Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloweening

I hadn't planned on dressing up this year. Just wasn't into it. I figured cute costumes for my kids would suffice. So I pulled out the lion costume I made for Snapper when she was 2, and it fitPerfectly perfectly. We got a pair of black sweat for Snapper, and a kitty tail and ears. She was adorable, of course. And then Matt went to Walmart.

It was at 4:00 this afternoon. He went for black thread, but made the mistake of walking past the Halloween costume aisle, where wigs were half off. He brought home a blond mullet wig, which served as instant, spontaneous inspiration for me. At 5:00 we pulled out of the driveway on our way to our church's Trunk or Treat, with a kitty and a lion in the backseat, and the world's ugliest man in the driver's seat. And no, I am definitely not talking about my hottie husband!

I've said before, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are a few adorable pictures of my sweet kids. And there are a couple thousand words' worth of pictures of me, the "Whoa-Man," as our pastor noted upon seeing me tonight. Seriously, I think I looked like something that crawled out of a dilapidated trailer in some backwoods bayou. Hee hee! Happy laughing!









A Good Book and Help Wanted

I'll start with the Help Wanted ad because it is so important. I know I'm already friends with a lot of you on Facebook, and some of you also got my email about this, so it may be a triple dose for you. If so, then view it as a prompting from the Holy Spirit...hee hee! (Just joking, of course! I would never pretend to be the Holy Spirit!).

My friend Bev who has leukemia is having her bone marrow transplant on November 23rd. Needless to say, this is a very scary time for her as she anticipates the transplant. There's a 20% chance her body will reject the marrow, which means death. She's not afraid of dying because she knows where she is going. But she doesn't want to leave behind her husband and her two little boys. The boys have some very tough special needs, probably too tough for her husband to handle on his own. But that's a whole other story. Anyway, Bev has asked me to gather 30 Bible verses from my friends to hang on the wall of her hospital room, so she will surrounded by truth from God's Word. I want to take her request a step further. Since she will be in the hospital a minumum of 6 weeks (2-3 months is more likely), I want to collect a verse for each day she is in the hospital. And I want these verses to come from all over the country, so she can know how wrapped in prayer and the love of Christ she truly is. As of right now--9:50 Friday morning--I have had 51 verses that have come in, representing 9 U.S. states! My goal is 100 verses. As each verse comes in, I'm printing it, mounting it on a brightly colored sheet of scrapbook paper, and attaching the sender's name and photo, which I have pirated off of your facebook accounts or taken from my personal photo files! I will put all the posters into a scrapbook, and take it to Bev when I go to see her in North Carolina on Wednesday. Her husband will hang them on her wall when she goes in for transplant. The bright colors will cheer up the drab room, and the verses will keep her focus on Christ in the midst of the "valley of the shadow of death."

If you haven't already, please post the reference of a verse (or verses) that have either encouraged you, or you think will be uplifting for Bev. Thanks for helping out! I'm so excited about this whole thing, and I am storing away some new favorites of my own as I read what comes in!

As for the book...
"Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore...



I finished it a 1 a.m. night before last. And then I had to take a sleeping pill, which didn't work fully until 2:30 a.m. because that book was in my head and I couldn't stop thinking. It is a book I will be purchasing to add to my permanent collection. Here are the reasons why.

1. It is a recent true story of three remarkable people.
2. It addresses some issues in our country, both historical and current, that I believe all people MUST be aware of.
3. There is no watering down of hard truth. The authors speak life just as it happened to them. I love people who are real and transparent about the events of their lives. That's the kind of person I am striving to be. I want God to use me to speak to others.
4. It breaks down stereotypes and infuses compassion for a "least of these" people group.
5. It opens eyes to a painful struggle, one that I have walked through once, and am walking through again. Reading this book was like opening a window into my spirit. Want to see into my heart? Read the book and you will.
6. It is a story of victory, of overcoming, of healing.
7. It vividly shows how "God causes ALL things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28.
8. It is written proof that God speaks to those who are listening for Him, and that He still performs miracles today.

I will be honest when I say this is not an easy book to read. It WILL make you cry because it deals with real pain and suffering. But it will also change the way you think about life, freedom, suffering, and the goodness of God. Don't expect to sit down for a light, before-bed read because it is not! If you must read it at night, make sure you have pre-purchased some Tylenol P.M.! But do be ready for a book that will stick with you and inspire you.

Okay, that's my newspaper for today. Have a safe Halloween, and let you light shine!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just Today

My house is clean. My house is quiet. My house is peaceful. My kids are sleeping. Dinner is at church tonight so I don't have to cook today. I have a few notes to write, and then I'm going to make a cup of Constant Comment tea (my very favorite) and sit down and READ!!! I can't tell you the last time I sat down (for more than 30 minutes) with a good book. I'm really excited! I'm looking forward to getting the box of Trader Joe's pumpkin bread mix that Amber is sending me in the mail. Then I can have tea AND pumkin bread while I read. Doesn't that sound like the perfect activity for a cool, autumn afternoon?

I'm currently reading "The Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It was recommended to me by my friend Karen.

Whare are you reading right now? I'm always in the market for a good read, and I would love your recommendations.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Famous Last Words

"I have had a good, productive, and kind of boring few days."

Those were some of the last words of the blog I posted last night. According to my friend Karon, they were the Famous Last Words of Emily B.

