A Little Reminder from God

October 16, 2014

Several months ago our family found out about friends who were in need of some help. Sickness had struck their home with a vengeance and last but not least, the mama was down. RED ALERT! Mama Down! This is not your ordinary mama either. Buckle up. God, the father to the fatherless, called this beautiful lady to foster/adopt six kiddos… and homeschool them….. as a single mama. She takes my breath away.

I met her at homeschool park day when her last two littles were two-month-old twins. It didn’t take much persuading for me to help hold one of those little darling girls. This mama has been on my heart ever since that day. How can we help her?  What can we do to support her in this call from God? We need to be God’s hands and feet for her!

Back to the RED ALERT!, we stepped in for two days and did what we saw needed to be done…. babies bathed, bathrooms cleaned, dishes washed, dirty clothes laundered, meals prepared, games played and stories read. Her children truly are blessings, well behaved, loving and helpful. (Isn’t it every mother’s prayer that her own children are seen in this light!?)

While we were on duty, mama fainted and thankfully I was right next to her. Not that I helped with the descent or the crash landing, but I made sure we went down NOT on hard surfaces or pokey things or gooey stuff. See?  I’m helpful! In directing her away from a wooden shelf, the back of my hand came in contact with a corner of said hard, wooden shelf. My hand was bruised, but the skin was not broken. No big deal.


(Gosh, my hands look old. When did that happen?)

It’s been three months, maybe four, since that fateful day and the little mark on the back of my hand has not gone away AT ALL. It doesn’t appear to be on it’s way out of my life. It has scarred into a cute, little silvery-pink line. It winks at me every day and whispers to me that I need to pray for that mama. It’s God’s little reminder to me that we all need prayer. He will do what He needs to do to remind us daily to lift up each other to His throne of grace.

Who do you need to pray for today? Just do it! (I stole that from a shoe company.)

Milestone Day at the Homestead

August 13, 2014

My little Colombian princess went to the movies last night with her Daddy.  Bedtime was delayed almost two hours from the usual schedule!  This little girl sleeps 10 1/2 to 11 hours EVERY NIGHT!  It is God’s little gift to ME!  But, as we have experienced, she doesn’t do well with LESS than 10 hours of sleep. Tiredness makes her moody and sassy.  If there’s one thing this mama don’t want is more sass in the house. ‘Nough said.

This year is an adjustment to our whole household as son #2’s band class got moved to first hour at the local high school.  Yes, we still homeschool, but homeschool marching band doesn’t exist so he goes to Wind Ensemble every blinkin’ morning at 7:45.  Last year I had to wake up at 8:15 to get him to second hour band…. this year will be interesting, for sure.

More back story.  Our little princess had a few previous issues with being left alone so we have made sure that she is NEVER by herself… ever. She is 11 years old and very responsible, but we wanted to make sure she always felt safe with us.  This past summer is the first time I left her alone at the house while I took her brothers and their friends up to go swimming… two miles away. She rolled her chocolate eyes at me and assured me that she would be fine by herself with the dogs and chickens.  She was.  When I returned eight minutes later I asked her if she looked out the front window.  “I did! Because I wanted to check if you were really going to leave me or not.”  hahahaha.

Remember the slumbering princess this morning?  Well, I decided to leave her having visions of sugarplums in her head instead of waking her up for the drive to school.  This is the first time I have left her alone without telling her first.  I put this note on the dirty bathroom mirror:

note to nora 002

As I suspected, she didn’t even wake up until 8:55.  But I forgot to take down the note.  DOH! Thankfully I was talking on the phone and she knew I was there before she read the news of my abandoning her.  Whew!  Catastrophe averted.


Holy Hockey Stick, Batman!

July 27, 2014

hockey sticks 001

It’s hard to see, but there are five hockey sticks among our other “sticks”.  This used to be our only holder for hockey sticks in our garage. Not any more.

hockey sticks 002

These are next to the inside door of the garage… divided by lefties and righties.  I’m not sure why these can’t go in the stick holder shown previously.  But that is not all……

hockey sticks 003

These are the hockey sticks by the outside garage door……. obviously this is where the goalies sticks go….. but I’m not sure why the others (which are also divided by lefties and righties) can’t go with the others further inside the garage???  It’s all a mystery to me.

