our patient. Next, a betadine paint to the surgical site and then the pig pooped. Several times. Ok, so I cleaned and prepped as best I could, got my scalpel, prepared to make the incision, and froze. "You do it." I said to Michael. "No." was all he said and I knew I was it. Yikes! I've never done anything like this before! I began thinking about the blood, what if I could find them, what if I really hurt the poor piggy, and maybe it would be easier and more humane to just shoot the pig and be done with it.

After much deliberation about the best technique according to Michael's research, I made the first cut. Not as easy as I thought. I had to go through three layers and chase them around a bit before I finally got the first one out. It worked, one out, one to go. As I was rejoicing, Michael had to go lay down in the grass for a while.

"Hey! Come back and help me!" I yelled. He did come back and hold one leg that slipped out of the rope and I made the second incision. He left again. I waited, got the next one out easily, then did a final scrub with betadine and let Mr. Bacon free. There was virtually no blood. I was amazed! We checked on him several time throughout the day and he seemed tired, but fine. He does seem absolutely docile when I'm around him, though! As though he is saying, "I submit!"

I never want to do this again, but we felt pretty proud that we were able to perform our own vet procedure with success and feel we have earned our "farmer" badges.

I am sure we will laugh about this years later...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Facebook and Old Friends

A couple months ago I got started on this Facebook thing, which to be honest, I don't fully understand. However, it's been a good thing! I have found lots of people I hardly ever see, like cousins, etc and now recently my friend, Bonnie, from high school. I don't think I have seen Bonnie for ten years and she was in my wedding! Just lost touch. She found me just the other day on Facebook and in emailing, it has been so fun reconnecting and learning what's been going on in her life and how good God is. His blessings are beyond measure. Thank you , Lord! One thing I have learned in my walk with Him is that our relationships are no accident. They serve a purpose and we rarely see the big picture of His plan. I look forward to seeing more of what He's got. Bonnie, if you're reading this, it's good to have you back. I've missed you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Whom Shall I Fear?

Over the past year, I've been thinking about doing a study on fear. My plan was to go through all the scriptures that speak of fear and really learn what God has to say about not only fears that weigh us down and keep us from being who God intends us to be, but also what it says about how we are to fear Him, in humble reverence.
One thing that struck me last week while spending time in prayer, was that the ONLY thing we should fear is God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If it is true that Jesus conquered Satan and his power and that there is nothing the world or may can do to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), then we CANNOT fear anything but the one who has overcome all. There is where the REAL power is. I want to be under that power, not coming up against it! To me, fighting against God is a terrifying place to be. You can't win, you can have your independence, He won't force anyone. AND He is kind, gentle, loving, patient, faithful...I could go on forever!
Anyway, I set out on this journey just today and I got about two verses in and was in awe. Let me share...

Deuteronomy 6:13 Fear the Lord your God, serve HIm only and take your oaths in His name.

The only thing we should fear is God Himself. Who we fear reflects who we serve. Whether it's someone or something. Who we fear influences our choices, beliefs and actions. THink about something you are afraid of... How do those fears, no matter how silly, influence your thoughts first, then your actions? I know they do for me and its something I want to overcome! When we fear something or someone other than God, we have walked away from His presence and pledged our allegience elsewhere. I think that might be a bit offensive to Him! Almost like a betrayal that we do unknowingly and usually innocently. We fail to grasp exactly WHO He is, so we doubt His strength to overcome our fears and His desire to do so. We doubt He really means what He says. Ouch.
Next passage:

Deuteronomy 10:12-18 And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

He only asks that we stay close to Him. Know Him. Abide in Him. Obey Him. Love Him with all our hearts, leave no room to love any other gods. We need to be sold out, passionately in love with Him. Consumed with our relationship with Jesus. If we are, who we fear will be Him. It will be a natural effect of that kind of devotion to our God and King.

Vs 14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and EVERYTHING in it.

This verse emphasizes exactly who this God is that we worship. Don't lose sight of the fact that He IS all-powerful. All things that can be named are under His feet. He created the universe (which in itself is beyond our comprehension) and the earth. He created them not from tangible materials, but from the spoken word. Who is like our God? Be in awe of His majesty and power! And guess what! He never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He can still do miracles, and wants to.

Vs 15 Yet the Lord set His affection on your forefathers and loved them, and He chose you, their descendants, above all nations, as it is today.

He set His affection on YOU. He chose YOU. And me! Pause and let that sink in...

