I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ok one more...

Who needs fast food when you have help like this? The counter is one of his favorite spots to be. Right in the middle of things and in our house there is an awful lot that happens in the kitchen.

Picture time

Laundry baskets have so many uses.

Isn't she talented?

Shorts in the middle of winter?

Catching snowflakes with daddy. The flakes were so big they were catching the light.

That's a girl who's crazy about her school work.

He really gets into his work.

Isn't she cute? We've been thinking about cutting her hair for awhile and we finally did it.

Just a few of his favorite things

Found him this way not too long ago. Off to bed with you speedboat, goodnight. Went to check on him a bit later and was welcomed by this. All his favorite things. That's his pooh pillow in the corner that has made it through my brother, my oldest son as well as my youngest daughter. Then you have the multiple stuffed animals there on the right. Everybody against the wall! There is his favorite college team hat next to his left hand and his airplane his daddy gave from from the last business trip in his right. Stuffed crab at his head and blankie at his feet. What could be better? Looks like he agreed. Must have been chillin' before he fell asleep. Goodnight handsome.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Defining moment

We got some not so great news yesterday. Not devastating news by any stretch but a downer anyway. Our 5 year old has developed a lazy eye and will need some patching and possible surgery. We have to travel a couple hours to see the specialist since there are only 2 pediatric opthamologists in our state. He comes closer once a month but is booked out for 3 months and our eye doctor doesn't want us to waste any time. So we will go have a consultation at his main office next month to get a plan started.

You know, as a mom you do what you have to do. But the prospect of patching her day after day is less than appealing. She is what they call a "strong-willed child". A person says that and everyone sighs "Ohhhh." It's not all negative though. Strong willed children are often mis-understood. She is tenacious, I'll give you that. But that's what makes her special. If I needed someone on my side fighting for me, I would want her in my corner. When she believes something is right or true, come hell or high water she will stand firm to it. She is also one of the most compassionate and loving people I know. It takes a strong willed person to get things done and I am banking on that part of her personality to get over this hurdle. She is very logical and when she understands that something has a purpose and she can wrap her mind around it then she will do what is necessary.

It was many years ago that I remember my youngest sister crying and kicking as my Mom tried to place a patch over her strong eye. My sister had a lazy eye also and had gone through surgery to correct it. Afterwards, for several years, she had to wear a patch to strengthen the eye. I have one moment in time that has stuck with me. That particular day was a rough one. She did not want to wear it. She was so young and my Mom had tears in her eyes as she put it on her crying toddler. It was that day that I learned that what is best for your child is not always comfortable and sometimes hurts. It was that day, I believe, that defined something in me. With compassion and tears in her eyes my Mom did what was best for her child even if it meant she was the one who inflicted the discomfort. Parents of children fighting horrible diseases know this trail all too well. I can't even imagine.

Our youngest child had to spend 10 days in the NICU when he was born. We wanted to bring him home so badly and they told us that if we could learn to gouvage feed him they would let us take him home. Oh how he screamed as I placed the tube carefully through his nose and down his throat. It took 2 tries before it went in. It was only afterwards that the nurse told my husband that they didn't think we could do it. It wasn't something that I thought about. My baby needed to eat and he needed to be home. Do what has to be done. That's it. No wavering.

Yesterday I was reminded why this piece of my character is how it is. The memory of that day and the patch came flooding back as I told my Mom about my daughter's eye. The day I watched her do what was best for her daughter no matter how painful it was for my mother. A valuable defining moment. Thanks for being who you are Mom.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A husband, a sister, and a mother

To say my husband is supportive would be the understatement of the year. I have felt for sometime that it was time for us to begin homeschooling. He has been holding the reigns a bit wanting me to wait for just the right time. His biggest reservation being his concern for me. He knows me very well. He has seen the expectations that I have for myself and experienced first hand the defeat and frustration I feel (and share) when I am unable to fulfill those expectations. He commented recently that he has noticed how I have given up so many demands of myself in the last 10 years. I was touched and deeply appreciated that he had noticed. I thought about how things had changed some and why that was so. After much thought all I could ask was how else do you keep your sanity and raise 5 kids, 2 dogs, be a wife, friend and neighbor without letting a lot go? It is something that has been a struggle and it's been no small price that I have paid. I can tend towards the high strung set of people. It comes naturally, not something I've worked at. I like everything being just so. But how can everything be just so when you have dressed and groomed everyone an hour ago, got into the shower only to re-emerge to 5 children who appear to have been hit by a freak tornado while you were away? I look at my 5 year old with her disheveled hair and tell her to meet me at the kitchen sink because we need to do her hair again. To which she responds with the force of the afore mentioned tornado. Whhhhyyyyy?! Hmmm. Why? Well, I prefer you to not look homeless when you get to school. I know, I know. I expect so much.

