Sunday, December 30, 2007

Obsessive Possessive

Nana coined a new term tonight, "Obsessive Possessive". This is a cross between obsessive compulsive and just plain possessive. Christopher has latched onto it, and promised full notation (perhaps royalties) for every mention in print. It is particularly descriptive of Caleb and his use of toys.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anecdotes from Odd

We had a great resource of help from our church when Josiah was born. From prayer to meals, we felt so cared for, and loved. One of the best acts of service was from a couple willing to watch our older children so Christopher could be completely focused on me, and the new baby during my labor and delivery. Mr. and Mrs. M are grandparents themselves, but live too far away from their little ones to make regular visits feasible. As a result, my children have been adopted! While Mr. and Mrs. M were here Mrs. M wrote down the funny things my children said to share with me later. I couldn't resist sharing them with you as well!

When Mr. and Mrs. M arrived at our house a Barney DVD was playing. Mrs. M expressed her delight by saying, "I haven't seen Barney in ages!"
Bethany replied, "Well, of course not! You're so old!"

"Now we're not poor with boys!" Hannah announced after Daddy called to tell the kids about Josiah.

The older girls needed a puppy for their game of make-believe and everyone decided Caleb would fit the bill. Hannah explained to Mrs. M, with Bethany agreeing, " Caleb is much better when he's an animal than when he's a boy."

Hannah was pretending to be Maria, the servant for Mrs. M and Bethany. But she almost got into a fistfight with Bethany because Bethany didn't want her to bring her a treat.

No one ever said Caleb was a pacifist. He ate his pizza into the shape of a gun, and proceeded to shoot everyone at the dinner table.

I wrote two thank-you notes, just in case the damage from the shooting was irreversible. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I received this for Josiah's birth. I think it sums things up beautifully.

A Mom's Version of First Corinthians 13

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper - not a homemaker.

If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn of cleanliness - not godliness.

Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh.

Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.

Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.

Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.

Love is present through the trials.

Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.

Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.

Love is the key that opens salvation's message to a child's heart.

Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.

Now I glory in God's perfection of my child.

As a mother there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

The Great Toy Switch of 2007

Christmas 2007
One of the blessings of a large family are special days, like Christmas. We had a fantastic time watching little ones open presents, listen to Daddy read the Christmas story from the Bible, and spend time with extended family. We celebrate Christmas in a two-day staged affair. Because we go to our aunt's house for a large family gathering on Christmas evening we have moved the present opening to Christmas Eve. This gives us a full day to take our time opening and playing with presents, and still get to Christmas Eve candlelight service. Then Christmas morning we have a hot breakfast, read the Christmas story, play with all our new toys, and finally have dinner with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We have lots of sweet memories, but I think one of the best is the "Great Toy Switch of 2007". 

Nana worked hard to find something special for each child. She took my advice in what the little girls would like, and purchased an incredibly realistic shopping cart for Leah. It has all the look and feel of the ones Mama uses at the grocery store, complete with baby holder in the front. For Mary she bought a Little People airplane that plays music, comes with three new figurines, and has a handle so she can carry it around with her.

Both girls were napping when we set out the shopping cart, along with a ride-on scooter for Mary and a few more presents, including the airplane, that were still wrapped. We assumed the girls would get up from their nap and Mary would get her ride-on, while Leah got the shopping cart. Mary woke up first, and came down to finish her present extravaganza. We had the camera rolling to see her reaction when she saw her ride-on, but she made a beeline for Leah's grocery cart. The test drive turned into an obsession with placing everything into the cart and walking to the kitchen and back, kitchen and back, kitchen and back. We laughed about how we were going to get Mary to give up the cart when Leah came down. The longer Leah slept, the more Mary pushed that shopping cart, the more apparent it became that Leah was not getting it back! What were we going to do? The shopping cart was supposed to be Leah's "big" present from her Nana. There was only one solution.

When Leah came downstairs from her nap we presented her with the present from Nana. You can imagine her surprise when she unwrapped a new Little People airplane! She never even gave more than a passing glance to the shopping cart. Later in the evening Nana asked Leah if she liked her new airplane (she was spinning around in circles while pretending to fly the plane), or if she liked the grocery cart better. Leah didn't even stop spinning in order to answer that she much preferred the airplane.

There hasn't been even a hint of jealousy between the girls and "their" presents.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jesus Rode A Donkey

Leah performed in our church's Christmas musical this past weekend. One of the songs she sang was about Mary riding a donkey into Bethelehem just before birthing Baby Jesus. In typical Leah fashion she transposed the characters in the song, and she now sings - constantly - about Jesus riding a donkey into Bethelehem. We have tried to explain that it is Mary who rode the donkey, but she is not interested in change. Caleb, especially, finds Leah's song tedious. And I must admit that after hearing it some 500 times in less than 10 minutes it can grate on you. Try it for yourself. Watch the following video, and then replay it continuously for the entire day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Homeschool Giggles

This quick video, made by a large homeschooling family about homeschooling is HILARIOUS. I only wish we could provide you with a video of Odd, but this comes pretty close!

A Homeschooling Family

The Christmas Tree

My mom and I are very different in our tastes. She is eclectic psychedelic 60's, I am tailored Pottery Barn. We have always been opposite in many respects. For instance, growing up she saw nothing wrong with a fake tree, which is heretical to me. She also likes multi-colored lights... and bulbs. To top it off she puts on the odd, and unmatched "special" ornaments that, in my humble opinion, ruin the entire feng shui of a tree. At least we didn't do the blinking light thing (very often). So when I "grew up and got mt own house" you better believe I did it MY WAY. Fresh tree, white lights, gold and burgundy bulbs, ribbon, and nothing to shock the delicate balance of harmony. I loved it. And so began my Christmas tree tradition.

It grew as our family grew. I do accept tasteful Hallmark ornaments, and we involve the kids with choosing and cutting down our own tree. But the lights are my deal (it takes a Jedi to know exactly how to string lights on a tree - I learned it from my mom - whose method was good, it was just the color I abhorred). I also do the bulbs, and well, everything else about decorating the tree. People ask me about letting my kids help, and I inform them that we do so many things in our home which involve the kids I do not feel guilty in the least that I get the Christmas Tree. I have given up the walls in my home, which are now oddly covered in artwork taped wherever the whim carried the artist. I have given up my vehicle, which now houses noisy toys playing badly tuned electronic versions of classical masterpieces. I gave up my privacy, body, sanity, in essence my being in order to serve the little people in my care. I AM NOT GIVING UP THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

A few years ago the older girls started asking when they could help decorate the tree. I told them that this was Mama's special thing, and they may never get to do it. When they grew up and had their own homes....

Last year I finally gave in and allowed them to help with the bulbs, and even an occasional Hallmark ornament. Of course I supervised everything, and admittedly went back after they had gone to bed in order to rearrange some of their finer choices in composition. It about killed me.

Then Josiah was born, and now everything is ruined. In the first place we had to go to Kris Kringle "Lot o' Trees" to buy our tree because there was no way we were making it as a family into the Santa Cruz mountains with Mama lugging Josiah. We all agreed it was a doable solution that will instantaneously be thrown down next year when we go back to our favorite spot and cut our own tree. We picked our tree out on Monday, and by Friday it still had not a lick of anything remotely decorative upon it. The week was admittedly crazy, but the kids were becoming anxious. The natives were restless. Christopher and I finally promised them we would decorate the tree on Saturday. And then disaster struck, and I have lost my tree forever.

