Monthly Archives: January 2007

Honey Pie & Paper Dolls

Callie got out her paper dolls she got from Grandma for Christmas yesterday. It was a snow day & she & Nate were coming down with a touch of cabin fever! I have to admit, I’ve got a weakness for paper dolls! I had a little to do with Grandma getting them for her for Christmas this year.

(On a side note, did you ever see Strawberry Shortcake’s Berrry Merry Christmas? Her pony, Honey Pie, is trying to help SS buy presents for her friends & keeps suggesting things she would like such as a new saddle, etc. So, around our house, if someone tries to suggest gifts for others that they really want for themselves, we call them “Honey Pie” to remind them to refocus on who the gift is for!)

I have to admit, I pulled a Honey Pie a bit with the paper dolls! I guess there’s a bit of Honey Pie in all of us! Callie really likes the dolls, too, though. She’s at a good age for them. She got Ginghams – the ones I had when I was a little older than her. If you’ve never seen these before, they are four cute little turn of the century girls. Each comes with a different color gingham collection of outfits that are reminiscent of Laura Ingalls era. They’re really cute.

Then for her birthday, she got some American Girl paper dolls! These are similar to the Ginghams but a little bigger. I didn’t know they made anything like these anymore! She really is enjoying them as well.

The reason I suggested paper dolls for her this year was because she had cut out a bunch of ladies from my magazines & had made the old doll house out of pictures of beds & tables & windows. She did a great job using her imagination! They turned out really cute. We saved them so she can use them with her new dolls, too.

It all brings back memories of my cousin & me spending all summer “Fashion Plate-ing” our doll collection. We’d make five or six of the same doll & color them different colors & give names to each (for example, one set of sisters would be Tina, Tammy, Teri, Tonya, & Tracy while another set could be April, May & June) & call them sisters. Oh, the fun!

I saw this same innate girlie tendancy appealing to another generation when I watched the Barbie Dancing Princesses DVD. What little girl can resist a bunch of sister dolls in pretty colored gowns? I’m thankful God gave me my sweet little gal who enjoys the ol’ paper dolls as much as I do, um… did!

Indoor or Outdoor Kitties; That Is the Question

I had always considered myself a dog lover. Definately not a cat person! When Keith & I got married, we had a few neighborhood kitties who wandered up our stairs(we lived in an upstairs apartment) to visit us so we fed them & named them, but never ever thought of bringing them indoors. First there was Oxford, then Milkdud, & finally Ditzy Mitzy joined the gang, although she wasn’t around very long. I think she got hit by a car early on – she earned her name!

Three children later, Keith found us three kitties last summer. They are cute. One met his demise as Ditzy Mitzy did for the same reasons. But the two left are good kitties. The kids love to play with them. It gets them out of the house a lot more.

A few weeks ago, a couple of barn cats started terrorizing our poor little kitties. We thought it best to feed ours inside the front door until those cats were “dealt with”. Well, one thing led to another… The kids do love to play with them. And it is really cold outside this week. We’ve been letting them stay in with the kids watching them for an hour or so at a time this week. It is fun to have them around. They’re cute! But I am NOT dealing with a litter box.

So, for now anyway, they are semi-outdoor cats. Oh, by the way, a sweet gray cat with white paws & nose stopped by our front porch meowing away. He’s obviously a house cat gone loose. Our kitties haven’t decided if they like him hanging around or not yet. I’m not real keen on it, but Anders has already taken to calling him Sparky. (Sparky was his kitty that didn’t look both ways before crossing the road.)

Will keep you posted on the kitty capers around here. FYI: one of the barn cats has been dealt with. One down, one to go! Maybe with both of them out of the picture, things will settle back to plain old outdoor kitties.

