Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not in Kansas Anymore

Every once in awhile I'll find myself face to face with a situation that jolts me back into reality. And it is during this reality check that I realize, I live in a bubble.

Tonight, such a circumstance took place.

We went to the local pizza place with some dear friends. It was two-for-one pizza night and it sounded like a deal. We didn't have to make dinner, it didn't cost all that much (relatively speaking) and we didn't have to clean up! The pizza itself isn't to die-for but, like I said, we didn't have to clean up afterward. I love vacation!

Now hear me, this place is definitely a joint. Our feet were sticking to the floor by the soda machine and a couple of the arcade games didn't work. But who cares? The kids loved it and ran around pretending to play the games until dinnertime.

We had a lovely dinner-laughing, stuffing our faces and laughing some more. It was just nice to be with friends. Once the kids were all through, we finally handed out the real cash and let them play some games. They were in heaven running around.

Meanwhile, little Elle was bopping around too, trying to get in on the action and poking her little head into the arcade to be with the big kids. One of the games she really liked was the car game and she spent a good deal of time up in the driver's seat pretending to drive. And then another little boy, who wasn't with our group, got himself in that driver's seat and so Elle just stood on the side right next to him while he pretended to drive.

But pretty soon, he realized that he didn't like her there. So in spoiled little boy fashion, he pushed her off the seat right onto her head on the floor. This little boy was much bigger than her and she wasn't doing anything but just watching. I immediately ran over since I saw what happened and scooped her up off the floor. She was crying-hard, for it was quite a fall and quite a big push. The little boy didn't even flinch as I picked her up off the ground.

I glanced around and I didn't see any parents watching so I simply told him, "You can't treat her like that. She's so much littler than you. Please don't push." Again, no response. So I leave him there and take her somewhere else where she is safe.

A few minutes later a very pushy, aggravated woman comes and gets in my face telling me that I should come talk to her if I have a problem with her son because he's just a little boy.

Ummmmmm....what?! Who are you? And where were you five minutes ago when your little boy flattened my petite little baby for standing next to him and watching him? And how was I supposed to know you were his mom? This is a crowded pizza parlor with lots of people in it. Shouldn't you be apologizing rather than chastising me for talking to your son about pushing? This is all racing through my mind as I try and come up with a calm response to the nonsense being spoken to me.


We decided to leave since at that point the whole party of people with the lady were all starting to glare at us and give us their meanest stares. Steve went up and talked to them for a few minutes explaining that I didn't see any parents so I merely asked him not to push our daughter. The lady was insistent that he was just a child and we had no right to be scolding him.

Obviously they're not doing much of that at home. For he didn't seem to bat an eyelash when he wanted her out of the way.

The whole situation was totally unbelievable to me...

I know not all parents parent the same. I respect that. And I know that these situations happen. But people, these women (for by the end of the matter a few of them had gotten involved) looked like they were ready to throw down over it simply because I had politely asked a little boy not to hurt my daughter.

Can we say backwards?

On the ride home, Steve and I laughed as we tried to understand what had just transpired. How was it that we were the bad guys in that situation?

But then my friend's parting words came to mind when she very calmly said, "Just let it go Nikki. These strange things happen...that's why we can be so thankful for our neighbors and friends who love their kids enough to call them on their mistakes rather than pretending their kids don't know better."

And it dawned on me, I live in a bubble where parents want to take responsibility for their kids' actions and want their children to be held accountable too. This isn't necessarily true of all parents. Some want to shelter them from accountability as much as possible and I can't do a thing about it.

She's right. And I must say, I love that little bubble of niceness, justice and care that I'm surrounded with.

Sometimes, out in this great big world, I find I'm not in Kansas anymore and I have to learn to deal with these odd-ball situations in the right way without being as absurd as my foes. I definitely didn't earn an A tonight. In fact, I probably pulled a C if I'm lucky, being as though I was pretty frustrated over the whole thing and straight up appalled. Hopefully next time, I'll be able to respond less defensively.

I guess it's good to be in these situations here and there to remind me how good I have it on a regular basis.

However, I must admit, even though it's flat and predictable, give me Kansas any day. I love Kansas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

O come thou Dayspring
Come and cheer
Thy spirit by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight....

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!
Has come to thee, O Israel!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!
Has come to thee, O Israel!!

Praying you know the hope that Christ's birth brought the world!! Emmanuel has come.

Enjoy this blessed day with your families...

Merry Christmas from the Dauphins!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Learning to Read Isn't Beneficial

I was debating whether or not to write this cute little story because I was a tad bit afraid of offending. But, after some reflection (and a relating of the story to friends), I've decided to give it a whirl...because it's my life, heck it's probably your life too and truth be told, it was totally innocent and simply hilarious.