Josiah disagreed with some chocolate I ate (I know), and was very gassy and fussy starting at 4am Saturday morning. He also decided to throw a little growth spurt in there, and by Saturday afternoon I thought I was going to lose my mind. Between trying to burp him and feed him I barely had time to pee, let alone appreciate decorating a Christmas tree. But a promise to an 8, 6 and 4 year old is a matter of life and death. I managed to get the lights up, with the newly acquired assistance of Hannah, but when the actual decorating was about to begin, complete with "help" from Hannah, Bethany and Caleb, I had to sit and nurse for the millionth time. I suddenly could not manage bulb placement, let alone bulb selection. I could only coach from the side lines. By the end of the night I was hearing things like:

Why don't we use more colored bulbs?
I like the lights when they blink.
How come we can't put tinsel on the tree?

When you grow up and have your own home...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Confessions of an Ogre

You might imagine that Odd, like other lands, has its monsters. We do. But instead of the Ogre from fairytales Odd has something called a Mother.

The older girls learned about Santa Lucia in Sunday School yesterday and were struck by the beautiful service the tradition of Santa Lucia describes. The story goes that Lucy was a young girl in Rome during the Christian persecution of the early church after Christ's crucifixion. She brought food to the Christians hiding in the catacombs. On December 13, the longest night of the year, she was carrying so much food that she had nowhere to hold her candle, so she placed in a wreath which she wore on her head. To this day a very popular tradition in much of Scandinavia is for a young girl of the house to dress in a white gown with a red sash around her waist and a wreath of candles on her head and go throughout the house in the early morning serving baked goods to each member of the family.

So Hannah and Bethany thought they would surprise our family by performing this tradition in our home. They asked the ugly Mother if they could be allowed to wake early the following morning to perform their surprise. Mother agreed, and all thought the day would be fine. But everyone should know that a Mother is never to be trusted!

The girls were intending on waking at 7:30am to get about their "plan" but alas they did not rise until nearly 8:15. This threw a wrench in the timing of their production, but as still relatively young children their concept of improvising was limited and they just plugged right along oblivious to any conflicts their lateness might cause. Mother was taking a much needed nap after Josiah's early morning feed, and the rest of the children were sleeping. Bethany was fixing everyone's cereal bowl complete with their own personal pitcher of milk for pouring, and arranging them on a pancake griddle (using it as a platter for carrying), while Hannah was making a crown for Bethany to wear. The girls had even picked out their clothes the night before - Bethany wore her white flower girl dress from her Aunnie C's wedding with a red long-sleeved shirt tied around her waist for a sash. All was going well, until...

At 8:30 Mary decided to start seriously squawking. We installed the tent on her crib last night and she was not pleased that she no longer had unrestricted access out of her bed. Simultaneous to that Josiah decided to start crying after a measly hour+ nap, and Mother's anticipated rest was going down the drain. Josiah quieted with a pacifier, but the girls were nowhere to be found to take the other children down for breakfast. Mother went looking for them. When she arrived downstairs Bethany was heartbroken that her surprise was ruined. Hannah was trying to finish the crown, and the only thing Mother could think of was how tired she was, and how much she wanted Mary to stop squawking. Mother ordered one of the girls to go up and tell the other children that it was time to get up and eat breakfast (they had instructed their younger siblings to stay in bed for a surprise, and miraculously they obeyed). Hannah did so, but in the meantime Mary got her hackles up and needed to be disciplined by the now thoroughly agitated Mother. Finally all the children (save Josiah who was finally sleeping again) were downstairs but Mary was still in a funk. Mother had to come down to discipline her again, and noticed that Hannah was more concerned about the surprise than the very real hunger of her siblings. This is where the volatile nature of Mothers comes into play, and why they are the equivalent of the Ogre.

Mother exclaimed that she was sorry their surprise was ruined but since they got up later than intended they were going to need to deal with the reality of serving breakfast without all the details. Bethany even poured Mother cereal but all Mother wanted to do was go back upstairs and take a NAP! Mother snapped at Hannah who was trying to help, snapped at Mary who was not trying to help, and snapped at Bethany who was simply hurt.


Mother realized that she was ruining this precious moment her children had tried to orchestrate for her. And she apologized for hurting their feelings. Of course she still only wanted to go upstairs and sleep for a hundred years, but that is another fairytale creature not a Mother. Her children forgave her, but Mother is afraid she has ruined their hearts forever, and they will never initiate this kind of surprise again.

To any other Mother out there that lives like an Ogre sometimes...

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he [the Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

We are not superhuman in Odd. We are very ordinary, with very ordinary ups and downs. If there is anything unique about us, let it be our very extraordinary God.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Instructions For Use

Please read the following instructions tag attached to my Boppy brand nursing pillow.

Okay, so let's walk this through...

1 - Read before each use. Um, right. First of all the tag is attached to the pillow which is housed in a Boppy designed cover. So to even GET to the tag you would need to remove the cover every single time. It doesn't take a genius to realize the absurdity of going through the process of reading the tag when your newborn is screaming for food. What do they think we will do? "Wait a minute Jr. Mama knows you are hungry, but I haven't read the tag in the last 3 hours so I don't remember what I am not supposed to do."

2 - Do not allow baby to lie face down or fall asleep on this or any other pillow. This seems fairly self-explanatory except that one of the larger advertised uses for the pillow is giving your infant safe support for "tummy time." Yea. That's where your child lies face down across the pillow to help build trunk and neck muscles. So how exactly does one accomplish that dichotomy? And falling asleep with the pillow is another good piece of advice. I should put baby to sleep in his cradle. Of course I am not allowed to ever leave baby unattended in his cradle, but that is another tag.

3 - Do not use in bed or crib. Now here I think they may actually have a valid point. Large pillows, stuffed animals, fluffy comforters can create suffocation risks. I assume they mean the child's bed. They certainly mean the child's crib since, last time I read the tag, my bed is not a crib. But then the last line causes me to reevaluate even this piece of noble advice.

4 - Only use on floor. Okay, after all the above ridiculousness you mean to tell me that I have to sit on my FLOOR every time I want to nurse my baby? Yep, that's what it means. If you look at their website all the mamas pictured are sitting, cross-legged, on the ground. Hmmmm, sounds comfy don't it? Just think, you had a baby last week, your bottom is a little tender... or better yet you had a cesarean and can't even lower yourself into a sitting-on-the-floor position without the aid of a crane and narcotics, yet here this charming little tag (which you must read before every use) sufficiently removes any ounce of comfort you may experience from the use of the product by its own instructions.

It would be great if the child himself came with such detailed instructions for use!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Number 100

Congratulations, you are reading our 100th post on Letters From Odd! I thought I would take a second to scroll back through our archives and give you a few of my favorite moments in Odd. Do you have a favorite memory from this not-so-fairy-tale-land? We would love to hear about it!

Tomato May 26, 2006

Wisdom From Experience June 1, 2006

Imelda Marcos Eat Your Heart Out June 16, 2006

Treatski Kapoopski July 25, 2006

Nope, let me change that - Digger Man August 31, 2006

It's Coffee September 10, 2006

Breakfast Theater December 13, 2006

Phonics, Or The Study Of How I Learned To Mispronounce Words January 22, 2007

Blah Blah Blah January 26, 2007

Entrepreneurial Skilz February 23, 2007

Hole In Your Head June 14, 2007

Dagarate July 18, 2007

Operatic Knuckles August 10, 2007

The Hulk October 11, 2007

The Ride Home October 23, 2007

Josiah Edward November 26, 2007

We look forward to the next 100 posts!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's Just Spicy


Not a word I would normally use to refer to the taste of toothpaste. But, that's the word Leah uses to describe the taste of toothpaste.

Every night.

Leah is pretty committed to routine. If anything out-of-the-ordinary happens in her routine, she protests, sometimes rather vocally. She likes things to happen in regular patterns. One really funny example of this is her insistence on making sure the floor in her room is meticulously clean before she'll get into her bed for her daily nap. If anything (and I mean ANYTHING) is on the floor (that can be seen with the naked eye), she'll protest about it. The feathers from the feather boa in the dress-up box sometimes end up on the floor. It is a great crime for her to go to bed with even ONE of these feathers on the floor!