Read Alouds

We started reading books to the kids the half-hour or so before bedtime about three years ago. I really didn’t think we’d read that many, but when I sat down & made a list, we’ve covered a lot of ground! Our first read aloud was the first in the Betsy & Tacy books (see Favorite Books under Favorites catagory). We started there because our little neighbor came over for the afternoon & I had gotten the book out in hopes of reading it. After they were played out, I asked them to all gather around & listen as I read about two little neighbor girls about their ages. We read through four or five chapters at that sitting! They were hooked.

We’ve had lulls in the reading time through the years. When we finish a book, sometimes it takes us a week to settle on the next read. Here’s a list of what we’ve done so far…

Betsy & Tacy
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Heaven to Betsy
Betsy in Spite of Herself
Carolyn Haywood Books: Betsy’s Busy Summer
Snowbound With Betsy
Betsy and the Boys
B is for Betsy
C is for Cupcake
Back to School with Betsy
Betsy & Mr. Kilpatrick
Betsy’s Winterhouse
Betsy & Billy
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Because of Winn Dixie
Charlotte’s Web
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm
Little House in the Big Woods
The Long Winter
Pilgrim’s Progress
Little Women
The Jungle Book
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Henry Huggins
Henry & Ribsy
Ramona the Pest
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Ramona & Her Father
Ramona the Brave
The Door in the Wall
The Fate of the Yellow Woodbee (a Trailblazer book on Nate Saint)
The Bandit of Ashley Downs (a Trailblazer book about George Muller)
Cheaper By the Dozen (We skipped a chapter or two that wasn’t for the age group listening)
All of a Kind Family
The Hundred Dresses
George Washington Carver
Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes
The Cabin Faced West
Winnie the Pooh
All Kinds of Animals
Excerpts from “The Book of Virtues” & “The Children’s Book of Home & Family
The Caroline Years Books: Brookfield Days
Caroline & Her Sister
Frontier Family
Brookfield Friends

This takes us to where we are now. We’re in the middle of the Caroline Years books. They are about Laura Ingalls’ ma, Caroline Quiner, when she was six years old. We thought this would make a good choice for our now six year old Caroline.

A Few Past Funnies, A Few Newbees…

Through the years, I have tried to write down the funny things the kids have said & put them in the junk drawer for safe keeping. Then, when the junk drawer gets too full of ticket stubs, papers with funny quotes, artwork they brought home from Sunday School, etc., I put it in a bag & it moves to the attic labeled with the school year. My dream is to one day organize those bags so the kids can look through them & remember. I’ve wanted to get those funny quotes in one place for years & thought this blog might finally be a place. So, since I was up in the attic with the toys, I thumbed through the bags & grabbed a few papers of funny one-liners. This isn’t all of them, but it’s a start…

Nate, while reading with Mom, June, 2002, age 5 – “Hey, I’m getting pretty good at this! I want to do this with my kids someday… if Caroline brings me some.”

One afternooon in April of 2002, during nap/read to us session in Momma’s bed, Callie (aged 1) scratched Nate (aged 4) for no reason! Nate responded, “I’m overcoming your evil, Caroline!” Callie just gave him a blank stare back.

“That’s my Mommy.” – Callie’s first words to Anders after she toddled up on the stool to peer down at him. She pointed over to me in the bed & told him like it was!

“Those germs don’t stand a chance!” – Nate, while brushing his teeth right after a dentist trip.

“You ask too many questions.” – Nate’s response to my asking him what 6 + 4 was when he was in first grade, aged 6.

“I still have to find me a husband. Anders can’t be my husband cuz he’s shorter than me. (pause) Noah could maybe be my husband. He always tells me stories.” – Callie, out of the blue one day when she was four. Noah is a friend of Nate’s.

Any-fing!” – Anders’ response heard several times a day, anytime you ask him what he’s doing or what’s in his mouth or hands, etc., accompanied by an ultra sincere face.

“I did it on the tractor. When I was riding the tractor.” – Anders’ answer whenever you ask him how he got any scrape or cut on his body. When we were camping the summer of ’05, he scratched the top of his foot on a chair, but when you asked him what happened, his story was, “A snake bit me!” & he stuck with it the whole time!

