Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Great Leprechaun Hunt

Last weekend we almost caught a leprechaun.


When Sadie went to take care of her morning chores -- it’s her responsibility to keep the downstairs bathroom clean -- on Friday morning, she found suspicious little green footprints all over the bathroom counter. Next to the footprints was a tiny pair of shoes!

Once her super-imaginative 7-year-old brain had a moment to digest this information, she went wild. She was so excited she could barely contain herself. “JO-SIE!” she yelled to her sister, running down the hallway. “ADELAIDE! Get ine here! There are feetprints – I mean footprints! Green… feet… AAAAAHHHH!”

Her sisters ran in to get a closer look. Together, they found even more “clues.” A ribbon tied to a drawer handle and draped all the way to the floor. Drawers that had been pulled open. A squished clover on the bathroom floor. Green scissors. Things out of place. Hmmm.

Their three little minds deduced that this could mean only one thing:

We had a leprechaun in the house!

From that moment on, Friday consisted of research into Ireland, the history of Saint Patrick and an intensive study of leprechauns.

We made a chart labeled who, what, when, where, why and how (they are studying interrogative words) and filled them in. They drew pictures. They used a map to find Ireland. They looked in books to find out more about the country, the landscapes, the castles, the foliage, the history and the folklore. They looked at hundreds of pictures of leprechauns and studied their dress, habits and personality traits.

Did you know that traditionally, leprachauns had 7 rows of 7 buttons sewn on to their coats? Yep, a leprechaun does love his buttons.

The kids searched for clues all over place – both inside and outside. Adelaide thought she was hot on his trail when, out by the basketball hoop, she said “I found a frog! He is green! Just like a lep-wa-conned! He musta rode on him here, Mommy! Jumping!”

Later on in the day when Sadie was working on a picture of a shamrock, she stopped writing and looked at me with her eyes narrowed. She said, “Mommy, are you doing all of this just so we’ll have fun?”

“Fun?” I asked innocently. “Do you call this fun? All this work is fun for you?!”

“Um, yeah!” Josie answered for her. “Actually, I think this is the most fun I have EVER HAD! Now, let’s build a trap!”

Along with their dad, they spent the evening constructing a trap, complete with a rainbow, a pretend campfire, a fake ladder so the leprechaun would think he could get out, lots of sparkly things and of course, a goldfish cracker for bait.

Then they walked around outside and in loud voices, proclaimed to each other, “Hey, didya hear about that great leprechaun house they have in there? I heard it was amazing! Hey, I think they have a lot of GOLD in this house! I’m just saying!”

As St. Patrick’s Day dawned, they were disappointed to only find a teasing note from Darby the leprechaun instead of the little guy himself (and his three wishes).

But they’re already planning a new and improved trap for next year.

And as far as learning something new goes, I think it was the most fun I ever had too.

From my article for on 3/25/12

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baby Boy Bathtime

Tonight I gave my baby boy a bath.

There’s nothing unusual about that. I’ve given hundreds, maybe even thousands, of baths during my tenure as a mom. Tonight I didn’t really do anything different with Jedidiah, but somehow it felt different. We felt more connected somehow.

As all moms are, I’m an expert multi-tasker. My brain always seems to be going a mile a minute, and these days I find it hard to concentrate on any one thing for long.

When bathing the kids, most of the time I catch myself thinking of all the other things that I need to get finished before I go to bed: brush four sets of teeth (no wait – make that five if I remember to do my own), put baby lotion on the baby, put on a clean diaper (not on me, on the baby), put on a clean Pull-up (again, not me), fill up three water bottles, find Blankie, Snoopy, Adelaide’s Dorothy doll, nurse Jed, check the laundry, feed the fish, call my mom, finish my (cold) dinner, put the dishes in the dishwasher, return some e-mails, exercise (well, I might put that one off till tomorrow), put a stamp on the letter that’s been sitting on the counter all week, etc.

I usually sit on the floor and spend Jedidiah’s bath-time making a mental list (which will eventually make it onto paper if I can find a pen in this house that writes.) Tonight, though, I actually just sat on the side of the tub and watched him play.

I noticed some things that normally I would miss:
•the sheer joy on his little face, the glee in his eyes as he smacks the bubbles with the palm of his hand.
•the drool on his chin, the happy splutters and raspberries he blows, the “googie-googie-googies” he yells out, just to hear his own voice echo off the walls.
•the pudgy little hands grasping for his little yellow rubber ducky, almost, almost… oh, not quite. Try again, buddy.
•the teeny pink feet, churning the water like tiny pink pistons on chubby legs.