And so goes our evening bedtime routine.

Just about every night Leah takes a bath with Mary. I proceed to get Mary and Caleb "gooped" with petroleum jelly after bath time. Ah, the blessings to skin allergies! Fortunately, Leah does not have the same allergies, and needs only to dry herself off and get her pajamas on.

After she gets out of the bath, Leah gets herself dressed for bed while I am gooping Mary and Caleb. When I'm done, Mary goes to bed, Caleb goes downstairs to brush his teeth, and Leah gets her teeth brushed by Daddy.

Usually Leah takes her toothbrush and toothpaste out of the drawer in the bathroom while I'm still working on my goop job, so they're ready for me when we go into the bathroom together. I sit down on the toilet, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, moisten the toothbrush with water, and go to start brushing Leah's teeth.

And every night she says the same thing just as I'm about to put the brush in her mouth.

"It's just spicy."

Every night.

You would think she would realize that she's communicated this fact to me by now, many months after I started brushing her teeth every night before bed.

But, alas, this new revelation is necessary every night.

She has her routine, and it involves reminding Daddy that the toothpaste is "just spicy." No complaints, no problems, just a simple statement of fact.

"Yes, Leah, I know the toothpaste is spicy."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


For those of you familiar with Mary's lack of enthusiasm for the spoken word, you will find it especially noteworthy that since Josiah's entrance into our home the following has become her mantra:

Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby Baby BABY baby

Monday, November 26, 2007


Christopher came upstairs to help me get ready for church yesterday, and told the kids that they needed to stay downstairs. After only a few short moments Leah was heard sniffling her way into our bedroom.

What's the matter Leah? You are supposed to be downstairs.

I have a boo-boo that hurts on my finger.

Oh, okay. Let me kiss it. There, now you need to go back downstairs.

She obeyed, and trotted off. In the meantime Caleb recognized that she was getting to come upstairs, and was soon coming up himself. He passed Leah during her descent. When Caleb came into our bedroom only seconds later he triumphantly announced that he was there to help!

Can I help, Daddy?

Son, I told you what to do to help. I told you to stay downstairs until Mama and I came to get you. That's what would help.

But Leah said I could come upstairs.

Leah told you that you could come upstairs?


Leah said, Daddy said you could come upstairs?

Well, she potentially said that.

Josiah Edward

We have joyful news to share with you! Our son, Josiah Edward, came into the world at 2:06pm on November 18th, 2007. He weighed 8lbs, 13oz and was 21½ inches long. He has been nothing but a joy.

Thank you for your prayers and support throughout my pregnancy. God heard each of you, and I am recovering well from the delivery. As I gather strength I will share more about Josiah's birth, and the Lord's provision in the midst of it. He is mighty in his gifts!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

All I Want For Christmas Is...

We have entered a VERY good stage in life. Several of our children are finally old enough to actually communicate (effectively) what their desires are for Christmas presents! However, there appears to be some fine-tuning needed in the concept of REALITY. I asked the girls to make a Christmas wish-list for me a few weeks ago. They limited themselves to five things each (wow - you mean I am actually succeeding in teaching my children the value of a few appreciated presents rather than the glut of junk commercialism sells you?) but the five things they did choose... you can read it for yourself. I then added even more hilarity to my day when I asked Caleb and Leah what they wanted for Christmas...

1 - A Puppy (a dachshund to be exact)
2 - My Own Room (um, sure - right after we sell your brother and sisters)
3- A Horse (see above requirements)
4 - Jesse Apparel (this is actually quite sweet - it means she wants cowgirl clothes to match her cowgirl doll)
5- A Jewelry Box (this was what I had imagined)

1 - A Marble Run Set (okay, this seems more like it)
2 - Lincoln Logs (yep, obviously older and recognizing how to make the most of the wish-list)
3 - A Horse (maybe not quite old enough)
4 - A Dolphin (read it again. Yes, that is what she asked for. We will not only be selling all her siblings, but will be making arrangements for future children as well)
5- A Pool (presumably to keep the large aquatic mammal comfy?)

1 - An Ice Cutter (this is to cut all the ice that piles up in our backyard. When we explained that it rarely can I stress that enough? snows here he replied, "But I want to have it so when it does I can cut the ice." Yep.)

1- "Popcorn for breakfast at Auntie's when I put the star up in the beautiful tree that is so high." (no explanation needed)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reformation Day

Tomorrow is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as most of America has come to know it. There is such a large division between what people believe, feel comfortable celebrating, and interpret as the meaning behind this ambiguous day. Many evangelical Christians do not celebrate this event because of its Celtic roots, siting the ungodliness of the pagan rituals as reason to abstain. Without showing my own hand I would offer a question for the acceptability of Christmas, also founded on pagan rituals surrounding the winter solstice. Jesus was probably born sometime in spring - shepherds watching their sheep would have been out pasturing them during lambing, not typically done in the middle of winter *wink*. Even Easter is not without controversy, with opposition over the exact dating of the observance and how linked that dating is to original calendaring of the Nisan month (Jewish month which holds Passover). So, will our children be out trick-or-treating? Nope. And I will tell you why.

In today's culture there is little knowledge of an event called Reformation Day. Most people, many Christians included, don't understand how pivotal October 31, 1517 is to today's use, belief and understanding of orthodox Christian doctrine. And since this little blog is my personal soap box *chuckle* you get a free seminar in Reformation Day 101.

Once upon a time there was a monk named Martin Luther. He was German, and lived during a very turbulent time in the Roman Catholic Church's history. The Church held great power over the masses using illiteracy, and man-made traditions to secure frightful obedience to its policies. More than a religious refuge, the Church ruled politically often using injustice to secure lands, prestige, and greater power for its upper ranks. One of the most famous instances of these abuses was the selling of Indulgences, pieces of paper which, when purchased, secured the purchaser's way to heaven. It was basically a fund-raising campaign to rebuild St Peter's Basilica and it preyed on the peasants fear of a vengeful God who only accepted prayers from the Church leadership. Martin Luther became increasingly concerned over these discrepancies he saw between Church practice, and what the Bible actually taught.

On October 31, 1517 Luther posted a list of 95 instances where he believed the Catholic Church was in violation of God's biblical law. His desire was to discuss, and win over with evidence the Church leadership to accepting responsibility for their mistakes. What followed was not exactly what Luther planned. The Catholic Church excommunicated him, after trying him for heresy. When asked to recant his objections he refused, and the Protestant Reformation began! Ultimately the Reformation, as it became known as, would boil down to these five main tenets.

Sola Scriptura - "by scripture alone"
Sola Fida - "by faith alone"
Sola Gratia - "by grace alone"
Solus Christus - Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria - glory to God alone"

One of Luther's greatest acts in protest of the Roman Catholic Church was to translate the Bible into the lingua franca (language of the people) for the first time in centuries. As literacy increased and the masses personal ability to read scripture for themselves grew, the grip of men who had wielded power for their own gain, using God's holy name and Word to accomplish unholy acts, was permanently loosened. The Lord used the Reformation to bring his gospel to so many people; the good news that while you may be subject to authority in natural circumstances, spiritually your only true authority is Christ.

Instead of celebrating death with an emphasis on dark, sinister forces that really do frighten small children (and big adults) we choose to celebrate Life. It excites me that I can teach my children about the importance of Reformation Day, not only historically but spiritually as well. You see one day they will be asked by their Creator why they should be accepted into his perfect presence. Answers such as: my parents believed you; I went to church; I confessed to a man who said I could get into heaven now; I worked hard to be good and I never cheated on my taxes will not cut it. My children need to know that they are separated from God because they can never be perfect. Their motives and hearts' desires, regardless of their actions, constantly lead them to impulses which are contrary to God's perfect moral code of conduct. Their opportunity to enter God's absolute perfection ceased the first time they acted out from sheer defiance (can anyone say infant?).