Vs 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.

The change must be from the inside out, beginning with the heart that is consecrated to the Lord. We can't fake it, we can't just do the rituals, speak the right lingo, and hang out with the right crowd and fool the Lord. Our circumcision is not on the outside for others to see, but in our hearts, only seen by the God who sees all things and from whom nothing can be hidden. Now, when our hearts are truly devoted to the Lord, others will see a change in us, but we don't start by changing our behavior. We start by surrendering our hearts, yeilding to Him.

Vs. 17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Anyone who is in power and authority still comes under Him, even if they choose not to acknowledge Him as Lord and God. It doesn't change His kingdom and dominion. He cannot be manipulated. He does not care if you are rich, poor, beautiful, or plain. He is not influenced by appearances or flattery. You cannot fool Him. and we all try it at some point... It just doesn't work.

Vs 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and LOVES the alien giving him food and clothing.

I included this verse because I like how it finishes the discussion of who God is in power and majesty, worthy of our fear and devotion, with a picture of His compassion and attention to those who are suffering. He LOVES the outsiders, the misfits, the ones who belong to no one and have no home. He LOVES them, CARES for them, and PROVIDES for them. His love is not only strong, but is gentle. How fortunate we are to have a God that is not only unmatchable in His power and strength, but also unmatchable in His mercy, grace, love, faithfulness, forgiveness and COMPASSION. No other god or king has ever been, or ever will be like OUR God.
Worship Him, love Him, and FEAR HIM ONLY!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Indiana Jones in My Very Own House

John has been on an Indiana Jones kick for months now. The theme music is constantly being hummed by him, and we have grown used to it. Like its the theme music in our home. He has found many unique bullwhips: yarn, shoelaces, belts (dangerous), and my personal favorite... rhubarb. He spontaneously quotes lines from the first, third and fourth movies (we skipped the second-too scary!). Usually we have no idea what he's talking about. He also has found creative substitutes for grapevines: the swings with one side disconnected, the cord for the blinds (NOT allowed), and most creative award goes to those things hanging from the sides of my body, commonly called "arms".
We call him "Indy", for short.
Gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's 3 am and I'm awake...

Working the night shift has never been something I have enjoyed. However, there really are people out there who prefer and admit to ENJOYING nights. I cannot understand it. Don't they feel the painful tiredness, the dry, sore eyes, the being so tired you feel almost drunk? Help me understand the late-nighter! I feel like crying for my bed by 4:30am...
In case you haven't guessed already, it is 3am-ish and I am staying up all night minding the hospital. It is a real challenge to stay awake when our census is low like it is now. We have almost as many nurses as patients here tonight which leaves me with very little to do. It seems like it has been feast or famine here for the past month breaking records one way or another!
One thing I did accomplish tonight that has nothing to do with work, was I finished a book I've been reading. I read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. My mother has been telling me about it all my life and I finally gave in and read it. She's right, it was good. I was glad for a quiet evening so I could get done what I needed to and finish it. Corrie wrote about her time in Nazi prisons and a concentration camp during WWII. She also saved the lives of many Jews during the occupation of Holland through her simple faith in God. Amazing story, very encouraging! For those of you who have read it, I would love to start a discussion. For those of you who haven't, get it!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer and I want to remind y'all to find your local prayer gathering, get down 'n dirty, and PRAY! Pray for our schools, families, local leadership, state government, and national government. It's the most effective method I've found in my life to truly make a difference. What is standing out in my mind this year is a need to approach God and ask for forgiveness and mercy. He IS a forgiving, merciful, and loving God. He loves this nation, he loves the world, but more importantly, he loves individuals and wants them to know him intimately. When we as a nation reject Him and drive him out, we cannot expect the same level of protection we have experienced as a nation in our past. In our past, our nation was founded on, depended on, and abided in Him. That has changed. Lord, forgive us for rejecting you. I pray that we as a nation will draw near to you once again and you will draw near to us. Thank you that you ARE slow to anger, merciful, and abounding in love. Raise up those who will not be afraid to speak your truth. Equip your people to do your will and that we will humble ourselves before you and pray with great faith in who you are. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh, My Aching Back!