My day began at 3:00 a.m. when I was awakened by the perky, cheerful little voice of my son: "Good morning, Mama! I want uppa in your bed. I wanna cuddle, Mama. Where Daddy is, Mama? I want my Daddy, Mama." Needless to say, I didn't get cold last night. No, I had a sweaty, little person wrapped around my arm until we were joined by the squalling sister at 6:00. Guess what? She had to go to the bathroom but was refusing to go. I thought we got over this yesterday! Apparently I thought wrong. She sat shivering on the potty for an hour, alternating between obstinate, angry words, and pleading sobs. By 7:30 we were still poopless, and completely exhausted. I ditched the idea of church and put the kids to soak in a warm bubble bath. The bath perked Snapper up a lot, and I began thinking about church again. Debbie got breakfast for the kids while I took my shower. When I was all ready for church, I headed downstairs and found Snapper lying on the couch moaning. She had not eaten her breakfast, and was hurting all over, with intense pain in her right side. My kid? Refuse her breakfast? I quickly decided that this was not more of the usual drama. She was pale, and couldn't even walk across the living room.

I made a quick call to our pediatrician's exchange. After a brief consultation, the pediatrician sent us to the hospital. He scheduled us an appointment so we could get in right away. He said her symptoms sounded like the start of appendicitis. Oh no, this is not good! Debbie had left for church already, so I called Stephanie, our children's pastor, and had her track down Debbie. I loaded kids into Matt's car because Deb had taken my van. As we turned into the church parking lot, the car died. Just shut off. The steering wheel tightened up and my brake pedal got stuck. I couldn't restart the car. Right away I thanked God that I was safely in the parking lot of our wonderful church. A couple of church guys pushed my car into a parking place. Thanks, guys! You rock! I dropped Pepper off at his class, traded keys with Debbie, and found a friend to take Debbie and Pepper home. Then Snapper and I hopped into my van and headed to the hospital.

While we were on the way, Snapper cried quietly in the back seat. The hospital called me and we did all the paperwork over the phone. All I had to do when we arrived was confirm her information on a touch screen and sign a release form. We sat in the waiting room for about 2 minutes. At this point Snapper couldn't even walk. The doctor was with us 2 minutes after we were settled in the examining room. He thoroughly examined Snapper and came up with 4 possible problems: the early stages of appendicitis, the start of a stomach virus, a kidney infection, or kidney stones. We started with a urine sample. Snapper, being the drama queen she is, refused to pee in the cup. She was afraid it would hurt...Hmm...She was afraid she would poop...Hmm... So the nurses loaded her up with apple juice, and before too long, she couldn't hold it. After dropping two cups in the toilet (because Snapper knocked them out of my hand), we had success. Oh joyous mommyhood...she peed all over my hand! But she got some in the cup, too. And that was what mattered, right? I used some great memories to bolster me up. I grew up on a goat farm. I've experienced a lot of things way worse than having my hand peed on by my little girl.

We sat in the examining room for 15 minutes waiting for the pee to process. I was thankful that my iPod was in my purse. Snapper happily listened to "The Music Machine" while she reclined across my lap. The doctor came in and told us there was no kidney infection, but a trace amount of blood in the pee made him lean more toward kidney stones. So he loaded Snapper in a wheelchair and sent us over to radiology. Snapper was fascinated by the xray process. She was a perfect angel for the technicians, and took fantastic photos. I had to laugh...even her bones are photogenic! The nurses praised her up and down, gave her 5 stickers, and let her wear the hospital gown back to the examining room, just to make her feel special. She was thrilled to get to watch the life flight helicopter land while we were heading back over.

When we got back to our exam room, the doctor showed us the xrays. And wouldn't you know it, there were no kidney stones! What did show up, though, faint but clear, were Snapper's intestines. The doctor told Snapper that he shouldn't be able to see her intestines in an xray. He could see them because they were full. At that point he leaned over, whispered to me, and chuckled, "Full of crap!" He told me her intestines were impacted from rectum all the way up to stomach. She likely had been holding it in for 10 days. The little bit she managed to get out yesterday was nothing in comparison to what was still inside. He also told me that drama queens are the most likely group of kids to have this problem. He knows. He has a drama queen himself who has done the exact same thing.

He sent us home with a prescription for Miralax, and orders to return to the hospital at noon tomorrow if she had not yet pooped. So we went home. Little did I know what the afternoon would hold. When we got home, wonderful Stephanie brought me lunch from Taco Bell. Apparently she had read the future and knew I would need the extra protein from that bean burrito. I told Snapper she needed to take some medicine to help her go potty. And the screaming began. I very cleverly disguised the Miralax in a cup of her favorite hot tea. She drank it down without a clue. And then we waited. I slowly poured fluids into her. A cup of water here, a cup of water there. Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo! Momma Emmy runs a zoo! E-I-E-I-O! And then my little monkey asked when I was going to give her the medicine. I told her I already had. Can you guess what she did? That's right...she screamed. And stomped. And cried. And yelled. And then she stopped.

For the next two hours Snapper paced the living room, moaning and softly crying. We watched the NASCAR race. I gave Snapper the other half of her dose of Miralax. And then things started to happen. Snapper's aggitation increased, and a little monster reared its ugly head. Snapper marched around the house, stomping her feet and yelling. She walked over to poor little Pepper, who was sitting quietly on the couch, and slugged him. I could tell she was getting desperate trying to hold it in. I knew that the pain was driving her to do crazy things she normally would never do. At that point I began to fear for the welfare of my couch and carpet, so I sent Whitney to go march and yell on the Pergo in the kitchen and dining room. That was the final straw. Poor Alara Kitty was sitting in the sun on a kitchen chair. Snapper stomped over and roared like a lion in Alara's face, then burst into tears and screams. It frightened Pepper and he too began to bawl, clinging to my leg and demanding to be held. Snapper began swinging her fists at me. So I picked her up, put her in the bathroom, and closed the door. Through the closed door, I told her to sit down on the potty and just go to the bathroom already! Did I mention that Matt is in Oklahoma?

