SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Saturday, January 31, 2009

To hear or not to hear...

And you wonder why mothers get frustrated. Here was my conversation with Lisa yesterday (we were in different rooms).

Me: Lisa, go get dressed.

Lisa: What?

Me: Go get dressed.

Lisa: What did you say?

Me: Come in here.

Lisa: Get dressed?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Has anyone else noticed the picture of the dark haired woman smiling and typing that shows up on the yahoomail page? (I'm not certain the same picture pops up every time.)

Doesn't she look like Erica, Josh's wife?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A horse by any other name

We just got home from our "activity afternoon". While Shane played basketball, Bryce and Owen played hockey, and Gabe ate crayons in Adventure Alley, Lisa and I went swimming at the Y. I've been adding a few 30 minute sessions of laps to my spinning in hopes of getting my good cholesterol numbers up, and maybe the numbers on the scale down. After the laps I swam with Lisa.

She did not encourage me any as we played together. "You swim and I'll get on your back," she said. "I'll be the rider and you be the water horse!"

Could she really remember from our science lessons that water horse is the actual meaning of the word "hippopotamus"?

God's "secret things" revealed

Oftentimes when I experience bumps in the road, inconveniences, or even outright trials I am not able to see God's purpose in them. However, I've learned to stop trying to understand God's will and just accept it and faithfully obey Him through it. Even if I don't know the reason and can't see the benefit I must trust that He knows and has His purposes.

What a joy it is, though, to persevere and then be rewarded with a little insight into what His motives were. I had one of those "Aha" moments yesterday morning. I was making my bed and thinking of/praying for Ellen as she is dealing with lice down in Guyana. And then it hit me.

August, two and a half years ago, I discovered that Lisa had lice--a lot of them. Upon further examination I found that she had passed it on to three of her brothers as well. I had to wonder what God's purpose was in it. I didn't suffer from any humiliation because I thought "I'm too clean for lice". I knew that wasn't why they got it, and I have no dillusions about any great success in cleanliness to be puffed about. So what was I supposed to be learning?

I was caring for five month old Gabe with his new health issues and suddenly I had to deal with a houseful of lice. I had no idea what I should do? So I called two friends who'd had it in their homes and learned they had each struggled for six weeks to get rid of it (I just heard the same story from a friend last night). Next I checked the internet and learned all I could about lice and then executed a treatment plan--with no chemicals or shampoos.

I worked on lice for almost 48 hours straight--washing carpets, bedding, toys, clothes, and hours of nit-picking--and then I had a morning and evening routine for another 2-3 weeks as a precautionary measure. And they were gone. No recurrence, nothing. I was thrilled, but still not sure why I'd had to go through it--unless it was to get all of the carpets cleaned and bedding washed at one time. So I forgot about it.

And then yesterday morning it hit me. "I went through that for Ellen." She had called me the previous morning to tell me she had lice and ask, "What do I do?" I didn't have to call around. I didn't have to research and tell her what someone else said to do. I told her right then and there, over thousands of miles, exactly what to do and how to do it. Two and a half years ago, God prepared me for a phone call this week. And when I look back over the last two and a half years I don't think I could find a better time for us to have had lice. God's ways are always right, and the more I see the evidence and the more I believe it the easier it is to not get off track, side swiped, or beaten down by the bumps and trials.

Deut. 29:29 "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Believe, trust, and do.

What a deal!!

I was doing a price check for an appliance on ebay and noticed one item in particular. It was selling for $515.15 (really?, and fifteen cents?). It was also trying to tempt me with Free Shipping.

Then in the item description I read, "Normally $495".

Monday, January 26, 2009


Have you ever wondered what's up with the bank time/temp displays? It seems that no two temperatures in town are ever the same. I've wondered if their thermometers are that much different or if they're just bent on having temp wars trying to prove who's right. Yesterday I think I found the answer.

We drove past one bank and the temp said, O.

Two blocks later, -O.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Old?

I walked up to a forty-something cashier at the grocery store last night while she was talking on her cell phone. I could tell she was annoyed and hurried to cut the call short with an aggravated, "Not now, I'm working."

After hanging up she shook her head and said to me, "You'd think my son would know better. I'm at work....working.....and he calls to ask me to go over to Radio Shack and buy him batteries!"

I tried to empathize, "Sometimes kids just don't think, do they."

She looked at me with even deeper consternation, "My son is TWENTY-FOUR!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bryce and Technology

Whenever we can't figure something out we call Bryce--DVD, CD, VCR, remote controls, cell phones, answering machince programing, digital anything--he is just wired to know how to use it all.

Last night we sat watching a high school basketball game and Bryce asked me, "Do you see that kid over there in the tank top?"

I looked at the stands across the gym, quickly surveyed the sea of people and said, "Bryce, at least give me an idea where to look."

