Friday, April 26, 2013


My husband is good about giving me breaks.  While he is in training he has insisted that I hire a sitter to watch my boys at least twice a week so I get a little free time.  He has also been known to give me weekends to myself.  I come home refreshed, rested, in a happier mood and better able to serve my family.  Mike's foresight in this area is probably the reason I am not sitting on the floor in the corner of my room rocking back and forth.

The last two or three weeks have been hard around here.  I think we are all getting tired of having dad gone.  Spring has arrived and with it lots of yard work.  I've had to work double time to keep up with the weeds and garden in addition to the house.  More work for mom means less time paying attention to the children. 

"Go outside and play boys." 
"I can't help you right now, I'm busy."
"Watch your little brother."

How many times have I said those things in the last few weeks?  Lots.

The boys have gotten the leftovers.  I've given them what little was left after the work was done.

Maybe it was the lack of mothering that's been taking place, or maybe they were rebelling against my busyness, but whatever the cause there has been a pretty significant disregard for one another going on here.

The boys weren't doing a good job listening to instructions and didn't really care.  They'd half-heartedly obey (or not) till I got so fed up that I'd yell at them and threaten them with an unpleasant consequence.

They were tired of obeying.  I was tired of making them.  We all went to bed, not with full content hearts but tired ones.  Glad the day was finally over and we were one step closer to Mike coming home.

Not a fun existence.

Tuesday morning.  54 degrees.  I put on my warm socks, pants, fleece and scarf (and was still chilly) before I went outside to my lounge chair for the first outdoor quiet time of the season.  I had coffee with the Lord while my ipod blasted people singing songs of praise to Him.  This is sometimes how I spend the harder days.  Just sitting there with my coffee, usually I'm not in the mood to read the Bible, and often I don't want to talk to God about what's going on.  I just want to sit.

 "I'm here Lord.  I know I've been lacking in patience and love with my children.  I know I could be doing this better.  But I'm not.  And I don't feel like talking about it."

So I just sit.

He sits with me.

My mind fires off constantly.  I've trained it to handle (handle haha! if you read my last post) all the irons in the fire, so times of sitting still and focusing on the music are a battle for my mind.   The focus takes work.  It's work to relax.  By definition I don't think that's possible, but by experience I'll tell you it is.

As I sit there with the Lord, among all the other things that come and go into my brain I have the thought:  "We should go camping."


Hahahahahha!!  No really.  That's a good one.  I laugh at myself for coming up with something like that.  I may have some crazy ideas, but this one takes the cake.

I dismiss it and move on.  But the thought keeps creeping back into my head.


Well.  Why?  "Why Becca would you want to take 4 wild boys camping?" I ask myself.  (I always ask myself questions in third person,  I've found I take myself more seriously that way and usually end up with a more professional response.)

Well why?

I talk through my answer in my head:

Because I want to give my poor children a break from me.  Except I can't give them a break from me.  I have to be with them.  But maybe I can be with them in a place where I will have the freedom to be more like a friend and less like an evil dictator. 

Because sometimes we all need a break --even little boys.

Because Mike gives me retreats when I'm tired and frustrated and wanting to run away.

Because boys need to be boys sometimes.  They need to run and hoot and jump and tackle and do dangerous awesome things.

Because I'm tired of saying: "Don't talk with your mouth full of food."  "Sit up straight."  "Take off your shoes AND put them away before coming in the house."  "Go clean that up."  "Stop being so rough."

Because... we need it.

As I thought about the idea throughout the day, I prayed and ask God if the camping idea was from him.  "If this is a bad idea, don't let me do it."

I asked a few of my friends who are in the thick of kid-raising what they thought of my idea.  I told them why I felt it would be beneficial.  They listened and agreed that maybe I could pull it off.  If I followed my plan which was to find a pre-made camp site and show up with food prepared and ready to heat and eat.  Or just eat.  They told me they thought it could help the boys relax and maybe we would remember how much we like each other and that we DO like to have fun.

First thing the next morning, as I sat in my chair drinking my coffee, I looked up and said:  "God, I know this is asking a lot... but please help everyone obey well on this trip.  Please help everyone be nice and please, let this be fun."