So what do they say? Simply this - Christ was perfect on this earth, never once going against the moral law of God. When he died he literally exchanged places with me for the punishment I deserve in being cast out of God's perfect presence forever. Because he exchanged places with me, when you look at me God, you see only the perfection of Jesus which pardons ALL the mistakes - both known and unknown - I have ever made. I am acceptable to enter into your perfect presence forever!

That is SO much better than orange and black M&Ms from some stranger's house.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Buy A New Baby

Leah was peering over my shoulder while I scrolled through pictures on the computer today. I happened to be looking at some old ones of Caleb, and she saw one of him when he was still tiny. This is what she said -

Oh, how sweet. We need to buy a new baby.


Caleb has gotten into the rather hilarious habit of starting his sentences with, "because." - no introduction, prelude, contextual clues or prefaces. He mostly does this when he suspects questioning for his sudden appearance in the room (be it after nap, when he should be in bed, coming inside from playing outside, etc.).
"Because Hannah won't let me pick the movie."

"Because Bethany said I could, but I don't want to."

"Because I just need a little one."

"Because I think my tummy might hurt."

Apparently he has taken to heart the adage, "waste not, want not."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Version 2.0

For those of you who receive Letters from Odd via email, you might want to take a moment and actually link to the blog. I have made some changes, and I think you might enjoy the new "look".

The Ride Home

Play: The Ride Home
Christopher, 35 - Daddy
Trisha, 33 - Mama
Hannah, 8.5
Bethany, 6.5
Caleb, 4
Leah, 3
Mary, 22 months
Stage: Interior Ford Econoline 12-passenger van. Baby plays synthesized nursery rhyme music during entire scene, never letting one song completely finish before changing it to a new one - or better yet, repeating the one she just failed to complete. Christopher is driving, Trisha is in the front passenger seat. Mary is in a car seat, in the middle of the row directly behind Christopher and Trisha. Caleb and Leah share the bench behind Mary with "no man's land" between their car seats. Hannah and Bethany are in boosters in the very last row of seating.
Lighting - dark. Time - coming home in the evening from church.

Act 1: Scene 1
The First Five Minutes

Leah: My name is Leah. See, Mama I put it on the "magadoodle".
Caleb: Leah, Seah, Meah, Weah
Leah: NO Caleb, my name is LEE-AH.
song playing: There was a farmer had a dog and...
Bethany: Hannah, how do you spell "road sign"?
Caleb: Geah, Veah, Deah
Leah: AAHHH, NO Caleb, my name is LEE-AH.
Hannah: Bethany Rhode Island is off the coast of Virginia.
Mama: Caleb stop antagonizing your sister. Leah, stop yelling and ask politely the first time.
Daddy: No Hannah, Rhode Island is not off the coast of Virginia. It is close to Connecticut. (to me): I've been to Rhode Island. It is called the Ocean State.
Mama: Rhode Island is called the Ocean State?
Caleb: California is the biggest state.
Daddy: Not quite buddy. (to me): Yep.
Hannah: Its probably Alaska or Texas.
Leah: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
song playing: Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb...
Caleb: The biggest state is Elasta-girl?
Bethany: When we get home can I bake something?
Daddy (to me): Interstate 95, and then Interstate 195 which runs between Rhode Island to Connecticut, then into Rhode Island hugs the coast line so much that when you drive it you feel like you have been on it forever, even though you have gone very little distance on the map. I remember thinking, "I must have gone further than this!"
Mama: Leah, stop repeating yourself.
Caleb: The far-est state is America.
Hannah: We live in America, Caleb. It's not a state it is a nation. We live in California.
Caleb: Na ah, Hannah. I told Mama that the far-est state is America.
Hannah: Caleb, stop it! That isn't true.
Mama: Hannah, when you were his age did we insist on you always getting every answer right? Or did we allow you to make mistakes, and not over-correct you all the time?
Hannah: You let me make mistakes.
Mama: So you brother deserves the same chance. I am perfectly capable of correcting him, if I need or want to.
Bethany: Leah, stop pulling on the seat belt.
Caleb: Can we listen to music?
song playing: Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies...
Leah: Mama, I big! Yeah, I big and I Leah. I bigger than Caleb.
Caleb: NO your small.
Leah: No, I big.
Bethany: Hannah, how so you spell "road sign"?
Hannah: r-o-a-d space
Daddy (to me): Do you know what the first state in the union was?
Hannah: s-i-h-n
Mama: "Sign" is not spelled with an "h", it is s-i-G-n. (to Christopher): Virginia?
Hannah: Oh, that's right.
Daddy: No, but that's a good guess.
Caleb: Leah its my turn! You had it all this time and now I get to play with the magnadoodle.
Mama: Maryland?
Leah: No Caleb. I bigger. You can't have it!
Bethany: Leah, you have had a long turn. Give it to Caleb.
Hannah: Did you know that there was a man that walked around the entire world?
Daddy (to me): No, but that is another good guess. (to Hannah): What do you mean he walked around the entire world? Did he walk across each continent?
Caleb: I want the magnadoodle!
Mama: Caleb, Leah is having a turn for this ride. Next time we are in the van you can have a turn with the magnadoodle.
Hannah: I don't know. But he wore out 21 pairs of shoes doing it.
Daddy: Wow! That's a lot of walking.
Caleb: How far is it to get to San Diego?
Bethany: Hannah, how so you spell Del Rey Oaks?
Daddy: Depends on how you got there. You could take a plane to get there fast.
Caleb: What about real slow?
Mama: Then you would walk.
song playing: This old man, he played one, he played knick knack...
Caleb: How long would it take you to walk there?
Hannah: D-e-l space
Daddy: About 3 months.
Leah: I see the ocean Mama! I saw a shark!
Hannah: R-e-y space
Caleb: Can you promise me that just me and you will walk to San Diego Daddy? It can be a special treat.
Leah: And I saw a whale. A REALLY big whale.
Daddy: Buddy, I don't know if I can promise you that. But we will do special man treats as you get bigger. (to me): So, do you know what the first state in the Union was?
Mama: A whale Leah? Wow! That's pretty cool. (to Christopher): I give up, which one?
Hannah: O-a-k-s. That was easy.
Daddy: Delaware.

Act 1: Scene 2
The Next Five Minutes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Adventures in Thumb-Sucking

Leah sucked her thumb in utero. I actually got to see her do it using ultrasound at only 5mos pregnant. When she was born she never took a pacifier, but self-soothed with her own thumb from the first. No other child before or since has naturally thumb-sucked. Just to clarify, the "no other child" includes my son.

Caleb was 13mos old when Leah entered the world. Not very big. He had used a pacifier for bedtime, but when he started chewing them like teethers, and creating daily choking hazards for himself, we removed them altogether. So when Leah joined him in his room she sucked her thumb, and he sucked nothing. Naively I thought Leah's penchant for her thumb would not affect Caleb. I was wrong. At 18mos Caleb began imitating Leah. By two he was a full-fledged thumb-sucker. And at three Christopher and I began to wonder how this whole weaning thing was going to work. Unlike Leah, who sucks her thumb for bedtime and when she is especially tired, Caleb sucked his thumb whenever there wasn't something already occupying his hands, and even then he often tried anyway.

When Caleb turned four, and there was no stopping in sight, we decided it was time to take some action. Like other naive parents we started with the simple discussion of, "Now that you are FOUR buddy, you don't need to suck your thumb. Daddy doesn't suck his thumb, and if you want to be a man like Daddy you will need to stop sucking yours." I laugh aloud at the foolishness of this attempt. Caleb stared at us, nodded his head in absolute agreement that he was big, he did want to be like Daddy, and then stuck his thumb in his mouth. For the first several weeks we called his attention to this action every time we saw him do it. But pretty soon we sounded like drill instructors barking orders every other minute.

