Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bunk Bed Jumping

One of my standard to-do items over Christmas break is to tidy up the digital photos from the year. Well, it did not get done the last two years so I have been fighting through a lot of photos purging, purging, purging, and then purging some more. This is always an activity that should be done with CrazyMom held at bay. If there are twenty shots of the exact same scene she will deem them all worthy of archival since each infinitesimally different expression on a child’s face makes every photo have infinite value.

In going through the photos, I discovered the following photos from May of 2007 which I did not take.

When I asked CrazyMom about them, she laughed and said, "Well, there was adult supervision," conveniently omitting exactly who that adult was.

These photos really were a great find. Now whenever CrazyMom says, "I don’t think what you are doing right now with the kids is an appropriate indoor activity" I can say, "Yeah, kind of like bunk bed jumping."

Friday, December 26, 2008

I’m Not White!

For over a year our family has been listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on audio CDs. We normally listen when we are all in the car, but the other day when we pulled into the garage from church we were at a particularly good part of The Silver Chair. I agreed that we could listen a little more once inside.

As we started reconvening around the stereo inside, K.D. was anxious to get started.

"Come on, Dad! Start playing it!"

"We can’t start yet. Not everybody is here," I replied.

K.D. looked around. "There are two brown kids and two white kids. That’s fair. Start playing it, please!"

"Hey, who are you calling white?!?" Little Foot objected. "I’m not white, I’m tan!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family Christmas

For all of you who read the last post and felt a twinge of "Oh, we ought to sleep under the Christmas tree, too" I have just two words for you - forget it.

OK, I’m back now. Just as I wrote the words "forget it," Anna called out and CrazyMom and I dashed upstairs to find Anna about ready to vomit . . . again. CrazyMom is super fast and would have made it to the bathroom earning a perfect score of 10.0 for vomit control except that she ran Anna and herself full bore into a closed bathroom door. It sure is a bummer that the night light in the hall is not brighter. CrazyMom still scored an impressive 8.7 on the maneuver because she did not drop Anna and was somehow able to prevent any unwanted liquids from hitting the carpet. Unfortunately, most of it was inside of her sleeves. By the time I arrived on the scene (my dashing is clearly slower than CrazyMom’s dashing) Anna was standing in the bathroom as CrazyMom was whipping everything into shape.

"How are you doing, Anna?" I asked tenderly, knowing this is a difficult situation for anybody.

"I’m good," she said perkily unfazed by it all.

Anyway, as I was saying, forget it. Sure these are the things family memories are made of but the memories are things like your back hurting from trying to sleep on the couch, not sleeping because Anna is coughing the whole night through, not sleeping because Anna is throwing up, and not sleeping because when Anna throws up every kid wakes up. On the bright side, you get a much earlier start on opening presents.

Anna started out marginally OK this morning, but was fading fast. We called the doctor and they wanted us to come in ASAP because they were hoping to go home. That did not work for us since we were having our Christmas so we delayed, finished our gift exchanging, and then CrazyMom took Anna to urgent care.

Now I am certainly not glad that Anna was sick, but we had one fantastic time while mom was gone. We purchased four very sweet laser tag guns (my idea, obviously) and spent hours running all through the house playing laser tag. The great thing was that since CrazyMom had to leave right after the presents were opened there was no time for me to discuss with her what the house rules should be. This meant that I got to pick the house laser tag rules on my own. We started with some lame rules about keeping it to one floor and the like, but they soon were all thrown out and we were just left with "You can’t swing your gun and hit somebody" which the kids would never do, but it makes it sound like I had some rules. The only problem with the afternoon was that CrazyMom kept calling me on my cell phone to give me updates on Anna. I felt obligated to take the calls but in doing so I would give away my position in the house. Such is life, I suppose.

Shhh . . . Not a Creature is Stirring

CrazyMom and all of the kids are asleep now "under the tree." Traditionally our family sleeps in the family room alongside the Christmas tree on the eve before we open presents. Because of how our schedule is working out this year, tonight is our Christmas Eve.