We needed some fun.  Laughter.  Smiles.  Joy.

Next morning we headed out at 10 o'clock. We arrived at our camp excited and with hope already being restored.

The yurt we rented had three sets of bunk beds, came with an ice chest, gas grill and a canoe!
It was perfect.
Top bunks for everyone!

Yes, I brought the high chair --smartest move of the whole trip.  It was worth the space it took up in the van.

This trip was perfect.  It was just what we needed.  We ran.  We jumped off of big rocks.  We played hide 'n seek behind trees.  We flew a kite.  We hiked to a waterfall.  We roasted marshmallows.  We found awesome sticks.  We hung precariously over the railing on a pier.  We canoed.  We drank Shastas.  We talked to the retired folks (only other people camping during the school year in the middle of the week.)  We went inside a cave.  We played TONS of "Go Fish".  We learned how to play War and Crazy 8's.  We jumped over creeks.  We missed.  Ok, so that was me.  I missed the stepping stone while crossing the creek, but in my defense I was pushing a giant stroller and couldn't see exactly where it was.  We ate so much junk food.

I wanted to be able to say, "Sure!" when the boys asked me for things, so as much as possible I did.  I said "Yes" to cokes, whole candy bars that were intended for the s'mores.  Yes to crackers, apples, cheese sticks, hikes, capri suns, boat rides and glow sticks and staying up late.

Austin did so well.  He listened AND obeyed.  whoa.  He followed the rules and kept his underwear clean.  The rest of the kids did well too, but Austin was the one I noticed the most improvment in.

God did help those boys be good.  Sure as the sun rose that day.  He blessed our trip.  Just look at these photos and tell me our gracious Lord didn't have something to do with this:



We made it the whole trip and got twenty minutes from home before someone threw up.   haha!  Welcome back to reality!  Back we are, but we've returned renewed and ready to take on whatever comes next. --which will, I'm sure be washing the carseat cover.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Call me butter cause I'm on a roll!

Today I went to the microwave and set the timer for thirty minutes.  Except that I didn't push the timer button, I pushed the "cook time" button.  It was down to 23 minutes when I walked back by.  I stopped the cooking and when I did, the thing lost power.  Thankfully it came back on after a little while.  Whew.

A week ago I was working in a flower bed, about to break for a moment, when I thrust my pitchfork down into the soft earth beside me.  Except that I forgot where I keep my feet and instead of stabbing the earth slammed the fork down onto my foot.  It went through the rubber boot but only left a small cut on my skin.  Initially I thought I'd broken my foot.  I was relieved to find I could still walk.  Whew.

Sunday I lost my phone.  I looked everywhere.  Except behind the pillow (the round one the boys use as a Frisbee) on the chair you would never expect could hide a phone.  Monday morning I found it.  Whew.

Ten o'clock yesterday morning, after dentist appointments (at which all the kids were declared cavity free.  I'll take a pat on the back thank you.) I pulled into the driveway, looked out across the lawn and thought I really should do some yard work before the storm hits.  The internet said it could start raining as early as noon, so I needed to hurry.  In the 7 seconds it took to cruise from my mailbox to the house my mind voluntarily ran through 8 or 10 things I needed to accomplish in the next two hours.  Besides that, it was time for Brady to nap.  What better time to get things done.

First thing was to put the sleepy child in bed.  I lay him down then jog back down the stairs.  Coming down into the kitchen I look at the sink and think, "I've got to get that chicken out of the freezer.  Otherwise no dinner."  I stop up the sink, turn on the water and set the two packages of chicken breast down into the water.  While standing at the sink, I turn and see Austin.  Austin, the two-year-old underwearing little boy who has stayed dry for 4 hours. (We had a pretty major setback in our potty training after a super fun visit to the grandparents so I was proud of 4 hours.) 

"Austin, let's go potty.  Hurry to the bathroom."  It seemed like a good idea to use the time while the sink was filling up with water to take Austin potty.  Efficient.  I like to be efficient.  It doesn't take but a moment to pull down his drawers and lift him to the seat.