After a half an hour of INTENSE tantruming, I saw two different neighbors standing outside staring at our house. I went out on the front porch and realized the whole neighborhood could hear Snapper's screaming. Through the walls. She was that wild and that loud. Not Good! The last thing we needed was for CPS to show up at our front door! So I brought the still crap-filled Snapper out of the bathroom. She turned it off like a faucet. No more screams. No more tears. Just smiles. Little Booger! Snapper continued to pace and moan, and Pepper continued to cling and cry. I tried to make dinner. Finally, I ordered both kids out to the back yard to jump on the trampoline. Maybe that would get the crap rolling! After more tears and whining, they both headed out. I sat by the dining room window and watched Snapper stomping defiantly around the trampoline. Every time she passed Pepper, she shoved him over. I could hear her exclamations: "I hate this! It's not fair! Dr. Smith is stupid! Mommy is mean! I won't go poo-poo! I won't, I won't I won't! I hate Mommy! Dumb stupid dummy!" Bless her little heart! (If you live in the South, you know that "bless her heart" makes it acceptable to talk about someone's uglies).

I was actually amused by all this. As absurd as it all was, I managed to stay calm and keep my head about me. I didn't get angry or frustrated. I just didn't know what else to do, and I wondered if it would ever end. For a few brief moments, I thought I might be losing my mind. So I called my Auntie Maggie, and she encouraged me to remember the intense pain Snapper was experiencing, and to extend huge amounts of grace and patience. And then I heard a piercing shriek from the back yard. My neighbor, who was grilling on his back deck, jumped and ran to the edge of the deck, peering anxiously into our yard. I ran out onto our deck in time to see Snapper jump off the trampoline, and come racing across the back yard, screaming and clutching her crotch with both hands. Hallelujah and rally the troops! Poop cometh, I think! I ran out to poor screaming Pepper, all the while frantically explaining to the neighbor that I really don't beat my children. Then I ran back inside, deposited Pepper on the couch, and met Snapper in the bathroom.

30 amazingly painless seconds ended the 12-hour ordeal. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to take dinner out of the oven. And then I heard coming from the bathroom a sweet little voice singing a familiar tune with not-so-familiar words: "Somewhere, over the rainbow, poo-poo flies! And my tummy is better, I'm not scared anymore." Silly goose! A new person emerged from our little downstairs bathroom--a sweet, well-mannered 6-year-old girl, wreathed in smiles, perky and cheerful, offering to get a glass of milk for her brother. What! The! Heck! And just like that it was over. Both kids were content and cheerful for the rest of the evening.

As I look back on the events of today, I see God's hand of protection covering our family. Historically, when a LifeChange staff husband goes out to an event, all hell breaks loose at home. Appliances break. Kids get sick. Cars have problems. Are we noticing a theme here? I see it for what it is: spiritual attack. The Weekend to Remember conferences shake the realms of darkness because people are being introduced to Jesus, and satan's pet project--destroying families--is being threatened. I choose to take this attack as a compliment. My husband out at the conference, and I as the support person here at home, are doing work for the Lord that draws fire from the enemy. God shielded and took care of us today. He protected me on the road. He allowed the car to reach a safe, loving place before it broke. He provided for each immediate need surrounding the hospital trip. There wasn't even a co-pay! He gave us a thorough, gentle, compassionate doctor. He kept Snapper calm at the hospital. She cooperated with the doctors, nurses, and technicians, which she NEVER does! The doctor's office is usually where she is at her worst! He kept me calm and peaceful through the midst of some major turbulence all afternoon. He allowed Snapper to finally go to the bathroom so she doesn't have to be admitted to the hospital for a very painful disimpacting procedure. And he brought my husband safely home from Oklahoma about 10 minutes ago.

It was a rough day--a hell of a day, really. But God brought us through it and opened my eyes to His presence in the midst of the storm. Now I'm on the other side and I'm exhausted. Matt is taking tomorrow off to give me a much-needed rest. Hooray for Matt! I'm glad this battle is over. And in order to protect myself, I'll never again say those fateful words: "I have had a good, productive, and kind of boring few days."

Holding Down the Fort

When we first moved here, I was terrified at the thought of Matt traveling for business. And then when Pepper was 3 months old, Matt's travels began. Between October 2006 and April 2007, Matt was on the road for 40 days. I was miserable. Happy that he was getting to help people, a bit jealous that I didn't get to go, lonely without him, and fearful of being home alone. Have you ever noticed that when you're home alone at night, you hear every little noise? I never knew my house creaked or that my neighbor across the street had a yappy dog until Matt was gone!

But over the last year, my heart has changed. Maybe I'm settled enough now here that I'm not scared anymore. Maybe I've adjusted to being home alone. Maybe I'm just growing up. Whatever the case, I've been totally fine this weekend while he has been gone. I've been completely relaxed, just putzing around the house, spending time with kiddos, and basically chillin'. In the past, I would get frantically busy to keep my mind occupied, but rarely accomplished anything. Not this time! In the past I would stay up until 2 a.m. scrapbooking until I was too exhausted to stay awake, and I would drop in to bed half asleep. Not this time! In the past I would jump and panic at the slightest unusual sound from outside (or inside), living my days alone in a perpetual adrenaline rush. Not this time!

