Thursday, August 28, 2008

Decisions I'm Glad We Made

There are quite a few decisions that we've made that I'm really glad we've made!  

There are the major, life-changing ones like getting married, having kids, joining the Army, and buying a house.  The decision to homeschool might qualify in that category too.  :)  

There are also the not-so-major, pretty inconsequential-in-the-big-scheme-of-things decisions that we've made that I'm pretty glad we've made, too.  Things like buying the van even though all three kids still fit in the back of the little car just fine (WE didn't know Isaak was coming!), and choosing for all 6 of us to go live in a hotel room together for 11 weeks in Alabama.  

There are all the decisions we make on a daily basis for the benefit and edification of our kids; when and how to discipline them, what books to let them read, what movies they watch and how often, what to eat (and not to eat!), etc..

And then there's the decision we made about the Barbies.

Before Isaak was born, we would listen to the girls playing with their Barbies, and I would just cringe at the conversations they had.  When I first gave the Barbies to them, some of it was cute -- they had them being princesses, dancers, mommies, sisters, friends and getting married, going grocery shopping, or going to a ball.  And then it changed.  They started fighting over outfits and accessories, even the Barbies themselves.  It was all about how beautiful they were, whether or not their outfits went together, and the merits of the little tiny mini-skirt and mid-riff baring tank top over the full-length ball gown with sleeves.  I began to hear cries of "That's MINE!", "You broke her head off on PURPOSE!", "MY Barbie was going to get married to that Ken, and you TOOK him!", and worst of all, "You're not my friend anymore because you won't give that to me!".  For the first time, they began to pair off against the third sister (J&M against A, J&A against M, or M& A against J), and tell the excluded one "WE'RE playing a Barbie game, and you can't play with us."  It was almost heartbreaking!  You could take three little girls who were playing together so sweetly and kindly in their kitchen, throw in some Barbies, and get screaming, fighting little monsters!  So, shortly before Isaak was born, using the excuse of the little tiny shoes and chewable hands, we put the Barbies away.  For the first few months, one or another of the girls would ask about them maybe once a week or so, and then they finally quit asking altogether.

Once they finally quit asking about them, Mike and I made the decision to actually get rid of them for good.  We couldn't come up with one positive reason to keep them; it's almost impossible to find modestly styled Barbie clothes that echo the kinds of things I want my daughters to find admirable (think high necklines, loose fit, long hemlines, dresses...), they bring out the worst in my daughters' attitudes toward each other, and we definitely don't need the clutter that comes with Barbies, Barbie clothes, and Barbie accessories!

I told the girls that the Barbies won't be coming back (for a long time, at least!), but that when they're a little older, we'll get them some "big kid" dolls with real hair, like their friend Faith's American Girl Doll.  They think that is an excellent idea, and are eagerly looking forward to them.  But in the meantime, their baby dolls are enjoying some extra attention. :)

And today, while the box of Barbies sits in the office, waiting to be sorted through and banished, Isaak discovered how to open a box.  And made me just THAT much more determined to get rid of the Barbies, for good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Famous Last Words

Mike heard a story on NPR today, and we listened to it again on the computer when he got home.  The news story was better, but I found an article online that sums it up fairly simply:

"After 4 years as Vice President to Truman, Barkley retired from politics, seemingly forever. But he longed to return to this Chamber which had seen his greatest successes and his most ignoble defeats. So he ran for and won reelection in 1954, ousting Republican John Sherman Cooper.

Alben Barkley died on April 30, 1956. He left this world doing what he loved--giving a speech.

In his final moments, he explained to a crowd of students at a mock convention at Washington and Lee University that as a newly elected Senator, he had refused a seat in the front row of this Chamber, despite his decades of service.

"I am glad to sit in the back row," the 78-year-old Barkley said. "For I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty."

Those were Senator Barkley's last words before he collapsed. The crowd's applause was the last thing he would hear, before suffering a massive heart attack."

--Senator Mitch McConnell, Rep., KY

Just thought that was cool -- what a way to go!  We found on Wikiquote a list of famous people's last words before dying, too, and some of them were pretty funny!  A few:

Elizabeth on Worry

From Discipline, The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot:

"1.  Worry is totally fruitless.  Have you ever succeeded in adding an inch where you wanted it, or subtracting one where you didn't want it, merely by being anxious?  If you can't accomplish that by worrying, what can you accomplish?
2. Worry is worse than fruitless; it is disobedience.  Note these commands:

Fret not.
Fear not.
Let not your hearts be troubled.
Be not dismayed.
Be of good cheer.

3.  Worry is taking the not-given -- for example, tomorrow.  Tomorrow is not ours to worry about.  We are allowed to plan for tomorrow, but we are not allowed to worry about it.  Today's troubles are enough of a burden.  Jesus knew exactly what He was talking about when He said that.
4.  Worry is refusing the given.  Today's care, not tomorrow's, is the responsibility given to us, apportioned in the wisdom of God...
5.  Worry is the antithesis of trust.  You simply cannot do both.  They are mutually exclusive.
6.  Worry is a wicked squandering of time (as well as energy).