The GOOD NEWS is my husband was looking on Craigslist for hockey sticks, because obviously we don’t have enough yet.  And he saw an add for a guy that buys old wooden sticks for making furniture…. get this… $2 each!  He shoots!  He scores!  So the pictures that I’ve shared here are the sticks that are worth MORE than $2 each in my husband’s mind.  He just finished putting about TWENTY sticks in the back of his truck to sell to the hockey stick furniture guy!  I guess this is Spring cleaning… hockey style!  My guess is that half the hockey sticks that were in the garage just left!  Whooo HOoooOooooo!

Did I mention that we live in Phoenix, Arizona?  Not exactly a booming hockey town.

Mother Guilt

July 25, 2014


If you’re a mother, you get this.  It’s very real.  So real it’s tangible.  Guilt that only mothers can have, get or put on themselves.

Three years ago, I dutifully accompanied the Colombian princess to her first American dental appointment.  After the x-rays and examination, the dentist handed me a sizeable Mother Guilt trophy explaining that her Colombian fillings were of poor quality and ALL needed to be replaced.  She had multiple cavities that would need to be filled immediately and there was so much work necessary that we would have to take her to a pediatric specialist to put her under for the procedures.  He had the nerve to ask if she brushed her teeth.  He meant AT ALL!  If nothing else, my little girl is diligent with personal care tasks.  She is the most regular flosser in our house, I’ll have you know, Mr. 24-year-old not-shaving-yet white coat!!

After listening to his entire money-hungry spiel, I inquired the location of the cavities.  As I suspected, they were all on baby teeth AND they were all minor.  With the referral slip in hand, I slipped out of the office and took the princess home to her father.  Being fully versed in dental procedures and examinations, together her father and I ascertained that the Colombian fillings were just fine and we wiggled all the baby teeth with cavities.  We noticed they all got more wiggly as we took turns wiggling them. Nope, not fixing them.

This is a translation for those who aren’t mothers.

What dentists say: “Your child has cavities.”  What a mother hears: “You are not taking care of your child.”

What dentists say: “There are two types of fillings.” What a mother hears: “There are $250 fillings that good mothers choose, and $75 fillings that bad mothers choose.”

What Dentists say: “Is your child flossing?” What a mother hears: Are you concerned at all about the health of your child?”

What Dentists say: “Is your child brushing after each meal?” What a mother hears: “If you haven’t taught her to BRUSH HER TEETH, what the heck are you doing all day long?”

What Dentists say: “She hasn’t been in for a long time.” What a mother hears: “Why are you a mother at all?”

This entire dental event had me swear off my motherly duties of dental visits.  Period.  I somehow forgot the six month check ups… for two years.  It’s easy to block episodes that cause Mother Guilt.  Finally, after almost all of her baby teeth had fallen out, I made an appointment for her with her FATHER to go back to that horrible place.

Her appointment was this morning at 8:00.  By 9:40 I had not heard from them and was envisioning my little Colombiana strapped in the reclined chair, wearing a bloodied paper bib with tears running down her little cheeks into her ears.  Just then my husband called and relayed that they were at Denny’s having breakfast.  He casually mentioned that she had NO CAVITIES! WHAT?  And I wasn’t there to receive my Mother of the Year trophy!!!  When they got home, she reported that they put fluoride on her teeth and told her not to eat anything for 30 minutes, but that Daddy took her to Denny’s anyway.  Nice!  Father guilt doesn’t even exist!  If her fluoride wore off with a Jr. Grand Slam, it is SOOO not this mama’s fault!

Home Sweet Smelly Home

July 24, 2014

These past two months have FLOWN by in a flurry of celebrations! Three weddings, three graduations, two conventions, four camps, one birthday party and I’m beat.  The six members of our family have only been together for ONE day since June 12, 2014.  That just ain’t right!  I miss all my birdies in the nest at the same time.  Don’t even tell me how many miles we’ve driven since May! Oklahoma and back to Phoenix then to Lake Tahoe and back then to the Bay Area and back.  I flew to my last convention in California, but then drove back AGAIN with a friend.  At this point, one son is still in California but will be home on Sunday.  That will give us two complete weeks together before our eldest daughter goes back to college.

I’m not sure I’m liking this stage of life.  My weary soul just wants a cabin in the woods where the whole family is stuck together to play games and laugh… and no one has to leave for a long long long time.  And I will be there, so we won’t run out of toilet paper.  My family was 27 squares away from wiping with junk mail when I got home on Sunday night!

Three weeks is the longest I was gone and it was about one week too long.  I came home to dead, dead and more dead plants, animals and food in the fridge that should have found its way out of the fridge WEEKS previously. We are sadly down to two chickens.  One died of heart failure after being cornered by our dog.  The other of heat stroke when it was 112*F!  Whew!  I spent an hour one morning going around the yard and pulling out all the dead plants.  Most of them were winter flowers that would have died by 110 degrees anyway…. but it hadn’t been that hot yet. And my family needs smelling salts because their noses had to be numb not to notice the odors emanating from the fridge.