I am delighted that Matt gets to be out serving the Lord, using his gifts, and making a difference in marriages and families. I'm content being at home, and I thrill at hearing about what he has been doing. I have gone to bed at normal hours. I've only freaked out at one unusual sound, which sounded like someone trying to open my back door--a legitimate fear, which ended up being the clatter of Jackson's overall buckles in the dryer. Hee hee! And I've been very productive. I have cycled 9 loads of laundry, boxed up my summer clothes, reorganized my dresser, deep cleaned my bedroom, gotten caught up and organized with my LifeChange childcare paperwork, started working on a newsletter, organized my online pictures in preparation for printing, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the living room, disciplined unruly children, crocheted a hat for my nephew's Christmas present, and fixed the broken garbage disposal. I am so proud of myself for fixing that thing! Of course, it took me an hour and I have two broken fingernails to show for it. But it did not conquer me. And Debbie has learned a very valuable lesson that will serve her well in the future: do not dispose of potpourri in your sister-in-law's garbage disposal...or in any garbage disposal for that matter! It doesn't work.

My biggest complaint came the first night Matt was gone. The heater didn't come on in the night and I froze my behind off! Actually, my feet were more frozen than my behind was. I didn't fall asleep until well into the wee morning hours, and ended up having to get up to put on a sweatshirt and my warm, fuzzy toe socks. I rolled up like a burrito in my blankets and longed for my warm, snuggly hubby. It never occurred to me to turn on the heater. It hasn't been on at all since April. I never did get warm that night. I was still cold when I got up the next morning, feeling like I hadn't slept at all. I remedied that problem the second night by pulling the flannel sheets out of the closet, putting them and an extra blanket on my bed, and making sure the thermostat was not sitting at 64.

So my time away from Matt has not been traumatic, despite the fact that Snapper pulled her "I Won't Poop!" routine again today. (The threat of Miralax and the description of its effects on the excretory system changed her mind in a hurry). I have had a good, productive, and kind of boring few days. All the same, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of man back at home sometime tomorrow evening. It can't come soon enough for me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Camera Playtime October 08

Matt is in Oklahoma City this weekend working at a LifeChange event. My day seems so long and empty without the anticipation of him coming at night. This afternoon I was feeling restless, so I decided to take my camera out and play with the kiddos. Here are the results of my playtime. If you live in Little Rock and want me to take pics of your kids or your family, let me know. No outrageous prices from me! In fact, I can honestly say, "Will Work for Food." Hee hee! Seriously, I love taking pictures and am always looking for new subjects to photograph. My kids have come to roll their eyes and groan when they see me coming with camera in hand.

Visit www.moblyng.com to make your own!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our Happy Little Family

Once each year, an awesome guy up at LifeChange does portraits for staff families. Yesterday was our picture day. Here are my favorites from the photo shoot.















Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Childhood Meets Theirs

A few weeks ago I posted about a couple of favorite records from when I was little: "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" and "The Music Machine." I got great feedback from several of you. You also shared your memories of Psalty, Colby, and some others that you (and I) loved when we were kids. As a matter of fact, you can still get the Psalty cd's at www.psalty.com. If you're looking for some awesome, quality kids music/stories that will enhance your kids' spiritual growth and concept of God, invest in the Psalty cd's. My kids are crazy about them, and I love them as much as I did when I was little. My personal favorites are Kids Praise 4 and Kids Praise 7.

Anyhoo, since we bought "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" and "The Music Machine" to use in Awana, we've listened to them a lot at home. This morning the kids were up and had eaten breakfast. I left them coloring at the dining room table while I took my shower. When I came downstairs again, I found them happily rocking out and dancing in the living room to the song "Have Patience" from "The Music Machine." It was too funny not to video.

Here's the video for you. Hee hee!

Monday, October 20, 2008

She's Getting It!

It has been a rough few days for Snapper. Yesterday her rotten attitude and stubbornness got her kicked out of children's church (Horrors!). At dance class tonight, Snapper mouthed off to her teacher. I take a deep breath and wonder if any of my lessons on obedience, respect, and common courtesy are sinking in through that tough little skull of hers. Am I somehow failing as a parent? As much as I hate to admit it, it's a pride issue for me. It hurts my pride when my child behaves badly because it reflects negatively on me. Ugh. So we have some more lessons to learn, and some issues to process. And I am once again humbled by God, through my child.

The good news is that there was a shining moment in the midst of all this Snapper-drama. On the way home from dance tonight, she was certain she saw two planets in the sky. This led to a 15-minute discussion between Snapper and Matt about the planets, the stars, and other things about outer space. The following is a brief segment of that conversation, which helped calm my inner turmoil a bit. The bad behavior is childish and will fade with time and training. But at least some of what we are teaching is getting through.

Matt: Mercury is the planet that is closest to the sun.
Snapper: If I went to Mercury I would get all sweaty and my skin would all come off.
M: Yup, all your skin would come off.
S: Pluto is the planet that is the longest ways way from the sun. It's super freezing cold there.
M: Actually, Pluto isn't a planet.
S: Oh yeah, I know, I know. It's a bunch of rock and stuff and a monster.
M: Did Mommy tell you that?
S: YES!.....Actually no, she didn't.
M: Nothing can live on any of the other planets. Do you know why?
S: Yup, because the closer ones to the sun are too hot, and the longer away from the sun ones are too cold. Earth is exactly perfectly medium.
M: Do you know why?
S: Yup, because Earth is in the perfect place where it's not too hot and not too cold.
M: Do you know why?
S: Yup, because God put Earth exactly where He wanted it so we could be alive here.

Ah, yes! At least some things are sinking in!

Here's a 3-minute video from Snapper's dance class tonight. She is wearing Jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt with a cute tan spaghetti strap top over it. If it doesn't work yet, check back tomorrow. YouTube was getting ready to undergo some maintenance when I posted the video.

Praises Like Crazy!!!

Beverly just called me. She's in the hospital receiving more chemo today. But the news we've been wanting to hear has finally arrived...They have a bone marrow donor! The donor is a perfect match, which is a complete thrill! The transplant is scheduled for the second week of November. Please be praying that all will go well leading up to the transplant, and after the transplant. There's a 20% chance that her body will reject the donor marrow, which would mean death. So please be in prayer for Bev and her family.