Direct your time and energy into worry, and you will be deficient in things like singing with grace in your heart, praying with thanksgiving, listening to a child's account of his school day, inviting a lonely person to supper, sitting down to talk unhurriedly with wife or husband, writing a note to someone who needs it."

So, I'm not.  Worried.  And I'm praying that YOU won't be either.  

Ah, my Father is in charge.  How simple!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pledge of...Address?

Every morning we say the Pledge of Allegiance together, followed by our memory verse of the week and a review of our address and phone numbers.  Yesterday, Anya accidently gave our address a new twist:

Anya:  "Anya D., 3375 Shepherd Walk, Under God...Oops!  I got confused!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hannah Montana: Part 2

The checker at the commissary today took one look at the girls and began to exclaim (to them, not to me) how beautiful they were, and such beautiful curly hair, and were they on TV, or maybe movie stars, and maybe they SHOULD be on TV because they were just as pretty as Hannah Montana!  When she was met with embarrassed and I-don't-have-a-clue-what-you're-talking-about smiles from all three girls, she changed tactics and began quizzing them on who their favorite TV star is...Hannah Montana?  No reaction.  Miley Cyrus?  No reaction.  Dora the Explorer?  A smile.  Finally, in desperation, Ariel?!?  Two smiles.  I finally excused them go sit on their favorite nearby bench to wait for me, and she asked me,
Checker:  "Don't they know any of those people?"  
Me:  "They don't watch TV, except sometimes football with me in the fall."
Checker: "What?!?  Not even that show on Disney with the little kids on it that has the little girl with curly hair that looks just like them?"
Me: (with a I-don't-have-a-clue-what-you're-talking-about smile of my own) "No."
Checker: (to the next checker over)  Hey, Sarah, those kids don't watch no TV except for football!  Can you believe that!?!  (Yes, she used that oh-so-southern double negative that absolutely drives me crazy!  Then, addressing Isaak, since he was the only one still within earshot)  I think Mommy needs a spanking!"

My response: Hmmmmm
Mike's response: "Someone needs reported to the manager for rudeness!"

Today and Tomorrow

From "Let Me Be A Woman" by Elisabeth Elliot:

"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived -- not always looked forward to as though the "real" living were around the next corner.  It is today for which we are responsible.  God still owns tomorrow."

The Tooth Fairy

After their visit to the dentist last week, Jaela and Macey could finally officially wiggle their two loose front teeth.  Yes, you read that right, they BOTH have two loose front teeth.  (Well, they both DID -- Jaela lost one of hers tonight.)  

There was quite a bit of discussion for the first few days after their visit about the tooth fairy, the quarters she brings, the time she forgot to take Macey's tooth, etcetera, etcetera.  Until finally Macey asked, "Mommy, if fairies aren't in real life, how is the Tooth Fairy real?"

My response:  "What do YOU think?"  :)  They'll figure it out eventually, but I'm not going to rush it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

This is (part of) my life

Ah, the subtle joys of life as an Army wife!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Once again, I have spent my entire evening doing dishes, cleaning, doing laundry, and prepping for school.  Don't get me wrong, it feels good to be on top off things for a change, but as I type with one eye on the clock, I am remembering with quite a bit of nostalgia the days B.K. (Before Kids!) of curling up in a chair to read through an entire stack of "fluff" books in one day.

On the other hand, as part of prepping for school, I have spent the last hour or so working with quotations from the best Book, from A to Z, such as:

  • D - Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.  Philippians 2:14-15
  • L - Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.  Proverbs 27:2
  • M - Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you.  1 Thessalonians 4:11
What wonderful, timely reminders for me!  Sometimes I almost forget that it's not just the kids who need to memorize these...I need them too!  As I was just beginning to feel a little bit sorry for myself (over my lack of "free" time) as I worked on our memory verse "tests" for the year, I got to the W verse, which is actually one of my favorites, and just like that my attitude changed, and I am once again grateful for all that I've been blessed with -- my portion!

  • W - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.  Colossians 3:23
I think Elisabeth would be proud of me...but someone else would have to tell her!  :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kindergarten teacher

I wish I could have captured the puzzled-look-that-grew-into-a-grin on Anya's face when Mary (our favorite next-door neighbor) asked her if she likes her Kindergarten teacher.  Priceless!  (And worth every moment of wondering whether or not to start her in Kindergarten this year!)

First week of school

We finally finished our first week of school...on Saturday.  NOT how I had planned to begin our year, but circumstances being what they were (Jaela had some difficulty with her math one day, Macey had difficulty with her handwriting the next, and mommy had difficulty getting started on time EVERY day), I think we did pretty good.  I wondered aloud to Mike at one point if maybe I have over-estimated the girls' readiness for some subjects, but after I thought about it for a while I decided that no, it was not the girls that I have over-estimated, it was ME!  You'd think I would have learned by now that I am not as young as I once was, and I can NOT stay up as late as I want every night and not expect to pay the penalty the next day!  So, starting tonight, NO MORE OLYMPICS for me...and lo and behold I have gotten the kitchen clean, the laundry started, school prepped for tomorrow, this blog written, AND I will still get to bed at a decent hour!  Self-discipline really does pay off!