Our oldest son has been participating in a youth basketball league and his games are at a local high school on Saturdays. This particular Saturday Steve was working on his final so I piled all the kids in the car and we headed out. My parents decided to attend the game that day and as I pulled up, my Dad was already on the street corner looking for a breakfast burrito from the taco stand. After waving at him, I went down the street to find a parking place.

Now just to give you all a little background, this high school is smack dab in the middle of downtown, which to put it nicely is, ghetto. Some people might call it ghetto fabulous but I just call it ghetto. As I was pulling all the kids out of the car, I heard Caleb excitedly squeal, "Mommy, Mommy, I know what that says!"

I'm busy unbuckling Elle and making sure Joshy is touching the car and not running into the street so I don't quite get what he's saying. I'm doing the whole smiling and nodding while saying something like, "Good, good, yes!" And then my ears start to tune into what he was actually saying and I become very alarmed as I move closer.

"Mommy, mommy, that says __________(insert offensive expletive)! Look I read it! I can read that!" And on and on he went repeating the word over and over while my jaw is nearly hitting the cement. As I look up, I see a very naughty word written in bright pink letters, ever so clearly on the gym wall. As a beginning reader, he can sound out anything written phonetically quite beautifully and that particular word is simply easy to sound out. It "follows all the rules."

Meanwhile, a very helpful mom who is taking her son to the basketball game too, bursts into laughter and is practically peeing her pants watching this whole exchange. I have to think quickly. Caleb doesn't notice her laughter yet, as he is simply feeling quite smug at the new word he has read on the wall. But I know it won't be long.

I flash the lady a look practically pleading with my eyes for her to zip it! And then I dig deep into the recesses of my soul to pull out all of the acting that I know from years of leading roles in various plays and I paint on the most calm, serene face that I can find. I then respond, "Yes, Caleb you did read that word very well. Good job! Now let's go to Isaac's game. We don't want to be late."

And with that, he skipped off ahead of me, completely unaware of the hilarity and vulgarity that had just been exchanged. And I was able to breathe again. Meanwhile, the innocent bystander was still laughing.

I figured that if I didn't make it a big deal he'd forget all about it and it would just be another word he was able to read. But if I talked to him and pressed him about what a horrible word it was, I knew it would stick in his mind.

And I was right. He hasn't mentioned it since.

I have no theological allegories to draw or anything good to pull out as a lesson from this story. Truly, there's nothing really to say. Except that it was totally innocent, absolutely hilarious and an utterly classic mom moment. Who ever thought learning to read could be so treacherous?

And if anyone has any doubt or thinks that my life is drudgery being a mom of many children, just remember this story. In my little life here, I just never quite know what is coming next!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dr. Pepper

Welp, it's been quite a busy week. We've had two Christmas parties to prepare for, a grad school final to turn in, a major cookie/brownie sale and a little boy still recovering from surgery. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it. But, it's over. The husband still needs to wrap up his grades but today, we've taken some time off and it's been glorious.

I feel like I've been in the middle of about 10 huge projects lately. A few wrapped up this week and I was really thankful to have seen them through. One of them in particular turned out better than I could've ever hoped for. Here's the story.

About six weeks ago, after buying some Dr. Pepper from the store, I noticed that they were giving away scholarship money. Not only is my husband the BIGGEST Dr. Pepper fan but, he is also a student and we could always use some tuition money. It turned out that we had to turn in a video detailing why they should give us a scholarship. I thought we had a compelling story but I wasn't super stoked on that because I'm not great with video...I'm MUCH better with words. But scholarship money is worth fighting for, so I determined to figure it out.

We have an incredible camera so, we started there and began putting together different snippets of video. I started editing it all and putting it together. However I ran into TONS of roadblocks. Either my final video wouldn't play or the end product just wasn't what I was trying to portray. When I finally decided to just give up and submit what we had, the video wouldn't submit on the Dr. Pepper website. I even tried getting the IT guy here to help and he determined it was something with their website as I wasn't doing anything wrong.

I was at a turning point. It would've been easy to quit, but I didn't want to. I was determined to see it through.

During that time though, I definitely came to understand two things: I didn't have the software to pull-off a great video and I also didn't have the knowledge. I needed help.

On the suggestion from a friend (thanks Debbi!), I contacted our graphic design teacher here (who is also a friend) and asked for his help. He jumped right in.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that he did.

For he did FAR better than I ever could've done.

We won't know for awhile if Steve got a scholarship, but I'm just so glad that I fought through all of that because the product I ended up getting was way better than my original. It was worth the wait.

And even better than that, is that I was actually able to submit the video today. I tried at least 30 times before. So they must've fixed some things on their end too.