Do you ever have those days when it seems like there is no limit to what you can accomplish? However, the next day it hurts to get out of bed and all you can muster up the energy to do is sit on the computer and check your email? I'm having one of those days. Yesterday I got up early, we got our schoolwork done by 9:30-10am, cleaned the basement, cleaned 2 bathrooms, cleaned out the hamster's cage, got 2/3 of the laundry done, delivered something to a friend and visited for a while, got home had another couple friends over, made supper, cleaned up supper, moved chicks to the barn, cleaned out the butcher chickens' cages, put in fresh bedding, fixed their waterers so they won't leak, fed them, cleared dead weeds out of the garden, attempted to help Matthew set gopher traps (I'm no trapper, he made that clear) made popcorn for Hannah, Joshua, and I, talked with Michael for a few minutes, then CRASHED!
Now that I have written this all out, I feel justified for hurting and being VERY tired. I slogged around this morning feeling guilty for not doing anything, but I think I'm over that. I originally was going to write and ask for encouragement to get out in my garden and plant my lettuce and peas (April told me hers were planted last week, so I'm feeling a little pressure to try to keep up!)
I'm thinking I'm going to lie on the couch with a hot pack, and a snuggly blanket...
I'm taking the day off.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

We Cry, "Abba, Father!"

Recently, I have been praying that God would reveal Himself to me in a new way. That I might see a facet of His character that I hadn't known before. It is so like Him to meet me exactly where I am at, to show me that he is there, too, right beside me. It has been a very trying week for me with the kids. The weather has been horrible and depressing. The kids have been unusually antagonistic, whiny, and crying more than usual. Chaos seems to have taken over my home and we all have counted the minutes for Daddy to come home. A fresh face to bring some renewal and order to our day. One day this week, when I was really feeling frustrated and short-tempered, Joshua spontaneously ran to me with open arms, stretched up high. My crankiness melted away in an instant and I did what any parent would do and scooped him up into my arms and held him, hugged him and kissed him, until he was ready to get down and go back to his adventures. My thoughts keep cycling back to that instant. I didn't know why, just that I knew it was one of those moments I wanted to store up in my heart. God showed me something about that today that I want to to share, or at least get written so I don't forget it.
My struggle lately has been to feel connected to God in the middle of the craziness in my day. I have let other peripheral things take priority over Him and my attitude has suffered. I start to feel out of touch, my faith dwindles, I begin to doubt God, and lose sight of His truth, promises, and who He really is. I start to believe all kinds of silly lies that normally I wouldn't allow 2 seconds of my thought time! "Hello? Can you hear me? Do my prayers matter? Do you REALLY love me?" That's been the general undercurrent in my heart. Anyone else been there? All the while, I know it's not true in my head, but I was believing a lie in my heart. I needed God to reveal it to my heart so I could both know it in my head and believe in my heart what His love for me is like. What I began to realize is that as a parent, I love my children more than they love me. They are immature, but as they grow older, the love becomes more mutual. With babies, we are overwhelmed with love for them. One little known tribal group's word for that kind of love means "to place (the child) inside one's heart" I like that description! So there is an imbalance in the love relationship and the parent can't wait to see the child begin to realize his love for the parent. Think of what a big deal we make out of those first words, first hugs and kisses. The love is beginning to be returned to us and how it makes us love them even more! So...when we cry out to God to know Him, as a parent, would He hide Himself from us? No! If your child cried out to you, would you run away? If we turn to Him and begin to show love for Him, is that the point at which He begins to love us? NO! He loved us before creation. He sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sin on the CHANCE that we would look to Him and love Him back. His love is more than I can comprehend. I cannot control it or manipulate it by how much time I spend with Him, how I worship Him, or if I have been obedient in all things or not. His love never changes -easy to know, difficult to understand.
What He showed me was that even though I have drifted off course lately, when I lift my hands to Him in worship, approaching Him with praise and adoration, no matter how feeble my attempts are, its just like when Joshua came running to me with arms stretched up high. God the Father rushes to me when I turn to Him. He has been waiting since creation for those moments. I felt love for Joshua in that moment, but is nothing compared to the love of the one who IS love. John 3:17 says God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. How often to I feel I do not measure up, for how can I? He knew that. That's what Jesus did for us. So often I fall into the fear trap. Fear of uncertain future, fear of what others think, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and more. I forget or never really understood the concept of God as a truly loving Father, deeply aware of my life from beginning to end. Hey! That means he is acutely aware of more details than I am! I don't need to worry about the details. He knows them. I just need to trust Him with my whole life, everything.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry "Abba, Father" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. Romans 8:15-17
How wonderful and comforting it is to know that he understands love. I know that sounds corny, but as I understand love more and realize that of course God knows that aspect of love I am learning, just WAY better, it increases my faith and trust in Him. My prayer then becomes something simple like,"Ok, so you know what I was feeling toward Josh that day because you feel that when I turn to you? Wow, Lord. You really do love me!"
I love Jesus prayer for us (yep, you and me!) in John ch 17. The whole thing is good, but the last few verses speak of this love:
Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. (vs. 25-26)
This brings me back full circle to my original prayer...
Heavenly Father,
I want to know you more. Continue to reveal to me who you are. I want to know how deep, how wide and how high is the Father's love for me. May I be rooted and grounded in your love, that I would never grow weary of seeking after you. I need more faith and to be strengthened by your Spirit. I love you, Lord. Thank you for sending Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. Open my eyes to your truth.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This is a REAL Family Picture!

