Monday, February 28, 2011

On parenting, protecting, and loss of innocence

We, as parents, have chosen to shield our kids from as much as we can.  To preserve their innocence for as long as we can.

As much as it is possible, we want to be the ones to reveal to them the ways of the world, its disappointments and shortcomings.  In our time and in our way.  We can't - and in no way would want to - shelter them forever.  But childhood is so fleeting, and we choose to make it as pure as possible for them in this fallen world.

I learned a tough consequence of that choice yesterday.  And that is the fact that it hurts to have to be the one to ebb away at that innocence.  Even if it is the best for them, it hurts to be the one to do it.

I hadn't realized how little Dale knew about September 11th.  After reading a book that mentioned the twin towers, he asked, out of the blue, "Why aren't the twin towers there anymore?"

My heart skipped a beat, but I took a breath and answered him honestly: "Because someone flew an airplane into them."

Already, I was surprised at the lump in my throat at having to say that.  I hadn't felt that emotional about the attack since the day we watched the towers fall on live tv.

But if that question had been hard to answer, it held no comparison to his next two.

"Was it an accident?"

The tears that had sprung to my eyes at first now threatened to overflow and my throat got even tighter. 

"No. It wasn't an accident."

"Why? Why did they do that?"

Oh my heart.  It broke.  Right then, my heart broke for the innocence of my boy, the lives lost that day, and the evil that is so prevalent in our world.

I did my best to give a brief, yet thorough, honest, 7-year-old appropriate answer to why someone would do something like that.  My answer was relevant to what he already knows about our world, sin, and God's people.  He was satisfied with the explanation and went about his way.  Someday he will learn more about that day and those events.  He will learn more about other evils and disasters.  He will know fear and betrayal.

As long as we can, we will protect him from these things.  As long as they are young, we can often reassure our children with a hug, a cuddle, and simple explanations when unpleasant things must be learned or experienced.

While we are gradually revealing the evils of the world, we are at the same time planting in their hearts the Truth.  Showing them Justice and Holiness.  Teaching them the true source of love, and grace, and peace.  Teaching them of God's goodness, and His power to save. It is our prayer they choose to accept that gift of salvation.  To choose to live in complete surrender to God.

And as their eyes are opened to the world, and their hurts outgrow our hugs and simple explanations, they will have grown up from the decision of salvation into the maturity of a relationship with the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.  The One who offers much, much more than we as parents ever can.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up - February

It seems I only manage to get a "weekly" wrap up done once a month.  

Ah well, rest assured, we stay busy all month long.

Since January's wrap-up Dale:

- Finished his Beatitudes and weather lapbooks.

- Spent a good amount of time on Spelling City on Long E and Long O words

- Practiced measuring length

- Paused in his math book to better memorize some addition facts

- Began a study of dinosaurs, including making a fun activity book!

- Learned to play a new song on piano

- Learned how to work a sudoku puzzle


- Reviewed the letters P, Q, R, and S

- Colored, painted, cut and glued

- Began a dinosaur lapbook

- Read lots of books with me

Together we:
attended the first two meeting of the homeschool garden club at our local library, survived 6 whole days of Daddy being out of town, got back to living by a schedule again, saw our second and third snows of the year, finally made those snowman cookies, celebrated Daddy's birthday and Valentine's Day, finished reading Matthew, read the entire book of Mark, spent a week studying Leonardo da Vinci, and watched the last Discovery shuttle launch on tv.  Among other things.
Why yes that IS a giant chunk of cheese, thank-you-very-much!

In March I would like to:
- Finish dinosaurs, including Alan's lapbook and Dale's activity book
- Blog 5 days a week (with more pictures!)
- See Dale solid on memorized addition facts
- Finish our current *ahem* (4 month old) read-aloud (Heidi)
- Order prints for my January & February pictures

And Spring Break is also coming up this month!  We look forward to having Daddy home all day way more than we anticipate the break from school.

Linking up to:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Borrowing clothes from the Emperor's closet

We started a new schedule this week.  More on that in a later post, but first, this:

Dale is our current earliest riser, and we have asked him to get dressed and start a load of laundry first thing.  

This occurs around the same time that I am showering and getting makeup on and all that.

This morning I had yet to see Dale when I got into the shower, but as I was rinsing the shampoo from my hair I heard him thumping and bumping in the bathroom (where we keep the hampers).  