It was a fun project and I'm really thankful for a generous graphic designer/video editor (Thanks Grant!).

And we'll just see what God does with it.

Hope you all enjoy it!!

(The YouTube version is a bit more choppy-that's just YouTube- than the mov file that I turned in but the mov file wouldn't play the song in the background for some reason on the blog so....enjoy it a bit choppy.)

Monday, December 12, 2011


It's funny the things kids pick up through imitation. She's only 18 months old people! And I don't even apply make-up everyday so she must be paying close attention.

She figured this out all on her own. And she got into my stuff when I wasn't watching (which with four kids, can happen more often than I'd like to admit).

At least she knows where it's supposed to go. Although her application just looks downright painful!!

Good thing we have many years until she needs to learn to do it herself.

Wait for it......Yes! Perfect! Right in the eyeball!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE having a daughter?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Checking in...

Well, we're on day four now of recovery and things have been a bit rough. Joshua had a high fever for a few days that caused some concern he may have an infection. Last night, however, that fever broke and today has been fine. That's a great step in the right direction. Steve has also been working on his final exam for Texas A & M so, between school, grad school and the surgery, he's pretty weary. But we both know, we're nearing the finish line here.

One thing I did not expect was for Joshua to be so emotional. He's a pretty happy kid nearly all the time-very jovial. So for him to be crying and angry at EVERYTHING is a definite change in personality. I know it will get better as he feels better but, sometimes it can be difficult to have patience!

So those are the difficult things. But here are the great things.

We're almost half-way through the 10 day recovery period. It's always nice to feel like you're going downhill rather than uphill. Joshua ate some real food today which will probably help his overall attitude and demeanor. The high fever broke so I don't have to worry about it anymore. We've had wonderful friends help and pray for us. And today is Friday! Even though Steve will most likely be off studying most of the weekend, it's still the weekend. And I'm looking forward to it!!

As for me, I'm getting through with a little baking therapy. When I feel most stressed there are two things I turn to (besides the obvious) baking and running. (I guess ice cream falls somewhere in there too.) I can't have one without the other. It's just how I roll.

Comfort food-Baked Potato Soup and crescent rolls...here I come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Joshua got his tonsils and adenoids successfully removed today. There are so many things we are very grateful for.

1. We're thankful all went well with the surgery itself. There weren't any major complications and he was able to go home pretty quickly post surgery.
2. We're thankful we have such excellent insurance that allows us to do these procedures without any out-of-pocket expense to us.
3. We're thankful for both of our parents, Dean and Debbie Georgatos and Bill and Sally Dauphin, who so lovingly cared for the other three children in our absence. Their devotion, generosity and grace means so much to us! It's so wonderful to leave your kids and know that they are being looked after by the best!!
4. We're thankful for good friends. One friend brought us dinner tonight that hit the spot. Another brought Joshy some popsicles that were just perfect for him. And another of our buddies went through the exact same thing as us today (their daughter went in for a tonsilectomy/adenoidectomy as well...total coincidence). Their prayers and strength helped carry us through!!
5. We're thankful for kind bosses and good substitutes that allowed Steve to take the day off. Being a teacher, it's very difficult for him to leave for a day!
6. We're thankful that Joshua has been responding to his recovery so well and taking liquids at will. The way it looks right now, any sort of dehydration will not be a problem.
7. We're thankful that the original breathing issues present post surgery cleared up quite nicely and didn't pose any sort of long-term problems.
8. We're thankful those pesky, HUGE tonsils are gone!
9. We're thankful for the prayers of the church. The faithfulness of the saints and the kindness of God's mercy.
10. We're thankful our whole family is back together again and that Joshy gets to heal with all of his siblings surrounding him.

And on a more personal note, I'm thankful for a strong, tough husband who was able to step in and take over when I felt a bit overwhelmed and queasy watching my baby in so much pain. Steve, you're my hero.

The nurses and staff were so wonderful. And in typical Joshy style, he had them all in stitches pre-surgery. They loved him. That's just who he is. He's a little charmer.

Just for fun, here's a little video we took of him "performing" before he went in. Note, this was before they gave him the medicine that made him loopy. His talent for beat boxing is not something we taught him. He figured it out all on his own.

We're so proud of our brave little boy and we're so thankful...only God could've made all of this possible.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Littlest Boy

Our darling little Joshy is going in for surgery in the morning to get his tonsils and adenoids removed. If you think of it, pray that the surgeon's hands will be steady, the anesthesiologist will be precise and that all of the details going into the operation will go off without a hitch.

We love Joshua so much and know that He is in the Lord's hands.

Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Importance of Open Hands

A few years back when Isaac started preschool, I remember being nervous about him being out of the home a few days a week. Of course, I knew I'd miss him and all of that, but truth be told, I was a bit unsure about putting him in situations where I wasn't there to help guide him. It was the first time he'd be in regular contact with another adult that wasn't his parents and I really wanted him to obey and be a blessing to his class.

Part of my uneasiness made sense. It was a new situation and every parent wants to see their child do well when they're not around. However, the other part of my uneasiness was not good. I knew deep down that any disobedience on his part could reflect badly on me. Hmmm....not the greatest of motives but, at the time, it was true. Now that I'm much more used to the school situation, this doesn't concern me as much.

But regardless, our kids and their behavior can reflect badly on us. There is a reason that Proverbs states, "A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him." Prov. 17:25 There is a correlation. Having our children at that point when they're older is definitely something we want to avoid at all costs. We want our kids to grow up wise and to love the Lord. These are our goals and we work tirelessly toward them. Ultimately we want them to learn to think and in doing so navigate the world successfully.

The hard part is this-often they won't.

And when (not if) they don't, it will be difficult. But the hardest part of it all, is keeping our hands open when they don't do what's right.

A few years back, a wise woman in our church who has raised six lovely children, gave some excellent advice to us young moms. She said, "Your kids are going to have problems with other kids. They're going to get in trouble at school. They're going to lie to their friend's mom. These things are going to happen as they grow up and are learning to do what's right. But your reaction is key. Be humble. Always seek restitution and forgiveness. Keep an open mind. Don't be easily offended. Forgive with no strings attached." At the time, my kids weren't in many situations where this advice would apply since they were pretty young, but now that two are in school and are regularly rubbing elbows with other kids, this advice has been so applicable.

I can't tell you how many times those words have come to my mind when I've been shocked by one of my kids' behavior. It's tempting to make excuses...oh he's just tired, he must not have heard their instruction, etc... But the truth of the matter is this-my kids make mistakes, even big ones. As much as I'd like everyone else to think they're the most perfect angels on earth (don't we all?) they're NOT. They're sinners. In fact, if I think really hard about it, they're a lot like someone I know pretty well-myself.

Recently a very close friend of mine called me to tell me about something one of my boys had done while he was with her. I was so surprised by it. It was not something this particular child would normally do (it wasn't something he struggles with) yet, it was clear he had really messed up. It was so hard for me to swallow. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to explain it away. But here's the thing-I couldn't. It was blatant. And I needed to deal with it. Afterward, I was so thankful that my friend loved my son and us enough to tell us about it. It took courage on her part to do so. And in the moment, it was really hard for me not to fight it. But I had to unclench my fists and keep my hands open. I had to let it go.

Because my husband is a teacher, I get a front row seat to some parent interactions he has. He doesn't normally have too many parent issues because he teaches mostly juniors and seniors who are all pretty smart (Physics and Calculus students). As a result, they want to be there and give him very few issues. But he still has some. And often these parents will do everything in their power to try and say that Steve is the problem. It doesn't matter that their student is absent 50% of the time, never does their homework and fails every test, it's his fault. Because nothing is ever their child's fault so if something is wrong, it must be somebody else.

I don't want to be like that. Yet in the moment, it's so hard to discipline myself to do the right thing when faced with another mess-up. I want to clench my hands and hold on tight shaking my head that it must not be true...but I have to let go. I have to keep my hands open.

My kids aren't perfect. Their behavior will embarrass me. They are going to make big mistakes as they learn about life. And I, myself, might have to pay for them. But making them walk through the process of owning their wrong includes me owning it too. If I can't own it, how can I ever get them to? And if I try and keep them from these situations by limiting their access to the world, how will they ever learn? How will they become equipped to deal with life?

Humility is so difficult. And it's even more difficult when I'm trying to hold onto my pride. That's why I have to keep my hands open. I don't know what our future holds. I can train my kids as best as I can but my hands must stay open. I'm going to be disappointed. I'm going to be mortified. I'm going to be totally frustrated.

But if my hands are open, then I can let go of my shallow ideals and at least move in the right direction. In these times my kids need me to help them seek the forgiveness that comes through repentance and moves them to make restitution. In the end, that's the most important thing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Little Series

I've been enjoying a series of articles written by Rachel Jankovic on the subject of homemaking and mothering. They are just too good not to pass on so I decided to give you all a series of links to check out if you so desire. Rachel writes in a very candid, real sort of way about the challenges we all face as mothers yet she does so without coddling. She's refreshing, challenging and very engaging. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I have. She's actually written a ton of articles. These are just a couple of her most recent ones. You can find the rest of them over at the Femina blog.