“A raccoon nibbled on my head. Someone left the tent unzipped…no, he must’ve unzipped our tent.” – Callie, one morning on our camping trip in June of ’06. That year we had a family of raccoons outside our tent every night. I think she was dreaming. None of the rest of us had raccoon nibbles on our heads! So, one year it was Anders & the snake & the next it was Callie & the coon.

“It’s a little froggy out, Mommy.” – Anders’ way of saying the visibility isn’t very good whether it be due to fog or snow or rain.

“It’s a VDD.” – Anders’ version of DVD.

“Root Beer Winkle” – what Anders calls Rip Van Winkle

“I can’t use the cards anymore. I gotta start using my mind, cause I’m gonna be in high school soon & have, you know, tricky concepts! Then comes 4th grade, & …” – Callie while doing a Math page one afternoon. This was in response to my suggestion she use the little flash cards I made for her if she needed. February, 2007 – Kindergarten

Burgermeister Meisterburger

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for three children to get new toys (because of Christmas or birthdays, or worse yet, both!!) after a week or two, Mom becomes the Burgermeister Meisterburger! (You have to say this quote with a thick German accent:)

“Toys are hereby declared illegal, immoral, unlawful AND anyone found with a toy in his possession will be placed under arrest and thrown in the dungeon. No kidding! I hate toys! And toys hate me! Either they are going or I am going and I definitely am not going!”

No, really, the toys seem to multiply after such events & drive me crazy!

Time to clean out the toybox. A missing piece here, a broken part there, & dismantled multiple-part toys like purses & doctor kits. A quarter of it needs to go in the trash. Another half needs to migrate up to the attic. That’s what we were up to today.

A few years ago, we started the “attic toy store” system. It has worked like a charm. I share it with you here. Each child gets to choose three toys they like to play with to stay downstairs & everything else goes up. That simple. Actually, they each have a rather large book shelf full of books & there are blocks in the other half of the shelf space. They all still like to play with the blocks. They’re the big ones that look like bricks. Those never seem to go out of style.

Once a week (often it goes longer), they can trade if they want. They pack up the toy they don’t want to play with anymore for a while & go up to the attic with me to trade for a “new” toy at the “toy store”.

This system works great until the next birthday when the new toys get to stay around awhile & get broken in. After awhile, the toys get a bit crazy again for a week or two until the excitement wears off enough to go back to choosing three toys each.

My kids don’t play with more than three toys at a time really. Much more than that out & they just dump everything out & don’t know what to do with the jumbled mess. Ever seen that? I’ve seen parents devote whole rooms to this perpetual mess & the kids don’t even play with the mounds of toys because it’s too much! I have found this system works really well & still allows them to have a good variety of toys. (When homeschooling, you never know when a box of puppets of can of Indians might come in handy!)

I’m sure some think our kids have too much & others probably think we’re terribly mean & depriving, but I just go with what I see. It works for us. If you find yourself turning into Burgermeister Meisterburger, you might want to give it a try.

He Chose Me!

Isn’t it interesting how & who God choses to use? I was just thinking about that the other night after reading with the kids. They are back in Genesis in their nightly reading.

We were reading about Jacob. Now there’s a character! Yet God chose to use him in spite of himself. God made him a great nation even though he was a sneaking, lying, angel-wrestler! God used Baalam even though he repeatedly tried to do the opposite of what God was telling him to do! God chose David even though he was an adulterer & murderer! Come to think of it, Paul & Moses were murderers, too. Yet God puts each of these in His list of those “close to His heart” & He used them in huge ways. Deut. 7:7 says,

“The Lord did not choose you & lavish His love on you because you were (fill in the blank)…It was simply because the Lord loves you, and because He was keeping the oath He has sworn to your ancestors.”