Back to my husband. His concern for me has meant a lot. His support the last couple of weeks has meant even more. Just last week I told him on the way home that I would like 30 minutes in the school room when he got home. I needed some time to prepare for the next day and I feel like I am in this learning curve. He said sure, no problem. When home, he quickly ushered the kids out of the school room and shut the door. When I finished I was welcomed by children picking up in the house and dinner cooking. What a sight! I was feeling bad that I had been so busy schooling all day that I hadn't had time to start dinner. He didn't bat an eye, saw what needed to be done and got things going.

Today he came home and remarked how nice the house looked. I was thrilled, but the credit is not mine alone. For the past few months, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law have come most Tuesdays to fold laundry. It started after several conversations among the three of us. It came up one time that my mother-in-law had mother's helpers from time to time over the years when her kids were young. I brought the idea to my husband and he thought it might be a good idea to hire someone who could come in and help do laundry once a week. Take a bit of the load off. Before we had time to look for someone, his mother came to me and asked if there was something she could do to help me once or twice a week. In light of the conversations we had all been having she thought that it would be a great way for her to do something on a regular basis to help someone else and it would relieve me of a chore I didn't care for. At first I wasn't sure that I could have her just come and help me for nothing. Not to mention my big old pride that I would trip over every time I let her in. The idea took hold quickly however and my husband's sister decided to join the party. She loves to fold laundry and has a nack for detail. My husband's t-shirts have never been so happy and uniform at the same time. Having a designated day for laundry, just one menial task, has been an incredible stabilizer. When you are home all of the time and the time is yours it can be very easy to get distracted and move from task to task without every really finishing anything. But now there is my one constant every week that my schedule now revolves around. But even bigger than that is the support that I feel when they are here. They care enough to come and give of themselves to my family, to me and it makes a difference. More than just clean clothes. Laundry day. Who knew?

So, it really is no surprise that my husband is who he is. He didn't have a full time father figure in his life growing up. What he did have was 2 brothers, 3 sisters and a praying mother. He is an observer of people and I believe he watched his mother carry a very heavy burden. I am grateful for her prayers and her devotion to her family. I am reaping the benefits of her tenacity and love. I believe that my husband saw his mother carry so much alone and he does not want the same for me. Theirs is a story that could gather much sympathy and rightfully so. But I don't think that's what they want you to see. In the midst of the loneliness and pain, trials and times of little, the cry of their hearts was answered. Answered by a God who is faithful. A God who is in the business of redemption. A God who cares for the sparrow. A God who loves my husband and his family and has richly blessed them.

I am grateful for my husband and his family.

All women should be so blessed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


We need them. I'm sure that I could come up with some delicacy made of peanut butter and water chestnuts but I am pretty sure that my family would stage a coup. There really is more than that in the pantry but it's really several parts of meals rather than one complete one. Purchasing groceries for our house is a major event every two weeks. Well major for me. I travel to a large grocery store 25 miles away, list in hand, mission in mind and most likely showing on my face. It really is worth the savings to go there but the time it takes adds up for sure. It 's serious business. I know there are larger families out there than mine that require more carts than ours does. However, this particular week it feels like I am being asked to paint the house, give my van an oil change and scrub the front sidewalk with a toothbrush, all before sunset. I usually enjoy grocery shopping. All of the possibilities of food combinations, looking for bargains, feeling alone in a crowd. Things I live for. Not to mention the physical benefits of grocery shopping. Loading the cart, unloading the cart to pay, re-loading the packed bags into the cart, putting them into the car only to take them out at home again, then unpacking them and putting them away. Who needs a gym membership? I don't know why this particular task looms like a root canal today but it does. Guess I better take the twins with me. They love to grocery shop. Really love to. Maybe I can pull up my bootstraps and let some of their joy rub off on me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

With fear and trembling...

and a whole lot of excitement our home school experience begins. Just there to the left is the schoolroom. It doesn't have a name yet. I'd like to come up with the name with the aid of the kids. It's humble, our little room. It really is a skeleton waiting for it's guts. Not really a beautiful image but accurate none the less. My talented husband built this desk and set up the computers and related items. What a guy! Even little speadboat man has an area back there with rocking chair and cubbies. He has important work too you know.

It was about two years ago that we began thinking, praying and researching about homeschooling. It's not that we don't like public school. Public school has actually been very helpful and overall an enjoyable experience. We still have those two giggly girls attending there after all. But, for the older two, it just felt like it was time. These two kids are amazing young people. Watching all they have overcome and who they have become is truly inspiring. The time we have with them is passing by much too quickly, in my opinion. I have often been envious of the time the teachers have with them and have longed for their younger years back. Not the mounds of laundry, diapers, crayon on the walls or the curtains cut with the new child safe scissors mind you. Just the time with them. Although if it meant having all those things in order to get the time, I'd take them in a heartbeat. Our new school is an online academy. I am technically their learning coach and the title fits me quite comfortably. Although cheerleader may be more appropriate at times. Their actual time on the computer will vary and there will be much to complete separate from technology, much to my appreciation. In fact, if all goes well, we may add some siblings to the academy. This mom enjoys testing the waters first. Getting my wits about me if you will. It will be interesting and challenging, I have no doubt. I am not naive about the time that it will take nor the energy. But this I know, it will be worth it. I am sure of it and this is why. Are you ready for it? Wait, wait. Ahh, yes...