Ungraceful Parenting

Let's Get Specific

When the Milkshake Runs Low-My favorite

Potent Comfort

How Do We Love Thee? Let Me Count Some of the Ways...

Monday, November 28, 2011

It Has Begun...

Advent is here.

The waiting has begun. The short days and dark nights remind us of the darkness the world lay in before Christ came.

Creation was groaning for its Savior.

These weeks leading up to Christmas tell the Christmas story. It's cold. It's dark. We need the Light.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it....The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:1-5, 9

We remember that wait. We internalize it as best as we can. And we rejoice in the hope that comes in knowing that He did come. He did make a way for our salvation through His death on the cross.

It's time to remember. It's time to wait with great expectation. Soon enough, it will be time to celebrate.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope your day is full of laughter, turkey, family, pie and thankfulness. As we say in our house, "God has been good to us, let us give thanks!"

From our home to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Resource

As you all know, my husband is a math nerd. Well, as much as I love him, I'm not. I'm actually an English nerd and love great literature and creative writing. As much as I respect his mathiness, I also wish to impart the love of reading and the magical mystery of story into my children. When I was a little girl, I read myself to sleep every.single.night. I'm not joking. And to be honest, I have so many great memories of those times.

I've been attempting for awhile to get my hands on some good literature for my kidlets but they're all at different levels and so it's been a bit precarious. It's also hard for me to sift through what's good on my own. Sometimes having too much information (i.e. the internet) is not helpful!! But then I remembered a book that had been plugged on the Femina website awhile back that was all about children's literature. It's called, Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

First of all, let me say this, I bought the book for practical reasons because it had an annotated book list in the back according to age groups. But what I didn't expect was that I loved the actual book itself. It was SO inspiring.

Gladys actually does a great job of explaining why good stories should be at the center of a family culture because they speak so much to a child's heart and are truly instructive. I've seen this with my own kids already. Often when one of the children is trying to demand their own way, we remind them of Veruca Salt from, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, whose Dad did not love her and simply gave her everything she wanted. They know it's wrong. They know because they felt her ugly attitude in the story. This is just one example. Literature offers tons.

Also, there are so many books I read in childhood that I'd forgotten about. Her book lists helped jog my memory and in doing so, brought back such pleasant memories. My parents always encouraged us to read and for that I'm very grateful! There were so many books on the book list that I hadn't read. So that was helpful too. However, her narrative about why reading is important was probably my favorite part. The book lists were practical. The narrative was inspirational.

So if you're like me and you're trying to come up with good books for your little ones to be reading (or for you to be reading aloud), check out this book. Get it on amazon for a couple of bucks (that's what I did). You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I'm not a sprinter. I'm a distance runner. Give me a cool, brisk morning and I'm gone for miles. But throw a shorter distance of sprints at me and I feel like I'm going to puke--quick!! But really, without working sprints into your running schedule, you'll never get faster. Sprints increase speed and build endurance which only enhances and strengthens your distance. They're essential to good running. Yet still, I'd much rather run distance. However, as much as I love a good long run, after running for awhile, I get tired. And tired is what I've been lately.

We're pretty close to the end of Steve's semester with Texas A & M. We're so close we can see it and after this class he's very, very close to halfway done (technically he's half done, halfway through next semester-it's complicated). That means that we can look at it as if we're going downhill instead of still climbing uphill. Yet the months of work and wear is also starting to show and our family is in need of a little respite. Some of the wheels of our normally well-oiled machine have been threatening to come off. This is how it always is at the end. I can usually see the finish line but it still looms far enough off in the distance to create a bit of discouragement.

But this is the point in a race when sprinting is a must. Any good runner knows that when the finish line is in sight, it's time to sprint no matter what's left.

When the finish line is dangling close, there are all sorts of things to complete and that finishing requires a big push. So what it really means is that it's go time...not coast time. Even if my muscles are straining, it's still time to take it up a notch. However, since we've already been huffing and puffing for awhile, strength starts to wane and it takes a lot of discipline to finish well. This is where we're at.

Yesterday, both Steve and I were tired. Both of us felt the pressure. And both of us were annoyed. We don't often get out of sorts (it's just not our way) but pretty quickly, we realized that our moods and present circumstances were the perfect medium for an argument. Instead of me heeding the warning signs, I decided to dive head first into the fray to let off a bit of steam. Because I deserved it people. That's right.

After nearly ten years of marriage to my husband, you'd think I would know that isn't a good idea (nor is it loving either). Steve can withstand a lot from me at times pouring on patience when I'm being a bit silly, but patience was not a virtue readily available last night and I quickly found myself in a whole heap of trouble. Trouble that I started and knew pretty quickly I needed to repent of.

