Wednesday, December 24, 2014

White Christmas

Apparently I made a "typo" on our little car note.  I'll blame it on sleep deprivation.

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I took a trip to the local post office.  The woman helping us struck up a conversation with Joshua.  They talked about Christmas and all the things he was looking forward to.  He said he wanted snow.

As we left the post office the woman said to him, "I hope you get that snow you're hoping for on Christmas."

It's been a few weeks and we had to drive 2,500 miles, but from the looks of my parents' back yard, I think we will be enjoying a white Christmas after all.


Grampa, Claude, and the kids built this fort in the yard yesterday.  That was before the snow started falling.

Early last week I received a phone call from my mom.  My grandfather had been taken to the hospital and things didn't look very good for him.  By Tuesday he had gotten worse, and on Wednesday he passed away.  It all seemed very sudden.

As we had updates from parents through the week, Claude and I were talking about whether or not we should (or even could) travel to Montana to be with my family during this time.  On Wednesday afternoon we decided that we could do it.

We have talked about taking a road trip this way for quite some time, but it always seemed out of reach.  The driving time is about 36 hours - not a short trip by any stretch of the imagination.  To have the time off work and the money to afford the trip never seemed like a realistic possibility.

But last week we realized that with Claude's days off over Christmas and New Years, we had the time.  But time is not the only resource needed for a long road trip.  After a long distance move and buying a new vehicle, did we have the money for the trip?

Yes, we did, because God's provision abounds even in the midst of major expenses.

On Saturday morning we loaded the kids in the van and started driving.  Joshua and Hannah were so excited about the trip that they got up around 5:30am, dressed themselves, changed Jer and Rachel's diapers, and even got the little ones dressed.  Amazingly, we left on time that morning!

We told the kids how many days we would be driving, but some of them still thought we would be at Grampa and Gramma's house that night. 


We tried to only stop three times each day, including our overnight stop.  Of course, we had some unplanned stops, but the entire Crew only unloaded three times a day.
These photos were from our last day at a rest area in Sheridan, Wyoming.  I think I can understand why people move out there.  It is some of the most amazing scenery I have seen!

After three very long days of driving, we are enjoying time with family.  The kids are enjoying playing with cousins, getting to know the dogs, and playing outside as much as possible.

We do, after all, have a very long return journey.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wasabi Peas

Photo from

Mmmm...wasabi peas.

Great for adults.

Not so good for 2-year-olds.

And how would I know?  Well, today in the midst of the older kids and I working on some projects Abigail, Jeremiah, and Rachel were keeping themselves busy.  When a 4-year-old is in charge, it's never a good thing.

First, they got into the locked bedroom and dumped out the entire, neatly organized container of hair ties.  We use those teeny tiny clear ones.  There were about 500 on the floor.  Ugh...  Oh, yeah...and they also opened Joshua's container of teeth that he has lost.  It's a little weird to be asking your young children where their older brother's teeth are as you desperately search a giant pile of hair accessories.

After the hair tie incident the Three Stooges managed to find my envelopes of neatly organized printed photos.  We have thousands of photos on our computer, but only a few printed out.  Today every hard copy we own was spread out over the longer organized.

And sometime in the middle of these endeavors, someone opened the bag of wasabi peas.  Joshua and Hannah were introduced to them last night and Jer decided he wanted to try them this morning.  I have no idea how many he ate.  What I do know is that he walked into the bedroom chomping on a mouth full.

"Aren't they spicy?" I asked him.

"No.  They just sting my tongue," he replied.

And now I know something else about wasabi peas that I wish I didn't.  I won't go into any detail, but I will say that I changed a lot of diapers this afternoon.

This parenthood thing will either give me a stronger stomach or mold me into an incredibly picky eater.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life with the Little Crew

The Little Crew is enjoying dinner right now.  In an effort to not have children awake at 10pm, we are attempting earlier dinners for the youngest three with some staggered bed times until all of the kids (Lord willing!) are in bed by 8pm.  It doesn't always work out, but at least we're trying.

So, while scarfing down some spaghetti and salad, Jer and Abby are discussing the finer things in life - funny-to-them Bible names.

"Shem and Ham and Potatoes," Jer said.  "I like Shem and Ham and Potatoes!"

"Jer, those are not food names," I replied.  "Those are people."

And then Abby asked the question that must have been on each of their minds, "But why do people have food names?"

Last week Jeremiah looked into my eyes, and in a very serious tone, asked me, "Mommy, why are your eyes black?  Is it so you can see in the dark?"