Even the grass is dead.  That’s another long painful story for another long painful time… but I’m seriously looking into fake grass.  It’s always green.  It doesn’t need water.  It looks pretty.  It makes me feel okay about living in the desert… when it doesn’t look like the desert.  I don’t know how to calculate watering the grass costs, but I’m sure in two or three years we would break even with fake grass and then be home free. And I would be happy seeing green.

Never in my ever-loving life have I seen piles of laundry on my kitchen tableThe KITCHEN TABLE! For the love of God and all that’s holy.  What in the world? There was another pile of clothes in between the couch and the coffee table in the family room.  After an inquiry I found that it WAS on the couch but got pushed on the floor and probably isn’t clean any more because the dogs have been sleeping on it.  Probably?

“Things fall apart when I’m gone,” I lamented to my husband in the dark of the night on the backyard swing.  “I’m glad you’re home,” was his thoughtful reply.  Yeah, I’m glad too.


Miss. Manners!

June 9, 2014

Standing in Walmart tonight, putting lipstick on my chapped lips, I had a flashback from my high school days.  Our family was out at a restaurant, which was unusual at that time, and had just finished eating.  As always, my mother pulled out her lipstick from her purse along with her mirrored compact and proceeded to re-apply her glossy lips after the meal.  Being somewhat a smart aleck (ahem!), I announced that Miss. Manners says that you shouldn’t apply your lipstick in public.  You should go to the bathroom and do it in the privacy of your own space.  My mother, without missing a beat, replied, “And that’s why she’s still MISS Manners!”


HAhahaha!  That’s all I got today.  Where’s my soothing chapstick?

Whirlwind Weekend!

May 28, 2014


Whirlwind Weekend is now behind us.  Our eldest son, Austin, graduated in a beautiful ceremony for which Rick and I were responsible.  There were a few snags, but the evening turned out to be very rewarding for the 145 graduates and their family and friends.  They felt loved, celebrated and prayed for! So worth it, in my humble opinion, to put on a grand celebration for homeschool graduates!  A homeschool graduation is a day to celebrate the parents who chose this often difficult educational route, the mama who toiled endless hours in subjects she’s not all that familiar with, the siblings who were right there in the thick of things and of course, the graduate who survived.  This child in particular, caused more prayer hours in my life…. so far….. please read the previous post to learn why we are so proud of him!

aus grad family

After cleaning up the church and scrambling home by 11:00p.m., we slept for four short hours and then jumped in the van to drive 17 hours to a wedding in Oklahoma.  Son number two has had his driving permit for one week…. no, not even.  Five days.  F I V E.  So we endured a few white-knuckled hours of experience for him during extremely uneventful stretches of flat highway across the top of Texas and Oklahoma.  How can he be allowed to drive?  He was chubby and cute and three years old just a few months ago???


The wedding was beautiful…. truly… as beautiful as a wedding can be.  Our daughter was one of the bridesmaids and it was such a joy to experience the love between the young couple starting their new life together! And blast it all, I didn’t take one picture of the couple together!

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In the fairytale setting there was a fairytale swing… one of the tallest I’ve ever seen.  Nora had a few moments of terror after the ceremony.  Her scared belly laugh makes me giggle.  It’s the laugh she can’t hold in… throaty and deep.  I love it!


Above all, I’m glad to be home.  Home sweet messy home.


Parenting Do-Over, Please

May 14, 2014

Our eldest son, the second blessing God sent us, has been on his own plan since he was in my womb.  That kid kicked and moved more than my other two put together.  Then he didn’t want to come out…. at all.  Truthfully, his head had grown too large to make the journey, but that’s another painful story for another painful time.  On the tenth day past his due date, he was pulled into the world screaming louder than any child I had ever heard in my life.  My first words were, “He is loud!”  Then the doctor announced that it was indeed the biggest baby head he had ever seen!  Nice.  I pride myself an winning at all avenues of life…. including offspring head circumference. Hence my 17 year old patch on my sash of life “Biggest Head Delivered at Misericordia Hospital, Edmonton 20th Century.”

Then came schooling.  He just wasn’t interested.  He wanted to play and play hard and loud.  He was good at it too. He’s been to the ER more times than the rest of the five family members added up.  He couldn’t have cared less about letters and sounds and words and reading.  Nope… let’s go make some cardboard wings and jump off the bunk bed.  He was nine years old …. N I N E… when he first sounded out a letter and a short word.  NINE, people.  And I’m his teacher.  What does that say about me and my skills and my training and my self image?  Remember, I like to win in ALL avenues of life.