"Dad, do we have to move all of the presents?" Anna asked me earlier today.

"Uh, no. We don’t need to move the presents," I replied, unsure as to why she would think that we needed to.

"But we need to," Anna insisted.

"Where do we need to move them to?" I asked.

Anna shrugged. She did not know where they needed to go. After a pause she said, "But how are we going to sleep under the tree?"

Then I got it. I explained to her that we were going to sleep in the same room as the tree, but that the whole family was not really going to sleep under the tree.

As I look at the kids sleeping now, it is remarkable how peaceful it is compared to the vivaciousness of our day. This peacefulness stands in stark contrast to several hours ago when we had our first ever family pillow fight. We started with a full family melee, but soon realized that it was better to do groupings by age, as you can see in the videos.

The kids had such a great time that when I suggested that we should do this every year at Christmas they objected. It was clear that they thought pillow fighting should be on the agenda far more frequently.

I should give credit where credit is due, however. The family pillow fight idea came from an email from Family Man Ministries where Todd talked about his family pillow fight. It sounded like a wonderful idea and so I told CrazyMom to pick up some extra pillow cases the next time she was at the thrift store. Tonight when we let the kids open a present early they were pretty excited . . .until they found the gift was a used pillowcase.

After the pillow fight we settled in for some reading before bed. When we finally turned out the lights, there was still quite a bit of squirming, coughing, and last minute runs for forgotten stuffed animals. But like the tide which is slowly but inevitably retreating, the commotion faded and kids drifted off to sleep one by one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ties that Bind

During a pre-church laptop session this morning I was trying to put the finishing touches on a Sunday school lesson when I noticed Buddy standing by my side. How long he had been there I could not say given how absorbed I was in my work. Buddy made no demands, seemingly content on watching me fly around on my laptop copying, pasting, reformatting, and printing.

Eventually Buddy said, "Dad, can you tie my tie?"

These words snapped me out of my work and I noticed for the first time the red plaid Christmas tie draped around his neck.

Why these words grab my attention stems from the fact that as a teacher, I occasionally have a privilege that is not mine - teaching a fine young man how to tie a tie. It almost always occurs when a student athlete faces their first game and the team is wearing a tie during the school day in anticipation of the game. Coming to my room with a tie in hand is usually an athlete whose father was not there in the morning to help them put it on, often because the father is no longer in the home.

I immediately rise taking off my tie trying to make it seem natural for me to help him. Standing side-by-side in the gray-walled computer science lab we do a half Windsor knot. I am pleased that I could be there for the moment. It is also a time where I recommit to myself to be there for my boys so that I can be the one who shares this distinctive father-son rite of passage.

Since Buddy is not old enough to tie a tie himself and I can’t do it facing him, I stood behind Buddy reaching around him to do the job. He was all smiles as I wrapped up and I also smiled for I could feel the positive vibes in the air that come from a moment of connectedness - an intimate moment as far as fathers and sons go. I smiled too because I was there to experience the ties that bind a father and a son.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, Whoever You Are!

(Note: Enough of you have complained to my children about me not posting for awhile that you have won. They have diligently passed along your calls for a post pushing it to the top of my list. I have to admit that I am unsure about the power that you have over my family!)

It is common knowledge that parents, in the middle of trying to get a particular child’s attention, have a hard time coming up with the right name. I often find myself calling in rapid pseudo birth order many of our children’s names when trying to address a child.

If that was the worst that it was, I would not feel too bad. But . . .

I sometimes will say, "Buddy! Little Foot! K.D.! Oh, whoever you are! Pick up those toys right now!" I am desperately trying to curb the "Whoever you are!" because it is borderline derogatory. But in the heat of the moment after I have gone through three, four, or even five names and have not hit the right one yet, it just slips out.

If that was the worst that it was . . .

