happy birthday, rachael

RachaelToday is Rachael Christine's 24th birthday. How she delights my soul!!

When we learned we were expecting Rachael, I was not in a good emotional place. Getting pregnant seemed like the least logical thing in the world and it definitely was not something we would have chosen. God saw things differently.

Shortly after learning I was pregnant, I read in Psalm 30, "You have turned my mourning into dancing." Rachael's life infused my sorrowing heart with joy. I'm so thankful for God's kindness in doing that. To this day, 24 years later, I cannot read that verse, "you turned my mourning into dancing," without thinking of my sweet Rachael. God used her so powerfully to restore my joy and purpose. 

She was a most delightful child and gave us joy beyond measure. Then she became a teenager, . . . and I went back into mourning as she participated in nearly every bad choice available. Thankfully, God once again turned my mourning into dancing as he worked so powerfully and beautifully in her life.

Recently I revisited Psalm 30 where it says, "you have turned my mourning into dancing," and realized it is the same chapter that says, "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Rachael's teenage years caused lots of tears, but I'm grateful that that season of weeping is over as we've seen her embrace our Lord and Saviour Jesus with great joy. 

I will always think of Psalm 30 as Rachael's Psalm. First, he used her to turn my mourning into dancing, and then he used her to teach me that after the weeping he once again brings joy.  I'm so grateful for the Word of God and how it can speak to my heart so powerfully and personally. And I'm forever grateful for the His awesome gift to me, Rachael Christine. 

happy birthday, rachael

RachaelToday is Rachael's 22nd birthday. How she blesses us. She is prayerful, worshipful, and studious. She has a great personality, is funny, and comfortable in her own skin. She has a beautiful smile, is ambition, sows into the lives of others, and is not ashamed of the gospel. She is herself, never trying to be someone else. I love her so much.

seventeen years old

Rachael at Little Bow in 2010, 15 years old

This weekend Rachael and Nick are camping at Little Bow to celebrate her birthday. That's bittersweet; bitter because it's her first birthday away from home, sweet because she acts like a good little wife as she's preparing to camp. She is looking forward to showing Nick Little Bow.

I'm disappointed and grieved by a number of Rachael's present choices. She uses pot and alcohol, lives with her boyfriend, dropped out of anything Christian-y, and done various other things I wish she hadn't. But she is so sweet. I see her several times a week and it's always pleasant. When she lived with us, it was frequently unpleasant. In that way, I'm really glad she has moved out because our relationship is nearly 100% pleasant.

I remember when Rachael was nine or ten my sister was asking about the girls likes, dislikes, passions, etc. When I got to Rachael, I paused because her likes, dislikes and passions didn't stand out to me. I replied, "You know, Rachael just does life well." It was profound. I had never articulated it like that but it is true, very true: Rachael does life well. She's responsible, respectful, a great conversationalist, a good worker, resourceful. She's in a phase of teenage-induced stupid choices, but my heart is fairly light regarding her. Generally speaking, I don't lay awake at night praying for her. I pray for her but it's not driven by heaviness of heart.

My greatest concern for her (I believe she'll turn back to God so that's not paramount in my mind) is that she is going to get a broken heart. For Rachael, I think living together is mock homemaking. She's serious about it. Although I don't think she wants to get married, she views the arrangement seriously. She's tired of the party scene, the pot, the drunks, the late nights. She wants to be like a young responsible married couple. I don't think Nick is ready to leave all those things behind. This dynamic is hard to watch as I see a vulnerable little girl who is likely going to experience a heartbreak. That hurts this mama's heart.

God, thank you for Rachael and for the joy she brings us. Please draw her to You. Fill her heart with wonder and awe of You. Soften her heart to see her need for You. Please protect her and continue maturing her and helping her grow into the young lady You want her to be. Be glorified in her life. Please give me wisdom and grace to be a good mom to her. May she always be able to see Your open arms that she can run to and fall into.

letting go

I love this girl so much. Rachael
Rachael, 2010, 10 years old

Today is Rachael's first training shift at Superstore. I'm so proud of her for getting this job. Last week she had a day of orientation and was so cute as she relayed some of the things she learned. The owner/boss told stories and anecdotes that interested Rachael and she took notes - the only new hire doing so. That's her mom and dad coming out in her.