She has made a request of me. Please let me know if you would like to participate. She wants 30 Bible verses to hang on her hospital room wall while she's there for the transplant. If God brings a special verse to mind that you think would encourage Bev, write it in bold letters on an 8 1/2x11 piece of paper. She has also requested lots of bright colors. It needs to readable from 15 feet away. If you do this, please mail it or email it to me. If you don't have the time to put it together but you know a good verse, just email the verse to me and I'll put it together. If you want my address, email me at bertholic630@yahoo.com. Thanks!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Fall Frolic

Visit www.moblyng.com to make your own!


I ADORE Fall! I love cool days and crisp nights. I love the rich colors. I love the scent of wet leaves and woodfire smoke. I love hot apple cider and cinnamon candles. I love leaf piles and pumpkins. I love crockpot suppers. And I love jeans and hooded sweatshirts. Today is the perfect fall day. It is a sparkling, sunshiny, 68 degrees outside with just a breath of breeze. It's a yummy day, the perfect day for a trip to the pumpkin patch. We headed out to Schaffers and Collins Produce Farm first thing this morning. We enjoyed a hayride down a long, tree-lined lane that was all decked out for fall and Halloween. Our ride ended in the pumpkin field where the kids each tromped around to find two "perfect" pumpkins. The tractor pulled our hay wagon back to the farm where we saw farm animals, played on the slides, and ate ginormous corndogs and fresh squeezed lemonade for lunch. We're home again now, and two tired kiddos are sleeping soundly in their little beds. Our perfect fall day will conclude with an evening at our friends' Fall Festival at their house. Hot chili for dinner, and s'mores around the campfire to top it off! This could just be my favorite day of 2008!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Mighty Conquerer

I was so excited! On September 9, 2006, I went birthday shopping for Snapper's 4th birthday. I shelled over my budgeted cash and came home with a shiny new bicycle for my daughter. It had every snazzy bike feature a girl could possibly want. Glittery purple and blue paint, flower decals, comfy blue grips on the handles, a cushy seat, and a sturdy set of training wheels. I hung the cute pink helmet from the handlebars, tied a giant pink bow on the seat, and stowed the bike in a dark corner of the garage.

On the evening of her birthday, I prepared a scavenger hunt for Snapper. The clues took her all over the house, and ended in the garage where her excitement was everything I had anticipated! She jumped up and down, screamed, laughed, and provided me with great camera food at the sight of the beautiful bike. We strapped on the helmet, wheeled the bike down to the level end of our cul-de-sac, and put Whitney on it. As she pushed forward on the pedals, the excitement on her face was replaced by a stricken look of pure terror. I grabbed the back of the bike and showed her how to use the brakes. That was of no comfort to Snapper. As the bike started rolling again, she dropeed her feet from the pedals, let go of the handlebars, leaned over as far as she could, and grabbed the front wheel to stop the bike. Remember, I've said several times in the past that Snapper has more than her share of book smarts, but she's sorely lacking in the street smarts department!

Snapper climbed off that bike in a torrent of screams and tears (oh, the drama!), and refused to get back on again. She flung off the helmet, and took off running for home. It has been just over two years since that incident. I can count on one hand the times she has been willing to get on that bike. Each of those times has ended in a similar fashion. Not even the level church parking lot has helped. And then last night when Matt got home, he decided we would go for a walk. He sent me to the garage to get out Snapper's bike and helmet. He put Pepper in the wagon. When we congregated on the front porch, Matt announced that six years old is old enough to get over being afraid of a bike. I rolled the bike down the driveway, strapped knee pads and helmet on Snapper, and insisted she get on the bike.

I fought frustration, and Matt masked amusement as I pushed Snapper up the street on her bike. Every two seconds it was, "Mommy, you're going too fast!" or, "Mommy, that's way too fast!" or, "Mommy I want to stop now!". But I marched onward until we reached the sidewalk on the next street. Then I let go. With whines and wobbles, Snapper pedaled herself forward. Every 5 feet or so she jammed on the brakes, stopping the bike. We continued like that for half a block...crawl forward, stop, crawl forward, stop. Our tortoise could have beat Whitney in a race! Let me remind you that this bike has a sturdy set of training wheels. Finally, I'd had enough. I Snapper that she could stop pedaling, but she was not allowed to stop moving anymore. The pavement was perfectly level, so there was no chance of the bike even moving unless she was pedaling. It took a few blocks, but she finally got going at about the same pace Matt and I were walking. Then we headed homeward.



Our cul-de-sac presented the big test for Snapper. It is a fairly steep downhill slope, and we wouldn't let her get off the bike. Instead, I walked right beside her and coached her on gently tightening the brakes to slow herself down without actually stopping. Slowly, slowly she made her way down the hill. I laughed to myself at the mix of panic, determination, and concentration on her little face.



At the bottom of the street, she made her way around and headed back up the hill. And would you believe it, she actually started pedaling faster to gain momentum for the climb! The capstone of success for Snapper was Matt's insistence that she ride by herself down our very steep driveway. She fussed, but she did it.



And then oh, the joy of conquering a fear! Snapper was so excited that she had ridden her bike! She's asking to go out again today! How thankful I am that we are past this battle, and that she has finally learned to enjoy riding the bike. Of course, now it's too small for her. Can you guess what will be waiting in the garage on Christmas morning? You've got it! A new bike...without training wheels!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

That Darn Cat!

We have a cat. Her name is Zoe. Zoe is a very sweet cat. We love Zoe.
Debbie has a cat. Her name is Alara. Alara is a very sweet cat. We love Alara.
We have two cats in all. Together they are a problem. Today that will change.