No one is looking the same direction, Kris is threatening John through a smile and clenched teeth. Matthew's expression is, well, priceless. Hannah loves getting her picture taken and all the attention, so she is no problem, a little vain, but smiling and being cooperative. We'll deal with vanity later. Josh is mushing a cracker, but seems content. Leave him alone, he's not crying! Michael is wondering why we need this photo anyway. He thought we were leaving an hour ago.
Ok, everyone! Smile-or something...

The Boys

Can't you just see these 3 boys covered in dirt and sticky marshmallows next July at the family reunion? From left to right this is Joshua, Ethan, and Jacob. Look out!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down

I gotta admit, I am truly affected by the weather. I feel a little like Eyeore today. I just want to snuggle up under a warm blanket with a hot steaming cup of coffee and a good book. The last thing I want to do today my normal daily routines. Just can't get myself going! Anyone else out there feel like that today? A nap would be even better than coffee and a book... if only I could find a quiet comfy place to hide (or a locked, soundproof room).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hop on! There's Room for Everyone!

I know, this isn't a current picture, but it is a fairly accurate portrayal of how I attempt to carve out some horsebackriding time with 4 kids. I know what you're thinking, "That poor horse!" Yeah, I think the same thing, but they seem VERY happy to get out of the muddy, boring pasture and hit the trail, massive load or not. It is true that they would much rather organize a jail-break and just run free, but the nieghbors and farmers REALLY don't appreciate "born free" method of horse raising (Though horses everywhere stand firmly behind it).
Anyway, my point of writing this that I got to go for a ride two nights ago with our retired neighbor, Duane, and my 4 yr. old, John. (Duane rode separately, I might add!) When we got back, Michael hopped on the horse Duane was riding and John got off, the kids handed Joshua (14 mos.) up to me and we rode off into the sunset, baby bobble-head in front of me, just like in this picture. IT's funny how much of life I can handle if I just get a little ride once in a while. It's all I need to keep from going insane and I am grateful my knees haven't completely given out (though they are a little sore and "crackly" when I get off), I can still get on, and I don't need my kids to help me yet.
Mount up! We're burnin' daylight!

Stealing Minutes

Ok, shhh... I'm hiding in the basement typing as fast as I can (which my record is 30wpm, so don't expect great things). Two kids are doing science projects in the kitchen and the mess was starting to make me crabby so I had to step out for a few minutes. One kid is sleeping, and the other- John The Mad Hitter- needs to stay by my side today if he wants to avoid any more disciplinary action. Being out of my site has been hazardous to his behind. I think he sometimes gets to his breaking point with everyone acting as his parent, but giving out bloody lips is not an ok way to deal with frustration, right? That's the Big Life Lesson of the day. When Mommy leaves the room, you can't start doling out justice as you see fit. Oh, and you aren't Indiana Jones either, and we don't allow bullwhips in the house...
How did I get here??

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sally Stripe

John has a new friend, her name is Sally Stripe. She is just starting to get her feathers, she is light golden colored with a black stripe on her head. It's so cute! Every morning after breakfast, he has to go out to the garage to hold his friend, Sally. Yes, she is a chicken and I really hope she survives because this is the first animal he has shown interest in. He is holding her well, without dropping her or squishing her and I don't even feel like I need to be there, hovering for the chick's safety. My little boy is growing up... Sniff, sniff...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The State of our Mitten Basket

Ok. Enough is enough. Winter is over! You hear me??? I am done with you! I hereby declare it to be SPRING!! I have turned the calendar to April, I have ordered, received and cared for such spring-like things as baby chicks and garden seeds. I have put away all space heater devices and I think next I'm going to dig out my shorts and sandals.
Winter has completely depleted our supply of left mittens. There isn't a left mitten in our house! My mittens have been missing since January and I have refused to buy more because spring will be here any day now... The problem is, it keeps snowing and being cold. the kids keep wanting to go outside and play in complete snow gear, but we have the mitten problem. would you all check your vehicles and junk accumulation stations for our mittens? Please send them our way!