Upon questioning his presence, my hopeful suspicions were confirmed: he was starting the laundry!  Yay for Dale!

As he was leaving the bathroom he told me he had put my clothes in, too.  The pajamas I had tossed in the bathroom floor as I got into the shower didn't really need to be washed yet, but I kept my mouth shut and thanked Dale for his thorough thoughtfulness.  

I had no clue just how thorough he had actually been.

I conditioned my hair and gave it a final rinse before shutting off the water and grabbing my towel.  I stepped out of the shower and continued drying off, and then...

Well then one would want to get dressed, yes?

But then is when I noticed... my clothes were gone.

In an instant I clearly understood what Dale had meant when he said, "I got your clothes, too."  He really meant "clothes."  

I wrapped myself in my towel and made a mad dash for the laundry room, but it was too late.  Understandably, the last things into the hamper were the first ones into the washer.

I was careful not to let my haste and surprise come out as anger or displeasure.

I mean, really, how can you get onto a little dude for a simple mistake when there he is, doing your laundry at 7 o'something in the morning?  Even if your clothes are at the bottom of the washing machine while you stand wrapped in a towel in the laundry room.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This week Tyler is 6 weeks past his first birthday.
Yesterday Mom and I got together and she took some stinkin' adorable pictures of him.

Aside from the simple documenting of Tyler's babyhood, there was another reason I wanted those pictures made.

The pictures we took of Tyler were exactly 6 weeks and 5 days after his first birthday.  

This is Alan, exactly 6 weeks and 5 days after his first birthday:

This Sunday, Tyler was the exact age Alan was when he received his transplant.  Down the very hour.

Both boys were born on Tuesdays in the 11 o'clock hour.  Both boys' first birthdays were on a Wednesday.

Alan's call for transplant came in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, six weeks and four days after he turned 1.  

So all day Sunday we noticed the time and what had been doing at that time in January 2008.

All day we marveled.

We marveled that Alan had only been a baby when he underwent such a tremendous thing.  A baby much like, and yet so very different from his yet innocent little brother.

And we marveled, once again, at the many miracles we've witnessed these last 4 years.  I think we'll never stop being amazed and grateful at God's goodness he has given us in the gift that is this boy:
I love 'em all, with all my heart!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy Buffalo!

Happy Birthday to the man who mows our grass, 

maintains our vehicles, 

works hard to put money in the bank, 

takes our family to church, 

holds me up when things are going south, 

holds me close when they already have, 

logs many hours of Candyland, Sorry, Yahtzee Jr. & Battleship with the boys, 

changes a truckload of diapers, 

buys our groceries (literally), 

pays our bills (again, literally), 

principals our school, 

makes me laugh, 

makes me sigh,

makes me swoon,

helps me grow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

Waaaaaaaay back in the last days of 2009, I decided I would read through the Bible in 2010.

I liked the idea of using a plan similar to this one, that skipped around to a different place in the Bible each day of the week.

I printed this color-the-boxes-in checklist and got started!

And then 5 days into 2010 I had a baby. 

I kept reading, but my progress slowed from 3-4 chapters a day to 0-2.

Fall of 2010 rolled around, and my fun checklist definitely had a good number of boxes shaded yellow, but there was no way I was realistically going to finish by the end of the year.

So I reset my goal to finish by the end of the 2010-2011 school year and recalculated how many chapters a day I needed to read to finish by the end of May.

Somewhere along the way I reprinted and recolored my purty little checklist, because that purty little baby had torn it in two.  Somewhere else along the way I only began loosely following the 'skip-around' plan.  Mostly I'm just trying to fill in all the little boxes and absorb at least some of God's word at the same time.

And now, here we are at just around 100 days until the end of May, and guess what?  I have a LOT of Bible left.  All of Numbers.  All of the 1sts & 2nds of the Old Testament.  All of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  All of John,  Acts and Revelation.  A lot of little books and odds and ends chapters scattered throughout.  

But then, there are all those bloggers that have read the Bible in 90 days, so it certainly seems do-able that I can read about half of it in 100, right?  Right!

So today, once again, I recalculated my chapters per day goal (6 or 7) and off I go, for the final push!  May 31st, here I come!  

I'll keep you posted. 

Have you ever read the entire Bible?  How many times?  What was your method and how long did it take?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!