Maybe I need some medication, maybe I just need to take on less, but by the time I took 5 steps toward the bathroom, the last thing on my mind was the water running in the kitchen sink.

I got Austin fixed up then turned toward the front door and walked outside. 

Outside!  I love being outside.  I was looking forward to getting the riding mower running (it hadn't been started in a couple months) and the battery had died.  Dad told me how to jump it off with the van so that was my plan.  I push it out of the garage, jump it off, let it run for... at least 5 minutes, drive around to the front where I was going to hook up the cart full of yard debris and haul it to the woods.  The mower died when I got off of it (why do they make them do this???)  I tried to start it back up but the battery wasn't strong enough yet.  Sigh...  I push the thing back over to the van, pull out the jumper cables, jump it off again.  This time I left it running while I walked a few feet away to the flower bed to pull weeds while waiting.  I made sure to keep myself between the running mower and the children. 

A couple minutes later Ty runs out to me:  "Mom!  .... water.... I turned it off.... everywhere..."
I couldn't really hear him cause of my bad hearing and the fact that the mower was running behind me.

"OK Ty, thanks."  I say.

He stands there a second then turns around and walks off. I go back to my weeds.

Pulling weeds, pulling weeds, wow they come up so fast don't they... I think about which bed I'm going to put the mulch in, how I should plan on tackling the unwelcome monkey grass I have sprouting up everywhere...

Ty walks back up, interrupting my thoughts and says: "Mom, the water is still all over the floor and it's spreading out everywhere."

Guess what scene flashes back into my mind.

"Ah!"  I gasp.  "The kitchen!"

I jump up, turn off the mower (thank goodness I have some sense left), and run into the house.


I see it as soon as I open the door.  Apparently the floor slopes down toward the garage.  I grab towels and soak up the water running along the baseboard and into the laundry room.  The next 10 minutes are kind of blurry in my memory. However, I do remember that I sprang to action.  I threw down towels, dried up what I could see than began investigating where the rest of the water could be.  I pull out the stove.  I walk outside.  I look in the laundry room and under the water heater. 

Then it began to sink it.  I sat on a step stool in the kitchen, rested my chin on my fist and thought: "I've ruined my house.  We are going to have to find a new place to live.  This water, the water that was pouring out of the sink for 15-20 minutes is somewhere, probably under the cabinets pooling, waiting to grow mold and ruin drywall."  I felt myself sinking.  My confidence was taking a nose dive.  I was like the book "The Little Engine that Could" read backwards.  I had started off with: "I thought I could" moved down to "I think I can" to "I'll never get to the good little boys and girl on the other side of the mountain."  Haven't read the book?  Oh nevermind then.

Not knowing what to do, I called mom.  She gave me hope and calmed me down a little.

I texted 7 friends who live relatively close asking them if any had fans I could borrow to dry out my kitchen. 

Immediately I got a couple responses.  Two offered to bring fans over.

Corrie arrived first.  I was still not sure what else to do at this point.  So when she walked in I was standing there in the kitchen just looking.  I told her what had happened.  We talked about what to do next.  She said she was sorry this happened then asked if there was anything else I needed.  "A husband,"  I said, half-jokingly.  Then the tears came.  I stood there and cried while Corrie hugged me. 

I felt momentarily defeated.  I felt tired.  I'd been working hard for three months to keep things together around here while Mike was away with the air force.  Honestly I thought I'd been doing pretty well.  We'd held up fine, the children seemed happy, I was content in my role and God had been giving me strength to do the work that had to be done.

Through this military wife gig I've learned that when you have something tough in front of you, you just take a deep breath and do it.  People have told me, "I don't know how you do it when your husband deploys."  Well, you just do it.  I always respond with, you'd just do it too if you had to.  I can't describe it better than putting on your game face.  There's no place for weakness and failure isn't an option.  You get up and do. 

But then, in the midst of the deployment, there never fails to be moments like this.  Moments when you feel like you've failed and the persona you put on in order to survive deflates like a balloon.  So you cry --sometimes for a long time.

Then you blow your nose and you feel better.  You get up and again begin to do.  At least this is how it always goes for me.  Maybe it's not like this for everybody.  Resolve is one thing, but how far does that take you?