It’s talking here about the Jewish nation, but it’s true of you & me, too! We are adopted Jews now, remember? We are His Chosen People, too when we accept Jesus as our Lord & Savior.

“But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree, some of the Jews, have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, were grafted in. So now you receive the blessing God has promised Abraham & his children, sharing in God’s rich nourishment of His special olive tree.” (Romans 11:17)

This thought gives me both comfort & peace. I have comfort knowing that God can use me in spite of myself. He made me & knows all about my strengths and weaknesses. I have peace knowing that it’s His responsibility to use me when & where He wants, not mine. My job is just to listen & have a heart in tune with Him. Like Mary, let Him do with me whatever He wants (Luke 1:38).

The pastor at Grace E Free, our church in VA when we were first married, once gave an analogy. He said just like there are radio waves constantly in the air that we can’t see or hear but they are still there, God is there all the time. We can’t see or hear Him unless we tune in! We need to have our “radios” tuned in to His “frequency”. We choose to do that by reading His Word & keeping our hearts clean before Him – keeping a right relationship with Him. I like that.

“Lord, may my heart be in tune with Yours today & every day. Use me as You wish. I’m just so thankful You chose me & awed at how You know & love me!”

My Left Big Toe

We are members of CMA church for the first time in our lives. (Denominations are a whole nother rather lengthy log for another time.) Pastor is going through James & we hit chapter 5, verses 13 through 18 last Sunday. So, naturally, a healing service took place afterward. It was good for my younger kids to see how it’s done. They probably don’t ever remember seeing one before. Dad always carried a vial of anointing oil with him for just such occasions.

I thought this would be a good time to put another entry into my “Pot of Omar”. I have shared this story often, but I want it down for posterity.

When I was in the ninth grade, our school choir took a spring tour. We were at a church where they were having a healing service. This was my first experience with a healing service, & the church was more pentecostal than what I grew up with so they did it a little differently. Anyway, my left big toe had been quite infected for a number of months. I didn’t want to go to the doctor about it because I knew he would either lance it or remove my toenail – both options gave me the heeby-jeebies!! So, I put up with it for a good part of ninth grade!

After our choir sang, we went to the back of the sanctuary for the rest of the service. The end of the message turned into a rather long healing service. A man was way up front saying things like, “Someone here has a heart problem God wants to fix.” After a while he said, “Someone here has a left big toe that has a problem. God wants to heal it.” My heart jumped into my throat! That had to be me!! Now what? I didn’t know about walking way up front & possibly getting left behind if the choir left, etc. It was pretty dark. I thought, “Lord, I know You can heal me. I don’t really know what’s going on here, but You can do whatever You want. I’m not really sure going up front is such a good idea, do You?” I kept wondering if I should or not & the moment passed.

Later that night, I told people about it & we all agreed God could heal me if He wanted, whether I went forward or not. I kept wondering if I should’ve though. I didn’t want to cheat God of the glory for whatever He wanted to do in this situation.

The next week, I just noticed one day, my toe didn’t hurt any more!! It was no big lightning flash or warm sensation or anything. He just healed me! And I know He did it supernaturally; not just “my body healing itself”. He did it.

God knows a person’s heart. He thankfully chose to heal me even though I didn’t go forward & have the guys lay hands on me. He knows why I didn’t. I believe if I didn’t go because I was just too prideful or whatever, He probably wouldn’t have healed me.

I’ve heard Mom & Dad say before that God will ask you to do whatever it is that keeps you from being totally His. For example, if you are bound & determined you will not go forward in church because of a pride issue, that’s probably exactly what you need to do to get right with the Lord. I think this is exactly why Jesus told the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he has before following Him. Jesus knew that he was holding pretty tightly to that money, & until he let go of it, there was no way he could follow the Lord.

He doesn’t ask everybody to do the same things. We serve a God Who loves us personally. Think about that. Isn’t that awesome?! He knows our heart. He knows what our “issues” are better than we know ourselves! He has the key to fix them if we take them to Him.