"Caleb, get your thumb out of your mouth."
"Caleb, thumb!"
"Caleb, you are sucking your thumb."
"Caleb, stop it!"

Something else was needed.

One day in Walgreen's I spotted a little bottle of fingernail polish in the baby section. As I inspected it closer I realized it was an aid for breaking the habit of thumb and finger sucking. You painted this nasty tasting solution on your child's nails, and when they stuck the offending digit in their mouth they were met with a pungently bitter taste as a reward. Perfect. I bought the ridiculously overpriced gimmick and went home. I immediately painted Caleb's thumbs with my new solution and sat back to watch it work wonders. I even painted my own nail to see how badly it really tasted. Yuck! It was pretty bad. The problem, as even I could recognize as a non-thumb-sucking-bystander, was in the longevity of the taste. Namely an almost instantaneous diminishing of the bitterness the moment it started performing its task. Caleb made a face, made another face, then sucked his thumb quite happily. Back to the drawing board.

I tried taping his thumb to his fingers, which indeed kept him from thumb-sucking, but that was only reasonable at bedtime when he didn't need his opposable thumbs to function. And, as I said before, Caleb quite took to thumb-sucking when he finally decided it was for him. This was no amateur habit relegated to bedtime stories and cuddly blankets. Taping, it became apparent, would not be the fix.

Then I saw an ingenious little device called a "Thumb Guard" in a catalog I receive. I read the blurb, somewhat skeptical but nevertheless intrigued by the concept. The price tag was enough to make me seriously question its purchase, but when you become desperate... well, you know the saying. I bought it.

We told Caleb about our purchase. He was pretty excited, if only from the recognition that this might get his Mama and Daddy off his back! We waited expectantly for the package to arrive, and when it did we gathered as a family to fit him with his thumb-guards for the first time.

The concept is very simple. The tube breaks the vacuum, the pleasure deriving sensation created by thumb-sucking. So while it doesn't stop the action itself it does render the action pleasureless, and in theory breaks the habit out of removing the reason for it in the first place. One of the main selling points to me was that you placed the guards on the thumbs, and left them there 24/7. It didn't matter if he was settling down for the night, or playing on the trampoline, the guards protected his thumbs from the smallest breach in his own resolve (which was as rock solid as tissue paper). The box advertised results in as little as one week, with most children completely free from thumb-sucking in 14 days.

It would be a lesson in understatement to say it took Caleb a bit longer.

Week One: 24/7
Week Two: 24/7. We see no noticeable deceleration of sucking when given the opportunity to go without the guards.
Week Three: 24/7
Week Four: 24/7. During this week the unthinkable happens and one of the guards breaks! We paid far too much money to have it break after only 3+ weeks of instructed use. While we wait for the replacement we see the reality of Caleb's dedication in this matter - namely, none.
Week Five: Our replacement finally arrives and we are back to 24/7.
Week Six: Christopher and I decide it is time to up the ante, and tell Caleb that he will get a skateboard when he stops sucking his thumb completely. For the first time we see real sparks of interest for this little game his Father and I are playing. "You mean a real skateboard? A Spiderman skateboard?" Spiderman? Where did that come from? No time to stop and think now though because the answer could make or break this deal. "Yes, a Spiderman skateboard!"
Week Seven: We move the wearing to bedtimes only, and Caleb seems to be actually working at it during the day. We still have to remind him occasionally, but by-and-large he is free from day sucking.
Week Eight: Another broken guard. Unbelievable!!! We are able to continue using the defected one until the replacement arrives, so we don't have to stop training. The mantra in our house becomes, "Caleb, you want your Spiderman skateboard don't you?"
Week Nine: Wasn't this supposed to work within 14 days? I ask my prayer partner to lift this up in her devotion time. I start praying with Caleb each night that he would lean on Jesus for all his needs, including whatever security he derives from thumb-sucking.
Week Ten: We buy the skateboard and hide it in the garage.
Week Eleven: WILL THIS NEVER END?????
Week Twelve: We pull the skateboard out and let Caleb see it. He can't step on it, ride it, do anything much more than touch it, but we feel like he might need to see the thing to get him over the final hurdle. We put it on a shelf in his room, so he can see it during bedtime and be reminded of the reward.
Week Thirteen: We take the thumb-guards off and watch him like a hawk. He seems to be fine during the day, but is he unconsciously putting his thumbs in his mouth during nap and bedtime? We check him multiple times throughout the following few nights. No thumb-sucking. Could it be that he is finally broken of the habit?

On October 4th Daddy, holding the Spiderman skateboard, shares the news that Caleb has DONE IT! He has stopped sucking his thumb completely, and has earned his reward!

He loves his new skateboard, and rides like a champ!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quantity Break

Don't you just sometimes wish that Costco sold in bulk?

It would be so much nicer if, rather than the 1750 Q-tips sold in this package, I was able to buy in a more reasonable amount - say... 1800.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Hulk

You remember the Hulk. He was just another normal man but when he became enraged (always for the good of the people) he did that bodybuilding move that showed all his muscles while his shirt ripped off... oh, and he turned green. Well, we have a Hulk in our house.

It started with Hannah. At around the age of one, she began to clench her fists and tense her muscles so hard that she would shake. Christopher's cousin aptly named it "The Hulk", and once trained to the name Hannah would do her crowd-pleasing move on command. Since Hannah each of our children (some with greater success than others) have been members of the Hulk club. Our latest member is Mary.

Once again, it started when she was barely one, and by now she has it perfected. She sits in her chair, jaws locked, fists clenched, muscles shaking, tendons strained as she tries desperately to stop the villain... oh, and turn green.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

At The Tone


"Effective September 19, 2007 the Time Announcement Information Service has been discontinued. We apologize for any inconvenience."

This is what I heard recently when I dialed trusty POPCORN on my phone to get the current time. It was a good thing I was sitting down. They need to warn a woman about a move of this magnitude. I have been calling POPCORN (767-2676) since a child for all manner of official, and slightly unofficial business. Things like: checking CBS and their ball count-down for the New Year; pretending to chat on the phone like a grown up; making sure my husband has his watch set to the SECOND for his scheduled top-secret rendezvous with bedtime; casually checking the order of the universe, and seeing that time continues to move forward.

And now, just like that, it is gone.

The thing that irks me is that no substitute for time management has been given. I imagine the giant "they" behind this fiasco assumes everyone has Internet connectivity, and prefers to check time on the web (especially in the middle of a power outage when all us home-officey types have our back-up generators going). Or maybe we all have some electronic device, be it a PDA or cell phone, which carries time for us. But eventually all of these require setting, batteries, tweaking of some sort before they can function, and without POPCORN I am afraid we might just find ourselves lost. Wake up, people. This is a conspiracy.

So, I leave with this thought.

Time wounds all heels.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Chef Bethany Strikes Again

Another brilliant recipe put forward by our budding gastronomist. Bethany has a unique style of blending ingredients which not only enhance they natural character, but add layers of dynamic flavor. Please enjoy the following with love from our home, to yours.

A Dessert
-Crack an egg (not boiled) and put in a bowl
-Cut up a single square of Baker's Chocolate into small pieces, and put it with the egg
-Mix together to make chocolate
-Add M&Ms or Skittles (whichever you prefer)
-Put in the oven for 3 minutes at 50deg or until it gets "doughy"
-Shape it and put it onto a platter
-Put it back in the oven until it turns into cookies

"Then share them with everyone!"

Friday, September 28, 2007


I overheard Caleb sharing this astute observation with Hannah while eating dinner tonight.

"You know what hot dogs remind me of? Carrots. Because carrots taste just like donuts."


The Understated

Bethany was contentedly drawing a picture in my office yesterday when she innocently, and with extreme understatement, asked me, "Mama, what comes after "w" in "way"?"