In an effort to keep short accounts, which is a staple in our home, I quickly sought him out to explain my frustration and seek forgiveness. My problem wasn't really with him. More with a need for some rest. He of course, felt the same too. Our family rides on his shoulders along with all of his other responsibilities. We're quite a bit to carry just by ourselves. And not to sell myself short, I carry quite a bit too as his helper and can find the race wearing at times. Who doesn't? That's just life isn't it?

We have a pretty small house and with the children still awake, finding a place to talk by ourselves wasn't easy. We finally just huddled in our room and shut the door to sort things out. And sort them out we did.

While this was going on, there was a literal circus taking place right on the other side of our door. I remember thinking, as we were restoring fellowship, "I cannot believe the craziness that's going on literally two feet away from us. Thank God for that door!" You see, the children knew we were in there. And they wanted in too. All they knew though, was that we had told them to stay out, just for a few minutes until we were done talking. They could hardly handle it.

The whole time we were talking, Joshy was singing John Jacob Dingleheimer Smith and Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (not at this moment-no) at the top of his lungs. Caleb was keeping time to the music by banging his gun right against the door on the upbeat. Ellie decided she was not to be outdone and was wailing at the TOP of her lungs chanting, "Mama! Mama!" in the most pathetic tone creating an off-tune sort of harmony with her older brothers. And Isaac, who being the oldest was probably more onto our disagreement than we would've liked, kept interjecting worriedly with "Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy." like a repetitive set of background vocals.

It was absolutely comical.

And we ignored it.

Because, those four precious hooligans causing all that racket on the other side of the door depend on us to sort things out, to make things right, to restore fellowship. It's up to us.

After talking, we opened the door to let them in and they all spilled through the doorway like a row of dominoes right on top of one another. But their joy was evident. We were back on track and all was right with their world and ours as well.

It reminded me yet again, our strength is small. God's strength is enormous. We might feel tired. But God carries us. We're all grown up now. Our children are depending on us to make the right choices. Staying on the same team when the pressure is mounting is important. Seeking forgiveness is key.

Focusing on the sprint with our eyes on Christ is paramount. Only He can make us fly like the wind when our strength is gone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remember Who You Are

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." Acts 2:38-39

It's Friday again...beloved Friday. The beginning of the weekend, when fun things happen. One of those happy activities is what the boys call "Cleaning Day". Before you all puke from disgust thinking my boys are begging to help me dust like good little children, hear me out...Cleaning Day for me, means a movie for them. Once they've done some things to help (I do require some work), I put on a little cinema to help pass the time while I mop and clean bathrooms. It's a win for me because I need the little hands occupied while I deal with the dirtier stuff and it's a win for them because it's usually been a bit since they watched a movie.

So...this morning they were watching the Lion King, courtesy of my parents (thanks guys!). First off, I know some people have problems with Disney films. I think most of them are fine...just my opinion. Yet there are some thematic things to deal with since their mantra is mostly about believing in yourself and all that garbage. If we believe in ourselves, we're pretty much headed for ruin...but I'm digressing. I think, as parents, we don't necessarily have to be scared of these themes. We can talk about them ya know. Our kids do have to live in the world. And there are some great stories in Disney films too!

Anyhoo, as I was mopping the floor, I was listening to a part in the movie where Rafiki, the baboon, was telling Simba not to run from his past but to remember his history...to remember his family...to remember who he was. His Dad had been the king, and his grandpa was the king before him, and so on. Simba needed to remember who he was...he was the rightful king even if he didn't think he was worthy of it. As the scene continued on, I started thinking about how it was a beautiful picture of the kind of faith heritage we're trying to leave to our children.

First of all, when I start talking about a faith heritage, some people automatically think that means that we're trying to save our kids with our faith. Hear this, both Steve and I don't believe that we can do anything to save our kids. That's God's work. But we will do everything we can to point them to Him. I think most Christian parents feel this way; it's just that we don't always go about it in the same way.

For us, we want their history, their story to be based on The Story, the Gospel, namely Christ. Everything possible, in our family, will be built upon that rock. We'll do our best to teach them how to pray, how to have faith, to sup at the Lord's Table, to study the Bible, to seek forgiveness when needed and most importantly the ins and outs of the Gospel. We won't hold them back because they're small. We want them to learn now what it means to be a Christian and we'll include them as much as we can in our worship. We're not going to wait to do that until we're positively sure they have faith. For we don't know that we'll ever be able to know that for certain. That's for God to decide. So that's what we're striving for at least, though we fail along the way. This is their faith history.

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. Luke 18:15-17

And then there is their actual, physical faith history. They come from a family that believes in Christ. Their grandparents believe (and generations before them) and have incredible faith; we, their parents, believe and we want to pass that faith on to them. Now when they grow up, they may wholeheartedly embrace that history as their own and again, that will be God's saving work or simply evidence that He already has saved them. Or they may walk away.