Tonight I hit a new low. I had the youngest two boys "helping" me fix the gas fireplace. I had to go settle a date-on-the-milk-jug issue (clearly a story for another post) and upon my prompt return, one of the boys had already disappeared.

"K.D.!," I yelled, a little agitated that he had run off.

"Yes," said K.D. who was standing a few feet in front of me probably wondering why I was calling so loud.

It did not register. In my mind the kid in front of me did not have the name I was calling.

"K.D.!" I yelled even louder, now a little more than agitated because I knew he could not have gotten that far yet and was probably ignoring me.

"I’m right here, Dad." K.D. said again. This time it registered. I was yelling the wrong name.

"Oops." I said.

"Little Foot!" I yelled next.

"Here I am!" Little Foot said. He was hiding three feet from me and pretty tickled because he could see what was going on the whole time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Celebrating CrazyMom’s Birthday

Planning a birthday for a woman you know well enough to know that you don’t know exactly how she thinks can be challenging. I planned out a whole day that I thought would be fun for CrazyMom, but I got concerned early on in the day. The day started with CrazyMom sipping coffee and reading the paper in bed. When I fixed breakfast I gave each kid something to deliver to mom in bed – a fork, a tray, a glass, a plate, etc. The kids delivered the goods to mom and after they left I stuck my head in to the room to make sure everything was alright.

“Need anything else?” I asked confident the answer would be no since I had obviously provided everything CrazyMom could want right now.

“Yeah, a little company. It is lonely up here,” she replied.

Lonley?!?!? Is this the same woman who when I enter the house from work I find tired from the incessant bombardment of questions from her children? Now the over-stimulated mother declares herself “lonely” at 8:30 am in the morning. Well, I fixed that by sending the kids two at a time to talk to her for the next hour.

CrazyMom then had a day out on the town with a few activities planed for her (including lunch with a friend so she would not get too lonely) while the rest of us cleaned, cooked, shopped, baked, wrapped, and decorated to prepare for mom’s return. After a family birthday party, me cooking the dinner of her choice (umm, from my repertoire of one dish), we settled in for a family movie. When picking a family movie, I consider it a success if CrazyMom cries and the movie we watched was a great success. (It is actually easy to pick such a movie. Simply find a G rated movie where the review uses the word “heartwarming”. Kit Kittredge fit the bill.)

By the way, you may be wondering how old CrazyMom is now. In order to protect her privacy, I will only say that she turned 3 times the integral from 4 to 5 of the quantity of x squared minus seven. (Just think, my calculus students think that they will never have the opportunity to use their calc skills in their personal lives. I just showed them!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

K.D.'s School Story

Tuesday evening our family joined some other home-schooling families for a geography fair. Each family presented a country of their choice. Not surprisingly, we chose to present Ethiopia. In preparing for the event, we talked more about Ethiopia than we normally do. As a result, some new stories emerged from our children that we had not heard before. Here is one from K.D. about something that happened when he was in school in Ethiopia.

In case you can't follow K.D.'s story, here is a synopsis. The teacher gave the kids an opportunity to go the bathroom during the school day. K.D. was the first to the boys room, but as he was going to the bathroom another boy pushed into the bathroom. K.D. accidentally peed on the boy's pants. The teacher was not pleased and asked the students who would want to go and get the perfect stick. The teacher selected one of the many volunteers who went and retrieved a stick from a nearby tree, which the teacher promptly used to spank K.D.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Lucky Ones

The other night at the dinner table I announced that we would be having a family meeting that evening. This type of announcement always creates an air of excitement because the kids have learned that often things get “announced” at family meetings - the type of things that Mom and Dad talk about back in the office with the door closed.

They immediately started peppering me with questions, which was foolish since they know that I would never leak anything early. They then resorted to guessing what the agenda item might be, knowing that if they were close, my dead pan expression might waver and they could get a hint of what was to come.

“Are we adopting again?” asked F.G.

