Friday, August 28, 2009

Favorite Invention Friday!!!

My mom provided the suggestion for this week's celebrated invention. Over a year ago, she was laughing at me upon realizing that I had grown accustomed to calling this contraption a "chip clip" because that is its primary function in our home. She even gave me 40 of them on my ... 29th birthday :) . When did I transition from "clothespin" to "chip clip"? No idea...but it happened. Now, we do use it as a clothespin when we are camping. Something has to keep those wet towels and swimsuits from hitting the ground. My husband has used them to secure lights to the awning on the camper. So, maybe my summer uses will lead me back to the original nomenclature...or maybe not (they are still used as chip clips when we camp).

Do you have any unusual uses for the humble "clothes pin"..."chip clip"..."bomb diffuser" (I bet it was used for this purpose on more than one "MacGyver" episode)?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kid Art

In a wonderful class for homeschoolers, taught at the local art institute, my now 9-year-old was inspired to make this portrait of her cousin, Abby. This piece won the Grand Champion award in the People category for her age group at our homeschool group's art fair.

Created Spring 2009 with various papers and paint.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life is Great...

...because I can listen to my 11-year-old sing LOUDLY with this song and then discuss its meaning. LOVE this song!! Gives me instant goose bumples.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I love to watch a child's imagination in motion!! And it can come out in quiet, pretend play with toys...or loud, rowdy play out on the trampoline. Perhaps it has been spilled on to a piece of paper and can now be called art. However it shows up, I am always surprised by what they come up with. It reminds me that playing and pretending are fun and limitless.

My second daughter is always exercising her imagination. Her history includes cutting shapes out of paper which look meaningless or abstract to anyone else. But she colors them and they become characters in her mental plays. She can sit quietly at the table playing with pens or plastic spoons...each one taking on a personality and acting out some adventure created in her mind. One day, I turn the corner from the hallway and find her in this position.

"Rachael, what's wrong?"
"What are you doing?"
"Pretending to be a starfish."


Friday, August 21, 2009

Life is Great...

....because I have the privilege and pleasure of listening to my kids' prayers.

Favorite Invention Friday!!!

I have been in love with the SnapCapp from the moment they joined our family. We received them as a gift at Christmas from my sis...I mean...Santa. We each had our own color to clearly mark our beverage. It was now possible to save the cans the kids opened and didn't finish. I could throw my can of Diet Coke into my purse with the contents suffering no soakage! It helps keep carbonation...and it will keep any rogue insects out. Why didn't I think of this?!

Now, they are not perfect. They can not be washed in the dishwasher. If the lid is not on tight and the can is knocked over onto the floor at the basketball game, there will be fizzing and beverage loss..I've heard ;) . If you put it on before you open the can....good luck. You do have to mangle the can a little to get it off (Michiganders must be careful not to mangle the UPC code read by bottle return machines...if the dime is important to you). And if the can is full and still closed, I said...good luck. With all that said, though, I have to admit that the good outweighs the bad. I love our SnapCapps!!

So, where do you find this little treasure? Is it strictly bounty from the North Pole? Just do a search for "SnapCapp" and you will find sites you can order them from online...or just keep your eyes open at convenience stores, gift stores and gas stations.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shift Out of Reverse

The hardest person to forgive is often yourself.

From "Morning Jam Sessions" by Betty Malz...
There is no reverse gear in the the Christian race. The saddest words of tongue or pen are these What might have been. Stop punishing yourself. Even in a court of law, a man can be punished only once for the same crime, while we keep looking in the rear-view mirror of our lives. If you keep looking back, you will run into something and cause a wreck. Godly sorrow worketh repentance, but only one application is necessary for the cure. Get out of reverse. Your are "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). Paul said, "I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me."

Don't let others remind you of your past, either. Tell them, "I distinctly remember forgetting all that!" And then sing to yourself this song of declaration: I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kid Art

I woke up this morning thinking about this picture that my now 4-year-old drew and colored last spring. I love the shapes...the colors she used...their hats. Just not sure why they are not happy...nor sad...nor mad...just emotionally neutral...which is not her style.

Created Spring 2009 with markers.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"I Guess You'll Have to Leave"

The youngest was loudly complaining about her oldest sister..."She's not my sister! I only want Rachael as my sister!...etc." Over and over again, loudly and with tears. Why all the drama, you may be wondering. Now brace yourself, friend. The issue is that the 11-year-old makes the 4-year-old bounce too high and too much on the trampoline due to the difference in their sizes. Mmmhmmm...too much fun and adventure, I guess.

Weary of the inconsolable noise, I finally told her "Well, she moved in were I guess you'll have to leave." Peace was soon achieved.