The irony of it all is that I am in the middle of reading Elisabeth Elliot's book "Discipline".  Maybe I should start over again from the beginning!  :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Aunt Polly on Discipline

According to Aunt Polly, from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer:

"I ain't doing my duty by that boy, and that's the Lord's truth, goodness knows.  Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says.  I'm a laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know...I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow.  Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks.  Well-a-well, man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so...I've got to do some of my duty by him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."

After spending some time this last week watching how kids behave at Walmart, the library, and a few other places that shall remain nameless :), I am convinced that the world needs quite a few more Aunt Pollys!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sugar Snap Peas and their Creator

This morning I read in "Discipline" by Elisabeth Elliot:  

"If God is in control of the big things, He must also be in control of the little ones.  It is nonsense to say that He controls winds, storms, and oceans, but not the pressures that move them, or that He sees the boundaries of the sea and causes the tides to swell and sink, but has nothing to do with individual waves, with the creatures that swim in them, or with the intricacies of molecules and atoms that make up the whole."

Have you ever examined the inside of a sugar snap pea pod?  Every one of my children eats these differently.  Macey opens all of them and eats all the pods first, then the peas.  Jaela sometimes does the same, but usually she eats them whole, like a carrot.  Anya peels each one and eats the peas, then the pods.  Isaak doesn't get the priveledge of getting a whole pea pod yet, so I break the pods into eighths and disconnect the peas for him.  As I broke one open today at lunch, with Elisabeth's words still fresh in my mind, I stopped for a minute to just LOOK at the amazing attention to detail on the inside of one little pea pod.  If you break it in half along the spine, the peas alternate in clinging to opposite sides of the pod, and all the little veins run toward the center.  The peas are not all exactly the same shape and size, but are affected by their position in the pod.  The ones in the middle are bigger, and the ones on the ends are smaller.  Some are perfectly round, others are oddly shaped,  and each individual pea has its own tiny stem that connects it to the spine of the pod.  Such genius of design found in a simple vegetable!  God is indeed in control of the little things!

Watching for chickens

On the way to a birthday party today, the girls were trying to remember what their friend's house looks like, since we've only been there once before and that was about a year ago.  They remembered that they had chickens, so they were "watching for chickens" as a clue to when we were getting close.  Macey thought she would recognize it first because she remembers lots of things..."like when I was 3 or 2, or younger than that, or older than that, I remember some dreams I had, and that I fell down the stairs at Christmas..."

Friday, August 1, 2008

You Marry A Man

A favorite, made-me-laugh-aloud passage from Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot, from the chapter entitled You Marry a Man:

"He is likely to be bigger and louder and tougher and hungrier and dirtier than a woman expects, and she finds that bigger feet make bigger footprints on the newly washed kitchen floor; they make a bigger noise on the stairs.  She learns that what makes her cry may make him laugh.  He eats far more than seems necessary or even reasonable to a woman who never ceases her vigil against excess weight.  When he takes a shower his broader dimensions mean more water used and a greater surface for water to cling to and therefore she finds that the towels get much wetter, and he probably doesn't hang them up folded in three as she wants him to in order to display the monogram.  He may not hang them up at all.  He won't use a washcloth, which means he consumes three times as much soap as she does.  When she cleans the bathroom she finds she has to clean in places she never had to clean before.  He's a toothpaste-tube twister instead of a roller.  Anything he does which seems to her inexplicable or indefensible she dismisses with "Just like a man!" as though this were a condemnation or at best an excuse instead of a very good reason for thanking God.  It is a man she married, after all, and she is lucky if he acts like a man."

And oh, how mine does!  Thank God...or at least I'm trying to!  :)

Modesty and Hannah Montana

This is tax-free weekend for the state of Tennessee, which applies to all school supplies, clothing, and computer components valued at $100 or less.  So, of course, being the thrifty person that you know and love (gotta save that 9.5%!), I saved up my list of essential school supplies for this weekend, and went to Walmart.  

I have also been looking for plain nylon slips for the girls, so I headed to the girls clothing section after I had everything else I needed.  I could not find the slips anywhere, so I finally asked an older Walmart Associate lady for help:
Me:  Do you carry slips for little girls?
WA:  (looking around) Um, I don't think...hmmm, maybe...
Me:  I've seen them around Easter, but they always disappear.  I wondered if maybe they get moved somewhere else the rest of the year?
WA:  No, I think those are a seasonal item.  I don't know why...
(We look at each other in silence for a moment.)
Me:  Modesty is seasonal?
WA:  (laughing) Well, Hannah Montana doesn't wear one, so why would anyone else?!?

And I hope that you are thinking, as MY daughters would be, "Hannah Who?"