He was also nine when he designed, measured, installed and set up our backyard sprinkler system.  No, he couldn’t read well, but his talent was evident elsewhere.  He was athletic. Still is.  He has played soccer and hockey and golf and cycles on a team. He’s strong.  Won the fastest hockey skater in the USA when he was 10. He’s my kid, after all. He can ride his bike for 72 miles around a lake and then wants to go for a swim when he’s done.  Winning!

Due to his multiple concussions and the end to his career in contact sports, we had him tested to set a baseline incase more concussions were in his future.  We wondered, after hitting his head seven or eight times, if there was damage that was irreparable. The testing took six hours.  I watched four complete Disney movies in the waiting room that day.  Toy Story reminded me of the cardboard wings and a jump off the bunk bed that left a blue goose egg on that boy’s head for a week.  When the doctor went over the results with us, his first words were, “There is no evidence that this boy has ever hit his head.” I replied, “That is a miracle from God!” He agreed.  The doctor also told us that in his 25 year career of testing kids and adults, he had never seen anyone with better spatial relations when it came to hand eye coordination.  I asked what occupation that was needed in.  A mama’s gotta know these things.

At the start of high school, he came into our room at midnight, because that is when teenagers are available and willing to talk to their parents, when their parents are completely shot, emotionally unstable and exhausted.  He announced that he didn’t plan on going to college.  I about jumped up and shouted Hallelujah!  I seriously didn’t know how he would do with massive amounts of reading required.  He told us that God had called him to serve people, to build homes in Mexico, to be a missionary.  Following after God has always been dear to our hearts for our children. I breathed a homeschool mom sigh of relief that this kid wouldn’t have to take the SAT.  Then he announced that he didn’t really see a need for high school either.  I told him quite flippantly, “That part’s not from God.”  (I have since realized I was wrong!) Because we know that in today’s society it is expected to fit into the norm and DO high school.  Biology and Renaissance history, dangling participles and chemistry, English literature and geometry.  Necessary.  Pshwaaaaa.

We should have listened to him.  After two and a half years of classes that he deemed unnecessary, he begged and pleaded to take the GED and be done with this nonsense and get on with his call from God.  More recently, he’s feeling the direction to work with homeless people.  He’s bold.  He’s been working with them for several years.  What high school kid asks on Friday night if he can go downtown and pray for people on the street?  Big headed kids.  We finally realized that we should have tailored his high school years toward God’s call on his life.  Maybe some classes on economics, running a non-profit, dealing with anger management, self defense and Spanish.

Today he passed his third of four GED tests.  I keep telling myself, he’s only been reading the English language for EIGHT years and he is passing the high school requirements.  His plan is to go this fall to a church intern program where he can work in a homeless shelter and do street ministry.  We have to sign permission slips because he won’t quite be 18 when he leaves.  We couldn’t even book his plane ticket on Expedia or Travelocity because he’s too young.

I realize this is partly my fault for reading real life missionary stories to him as a kid….. Mary Slessor…. David Livingstone…. their lives made a deep impact on this kid of ours.  I took him on missions trips to see with his own Caribbean blue eyes people who need Jesus. He realized at a young age he could help.  He was 12 when he hammered sheetrock on a ceiling in Mexico for five days straight for a daycare that is keeping kids out of orphanages.  He got it.  Big time! We couldn’t be more proud of him.

But for this one kid, I wish I could have a parental do-over. We have learned, however, to raise each one toward his bent in life.  Coax their God given talents into shining examples of God’s mercy and grace!  We will do better with the last two children entrusted to us.  We promise!

So Glad You Asked!

April 17, 2014

Asked What? Happy 13th month anniversary of my car accident!  Break out the sparkling cider!  I thought an update was due, since it is the stupid accident’s fault that my blogging has slowed so.

How are you? I’m fantastic, but improving daily. My right arm still hurts every day, usually just my shoulder, but some days it’s all the way to my elbow.  It is not cry-in-the-corner pain.  It is low-grade only-take-ibuprofen-about-twice-a-week pain.  On six of seven mornings, my first wakeful thought is, “Oh, my arm hurts,” and then I go on with my day.  But it is draining and most days I’m exhausted by 3:00 p.m. just from normal wear and tear of being a homeschool mom.  I don’t make dinner as much as I used to.  My house isn’t as clean as it was just over a year ago. I can’t seem to muster blogging strength or humor. Back in the day, when in the depths of a writing project, I could sit at the computer for six to seven hours and get lost in my own thoughts and words.  Now, after about 20 minutes of typing I need a heat pack on my shoulder and max typing is about 40 minutes.