I think it's my Jesus that is picking me back up.

It's when I am at my weakest that He reminds me He is near.  He whispers, "It's ok."  He holds me while I cry.  He so gently shows me He loves me.  He reminds me, "I'm your strength."

He does it every time.  He did it yesterday.

Yesterday He used his Church.

I got texts or phone calls from each person I messaged.  Two dropped everything to come help.  Three told me they were praying.  Two called and asked what more I needed.  One cooked my family dinner.  Corrie even let me borrow her husband.

I felt loved.

That evening, as the fans blew the cabinets, I sat on the couch and with great joy in my heart, praised the Lord for his goodness to me.  I thanked him for his provision.  I thanked him for an understanding husband who cared more about my well being than his house I almost ruined. I thanked him for his church and what a gift it is to those who follow him.  I thanked him for Ty (who discovered the water). 

I did something foolish yesterday, but God (as He always does) took the opportunity to flood me with his mercy (pun intended).   


Saturday, April 6, 2013

My new mechanic

I'm not sure who is prouder, Ty or me.  The light bulb went out in one of the headlights on the van.  Mike noticed it so today we went to an auto shop where be bought a new one.  I told Ty he was going to install it.  And he did.  All he needed was a rubber glove and a screw driver.
Hoping I'll have a mechanic on hand VERY soon.  We took the pictures to show Big Dad and Pop  --thought they'd be pretty proud.

It works!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Child's Story Bible

This is another book I LOVE.

The Child's Story Bible has been part of our nightly reading for the last several months.  It has also been part of my Sunday school lesson on most weeks.  The stories are told with much accuracy and the attention to detail is what I really love about this book.  Most story Bibles don't tell the whole story.  They leave tons out.  This one doesn't.  Several times it has given me details that I couldn't remember so I look it up in my Bible.  Every time the book has been Biblically accurate --which is more than I can say for myself unfortunately.

This last week we skipped ahead to the New Testament to read about Jesus' last day and then Sunday we read about the resurrection.  It was so, so good.  At one point I was almost in tears as this book so lovingly explained how Jesus' sacrifice was for us:

Then they stretched Jesus out upon the cross.  With heavy spikes they nailed His blessed hands and feet to the wooden beams.  They raised the cross and set it in the hole with stones and earth so that the cross would stand upright.  Two thieves were crucified with Jesus, one on His right hand, and one on His left.
When they had finished all this, the soldiers divided up Jesus' clothes among the four of them.  His coat was one piece, without any seams.  So they said, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be."
It is very painful to you and me to see our beloved Lord hanging there on the cross, with His blood dripping down.  But even though it is painful, we need to look, for He hangs there because of what we have done.  His blood is being shed to pay for our sins.  He loved us so much that He chose to die in our place. 
Even in His great suffering Jesus thought not of Himself but of others.  The first words He uttered were a prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Wow.  This year, the old old story seemed fresh and new to me.  I read it in a book written for children.  The simple language made the simple story so easy to digest:  Jesus loves us.

I want to type out for you many more parts that spoke to my heart as I read this last week.  I know this book is for kids, and if you have kids ages 4+, I HIGHLY recommend using this book as you disciple your children.  It captivates my boys.  They look forward to the stories in here as much as any other book we have read.  But you know, even if you don't have kids, I think this book will speak to your heart as it has mine.  So pretty much... everyone needs a copy.  Besides, you'll have it on hand for the next time you get the privilege of stepping into a children's class on Sunday morning.  ;-)   

The Child's Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This is war.