We can only pray that God will save them. And that if they do walk away, that God will chase them down. But for us and what we're responsible for, their history will be about believing. And if they do wander from the faith, you better believe we'll be there telling them, "Remember who you are. Remember where you come from. Remember your history." And we'll pray for them.

Of course now, when our children are small, they all say they believe (minus Elle that is). They all know why Jesus came and what He did. They all understand that they sin and are in need of grace. But I can't peer into their hearts. It's not up to me to judge their faith. It may not be as mature as mine, but Jesus Himself talks about the kingdom of God belonging to little children. And we all know that God does what He pleases. If He wants to save my kids at a young age, He can do it. I don't doubt that for second. So when they say they believe, I don't doubt it. And in the meantime, I can only water the seeds planted deep inside...it's up to God to make them grow.

"I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." 1 Cor. 4:6,7

And that fruit will be apparent over time.

Remember who you are...

They are ours. And we, their parents, are Christians. They are growing up amidst a rich faith heritage. So we will do our best to fill their history up with Christ and trust God to do the rest.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Best of Both Worlds

Some mothers really don't want their kids having sugar. I can respect that. I don't really want my kids gorging on it either. Yet at the same time, I personally don't think it's a big deal (within reason that is). Everyone knows what it's like to be around kids that are fed the stuff like it's their last meal or something. However, desserts are treats. They are delightful. And I feel like a child's younger years should be sprinkled with their goodness. A little bit here and a little shake there makes a happy child, let me tell you. And this mama loves to make these little treats. It's probably because I'm biased. I LOVE treats myself. It's my one weakness.

But that's why I love this recipe. Yes it has sugar...both white and brown. Yes it has butter (two whole sticks). But it has some other redeeming qualities like tons of oatmeal, heart healthy nuts and lots of raisins. What's not to love? I have searched high and low to find a good oatmeal cookie and this one wins hands down every.single.time. Gone are the dry, rock solid "healthy" cookies. Welcome the best...moist, chewy, flavorful oatmeal cookies. We love them around here.

And I'll let you in on a little secret why they're the best...it's all in the raisin soak.

But we'll get to that. It sounds complicated but it's not.

So here it is. A healthy, yummy and full of sugar dessert. If you don't like sugar, just look the other way and remember how the oats are helping lower your child's cholesterol. If you don't care, except to keep desserts to be consumed in moderation (like me), then simply mix as directed and be happy about the smiles that will soon be on your children's faces. We all have our methods and each one is different and acceptable. So here is my perfect oatmeal cookie, the best of both worlds.

Oatmeal Cookies
Hot Providence
By Lisa Qualls

3 eggs, well beaten
1 c. raisins
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. oatmeal
3/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional and I don't put them in because I'm cheap)

Combine eggs, raisins and vanilla and let stand for one hour, covered with plastic wrap. This is the raisin soak and it helps the raisins plump and get so ooey-gooey and yummy!!

After an hour, cream together butter and sugars. Mix dry ingredients together (except the oatmeal) and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Mix well.

Blend in egg-raisin mixture.

Once incorporated, add the oatmeal and chopped nuts if you're using. Dough will be stiff. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned.

Be happy. They're "healthy" and yummy.

Eat a couple, pass them out to your family and see the smiles. I never met a kid who didn't like an oatmeal cookie.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On High Horses

Excerpted from one of my favorite little books of poetry...Sketches of Home by Suzanne Clark.

I sing of words preposterous, of speed lemons and babloons and music to my nose (the smell of coffee). I sing of blood jumping up and down and kicking its feet, the way you once described excitement. I sing of runful and jumpful. Blessed be your verbs: "Mommy, I drinkdid a glass of water," "I wroot you a letter," "I holded on," "I bees happy." Off you go on high horses, two jesters juggling cockeyed words into my straight and narrow air.

From Caleb telling Isaac that he's, "The apple of his eye." To Joshua constantly yelling, "Mommy, I'm trying to get your attention!!" when I don't respond right away. To Isaac reading his "Sille" Story for the hundredth time to Elliana proudly announcing, "Dump!" as she pours out my water bottle on the floor.

The amount of words and language that run through this household on a daily basis is absurd yet so beautiful in its own sort of way. Everyone on their different levels.

Isaac practicing picking out verbs/nouns/adjectives in a sentence (Miss Brown, you're amazing)...Caleb sounding out simple phonetic words and lighting up that he can do it...Joshua saying the funniest thing that comes to mind in the most sophisticated way he can making everyone laugh...Ellie speaking a language only she knows that often sounds a lot like Chinese.

