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A most powerful word.

February 27, 2015

Last week I found out that a membership to the Minnesota Science Museum gets you free admission to the Omnitheater.  I beat a path to the door and signed us right up.  On Tuesday we saw our first movie: “Flight of the Monarch”.  We got our membership just in time.  Last week was the last chance to see “Flight of the Monarch” before it was replaced with an exploration of outer space.  Charlie was especially enthused by the opportunity as he spent much time last summer observing “The Monarch” in it’s natural habitat: our garden.

The theater was packed, mostly with elderly guests.  We could only find four seats together so Annie sat in my lap. As I was thinking to myself what a milestone it is to be able to sit in a movie theater without worrying that we will be a disturbance, I heard from the seat to my left, one long word ring out in the silent theater:


I can’t say that I really blame Charlie.  Have you ever seen a Monarch’s wing up close? It is nothing if not worthy of a good long “DAAAAAAAANG!”  Although “Daaaaang” (held for five beats) is not my favorite thing Charlie has learned at Hope Academy, there are times when it is appropriate. Such as the sight of a Monarch’s wing.

I wonder if Ravi Zaccharias knows about Daaaaang?  I will never forget reading his book “I, Isaac, take you, Rebecca” before I was married.  In it, Zaccharias says that there is only one word in the English language that is appropriate to capture the emotion felt by a groom at the sight of his bride, the word: “Wow.”

Well, I would like to posit a second possibility for the groom experiencing this rapturous moment: “Daaaang.”

Below: In addition to an Omnitheater, the museum also has a newsroom.

photo (59)


Charlie’s Tooth

February 24, 2015

Charlie attempted to pull his own tooth before calling in the big guns: DADDY.

Charlie attempting to pull his own tooth:

Charlie’s Daddy Pulling His Tooth:

Snug as a Bug in a Rug Part II

February 23, 2015

The astute reader may have noticed in the picture of our children’s room attached to the last post that there are now four beds where once there were three.  I think a room with four little beds just begs to be called “the nursery”.  I called it “the nursery” for a long time.  I had to admit I held on too long when I heard long tall Charlie inviting a few guy friends to come over and play monopoly in “my nursery”.  As it was beginning to evoke images of “short bus”, rather than Mary Poppins and Peter Pan, I made the transition to calling it a “room” instead of “the nursery”.

Annie has been gunning to graduate to the “kid’s woom” for quite some time.  But she was sleeping so well in her “tib” (crib), and it is hard to mess with success when you suffer as I do from Post Nocturnal Stress Disorder, or PNSD.

Annie made a strong case for her graduation: baiting me to agree that she is now a big girl, and then turning it on me. I walked into her trap every time.

For example:

Annie: “I will not go potty in my underwear because I am a big girl now, right?”

Me: “That’s right.  Big girls go potty in the bathroom.”

Annie: “Hooray! I am a big girl now, and I can sleep with the big kids!”

Her luck turned last week.  We were at the Hoffner’s and the girls were enjoying sliding down the steps on the bottoms, when Annie’s feet got stuck under her and she tumbled headlong down the steps.  Apparently, a tiny nail punctured her scalp causing a tiny but steady trickle of blood, which she referred to as a “poke hole”. Her two front teeth bit a deep crack in her upper lip through which you could see a little light.  After much deliberation I decided to get it checked out at the ER. As soon as we got home she announced: “My mouth is feeling better so I can sleep with the big kids now!”  That just made so much sense I had to agree.

Besides, when you tell a child she must continue to sleep in her crib until she is older and she responds with:

Are You Serious?


What in the World?

You have probably held out too long.

Below: Annie fast asleep, as opposed to her status each morning which she calls “fast awake”.

photo (57)

Snug as a Bug in a Rug Part I

February 2, 2015

We had only been home for Birmingham for a few days, and I thought we were settling back into a good routine, when the wheels fell off. Fortunately, they only fell off for a brief period.  But I can wreak a lot of havoc in a brief period.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Elisabeth is a delicate flower, and very “in-tune” with her body.  She takes great care to keep herself in tip-top shape. Last night at dinner, she asked for more water explaining, “I am trying to stay hydrated.”  As soon as she was done hydrating and was dismissed from the table, she began jogging laps around the coffee table stating breathlessly, “I need to keep my body healthy with exercise!”