Before Debbie moved in with us and brought Alara with her, everything was fine. Zoe's litter box was in the laundryroom. Once in a blue moon she would pee somewhere in the house, but only because Pepper had shut the laundryroom door, closing off her litter box access. When Alara entered the picture, the trouble began. Both cats felt is was necessary to mark their territory. So they did, in various places around the house including but not limited to: the closet under the stairs, Pepper's bed, Matt's briefcase, the pile of clean laundry in the living room, my favorite sweater, and the wet towel left on the floor in the kids' room.

We began locking the cats in the laundryroom every time we had to leave the house. But two cats don't like being locked in the laundryroom, and by the look of the laundryroom when we came home, you would think two large dogs had been left in there instead of two small cats. So we moved the cats and litter box into the garage. All went well for the first week or two. And then we discovered something about Alara: she won't use the cat box if it is not cleaned out at least once a day. Unfortunately, by the time we learned this, she had already begun using various hard-to-reach places in the garage in lieu of the litter box. Of course, Zoe had to retaliate. End result--a garage that reeks of cat urine, which is, in my opinion, one of the grossest smells on earth!

The cat pee smell is no respecter of doors, and seeps into the house from the garage. NASTY! I have been burning candles constantly, and regularly opening windows to air out the house. This morning when I came home from Bible study, I walked in the door and was almost knocked over by the intensity of the smell. Debbie had left the door from the kitchen into the garage open. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I put down my purse, put on my iPod, and charged into the garage to rid it of the stench.

The garage is also set up as a playroom for the kids. All their books are on shelves out there, and almost all their toys are there, too. They have a large table for drawing and playdough, and plenty of open space in which to ride their bikes. This morning that room needed to be cleaned up, so while I began sweeping, Snapper came out to put books and toys away. As she cleaned, she discovered that Alara has taken a liking to peeing on books (yes, we can tell the difference between Alara-pee and Zoe-pee). Almost every book Snapper had left on the floor overnight had been peed on. The lid of the toy box had been left off, and Alara had peed in the toy box. The trunk of sports equipment had been left open, and Zoe had peed in there.

As I cleaned I got angrier and angrier. The more I cleaned, the more pee I found. Pee on bag of lawn fertilizer. Pee on rollerblades. Pee on jumper cables. Pee on workbench. Pee on top of refrigerator. Pee on crib mattress. Pee on work gloves. Pee on table. Pee on floor. Pee on suitcase. Pee on disc golf bag. PEE FREAKIN' EVERYWHERE! So for close to 3 hours I cleaned with a vengeance. I swept. I mopped. I gagged. I threw away books, stuffefd animals, and other unwashables. I cried. I steamed. I mopped. I gagged some more. I sorted toys to be washed. I reorganized boxes. I thanked God that I stored all my Christmas ornaments in sealed plastic tubs. I mopped. I sprayed odor-stopping spray. I burned candles. I plugged in the Glade air freshener. And then I crashed. In that mad process, I used a whole spray bottle of Lysol, 3 Swiffer pads, and almost a whole container of Swiffer fluid.

My garage looks beautiful, and smells much better. The kids once again have a sanitary place to play. My next task is moving everything I keep in the laundryroom out to the garage. That way there will be nothing for the cats to destroy in the laundryroom, because they are moving back in there. With nowhere to pee but the litterbox or the floor, things should improve. I will be cleaning the litterbox MYSELF every day, because I don't trust anyone else in teh house to do it. If things don't improve, though, Alara is going back to Spokane in January when Debbie goes to visit. And Zoe will be having a catheter installed!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Trip to Remember

Would someone come over and scrape me up off the floor? When I planned my trip to North Carolina to go see Beverly, all my concerns were centered around how weird it would be to actually meet her face to face. And I was concerned with how her husband would react to me, too. It turns out that all my worries were for naught. There was nothing weird about being there with her, and I got along great with her husband. The thing I never thought to worry about has snuck up on me and caught me by surprise...has basically trampled me into a steaming pile of mush on the floor. Rememeber that old joke:
Q: Where does a 2-ton gorilla sit when he goes to the movies?
A: Anywhere he wants to!

That 2-ton gorilla is sitting on me today and his name is Grief.

I lived life to the fullest every minute I spent with Beverly. We talked, looked at scrapbooks, and read children's books together We laughed a lot and cried a little. I took her to the doctor. I took her dogs to the vet. I cooked 8 meals to put in their freezer. We watched movies together, all cuddled up on the couch. I pushed her in her wheelchair around a beautiful park and we enjoyed the glorious fall colors. We went to the mall and to Lowe's Motor Speedway (where I got to walk on Pit Road!!!). We talked and laughed and talked. The time sped by, and before I knew it, I was on the plane flying home. The whole time I was there I lived in the moment.

This morning reality is sinking in, the reality that my Bevvy has cancer, and her odds of surviving are not good. For whatever reason, it all rolled off my back (I'm a duck, quack quack) while I was there. Now that I've taken off that cheerful caretaker hat, I've come crashing down. I'm flooded with memories of my mom's illness. And death. And the pain and lonliness of being without her. I'm looking down that path again and praying that God would allow Bev to walk down a brighter road. If I have to walk that dark road alongside her, I will. But I would rather not go that way. I hate the amount of suffering she's going through, and will continue to go through in the coming weeks. I pray her transplant will be successful so that the suffering is not without reward. Sure, I know Heaven will be the ultimate reward and a place where she will suffer no more. But I'm not ready for that, either. Neither is she.

I know in a few days the gorilla will move on and I'll bounce back. For today though, I'm allowing myself to grieve a bit. And I'm hanging on to God's promises and the knowledge that He sees the big picture and has Bev's best and my best in mind, whether it follows my desires or not.