It's all there. Overheard. By me alone.

I'm pretty lucky to be privy to such things. I better cherish it. Write it on the tablet of my heart like a love song. It's all just too precious.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Two Outta Four...50%!

We've got another cutie in glasses. That brings the grand total to two in our house. Two pairs to keep track of and two to keep clean. Two to hopefully keep from scratches and two chubby faces to adore behind their specs.

He's still getting used to wearing them (and so am I...his face looks so different) but we're really thankful that they're helping correct his vision. His eyes were turning in quite often.

I've still got my eye on this though (hardy har har) because his strabismus came on so suddenly. I want to be sure that's all it is. Although, that is how it looks now so we'll go with it.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kinda Like a First

Something rather special occurred in our home this last Sunday night. Steve just happened to finish up his math assignment early on in the weekend so he was around more than usual. Because of this, we decided to take advantage of his bit of freedom to take Isaac out on a little Daddy date.

But this wasn't just any Daddy date. It was something we had been planning for a long time...a few months in fact.

On this special night, his Daddy took him out to ice cream to give him his first real Bible.

A few months ago, we started realizing that he still didn't have a complete Bible. Now that he can read pretty fluently, we thought it would be the right time to get him one. But where to look? Back in the day, before so much online shopping, one could just walk into their local Christian bookstore. But we don't have one in our area. So we were forced to look online. The only downside was that it's hard to get a feel for the style of the Bible without looking at it in person.

There weren't too many criteria but there were a few things we were dead set-on. It had to be a full Bible (not a shortened version) in the ESV (because that's the version we have and we wanted it to be the same for simplicity's sake). We also didn't want it to be too childish. We don't have anything wrong with kiddy pictures but we didn't want it too cartoony because hey, that's just our style.

We finally found one that got great reviews at Walmart for $16. Can you say score? Not only that but, it's put out by Desiring God Ministries (John Piper). And pretty much, my husband is in love with John Piper so...we were sold. All of the study notes throughout the Bible are written by them and so they are really well done. The pictures are realistic and not too silly either. Double win! Ha!

So back to Sunday. We'd already had an adventurous afternoon with Elliana in Urgent Care due to a cut on her cheek that needed gluing. We were all a tad tired. So we waited until it was time for everyone to go to bed. And then Steve announced, as Isaac was brushing his teeth, that he needed to put his clothes back on and come with him. He had a present in his hand. Isaac was dumbfounded. His brothers were heartbroken (but I had a little trick up my sleeve for them, so it worked out okay). And off they went.

In the meantime, I put Elliana down and then I broke out the last two cupcakes from Caleb's Reformation Day Party at school the Thursday before. All was forgotten and Joshua and Caleb were giggling over the gummy worms. I made Diet of Wermes Cupcakes in honor of Martin Luther's trial (Diet is the German word for trial; and this Diet/Trial was held in the city of Wermes, Germany).

Later Steve filled me in on their little time. They went to "Froster's"...Foster's Freeze that is and Steve gave him the Bible. Isaac was so, SO excited.

It was a special night that we'll always remember. It was kinda like a first. You see, we know of a family that took their sons through various "ceremonies" I guess you could call them, at different points of their lives. These ceremonies were intentional with the hope of teaching them how to become men who love the Lord. We've always wanted to emulate that.

So among many steps, this was just the first one. It was pretty special for us to have Steve take his firstborn son out, give him his first Bible and tell him how much it means to him and how it will teach Isaac how to live...to love God and love others.

Pretty special indeed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Obligatory Halloween Pics

We had a pretty mellow Halloween. We did our usual trek of trick or treating around the school campus and ended up with quite a loot. I'm going to have to hide all of that candy from myself or I'll be in trouble!! Candy...sweets...they're my one weakness.

The neighborhood came out in droves. It was such fun to see all of the littles dressed up so adorably. Oh how I love Halloween!!

I didn't think Steve and I would dress up this year. But somehow, I was able to squeeze myself into one of my old prom dresses (don't worry, one of them wasn't even close to buttoning) and so we went as the late 90's prom date.

Here are some cuties on their way to school this morning. These two, and another of their pals, have been friends since birth.

I had to get a picture with my little girl. I just love her so much.

And of course, the little girl with her Daddy...melt.me.right.now.

This little soldier just loves his baby sister....well, most of the time. I love seeing how tight they are.

I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween and stuffed yourselves full of candy. For one night of the year it's just plain okay!

After the trick or treating, we went home and let the kids eat candy while watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Life is good. God just smothers us in blessing doesn't He? Halloween is a night to remember how God has conquered the grave. So celebrate His victory and eat another Reese's. The Devil just plain has NO chance.