Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cabin Fever Cure

You know how when you go to a second hand store and they have those grody mattresses stacked in a corner for $5?  Buy one.  Put it on the floor.  Your kids will know what it is...

...A cheap trampoline!

Get on there, yourself.  It's a great workout!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things That Happen When Mama Goes To The Bathroom

Okay, I confess, I sometimes go to the bathroom simply to sit on the closed toilet lid and ponder my life.  Sometimes I'm in there for legitimate reasons.  But call of nature or not, there is no end to the things that happen the minute I shut that bathroom door and sink my weary bones onto the cool porcelain.  So while three of these things happened simultaneously today, I began compiling a list in my head and thought I'd share them with you.

Things That Happen When Mama Goes To The Bathroom

- Child A will hit Child B and both will proceed to scream bloody murder.

- Child A will start yelling about the highly illegal behavior of Child B.

- Child(ren) will open the door and begin asking a ceaseless stream of questions.

- Child(ren) will open the door and just stare.

- Child B will suddenly realize his deep and abiding need for your constant visible presence and will begin hurling his small body on the door while weeping the bitter tears of abandonment.

- The UPS man will knock on your door.

- The neighbor will knock on your door.

- The Jehovah's Witnesses will knock on your door.

- Child A will answer the door, explain Mama's current situation and then helpfully bring the package/cookies/literature to the bathroom for you.  Lecture on opening door to strangers soon to follow.

- Husband will knock on locked back door because large snowdrifts impede movement to front door and he needs you to undo the deadbolt.

- The telephone will begin to ring...and ring...and ring...

- The oven timer for the bread you put in 40 minutes ago will go off and beep...and beep...and beep…

- The alarm clock which was jacked by the night’s power outage will go off and beep...and - you get the picture.

- The power will go out.

- A child will start vomiting.

- Child A will suddenly need to use the (only) toilet.

- Child B will blow out their diaper and start tracking it through the house.

And the worst:

- Sudden silence will ring in your eardrums causing you to freak and need to investigate ASAP.

I love being a mom.
No really, I do :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Educational Breakthrough

Charissa is reading. 

The Princess has always been pretty self-driven.  She honestly taught herself how to write the entire alphabet - a development I'm still trying to grasp.  One day, she sat down, pulled out her little writing pad with the ABC's and proceeded to write each letter five or six times until she liked the look of it, then she'd move on to the next letter.  She knows their names and sounds, too. 

I'm brilliant PRAISE GOD!!!!

For Christmas, she received some of the Bob books and so last week I decided to try having her read the first one.  I brought it out with much excitement, pumping her up for this great step in life. 

"Charissa, you're going to read your FIRST BOOK!!" 

She slumped.  She moaned. 

"YAY!!  We can DO this thing!  Reading is FUN!!!"  I encouraged and jumped and smiled.

She flopped down next to me and sighed as she turned to the first page.

With hardly any trouble she read the first book about Mat who sat and all that sort of thing. 

"YOU DID IT!!!  GOOD JOB!!!"  I was ecstatic. 

She fell down.  She groaned. 

"Take your book to Daddy and show him your FIRST BOOK!!!"  This was followed by her stumping up the stairs listlessly holding the book and dropping it on the floor in front of Doug while pouting.  Doug praised her all over the place and Charissa never cracked a smile.  She came back down stairs, handed me the book and then went down stairs.

I was shocked.  What went wrong?  I didn't push her, I had encouraged her, I had kept a positive attitude - why was she such a floppy wreck?

Later, I spoke with my Mom about the whole scenario and how confounded we were at her behavior leading to and proceeding such an accomplishment in life.

You might know or you might not: I'm the eldest of 13 kids, all homeschooled K-12.  I consider Mom an expert.  She has earned her honorary doctorate in child development, psychology and pedagogy.  After a good conversation with her, this is what I took from it.

Charissa is a bright little lady.  Because she is more on the independent side and is self-motivated, the hullabaloo might have made her respond like this for two reasons. 

First, she might have believed her task to be to difficult for her to accomplish.  After all, she taught herself the entire alphabet with minimal help or encouragement.  All the praise could have put her off while thinking this was a far more difficult task than she had previously attempted when in truth, it was just the next step.

Second, she might have been turned off by how enthusiastic I was acting.  She might have been thinking, "I can totally do this.  You don't have to be so freaky about it."

Mom recommended that next time I be far more matter of fact about it.  Just tell her "here is the next book for you to read" and act like it's the most normal thing in the world.  Give her a brief word of praise at the end with affirmation such as "I knew you could do it."