Happy Birthday to Michael!

Michael is 39 today. Wish him a happy birthday at
I'm hoping after I sleep a few hours I will get a second wind and manage to whip together a cake, a card, and a gift! I work well under pressure...
Happy birthday, Honey! I hope you have a good day and they don't forget the donuts for you at work!

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Crazy Life

I think I need to change the title to my blog. I think the Crazy Life is much more appropriate. I am soooooo sorry for dropping off the radar, but I have been taken out for the past 3+ weeks.
Let me tell you my story...
Ok, so you know about Michael being gone, then the classes I had to go to, you know I work from time to time, so I have to fit that in, then there's the kids, spouse, house, laundry, social events, oh, yeah, then there's Joshua breaking his leg!!! I've heard about other peoples' kids breaking bones, but never my own. Yep, he got a broken leg. My precious little 13 month old child... damaged and fractured. We all felt so bad, but not nearly as bad as he did. Michael was getting him dressed on the changing table, not knowing I abandoned use of the changing table long ago becaue he will NOT hold still!! He was about to put his shirt over his head when Joshua rolled towards Daddy and right off the changing table landing feet first on the floor. I guess children that age are not meant to JUMP off things. He sustained (that's nurse talk) a buckle fracture of his left tibia. He did not need a cast, but we were told no weight-bearing for 1-2 weeks. All right, anyone have toddlers out there? Have you ever tried to confine them? Needless to say, it was frustrating for all of us. I did purchase an umbrella stroller to use in the house as his "wheelchair", then we all just took turns carrying him. The first few days went fairly well as he did not want to stand on it because it hurt, but then he started to compensate in questionable ways, like walking on his tip-toes (I tried it and it does take the wieght off the tibia- very clever), he also started walking on his knees (this I eventually allowed because it was so darn cute). we did get through one week of no weight bearing, then I figured when the doctor said one to two weeks he really meant one, so we turned him loose. At his follow up visit, the bone was healed on x-ray, so he officially got the "all clear". Whew.
After the fractured baby adventure, I got influenza from my mother. Thanks Mom. Read her latest posting on her blog (see link to the side) for more details on that lovely gift. Let me just say that I was VERY sick for a full two weeks. Michael had to take a week off just to take care of me. I didn't even ask him to, he just looked at me (pathetic and still in bed) Monday morning before leaving for work and said, "I can't leave you like this, I think I need to stay home." So any of you have work-aholic husbands like me? I think you can see how sick I really was! After that Monday, he didn't get back to work until the following week. Seriously, for two days I felt that this is what it must be like to die. Looking back, I feel like it was the grace of God that I lived through it. I am so happy to be well!!
So that brings us to this week. I have been truly healthy for 3 days. Now my blog is updated, my laundry is done, my seeds are started, my chicks have been moved to the garage, we got our standardized testing done for Matthew and Hannah (for homeschooling), I made a nice supper, and I'm back to work. I feel like I've accomplished a few things and am guilt-free!
I've missed you all and look forward to catching up with you.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