She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to inspecting for possible ailments.  It is not uncommon for me to receive calls during the school day from a concerned Elisabeth needing to let me know that:

“My skin is looking pinkish.  Also I can see the veins on my hands more than usual.  And the area under my right eye is sore.  And today I had a sharp pain in my side.”

I have encouraged her to wait to report these concerns to me when she gets home and suggested that she didn’t need to let Mrs. Miller know unless it was a real emergency.  Some days she is more successful than others.  I overheard her telling Charlie as they got into the van one day last week:

“I really struggled with my body today, Charlie.”

Because she often “struggles with her body” I was not initially alarmed when, a few days after our return from Birmingham, she woke up and reported itchy bumps on her arms and legs.

She continued to itch and even I could see clusters of what looked like little bug bites around her wrists and ankles.  Each morning she had a few more.  On Wednesday night, while Dan was at church I started googling itchy bumps.  Almost right away, I read: “Are you waking up in the morning with bug bites? Have you stayed at a hotel recently?  You may have bed bugs.”

I gasped.  We did stay in a hotel recently, a Holiday Inn to be precise.  And not just any Holiday Inn. The Madison Wisconsin Holiday Inn Holidome: a hotel and waterpark in one!

I called the Holidome and was told that there had been no reports of bedbugs in several months…which I did not find reassuring.

So I started researching bed bugs.  And looking at pictures of bedbugs. And reading about people whose lives were ruined by bedbugs, and families displaced from their homes.

Within minutes I lost my head.

When Dan arrived home from church, he met Elisabeth’s bed in our front yard and our sheets, towels, dolls, and stuffed animals lined all the way up the steps from the basement waiting for their turn to be burned up in our drying, because heat is the only sure way to kill bedbugs.  There was also a thick layer of Diotomaceous Earth, which is a black dust that is supposed to be a natural insecticide, and which I keep a large supply of for the chicken coop, covering the floor of kids room.

Dan, who never loses his head, called out cheerfully as he came in, “Honey, is Elisabeth’s bed supposed to be out in the snow?”

I will never know if we had bed bugs or not. It is possible Elisabeth just had a little allergic reaction. As I write, the house is all put back together again, and my four little bugs are snug in their rugs.

A few of our more sensitive dolls and stuffed animals apparently had an allergic reaction to the heat in our dryer and ended up with little afros on their heads, but other than that there is no evidence that we had anything other than an ordinary Wednesday night.


I like to think that my quick reaction prevented an infestation.  If nothing else it was an early spring cleaning.


Dan Has a New Job …

January 24, 2015

Dan has a new job. Is it:

A. Snowman Builder?
photo (46)photo (45)photo (47)photo (56)I would like to point out that not only did Dan build this snowman in less than an hour, he did it with four little helpers which adds a real element of challenge.  And although I was surprised when I returned home from an outing to the yarn store to see our training potty on his head, I rather like it.  I was just wondering what to do with it now that our children are trained.  Ingenious!

B. Children’s book illustrator?

We have many children in our circle who have food sensitivies.  Betsy has written, and Dan has illustrated, a book for just such a child.  Why Can’t I Have A Cupcake features a little boy named Rory who is nervous about taking his gluten free snack to a Birthday party, only to discover that the other party goers have brought various snacks according to their own food sensitivities.  I know this plot has you on the edge of your seat, and I am sorry to leave you hanging but to read the exciting conclusion proceed with haste to Amazon and order it for the gluten free, dairy free, tree nut free, gmo free, chemical free child in your life today!

Why Can't I Have a Cupcake?


C. Director of Advancement for The Gospel Coalition?

To learn more about The Gospel Coalition, click here.

Lightning Round

January 19, 2015

Monday mornings, after Charlie and Elisabeth have been deposited at Hope Academy, and the little girls have been deposited with Patty and her cousin Kathy Harty (for a morning of baking, reading, puzzles, and more), I make another cup of coffee and have a little date with myself to update my virtual scrapbook: the blog.

Miss P and Annie are only in preschool one day a week this year because that is all Annie was old enough for at Hand in Hand. Because I have managed to go six and a half years without playing on the floor, and I don’t intend to start now, I elected to keep Miss P home this year to play on the floor with Annie, lest I be forced to break my streak of non-playing luck. However, this means that Miss P, who no longer naps becomes my little side-kick in the afternoons, and I no longer have a nap-time window to catch my breath and think about things like blogging. If I didn’t have Monday mornings it would be over. But when I am tempted to call it quits, I think about the lovely scrapbook I will someday have chronically the early years of my first three offspring and nothing at all for Baby Dear, who is just starting to get funny. So, even if I go in fits and starts, I must get at least a few years of Annie on the books.

