Something So Big

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Confession Time

I saw a Confession Booth on another blog, and it was so "freeing" and funny to me, I just had to steal it. (with thanks to Bryan Allain)

Amy's Confession Booth, January 2010
- Sometimes when I'm cleaning, I see a cheerio, candy etc....and because I'm too tired and/or lazy to go find a wastebasket, I just pop it in my mouth and eat it.

-Even though I've been a Packer fan all of my life, I am a bigger Brett Favre fan. I think Ted Thompson gave him the Green Weenie in 2008, and so I cheered #4 on as a Jet and I cheered him on with the Vikings. I was torn watching him play against the Packers this season and was secretly happy when Minnesota beat Green Bay twice. I wanted TT to see the error of his ways because Brett Favre plays football in such a way that makes any true fan love to watch (and at times, cringe)! Sorry, Packer fans. I love our team, but I love watching #4 play the game even more.

-I don't clean the bedsheets every week. It's more like on a you-puked-so-I-better-change-the-sheets basis. (That one is going to crank up my Slacker Mom status!!)

-Sometimes Wynne and I will eat cookies for breakfast. If it's got peanut butter or oatmeal in it, it's good for you, right? Homemade not store-bought, of course. We have our standards.

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.--1 Timothy 1:19

Random Observations & Cute Things They Say

**Apparently our twins are mirror-image twins. Shae is right-handed and Paige is a lefty. I passed on the southpaw gene to Paige, and I guess I passed on the ability to replace a toilet paper roll to Shae. Because no one else in the house appears to be able to figure out that tp-holder-mechanism. Ah, the wonders of DNA.

**Toys (and toy parts) that I throw away have a miraculous way of regenerating themselves/reappearing.

**Chickens like to be cooped up. I guess that's why they live in a chicken COOP. You should see our Rhode Island Reds; they're looking quite voluptuous. Their feathers are red and shiny, and their bodies are quite plump. Since they haven't laid eggs in 3 months, I'm thinking they may just find their way into our freezer!

**I don't know exactly how many pounds our 10-month-old calves are, but when one of them steps on your foot, it hurts.


Cute things they say, part ??:
"When I was born Mom, I was in your belly for 3 days at the hospital."--Wynne, age 3.5

"God didn't make stinky cheese!" (Swiss) --Wynne age 3.5 (AMEN to that!)

"When you get little Mom, you will have fun like me."
(Me): Will you be my friend?
(Wynne): "Yes!"
(Me): Will you let me wear your clothes?
(Wynne): "Yes!"
(Gotta love her generosity at such a young age.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seen Better Days

What's up with this?
Check out my left eyebrow. It looks like I overtweezed, but I didn't. The hairs just don't grow on half of the browline. It's so weird, because this has only been the case for about 5 years or so. No injuries or scars there.

Hit your late 30s, lose half an eyebrow. Go figure!

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.--Isaiah 46:4

Weekend of Grace

Last weekend the boys went to a father-son retreat at Living Waters Bible Camp. A mere 90 minutes away from us is a place of respite, renewal, and recreation, nestled in a secluded valley east of Westby. Our friend Dennis is the executive director of LWBC, and I registered Mark and Cy for this weekend as an early birthday gift to my husband. Meanwhile, the girls and I ventured another 90 minutes north from camp to visit my sister Deb and her family on Lunde Coulee Lane. I prayed that the rainy weather would subside and allow the boys to enjoy skiing, tubing, and skating while we girls could sled the massive hills on Deb & Arlie's farm!

Alas, it rained most of the day Saturday, so we girls stayed indoors. But Deb & Arlie's is kind of like an ultra-comfy bed and breakfast-slash-rec room. There was plenty of fun to be had, such as the Wii, pool and puzzles with second cousins Eli and Evie,

and make-overs. Cousin Megan drove back home to help keep the girls entertained!

She did everyone's nails and even cut my hair. On Ally's new "do" Shae said, "You look like you're going to the PROM!" I think I speak for all of my daughters when I say "Thanks Megan, for the pampering. You ROCK!"

My hair was in desperate need of a trim. Meg really did a nice job, I think. The back perked right up!

The three little girls enjoyed a bath in Deb and Arlie's jacuzzi. This picture was taken BEFORE the jets were turned on.

Now watch what happened AFTER we turned on the whirlpool! Bubble-opolis!! I wanted to jump in there with them.