The following day she excitedly told us of Nick and her plans regarding finances and living together. They've got it all worked out, at least in their minds. It was mildly heartbreaking to hear her innocence; they're going to save money all summer, get an apartment for $865 a month, split groceries and she'll contribute gas money. It made my heart hurt. So young and still fairly un-jaded, yet so experienced for only (almost) 17.

She moved out of the house on April 20, nearly three months ago. There had been several nights when she didn't come home and I told her there would be no more chances. "Honey, if you don't come home again, you are choosing to live elsewhere." She understood. We talked at length about it.

Rachael at the beach 3
                       Rachael, Vancouver, 2006, grade 6

She, Hannah and Deborah skipped school and went to "4-20" at the Alberta Legislature. "4-20" (April 20th) is "National Smoke Pot Day" and they joined the pot-smoking masses for the celebration. I was upset, mostly because she took her 12-year-old sister. (I spent a good amount of the day scared out of my mind trying to find Deborah, even involving the RCMP). When they came home I asked her what she was thinking taking Deborah with her. I reminded her of our discussions about house rules and told her she had to leave. She was ready. She phoned her boyfriend Nick and he asked before she said anything if she was kicked out. (That phrase, "kicked out", grates on my nerves. She was not kicked out, she chose to live elsewhere when she blatantly made the choice to disobey house rules. That is how I translate the conflict and how I believe Rachael understood the consequences.) He came and got her and they've been living together since. (They were intimate long before then.) First they lived in a house Nick was helping renovate. The understanding was they'd help renovate it then they'd get to rent the downstairs when it was done. They worked hard, especially Nick. (I love his work ethic.)

That arrangement didn't work out because the owners changed their minds about the reno plans. Rachael and Nick went to his mom's house and stayed for a while. His mom told them it wasn't a permanent arrangement and they'd have to leave in a couple weeks. Once they left there, we didn't know where they were for a few days. Then I discovered they were living in our garden shed. After Gordon and I went to work, they'd shower, eat, etc. Once I discovered them and it was no longer a secret, the shed became a teenager hangout as kids were always there, frequently smoking dope. Gordon gave them a deadline for when they'd have to leave and they left that day. (It was again heartbreaking as they offered to "pay rent" for the shed.) Several times Gordon reminded Rachael that she could always come home but she'd have to obey house rules and house rules didn't include her boyfriend living here.

2010 rachael beauty
2010, 15 years old

Since leaving the shed, they've been living with Nick's father. When Nick comes into town for work, he drops Rachael off at our house, therefore we see a lot of her. It's great to see her; she's extraordinarily pleasant to be around - truly a pleasure. But with Deborah as vulnerable and easily influenced as she is, we can't have a legal adult daughter living with us who is setting a bad example.

In Alberta, one is a legal adult at 16. As an adult, she can do what she wants. The only control we still have is having some "not in my house" rules. Rachael has never been unwelcomed here but she understands she has to abide by our rules or live elsewhere. She's chosen to live elsewhere.

Strangely, I've adapted pretty well. We get along well. While she lived here, there was ongoing conflict; curfew, marijuana, how she spoke disrespectfully and disregarded boundaries, not coming home, etc. Now we communicate pleasantly, affectionately, respectfully and with obvious appreciation for each other. I thoroughly enjoy having her around. I see good qualities that I got blind to while she was living here. I see her strengths and inner beauty. It's not been easy, but I'm starting to understand this process of "letting go" a little better.

mothers' day blues

I sit on Stacie's porch and enjoy the quiet and beautiful North Carolina nature show. I will sorely miss this quiet-time spot when I go home in a few days. This is a foretaste of heaven. I'm so thankful for the reprieve from real life.

It's Mothers' Day. I'm thankful for all the mothers who have positively influenced the way I mother. Mama! I'm thankful for the hurdles she overcame and/or at least wrestled, to bring us up with values, conviction, humor, work ethic, warmth and smiles. She taught us manners which I didn't really appreciate until more recently. She modeled prayer and Bible reading and it was a powerful model and I'm grateful. Now I'm ear deep in raising teenagers and appreciate Mama's efforts more.

Mama reading to us
Mama reading to us, 1971 or '72

I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them. Gordon has told me a number of times that they don't feel I love/like them. It's a preposterous notion. I hope it's his idea and not theirs. My kids have all taught me special things and I adore each one in a different way. They're all so different and bless me in different ways. I'm thankful for the variety.