“No,” I said. You can’t just leave that question out there without putting an end to it. Not all were convinced, which quickly led to speculation, which quickly led to the girls lobbying for another girl and the boys lobbying for another boy.

CrazyMom chimed in since she is seen by the kids as the authority figure on the question of whether or not there will be more children joining our family. “While it is interesting to think about if we will adopt again, that is not what the family meeting is about tonight.” I noted that CrazyMom clearly put the final nail into the coffin on the issue of adopting again – for the evening.

Well, at the family meeting the announcement came – we are going to be sponsoring a child in Ethiopia who is at the AHOPE orphanage. CrazyMom had photos of the girl which the kids eagerly devoured. The kids were not aware that we could do such a thing and were excited about us being able to help out the friendly looking girl in the picture.

Now maybe you were not aware that you could do such a thing either. AHOPE (African HIV Orphans: Project Embrace) is one of the orphanages CrazyMom and I visited when we were in Ethiopia. It is the only one that we are aware of that is dedicated to caring for HIV positive children. I remember standing in the midst of around fifty kids at Big AHOPE – the compound for the older children. As the children swarmed around me the thought that was going through my head was, “These are the lucky ones. Of all of the HIV positive children in the country, these are the children who made it to AHOPE and who can get the medicine and support they need.”

Now you can help other children be a part of the “lucky ones” by sponsoring a child. If you are interested you can visit the AHOPE site and follow the "Sponsor a Child" link.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Just Never Know

You just never know what you might find in our house. The other evening the call went out to the kids to wash their hands and come to the table for supper. CrazyMom and I finished setting the last items on the table as the kids took their places. As I sat down, I noticed we were short a couple of kids. Feeling a little agitated since sufficient time had been allowed for hand washing, I headed for the half bath on the main floor to see what was taking so long. When I looked in upon the tardy table-comers my agitation vanished. Necessity is the mother of invention, but invention does takes time. Evidently the stool that is normally in the bathroom had been commandeered for another activity earlier in the day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Big Trouble

Anna is a perceptive little girl and she has picked up on how we call a child by their first name if we are happy with them, by their first and last name if they are in trouble, and by their first, middle, and last name if they are in big trouble.

The other day I was teasing CrazyMom a little and getting myself into trouble. Anna was there and knew I was in a little bit of trouble and so she said, “Daddy Smith!” with the perfect intonation that CrazyMom would use with a child in trouble. We all burst out laughing and Anna indignantly put her hands on her hips and playfully stomped off.

Anna on more than one occasion has heard us reprimand Little Foot using his full name – Little Foot Jacob Smith. The other day she was upset with her brother K.D. and exclaimed, “K.D. Jacob Smith!” using the middle name of Little Foot instead since it was more familiar to her.

Using Little Foot’s middle name whenever any of her brothers are in trouble would be funny enough, but she uses it with her sisters as well. Today she was upset with her sister Ed who she thought had cheated her out of some candy. “Ed Jacob Smith!” she exclaimed.

The only person who I have not heard her do this with is CrazyMom. Evidently she is under the incorrect perception that CrazyMom never gets into trouble.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wintertime Family Dinners

When we sat down to eat the other night, the early setting sun and the changing of the clocks reminded me that my favorite family dinners have now arrived – wintertime family dinners.

While I talk all day as a teacher, (occasionally) write for this blog, and run great family meetings, I am largely a non-vocal presence at our dinner table. At mealtimes I am either lost in thought or quietly observing the rich phenomena of seven children eating dinner. Of course there is a “Put your knees down” here, a “No bathroom talk at the table” there, and the times when the kids ask me to go around the table and give them a math or science question to answer, but my default behavior is non-vocal.

I find that during the part of the year when the sun is up at dinner, I am usually lost in thought and not observing the children. Sitting at the table and being able to see past my children to the uncut lawn often proves to be just too much of a distraction for me to stay engaged in their banter. In addition, the meals are more rushed in order to get to a soccer practice or to some yard work. This creates an atmosphere where my mind is often elsewhere.