WARNING! Graphic Content

Yes, I have been falling down on the job. I haven't posted in days and days. Sorry, a big case of life happening here. It's been a rough week, topped off with me having to spend two days at St. Mary's Hospital recertifying for TNCC (trauma nursing core). I feel like I've just spent two days on Hamburger Hill. One nice touch they added to the course this time around is LOTS of graphic pictures of trauma patients. A little bit of that is ok and educational, but 8 hours of lecture with graphic overheads of stabbings (I've seen more kitchen knifes sticking out of men's chests and backs than I ever thought possible. Advice- don't complain about dinner!), suicide attempts and successes, car accidents, PTO twisted, mangled, and removed limbs, child abuse, domestic violence, burns from kids chewing on cords, and other crispy critters, a missing chest wall from a boat propeller, and a mangled leg from an auger of some sort. These are just the ones that are replaying in my mind right now, there were lots more. Oh, I almost forgot the countless gunshot wounds. Those were especially yummy right before lunch.
I'm sorry for the graphic nature, but I believe in sharing what I have. Anyway, it was two very long days of lecture and images I could not escape from, ended by skills stations (the easy, fun part) and a VERY difficult written test that took me by surprise. I have taken this course before, but in light of the increase in natural disasters and terrorism on the rise and all other forms of violence on the rise, it has been revamped. I failed the test!! I almost cried and threw up simultaneously! (I did get to retake it and did fine the second time around). I was not prepared for all the questions on treatment for biological, chemical, and nuclear attacks. Disaster Management is HUGE. I live in my nice, quiet world, quite happily. My eyes were opened to the fact that I better get up to speed with the real world and know how to deal with the increase of natural and man-made disasters that are on the rise. This stuff is not going to go away, it's the reality of nursing in the 21st century. Much as I'd like to hope for a day off when the disaster drill is happening, I think it's time to get my head out of the sand and know what to do. This is one area of my professional development I've REALLY let slide and that was very obvious. So... much as I hate knowing about all the horrible things that can and do happen, I hereby vow to learn what to do and actually start attending some mandatory meetings. The supervisor better know what's going on, right?
I have been thinking about this prior to recertifying TNCC this week. I agreed to go to training next week to be a crisis intervention instructor in Mpls. Tues.-Friday. You would be so proud of me! I hate conflict and I hate stepping into a scary situation mostly because I don't know what to do and I don't want to get hurt. So I thought this would be very good for me. It's been years since I've done anything but the absolute minimum required to keep my job, thinking I would be quitting and being a stay-at-home mom. That's not happening and I'm now ok with that. But I do have this job, and I owe it to my employer to be effective at it, not just putting in my shifts. I came to the conclusion that I need to start stepping up to the plate and being a good nurse again. I need to start looking at the areas where I am weak personally and professionally and doing something about it. There, you're the first to hear it. I'm facing my fears and stretching myself. Ugh.
I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Joshua's Birthday

Joshua is officially a toddler now. Today is his birthday! It's funny how when they turn a year older, they all of a sudden act older. Today he pointed at his sister and said"Na-na" (Hannah), very matter-of-factly. Then, John said "hi" to him and he responded with "hi-non"! Has he been talking like this for a while and I haven't noticed or has he just matured overnight? I'm going to bake him a cake (allergy free due to his myriad of food allergies) and let him dive in tonight. That should be fun, I love watching that, even though I KNOW the sugar buzz (or honey buzz, as the case may be) is sure to follow, but it's still worth it.
I know this is very cliche, but it seems like just yesterday...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Single Parenting Stinks...Period.

Be thinking of us this week as Michael will be gone to San Diego. I tried to whine my way out of it, but it didn't work. I tried pouting, glaring, then the "I don't like you anymore" tactics, but none of them were successful. I will be alone for four days with four kids. That sounds like a reality TV program. Yikes! Anyone got suggestions for how to keep my house from total disaster or how to keep from being the "evil mommy" (I know you've all met her)?
I don't do single parenting well. I complain a lot, whine a little, and try to stay busy and distracted. I wish I had planned something fun in advance with the kids, but it kind of snuck up on me.
Sooo... Here I am, on the eve of single-parentdom, with nothing planned. Maybe we could reorganize his tools? Rearrange the office? I know!! Go through his clothes and cull out underwear and socks! I'm open to suggestions...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sing to Him a New Song!

Michael, Matthew and Hannah are gone for most of the day at a JBQ meet. That leaves me alone with the two little boys. It's kind of nice to be able to spend time alone with them. They often don't get much focussed attention when we are homeschooling. They get directed to their toys, a snack, a (gasp!) movie... right now John is next to me, playing with his ear, sucking on his finger, and rubbing his face on my arm. Getting his mommy time. Earlier, he and Joshua endured my "guitar playing", if you could call it that. I entertained them with classics like "The Wheels on the Bus", "Baby Beluga", and "Chicken Lips and Lizard Hips" (my personal favorite).
Last night I struggled through and sang badly "How Great is Our God". It was a proud moment for me! I wish I would have inherited the music talent, but I didn't. However, I did inherit the love of music and the desire to sing and worship. How frustrating it is for me to have the song in my heart and not be able to sing it. Those of you who can sing and sound good, or play an instrument effortlessly, I applaud you. Sing to the Lord a new song. Worship the King with your voices, bring to Him an offering of praise with your harps, lyres, or kazoos. I will be singing along, trying to follow your lead. I will strum softly, so only the Lord can hear.
My only desire is to bring Him an offering of praise. To be in His presence, to know the Creator and King on a deeper and more intimate level. I want to teach my children, above all else, a love and fear of the Lord. I want our home to be an atmosphere of prayer and worship, where Jesus is revered and honored and glorified. Just so you know, the music ain't pretty, and the sound is sometimes painful. However, it is from my heart.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Virtual Coffee, Anyone?