The last five weeks, in brief, included:

  • The Hope Academy Christmas Program. Elisabeth gave a little reading: “I, said the sheep with the curly horn, I gave him my blanket soft and warm.  He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”  And Charlie was a reluctant shepherd.

photo (54)



  • Then I made my annual attempt at cookie baking just to see if anything had changed since last year.  It had not.  They were terrible, terrible, (53)So we delivered fresh eggs to teachers and neighbors instead.  Charlie proudly delivered his eggs to his beloved first grade teacher, Mr. Crowl, who exclaimed in front of the whole class, “I was just HOPING someone would give me eggs for Christmas! ”  This is the same teacher who organized the class Christmas party around various challenging marshmallow activities, then said, “Why not?” when the class suggested a marshmallow fight, and was the first one to start flinging marshmallows.  I will love Mr. Crowl (52)
  • We drove to Birmingham for Christmas.  After a long nap, we departed at midnight and drove straight through arriving in time for supper! The trip was not without incident, however.  To keep the children from stopping us for frequent bathroom breaks, I brought our little training potty in the van.  This always worked so well for Uncle Harold and Aunt Brenda.  I have such fond memories of road tripping in their van, covering myself with a quilt and availing myself of their travel potty well into the teenage years.  It did not go so smoothly for me this time around.  I blame the lack of sleep, but for some reason, I temporarily lost my mind and tried to empty the full potty out the long side window of the van, tipping from the front of the window.  Let’s just say not one single drop of urine made it out of the van. The remaining eight hour drive was very long. Annie pretty much summed it up when made our next gas stop, and I announced that we were going in to the gas station bathroom this time.  Annie said, at her usual top volume, “O’tay, but DOOON’T throw it in my face this time!” I think I will not include a photo of the carnage.
  • We enjoyed three weeks in Birmingham with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. photo (51)photo (49)
  • After all Annie’s Santa angst, he really  came through for her! She still talks about him daily, and can be heard muttering, “Santa is a nice guy!” photo (50)
  • Miss P took swimming lessons while in Birmingham, and we celebrated her progress by stopping at the Holiday Inn Holidome in Madison, Wisconsin, to enjoy the indoor waterpark.  Unfortunately, we arrived at the hotel quite late and as we pulled in Elisabeth discovered a sty on her eye-lid.  Being very “in-tune” with her body (to put a positive spin on it) Elisabeth was quite vocal as we entered the hotel, prompting noise complaints from the other rooms.  If anything, though, she probably helped distract from the presence of Corndog, who we typically shuttle in with the suitcases opting to ask forgiveness rather than permission. We hit the breakfast buffet at 7 and were waiting in the lobby for the waterpark to open at 8.  Everyone enjoyed it immensely.  Even Annie who must’ve gone down the baby slide 50 times in a row after clarifying, “Will this slide break my bones or not?”20150111_08234820150111_082330
  • We made it home. As usual, the prospect of resettling was daunting and for some reason always spurs me to reorganize our house…which requires Kettie…who answered the batphone just an hour after our arrival and was at our door in a flash.  She reminded me that I called her in the same state of confusion the day we rolled in last year, and asked if she should just go ahead and put this on her calendar for the next time we drive to Birmingham and back. Probably, as there is no time like following a 20 hour car trip to clean out every closet in the house and rearrange the furniture.
  • And that’s pretty much it.  For now.

Santa Claus: Friend or Foe

December 15, 2014

Annie has a love-hate relationship with Santa.  She talks about him daily, and often her first words in the morning are, “Did Santa come while I was asleep?”  Although she is ever hopeful that her stocking has been filled in the night, she can’t really decide if she wants to Santa to know where she lives.

“I will sit on his yap at the grocery store,” She explains, “But not in my home, because that would be scary for me.”

Then again, maybe she does want Santa in her home.  Last time she pinched her fingers, she was inconsolable insisting that she needed Santa to “Kiss it”.  And her latest nap-time protest has been, “Santa never puts girls down to nap!”

Annie marched in bravely to see the Macy’s Santa, fully prepared to sit on his lap. But alas, at the last minute, faced with the man himself, she choked, telling us sadly afterwards, “I did not sit on his yap.  I just sat on his drum-stool.”

Maybe next time.

Below: Evidence of Ambivalence.




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