How different the experience is for me when the dominant source of light is the fixture above the table and not the windows. The photographer side of me enjoys watching the warm glow of my children’s faces due to the incandescent lighting. I also love that the distracting background is dimmed due to the lack of ambient light. The interestingness of the texture, the color of their skin and their facial features standing out against a darker backdrop causes me to now spend more time observing my children rather than being lost in thought. It is also a time of year when the call to go outside to work or play is quieter and one can linger a few minutes longer at the table. It is a wonderful change of pace for me.

This change of lighting – from the ambient light from outside to the single light above our table – helping to create more focus and intimacy at our dinner table reminds me of my relationship with Christ. How easy it is to be distracted by the competing light of the world. When I change my life back to single source lighting, my perspective changes. It reminds me of a song I use to sing as a child:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

End of the Soccer Season

As I sit down and look at my calendar for the next week, it is remarkably clear. As I have mentioned before, we had six kids playing on five soccer teams this fall. The last game of the season wrapped up on Saturday ushering in a new era of couch potatoness (or at least no more 10 minute power suppers).

The kids did a great job and had a lot of fun. Miss Bookworm's team, which lost a lot of games during the season, ended on a high note winning the last two games they played both of which were on the same Saturday. Ed's team made it to their championship game, but lost 2-1 (see the special video clips at the end). F.G.'s team won their championship and Buddy's team lost 2-1 in his championship game.

Here is a photo of each kid from the season.

Here Ed scores a goal in her final game.

Ed missed this one, but it was a great effort.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Another Halloween comes and goes. Halloween may be over, but at least the candy will last for weeks to come.

Miss Bookworm goes indian.

Ed the cow girl.

F.G. decided to go as a baby.

Every family needs a rock star.

It is kind of hard to see Little Foot under the sheet.

K.D. is in love with Star Wars and went as a storm trooper.

Our little Princess Anna.

Miss Bookworm went to youth group the other night with a friend. They were suppose to dress up in pairs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

“I’m so Happy”

The other morning I walked into Anna’s room to get her up. She stretched her arms above her head nice and slow looking particularly satisfied from her night’s rest.

Anna: Dad, I’m so happy.

CrazyD: You area? Why are you so happy?

Anna: I love my bed.

CrazyD: Good. I am glad you love your bed.

Anna: And I have ice cream in my bed.

CrazyD: You had ice cream in your bed?

Anna: Yes . . . I’m so happy. I love my bed.

It finally dawned on me that she must have had a dream that she could not quite distinguish from reality. And this dream of eating ice cream in her beloved bed moved this normally happy girl to an even higher state of happiness.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trusting Chariots?

The unprecedented drop in the stock market this week has reminded me of a question I have struggled with in the past – do I genuinely believe something about myself that is not true?

This thought first struck me years ago when I was reflecting on an exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 13. At the last supper Jesus was explaining to His disciples that He would be going away and they could not yet follow Him. Peter responded to this by saying, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You." (v. 37)

I believe Peter was genuine in this expression of devotion to Christ and honestly believed that he would be willing to lay down his life. And while in the end Peter did indeed come to a place where he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus, Jesus knew Peter better than himself and answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.” (v.38)

Will I do what I think I will do? It is hard to know until the time comes.

Well the time has come for me to see if my belief that I do not put too much confidence in my financial investments is really true or not. This week I have been standing outside of myself watching me watching the market. On the one hand I say, “See, I don’t value our investments too much! I am sleeping fine at night and am not stressed out over it all.” On the other hand, I look at CrazyMom and see what it looks like to really not be emotionally involved in the markets. I see from her that I still have some room to grow.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7

Friday, October 3, 2008

Anna Tells a Story

I have not posted about Anna lately, so I grabbed the video camera last night at bedtime and asked her to tell me a story. She happens to be long winded, so don't feel obligated to watch the whole thing. It does give you a great opportunity to observe two things, however. First, one can see the current state of her English skills after starting to learn English about seven months ago. Second, one gets to see how adorable she is. :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Best Wife I’ve Ever Had

CrazyMom is by far the best wife I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, this compliment is lost on her. She is so quick to point out that she is the only wife I have ever had and then she acts all put off and stuff.