I used this approach a couple days later and it worked beautifully.  She read the book happily.  She even pretended to not know the word "Sam" and said "hamburger" instead - which is far more her style than being a limp, whiny noodle.  I'm seeing a bright future of reading happiness.   It's nice to have two self-motivated people in our home.  (P.S. I am not one of them)

Different children, different reading styles.  I wonder what Brandt has up his sleeve.  Whatever comes, I'm glad I have an expert just a phone call away.  Thanks, Mom :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Invalid

We can't seem to be healthy around here.  It started with colds and fevers right after Christmas and has continued from there with multiple other viruses.  Currently, we're battling the fast and furious tummy bug.  My precious button of a boy awoke in jolly spirits as usual but after partaking his breakfast smoothie proceeded to...uh...revisit it, a practice that continued for the rest of the day.  He was pretty happy between "episodes" for a little while but gradually lost his trademark joy and constant movement - which was sad to see but a blessed relief for the carpeting.  We will need to rent a steamer.

He then sighed and rested in my lap for most of the morning while watching Thomas the Tank Engine.  I snapped this picture while returning from the bathroom.  Note the sunken eyes, the pathetic slump, the hopeless expression, perhaps the fleeting desire to no longer continue on this earth.  He is wearing outfit #5 in this picture and it was only 11am. 

You know he's desperately ill if he falls asleep in the busiest room of the house.  That wee stainless steel bowl was his constant companion all day.  It is so small and precious I teared up a few times while washing it out. 

He then slept for most of the afternoon but wasn't completely healed when he woke.  This is his second time with this particular tummy bug but the first time wasn't as dramatic or lengthy.  My poor little invalid. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Answer to "What If"

Thank each of you so much for your heartfelt sympathies.  I am so blessed by each of you, some whom I will never meet until heaven.

A couple years ago, I was privileged to go through the Beth Moore study on Esther with a couple friends.  An illustration I remember from that study has continually gone through my head through the past weeks.  It was about turning the "what if?" questions into an "if, then" statement.  Each one of us have had a "what if?" moment.  Some even live in the fear of the hypothetical.  It can be a scary, scary place.  But turning it into an "if, then" makes it more concrete, an easier place to stand, but only if the "then" is something we can trust. 

That is when we must realize the "then" is God.  If the worst happens, if all that we have is stripped away, if the world around us is shattered - THEN GOD.  He will never change.  He is still perfect.  He is still just.  He still extends the grace, love, healing & mercy found only in what He did on the cross.  He is still working all things according to His plan.  He is still coming again.

Having two beautiful healthy children already, I would often look at them and think I was pushing things, that it was all a little to good to be true.  Even before the pregnancy, I had a feeling that I would end up losing my next baby.  And I did.  My "what if?" happened.  I have many friends and family who have lost a little one to miscarriage.  Now I know how it feels.  But it hasn't sent me reeling like I worried it would in the "what ifs?" of a few months ago.  God had prepared my heart beforehand in planting the idea and He is here in the after - He is the same. 

Then - GOD! 

Each life is a gift.  Each life is a miracle.  The days I am blessed to spend with my two children here on earth cannot be taken for granted before the Lord.  I am learning to thank Him more for what He has given.  But more than that, I am also seeking to thank Him for what He is - not just in what He has given - but what He is in His very nature.  I do not ever have to worry that He will disappear tomorrow.  I don't ever have to worry that He will leave me on my own. 

A miscarriage is a smaller "what if?", but I can rest in the knowledge that, whatever may come or go, He is, He was & He will be.  And that will never, ever change no matter the "what ifs" that become reality along the way. 

As I unclench a fist holding tight to my fears, it becomes free to take hold of His hand and walk together - even through the valley of the shadow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Whispered Goodbye

We prayed so much that God would place you in my womb.
We rejoiced in the gift of your life and eagerly anticipated our meeting.
The six weeks I held you will never be forgotten.
It would have been so exciting to know who you were, 
your smile, your eyes, your joys and sorrows.
Instead, we place you back into the hand of our Creator,
knowing He has a better plan. 
So we whisper "goodbye" before saying "hello".
You are loved, Baby.  We miss you.

November, 2011 - December 23, 2011

It has been a few very busy weeks since then, but it is still vivid in my mind and heart.  The due date would have been August 16th.  

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21b

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life and Such

Sometimes, when you have the stomach flu, the kids do whatever they like and you don't do the dishes.
This results in leaving the kitchen looking like this for a day or two.  Maybe I'll wash the pots before I use them.  Maybe I'll just let the cooking chili sterilize the pot...

Wanna join us for dinner?


They love each other and I have the picture to prove it.
I've had reason to look at this picture today to remind myself.

 Charissa's form of art is beautiful.  I call it "Saturationism".

What do you do in Cooke City on a Sunday evening? 

Go for a snowmobile ride down to the creek...

 ...and slide the kids around on the ice.

 Seriously, who needs an amusement park around here?

Then return home for popcorn, cocoa and the Andy Griffith Show.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Day I Killed the Wild Cat

Yesterday I mentioned that I would kill a cat to have my daughters gorgeous hair.  After I typed that statement I realized that I actually had killed a cat.

So here is the story :-)


When I was 12, our family moved to the mountains of Colorado.  After living 13 different places with the Army, we were quite excited to have pets that wouldn't 1) have to live in military housing or 2) be given away after a year.  Within a couple years of settling in our wonderful big home, we acquired a lovely variety of chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, ducks and goats - and that's only the outdoor animals.