"What word are you trying to spell, exactly?" I thought I was being so smart, to proactively teach between the two possibilities of "way", and "weigh". She outsmarted me. The following was her response, without skipping a beat.

"I am spelling;
Way up high in the apple tree
2 little apples were looking at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came the apples... mmm they were good.

So what comes next in "way"?"

"I'll just write it out for you."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

For two years Bethany has been graciously, courageously, and patiently growing her tresses for an organization called Locks of Love. We painstakingly measured her hair against the "10inch rule" that LoL asks for, wondering each time if this month was THE month for a haircut... and at last it was.

We had to wait two weeks before we could get in to see our hair-stylist Jules, and every day Bethany asked how many days until her appointment. Finally the day arrived. She had me braid her hair for the last time, and asked every 20 minutes if it was time for us to leave yet. Daddy took the picture of her hair down right before we walked out the door.

It was a great evening for girlie time, and before we went to the salon Bethany and I had dinner at Carrows. While waiting for our food I asked her if she knew what style she might like for her short hair. She immediately responded, "Yes, but it is a hard decision between slanted like this (she placed her hand at an angle against her cheek to indicate a cut that was slightly higher in the back and longer in the front), or curved around like this (she drew a scalloped pattern in the air all around the bottom of her imaginary new hairline)." Hmmm... how exactly does one handle the disappointment that after two years of work there is no way the "curved" hair-do will... well, do. I remember once upon a time thinking it would take care of so much fuss if I could just get the bottom of my hair permed in one curl, to save me the trouble of using a curling iron.

"Well sweetie (stall for a moment so as to look like I am pondering this most legitimate question), I imagine it would be very hard for Miss Jules to cut your hair into curves, and then make it stay perfect after brushing it. I think it would be better to plan on the slanted cut, which would look darling on you." Praise God this sufficed!!

Bethany was eager for the full grown-up experience, and upon our arrival at Soleil Hair and Beauty Salon immediately asked Jules if she would get her hair washed in the "special sink"? Once she was assured that there would be no cheating during her appointment she sat back, and enjoyed the ride!

And now... presenting the new Bethany Joy!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Christopher and I watched a movie several years ago where the characters played the game, High-Low. We instantly resolved to bring it into practice in our own family. We love this simple way of connecting with our children and each other. The rules are easy:

High - what was your highest point during the day/ event/ trip/ year.
Low - what was your lowest point during the day/ event/ trip/ year.

Today's (Sunday) High-Low
FYI - Hannah and Bethany walked up and down the streets in our church's surrounding neighborhood putting informational leaflets about our children's AWANA program on doorknobs.

H - Seeing all the different kinds of houses when we were out.
L - My aching feet from walking so far.

H - I got to choose to which street I wanted to walk, the up street or down street.
L - We had to walk so far!

H - Watching the movie (Prince of Egypt) after rest time.
L - Getting disciplined. (talking back to Daddy)

H - Plus, I ran around.
L - I no like hurting my hair.

H - Pooping in the tub.
L - Trying to tell my Mama and Daddy what I want even though I refuse to give up the ghost and actually SPEAK.

H - Having a leisurely getting-ready-for-church time this morning. I am usually a lot more stressed about being late, and this morning it just didn't bother me as much, and I enjoyed the slower pace of our morning.
L - Disciplining the kids.

H - Christopher let me take a 2+ hour nap!
L - Mary pooped IN the bathtub at the end of bath time.

What was your High/Low today?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ladybug Miracles

I don't know how you feel about miracles, but I rather like them. The idea of the supernatural occurring in my life fills me with giddiness. Just think, to be touched by the Divine in a way that is tangible to your present circumstance - that's gotta be pretty cool! Now, I have been blessed with some really miraculous events which left me wondering how on earth I could have a God that loved me enough to save my hiney from THAT situation. I have also had the privilege of participating in miracles through divine intervention of the right people in the right place. It all adds up to the same thing - God making himself personally known. What a rush!

It goes without saying that God doesn't waste miracles on the unimportant, but rather doles them out for the dying, broken-hearted, dejected, abused, and lost. Then, and only then does God reach down and communicate with people who are in a position to listen, which tends to be when their circumstances are not exactly... idyllic. But a God who "wastes" a miracle on ladybugs? And not just the insect variety but the earring kind... I mean, come on! Oh ye of little faith. *wink*

My dear friend Jill bought me the best pair of ladybug earrings in the entire universe last year for my birthday. I love them. I wear them all the time. They have just the right amount of dangle, can't be beat for detail, and are a wonderfully rich red that goes with - well just about everything I own. Needless to say, they are among my favorites. Last month a couple gals included me in an "August birthday club movie and coffee" get together. The best time was after church on a Sunday, so that particular morning I dressed with extra care, weighing the ever subtle wardrobe decisions of church with matinee/coffee/girlfriends so as to achieve the best look with maximum comfort. The ladybug earrings were an essential. I did the once over in the mirror at home, agreed with the reflection and headed out the door. Before meeting my girlfriends I checked one more time at church, to do a quick hairbrush/lip gloss touch up for our "date". All was well.

In a stroke of odd vanity, I chose to wear my hair down, with only a headband to keep it out of my face. My friends commented on how cute I looked (probably referring to my rounded belly, but I like to believe they were noticing the entire presentation). In the chatter before our show one friend mentioned wanting to run by Macy's after we were done to look at getting some new earrings. Apparently she had a bad habit of losing one to each matching pair she owned, and no longer had a single matched set. Thinking about how difficult life would be like without a single matched set of earrings (they are by far one of my most favorites fashion accessories - and I NEVER leave home without a pair on) I readily agreed to the venture. We took our seats, and began the movie.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I need to make sure you understand that I had BOTH earrings in the entire time this portion of my story is unfolding. Girls notice things like missing earrings on their friends. Between church, checking my own reflection twice, and someone specifically wanting to go shop for earrings, you better believe my own had been checked out. They were there - in my ears - dangling most cutely.

About half way through the movie I desperately needed to resecure my headband, but not wanting to be a bother to the people sitting directly behind me I couldn't really manage it correctly. I caught my hair, earring, glasses and I am sure the attention of the people sitting directly behind me while I tried to surreptitiously expedite my hair fiasco (the fact that we were watching Hairspray made it all the more comical). My headband was still not truly secure, but I figured I would fix it when the movie was over, and finished watching the show.

We walked to Starbucks for coffee (chai *wink*), and some chatski kapoopskies when one girlfriend looked at me across our table and said, "You're missing an earring."

WHAT!!! I instantly knew in my heart that it had come out during my fumbled attempt at hair management in the movie theater, but tried to remain calm and think the best of the situation. I checked my immediate surroundings, my clothes, the floor in Starbucks, etc. In an effort not to cry I took the one earring I still wore and placed it protectively in the coin pocket of my purse silently praying, "I know it is just an earring God, but please return it to me." After going to Macy's (and buying a new pair of earrings for myself so I could stop feeling naked) we walked back to the movie theater going the same route taken, and looking down the entire time. At the movie theater I implored the manager to look for my little earring. I even pulled the loner from my purse so he could see how sweet, and tender the situation was. I knew it was lost. I couldn't go into the theater during a movie, and there had already been clean-up after our show that would have swept up my little ladybug. I was devastated.

When I got home I placed the loner in his place on my earring rack, and almost came to tears seeing it hang there by itself. Then I became inspired! I called Jill and related the whole ugly mess, and asked if she would be willing to purchase me a replacement pair for this year's birthday present? She was equally sad for my loss, and agreed to set out in search of my replacement. I plucked the loner off my earring rack and dropped him back in my coin purse so Jill could compare him against potential replacements. And then I forgot to give him to Jill.

