Thursday, May 23, 2013


I have five awesome kids.

I also have five kids with healthy sin natures.  (Just like their mama!)  This means we have to be conscientious about how we parent, intentional about character training, and always looking for teachable moments and soft hearts.

As the kids get older, this gets more complicated.  The teenager loves to pester the younger sibs, the tween gets a sick glee out of tattling alerting us to big brother's need to get caught doing whatever it is she deems unsatisfactory, and the three younger ones can go from hugs to hitting in 1.7 seconds.  It can get ugly around here and quick!

One of the blessings of homeschooling is that we are all together all day long.  Now some may think that is the cause of the problem, but I assure it was much worse when they were in school we were running five different directions all the time.  My kids love each other, but they have conflicts so we have to help them navigate those murky waters in a way that fosters closeness and affection for one another.

So lately, when two siblings seem to be at each other's throats, we have found a fabulous way to redirect their behavior:

They can only play/talk/hang out with the sibling they are fighting with.

That means if DJ and Katie have been snippy all morning, the rest of the day finds them sitting next to each other at meals, helping each other with tasks, and not allowed to do those things with anyone else!

It works every single a charm.  When there is no getting away from the offensive sib, they are forced to make the best of it!  Once they get over the horror of having to be TOGETHER all day, they end up laughing, chatting, and generally getting along as if they actually like each other!

Ahh, parenting.  Never a dull moment.  :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In which I risk life and limb for my children...

I bought a Slip and Slide the other day to help bridge the gap between the end of our school year and opening day at the local pool.  It is a double slide, meaning two kids at a time can race each other.  Fun, right?

So we set it up in the backyard and five kids stood there, apparently not knowing what to do.  They looked at me and I figured the best explanation would come in the form of a demonstration.

Hee hee.

I eyed the slide, realizing it is much shorter than the ones of my childhood.  I took a deep breath, braced myself and went for it.   My 40 year old self landed awkwardly, slid about 3 feet, and thanked God my swimsuit has a skirt.  Five kids burst into screams of laughter (after the initial embarrassment of the older ones that mom just DID that!) and then the race was on!

I walked away grinning, grabbed my camera, and watched the kids laugh and splash a sweet welcome to summer.  

A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Funny Faux Pas

So my girl, Katie, is our clogger.  Fun, fun, fun stuff!  They recently ordered their competition uniforms (no fluffy skirts, thankfully...jean shorts and plaid shorts are in order for these modern cloggers!) and were discussing what color tank they should wear under the shirts.  Their teacher, who we LOVE and is always careful with how he discusses these things with a roomful of girls encouraged them to NOT wear white tanks because...

"We are all white."


Katie looked at her friends, her friends looked at her, and her teacher quickly realized his faux pas.  My girl started laughing and her friends all got a big kick out of it.  Their teacher?  Well, he looked quite sheepish.

"Well, a lot of us are!" he said.

Bless his heart.  We may have to rib him about this one for a while!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Sweet girl has a strong stubborn streak which pays off dearly when channeled into a worthy endeavor.

Take losing the training wheels, for instance.  Spring arrived and the kids broke out the bikes.  Her tricycle had seen better days with a broken pedal and loose handlebar.  She eyed her brother's too-small-for-him Lightning McQueen bike and climbed on.  She was quickly frustrated when she realized she didn't know how to balance it.  I gently reminded her that she knows how to balance on her scooter and this is very similar.  I helped her by holding the back of her seat as she pedaled slowly, nervously.  After a few minutes she stopped and I encouraged her to keep trying.  I promised her that she would figure it out soon.

Boy, was I right about that one!  Later that evening she managed to pedal about 20 feet without falling!  We all clapped and cheered for her, amazed that she had accomplished that much in just a couple of hours!  The next day...

Girlfriend was cruisin' like she'd been biking for months.  Now that's a girl who knows the meaning of perseverance!

Tonight we walked down the street for a graduation party.  The kids decided to ride their bikes and I marveled at this little one who rode confidently in front of me, pausing every so often to wait for mommy to catch up.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Man (Boy) of Many Questions

A sampling of probing questions asked in the past week by Drew...age 6

"Mom, can black guys marry white girls?"

"Mom, can you buy stuff if your dollar is wrinkled?  What if it is wet?"

"Mom, if a bad guy shoots you with a gun could you die?"

"Mom, will I have kids?"

"Mom, why did you adopt me when you didn't even know me?"

"Mom, how old do I have to be to get a job?"

"Mom, when you go on a date with Dad do you kiss each other?"

"Mom, when you first saw me were you like 'ooh yeah I want that kind of baby!'?"

"Mom, can we talk about firetrucks?"

"Mom, can I ask you a question?"

