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Thursday, February 3, 2011


We learned today that a neighbor and friend had passed away after a valiant fight with cancer.  

We had the privilege of getting to know his family when we were going to the same church.  Erik and I had the privilege of really getting to know his youngest son through the youth group.

My heart just aches for his family - I know they were expecting his passing, but I know the hurt is not lessened by the knowing.

My heart aches for his wife - a lovely woman who is just so caring and kind.  His oldest son, with Downs Syndrome, who vacuums houses for ladies from the church.  His daughter who will have to finish this semester of college grieving her father.  And his youngest son, a senior in high school, who is such a wonderful young man that I hope my boys grow up to be half as wonderful as him, and who now has to finish this most special year of high school without his dad.  I know that it provides some comfort to his family that he was a faithful believer and has no doubt been welcomed to Heaven.  As someone who has lost a loved one, however, I know it provides comfort knowing that He is in a better place, but that fact will not lessen the despair they feel with him gone from their everyday human lives.  I struggle with what exactly to pray for his family.  So I turned to scripture and found:

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Romans 8:26

So I am relying on the Holy Spirit tonight, to intercede for me, to offer the prayers that are needed, to touch the souls of those in despair, to provide whatever comfort is needed.

I admired the parenting skills of this couple for years.  Going to the same church, we got to watch their interaction with their children, much older than our own, and we'd often talk about how we hoped we would be able to handle the dramas, traumas, joys and sorrows of parenting with as much confidence, love and FAITH as they did.

In my former career, I dealt a lot with troubled youth, and I always said to myself that when I encountered parents doing a great job, I would tell them what a great job they were doing because the kids were a reflection of that.  It was only natural then, that one day I got to talking to our friend and told him he and his wife should write a parenting book because I just adored their kids and it was my sincerest hope that my children would grow up to be such kind and responsible teens.  I asked him what advice he had for us and his reply was "you just got to stay on them, Jen.  Be strict with them about the important stuff and maybe they won't like it, but it will let them know they are loved.  When you're hard on them when they are young, they know better than to try anything when they're older and you can have a great relationship."  I think about that a lot as I'm parenting when I wonder if I'm being too hard on my kids.  But then I remember his advice, I see how his kids are turning into productive, interesting young adults, and I heed his advice.  I picture his family, as they interacted in church and how they so obviously love each other and I know that love will sustain them as they grieve.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:7-8

Love one another.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It's One Of Those Days

Today is another snow day here in Western PA.  We didn't actually have any snow, just lots and lots of ice.  Of course, this meant that everyone was awake by 7 AM.  Erik left at 4 AM, which meant I slept fitfully for the three hours between his leaving and the kids waking.  I never sleep well when he leaves because I worry about him out there on the treacherous roads with crazy people who don't want to believe the roads are treacherous.

To top that off, I'm not so much a morning person, so when we have the opportunity to sleep in, I sneak into bedrooms, close the curtains even tighter and turn off night lights to preserve the sanctity of the dark.  Unfortunately, about 7, Maggie came into my room.  Which was okay because I can usually turn on PBS Kids and she will lie in bed with me until hunger distracts her closer to 8:00.  About 7:15, I hear the opening and slamming of dresser drawers.  I knew then Williebeast was awake.  He wants to get dressed right away in the morning and his three year old brain cannot be troubled to remember the order of his drawers.  His dresser from top drawer to bottom goes:

Top Drawer:  Underwear and socks
Second Drawer:  Pajamas
Third Drawer: Play Shirts
Fourth Drawer: Play Pants
He doesn't even have to factor in his "good" clothes because they are all hung in the closet.  He has to open drawers one, three and four, in that order, and he can be dressed.  Unfortunately, his brian works like this.

Time to get dressed.
I need pants.
Open top drawer.  Pants are not in there.  Slam drawer shut.
Open second drawer.  Pants not in there.  Slam drawer shut. 
Open third drawer.  Pants are not in there.  Slam drawer shut.
Open fourth drawer.  Pants are there.  Grab first pair of pants.
Oh!  Before I put on my pants I need underwear.  
Repeat drawer opening and closing in reverse until all items of clothing have been located.

Which leads to about 16 counts of drawer slamming.  Which leads to the awakening of Walker, who upon being told "you have a snow day!  Go back to sleep and enjoy it!" decides he cannot sleep one minute longer and has to wake up.

Insert three separate trips to the bathroom with three separate flushings and you have now woken up the baby.

Did I mention that mornings are not my favorite?

When you are up at 7 with three active kids who have torn the house apart from one end to the other by 9:15, spilled three bowls of cereal, fed the baby fruit loops, shot you three times in the face "axidwentawy" with a nerf dart gun, and then demand to go outside, it became the kind of day where you need some stupid laughs.

So, I found a link to this website a while back and it has brought me great joy.  I've posted a link to it several times on facebook, but thought today I'd share it with my faithful followers.

If you're familiar with The Far Side comics/books/calendars, you will "get" this site.

Here's a review that gives a pretty good description of what the site is about:

Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
September 19, 2010

Catalog Living, Wife of the Gods
Some things are so common we don't notice how absurd they are. For instance, catalogs display pictures that are meant to be "homey." But whose home is it, anyway?
Who actually lives this way?
Nobody, of course. But what if they did? What would their lives and relationships be like? Actor/writer/comedian Molly Erdman provides us with her answer at a website called Catalog Living(
The pictures are all gorgeous -- the way catalog pictures tend to be. Serious money was spent on making these photos lush and deep and full-colored. But what are they shooting?
The entry for 21 September shows two throw pillows shaped and painted like curled-up kittycats. Erdman's caption? "Well, Elaine, if they're just pillows then why do we have a litter box? And, more importantly, who is using it?"
With most of them, however, you have to be looking at the picture as you read the caption. Otherwise it makes no sense. So all I can suggest is that you go to the site and see for yourself! It will change forever the way you look at catalogs forever.

Some of my favorites:

There are lots more that are just as fun.

Also, my sister got me hooked on this site too: 

Some recent favorites:

7th Momiversary

Today is my 7th Momiversary.

This fellow is 7.

That's ridiculous!

Just yesterday this is what he looked like!

Now he's seven and he wants to have his birthday dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

So he can get lots of cute college girls to sing him a happy birthday song after they give him a super-cool plastic cowboy hat.

Next thing you know, this hoodlum is going to be seven.

And so will this one:

Not this girl, though.  She promises she won't grow up and leave me.  Except maybe she will because she wants to grow up and be a Mommy.

Her dad has strictly forbidden this dream though.

Back to the seven year old . . .

Friday night, he had his first "official" sleep over.  Waker invited a friend over and they watched movies and played and had a blast.  Saturday,we had a sled riding/birthday party.  We invited almost everyone we knew to come over and sled ride at our house and have lunch with us.  It was awesome!

 Friends prepping to head down the hill.

My nephew hits the "slopes."
A group shot - look at that line up!

Whit gets in on the action.

Walker and his classmate - the one person he DEFINITELY wanted at his party.

Daddy sneaked Whitaker some cake.

Hmmm - who instructed these kids to pose so prettily?

Maggie enjoys the moment too!

Walker helped design his cake - we were hoping to put farm animals on sleds and skis on the cake, but the local cake decorating store only had ski figures available.  I don't know why one figure was GIANT in comparison to the other skiers, and I'm not sure what the deal is with the "ski lodge" with the paddle wheel, but Walker liked it so it made the cake.  

After all, aren't birthdays for doing just what the birthday boy wants?