Stephanie's birth shocked my "old man" to death and brought forth the bones of this "new man," new creation. I'll ever marvel and be grateful for the profound spiritual awakening God brought to me through her warm, pink little body.

Full bodied and quite upset after the birth ordeal, Christopher was precious and sweet. I was shocked yet again by the intensity of this love called motherhood! I was a great mom to Christopher those first four years and when I saw him over the years after that. But as I only realized in the past six or seven years, he felt abandoned by me when I lost custody of him. Will this pain, his or mine, ever subside? Probably not in this life. Something about fallen man, sin nature, imperfect world . . . I get it. I just wish it were different. I wish he could know the intensity of my love. It's still there.

I'm thankful God let me be a mom. I tried so hard, put my heart and soul into it and it seems I've failed on every front. Deborah is an absolute mess. Rachael and Hannah have thrown all our values away. I feel like an incredible failure as a mom and I'm so puzzled why it went so wrong. I sought hard after God. I read parenting books, took parenting courses; prayed, taught them Scripture and applied the principles therein, homeschooled. Why is it all so f----- up? I don't understand and it hurts so, so badly. I expected to be so proud of my girls' choices at this time in life. I expected them to be pure, making good choices, etc. 

Mothers' Day. I know this will pass. But today all I'm thinking is how all my mothering seems to have gone awry and I'm confused and disillusioned. Maybe someday it will all make better sense. Today is not that day.


Rach face

People ask why I'm not blogging much. I use to have so many things to say. My kids were angelic and oh, so very cute. Writing was easy because I had great subjects to write about. My kids ceaselessly delighted me.

Now, I'm not so easily delighted by them. To blog about their lives these days would make me very vulnerable, like opening myself up to judgement. I don't want everyone knowing the jungle I'm living in. Daily I'm confronted with self condemnation. I haven't yet figured out just what I did that produced these kids who are so unlike my visions. Confessing our home life would be like hanging a sign around my neck saying something like, "Ask me what kind of stupid my kids did today?"Rach ears

They still give me many times of joy but they give me moments (hours, days) of despair as well. That's why I'm a little quieter these days. I don't want people judging them, or me, harshly.

I know their beauty will surface again. But right now, they're kind of weird and I'm not in my proudest phase of motherhood.

That said, isn't my daughter Rachael (above) beautiful? She's almost 16. She has a lovely face and a lovely personality.

Rach hairWhen she turns sideways it's a bit hard to look at her though, at least it is for this mama. This is her ear look. I think it's pretty ugly, but I definitely prefer looking at this profile to the opposite side. For when I look at the other side, this is what I see . . . 

How did Gordon and I, two very straight-laced people, produce a Punk? It's a mystery to me.

She's a punk and proud of it. I just don't get it.

But she's got a beautiful heart and I love her with everything in me.

shakerboard kid

 2011 rachael little caesars 1
My sweet Rachael has her first public job. She's been working for years at paper routes and babysitting, but now she is gainfully employed at Little Caesar's. When she applied for the job the boss asked if she'd work the shakerboard. Rachael had no idea what "shakerboard" meant, but since it had the word board in it she associated it with cardboard and figured shakerboard had something to do with folding pizza boxes. Hence, she enthusiastically responded that yes, she'd work shakerboard. When she got in the car after the interview she asked what shakerboarding was. When she learned that the person who stands next to the street shaking the Little Caesar sign is shakerboarding, she turned red, shrunk down in the seat and groaned, "oh no."

Today is her third day of shakerboarding. Gordon and I have been out spying three times. I know I'm her mom and all, but it's a fact, the girl really rocks at shakerboarding. She puts in her earphones and jumps around like she was made to advertise $5 pizzas. I am so so proud. {Insert a great big grin here.}

Yesterday, determined to get a picture, I went stalking again. My picture (and a video) are pretty poor - I was driving - but I got this picture of the sweetie. Turns out we aren't the only stalkers. The boss told her yesterday that he'd driven by twice and she does a really good job. I'm so proud of her.


Eric and girls(Grandpa and the girls)

Eight years ago today my father-in-law passed away. He was 67. It was a hard time for our family, but I have some sweet memories from that time that I cherish.