We started the day off with heart-shaped pancakes and pink milk.  The pink milk was an idea from my blog friend Jennifer.  The boys loved it!  I set Dale and Alan's places with hand-made Valentine cards and a little gift (bike license plates with their names).  They were so excited!

We got a little school done and then scooped Tyler up in the middle of his nap to head to the nursing home for my grandmothers 77th birthday.  In all the hustle and bustle of getting out the door, I didn't realize until halfway there that I had left on my houseshoes.  Is that a southern term?  I think the commercial word for them is 'slippers'.  At any rate, they aren't meant to ever leave the house.  I love mine.  They are so warm and cozy. They look like little brown loafers and have nice rubber bottoms.  I affectionately call them my 'old woman shoes'.  So I guess it wasn't that big a faux-pas to wear them to the nursing home?  At any rate, no one seemed to notice.

Since we'd all had birthday cake at 11am we skipped lunch and the big boys took advantage of the time to play outside.  
We sat down for some more school later, putting a little Valentine touch here and there, including using my heart stamp to decorate handwriting and matching pages.

Late in the afternoon we gathered around to make rice krispy treats.  Dale wanted to use red food coloring and we planned on cutting them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  

I always knew you were supposed to use fresh marshmallows.  I thought mine today were fresh enough, but apparently not, because the whole mess puffed up big and looked promisingly melty... and then they toasted.  Right in the pan.  And then formed some odd, mostly solid, toasty BLOB.  Ugh.

Later I ended up making a quick run to the store for a couple of things for supper (that hardly EVER happens around here!) and grabbed a bag of FRESH marhsmallows too.  

I whipped up another batch after supper and they behaved beautifully.  But I am kind of regretting the food coloring.  Pepto-pink rice krispy treats aren't that appetizing.  I'm hoping the heart shapes tomorrow will help. :)

How was your Valentine's Day?  Did you do anything special?  More importantly: did you eat anything special?  

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Best Meal Ever

I love food.  I love to cook it, I love to read about it, and mostly, I love to eat it.

Simple, comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, or pinto beans.

Favorite foods, like our family's chicken spaghetti.
A simple lunch the boys and I enjoyed a few weeks ago.

Party foods that are full of butter and cream cheese and bacon.

Italian food, Mexican food, Chinese food.

A big, old-fashioned hamburger grilled in the backyard.

I could go on and on, couldn't you?

Sometimes it is the food itself that is so good.  Often it is helped along by the company you share or the setting around you.  The food can be good because of its intricacy or because of its simplicity.

But I think I know if I could travel anywhere through space or time where I could find the Best Meal Ever.  I think about it every time I read the story, and wish I could be there to experience the food, the atmosphere... the miracle.

"And when he (Jesus) had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all." Mark 6:41

You know Jesus never did anything halfway.  No matter what shape the bread was in when it got to Jesus, it's a pretty safe guess that it was fresh and soft when it was placed in the hands of the people.  

Can you imagine?  After traveling on foot, far from home, and listening to Jesus teach all day, sitting down in the green grass (Mark 6:39) in the fresh air, surrounded by your family and friends, and eating food that Jesus himself had held and blessed?

With all the food in all the world, I don't think I could find a meal better than that one.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Melty cookies for a melty day

Once upon a time we'd get 2-3 inches of snow here in NE Texas and be tickled pink.  Some years you don't get anything at all.

Yesterday, as our THIRD snowfall of the year (following a 9-incher last year, and a 4 and a 6 earlier this year), we got 2-3 inches and from most people I heard one of two reactions:

"No! Not snow a-GAIN!"


"This is IT? What happened to the 4-8 inches they predicted for us!?"

We fell into the latter group.  While we are just as much ready for spring (or at least the spring-like weather that usually makes up Texas winters) as the next person, we're still loving the fun and novelty of the seeing the world blanketed white.  

Even so, the boys didn't go out even once to play in the white stuff yesterday, and by the time they bundled up and went out today there was as much grass showing as there was snow.

To soften the blow of the short-lived fun, we celebrated the melting snow with melting snowman cookies!

I didn't get my idea from any one particular place.  These cookies are all over the web, easily accessible by any search.

Start with any sugar cookie dough.  I like the kind that you don't have to refrigerate!
Pat golf-ball sized hunks into irregular circles and bake.

Frost with white frosting when cool.  I microwaved the canned stuff and dolloped it on with a spoon.  The boys used the back of a spoon to spread theirs.  I just picked up a cookie and tilted it every direction until it was smooth and mostly covered.  One can was plenty for around 18 fairly big cookies.