How is treatment going? We have exhausted all forms of treatment, save pulling out my toenails so I think of something else instead of the pain in my shoulder. I have had therapy, nerve testing, multiple injections in my neck and shoulder, Graston treatment (think of medieval torture instruments being dragged across already wounded muscles), multiple MRIs, massage, pain management and my last resort, being the wimp that I am about needles, acupuncture.  Nothing has improved in the last six months.  So I quit acupuncture.  Seriously, I would have to psych myself up to go and then not look at the 20 needles sticking me twice a week.  I did ten sessions.  I gave it the old college try.  Then I quit.  And I’m really good with that decision. The doctor put in a circle of needles on my shoulder every visit and told me once that it is called “circle the dragon.”  I’m not into all that Eastern medicine hokey-pokey-kung-phuey, so in my mind it came to be known as “circle the wagons.” (You know how much I love 1850’s westerns!) Weekly massage is ongoing.  It’s not the feel-good-and-relax-when-you’re-on-a-cruise massage, sadly.  It’s the work-out-the-pain-and-hold-back-the-tears massage.

What next? We are planning on settling the personal injury case in a “this is as good as it’s going to get” state. Highly disappointing, but I am not without hope of healing from the God who closed a hole in my baby girl’s heart, caused cartilage to grow in my son’s flimsy ear and worked miracle after miracle to bring Nora to our family.  There is ALWAYS hope!

How can we pray? Thank you for asking! Pray that complete healing will come. Pray that I learn whatever dumb lesson I’m supposed to be learning in the waiting time. Pray that God’s will be done.  THANK YOU!!!

Ten-Year-Old Money Management

April 16, 2014

“Mom, my size eight underwear is too tight.  Can we please get me some more?”  Of course this was only uttered in complete isolation from her brothers.  Of course.  She is mortified if I say the word “bra” out loud whether we are alone or not.  It makes me want to work “bra” into every conversation.  Which I am capable of doing, but I’m trying to be the nice mom (in a white bra.)

So off to ROSS we went.  Dress for less.  That’s my idea of a good time.  And Mr. Wallet’s too.  Straight to the back of the store to the girls department we hightailed and bee-lined to the clearance section.  There is ALWAYS underwear on clearance, which I don’t really understand because they don’t go out of season. Ever.  (Well, except for a season in my teenage son’s life when he wore bathing suits for three months…. but I digress.)


BINGO!  Five multi packs to choose from.  All the right size.  All were five pair for $3.  All were cute colors.  All were bikini (which is apparently highly importante for the Colombiana!)  (When she has her first love in college, and he finds this blog, she’s gonna kill me… but that is so far off, I shall continue.)  I wanted to yell, “Sweet Jesus! We scored in the clearance section, folks!” but I did not, only because I noticed something was amiss on my daughter’s face.  She was not as exhilarated as I was with the undies find.  After questioning her dislike for my super saver bargain, she explained that the sudsy, mini yellow Chihuahua in the bathtub pictured on the first pair of panties in the multi pack was no bueno! I countered with an explanation that she could have five pair for $3 and wear the Chihuahua or she could stay snug in her size 8s.  The little doggie grew on her, as I knew he would.  Plus out of the five pair only ONE had the doggie!  The rest were boring… albeit in cute colors.

She was not done. Oh no. The bubbly Chihuahua was not going down without a fight. Turning to the non-sale section, she pointed to some cute sets of pink undies with turquoise lace gracing the top. Seriously, the ones she picked looked like they were strays from the racy lingerie section of the ladies department.  Why do they even make little girls underwear resemble Victoria’s Secret garb? Pointing out the $6 price tag for TWO pair, I asked her how many doggie panties we could buy for six dollars.  She thought for a moment and answered correctly, mumbling defeat, “ten.”

I explained that it is not a wise use of our money to buy two pair of fancy duds when ten serviceable ones would do.  I suggested that if she really wanted the lacy ones, she could use her own hard-earned money. (Insert eye roll here.) Utterly ridiculous! She would not pay $6 for two pair, even though she wanted me to. No way! She even made a little snorting noise in disgust.

And the underwear lesson went down in the history book as a frugal find but a fashion failure. Egads… a bathing Chihuahua… can you even imagine?!? Disgraceful!



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