I had no idea when I started this last weekend, out of sheer boredom, that it would have been so fun! This is great. Most of you I hardly ever see, let alone have time to chat with. I count myself very fortunate to have such wonderful friends. BTW, I like Starbucks, black, no garbage added, just pure, unadulterated caffeine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spring is Here!

I try every year to have a good garden, thinking I will do all this canning and freezing that will reduce our grocery bill to near zero. I convince my husband that if we plant all these seeds (6 varieties of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, 1/2 an acre of green beans...) that we will be virtually self-sufficient. My garden could quite possibly take care of all our financial needs! Then with the extra, we could do Farmer's Market (ha, ha, ha). Yes I will have time to weed it! Plus the kids are getting older and they are actually capable of some real help now, so you (Michael) won't even notice the two acres of tomatoes and fifty rows of green beans. (I forget that I really don't even like canned OR frozen beans).
When the seeds arrive our basement is filled with grow lights and tray after tray of seeds in their cute little pods. Then they sprout and grow and need to be repotted. Then we run out of space, we run out of lights, and from the outside it looks like I'm growing marijuana in the basement. I never seem to remember that 100 tomato plants is slightly more than we need. I figure there will be some lost to disease, drought, or pests. Not so... they NEVER die. In fact, I believe some tomato plants enjoy a good flogging (Right, April?)
True to self, this year is no exception. I just got home from a day spent with a group of wonderfully garden-wise ladies, including April, my garden guru. (you are such an inspiration to me, April, but you do tend to fuel my mission-creep!) I think this year will be our biggest garden yet. (I hope you're reading this, Michael, so you have a chance to cool down before you come home!) I have LOTS of zucchini, dill (it looks like about 500 seeds of dill- Who did that to me??)collards, brussels sprouts, celery (April says, yes I CAN grow it), 1/2 lb of green bean seeds, purple beans, yellow beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, orange peppers, acorn squash, spinach, brandywine tomatoes, scallions, rainbow carrots, regular carrots (note: my carrots are STILL in the garden from last summer!) parsley, leeks, two kinds of cucumbers, more kinds of lettuce than I care to list (I think there is at least 5 varieties in this bag), eggplant (I have NO idea why, it sounded good in January), two kinds of green peppers, Bok Choy, Rutabagas (for Mark Pelzer, his from last summer are hanging out with the carrots) more tomatoes, Watermelon (I haven't a clue where to plant it. Maybe at YOUR house!) cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, cabbage, Roma tomatoes, pumpkins, buttercup squash, cilantro, basil, lipstick peppers, jalepenos, black crim tomatoes, and radishes. Now... the flowers! I have Lemon balm (I think that's an herb, not a flower), Calendula, Sunflowers, Euphorbia (does anyone know what this is? I said I would take it because it sounded good. You know, like euphoria? I like that state of mind, so hopefully these little plants will bring me joy). Zinnias, Love-lies-bleeding, and LOTS of morning glories (they do make me happy).
I admit it. I have a problem.
I get the seed catalogs in January and I somehow forget how blasted hot it is in August and how unbelievably fast and adaptable those weeds are. I also forget the passive-aggressive, not very subtle, non-verbal fights Michael and I have while weeding into the night in complete silence. I know the only reason he is doing it is to salvage at least a portion of his investment. It is NOT because he enjoys gardening. It is likely also because he loves me and wants to see my visions succeed. I forget that I HATE the feeling of dirt drying on my hands (does anyone else suffer from this phenomenon?). I forget that I plant eight rows of peas, eat a few while weeding, maybe fix a couple stir-fries, then the rest dry up on the vine (again, I love them fresh, not frozen).
I think what I love is dreaming.
I love to plan and think about what we could do if... I love the idea of having row after row of well manicured plants. I love the idea of doing it all ourselves. I can't say I love actually DOING it. This is where the fear begins to set in...
Honey... our garden is here... We will have plenty... the kids will help... it will be (gulp) worth it...
I love you Michael. You're my finisher.
Anyone need tomatoes?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Joshua is Walking!