You just never know what God will use.

You never know when a little thing you say will make a big impact. Can you think of a little thing someone else has said to you that stuck? The other person probably had no idea.

I can think of two examples; one is something someone said to me, the other was something I said but had no idea it was impacting anyone.

One day a few years ago, Mom & I were grocery shopping (no, we don’t do that very often together!). We ran into an old friend of mine that Mom hadn’t met before, so I went to introduce them to each other. It was at the beginning of the year (New Year health resolution times & all!). I was telling Mom about how G had lost a lot of weight recently & how great that was. We were talking about her daughter & grand-daughter. I flippantly said, “They are both as skinny as rails, doesn’t that make you sick?” G looked right into my eyes & said, “Thank God!” She meant it. “Thank God they don’t have to struggle with weight.” That really struck me. We went on to talk about other things, but that stuck with me.

I do pray Caroline doesn’t have weight issues like I do. Every parent wants better for their children. None of us are perfect & all of us are going to struggle with something in this sinful, fallen world, but as Mom used to say, “Just don’t make the same mistakes as me. Learn from my mistakes. Make different ones!”

I had never thought before G said that to thank God if/when they don’t struggle with weight. And actively pray against that potential stronghold in their lives. I’m really thankful she said ,”Thank God.” Two little words that said a lot. I don’t think she even would remember the meeting hardly, let alone what she said, but she impacted my life with those two words. I also have not since said, “They make me sick” or “It’s not fair”, etc. about a naturally thin person jokingly.

The other example of “little words” was something I said, not knowing the other party was being impacted. I was invited to an Avon type party. Those of you who know me would have to chuckle. I don’t wear makeup! My face regamin consists of Seabreeze every day; same since the seventh grade! Anyway, I went to meet new friends & be nice (support this lady who invited me).

After the facial session, the sales lady took each woman one by one & talked to them alone while the others ate, talked, etc. When it was my turn, she knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, & she knew I was a stay-at-home mom. She asked me what I wanted monetarily that I didn’t have & wouldn’t it be nice to make some money on the side for all those things you do without, yadda-yadda. I just told her there is nothing I do without & that my family definately doesn’t need me to take a job on the side. I want to enjoy these years especially when the children are young – it only happens once in your life. Any side job would take from our family peace, organization, & I am very much needed there. I don’t have tons of “spare time” that I can imagine would be better spent trying to make money. Keith makes plenty for us. I wasn’t at all insulted or insulting, just matter of fact.

She didn’t believe me at first, but finally got the point. I didn’t think any more of it. I never gave that night another thought.

About two years later, that lady came up to me at the library & said she is so glad she ran into me. She had wanted to say thank you for what I had said that night! She said she had never met anyone who was truly content like that & she has been working toward that in her life ever since. She decided to stop selling & didn’t get that second car & her family has been better for it. I was blown away! That night, I was just honestly telling her my thoughts & feelings on the matter & thought she should hear it since she was doing the asking. I wasn’t at all trying to persuade her to do anything about her life. But God used my words to impact her. I never would’ve thought it!

I write all this to say – you never know what words God will use – in your life or in someone else’s. And just in case you might be tempted to get too puffed up, remember God used a donkey to get ahold of Balaam! He uses whatever He wills.

Favorite Family Quotes…

I got to thinking about different sayings that come to mind for various members of the family & thought these should be written down for the next generation. If any family members have more quotes they’d like to add, please do: add either in the comments or email me & I’ll add them.

Here’s the first ones that come to mind…

You get what you pay for.” – Grandma Jean, often quoted while I was attending her “Finishing School”, my last year of college.

“When’s your birthday?” – Keith’s very first words to me on our way to chapel the first day of graduate class. He wanted to know if I was younger or older than he was. I come in at seven weeks younger. We always say he’s so much older & wiser!

“So, are you going to marry my son?” – Neil, my father-in-law, walking back to the house after he took me on a plane ride my first visit to Minnesota.