"Mom, can we keep talking about stuff?"

"Mom, where's Dad?"

Do you notice a common thread here?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Unsolicited Book Review

After two years of homeschooling, I realized that reading aloud to my children needed to be upped as a priority.  I had them reading independently each day, but did not always sit the five of them down for a long session of listening.  So this year, I did just that.

It is the single best homeschooling decision I have ever made.

Yesterday we finished another book:  Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier.  For the past month I have read a chapter or two each morning.  My kids are allowed to play with Legos quietly during read-aloud time, so as the plastic pieces clicked into place I told them this incredible tale of a blind orphan who was the greatest thief who ever lived.  A tale that was scary, dangerous, and often dark.  A tale of a boy who is greater than he imagined, more important than he ever hoped.  A tale of character and courage, of victory and defeat.  

They loved it so much that they often ended up ditching the Legos for a comfy place on the couch.  (Including DJ, who notoriously needs his hands to be busy to listen well.)  But this book?  It was different.  This book captured the imaginations of us all and we found ourselves hanging on every word, nearly falling out of our seats with anticipation at the end of each chapter.  In a word, it was FANTASTIC.

Today, there was no Peter.  Today we wrapped up another day of school with the anticipation of finishing our year on Friday.  And, today, my kids said...

"It's kind of weird around here without Peter."

Yes, they miss  him!  And, oddly enough, so do I.

Here is the trailer for the book.  Get thee to the nearest bookstore and read this with your babes!   You will be so glad you did.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Blessings come in many ways.  Sometimes obvious, often subtle, like a love note tucked away and waiting to be discovered.
On a long walk I found them, just outside my neighborhood.  Every day I pass them going 45 mph, but I missed them in the hurry.
On a long walk, I slowed to see and He spoke love to my heart.

Thistles stood tall along the concrete, framed by fields of green.

That farm with the bright red barn.  Country on the edge of the city, quietly defying urban sprawl.

And the field of daisies dancing below blue sky.  They are my favorite.
They waved in the breeze and I dared to trespass on the edge of private property for the chance to be surrounded.

Joy.  Sweet joy simply from slowing down and going for a long walk.  My heart filled and song erupting with the birds as they sang glory.  The heavens declaring and my spirit agreeing, dancing with the Lover of my Soul.

It is good to slow, it is good to savor the beauty just outside my door.  It is needful to listen to His voice on the wind, whispering love to my heart, pleasure in the fact that I am His and He is mine.
It is good to stare at a field of daisies and be undone.

Never Give Up

This little one who struggled so...
Struggled to love, to trust, to attach.
This little one wrote a letter to me on Mother's Day.  A letter I will forever treasure.

In her broken Kindergarten spelling she said this.

Translated for me with a slight African accent and eyes glimmering with hope she said this:

Dear Mom,
Happy Mothers Day.  I love you so much and you never gave up loving me and I will happily love God.  God never gives up keeping His promises.

Read that again, will you?

She said this


This child who pushed away the love that she so desperately needed, she knows I never gave up.  This child who tried everything to make me leave, to make me give up, to prove her darkest fears of abandonment  true...

She said this.

Adoption is hope.
Adoption is redemption.
Adoption is humbling and healing for us, and for our children.

Adoption means, by the grace and in the strength of God, you never give up.

I love that little girl.  Every day, bit by bit the love grows.  When I see her laugh out of the fullness of a sincere heart, it grows.  When I walk in on her sleeping peacefully, tenderly and protectively cradling her tiger, it grows.  When she relaxes at last in my arms and I feel her melt into me, it grows.  Attachment has been a long time coming, but it has come and continues to strengthen.  When she walks into the room smiling and I feel my heart bloom, I praise God.  Mercy, sweet mercy falls from the hand of Abba in the form of a smile and a gaze held.  Yes, Lord, you are the Healer of hearts and the mender of brokenness and I praise you that she knows you always keep your promises.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Giveaway!

A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to write a devotional for the young girls who would be attending a weekend retreat hosted by her church.  I recently ran across it and thought it would be fun to share it with you!  It is a short, simple 4-session study for Tween-aged girls to help them evaluate where they stand in their relationship with God and to be reminded of how valuable they are to Him.  It is called Bloom in Christ and it is FREE for you!

The tweens...ages 8-12...can be TOUGH for our girls.  Friends, drama, hormones, pressure from all sides can make a girl doubt her abilities, her worth, and whether this whole Jesus thing is all it is cracked up to be. My heart's desire is for our daughters to know who they are in Christ, to go into their teen years knowing they are a vital part of the garden of God's Kingdom!  I want them to understand that He wants to use them now to impact their world for Christ and be willing to say "Yes" to His call upon their lives.

Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your email address and I will happily send it to you.   You can also email me at

Feel free to share the link to this post with your friends and family.  I'm happy to send Bloom in Christ to anyone that has/loves/knows a tween girl who could use a boost of Jesus as she embarks upon her teen years!

Bloom in Christ
A Study for Girls

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In which I choose to see

"Ohio victims bound in ropes and chains."

"The Benghazi Hearings"

"Arias says in post-conviction interview that she'd prefer to die."

"The Kermit Gosnell Trial"


I have turned off the news.

I have put away my cell phone.

I am sick and tired of the assault of evil upon my senses and my spirit.

The world seems to be spiraling out of control.  The hurt, the violence, the anger, the total disregard for life and all things holy threaten my peace.  What God says is good is considered bad, and what God says is bad is accepted, lauded, celebrated.  There is so much bad in today's news.  So much evil appearing to triumph over good.  So many dying, enslaved to sin, or just truly enslaved.  I can turn my head, or I can walk with my eyes fixed on Jesus.  I can ignore the problems that consume our world, or I can be a part of the solution.  I can pretend I am blind, or I can choose to SEE.

I choose to see.  I choose to see the woman in the hotel, with her black eye healing slowly, toting the baby on her hip to the food line.  I choose to see her hesitancy to meet my eye, and the way she avoids the men.  

I choose to see the house down the road with the yellow ribbon around the tree, the car with the American flag and the date of death of their soldier...their husband, their daddy.  

I choose to see how a culture of death and violence has created monsters and even the women of this culture resort to the most base forms of revenge.  

I choose to see how the enemy has us fooled, how we don't believe in spiritual warfare anymore and we go about our day ignorant while the battle rages unseen.
But the battle, it rages hot and fierce.

I choose to open the Word of God and believe that, in the end, Jesus has won the victory and we get to be part of His battle plan.  We get to be on the front lines, loving and serving and seeing the desperation behind the angry faces.  We get to share the answer to their unspoken questions...that HE LOVES YOU SO MUCH and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  

You were never intended to handle these hard days of life alone.    

I get to fall down on my knees and pray for a miracle for a cancer-stricken woman who is just barely not homeless and watch the people of God rally around her in love.  
I get to share the excitement of a homeless young man, now given a chance at life, who has been virtually blind and now eagerly awaits the arrival of new glasses.  I get to explain to my kids why I'm not overly concerned about the fact that he smokes, because he is trying to get his life together and smoking is the least of his problems right now.  

"We have to show grace, baby, and remember from where he has come.  We have to love him and be examples of what he can become if he will work hard and make good decisions."

I get to read about astronauts and firetrucks to my little boy and inspire him to dream big, to imagine what can be if he follows God's call upon his life.
I get to teach my children so much more than math.  I get to teach them what family really means, what forever is all about.  I get to teach them about grace even as I struggle to grasp the reality of it myself.

I choose to see, to look up and not at the television.  I choose to listen to words that build up and prosper instead of another news report telling of the unthinkable, the unbelievable, the ungodly.  

By His grace, I choose life.  We all can.  

Psalm 119:37-Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

May we be given eyes to see, ears to hear, and hands willing to be calloused for the glory of God!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mommy dates

The middle child relishes her position. We affectionately refer to her as the "glue" that holds the family together. She is the resilient one, the "go with the flow" creative who will drop everything at a moment's notice to accompany her mama in the mundane: grocery shopping and excursions to Tar-jay, even short trips just to fill up the car with gas.
Of course, she knows the perks...
Mommy dates always include food...including dessert!

Today it was an orthodontist appointment, resulting in bright orange bands on those braced front teeth. We marked the occasion with chips and salsa, because there is nothing a little Tex-mex can't make festive!

And nachos. 8 perfect chips loaded, shared with my girl. Her smile as she smacked her avocado-smeared lips was priceless. Her slender body sliding between me and the table as we waited for our check spoke volumes about the heart of this little one whose love tank was full. Time with mama always does that, and I am thankful for sweet times like this, impromptu mommy-dates where they are singled out...the most important person in the world for that moment.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


There was a cluster of purple iris next to my house.  As far as I knew they had always been there.  Each spring they reappeared, never divided and only watered by the rain.
Purple irises with yellow throats.  They were so beautiful.  When I was eight I would play long hours of pretend, imagining worlds and fairies and critters living amongst the growing things in our yard.  And those irises, so tall and so grand, surely housed the queen.

I had forgotten all about the irises until late Autumn of last year.  While perusing the local nursery I noticed three gallon-sized pots with 3 or four ugly, spiky leaves hanging on to the last thread of life.  Of course, in this sad state, they were on clearance.  I purchased them, not knowing what color the blooms would be, if they even survived the winter.