Over the following days, I was constantly being reminded about the loss of my earrings. I would reach for them, only to feel my heart sink when I remembered that one was missing. Then, just a couple days ago I had to run to an OB appointment, and once again reached for my ladybug earrings. "Drat," I thought, as I once again saw the lone earring dangle from my rack. I ran out the door silently musing how long I would keep the single earring. Bethany came with me to my doctor's appointment, and as a "thanks" for sitting so patiently with me I told her we would get a treat for dinner, just the two of us. I had some cash on me (talk about miracles! I never carry actual cash), so when I came to the drive through window to pay I used real money. The thought occurred to me that I might even have enough change to finish the sale off exactly. While I was emptying my coin purse I came across my ladybug earring, which I had forgotten to give to Jill all those weeks ago. I looked at him, lonely and so very cute, and resolved to pass him along the next time I saw her. But another curious thought was developing in my head... I thought I saw him hanging on my rack.

When we got home things were in a flurry. Christopher was leaving the following day for his trip to Mt Whitney, and I was taking Hannah up to Walnut Creek for a Speech Conference. In the hustle and bustle I once again forgot about my earring - until I stood in my bathroom brushing my teeth and looking directly at my earring rack. There was a ladybug earring hanging there. I looked closer. Did I have two different kinds of dangle ladybugs which might be confused for one another? No. I looked closer still. Finally, barely able to contain myself I ran downstairs and opened my coin purse. Yes, there was my earring. I grabbed him out of the purse and ran back upstairs. I could hardly believe what I was seeing, and literally had to place the earring from the coin purse onto the rack before I began to realize... they were an exact match. The missing earring which had come out of my ear at Del Monte Shopping Center nearly 4 weeks earlier was hanging on my earring rack. God had indeed returned my earring to me!

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Coughs and Light Bulbs

I have a frustratingly dry cough right now. It started a couple of days ago with a scratchy throat, but by this morning I knew I was destined for all-out hacking by days end.

I was already dealing with the preliminaries of the day first thing this morning when Caleb came downstairs much earlier than normal. He snuggled up on the couch and waited for me to join him. When I came over and sat down he immediately shifted to fit the side of my body closest to him, and laid his head against my chest.

How did you sleep, son? cough cough

Good. I came down here early didn't I? cough

Yes, you did. cough cough How come?

'Cause I wanted to sit with you.

That was nice of you. I like cough sitting cough with you. cough I am sorry I have cough this nasty cough.

That's okay. Coughs happen. Like light bulbs when they just burn out.

Thanks. cough I feel much better now. cough

Good. I love you.

I love cough you too. cough

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Monterey County Fair

In recognition of my birthday (8/15) Monterey County celebrates with the annual Fair. I appreciate their well wishes for my health and happiness. And it certainly makes me feel special that they go to the trouble of showing me how much they care by devoting an entire event to the purpose. Out of kindness to their efforts we don't miss it, and every year finds us (with whatever baby is little that year) pushing a stroller, wrangling several small children, keeping up with a Nana, and carrying all manner of miscellaneous treasures down the fairway. Similar to our 4th of July expedition, this one is simply not to be missed. Period.

The main event is a tie between fairfood (all one word because, I think you would agree, it is a food group all its own - like vegetables, or grains), and the animals (be they livestock or the altogether bizarre human entertainers). We ate corn dogs, bbq, kettle korn, dipped ice cream, and pizza. We skipped the funnel cake, for reasons only God can forgive. Then we petted baby ducklings, watched dogs jump way to high in the air, saw a juggler do interpretive dance while maintaining control over 4 fiery batons simultaneously, and enjoyed our favorite band The Amazong Harmonatras perform using all five of our children. I genuinely believe my little people think heaven is the Fair, with Jesus somewhere down in the carnival giving out free ride tickets!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Capitalism and Gasoline

I don't "get" it! I haven't "gotten" it for some time, but just today realized I need to post about it so that all of you understand that I don't "get" it either.

We own a rather large vehicle to transport our growing family. The whopping 12mpg it gets is not its best selling point, but then when you divide that by the number of people being hauled it actually becomes economical. However, it still requires a lot of gas, rather regularly. And this is where my lack of "getting" it comes into play.

In order for me to fill my tank I must buy quite a bit. Somewhere, someone decided that it was evil, and against our capitalistic-supply-and-demand economy to allow people to buy the amount of gas they desire. I don't know if this is a national phenomenon, or only in the ever logical vicinity of Marina, but once you hit $50 your pump turns off. Stop. Done. Regardless of whether this has filled your tank your transaction is complete. Now, when this first happened I thought maybe my card was being declined the full amount. I went in to ask the ever intelligible foreign national proprietor why my pump turned off, and was told, "So that we make sure all people have enough gas." This is the case in all of the gas stations I now visit.

Huh. I thought we lived in a first-come-first-served-your-willing-to-pay-so-I-will-sell-it-to-you nation. Apparently not. We are actually living in a government-has-the-job-to-ensure-that-all-people-wishing-to-buy-gas-but-to-lazy-to-go-to-the-station-still-have-enough-gas-when-they-finally-show-up-to-get-$50-worth. Who knew.

I went back to my van, wondering what to do. I don't have gobs of extra time to be running to the gas station every day. But I figured if this was now the policy they must track your debit/credit/gas card number to make sure you don't cheat and just do two transactions in a row. I will try... just in case. You know what? You probably do. It worked!

So now you see why I just don't "get" it. The whole concept of capitalism is a FREE MARKET. That means you sell what you want, I buy how much I want, and everyone else minds their own business. Private ownership of capital. The government does not legally tell us how we are to spend our money. So here I am being told how much gas I am allowed to buy, based on some arbitrary explanation of maintaining enough gas for the next guy. BUT... there is no actual means of enforcing this absurd policy, so it only creates a headache because I now get the added bonus of buying gas in two transactions, one right after the other, every time I fill up.

Can someone fill me in on what it is I am missing? Because, as I said before, I just don't "get" it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brain Damage

Caleb comes to me this morning with no tears, no blood, and says, "Mama?"


"Leah dropped the wheel from the wagon on my brain."

"Can you show me where it hit you?" He points to a spot on the upper part of his hairline, along his forehead. I kiss it. "Are you okay?"

"Yep," and he walks out to face his abuser.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I was doing laundry today (surprise, surprise) when Caleb came to me bothered. He said, rather plaintively, "Remember when I went to Australia for my birthday? Remember that?"

I looked at him, obviously puzzled.

"Bethany says I didn't go to Australia on my birthday. But I did go to Australia, don't you remember?"

"Son, you went to the Aquarium on your birthday."

"Oh, okay." He then happily went back to the table to explain this to Bethany.

You never know what you are going to get.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wipe and Flush

Why is something as simple as wipe and flush so difficult? When my two middles (Caleb and Leah) use the potty we have a simple rule: wipe and flush. They either wipe, and do not flush; or flush without a wipe. Am I asking too much? Thankfully, the third part of this rule, wash, provides so much fun that it is rarely forgotten. Perhaps we need to invest in a bidet.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Uh Oh!

Last night we had an uh oh. They happen occasionally in families, and while I think I have become more capable at assessing bodily damage as a result of my experiences, it never ceases to rattle me when my child is genuinely hurt.

Christopher and I were upstairs with the littles when we suddenly heard a piercing scream from Hannah below. We both started for the stairs, and when we turned the corner of the hallway we could see the reflection of Hannah leaning over the sink in the bathroom with blood pouring out of her mouth. This is not good, I thought. Poor Bethany was in such a state of shock that it took us several minutes to learn what had happened.

Apparently the girls were playing with Hannah's bath towel when Bethany pulled it one way, anticipating Hannah would let go, but when she didn't she went careening into the sidearm of the couch, hitting her chin and mouth so hard she bit through her lip. Uh oh seems slightly insufficient... dear God, would more accurately describe the scene. We knew Hannah would need stitches.