I know...I should be writing parenting books, shouldn't I? :)

Favorite Invention Friday!!!

Last year when we got our camper, with a small inoperative refrigerator, my folks loaned us this baby. And it has been a lifesaver on many a camping trip!! It's a cooler that I can plug in at home to get it cold, fill with groceries, plug it in while it is in the car to keep it cold and then plug it in once we are set up at the campground. I love it!! We don't need anyone managing the ice so that no yummies perish! We did get that fridge in the camper fixed...but have found that we still need the cooler to help haul enough food and drink for a weekend.

And since we are "storing" it for my parents (Hey! They told us that if they need it, they know where to find it. After all, they buy much bigger refrigerators for camping...wrapped in a much bigger RVs.), we have found it useful for non-camping road trips. For my husband's recent weekend trip, I loaded it with stuff for sandwiches, fruit and breakfast fixins'. He plugged it in for the trip in the car, then carried it to his room and plugged it in there. He was able to break bread in his room throughout the weekend, saving money and time...two of his love languages.

Suffice it to say that, when this thing is called home (to my parents or the curb), we will be looking for another one. It will pay for itself with saved bags of ice and less frequent meals wrapped in paper on the road.

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

She's 4 Now...

I can't get to sleep tonight. No idea why...cold medicine...Emv (energy drink) consumed too late in the evening...or my brain is busy thinking about my youngest. Four years ago tonight, I was in a hospital being induced to deliver my third child. It was the end of a long road to add another roommate to our family. There was a gap between older siblings and this child due to life's dramas. The pregnancy had been filled with some drama itself and, before this day would be through, so would her entry into the world. And she has been a firecracker ever since. I believe God is sovereign and His timing is perfect. He had to hold this one in heaven for just a little while longer so that we would appreciate His gifts in her. And so that her sisters would be old enough to offer empathy rather than retaliation over some of her antics.

Last night, I asked her dad what he loved about her. His answer..."her commitment". She shows this commitment on a daily basis by her willingness to go to the mat over whatever is important to her at the time. His answer gave me some much needed perspective. You see, it has often been her commitment that has tied my day up into knots. I am not usually enthused about dueling with her over what she wears, what she eats, what she wants to do now, where she wants to go, etc. But, if I can keep a long term vision, shape her heart with the help of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, then she will be a passionate instrument for God someday. And that's what I want for fulfill the special purpose for her life as designed by God.

So, I will enjoy those curls and eyelashes. I will laugh at her songs and hang her art up on the wall. I will do puzzles with her and applaud her "Pledge of Allegiance". I will try to keep life in perspective and thoughtfully choose the "hills to die on" with her. I will remind myself to enjoy these days...slow them down...because they are fleeting.

Happy birthday to us...the birthday of being a familly of 5.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Favorite Invention Friday!!!

I know that so many people have these little contraptions. You can't walk through a mall without seeing a teenager walking along in their own little world, focused only on the path they walk and the noise bouncing from ear to ear.

My focus here isn't really about the iPod specifically, but on the MP3 concept. When going on road trips, it used to be a big ordeal to pick out and store the desired 8-tracks...cassettes...CDs. Thank goodness no one ever had a turntable in the car! Now, I just grab my iPod and the FM transmitter (I will feature that sometime) and we are off. I have enough selections loaded to keep everyone in the family happy! I have country, 80s rock, High school Musical, AC/DC and Air Supply! It's always a little schizophrenic to listen in the shuffle mode because you never know what you are going to get next. (I have found that some of the songs that I enjoyed in my youth, really are not appropriate for kids when you listen to the lyrics...easy enough to skip ahead, though.)

I LOVE that I can carry my favorite tunes, educational audios and episodes of the Office with me! And I haven't even tapped into the treasure of podcasts yet.

On a recent road trip, I enjoyed a special moment with my iPod and my 11-year-old. We were on our way to Arkansas for a family reunion, with my mom, sister, nephew and two younger daughters. During some leg of the trip, she and I were together in the seat located in the way back. After several miles of chatting, I put my earphones on and shuffled. When a HSM song came on, I passed an ear bud over to her and we sang together. After that, a Garth Brooks song came on about dreams being like rivers. I told her that her dad liked that song and we discussed it's meaning. Next came a song from my first date with her dad. It was so fun to relive these memories with her...discuss some of the poetic lessons of life included...create a new memory with her. I certainly didn't see that when I clicked "Add to Cart" last year.