Yes, God showed His grace through Deb, Arlie, and Megan in their generous hospitality. You always feel right at home there. What better definition of graciousness?

Sunday morning we awoke to big, wet snowflakes. I was so thankful to worship with Deb and Megan at their home church in Ettrick. Worshiping with my goddaughter (Megan) and having Paige sit next to her godmother (Aunt Debby) made it extra special for me. We left directly from the church to head back to camp and pick up the boys. God definitely showered His grace upon us as we traveled southeast through slushy, slippery roads. I lost control of the Suburban once on a curve and thankfully was driving about 30 mph, with 4 wheel drive, and with no oncoming traffic. The girls sensed that Mom needed to concentrate, and they were graciously QUIET on that drive down to camp. We had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful woods of the Black River area, all the while reminded of our own minute of "scare" as we drove past an overturned semi truck (which, thankfully, was a one-vehicle, non-injury accident).

The theme of the weekend at LWBC was "Legacy of Grace". I had worried that Mark would not enjoy the time at camp, due to poor weather and being such a private person. However, upon our arrival to pick them up Mark said, "I would not trade this weekend for anything". Cy was full of stories of the awesome tubing hill, how they were in the broomball championship game, how they built catapults and had marshmallow fights, the delicious food, and how he couldn't wait to go back to camp.

The girls were a bit jealous when they saw the lodge filled with God's creation (including this T-rex model head) and the gift store. Stories of bubble baths and camp activities were exchanged as we loaded up the luggage and headed home.

Mark shared how proud he was of Cy, who was not shy at all about raising his hand and sharing his thoughts on the Prodigal Son story which was shared during worship. The parable that Jesus told in Luke 15 is an excellent example of God's unconditional love and GRACE. The father in the story goes out of his way to welcome home his wayward son, sacrificing his dignity to shower his son with grace and love. Mark's notes on the devotional time include these powerful sentences:

When we fail (and we do) our first reaction is to hide.
I need God's grace for my salvation and for life.
God loves me on my best day and on my worst day.
On my worst day, I am a child of God.
When I come to the end of myself, I am closer than ever to God.
What God wants most from me is trust.

How cool is that? I love that 5th line: When I come to the end of myself, I am closer than ever to God. Less of me = more of God. Even on my worst day, God loves me and gives me His grace. No amount of toys, money, power, fame, television shows, or work accomplishments can give me what God can give me -- GRACE. The things of this world will come and go, but God's love and grace will always be there for me. He is there, always. In the little things. In the rain. in the snow. In the bubble baths. In the marshmallow fights. In the moment of pride when your daughter sings a hymn of praise with her godmother. Or when your son offers his understanding of His Word.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.--Romans 5:1-2

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When Moms Get Bored

Welcome to the January 2010 edition of the American Girl/Boy Fashion Catalog. Photos courtesy of Fab Five Photography (with no mom assistance whatsoever). Editorial by Slacker Mom.
The start of a new year finds us in the gym, working out and shooting hoops. Here we see Basketball Boy working on his bunny shot.

Not to be outdone is Basketball Girl, ready to make a hookshot before she even sets down her dufflebag!

New Year means time to go back to school! Isabel looks smart in her new Christmas clothes. Looks like Santa brought somebody an Ipod, too. Lucky girl!

After a long day at school, it's nice to relax with a hot cup of tea. Cindy practices for her upcoming gymnastics routine while serving tea in her mint green colonial gown.

It's playoff time! Clark is ready to watch the big game and cheer on the Packers as they travel to Arizona to see which defense can give up the most points. Sigh.

Ah, the life of a runway model. Windswept hair, beautiful clothes, legs that go on forever...what's not to love? Well, if you look deep in Isabel's eyes, you can see the confusion. She's thinking, "Can I really frolic in the snow and stay warm in this get-up?"

Take a tip from your twin sister Cindy. You can stay warm and look cute at the same time. Snowball fight, anyone??!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner!
Here we see Gloria sadly waiting for some boy to work up the nerve to ask her out to dance. Oh, Gloria, it's going to be a long wait. Most boys would prefer a root canal to dancing. Just go out and dance like no one is watching!!

Now take Cindy, for example. No dance partner necessary. See how awesome she looks out on that dance floor?

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Cindy plays "spring break" and dreams of a warm-tropical island where the waves gently sweep her away...

...Clark dreams of flying around the world, scaling cliffs and dodging boulders...