We told the kids that Grandpa was very ill and that he would get to go to heaven soon. Deborah was nearly three. Rachael was nearly seven, Hannah was nearly six. Each of them processed it very differently. Rachael acted like it was no big deal, but that's a regular coping mechanism of hers. We knew it was big to her.

Hannah was astute and forthright. During prayer time at church on the Sunday before he died, Hannah's voice rang out clearly as she asked for prayer. "My grandpa in very sick and he hurts really badly right here," she said as she pointed to her side. (He had liver cancer.)

I thought Deborah was too young to process it one way or the other. I was wrong. One day I was in the garden and I overheard her talking to herself in the tree-house. "Grandpa is very sick and he's going to heaven soon." She said it several different ways, several different times. At that point I knew she was agitated too.

The call came that he'd passed away and we went to his house. We gathered around his bed and his kids and wife told stories, we prayed and sang a few hymns. We learned that one of Eric's favorite hymns was "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken...." We sang it.

When we cleared out of the room for the funeral home to come, Hannah asked if she could see him once more. She and I went back into his room alone. She held his hands and thanked him for being a good grandpa. She told him she looked forward to seeing him again in heaven and then she kissed him.

After the funeral home had his body on the gurney, the sons and son-in-law carried him to the waiting car. We all stood in the yard, solemnly watching them drive away. As soon as the car turned out of sight, 2-year-old Deborah jumped up excitedly and said, "Yaaay! Grandpa's in heaven." In Deborah's mind, when he got out of sight, that's when he entered heaven.

Over the next day or two, even Rachael revealed her heart. We had learned that "Morning has broken, blackbird has spoken..." was a favorite hymn of his. Rachael drew her therapy. It's a card. The front page is a blackbird in a limb.

Rach's card 1 

Inside the card, there is Grandpa on his bed and Beppe phoning us to tell us he had just died. May always wore a bun back in those days. See her bun?

Rach's card 2 

These memories and this card are precious to me.

my kids are... ?

Scan20191 - Copy (2)(Precious Rachael and Hannah, in 2000)

Because I'm getting wiser with age, I resisted the urge to title this post, "My Kids Are Idiots." That was noble, I think.

In the 80's I loved watching The Cosby Show. In one episode Dr. Huxstable comes home to find Clare seething. She hisses, "I want you to go upstairs and kill your son." More than once I've said that to Gordon. Unfortunately he never watched The Cosby Show and he doesn't have a son, so my theatrics are sorely lost on him.

Quoting movie phrases is one of my coping mechanisms. Even though Clare Huxstable's saying is not perfectly suitable in our house, I keep it in my repertoire of fine things to say when I'm on the verge of snapping. Thank God for all the movies that have given me anti-snapping phrases through the years. I've not even come close to injuring a child, so there's proof they have served me well.

(When a potential employer asks how I handle stress I respond with a professional smile, "I tell my husband to kill the kids.") 

It's no wonder that sometimes mama animals eat their young. I'm guessing it goes something like this: Mama rat looks at baby rat rolling her eyes at her and thinks, "Yep, this one's liable to steal the family car when she's 13." Chomp chomp. "Took care of that problem."

I won't tell present problems, but I'll share one from two years ago. Rachael was 13. In some homes that might mean she's the cock of the walk, the boss, the indomitable force. In our house 13 means you're an idiot. (In a couple years I'll share our present woes, if I'm not doing time or rolled up permanently in the fetal position sing-songing, "They were such sweet babies.")

Dear, sweet, idiot child Rachael, with her friends, planned a boy-girl movie night. "We're going to the movie and then we're going to Adam's house." Gordon and I shook our heads like dogs hit between the eyes with a tennis ball. Gordon gave me the shut-up-wife look just as I was forming the words, "Like hell you are."

I had an appointment that I could not miss so I had to leave. When I got home I asked how things had turned out. Gordon said he'd take her to the movie. He'd unobtrusively sit elsewhere in the theater. She could invite the kids to her house afterward. Rachael responded with, "Well that's going to be mildly embarrassing." Gordon responded, "Mildly embarrassing, eh? Sounds to me like mildly embarrassing is a good balance between wildly humiliating and uninvolved. You choose."

That little battle turned out well. Rachael went to the movies with friends, Gordon went too. She invited the friends over; girls came, boys didn't.

She was not bitter.