Note: You can buy refurbished iPods here. You might have to be patient and wait for what you want. But, you will save money and they still have a 1 year warranty on them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Timing is Everything

In case it has not come across clearly in other posts, I have a three-year-old (four next week...yikes!) with a lot of personality and opinion. She can put up an admirable battle for her position, whether she believes it's her turn immediately or she does not want to finish her dinner before having a snack. When she doesn't get her way, she will stick out her lip, drop her shoulders, slink away or shriek, turn red, get physical (with her sisters). Last summer, we had left the beach earlier than she would have liked. She screamed "No" on the drive all the way back to the campsite and continued after all of us got out of the car and closed the doors. We called her the princess of "No" that day and quipped about how we looked forward to her running out of stock of the word. It is often difficult to get her attention or interrupt this process...but it always seems to be the time I choose to define the terms of obedience or kindness or patience to her. Needless to say, she never hears a word I say or learns from my brilliant lectures.

Today, she and I were cuddled up reading the story of the three bears and Goldilocks...discussing the wrongs committed by the flaxen-haired young lady. It suddenly struck me as we cuddled and whispered together, that it might be the perfect time to discuss what I love about her, define those fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) to her and point out the times she has practiced them beautifully. We chatted about examples when she would have the opportunity to show how she could obey and that obedience was still expected, even when it was not what she wanted to do. It really was a pleasant interaction for me...memorable. I will now have my eyes and ears open for additional opportunities to teach her gently and pleasantly...then it will be a little easier to call those lessons to mind when the storms hit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Snap Judgment

From "Morning Jam Sessions" by Betty Malz...
Avoid hasty conclusions and snap judgments.

... The Bible says there are three things that cannot be recalled, brought back or returned: a shot arrow, youth, or a sharp word spoken in haste. "Their tongue is an arrow shot out; it speaks deceit; one speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait" (Jeremiah 9:8).

Let's not lie in wait to make snap judgments.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feelin' Dusty

I understand that no one will ever be bragging about my housekeeping skills. And it's not because I wasn't raised in a well-kept home. My mom was very disciplined about her weekly cleaning and we were expected to help. I even subscribe to the Flylady's website and have read her book. I love her ideas and principles, just haven't implemented them very well...yet (I am optimistic). I do not like to clean. I try to keep the house from getting buried and I pull the vacuum out when my mental buzzer telling me how long it has been since I last vacuumed goes off. I know I need to be teaching these life skills to my three kids because they will have homes of their own someday and I don't want them to be the roommate everyone talks about...and I am working on the plan for that.

What always surprises me and convicts me, though, are the unexpected places where I find dust. This may be where my mom let me down in the training arena. For example, in the bathroom, we had to shake the rugs, clean the sink, tub, counter, toilet and mirror, dump the trash and sweep the floor (let me know if I am forgetting anything, Falula). But not once did she have me dust the top of the TP holder. Imagine my surprise on the day I found dust on the TP holder in my own house. I had never even thought to clean that. And those six panel doors that sounded like a great idea when building our house? Well, those six panels have 24 corners that can hold dust. I really am seeing the practical reasons for going with a very modern decor -- flat surfaces, minimal stuff to dust, no grooves or ridges.

So, I know where some of my dust is but I am always finding new places where it hides. It is the same with my life. I know, generally, what areas of my life need some polishing...but sometimes I am surprised when a new issue pops up. This past week, a girlfriend who I respect immensely as a wife/mom/friend, paid me a wonderful complement in regards to my parenting. My heart was instantly convicted because I know that I am still a work in progress in that area of my life. I know that I would be embarrassed for others to see my moments of impatience and frustration with my own children. And if I would be embarrassed for others to see it, shouldn't I be embarrassed for my children to see it? I am...but it still happens. Perhaps there's dust bunnies in the corners of my role as a wife. They show up as a poor attitude or an uncooperative or unsupportive spirit...maybe a flash of martyrdom because "he doesn't understand what I do all day". Well, that's when I need to cry a river, build a bridge and get over it. I am a blessed woman because I get to stay home and spend these wonderful years with my daughters...and it is thanks to him and his sacrifice.

Just as furniture needs to be repeatedly dusted, so do my skills and attitudes relevant to my various roles as wife, mom, teacher, friend, daughter, sister, etc. I have to be regularly reading books or listening to CDs that help me in these areas. I also need to be associating with those that have the fruits in those areas so that I can learn from them. I am blessed to have my mom, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-laws and friends that I do, because I am able to learn from each of them.

There is one other key ingredient to effective dusting. As this post was coming together for me mentally, I pondered that we don't have any cleaning solutions, like Endust, to keep the dust away in our lives like that product does for furniture. But then I realized I do. I can read my Bible...I can pray...I can hand over my dust to Jesus and he will help me clean with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Any day that I can start out with some quiet time...reading some Scripture...a devotional...writing a prayer out in a journal... that day is going to go much smoother. I can ask that my dusty spots be revealed to me and for the help to clean them up. That is way better than Endust.