Here are some pictures from my trip. I am looking forward to another 4 days with her in November.



















Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home Sweet Arkansas

Well, I'm home. I had an amazing trip. But I'm emotionally exhausted...too much so to write anything right now. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more like writing and I'll post some pics, too. Nighty night!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Adios!

Tomorrow morning I fly out to North Carolina to see Beverly. My bags are packed full of scrapbooks, presents, and everything necessary for a fun girl weekend. I'm a little bit nervous, but that's to be expected, I think. My only regret about the trip is that I'll be 20 minutes from Lowes Motor Speedway on the weekend of the fall NASCAR race there...to be that close and not go!!! It's a crying shame! Hee hee! Anyhoo, I'll blog and post pics about the trip when I get home on Tuesday. So adios for now!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Matt is the director of teaching for our church's Awana program. This means that he is responsible for the 25-minute teaching times for K-2nd, and 3rd-4th grades during Awana each week. Each month he is focusing on the fruit of the Spirit. October's study is on self-control. In planning for tonight's teaching time, he remembered a song from our childhood and sent me to the store to see if I could find it. To my surprise, our local Christian books store carried it.

With great delight I purchased and brought home "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" and "The Music Machine." For those of you who grew up in Christian homes in the late 70's and early 80's, these names should ring a bell for you! On the way home from the store I rocked out to some favorite old songs like, Have Patience, The String Song, This Is The Day, Practice Makes Perfect, and I Like Knowing God the Best.

The self-control song is going to be a great puppet show tonight! And then I can't wait to introduce Snapper and Pepper to these classics!!!



Monday, October 6, 2008

Psalm 23...in English!

I forgot the camera when we went to dance class tonight. So here is Snapper's 23rd Psalm instead. The best part is that right when she gets to the valley of the shadow of death part, there was a big clap of thunder. Thunderstorms are Snappers's valley of the shadow of death. I wanted to bust out laughing. Her facial expressions are classic! And you can tell how much Jackson loves thunder, too. =)
video

My Little Songbird

video

A Wild Week Ahead

I returned late yesterday afternoon after a wonderful weekend at LifeChange's women's retreat. I had a great time with my friends, enjoyed some r&r, but most importantly, I got very real with God and heard from Him very clearly. It wasn't easy or comfortable. But it was good. Maybe some other time I'll feel introspective and write about what God and I talked about. But that's for another day. Today was a prep day for the rest of my unusually busy week. I did some paperwork for LifeChange's Day of Prayer tomorrow. I am in charge of set-up and clean-up for childcare, so I had to get everything in order. We did today's schoolwork this morning, and then I went up to the church to set up for tomorrow. When I came home, Debbie had put Pepper down for his nap. So Snapper and I did tomorrow's schoolwork. Since she'll be in childcare during our meeting tomorrow, we had to get it done today. We made a math game together and had lots of fun playing with it. And I'm please to announce that she has mastered the 23rd Psalm...in English. =) I'm taking a little break right now. Then I need to figure out something for dinner. I forgot a few necessary ingredients on my last shopping trip, so I'm short the fixings for 3 meals. I'll be concocting plan B shortly. And then I have 4 loads of laundry to fold before I leave for Snapper's Scottish Dance class in an hour and a half. When we get home from that, I'll put kiddos to bed and run some more laundry. By then I'm sure I'll be ready to crash, too! Tomorrow is Day of Prayer all day. And tomorrow night I'll be meeting some friends up at LifeChange to make cards. If I don't fit in a little bit of "me" time this week, I won't keep my sanity. Wednesday will be another day of doubling up on schoolwork, since I'll be gone for 3 school days. Then we have church in the evening. Thursday is Bible study, then laundry, and packing for my trip. I leave Friday morning for 5 days in North Carolina with Beverly. I'm still washing my hands like 50 times a day, and praying I don't get sick. If I do get sick, I can't go, because Beverly has a weak immune system right now. I'm picking up some of those blue medical masks to wear on the plane. Gotta take extra precautions. I'll be guzzling that Airborne, too! So that's my week. It's going to be a busy one, so I doubt I'll be posting again until I get back from NC. I might post a video tonight, though. Pepper sings whole songs now, and it's too cute not to share. Also, Snapper's dancing is the most adorable, hilarious thing! I'll try to get those videos up before I leave. TTFN, and I hope you have a fantabulous week!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

35 Things



Got this from my friend Stef's blog. Enjoy! And if you feel so inclined... post one on your blog!



1. Do you like blue cheese salad dressing? Disgusting! It smells too bad to eat.

2. Do you own a gun? Nope.

3. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks? Most of the year, it's a plain latte, no sweetener (I know, boring right?). In the fall months, I love a pumpkin spice latte. But my favorite of all, from Thanksgiving until New Year, is the gingerbread latte. YUM! I can hardly wait!

4. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Water or hot tea

5. Do you do push ups? Ha ha...that's so funny! No. I don't do push ups. I might be able to do push up (note the singular) if I tried really hard.

6. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My engagement and wedding rings

7. Favorite hobby? Scrapbooking, photography, crocheting

8. Do you have A.D.D? No, but my daughter has A.D.O.S. (Attention Deficit...Oooh, Shiny!)

9. What's one trait that you hate about yourself? My tendency to jump to conclusions about my health every time something is out of the ordinary with my body.

10. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment: I'm ready for dinner. I'm ready for bed. It was a great weekend.

11. Name 4 drinks you regularly drink? Water, milk, water, water.

12. Current worry right now? I am going to visit Beverly in north Carolina on Friday and I CAN'T get sick.

13. Current hate right now? Politics.

14. Favorite place to be? At home with my family.

15. Do you like to travel? Travel is one of my very favorite things.

16. What color shirt are you wearing? Black

17. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I wouldn't know because I never have. I'm sure I would love it, though.

