Change of Plans

Another night…another post that isn’t what I had planned.  But isn’t that life?  That some things just don’t go as planned?

I did not plan on having this day with my children.  I didn’t plan on my agitation increasing as the day wore on and finding them wriggling further and further under my sensitive skin.  I didn’t plan on attitude and outbursts and losing my own temper and behaving in ways I certainly would never allow from them. And rather than the hand of correction, I must bear the weight of my own guilt and shame and physical punishment seems it would be easier to bear.

I didn’t plan on having to keep my five year old home from ballet because she would refuse to do her school.  I didn’t plan on having to do school on Friday, a day we typically reserve for outside classes or other fun stuff.

But that’s the day I got.  From God or from Satan or just from our own sinful hearts, and we found ourselves at four o’clock worn out and wounded by the day and by each other.  And I found myself at the cross, asking forgiveness.  Again.

I sat them down and repented.  I asked their forgiveness for my own sin and spoke to them about what theirs had been.  We agreed to start fresh now and work for a better day tomorrow.  And then I hugged them.  And all the stress and frustration and irritation started to melt away.

Why is it I never think to do that when I am angry and when their behavior cries out for it?  Lord, help me to draw them close when I want to push them away.  Help me to hug them as often as I feed them* and remind them often throughout the day of my love for them.  Only by your grace can I do this thing called parenting.

Tonight, the oldest is at ballet.  Matt and the middle two are Christmas shopping.  And I am home with Ellie, helping her wrap the gifts she has thoughtfully chosen for her sisters and her daddy.  And we have a very entertaining conversation….

Me: Ellie, what are you getting me for Christmas? 

Ellie: I’m getting you a dinosaur.

Me: A dinosaur? Really? What will I feed it?

Ellie: Well, if it’s a carnival, you’ll have to feed it plants.

Me: Oh yeah?

Ellie: Yeah. Like those ant-eater ones.

Me: You mean a Venus Fly Trap?

Ellie: Yeah. And you’ll have to train it to catch a ball and stuff.

Me: Yeah.  😛

And I laugh so hard on the inside that I want to cry.  No longer tears of self-pity or frustration, but tears of delight at the gift God has given me in these children, in this daily living alongside them.

May your evening be filled with laughter and joy tonight.

~ Sara

*another Ann Voskamp treasure @A Holy Experience




Ellie – the baby of the babies – turns five today.  She’s funny and charming and goofy and aggravating and quick.  She can make you laugh and make you crazy, all within the same minute.  She’s still hopelessly in love with her “night-night”, she names everything from balloons, to bugs, to furniture.  She has an imagination like I’ve never experienced in a child.  She’s a sponge that memorizes songs and poems and verses effortlessly.  She gives hugs and kisses and doesn’t know a stranger.  She has a temper that we are working on and a smile that can melt away frustration.

Five years ago I was in the early stages of labor while we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, the night before the real holiday.  Five years ago, she was born on Thanksgiving Day.  And we are thankful for her.

I feel like I have had more time with Ellie, that I wasn’t able to have with the other girls.  I feel like I have been able to watch her grow and change and that I know her better.  I am thankful for these five years.  I am thankful for this child and for all of her sisters.  God is so good.

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

Love ~

~ Mommy

*I won’t be posting Thursday or Friday.  I am planning to “unplug” as much as possible over the next few days and enjoy time with my favorite people.  May you have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend, my friends.  I’ll return Monday to count more of His good gifts.

Summer Fun Lists – A Retrospective

Well, with summer officially ending on Thursday, it’s probably time to look back on how we did with some of our summer goals.  First, the Summer Fun List.  Later this week, my summer reading list.

This was the first year we tried a summer fun list.  Some of the goals were pretty crazy, some were quite manageable.  I will defend myself up front by saying this was one of the hottest, most oppressive summers I can remember.  I love, love, LOVE hot weather, and even I couldn’t go outside for more than a few minutes some days.  I remember texting friends with whom we had swim dates and saying “I think it’s actually too hot even to swim.”  It was that hot.  So, a lot of things that may have gotten marked off during a “normal” Kansas summer, just didn’t this year.  Making the list was fun, nonetheless, and we’ll definitely do it again next summer.