Often Jeremiah comes to tell me what's on his mind.  His conversations usually go something like this:

"Mommy, I was sitting.  But I wasn't."

"I ate some apple.  But I didn't."

"I'm tired.  But I'm not."

Needless to say, there is usually some detective work to be done in order to figure out with part of his statements reflect the truth.

In other news, Rachel is learning to communicate more and more clearly.  She nods her head to say "yes", she grabs my hand and leads me all over the house to help her find things, and she sometimes says, "Yeah!"

Joshua just came downstairs.  Jer and Abby told him that they are having Dutch Babies (aka-Oven Pancakes or German Pancakes) for dinner.  This is a favorite of all the kids and to miss out would be a trajedy of epic proportions.  A bit distressed and perhaps feeling left out, Joshua came to complain to me about it.

"Mommy, Jer and Abby said they're having Dutch Babies for dinner.  Is that true?"

"Ummm...have you checked their plates, Joshua?"


You better believe the little ones got a good laugh out of that!

And before I go...

Abby: "Rachel has a little tummy."

Jer: "I have a big tummy."

Abby: "But not as big as mine.  Mine is BIG!"

They speak the truth...their tummies have now consumed, between the three of them, 5 helpings of spaghetti and meat sauce and half a plate of salad.  If they were truly eating Dutch Babies for dinner, they probably would have polished off half the tray by now.  Then Joshua would really have something to be upset about.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Melody in My Heart

Each evening, Claude asks the kids what they liked or disliked about the day.  The answers vary depending on the child and their age.  For example, Abby went through a stage a year or two ago when she always said her favorite part of the day was going to the park.  It didn't matter if we went to the park or not that day, it was her favorite.

Now Jeremiah is in that stage of life.  His favorite part of the day is almost always riding the "Kettle Car" - Kettler Kettcar.  There are days when he doesn't even go outside, and yet he insists that's what he did and liked.

Today Hannah said that her favorite part of the day was church because she learned a new song in kids' church.  It goes like this...(Use 2005ChewCrew to view).

Sing a Melody to the King of Kings from Chew Crew on Vimeo.

Watching her sing this song reminded me of another time Hannah was singing (and swaying from side to side).  Makes me smile every time!  :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Problem with Having It All Together

I'll preface this by saying that I am not currently in this specific situation, but I have been and boy is it a Catch-22.

See, to some people I have it all together.  Or at least I think they think I have it all together.  Why do I think this?  Because they talk to me as if I know what I'm doing and I'm somehow rocking this motherhood thing.

A few years ago I was going through a very tough time.  I'm not sure what was up - I could have been depressed, or overwhelmed, or lonely, or discouraged, or all of the above.  Most mornings I woke up much later than I should have, stared across the floor and thought, "How could this be my life?  What am I doing here?  What am I accomplishing?  I can't do this!  Can't someone else be the mom today?"

I struggled with finding purpose - even though I knew in my head the grand purpose of raising little ones.  I struggled with finding strength - even though I knew the One who could sustain me.  And yes, I was praying every moment that He would help me through the day.  I struggled with being joyful - even though I was actually happy being a stay-at-home mom.

I often think of that time as treading water.  I was out in the deep end, the shore was out of sight, and I lacked the strength to swim.  So I treaded water, doing my best, prayer by prayer, day by day, to keep from drowning.

To others it may have looked like I was doing just fine.  What they didn't know was that I was a few strokes away from going under.  And even though I was as honest as I could be about it, not many people believed me.  They believed only what they saw - I was keeping my head above water.

During this season, people would compliment me on my mothering abilities.  And it killed me every time.

"You are so patient!"
"No, I'm really not.  In fact, I really struggle with patience."
"And you're humble, too!"

 If they only knew how I was actually feeling.  If they knew the challenges I was facing - perceived and real.  If they knew that I wasn't being humble when I said I wasn't patient.  I was telling the truth.  It was the only way I knew to share the fact that I really wasn't okay.

I didn't have it all together.

But when you look like you have it all together it's hard for others to believe that you don't.

In the end I didn't have the capacity to try and make people believe that I was on the cusp of drowning.  All I could do was call on the Lord to deliver me, moment by moment, day by day.  He knew the reality of my situation.  And He was faithful to get me through.

Being on the other end of that difficult season, I see how God used it to strengthen my arms for the task ahead of me.  Now that I developed all of those water-treading muscles I really do have it all together...NOT!

At least more of the stress is obvious to even the most obtuse observers.  I mean, who would think that a woman who can't remember her own phone number has it all together?