He is not a bit concerned about his round little belly, his roly-poly thighs, or his gorgeous baby fat rolls.

His hair sticks up all over in a mini-Mohawk. It somehow always gravitates to the middle of his head.

He is absolutely perfect.

I think about how it must feel to him – the warm water, the bubbles, the splashing sounds all around him, the way the water drips down his little back. What an interesting experience bathtime must be for a one year old.

And what a wonderful experience to see the everyday things in our lives through the eyes of a sweet baby.

I guess I should give him my full attention more often.

from my article for on 3/18/12

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Christian Passover

Last night we went to Brian and Laura's house to celebrate Christian Passover, Ross-style. Laura had transformed her entire house into Egypt and Israel. It was a great hands-on way for the kids to learn about the Passover and the sacrifice of Jesus before the Easter season. Plus it was fun to hang around with lots of friends and eat a great meal (rack of lamb, thanks to Brian for some great cooking), dates, figs, olives, artichokes, carrots, green and purple grapes, unleavened bread... lots
of things to help us remember the original passover meal. The kids got to go inside cardboard "houses" in the land of Egypt after they painted blood (red crayons) over the doorposts. Then the angel of the Lord came by (parent volunteers) to shake the buildings... the children, even the firstborn, came through unscathed. :) Then they became fishers of men AND caught fish in the Sea of Galilee (the downstairs bath tub). Next they got to pet some newborn baby goats and learn about sacrifice, they saw the paralyzed man lowered through the roof, they learned about yeast and how sin is like yeast and they searched for the yeast in the house and swept it all out (and threw it as far as they could get it!). Then they went up to the Garden of Gethsemane and nailed their sins (written on a scrap of paper) to a cross and they prayed just like Jesus did. Then they saw a reenactment of the resurrection! It was great and a wonderful way to spend an evening.

This n That

Adelaide had to go see the dermatologist because she had these weird little red bumps on her lower back and her little butt. So once we were in the office, I laid her across my lap, face down, so he could put the medicine on the bumps to get them to go away. Of course, while he was concentrating to get the liquid-dipped q-tip in just the right spot, Adelaide TOOTS A GIANT TOOT RIGHT IN HIS FACE. He laughed. I could've just died. Job hazard, I told him.

I have the bible verse "Do not be afraid for I am with you" written and taped to the utility room door. On the way out to the dark garage to get something out of the car at night, Josie took Adelaide's hand and said, "Don't be afraid, Adelaide, for I am with you!"

Sadie has been wearing little pink foam hair curlers to curl her hair (she's the only one who will sleep with them in her hair). It brings back so many memories of me and Angela in the orange vinyl rocking chair in our den when we were little! She looks so cute in them!

Sadie: "God is like a genie, but better."

Adelaide: "Mommy, sometimes you are allergic to fun."

15 month old boys do not like books. They do like digging through the trash, drinking leftover drinks (and dumping them on their heads), climbing on top of the kitchen table to steal cookies and stand up and eat them, brushing their teeth with their sisters' toothbrushes, and sticking their hands in mustard, only to sling them back and forth through the air.

They don't know how good they've got it

I have long been puzzled by the way most children hate the things that we adults love most.

Sitting down to eat dinner, for instance. If someone bought food for me, cooked it for me and served it to me, I would be more than willing to sit there and eat it. As a matter of fact, I would be just as happy as a clam. Even if it was clams!

Kids, though, act like it’s pure torture to have to sit their little butts in a chair for twenty minutes. They chew the same bite interminably. They spill things. They crumble. They whine. They scootch around. The bang their forks on their water glasses. They fall out of their chairs.

They say, “How many more bites?” and “Do I HAVE to eat my salad?” and “What exactly did you say is in here?” Seriously, if it were me, I would eat it AND I’d like it.

(One of my favorite quotes says that you spend the first two years of your children’s lives trying to get them to walk and talk, but then you spend the next 16 years trying to get them to sit down and be quiet.)

Taking a long shower is another thing. You know how good it feels to get in the shower, turn it on just as hot as you can stand it, breathe in the steam and let all your troubles swirl away down the drain? Ahhh. Ecstasy.