Rachael is doing well these days. Her mind is coming back. Slowly but surely, I see signs of sanity. She's kind of between stages, part idiot, part sane.

Hannah is 13. I think a lot about the above mama rat. 

thursday thirteen

I love Thursday Thirteen. It's a great way to catch up.

1. I've been kind of sad/contemplative/nostalgic lately. I've been busy scanning pictures from the days before digital photos. I've got a lot done, but still have a ways to go. Anyway seeing all those pictures of my little people, . . .  Now they are so big. It's enough to make a mama weep. A couple are grown. A couple morphed into a different species. And one is still a child. In a way it seems like a few days ago that Stephanie was born and in other ways it seems like a totally different life. Time keeps going.

2. As I looked at all the photos, over and over I saw evidence of Debbie Tannehill. She gave us sooo many clothes for the girls and all three girls wore them. Thank you, Debbie. You are such a good friend.

3. Was reminded all over again how incredibly sweet my wee ones were.

4. Was reminded all over again how incredibly tiring Rachael was. She was a handful. I created a few "funnies" for the occasion.

5. Funny 1.

  R mischief

6. Funny 2.

  God have mercy

7. Funny 3.

  R 2000

8. I love the smells of the season. I sat in the back yard last night and got intoxicated by all the floral scents in the air. I am sure heaven will have those same scents.

9. Do you remember that I'm working on a book? (Actually it's three books.) I'm getting pretty close to having the first one finished. I'm excited about the potential.

10. Hannah was such a writer/card giver when she was wee. This week I thoroughly enjoyed reading through a bunch of her sweet greetings from years ago. She doesn't write me love letters anymore. I miss those, but am thankful for the ones she gave me when she still liked me. {Sigh, people warned me about this.}


12. In case you can't see it, it says, "You are the best perins in the world. I love you. Have a Heavenly Day." See why I'm nostalgic and blue?


13. Reading through Hannah's photo album reminded me of some of her quirky ways when she was little. And she had more than a couple quirky ways. I had totally forgotten one until I read it in her album. In 2000 we went to Colorado and met all my family for Thanksgiving. For many, it was the first time to meet my Canadian children. Hannah was four and Deborah was still nursing. Hannah was often invited into people's lap to get acquainted. Hannah's method of getting acquainted was asking, "Do you have milk in your breasts?" and/or "How come your breasts are so small?"

rachael goes to the symphony

Rach sym (2)
Saturday, Rachael and "a friend" went to the symphony. It was a set of unusual circumstances which swayed us to allow this. If you think Rachael is allowed to go out with boys, you are sadly mistaken. However, just this once and never to happen again within a couple of years, she did. My baby looked precious, don't you think? She's growing up I'm afraid.

Symphony 011

rachael's "new" bedroom

We finally finished Rachael's bedroom. I was out of "the zone" on this one, biting my nails hoping she'd like it. She does. She actually quite loves it.
Copy (1) of 001The "MUSIC" painting above the window was a labor of love from her daddy. She had drawn it in pencil. Instead of painting over it, like I would have done, Gordon carefully painted it. He's so sweet and thoughtful that way.

She saw this tree dilly at IKEA and thought it was pretty sweet. It's the one decoration in her room that I kind of dig. The rest, not too much.

Rachael is forever writing and drawing on her walls. Hence, the chalkboard. Most people do the chalkboard paint for their toddlers. We did it for one of the teenagers....


And these lovely (not) pieces015 of art, Rachael chose herself. They are stairs -- it took me a while to figure that out. She loves them, I think their mildly ridiculous and not-so-mildly ugly.

As for the masks, Rachael is kind of into masks. Yuk.

 Used chalkboard

And this is her chalkboard a few days after it cured. This is going to be fun.

Rachael, do your homework first.

Clean this pigsty.

You should speak nicely to me -- some day I'll die and you'll be racked with regret.

But of course I'll also leave notes with Bible verses and Robert Munch poetry. After all, that's what well-adjusted good moms do.

I think we're all going to like the chalkboard.

happy birthday to rachael


Our dear little Rachael turned 14 a few days ago. Every time we met in the hall, in the kitchen, and especially when I tucked her into bed, I took the opportunity to acknowledge how much pain I was in "15 years ago right now." It is true, Rachael's birth takes the cake on my experience with labor and I don't want the dear child to forget it. :-) I think she loves the stories about her birth and how I was so awed by her beauty and by God's graciousness in giving me a second chance to be a better mom.