So here’s what the girls put on their lists: (Items accomplished are marked through; my commentary is in parentheses)

  • swimming – a lot!
  • have a friend sleep over (I’m a deadbeat for not making this one happen; summer just got too busy 😦 )
  • watch movies as a family
  • go to a park
  • camp for three days (here’s where the obscene heat comes in handy as a good excuse)
  • go to an actual beach (technically, this would only qualify for Grace, and that’s only if you call Lake Michigan going to a “real” beach)
  • go to a swim park/sprinkler park (none here in town; never made it out of town to find one 😦 )
  • buy a play set (Really?!?!  Perhaps these children haven’t noticed the miniature size of our backyard.)
  • buy flowers for the girls (Should have made this one happen.  Such a simple thing to do!)
  • have parades
  • get a drum set and take lessons (I’m not even going to apologize that this didn’t happen; I’m no dummy!)
  • read The Sign of the Beaver
  • have a friend over to play
  • go to Colorado
  • read
  • have lots of fun
  • go to Mexico (what can I say?  My kids like to travel and they have really good ideas for destinations!)
  • go swimming with Coco the Labradoodle (three words why this didn’t happen:  wet dog smell)
  • re-organize bedroom
  • go running with Coco (technically this one happened, but only with me.  Who wants to run with four kids and a spastic dog???)
  • go North to see our favorite goat farmers
  • walk with Coco (see the spastic dog reference above)
  • go to San Diego (again with the travel)
  • bike rides
  • concert in the park
  • dinner on the patio at our favorite Mexican restaurant
  • hollow an egg

That’s our Summer Fun List review.

Did you set any goals for this summer?  Were you able to meet them?

In other news, I had (as usual) an entertaining conversation with Ellie this weekend…

Ellie (as she’s putting old birthday cards into her purse):  I’m going to keep getting birthday cards until I’m twenty.

Me:  Why only until you’re twenty?

Ellie:  Because then I’ll probably die.

Me:  Why?!?!

Ellie:  Because I’ll be an ooooold granny. (with much emphasis on “old”)


Have a great Tuesday, friends!

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Which Half?

Last week I started reading what may be my all-time favorite book to the girls – Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  The memories I have reading that book over and over and over again.  *sigh*

At one point in the first few chapters there is mention of a mule.  Ellie interrupts my reading, “Excuse me, Mommy, what is a mule?”  “It’s half horse, half donkey, Ellie.”  “What half do you think is the horse and what half do you think is the donkey, Mommy?”  Using every ounce of restraint I have, I respond, “I don’t know, Ellie.  What do you think?”  Very serious now, she replied, “I think the front half is the horse and the back half is the donkey.”

That’s my girl.

Overcoming Fear

When I was a child I hated swimming lessons.  Hate really isn’t a strong enough word for the memories I have.  My first swimming teacher was strict, hard, and had exacting standards.  Everything I needed really.  But I could never overcome my water phobias enough to meet her standard and pass.  I have no idea how many summers I spent in Beginners.   It seems like about 5, but I know that’s not mathematically possible.

So when our girls started to come of age for swimming instruction I wanted something completely different.  The high school daughter of a fellow church family and a client of Matt’s was teaching lessons in their back yard.  She was sweet, mild, and wonderfully encouraging.  Perfect!  The first two girls did wonderfully under her instruction!  And then there was Chandler.

Chandler has issues with the water, and unfortunately, I often forget the reason for them.  I don’t know why, but the memory of Chandler bobbbing, struggling, clawing for the top of the water in a friend’s pool where she climbed in without her floaties is not burned into my mommy brain like so many other parts of her life.  Maybe it’s because she’s caused so many scares that part of my brain is full.  Maybe it’s because she was fine once we got her arm and pulled her out.  Maybe it’s because I’m a terrible mother.  She couldn’t have been much over one when it happened.  But apparently she was old enough that it left a permanent impression because she is terrified of water.  She’s fine with it on her own terms.  But take her to the deep end and  This is an important thing to remember when enrolling her in swimming lessons.

She threw a fit when our friends’ sweet daughter attempted to take her to the deep end a few years ago.  She threw a hideous fit last summer when we pressured her to jump off the diving board at another friend’s pool.  (In our defense, we knew she was able to swim; she did not believe it herself.)  I knew we needed someone tougher than that third born child to teach her to swim.

Enter my running buddy, Nikki.  She has been helping kids learn to swim for years.  I had heard legendary stories of how tough (but great) she is.  Totally not what I wanted for my kids.  Oh, and to get a spot in her classes, you have to stay up until midnight on some arbitrary night in March to sign up.  Otherwise all the slots will be full.  Definitely not ever doing that!  Until this year.  Because I knew she was exactly the type of teacher I wanted for these last two kids.