Joshua walked all the way across the living room floor all by himself. He would stop every few steps and clap for himself. Yay! He gets a huge round of applause from all of us, which usually makes him fall down from excitement, but not today! He did the real thing. What a big boy.
His birthday is in one week, then he is officially a toddler... Look out and lock those cabinets!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mondays are for Character Building

Here is a typical Monday at our house...
I oversleep because I'm tired from working 3 12hr shifts. The kids are refreshed after a relaxing weekend with Daddy (and have slept in already the past two mornings) and get up early. They are able to feed themselves breakfast, but sometimes (like this morning) there are LOTS of Cheerios on the living room carpet. I wake up to Michael saying goodbye, which is two hours later than I like to get up. I spend the rest of the day scrambling to catch up with my troops. I have to make lots of important decisions (executive decisions) like: Read my Bible and pray now or in the afternoon when I have that quiet time that never really happens? Shower now or walk around grungy (sp?) and itchy 'til noon? Start schoolwork now, on time and forget my morning routine, or do my morning routine and start school late (which inevitably leads to slice and dice of assignments, so I guess that's out...)? Start supper, or plan for a frozen pizza or pb&j night? Okay, now how 'bout that laundry?
I used to have unrealistic expectations for Mondays. I thought I could get up on time, have an amazing mountain-top experience with the Lord, be showered, hair done, make-up on, Michael's lunch made, coffee brewed, breakfast made, the first load of laundry in, and supper in the crock pot before 7am. I surrender. I can't do it. I've found it IS best for all of us if I sleep in a bit on Monday, the laundry gets started, but maybe not finished 'til Wednesday, and baby Joshua gets a little more "mommy-time". Michael reheats yesterday's coffee and puts together his own lunch (he NEVER expects me to do these things for him and always seems joyful and surprised when I do). We do our school work with fits and starts as we all are trying to get back on track. Amazingly, we do manage to get things done before Daddy gets home and there is a lot less blood shed.
I think my family likes me a lot more when I freak out less. That's my goal: to be a freakless mommy.
Ok, now, off to violin lessons, swimming lessons at the YMCA, home for a slam-it-down-your-gullet supper, then off to a 4H sledding party.
I am calm.
I am in control.
I have no idea what my kids are doing right now...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Will you still love me if I blog?

I was so excited about actually getting this blog started, I had to call home right away. "Honey! Honey! I made a blog!!!" He, being the big computer programmer and all, I figured he would be down right proud. He was, at least over the phone. Now that my long weekend of 12 hour shifts is over and the kids need tucking in, laundry is piling up (to the point of being measured as altitude), I'm thinking his enthusiasm may be short-lived. This could be addictive... must pace myself...I'm sure I can handle it. I'll just get up extra early and start the laundry then. Michael can eat my lunch left-overs from today for his lunch Monday, etc.
I suppose I should call it a day, he's graciously attempting to do our taxes with his palm pilot.
I love that man!!

The Journey to Contentment

Would anyone like a "do-over"? I think my biggest regret of my life is how much time I wasted being dissatisfied. As I look back at our marriage, my career, my role as a mom, and my faith, this is what has derailed me over and over. Almost 5 years ago, after the sudden death of my dad at age 57, I woke up. Nothing like losing someone you love to help you re-evaluate your goals and direction! I realized that the bottom line was that my career would never be remembered by my children. How clean my house was would never be remembered by my friends (or the neighbors!). What I wore, what I drove, and how much money I had was completely meaningless. They are things that pass away.
My transformation was not instant. We Americans expect things instantly and easily. We are a remote control, microwave people who expect God to behave that way. It took me years to learn He doesn't. He is faithful, though. I look back on myself as someone who always wanted more. Once I got what I wanted, I wasn't happy with that, I was on to something else. I'm thankful my husband is generally content and demands very little or we wouldn't have lasted 6 months! Ironically his contentedness drove me crazy... now I appreciate it as a gift.
So, 5 years ago I had 2 children enrolled in the local school. I was working hard on my career, we were planning a beautiful new home, our dream house. We were living the dual career typical American lifestyle. Then God began to lead us gently down a different path...or perhaps I just started to listen to that still, small voice.