Spring arrived and the irises appeared to be dormant still.  The same ugly leaves poked, unchanged, above the Knockout Roses that were growing and on the verge of bloom.  Then, last week, there appeared a long stem with a bud swelling.  I smiled when it bloomed bright yellow.  It floated proudly next to the white fence and seemed to shout a happy greeting every time I spotted it outside my laundry room window.  Then, a few days later, more buds appeared on the other plants.
They bloomed purple:

I am so happy to have my fairy kingdom back, to share it with my little girls and relive a sweet piece of my childhood.  I am thankful for sweet memories like this that return, reminding me of what was and allowing me to glimpse anew the wonder in such simple things.  

It is good to stop, good to slow and breathe in the beauty God has tucked into every corner of Creation.  For, indeed, all of Creation declares His glory if we will only take the time to notice.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bedtime Battle

Drew is notorious for his distaste of bedtime. He apparently sees it as a punishment secondary only to the removal of toenails without anesthesia.

Here is the lowdown of tonight's battle, after multiple delays and "forgetful" moments...
Me: You are grounded.

Insert wailing...I'm talking tears and snot, people.

Me: (Because he is really going at it. Seriously overreacting to being grounded). "Do you know what grounded means?"

Deep breath from the boy followed by a long and tearful "NO!!!"

I duck my head and pull my hair across my mouth, unable to stifle the laughter bubbling up from the depths. I actually have to walk away for a second while he stares at me incredulously, wondering why I am making such weird sounds. Sometimes it is so hard to be firm. Keeping a straight face in times like this is nearly impossible!

For. The. Love.


Oh, the standardized test, the supposed measure of learning and progress.  As a homeschooling parent, I am not required to test my kids every year by our state but I choose to test every two years just so I can see "where we stand" and if there are any major deficits that I need to address while planning for the next year.  I order the tests and administer them at home, carefully following all the rules and standards for a classroom testing environment so that I get an accurate measure of my children's performance.

Math and language arts have gone smoothly this week.  Of course there are moments where pencils are being chewed and faces look up at the ceiling fan, desperate for an answer to materialize from the dusty blades.  I know the strengths of my kids pretty well, I think, so I don't really expect many surprises.

The last time we tested was two years ago, and I just administered what is called the "Basic Battery" of skills.  But this year I decided to do the "Complete Battery" and include Science and Social Studies.

Just for fun.

My kids think I am evil.

For the most part, the questions were what you expect...geology, general science, botany, zoology, government, geography and map-reading, etc.  No biggie, right?

But thrown into the mix were questions that simply struck me as asinine.  For example..."Which of the following lived during the time this fossil (insert picture of a fossilized leaf) was formed?"  The possibilities are...A)a parrot, B)a squirrel, C)a fish, and D)a brontosaurus.

For real?  First of all, do the people who wrote this test think parrots, squirrels, and fish didn't exist until the dinosaurs were extinct? It was obvious they wanted answer D...but even my 8 year old was confused because SHE knows God formed the flying and swimming creatures on the 5th day of creation and the LAND ANIMALS (including dinosaurs) on the 6th day.  So I just told her, "Mark the answer you think they want."


Another fine example of higher thinking:  "Which of the following should be recycled?"  The possibilities were a bar of soap, a pencil, a carrot, and a milk jug.

What the heck does this have to do with social studies???  When I was in fifth grade, social studies consisted of learning about local government, reading maps, and coloring those little geometric pages for the teacher to hang above the chalkboard.  Oh, wait.  That had nothing to do with social studies?  But I digress.
First of all, (insert screeching halt here...)
 ALERT:  I am not an environmentalist, tree hugger, or Liberal.  You might be offended by the next statement.  Feel free to stop reading here.

First of all...these tests are LOADED with Green Movement indoctrinations, Liberalism, etc.  And I mean LOADED.  If I didn't have the freedom and privilege of administering these tests I would have NO IDEA what was on them.  It is ridiculous.

Second of all...I am very concerned with the ability of my kids to read, write, do math, and LEARN.  I am not concerned at all with their ability to "choose the city that is probably producing the least pollution" or "help 'Tina' figure out how big her recycle bin needs to be."  For crying out loud!

Can they balance a checkbook?  Do they know how to use a dictionary?  Can they read and understand great literature?  Do they know where to go to find information about the things they do not know?  That, to me, is education...that is what I want them to learn.  I have zero their learning to calculate their carbon footprint or being guilted into driving electric cars when they are adults.

Ok.  Stepping off soapbox now.  Well, almost.

For more information about the truth behind the Green Movement, please read Resisting The Green Dragon by James Wanliss.  It is eye opening.  If you are a Christian, this topic is extremely important.
And I leave you with this:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”