Now, this brings up something I just don’t get about women. Women have this intuition thing going that is almost like omniscience. One time I brought a poinsettia into the house and presented it to CrazyMom. “Who gave you that?” she asked. “I got it for you,” I replied. “No really, who gave you that?” she asked again. How did she know that someone at work just gave it to me? I just don’t get how women can do this.

But how can CrazyMom intuitively know everything except that when I say, “You are the best wife I’ve ever had” that I am really complimenting her because of something she just did. I guess women have selective intuition. It must be something like when CrazyMom says I have selective hearing.

Today’s reason that CrazyMom is the best wife I’ve ever had is because of this. I left directly from church to go work at a rental trying to get it ready to rent while CrazyMom took the crew of seven kids home to feed them lunch. While I was chain sawing limbs, painting, and building screen frames CrazyMom was playing soccer in the yard with the kids. I got home 15 minutes before I had to leave again to take two kids to get their team soccer photos taken. Deciding a hot shower would be more rewarding than supper, I headed upstairs. As I was finishing getting dressed, CrazyMom came in the bathroom with a plate of food which I ate as I walked downstairs to get the keys. I grabbed the keys and as I was walking out the door CrazyMom handed me a glass of lemonade to drink on the way. When I emerged from the house I saw both kids dressed in their uniforms standing by the car waiting for me.

I thought, “Man, CrazyMom is the best wife I’ve ever had.”

P.S. On a different note – I should say something about how dumb-smart I am. There was a split tree at the rental and standing on the back of the truck I could not reach quite high enough. So I cut off what I could, but there were still several feet of this good-sized limb hanging from the tree. If I was dumb, I would have just left it hanging there and in a year or two it would have fallen on somebody or something. If I was smart, I would have brought a ladder back with me next time I came to the rental and cut it down. Since I am dumb-smart, I figured if I backed my truck up just right, I could stand on the roof and hold the chainsaw over my head with my left hand while pushing the hanging piece of limb with my right hand so that when it fell it would not land on the truck. It worked great – I did not fall, I did not cut myself, and the limb did not land on the truck. Oh, one more thing. When the one end of the limb fell onto the ground the other end then hit the side of the truck and put a big dent in the door. Now that is what I call dumb-smart.

P.S.S. While I was writing this post, CrazyMom brought me some warm homemade apple crisp with milk poured over it – just like I like it. I’m telling you, she is the best wife I’ve ever had!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And the lights come on

We have been without power for the last three days in our house as a result of the remnants of hurricane Ike passing through town. There is so much I could tell, but here are a few random happenings.

We lost our favorite tree in the front yard and it took out a large section of our second favorite tree on the way down. The sense of loss that I felt over the trees was mixed with a real sense of appreciation that I was 1200 miles from where Ike came ashore. The Ike/Texas photos that I had so quickly passed over in the paper from earlier days I now found myself lingering over and feeling a bit more compassion for those affected by the hurricane.

There is nothing like a day off school for the kids with perfect weather. The kids had a grand time cutting off branches from the downed tree, hauling it all to the back yard, and then making a fort. You can’t plan any better fun than that.

Necessity is the mother of invention. CrazyMom was bummed because the power went off before she could cook the homemade lasagna that she had thawed out. We ended up grilling it. We put it on the grill with a pan beneath it and then regulated the temperature just like an oven. It worked great.