...Isabel dreams of being a cowgirl on a dudette ranch...Remember, American Girl/Boy's theme is "Follow your inner star"!

Anything is possible!

Turn Off the TV; Turn On Creativity!

Yesterday the kids were home from school for teacher inservice/Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Sure enough, the children woke up early--ready to take in a full day of doing "whatever". Aside from the occasional skirmish, all five of them played really well for the entire day. I had to break up a few battles now and then, help look for lost toys, feed and launder, but by late afternoon I noticed something very peculiar. Nobody had watched TV. ALL. DAY. !!

When Wynne and I are home alone during the regular school days, the TV seldom breaks into our home. I turn it on for Wynne to watch her beloved Max & Ruby and Dora, but for the most part, we find plenty to do to occupy ourselves. On weekends and evenings, however, after the homework is done, I will admit that the TV gets too much attention. I admit it: the electronic babysitter comes into play more often than it should. So to have a "day off" from school and TV, I was pretty proud of the kids. They spent most of the day blowing up the house and converting it into American Girl-Boy-World.

Yes my friends, we have become a part of the American Girl cartel. I'm not even linking to AG because if you haven't heard of it, you will soon enough. It is a powerful empire where 18-inch dolls and accessories require parents to take out a second mortgage. Ha, ha, ha, You think I am kidding. I wish I were.

But the upside to it is that my children learn American history through their dolls and books, and they also use their imaginations to create miniature versions of everything from Nintendo DS players to basketball hoops.

And thanks to Craigslist and creative people who know how to sew, we get lots of mileage out of knock-off $5 dolls and replica outfits.

Our friend Pat Jones can take a look at the pictures in AG magazines or photos provided of my kids in their favorite outfits and reproduce 18-inch versions of them. Pat Jones is the sewing goddess I will never be!!

So the kids spent the day playing American Girl/Boy. For those of you who think that boys don't play with dolls, think again. There is not a feminine, dainty bone in this kid's body, but he loves to act out adventures with little Brett Favre, Superman, or Indiana Jones. He even has a tuxedo for his mini-me. You can look through Cy's clothing box and see all of the phases he's ever been through!

The kids played dolls all day. They even set up a "photo shoot" and created their own fashion magazine. After that, they used my digital voice recorder to create commentary for a book we'll collaborate on. The working title right now is "A Day in the Life of an American Girl", but I'm hoping they get a little more clever than that. After all, it's Creativity Day, right?

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?--1 Corinthians 3:16

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. King Would Have Been Proud

General Larry Platt didn't know what he started when he auditioned 34 years too late for American Idol last week. Or maybe he did! As a conservative, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Platt's opinion on baggy pants. Thank goodness our school bans such clothing! But our kids got to see some pants on the ground when we hit the mall this past weekend. (Mark and I were on some sort of suicide mission on Saturday when we caved into Ally's request to visit Borders bookstore.) At any rate, when we saw our buddy Brett's locker room celebration after the Vikings' big win over the Cowboys yesterday, we just had to put together our own rendition.(See below)

What better way to celebrate the equal rights of people across all classes and races, standing up against baggy pants and exposed boxer shorts? On a serious note, the kids and I talked about Martin Luther King and all of the freedoms we take for granted. If Dr. King hadn't taken the courageous stand that he did, my kids wouldn't know some of their friends. We may not have these (justified) feelings of confusion and anger when hearing about past oppression. We may not feel this surge of compassion and call to action to help our brothers and sisters in ravaged parts of the world like Haiti. Thank you, Martin and Coretta, for standing up for God's truth. Thanks for modeling Christ's unwavering love and courage in the face of hurtful opposition. Thanks for having that dream!

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.--Martin Luther King, Jr.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.--Jesus Christ, Luke 6:35

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the News

Our twins have made it into the newspaper over the past month. (In a GOOD way, not the court reports or anything!!) First, Shae was pictured asking Santa for her two front teeth. Santa's a little slow to comply with that request as of mid-January, but I'm sure his elves are working on it. Good thing the Chief Elf let Hermey set up a dental practice at the North Pole!

Then last week Paige participted in the elementary school spelling bee. It was for grades one through four, and Roosie was very nervous about being in it. I told her that I was proud of her for qualifying and "just have fun". Slacker Mom wasn't able to attend the bee, as I had a temporary loss of car keys. Thanks to my friend Astrid for taking photos like this one for me to share. Several people told me that Paige did a good job of speaking confidently and making it through a few rounds. She went out on the word "eye" which, in my biased opinion, is a pretty tough word to spell phonetically, anyway. You go girl!