Kids, though, if you try to get them into the shower, they yell. They “go limp” and end up on the bathroom floor. They say, “I hate the shower! It gets water in my eyes! It gets water up my nose! I need my goggles! I don’t wanna take a shower! I don’t wanna!”

Well, first of all, I don’t really understand how you can physically get water up your nose in the shower. That seems like a feat of unnatural contortions. Secondly, it’s funny to see your child coming out of the shower wearing steamed-up goggles.

While we’re on the subject of relaxing, let’s talk about naps. Have you ever met a kid who consciously wanted to take a nap? Neither have I. Most afternoons, though, if you offered me the choice between a bag of gold or a 45 minute nap, I would take the nap hands down!

Why doesn’t anyone force you to take a nap when you’re a grown-up? Just about every day, I have the same conversation with my three-year-old. She doesn’t know that one of my biggest fantasies involves hearing the same words coming from her dad’s mouth, but aimed at me: “Devone! Get back in your room and close your eyes right now! I don’t want to hear another peep out of you until naptime is over. Do you understand me?”

On a related note, kids never want to go to be, either. I spend most of the day waiting to go to bed! I love my bed! By the end of a long day, all I want to do is put on my cozy pjs and my fuzzy socks and snuggle under the covers with my Side-Sleeper Pro pillow.

Kids want to stay up until they either crash (face first into a bowl of late-night cereal) or flip out, screaming and crying themselves to sleep in a tiredness-induced delirium. Not me. I WANT to go to bed. Right now, as a matter of fact.

Kids spend their time wanting to grow up, get bigger and be older.

We spend our time wishing we could be kids again, get smaller and be younger.

They aren’t really just tiny adults like I once thought – they are really our total opposites!

from my 3/11/12 article for

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Sunday, March 04, 2012

What Scares Me

What am I afraid of?

I guess the more pertinent question, in my case, is what am I NOT afraid of?

I am afraid of everything.

You name it, I worry about it. Especially when it comes to my children.

I worry about sickness, drugs, child molesters, hit-and-runs, tornadoes, fires, car accidents, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, broken legs, broken necks, swallowed teeth, concussions, dog bites, snake bites, bug bites, killer bees, wild animals, bird poop (it has disease-carrying spores in it!), drownings, electrocutions, home invasions, fingers getting cut off in car doors, peer pressure, abductions, lightning strikes, running with sticks, bullies, hurt feelings, falling down stairs and a myriad of other things that are beyond my control.

Because of the recent terrifying school shooting in our area, I now feel like I have something else to worry about: random violence.

I’ve spent the last few days wondering what on earth possesses people to do these horrible things? What evil lurks in the hearts of men? And how can we, as parents, combat it?

The feeling of being out of control is a terrible one – for me, anyway. I’m guessing it is for you too.

I like to have a plan. I’m a list-maker. I want both my hands on the wheel. My plans help me deal with my fears. I like for life to go according to plan – MY plan.

But plans are notorious for one thing, right? Getting messed up!

As parents, we all struggle with fear. My family homeschools, but don’t think for a second that I’m under the delusion that my kids are safe from all harm just because they aren’t inside a school building every day. And fellow homeschoolers – don’t think that if you were sending your kids to school that you wouldn’t have the insecurities and fears that you have, either.

Nope, no matter what our circumstances may be, we are all just living with our own fears.

Different fears, maybe, but in essence they are exactly the same.

We want to be in control, but how can that be? Is it even possible?

Don’t get me wrong – I am very glad that I have the ability, means and freedom to school my children at home, but I recognize that not everyone does. It's scary to be a mom and know that the choices we make today will shape our children's futures for the rest of their lives and beyond. It's scary for ALL of us - whether or not our kids are in public school. Things like school shootings can happen anytime, anywhere.

And one of the biggest challenges moms have is the struggle to not give in to fear.

I know. I struggle with that challenge. Heck, I lose on a daily basis.

So, moms – you love your children just as much as I love mine. What do we do? What can we do?

We are never going to be in control the way we want to be. I thank God that He gives us wisdom for the present, forgiveness for the past, and hope for the future. No, we will never be able to wrap our kids in protective bubble wrap and keep them safe from the outside world forever. I guess fear isn’t something we can ever get rid of completely. But there are some things we can do.

We can pray just a little bit longer tonight.

We can encourage each other just a little bit more tomorrow.

And every day, EVERY day, we can hug our kids just a little bit tighter.

from my 3/4/12 article for