The first day the four year old cried and screamed and refused to do anything she was told.  I was slightly surprised as she normally loves the water, but she’s four and that’s the way she operates sometimes.  We talked all that Monday about how the next day would be different and when she could go a whole lesson without any screaming or crying, we would get ice cream.  (I am not above bribery when necessary.)  Tuesday was some wimpering, but it was only about 75 degrees outside, so the pool was considerably warmer than the side she spent most of the lesson sitting on!  She got a cherry limeade for not screaming.  Wednesday she went through her lessons with a smile and was rewarded with a yummy McDonald’s ice cream cone.  Ellie made it through the remaining eight lessons without a tear or complaint.  There were moments I could tell she was working hard to overcome her natural fears, but she did it and I was so proud of her.

The first two days Chandler did fabulously.  I couldn’t have been prouder.  She did everything she was asked and I thought her lessons were going to be a breeze.  Enter Wednesday when something possessed her to behave like a stuck pig and scream and squeal and RUN from Nikki and the diving board until she found herself cornered on the deck and had no choice but to submit.  I found myself wanting to crawl under said deck and die from shame.  I don’t know what happened and I do know what happened.  She was tired.  I hate that excuse, especially for any child past the stage of daily naps.  But it’s true.  Chandler falls apart if she doesn’t have enough sleep and the night before she didn’t.  I’m really not much better, so I sympathize.  And, for one reason or another, that fear in her welled up and could not be contained.

We talked long that day about right behavior and wrong behavior and how the next day would go.  Thursday was an improvement.  Friday was altogether wonderful.

I watched over ten days as my girls wrestled with their fears and their emotions and learned to control them. I could see on their faces the exhaustion or the panic and the internal wrestling to do the right thing.  I teared up many times as I saw their courage.  I watched as Chandler overcame her intense fear of deep water and learned to jump off the board and swim two lengths of the pool and then swim two more shortly after.  I watched her learn to control her fear as she learned to tread water and keep her head up.  I watched her swim farther at the public pools and the lake with her new confidence.  And I watched with great motherly pride as she passed her class the first time through.

Over the past two weeks, Chandler has not only learned how to swim better.  She has learned that she can control her emotions and that she can overcome her fears.  That alone was worth any amount of money.

On a different note, I was so impressed by my friend and her ability to handle those children.  She is tough.  And she doesn’t put up with any nonsense.  But she clearly cared about each child there and the smile on her face when they accomplished something was almost as amazing and joyful as the child’s.  So thanks, Nikki.  I know the past two summers have been hard but I am so thankful my girls had the chance to learn from you.

Ellie waiting her turn

Ready for a kneeling dive

Ready for some really uncoordinated swimming moves 🙂

On the board

This was a big accomplishment!

Back stroke - sort of

Chandler waiting her turn

Swimming the length of the pool unaided

And swimming back

Chandler's turn off the board

Back stroke

Back stroke again

Ellies "Grade Card"

Chandler's "Grade Card" - Still so proud of both of them

Quotable and Not So Much

Ellie keeps us in stitches around here.  Most often, unintentionally…..

Yesterday, we were driving along and she says, “Mommy, I’m feeling too scrawny to use words today.”


Recently, I was putting her to bed and she asks, “Mommy, can God hear all the peoples’ prayers?”  I answered, “Yes, Ellie, He can.”  She pondered that for a few moments, then asked, “Does He have bigger ears than us?”


Her quotability has been hampered the past 24 hours.  You see, she screamed – and I mean sca-reamed – through her first swim lesson yesterday.  For the entire thirty minutes.  I was such a proud mama.  *sigh*  Well, she gave her vocal cords such a work out that her normally raspy voice just up and disappeared along about yesterday afternoon.  She’s still pretty hoarse and I just chuckle every time she tries to talk.  And occasionally I remind her about why she has no voice.

She did much much better today at lessons.  There was a little weeping because last week’s three digit temps have given way to more seasonal, 80 degree, temps, so it’s a tad chilly at 9 am if you’re soaking wet and sitting on the side of the pool.  And there was one small meltdown over her order in line when doing kneeling dives.  And then there was the jumping off the board – when the assistant was out of the water ready to “help” her in before my child finally decided to jump.  Not so much crying, she just wasn’t moving.  Okay, she still has some work to do.  But at least there wasn’t any screaming.  🙂

The Tuesday Funnies

Ellie has been obsessed lately with her oldest sister, always wanting to be like her, always wanting to be with her, always wanting to BE HER.

Well, the other night I overheard Ellie talking to Grace.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Ellie – “Grace, I wish you and I were the only ones in our family with curly hair.  Well, I guess we are,” she pauses and looks over at Matt before continuing on, “because you have curly hair and I have curly hair and Daddy has mostly bald hair.”  😀