The veggies are chopped and sauteing on the stove.  I turn down the heat, put the lid on (as I want them to soften up a bit), and head out to pick some green onions out of the garden. 
(Seems like such a nice start to the story doesn't it?  You can almost smell the beginnings of the Italian feast I was preparing my family for dinner.) 
Before I step out I hear Ty: "Mom!  Can you come start my water?"  I run upstairs, turn on the water for Ty's shower, then out to the garage where I slipped out of my comfy old-man-houseshoe-wanna-be shoes (love these shoes!) and into my rubber rain boots.  I walk past the basil I planted day before yesterday.  It's looking good.  It's been raining non-stop since I planted them, so I was hoping they hadn't drowned, they hadn't.  On to the other side of the house to get the onions.  I harvest my onions and while I was there took a peek at the garlic planted right beside the onions.  It was looking good to. Pleased I was. Back around and in through the garage with three green onions. Upon walking in I immediately notice the smell.  It was the veggies.  Not the aroma I'd hoped to walk into. It was more of a... well, burnt sort of smell. 
I quickly tended to the pan.  We'll still eat them.  I wouldn't serve them to company, mind you, but my people are used to eating "blacked" food.  Especially broccoli.  I specialize in blackened broccoli.
After getting the veggies under control, I begin to chop the onions.  Then I look out the window.  It was Austin.   Austin.  Out the window.  In the mud.  It's rained so much around here Jack told his Dad that he thought there was going to be a flood.
I'm sure he's not wearing shoes.  Two-year-olds never remember to put on shoes before they go outside.  Come to think of it, none of the kids around here remember to put on shoes before going outside.  He needs to come in.  I throw the onions in the pan, wipe off my hands, then walk around to the back door to call him in.
Oh.  I was wrong.  He did remember shoes.
My shoes.
My man house shoes.
My favorite shoes.

Yes, those shoes.

Muddy?  Wet? 
Dripping wet.
Thanks for that Austin.
I get him in, wash his feet, then back to the kitchen.
My onion has burnt.
Pasta goes in the pot.
I set the timer for the pasta (yes, looking for a little credit here).  I'm about to start on the alfredo sauce when I hear a scream well, maybe more a shriek.  No, probably just screaming.  At first I can't figure out where it's coming from or who is doing it.  It's not a normal sound anyone around here makes.  Most screams are playful.  This one wasn't.  I think the best way I could describe it was a  "scream bloody murder" scream.  It was Ty.  Upstairs in the shower.  I sprint up there again.  He's gotten soap in his eyes.  I think it was only the second time in his life this has happened, so it really threw him for a loop.
I get his eyes rinsed out and dried off and wrapped in a towel.  I tell him he's got to handle himself cause I'm in the middle of cooking.  He comes down few minutes later.  His poor eyes were all red.
The pasta (angel hair) which only needed to cook 2 minutes is now beyond done.
As if on cue, Brady toddles up to me.  He grabs my legs and cries. 

"Jack!!  Come get your brother!"  Jack pretends not to hear.
Based on the above evidence I conclude that the children are trying to ruin dinner.  Every night it's the same thing.  I think they get together first thing in the morning and plan their attack on dinner.  I can just hear this mornings meeting:
"Alright, here's the plan:
Ty, you ask to get a shower as soon as you see Mom step into the kitchen. 
Austin,  go outside in whatever non-waterproof shoes you can find. 
Ty, after Austin gets captured see what else you can do to cause a commotion.  I'll send Brady in at the end and he'll cry and fuss I'm sure of it."
Why would they do this?  Seems like a lot of trouble just to eat a bad dinner.  Well, I'll tell you why.  Three words:  Pizza and Mac-and-cheese
It's not too far fetched.  I'm pretty sure they'd do anything to get Mom to give up on cooking and feed them a diet strictly of carbs and cheese.
Let me tell you something boys.  It ain't gonna work.  If you continue to attack me when cooking dinner, I'll be forced to retaliate.  No, I don't mean turn on a TV show while I cook.  I mean strap you in your car seats in the living room till the food's ready.
Think I'm kidding?
Try me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Put that on your blog

I knew it would happen at some point and now it has: the kids are finally old enough to read and read well.  Claire, my niece, has recently discovered my blog and Emily, my sister, said she sat for two days on the computer and read most of it.  Over spring break she was talking it up to Jack.  I'm not sure what she told him, but whatever it was, it made him think it was kind of fun to be the subject written about. 

Any time something funny happens at the house he's been telling me to write about it.

Just the other day he ran down the stairs, stuck his head around the corner and says:  "Mom!  Ty and I were upstairs talking about our favorite shows and Ty just told me he liked 'Tinker Bell.'  You should put that on your blog Mom."