18. Can you whistle? Yes

19. Favorite color? Burgundy, pink

20. If you could would you be a pirate? No thanks. I'm a rule follower.

21. What song do you sing in the shower? Whatever pops into my head when I'm in the shower.

22. Favorite girl's name? Currently it's Allison.

23. Favorite boy's name? Brian. It has been for a long time.

24. What's in your pocket right now? Dryer lint.

25. Favorite bedsheets as a child? The ones with the orange butterflies.

26. Worst injury? Torn acl and meniscus in my knee when I was 15. I've had 3 surgeries on that knee.

27. Do you love where you live? Oh yes!

28. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2

29. Who is your loudest friend? I'm not sure...most of my friends are pretty loud.

30. How many pets do you have? 2 kitties and a tortoise

31. Does someone have a crush on you? My sweet hubby.

32. What is your Favorite Book? I have lots of favorites. The Bible is my #1, though.

33. What's your favorite candy? Nerds

34. Favorite Sports Team? Jimmie Johnson Lowes #48 (NASCAR, for all you west coasters)

35. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? I am so glad it is morning! Last night I had one of those dreams that felt like it lasted all night. Ugh!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Language of the Childs

Pepperese: "Mommy tannago sonnet gettum con-doag?"
English: "Mommy, can we go to Sonic and get a corn dog?"


Snapperish:
"I remember in California or Spokane when we got corn dogs at Weemenshizzel."
English:
"I remember in California or Spokane when we got corn dogs at Weinerschnitzel."


Pepperese:
"Lookuh lookuh lookuh dat shyke so beaufoe!"
English: "Look, look, look, that sky is so beautiful!" (at sunset tonight)


Snapperish (memorizing Psalm 23 for Awana):
"Psalm 23- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be a wanton. He lies me down in green pastors. He leads me down in quiet waters. He stores up my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his main steak. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will fear me, for I am with you. Your rot and your stack, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me as a present to my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overgrows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwelter in the house of the living forever."

This one was so funny because we have been working on it for a few days, and yet my original explanations of the verses apparently didn't sink in for her. After this hilarious version of Psalm 23, we went back through and discussed it until she understood better. The next go-around was much improved!




Pepperese: "Awww, ducks, uhbugga-bye-chuh in my boobs!"
English: "Awww, shucks, there's a bug in my boots!"
(bugga-bye-chuh = bug-will-bite-you...it's what he calls all bugs)



As I was changing my shirt in my room yesterday...

(enter Pepper): "Mommy, don't put on dat shirt!"
Me: "Why not, Buddy?"
Pepper: "I wanna see you boobies!"
Me (getting down eye-level with him): "No Sir! We don't say that! It is very rude to
ask to see someone's boobies!
Pepper: "But Mommy, I like dem!"

He is all male, even at 2!

The funny things they do and say are without a doubt my overall favorite part of being a parent!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Proud Mama

Homeschooling has its challenges. Surprisingly for me, the biggest challenge of homeschooling hasn't been the schooling part of it. It has been the Snapper-at-home-24/7 part of it. For those of you who know Snapper, you understand exactly what I'm saying. She is so intense...all the time! And now that she has outgrown her nap, I get no break from the intensity. By the time Matt gets home, I'm all worn out, often ready to run for the hills. But we're working on creative solutions for that, including a 1-hour book rest every afternoon (which she loves), and putting the X-Box and a dvd player upstairs in the schoolroom. There's nothing like a movie or an hour of X-Box time for Snapper, to give me a bit of peace and quiet. And when I climb into bed at night, I know with confidence that should the funds suddenly appear for me to put her back at her old school, or should the public school we tried to transfer her into suddenly call me with an opening for her, I would still keep her home.

The proud mama part of this thing comes from the schooling. Snapper is so easy to teach! She is flying through her first grade work, soaking up information like a sponge. I'm amazed at how quickly she grasps concepts that I thought would be difficult for her. It's also really fun to watch her apply the concepts in her daily life. She adds and subtracts her toys without even thinking about it when she's cleaning her room. She is using some of her new vocabulary in regular conversation. She talks with me about the Bible stories we read together, and quotes her Awana verses as she encounters situations where the verses apply. I love it, love it, love it! But probably the coolest thing of all is seeing the fruit of the hours I spent learning our Spalding launguage arts curriculum, and even more hours writing lesson plans for it.

Spalding is built on the rules of the English language. There are 70 letters and combinations of letters that represent the spoken sounds of English. (e.g. sh, ey, th, eigh, ai, oy). The Spalding student memorizes these 70 phonograms and their sounds, and learns the rules for when to apply them. After 2 months of school, Whitney recognizes all 70 phonograms by sight, and can write them as I dictate them to her. I've taught her about syllables, and we have broken hundreds of spoken words into their syllables. Now Snapper has the tools to decode just about any word, and can easily spell words that I didn't spell until 4th or 5th grade. She uses the rules she has learned, and spells each word one syllable at a time.

I am teaching her how to outline her thoughts on a topic, and how to organize them into a logical order. She dictates sentences to me. I write them down. She numbers the sentence order, and I dictate them back for her to write. When she writes, we talk about grammar and punctuation. I don't correct any of her grammar, puncutation, or spelling. When she finishes writing, she reads back through it and corrects any mistakes she sees. Then we leave it "as is." Her writing assignnments go into a binder. She has already had fun comparing her writing from the first week of school to what she is writing now. The improvements are very visible.

Here's a sample of her writing. I can hardly wait to see what she can do at the end of the year. I'm one proud mama, so proud of my girl.