It is hard to wait for the sun to come up to start your day. This morning I got up, retrieved the paper, warmed some coffee on the gas stove, and then settled back into bed to read the paper to try to find out how long it would be until we got power. CrazyMom thought it was pretty funny and took a picture of me with my four candles and lantern. Who knew that those monks who lit a ton of candles in their monasteries actually needed them all to see well enough to read?

So after three days of no power, we returned from a soccer game to find all of our lights on. Now it is back to the same old routine of hollering at the kids all of the time to turn the lights off.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And the numbness fades away . . .

Life is finally settling back down to our normal crazy busy schedule. I like crazy busy. I may be running all of the time, but I can still get all of the important stuff done. I don't like super crazy busy. Super crazy busy is when I am standing in a hallway at work later than I should be with CrazyMom on the cell phone reminding me that I am missing dinner with the family, with someone at the end of the hall waiting to meet with me, and with my own stuff not done. I stand there with a knot in my stomach knowing that it is my privilege today to be a second rate father, a second rate husband, and a second rate employee.

But then Dory from Finding Nemo reminds me what to do. "Just keep swimming."

So I swim, stuff gets done, life improves and the numbness fades away . . .

But in the end I am not sure that it is the busyness of my schedule that leads me into or out of numbness. Rather it seems that is has to do with whether or not I am nurturing my relationship with God who brings my soul to life. When life gets super crazy busy my natural instinct is to burn the candle at both ends to get it all done rather than to rest in God. Maybe next time I will remember that which I have learned so many times in the past.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
(Psalm 127:2, NASB)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Numbed by Life

I printed off our monthly calendar the other day and after it rolled off the printer a second page came out. The second page listed all of the overflow items that did not fit into the tidy squares on the calendar. Needless to say, life is really busy right now.

There is me trying to get ready for teaching school and CrazyMom trying to get ready for teaching home school. There is having our kids on five different soccer teams. I am turning over a rental and teaching Sunday school. Then there is the impending family trip over Labor Day.

All of it has just left me numb. I smile on the outside, but life is joyless on the inside.

I admit that I have a full life and I am often operating at maximum capacity. Usually it is OK but then I hit a stretch of a week or two when it is just too much. There is nobody to blame but myself. Philosophically, I know God only gives me enough to fill my plate and it is me who adds the other stuff to make it too full. I just have a hard time knowing what things to say no to.

As I mechanically go through my days I have not lost hope because my calendar shows me things will ease in about two weeks. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

This makes me reflect on those who have real problems. Problems that suffocate you for which there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Problems that numb you to the core and make life a hopeless blur. As Ethiopia’s food crisis continues in the very region our children are from, faces come to my mind - faces of mothers trying to find food for their children in a dry and weary land.

My numbing stretch will pass in a matter of weeks. Their numbing stretch will last much longer. And when it does pass, will it be too late for their children?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Visiting GrandpaR and GrandmaR

Every summer we travel to visit grandparents. While Anna has already met GrandpaR and GrandmaR, this was her first visit to their house in the country. Splitting wood, hunting toads, and making applesauce were all new activities to watch or participate in. Being a highly social child, Anna also enjoyed meeting new uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Here are a few photos of the trip.

Ed playing in the wood pile.

Anna finally agreed to hold her first toad. "He tickle me!" she said.

GrandpaR will split wood by himself so he made a hydraulic lift for the back of his tractor so he can drop the big logs in the perfect spot to split them. Here you can see him backing a log into the splitter.

CrazyMom discovered Buddy and Miss Bookworm in the yard one day reading. They had hauled chairs and a table to a shady reading spot. They also had their bucket of baby toads close by in case the toads would need anything.

GrandmaR showing Anna some photos.

We spent one of the afternoons playing all sorts of water stuff in the yard. We had some water balloon slingshots that we soon discovered could send the projectiles farther than were were expecting.

Here I am demonstrating that you don't really need three people to operate the slingshot.

Buddy wants you to think he drank a little too much water during the event, but he actually was filling water balloons with a hose.