As I drove Hannah to the hospital shock was keeping her mouth numb from the pain, but the mental image of stitches was scaring her to death. We prayed that God would give us a kind physician with gentle hands, a sweet temperament, and as pain-free a procedure as possible. I must admit, I also offered up my prayers that she would not be too badly scarred.

She calmed down considerably after praying, and actually began to joke about the ordeal. She was quite proud that she would have stitches like her friends who had traversed this road before her. And she remembered as well, that Grandpa had fallen down stairs, and bitten through his lip.

We hung out in the ER for a few hours, doing the normal "rush & wait" routine. When we were seen by the doctor our fears were confirmed that she punctured the entire lip, and would need a three-layer suture closure. The doctor explained the procedure, and very gently noted that the application of the anesthesia would be the most painful experience of the entire operation. Hannah was very stoic in the face of the information, and the physician even mentioned how calm she was for her age. However, after he left Hannah began to get understandably anxious, and wanted to know every ounce of detail relating to the upcoming event. Hannah's mode of emotional management tends to be utmost control in the face of anything, so watching her fight back tears as she asked about how badly it would hurt just about broke my heart.

When the nurse, and doctor came back to our room Hannah was ready. She quietly followed their directions, and prepared for the operation. The nurse, a gentle man who had children her age at home, was very friendly, even if he bordered on the patronizing. About half way through the procedure he finally caught on that we are not a big, "sugar-coat the truth" family, and realized I was accurately describing to Hannah what the doctor was about to do at each step. We believe that education, even in the face of trauma, helps to alleviate the unknown, so at least you are only dealing with the fear of the real, and not the imagined worst. The doctor was very supportive of this, and worked with me to tell Hannah exactly when she would be feeling different sensations.

The administration of the topical anaesthesia was painful, but complete. I was nervous it might not be as utterly thorough as necessary, and she would still feel the pain of the stitches. This was Christopher's experience, and with the same doctor! But God heard my pleas, and once the medicine took effect she didn't feel anything! I won't go into the exploratory nature necessary to determine the extent of the damage, but suffice it to say the through-and-through aspect of the wound had to be confirmed.

God is good. The physician was impressed with the cleanliness of the puncture, and the number of stitches initially thought necessary was almost cut in half. The diagnosis for scarring was also revised, and Hannah should see no visible signs of the incident within a few years. Her driver's license picture is safe *wink*.

We arrived home some 3 hours later, record time for most ER visits, and Hannah was greeted by her very concerned sister Bethany, who had insisted on staying up until we returned. Bethany had been so distraught over her possible responsibility in the affair that only praying for the safety, and well-being of Hannah during our absence alleviated her mind. She made Hannah a beautiful "get better" picture, and presented it to her the minute we walked in the door.

We are all grateful for the little miracles God sees fit to work on our behalf every day. Hannah took 4 stitches, one on the inside of her mouth, and 3 to close the outer wound. But that was significantly less than originally feared. She will have virtually no scar, and her medical team was sensitive during the entire procedure. She and I had a neat chance to read, chat, and pray together which doesn't come along in uninterrupted quantities very often. And now she has an even poutier bottom lip to go with her sweet smile - at least for the next week or so!

Operatic Knuckles

Christopher occasionally asks the kids if they want a knuckle sandwich. I don't get it. I have never gotten it. What a terrible thing to say to a child. Apparently this is one of those "dad" things, to which I am woefully lacking in talent - being a mom and all. Christopher's dad did it to him, and he got such a giggle out of it growing up that the true meaning of the phrase was lost in the playful banter. I fold.

Just today Christopher asked Leah if she wanted the infamous knuckle sandwich. "NO," she asserted, "stop it Daddy!" She then ran into the kitchen, and began playing with alphabet magnets on the fridge. As she moved the V next to the F she started singing her ABC song - as an opera.

Aaa, Beeeee, Ce, Deee, EeeEeeeE, F, GEEe, Atch, I, Jayyyy, Jayyy, ELLLL, MmMmM, OOOOOOO, Que, Sssssss, TeeeeeEEE, Ewe, Vee, W, YyyyYYYYY, Ze. Now I sing my Aaa, BeeEEee, CeEeEes, won't you sing with meeeEEee?

It was everything an aspiring vocalist could want in a song - high sopranos, low quarter notes with throaty vibrato, legato throughout, with just the right amount of articulation to define each new letter. Beautiful. Christopher and I practically had tears in our eyes we were laughing so hard. After calming ourselves Christopher asked Leah, "Do you like singing?"


"Well, don't quit your day job," he added, while still chuckling over her opera debut. Then, unexepectedly, Leah walked straight up to Daddy and said, with a fist next to his face,

"You wanna knuckle sandwich?"

I think I peed my pants.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Big Girl Bed

I remember thinking this day would never come! Leah is out of her tent!!! For those of you unfamiliar with Leah's tent, here is a promo picture of the contraption for your edification. The tag line of the product talks about keeping baby safe from animals, like cats, that might inadvertently climb into the crib. It also highlights the safety feature of keeping baby from accidentally (ACCIDENTALLY mind you) falling out of their crib, and injuring themselves. It is supposed to give parents peace of mind, knowing they are securing their child in a safe environment. It says nothing about the stubborn child who willfully scales the crib for freedom each, and every day. However, their is a subtle note in the description about how the design follows the cell layouts at Alcatraz. Cats huh?

Leah began climbing out of her crib when she was quite little, around 17mos or so. My other girls did this as well, and a simple explanation of the unacceptability, followed by a spanking for repeat offenders was plenty to get the point home. Hannah, and Bethany contentedly stayed in their cribs after they woke from their naps, or bedtime, until I came and got them. Mary does the same. Ahhh, but not Leah. Noooo. We explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, encouraged, bribed, and finally gave up. It was maddening. We bought the Alcatraz cell, and locked her in. It sure did give us peace of mind. And we made a huge deal out of her tent being a special indoor tent that she would get to sleep in every night. She loved it. And I never thought I would be able to move her into a normal bed before she was 16. Miracles do happen.

One of the first thoughts I can recall after the pregnancy test came back positive was, how am I going to transfer Leah out of her tent? We already have two cribs, so I wasn't going to buy another one! Leah would need to move into the toddler bed, so the new baby could have a crib. Moving Leah into the toddler bed meant Caleb would need to give it up, and transition into a genuine big boy bed. This was fairly easy, since we already had an extra twin mattress and bedspring hanging out in the garage. I bought a metal frame, some boyish bedding and he was set. The toddler bed was free - and my greatest fear now loomed over me. Moving Leah.

The idea to attach it to her birthday was inspired by the reality that we do not celebrate birthdays in typical fashion. Or maybe we do, and everyone else is strange? Anyhow, birthdays in our home tend to be small, family-centric affairs with not a lot of pomp, presents or parties. With the number of children we have the smaller ones simply don't need anything, and I don't need more stuff to organize. But we do acknowledge the joy of the day, and try to mark it in some significant manner. We began telling Leah about moving to a big girl bed a week before the actual event, in hopes that it would whet her appetite to own the transition. By the time the day dawned she was pretty excited. Christopher and I put a movie on downstairs, and then doggedly worked upstairs to disassemble her crib, move the toddler bed into her room, and re-outfit it with girlie sheets. When we called the kids to come up everyone couldn't wait to see Leah's new bed! In fact, it was hard to convince the kids to let her have a moment to herself.

So how has she been doing, you ask? Very well, actually. Yes, she has gotten out of her bed, and made a terrible mess of the room. Yes, she has fallen asleep with counterfeit booty in her bed. Yes, we have explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, and encouraged, but there has been no giving up! She is so pleased to have her own big girl bed, and really does want to earn our trust. She solemnly promises not to get out of her bed each nap/bedtime. And we know that eventually she really will stay in her bed. In the meantime, it has been a joy to see her set free from her prison cell (and an incredible load off my mind that the new baby will have a place to sleep).