When I think of Rachael's day of birth, I think of how I held her and carressed her little cowlick -- which she ended up calling her "pocket" -- for hours. I held and admired her soft pudgy body and rubbed that little velvety soft spot in her forehead.

She has perfected the art of hiding her cowlick though and I miss it terribly. Last night I had to talk her into letting me massage that soft spot that I love so much. She's kind to oblige her mom like that. I have many bonded hours with Rachael doing nothing by staring at her and caressing it. Do you see her cowlick in the left corner of her forehead? It's still so very sweet to me.

Rachael and Lucy

I love this girl so much. Rachael

Rach on horse

Rachael gives us so much joy. She is responsible and very helpful. She can be very kind and gentle. She is as strong-willed as ever, but I see some of that strong will manifesting itself in ways that are truly welcomed. She laughs at my dumb jokes, makes me laugh at her wonky things, loves to talk and talk and talk. To my dismay, she's starting to think about dumb boys more and more. ggrrr.

Rachael's first softball gameRachael is a true blessing. I love her so very, very much and am thankful beyond words for such a sweet daughter. Happy Birthday my dear sweet Rachael.

Copy (1) of rachael

thursday thirteen

Summer to do list I hope you've missed my Thursday Thirteens. My friend Shelly inquired about the lack of Thursday Thirteen posts. I was thrilled to learn someone actually missed those wonky Thursday posts. I usually think of 13 things to say around Friday night. Hence TT's recent infrequency.

13 things going on around here:

1. The prison journaling course is going very well. In some ways, better than I even hoped. One of the ladies that's been in the class since it started is getting discharged next week. Tomorrow instead of "class" we're having a party with pizza and ice cream cake. They, and I, are so excited. I got her a really nice journal for her going-away gift. I'm taking cards for every other lady to write prayers of blessings for her. I think she'll be pleased.

She's requested a continuing relationship while she's in the half-way house. The chaplain gave me the safety parameter's for executing that, (and was confident is was a safe investment), so maybe I will get to stay connected to her in a small way.

2. The ladies in the Healing Through Journaling course are so touched by the simplest gifts. In the beginning I bought everyone cheap journals from the dollar store. They acted like I'd spent buckoos on them. They were grateful. Then I passed out the pens (not from the dollar store) and they seemed almost giddy. One week I made each of them a bookmark of a famous piece from a famous journaler. Psalm 23, by David. Again, they acted like I'd done something pretty special. One evening I took each one a chocolate bar, which promptly got confiscated by the guards, but still they were grateful. It's nice to work with grateful girls. It's a quality I wasn't expecting to encounter. It's been a sweet experience. If you care to pray for C. who is being released, I'd be grateful.

3. Rachael had her 14th birthday party two weekends ago. That was a hoot, in a teenage sort of way.018

4. This Friday Deborah will have her 10th birthday party. The poor child, her birthday party always competes with her friends' families' holidays. Miss Socialite only has four friends coming to her party because the rest are out of town. I suggested putting it off, but because of our family holidays it couldn't happen till August if it didn't happen this weekend. Patience isn't my Deborah's strongest virtue, so the party is this weekend. The bright side for her is that I told her since I have to buy fewer eats for fewer friends I could afford another gift. She seemed okay with the trade-off. :-)

5. Rachael is working at two VBS's this week. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. It's cool seeing her busy at that.

6. I'm riding my bike lots and lots. I usually ride it to work 3 times a week and all around town too. Near the end of school, Rachael and Hannah went on field trips on buses. They passed me on my bike. Something about that struck Rachael as hysterical. She and her friend laughed till they cried. When she told me about it she laughed till her eyes watered yet again. I would have understood if she'd have been embarrassed, but she promised me she wasn't. She said there was just something about it that was soooo funny.

7. Another time she and her friends were walking to a friends' house. I rode past them on my way to pick up Deborah. I didn't even realize it was them until I was about 20 feet from them. Then I heard her whimper, "Mom?". I turned toward them and saw three perplexed girls looking at me and one of them saying, "Mom?". She looked like she was wondering if I was really her mom -- like it had been ages since she'd seen me. Once I noticed and acknowledged them they burst out laughing. Something about seeing me unexpectedly on my bike really cracks them up. Rachael told me if I'd forgo the helmet I wouldn't look quite so nerdy. I told her I was too smart for that.