“A little dab’ll do ya!” – Grandma Gertie, heard to say this at every meal that I can remember, concerning anything from pickles to butter to ice-cream. She always had little dabs of any food you can magine on her dinner table!

“You breed Clydesdales, you get Clydesdales.” – Grandma Jensen’s famous quote at first sight of Nate after he was born at a whopping 10lb. 13oz.

“You can’t do that! You’ll compromise the integrity of the game!” – Uncle Jim S, when suggested we “fix” a mix-up in a game of Skip-Bo or something like it. Had to start over!

“You can’t use the runway that’s behind you.” – Uncle Richard W

“He who hesitates is lost.” – Grandpa Don W

“I’d buy the town of Clarks Grove & name it ‘Roy Jensen’.” – Grandpa Jensen’s quick response to the question of what he would do if he won the lottery. He’d obviously thought about it!

“You’ve got to know just the right time to flip the burger.”
– Dad, when giving advice to Keith while out grilling together before we got engaged. He was never very good at analogies!

Come As A Child

Yesterday, on our way to church & back, we listened to “Music Machine“, an old children’s musical from the 70’s. My kids are getting aquainted with it. They don’t seem to notice the 70’s sound on some of the songs.

“Music Machine” was one of the first Christian children’s music to come out. It was really revolutionary! Since then, there has been Psalty, Donut Man, Hide ’em In Your Heart Series, The NIV Kid’s Club, etc. to name a few. If you don’t have some of these for your kids, don’t miss out! Go get a few to add to your library.

But my point is, it’s not just for the kids! It seems every time I listen to these “kids” songs, I get blessed even more than they do! Yesterday, I found myself crying at the lyrics, “Isn’t God good when He asks us just to love like He does…” Yes, He is so good! I have known that song since I was a pig-tailed little second-grader singing at Wayside Christian School. Mom was our music teacher & Dad led the little band. We had a blast making that music machine! I can still sing along with every word in that musical. I can’t put into words how thankful I am that I was given parents who valued that – both the music & the schooling.

A woman in our church recently volunteered to put all my old resource tapes onto CD for me to be able to use for Wednesday night Club – tape players are getting harder to come by! I can’t let go of some of those great songs & they’re not putting all of them out on CD. I needed to get them transferred before my taped copies totally gave out! I am so thankful to her! Come to find out, she was a Kindergartner at Wayside & remembers our Music Machine! Mind you, in this school, we had a bout 12 kids in each grade. This was not a big school! She remembered my maiden name (being that Mom was our music teacher) & we had some of the same friends, but didn’t remember each other. She was telling me how much her kids enjoyed the music as she transferred them. So there it was, blessing yet again!

Music is such a powerful medium. We can use it with the kids to teach Bible stories, moral lessons, or how to worship. I love to worship with the kids! I’m so thankful to men like Ernie Rettino, Rob Evans, & the Hernandez family for writing this stuff through the years. I’m sure they have no idea how much they’ve blessed my family. Not only have I been well grounded, but now my kids get that, too.

I sometimes get the feeling adults don’t want to “lower” themselves to kids’ stuff like music, books, etc. And it makes me especially sad to see upper elementary kids think they are “too cool” for some of this stuff once they hit double digits in the birthday department. Boy, are they missing out! Some of the best books & music are the children’s material! If you can’t enjoy them, you miss out on alot. The other thing that gets me about that attitude is, we expect the little ones to enjoy our music in worship. Family, be it the physical or spiritual family, is about all different ages working & living together. This is what makes everybody healthy! We benefit from each others’ perspectives.

I think this is some of what Jesus meant when He said the Kingdom of God belongs to such as the children (Mark 10:14,15). God loves it when we come to Him with the heart of a child – uninhibited, free to express what we feel, completely trusting. “Lord, help me teach the children how to worship You freely & simply, & in so doing, remind me to do the same!”