Spray a plate with cooking spray and place 6 - 8 big marshmallows on the plate. Microwave 15-20 seconds, just until the marshmallows begin to puff up.  Mine mostly only puffed at the bottom, which worked out fine.  The one I waited for the whole thing to puff wasn't so great.

Quickly and gently press a marshmallow (smooshy side down) onto each frosted cookie.  I think it is helpful to tip the marshmallows up just a little bit so you can see their faces better later.

When the marhsmallow is cool and the white frosting semi-hard, add faces, arms, scarves, etc. with squeezy frosting.

Eat 'em up. 

And share with your brother.
Or in our case, your brother and your local librarians. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Surviving the risks

(How awesome would it be if this post was full of pictures of my trio playing in the sunshine today?  How splendid if I had thought bringing my camera.  Yeah, well... I didn't.  But you can imagine, right?) 

I took the boys to the park today.

They've been climbing the walls lately with all the cold and mud and well.... all the cold.

With sunshine and temps in the upper 40's it was practically a heatwave outside.  We made our weekly-ish trip to the library today (on a Tuesday of all things.... we're so unpredictable these days), and then took a 2-block detour to the park.  It seemed like good planning to me, knowing that the next wave of snow and bitter cold will be here tonight.  What better place to get those kiddos out to burn some energy than a playground?

It turns out 49 degrees and very windy is not so much a heatwave once you are standing out in it.  At any rate, the boys were thrilled and stayed on the move the whole time.  Even Tyler stayed busy, once he finally got the hang of maneuvering in the deep pebbles.
First rattle out of the box, Dale slid down the big tall tube slide, and what should he push out the bottom ahead of him but a sheet of ice.  Under which was a puddle of ice-cold water.  You know what gets wet when you slide through a puddle, don't you?  Mmm-hmmm.  Poor Dale.  I asked him once if he was cold (he said yes), but he never complained... not even once.

Dale and Alan bounced around from one piece of equipment to another, their favorite being the old, real, fire truck to climb and play on.  I think Alan's second favorite must have been the tall climbing bars.  They started at the ground and made a half-rainbow up to a platform about 6 feet in the air.  In general I am not a hoverer, but today I held my breath watching Alan climb up and over the first time.  

He didn't think he would make it all the way, but with a little coaching and a tiny helping hand from his 5'8" mom, he did it!  If I thought I had been nervous watching him climb up, I had no idea what was coming watching him climb down.  Yes, with his confidence up after going up and down and up again, he was feeling rather brave.

My heart was in my throat and my insides clenched up tight watching his short legs and little feet take every step, with nothing below but gravel, and plenty of shiny green metal to bump all the way down.  This is the boy who is so tough.  He has had so much pain that I couldn't stop, even some that I signed the papers and handed him over for, that it is so hard to stand back and let him risk pain that I could prevent.  But how else would he remain brave?  How else would he get to beam that proud smile for making it up and over and back again?  

So I stepped back, to do nothing but watch.  And then, sure enough, he slipped.

With both hands on the side rails he took a step forward and his foot slid right off that narrow bar.  Watching now in slow motion, I knew even being a few steps away I could never catch him.  But I didn't need to.  He caught himself.  Instead of falling to the rocks below (and catching chin and who knows what else on the way down) he held on tight with both hands and straddled the bar his feet had just left.

The momentary look of fear and panic in his eyes was immediately replaced with relief, and then pride.  And then, was that...?  Yes... a look of enjoyment.  The risk-taker in him decided that was fun.  So he hoisted himself up, got back on his feet, and proceeded to re-enact the whole thing.  Again.  And again.  And then with variations.  With a smile that stretched from ear to ear.

I don't know if our chilly 30 minute romp at the park burned enough energy to get us through the snow days ahead or not, but the sunshine and the change of pace were both wonderful.  For all of us.  

As we headed off to buckle up, I think Dale said it best:

"Other than getting my rear-end wet, that was FUN!!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Healthy? No. Yummy? Yes!

We just finished a most delicious dessert/bedtime snack: 

Banana fritters!

The recipe was one of over 900 from The Big Banana Cookbook, a free download a while back from Homeschool Freebie of the Day.

It went like this:

We were hungry after supper.
I wanted something warm.
We had two spotty bananas.
I found this recipe.
I made fritters.
We ate them.
They were good.