8. Our family holidays got toned down this summer. We are going to Family Camp in a couple weeks. Meanwhile we've planned lots of little things to do locally to make our summer active and fun. The orange chart in the picture above is our summer to do list. Hannah refers to it like it's a Bible.

9. Gordon is doing well. He has some new toys that are keeping him entertained. If you want to hear him entertaining himself, call my house and listen to our voice mail message. Yep, he's having fun with his new toys.

021 10. With kids in the teenage years I am even more grateful for a wise husband. He balances me really well. Last Saturday morning we were having coffee outside. I had been in a snarly mood for about 48 hours and was keeping my dark thoughts to myself. He asked what my problem was and I replied, "Our kids are idiots!" He replied, "They could be worse idiots."

11. I've taken summer hours at work. I'm working four hours a day three days a week. It's great for the family and keeps me really in touch with the children. (Maybe I'll share some idiot stories soon.)

12. I think I've shared before that my job could end next March. Not sure, it could go either way. But I've been preparing for it, just in case. I've worked hard to grow my freelance business thinking I'd enjoy working from home should the job end. Interestingly, I'm changing my mind, I think, (I sound really convinced don't I?) about working from home. I get sleepy at home. I think I'm probably healthier having a job away from the house. I've already taken my "hire me" widgets off this site, if you haven't noticed, and that's the reasoning behind that. I might change my mind, but that's my thinking this week.

13. I had a computer crash. I lost all my emails and email addresses. And I lost lots of Word documents too, which isn't good if you're a writer. :-( If you sent me a letter and never got a response, please resend it. If you sent it a long time ago and I hadn't responded, I'm sorry. I don't have your address or your email anymore. Please write again. Thankfully my hubby is good at techie things and saved the day.


Calendar I'm sure you all well remember that I'm a basket case in my own appealing way. Which reminds me of the sitcom from the '80's called Designing Women. Once Julia went to bat for a demented woman -- I don't remember the details -- but in the end Julia got in someone's face in a polite genteel sort of way by declaring, "Here in the South, we are puh-roud of our crazy people." 

My family ganged up on me last night and I'm none too puh-roud of them for that. What they all need is a kick in the butt and a bit of experience living in the South and growing up with chores. Huh!, chores! What a lame word. I didn't have "chores" when I was a kid. I worked like a man starting at 4 years of age.

Last night I told the girls to make the sandwiches for lunches. You'd have thought I'd asked them to construct the Golden Gate Bridge. The (usually) fine husband and father of these darlings didn't even take up for me. I was none too happy. It wasn't one of our finer evenings.

It got worse. After they expressed their opinions about making sandwiches, the horror of horrors that that is, they tried to saddle me with guilt. "We never see you. You're always gone." They started naming all the commitments I've had this year, only one of which is still a weekly evening commitment. It's true I WAS over-committed but I quit every dang one of those commitments except Tuesday evening. No more Weight Watchers, no more dragon boating (I cried).

I'm sure as astute discerners of spirits, you've figured out that I'm just a little peeved. And as I've done in the past, I'll share some of this little family's humor. It always blesses my socks off to tell funny things my fam has done. I'm blessed indeed with a (usually) good-natured, fun-loving family.

In The Cinderella Story, a girl flick that my girls really like, the evil stepmother in her nasal voice says to the teenage stepdaughter, "You're not very smart and you're not very pretty. I'm glad we had this talk." That line has become a regular in our house. It's one of those little things we say to make sure everyone maintains a healthy self-esteem. Hannah particularly likes to say it, probably because she knows she'll get gales of laughter from me because she does the imitation so well. I might ask, "Hannah, does this blouse look ok?" to which she'll look up and down my long svelte body and reply in a most nasally voice, "Well, you're not very smart and you're not very pretty. I'm glad we had this talk."

Sounds warped, I know. But it makes us laugh. It makes me puh-roud.

Several weeks ago my poor Rachael got a short-lived little flu. She's usually healthy as a healthy horse so when I heard her puking I ran to the bathroom to find her hugging the toilet. Forgetting to check my humor at the door, I said, "Oh Lord, I hope this isn't that swine flu that's killin' everybody." Even in a puking state, Rachael started laughing and vomit dribbled out her nose. I know, sounds un-motherly and warped. But we laughed and that makes me puh-roud.