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

We love Him, are seeking Him and believe that we have heard the call. So, even if we miss the mark here or there (and we will), I believe that He is faithful and that what this verse says is true.

And you thought you were going to be let off without a biblical moral to the story? Ha! Sneaky I know. I'm like that sometimes.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just a visitor

Recently we took our little tribe on vacation out of state. Vacations are essential in every family. Essential. As in, not optional. I have heard it said that a minimum of seven days is best. I say five works and eases the budget. No matter how long we go there is something that takes place every time. We wait for it with anticipation. Will it happen this time? Is it coming? Day four there it is. A calm comes over the family. As a rule, we enjoy each other on a regular basis. We really do. I sometimes wonder if we really did get the five most entertaining children in the world or if it's that my husband and I are just easily entertained. Regardless we get a lot of enjoyment from our kids. But this is something different that takes place. It's getting past the first few days of "Dad she won't move over." and "Are we there yet?" and "Don't sing so loud Mom!". We are sharing all of the same experiences, seeing the same things, eating the same food and breathing the same air. There is a transition from co-existing to truly appreciating each other flaws and all. I highly recommend vacations. They don't have to be expensive and you don't even need to travel somewhere. Sometimes my husband takes time off and we just stay home. The whole family ventures out to get groceries together, play games, watch movies, or work on projects, do the chores. It's the extended time together, not the actual activity.

On this particular vacation, we started out with my husband's company asking him to work in a neighboring city to where we were going for one day. We reserved a room at a hotel close by the night before so the kids and I could relax while he worked. When we left to take him to work there was quite a crowd of people checking in. This crowd immediately caught the eyes of my children for more than one reason. There were more than one hundred people I would guess, which can be daunting by itself. But this was not the attraction. Every single person in the crowd was black. Beautiful black skin with more cornrows and new hairstyles than they had ever seen. Two of my children were fascinated, all of these people looked like they did! It was as if they didn't know whether to be excited or worried as to why they were all in the same place at the same time. Never have they ever seen so many black people in one place than when they were home in Africa. My oldest son leaned over and said "Why are all these black people here?" My oldest daughter whispered, "Maybe they are having a party." The slightly sarcastic part of me wanted to say, "Yes honey, all of the black people are having a party." I thought better of it and held my tongue. This was serious business to them. As it turns out there was a Praise Explosion Celebration at a neighboring convention center that evening. As the morning wore on, more and more black people checked into the hotel. When passing them in the hall or on the elevator these strangers would look past the rest of us and greet my Liberian children. My children have entrance to a culture I know little about. I have no idea what it must be like to live every day of my life amongst people who look nothing like me. It's not like my children are completely sheltered and never see any other black people. But everywhere we go, there is a sea of reminders that they are different than most people we meet. I suppose it's an example of what our lives as Christians are. We have our beliefs, our traditions, our christianese, trite as it may be. We go out into the world everyday where many have no idea why we do what we do, why we live like we live. It's a different culture than mine, the world. I am a visitor in a foreign land. This is not my home. Do I feel different? Sometimes. But can anyone else tell? It's not like it is with my children, where you look at them and know right away that they are not from here. It's easy to blend in. Can my neighbors tell? Is my life different enough to make a difference?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Maiden Voyage

Hmmm. First time out. What to write? Think, think, think. I feel like I am floating in the middle of a deep blue lake at dusk, water lapping on the side of the boat. Doesn't that sound nice? There is so much to say about what I see but where to start? There is so much beauty, lots of algae, it's sometimes chaotic and there are so many directions to view. How do I choose one thing that stands out? I started this blog as an outlet. You see, we have a busy house. A really busy house. Don't let me mislead you. It's fun and it has it's quiet moments, rare though they may be. But busy it is regardless of noise level. There is the husband that goes to work and provides so tirelessly for his family (ok so he gets tired a lot but he just keeps on going no matter what). There are the 2 giggly girls that go to school, the full of life twins that school at home and the mini speedboat we call our youngest son. He is an absolute delight leaving quite the wake behind him. Then there is me. Wife, mom, friend and whatever else the day calls for. Am I good at it? Some days I am great, highly qualified. Other days I wonder whose resume the manager had in his hands when he interviewed and hired me. I spend much of my thought life hoping and praying that somehow a balance is created out of those two vastly different sides of myself. I have realized recently that after much deliberation and effort on my part to create the balance myself that I have been going at it all wrong. It's not my ability. It's God who takes all that I am, no matter how contradictory, and it's Him in me that gives me balance. Oh how I have spent countless wasted hours trying to do it myself. So here is a reminder to myself today. It's Christ who strengthens me.

What a relief. My shoulders get so tired.