You want to try some?

Banana Fritters

1/2 c milk
2 bananas, mashed
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tb margarine, melted
vegetable oil
confectioner's sugar

Heat oil in a large skillet to 365 degrees.

Combine milk and bananas in a mixing bowl.  Sift in flour, salt, and baking powder.  Mix in eggs and margarine.  

Place spoonfuls of batter in hot oil and fry until brown.  Flip fritters and continue to brown.  Remove fritters from oil onto paper towel covered plate.  Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve warm.

My changes & comments:
I added 1/4 c brown sugar to batter.

It may have been because my bananas were small, but I had to add a good bit of milk to make the batter thin enough to pour out of the spoon.  (Instead of plop out like thick cookie dough.)

The fritters were ready to turn when bubbles popped up on the surface like when making pancakes.

This recipe made around 20 fritters, give or take.  We loved 'em!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Good headline 'eh?  What do you bet at least one local news station has used it?  Pretty safe bet, I'd say.

When I was a kid, if I stood with the refrigerator door open too long my mom would pass by and say, "the penguins are coming!"  As in, I'd had the fridge open so long our house was going to be cold enough to attract penguins.  For years I misinterpreted that and imagined the penguins coming out to me from somewhere way back in the depths of our refrigerator.  Kind of like the wardrobe.  Except I hadn't read that book at that time.  ANYway....

All that refrigerator and penguin talk just to say... it's COLD!

While a large portion of the nation is under the blanket of the record-breaking, news-making blizzard, we only received the tip-tail end of that and got less than half an inch of ice and a whirlwind of snowflurries a couple of days ago.  But man, oh, MAN did we get the cold.  

Because the area Greg's school is in got a good bit more precipitation than we did, he has been home for two days.  Because we did not have any snow to have a 'snow day', the boys and I carried on with school.  Only, we had Daddy home.  It was nice.

And since it doesn't usually get this COLD in Texas (how cold? lows in the single digits. wind chills in the negatives, thankyouverymuch), there were some problems somewhere with a couple of power plants (little tiny problems like not producing any electricity) and a power regulating organization decided that to prevent massive long-term outages, we should all share the wealth.  So at 7:15, 9:30, and 11:30 this morning, we were without electricity for 15 minutes.  It amazes me that people all across the state were very very angry about this.  At our house it was all fun and games and Dale thought he was the luckiest kid in Texas to get to set all the digital clocks TWICE!  (Once after the first time it came back on, before we knew it would be going out again, and once late in the afternoon after we were sure it would not be going out again.)

Other cold kid fun included skating in the massive puddle at the end of the driveway.  Very rare that it gets frozen SOLID!  

I've just noticed I used a lot of ALL CAPS in this post.  Apparently ARCTIC BLASTS and all their FAR REACHING effects just call for that.  

And simply for good measure, here is one more picture of Tyler, because he's just THAT CUTE!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


My friend Sam (whose daughter Bethany had a liver transplant almost exactly 1 year after Alan) recently posted a helpful, handy, how-to video on good hand-washing.

You definitely don't have to have an immune-suppressed family member to appreciate the germs and illnesses you can avoid with simple hand-washing.  We instruct our boys (and follow this ourselves, as well) to rub both hands together, making suds for 20 seconds.  We either watch the bathroom clock or sing the ABC's to ensure we've scrubbed long enough.

I like how this video takes that a little further and gives good instructions on how to scrub.  Will we use this exact method every time we wash now?  Um... no.  But we will definitely take improved habits from it, and probably kill more germs in the process.  Yay!

The only thing that bothers me about this video is that she turns touches the faucet handle with clean hands to turn the water off.  What was the last thing to touch that faucet...?  Her dirty hands!  At home I always touch again, but in public I either use my elbow or forearm or leave the water running while I grab a paper towel for touching the faucet.  Obsessive germo-phobe?  Ohhhh... possibly. ;)

Many of you have probably already heard of the germs/hand-washing glitter demonstration.  I keep meaning to do that with my boys... maybe this week!  For those not familiar, you coat your hands with a light layer of cooking oil and then a sprinkling of fine glitter.  The glitter represents bacteria & viruses, and you get to see how long it takes to wash all those stubborn bits away!  Hmmm... I'm thinking one kid could 'wash' the quick & easy way and another could scrub up as in the video above and see who got rid of more germs!

Stay warm and stay well!