One of the more practical additions to the barn (all the ducks did was poop and feed coyotes) was Marmalade, a large, orange tom cat.  Marm enjoyed catching mice and cuddling with his people.  Unfortunately, he also enjoyed scrapping with other tom cats, a habit which eventually ended up killing him.  But not yet.  Marmalade is still alive in this story.

The barn and the food we fed our kitty attracted a couple other homeless kitties.  They would come and go, but Marmalade remained top cat and having a few more mouse-eaters was fine by us.  All was well...until one day...

The Wild Cat was enormous and orange with a half tail and fangs.  He was 150% the size of Marmalade and would whip his tail in short order.  And he did too, numerous times.  Our poor kitty limped around with a perpetually injured ear/leg/back and lived in fear.  One morning, when my Mom walked into the barn, Wild Cat made a huge leap from the loft towards her face.  Mom ducked and the Cat's claws sunk into the barn door behind her.  He yowled and ran out the back door.  It was then decided that Wild Cat needed to go away forever.  The shotgun became standard issue with the milking pail each time we went to the barn - but days passed and Wild Cat did not show up.

After the attack, my parents went on their weekly date night leaving the eldest ones in charge.  My sister Marie and I had the barn chores that night. 

We forgot the shotgun. 

As I began the milking, I noticed Marmalade, who had been calmly eating his kitty kibble, was bristled and staring toward the loft.  Suddenly, his back arched, he hissed and bolted out the door.  At the moment Marm fled, Wild Cat appeared at the loft.  He stared at me for a minute and then ran out the door after Marmalade.  Marie and I dropped what we were doing and dashed to the house for a shotgun and a spotlight - it was getting dark. 

I had the gun and Marie held the spotlight.  We looked around the back of the barn and saw a large, orange figure in a cluster of rocks.  I knew I shouldn't shot into a pile of boulders especially with a shotgun.  Together we hollered at him and threw rocks in his direction hoping to move him to where I could get a better shot.

He vanished. 

Then we were really scared; out in the dark with this disappearing crazy cat that attacked our Mom.  We searched frantically with the spotlight and finally saw a pair of glowing eyes up in a tree.  It was him.  Marie tried to hold the spotlight on him but it shook violently.  I prayed out loud that God would help Marie hold it still.  As the beam caught his glowing eyes, I aimed and I fired. 

The cat dropped immediately but started to move once he hit the ground.  We panicked and ran towards the nearest Daddy figure around, our neighbor Steve.  Considering he opened the door to two sobbing shaking messes, one holding a shotgun and stuttering something about a wild cat that was killed but alive, he handled things very well and asked us to take him to where we last saw the cat.  He hadn't gone very far and he was very dead.  Steve gathered the remains and deposited it into our dumpster. 

I called my parents and told them the whole story, adrenaline still pumping through my body.  I had already been hunting successfully a couple times but none of the deer I had shot were out for blood or had glowing eyes or were skulking about in the dark.  They had all dropped instantly, too.  And we weren't planning on eating it this evil cat, either.  It was a new thing.

The next morning, Dad went to the dumpster to look at the Wild Cat a little more.  It's short tail, fangs, long legs and unique ears led him to believe this cat was perhaps a Pixie Bob, a cross between a bobcat and a domestic cat.  Bred in captivity as a novelty pet, Wild Cat appeared to be a cross that had happened naturally in the wild. 

I skinned the tail and tanned it with salt. 

I'm a warrior like that.

Our cat, Clyde would have been proud of me.

The End

(I'd like my hair now, please)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hello, Big Boy!

Charissa was born with a dark shock of hair and it never went away.  Really, I prayed before we were even married that, if we had a girl, she would get the hair of her daddy and not my baby fine, pin straight stuff.  My prayers were answered!  She has gorgeous hair.  Her head is covered in dark, curly, luscious locks that I would willingly kill a cat to have.  Well, like a feral cat that no one loves, maybe.  Oh wait, I already did that.  Yes.  A story for another time.  I'm still waiting for my hair.  But anyway...

Brandt was born with a touch of dark hair and it quickly turned light blonde.  With his almost-black eyes, it presents quite a contrast.  It has stayed very fine and has hardly grown at all for his almost two years.  Recently, I realized that it was pretty long on the back of his head, the matted bed-head part, and he had a nice fringe over his ears.  So, the moment had come.  My baby needed a hair cut.

He was pretty good except a few parts - which were when we brought out the camera, of course.  Charissa dressed up for the occasion.  I'm making my "empathy noises" which is why the mouth is wide open.

"My hair.  It is gone.  Waaah!!"

After a bubble bath, he was happy to snuggle down in bed with the menagerie of stuffed animals he insists on having to sleep.  He has 2 dogs, a fox, a monkey, a horse and a giant leopard to keep him company.  He is fluent in all their languages.

He doesn't appear to be to emotionally scarred, does he?

What a big man.