In totally unrelated news, my prayers go out to the people of Haiti. What a devastating blow to an already devastated country. The faith of the survivors, singing and praying as they await help, is a sure testament to God's hold on them...and so now it is up to the rest of us to show His love in return.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.--2Corinthians 1: 3-4

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

He Spreads the Snow Like Wool

Praise the LORD!
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
The LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion,
for he strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.

He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?

He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD. --Psalm 147

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dare to be Polite!

One thing Mark always stresses with the kids, especially our son Cyrus, is to offer people a firm handshake and look 'em in the eye. None of this weak, no-eye-contact stuff. So last week when Ally received her DARE graduation certificate, I was so proud of how she looked both her classroom and DARE teachers in the eye and said "thank you" as she shook their hands. The second from the last to receive her "diploma", she was one of the few who had the courage to make eye contact, smile, and thank her teachers. "Attagirl!" I said softly to myself, because nothing says "I don't care" or "I'm too wrapped up in my insecurity to even look at you for two seconds" like a grab-and-go award recipient.

Mark always makes sure to shake every football player's hand at his program's award ceremony (which he could just as easily pass off to his assistant coaches) and look the boys squarely in the eyes, so as to elicit the same response of care back from them. It's like saying, "Wait a minute! I'm not letting you off the hook so easily - you earned this award; I took the time to recognize you for it, and now I want to see if it really means anything to you. Don't just walk away from me without some eye contact."

Deputy Nate Gallagher did a fantastic job of explaining the DARE program and commending the fifth and sixth graders who took part. Each child wrote an essay, and two of the kids were selected to share theirs out loud in front of all of their parents. Although not selected for that honor, as a doting parent it is my pleasure and pride to share an excerpt from Allison's essay:
I pledge to be responsible in making my decisions about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs...when I grow up will be able to go back and say "That was a good choice." I will also use my ways to be in charge and say no and go.

The kids really enjoyed being around Officer Nate. They even had him sign the back of their t-shirts! I couldn't help but wonder, what an awesome thing to have this positive relationship with local law enforcement. It would be great if he could come into the school every year through senior year as a follow-up!
Of course, the most important adults in the children's lives are their PARENTS. It is my job, more than anybody else's, to stay involved with Ally, to pull out that pledge she wrote in 5th grade every now and then, and most importantly, to live a life free of contradictions and poor choices.
I'll take that dare! (with God's help!)

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.--1 Corinthians 11:1

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Girl for All Seasons

To my older 4 kids: I know that the blog might get a little Wynne-heavy at times, since she is home with me while you're at school, and I apologize for that.
To everyone else: Isn't my baby adorable? (Yes, she is almost four and yes, she is STILL my baby. Get off my back!!)

Yesterday started out as one of those beautiful, fluffy snowfall days. It wasn't too cold, and it was just gorgeous outside. Wynne and I hit the hill for some sledding, and of course I had to run back in and get my camera.
What child doesn't love the white awesomeness of winter? Wynne is no exception. She even pulled the sled back up the hill a few times. (In between whining "Carry me, Mom!!!") She had a ball running after Mickey to get a picture.

And then there was the time she pretended she was a camel clomping through the desert sands. Where she got the camel idea, I don't know. But it was a pretty good rendition (from my limited experience with camels, limited as in zero)!

Not even 24 hours later, Wynne is ready for summer with her watermelon dress and sun hat. Truly a girl for all seasons!

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven--Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Didn't I Think of That?

I could have been rich! Rich, I tell you!
If only I would have thought to market cardboard boxes as children's toys. I mean, it's so obvious....and the possibilities for children's creative play are endless.

When I was Black Friday shopping with my sisters and mom and saw these in the Menards ad, I knew they would be a big hit. Since my sister Julie's kids had 2 of my kids' names in the cousin exchange, Julie picked up the convenience store and the house. We left the castle for another day.

The best part is...all five of the kids worked on them at the same time. Sure, there was some arguing and taping involved. But overall, what a great deal. And there's still plenty of play-life left in them. Not to mention the additional square footage that could still be colored. (I mean, look at those walls, just begging for a fresh coat of Burnt Sienna or Blue-Green or whatever.)

The sheer Genius of it. Somebody out there is laughing all the way to the bank!

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for He commanded and they were created. --Psalm 148