Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day 2014

I guess we couldn't ask for better January weather:  on Monday it was in the 60's and then yesterday it snowed.  Plus we had all the excitement and build-up of the forecasters portending the BIG snow storm ALL day.... When the first few flakes finally flew at dinner time yesterday, cheers erupted everywhere.

Predictably, schools were closed, so Poplar Streams Academy called a 2-hour delay to allow for some neighborly play time.  :)  Clearly the snow was REALLY deep -- almost as much as we had in Moldova!

Strider insisted that this is his snow garb.
 The coziness of the house was magnified by the cold.  When Miles came in his big brother kindly made him a very warm fort.

 Special hot chocolate rounded out the fun.... And then the whole family cleaned the whole house.  For one of the few times I can ever remember, Wingate University actually closed today.  The kids and I all cheered at the news, and I'm sure Pete inwardly groaned.  The good news was he was here to be a Cleaning Team Captain.

Then dinner was capped off with this conversation, as we were discussing the genealogy of Jesus:

Me:  So what do you think about the fact that the only 5 women mentioned in the list of Jesus’ ancestors are all connected to scandals?
Kids, collectively:  I don’t know
Me:  C’mon, seriously, what do you think it means?
Strider:  We should all be criminals because Jesus likes criminals.  Oh – and you know what’s weird?  The Seahawks and the Broncos are both coming from states that legalized pot!
Me:  Strider!  Focus!
Then Miles starts making inappropriate noises with his mouth, and the conversation disintegrates from there.


Overall, it was a nice, cozy family day.  :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Arguing with the 4-year old

Before bed last night Miles wouldn’t stop crying -- because I wouldn’t let him listen to a CD – because he wouldn’t cooperate with his siblings.

 I told him I would sit with him in his room until he went to sleep, if he would stop crying.  Then we had multiple rounds of this dialogue:

Me:  Alright, you need to stop crying now, or I’m going to go downstairs.
Miles:  If you go downstairs, I’ll just get out of bed and go in Rayna’s room.
Me:  No, you won’t.  Because then I’ll get the spanking spoon to spank you.  Do you want that?
Miles:  If YOU want to hurt me…
Me:  No, I don’t want to hurt you.  I want you to stay in bed.
Miles:  But you’re making me get out of bed because you’re leaving.
Me:  I’m leaving because you won’t stop crying.
Miles:  But YOU are making me cry because you won’t let me listen to the CD!

At this point I start to get confused about what we’re arguing about in the first place…. But I’m pretty sure it revolves around the fact that we can’t agree on which one of us is in charge.

 I don’t think either one of us is going to concede that one.  Stalemate once again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mom is right (sometimes)

Over the years Strider has had many occasions to sheepishly admit, "Mom was right.  I was wrong."  He may try to deny it when he reads this, but we'll both know it's true.  To make sure he doesn't forget, I often make him say the words aloud.

 For instance, there have been more times than I can count when I will sign him up for a particular class/group/sport and he'll protest vehemently ahead of time that he will detest this new activity and he can't believe I'm even making him try it.

An hour after I drop him off, I will inevitably get to hear those wonderful words:  "Mom was right.  I was wrong."

So when Colsen started nagging me all last week about how much he did NOT want to go to the library to read to a therapy dog after I had signed him up to do so, I knew this was just the beginning of this lovely phase with him.

Before we went he insisted it would be embarrassing and awful, and he tried all kinds of arguments to get out of actually going.  But go we did, and within 30 seconds, he was happily reading to the dog -- of course!

 On the way home in the car, I rejoiced to hear my second son repeat the words, "Mom was right.  I was wrong."

Rayna, meanwhile, was excited before she went to read to a dog, and was excited while she was reading to the dog, and was excited after she read to the dog.  Of course!  I love having my compliant, enthusiastic girl in the midst of all these dubious boys!

We're signed up to do it again next month.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


This week I've enjoyed watching these kids interact together.

For reasons we won't go into here, Strider was tasked with a lot of yard-work this week.  Channeling his inner Tom Sawyer (which, let's face it, is not a big stretch), he manipulated motivated his brothers, and even a neighbor kid, into thinking that helping him was great fun.  There were several "try-outs" and races, and today, the third day of these activities, Colsen came running into me triumphantly yelling, "I got the job!  I got the job!  Strider says I can be part of the Leaf Business now!"

 Meanwhile, the youngest was also an expert manipulator team-player in the music arena.  I came down and found the scene below one day.  Miles was playing a song and barking out, "Louder!" and "Quieter!" at varying intervals to sweet Rayna who was pushing the pedals for him.

 Strider found this lizard one day and kept putting it on his and his siblings' heads.  I drew the line at putting it on my head.

But the sweetest moments this week occurred after the sun went down.  One night I went up to check on the kids after I thought they were all in bed (their own beds).  But instead I found this:
 (No one got in trouble)

Another couple of nights we found these two cubs all curled up together in one bed.
I love it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Garden walks

Little Strider at Kingwood Gardens in Ohio
While visiting the botanical gardens in Columbia recently, I started thinking about how we've taken our kids to various gardens many times in the last decade.

Now on this drizzly January afternoon, I decided it was a good day to give myself a good "garden walk" by finding the pictures we've taken over the years.  As I added it up, I realized we've been to at least 8 different formal gardens (in 3 different countries), for a total of at least 16 visits!

I'm not sure why we always seek out the gardens when we take family trips.... Probably simply because I love gardens and I want my kids to, too.

Gardens for me represent the wonderful intersection of God and His people.  God alone is the creator, but when nature is left untamed by people, the order and beauty are different. When these master gardeners step in and bring patterns and paths and places to ponder, they also bring peace. I think God smiles when He sees what people can do with His flowers and stones and trees and shrubs.

I read once that someone who is deeply grieving can be comforted by surrounding himself with beauty.  Even when not grieving, I think being in gardens still ministers to our souls, healing some of the daily hurts, showing us order in a disorderly world.

So we will probably continue to visit botanical gardens whenever we get the chance... or until the kids refuse to go anymore.  And then Pete and I will go by ourselves.  :)
Here are some of the pictures I found on my photo "garden walk" today:

I agree with Francis Bacon:
"God Almighty first planted a garden.  And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spa Day

Over the break, Strider decided he really wanted to attend a concert -- but found that he was broke.  We encouraged him to do some work to earn the money.... but, the rather full piggy-banks of his siblings attracted him instead.  He proposed to each of them that they could pay him to be his servant for a few hours, and he would pamper them and wait on them, in exchange for payment.

As our other kids have very few opportunities to go shopping and spend their money, they were actually quite amenable to Strider's proposal, so for the rest of the day it looked a lot like a spa around here.  People walking around in bathrobes, people getting neck massages.... and being served beverages like this while they were playing.

 The pampered ones, once their sessions were over, soon found that it was fun to be the servants, too.  Here Colsen is giving Rayna "a shampoo-- then a hot, steamed towel!"

It was a funny day to be sure... and the best part was I scored a few hand massages and neck massages for free.

Oh -- and Strider ended up making the $10 he needed by the end of the day.