Deborah, the social butterfly, lives in fear of missing out on something. None of my children have had as many play dates and social gatherings as Deborah. And every time we pick her up from one of them she asks, "What did you all do while I was gone?" Sounds healthy enough, but what she really means is did I miss anything? Not one to let the opportunity pass to damage a child, I reply along these lines. "We had a party with ice cream and every candy you can imagine. Even pop, lots of pop. I hired a clown and he came with his donkey." As I'm saying my part, the rest of the family is adding theirs. Everyone belts out their input: We went skating. Kalyna called to see if you could sleep over, I told her no. We went for pizza. We laugh as we try to outdo each other's good time.

Ok, I THINK my family is back in my good graces. At least till I ask them to lift their pretty little fingers to help me out.

Hmm, maybe I spoke too soon.

metal mouth still

RachaelPoor little Rachael thought she was getting her braces off today. No such luck. The doc said 4 or 5 more months. She was not happy.

I took this picture before heading to the orthodontist. We thought it was her last day of braces. :-(

She's a lovely child, eh?



In P.E. these days Rachael and Hannah are learning dance. Rachael really enjoys it and her class put on a very good production a couple weeks ago. Now they are working on another performance and she loves to practice.

I still have residual feelings from my childhood. I don't think dancing is necessarily wrong, but it isn't a pursuit I encourage. I'm well aware this stems from my childhood brainwashing.

Yesterday Rachael was showing me one of her new spins. Since I'm mildly uncomfortable with the enthusiasm she has with dancing I said, "You know what? When I was your age the good kids never went to dances. They were just for the bad kids."

Amazed, she responded, "You mean the only kids that went to dances were the druggies and gangsters?"

I replied, "No, actually I mean only the Catholics and Methodists."


For a smile read what my brother says about dancing and here too.


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christmas eve


The evening began with a service at church where Deborah sang.

Then home to supper in the family room. Christmas Eve is the only time of year we eat here.
A lovely little clan enjoying sausage, cheese and crackers.
Bear loves the sausage especially.
Next is stocking time. Panties are a stocking staple, especially if the panties have turtles on them. Hannah is 12.
Everyone loves the cracker crowns. Rachael is 13.
Daddy and 9-year-old Deborah.
Nice undies, eh?

After stockings, we watched The Nativity Story, a lovely movie.

Next, bed time calls.
This is Frank, Myrrh, and Merry.
Since the girls were wee, on Christmas Eve they've slept with these bears. This year was no different. They are growing up, but they still took their bears to bed.
Before the girls went to bed they each took their gifts to the tree. The evening began with no gifts under the tree.

Night night little ones. In the morning you'll see that Santa came.


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picture roulette


I got an interesting challenge from today: Go to your pictures, open the 5th folder and post the 5th picture in the folder. It's cool how for me that was a Christmas folder. This is 2005 when each girl got a hamster for Christmas. 

Have I mentioned Hannah bought two guinea pigs a few months ago? When we moved to this house she decided to take them to the SPCA to give them to someone else. Turns out the SPCA wanted $60 to take Daisy and Flossy off Hannah's hands. Ugh, I don't think so. However we left the SPCA with a new hamster. We went to drop off two guinea pigs and left with two guinea pigs PLUS a hamster. We are suckers.

I'm about to randomly go to my picture files and continue the picture roulette game. The last photo in the 12th folder.

And I didn't plan that the 12th folder was a Christmas folder. This is from last year's Christmas.


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Rachael in grade 4. Her teacher began a language arts lesson by asking who could define a period. Rachael knew because we'd had the talk. She bravely raised her hand and when called on said, "It's when you become a woman because now you bleed every month and can have babies."

Mrs Hetland replied without any hesitation, "Actually, it's a dot at the end of a sentence."

a little rachael funny

In Arkansas Stephanie reminded me of a Rachael moment I'd forgotten.

Rachael was about three and Hannah was two. Gordon rebuked Hannah for something and Rachael got terribly defensive. After Rachael chided Gordon for correcting Hannah, Gordon explained that teaching Hannah to do right was his job as a parent.

Rachael responded confidently, "Well you're not Jesus!"