"Here," he said, "look." And he pulled out a digital camera, pointed it at his friend and zoomed in close.

No pointing or neck craning, I felt like a spy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Science a la Owen

Today we were reviewing what we have learned about vision and how animals see. We covered night vision, monocular and binocular vision, the compound eye of the fly, and various other things. There were some things that I thought were rather obvious, therefore we didn't dwell as long on them. My mistake. Case in point.

Me: Why do birds have such sharp eyesight?

Owen: So do they don't run into trees?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Confidently Correct

Yesterday I overheard this statement from Lisa,
"Owen, just because I'm not saying anything doesn't mean I'm not right!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Where the Money Is

I don't fly very often, but every time I do I am treated to a demonstration of airline safety procedures. I understand the oxygen mask routine and have heard of numerous instances in which the masks were deployed.

I have always laughed, however, at the notion of using the seat cushion as a flotation device. When, I ask, does a plane ever land on water necessitating the use of a flotation device? But, every plane has them, and every flight attendant is working hard to make sure you, the passenger, are prepared to use one, should your flight be the first of millions to make an untimely landing on water.

Well, yesterday it happened. Certainly, you've all heard that Flight 1549 (on route from New York, NY to Charlotte, NC) made an emergency landing on the Hudson River yesterday. Relieved to hear there were no casualties I scanned the photos for evidence that those thousands of hours of safety practice had finally paid off. But, no. Although there were spectacular shots of hypothermic passengers waiting to be rescued while standing knee deep on the wings of the sinking airplane, I did not see anyone clinging to their life-saving seat cushion.

In fact, one report stated that:
One ferry, the Thomas Jefferson of the company NY Waterway, arrived within minutes. Riders grabbed life vests and rope and tossed them to plane passengers in the water.
Someone else had to ride in and provide flotation devices?!

I hardly think the air traffic safety board will make any alterations to their current safety practices or recommendations so I've decided to go into the business of manufacturing those flotation cushions myself. It wouldn't even matter if they don't work, no one will ever sue, they're never used.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bryce's Wish Come True

In light of today's events I thought I'd post Bryce's poem. It was a school assignement he completed earlier this week that is slightly prophetic (just insert "cold" for "snow").

I Love the Snow

It's snowing, it's snowing, no school today
There's three feet of snow. Hooray! Hooray!

No one's in school, no teachers, or me
Cause I'm in my house playing my Wii.

I don't like school and I hope you don't either
Tomorrow I think I will fake a fever.

Other kids may be sad because they want to go
But let me say four words, "I LOVE THE SNOW!"

Maybe he's also trying to give us a hint, we don't have a Wii.

Cold Glee

We sat at the table tonight a very somber group. I don't know what was in the air but it was unsettled in our dining room. The teens were quiet, the little guys were loud and irritating, and I was looking at the clock wondering how soon to push bed time.

Then came the call. Owen jumped up to get it, read the caller ID, and announced, "It's the school!" The place came alive. Everyone straightened up, they began to smile, and they watched expectantly as I put the phone to my ear, listened to the recorded greeting, and pressed the speakerphone button so they could all hear those magical, life-transforming words, "School is cancelled tomorrow."

I've never seen a group of kids go from grumpy to gleeful so quickly. And it wasn't the little kids who were so happy, the only ones we have in school are the high school students!

PS Teresa, if you see this--Mendo doesn't have to go to school on Thursday, I think he was the happiest of all!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gabe's Heart

I mentioned in a November post with the same title that we learned Gabe would be needing to have his heart fixed. We just didn't know how or when.

Now we know a little bit more. The report from the heart surgeon in Milwaukee came back and it looks like Gabe should be able to have the repair done with the insertion of a device through a catheter, rather than open heart surgery.

We are SO thankful for this report. The hospital in Milwaukee will be calling soon to schedule the procedure (we're hoping to have it done this summer). It is possible that they will have to change their plans and go with the open heart surgery after performing an internal (sedated) echocardiogram, which will be done just prior to the catheter procedure. If that test shows the hole too close to a valve then the device would not be an option. What it all means is that we need to go down there prepared to stay a week, but expecting to come home the next day.

Please continue to pray for Gabe as you think of him that he would indeed be able to have the less invasive surgery. I am amazed at what can be done for so many children with heart defects, and especially those that are more serious than Gabe's. We recently watched the film "Something the Lord Made" which tells a very touching story about the doctors who pioneered these procedures and have made life a possibility for so many who had little or no hope. I would highly recommend this factual and challenging film. Although it is rated NR our TVG was kept busy deleting something (just a warning).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It takes a scientist.....really?

If you saw Yahoo's main page today maybe you noticed this headline down on the bottom left of your screen:
"Scientists determine that head banging is bad for health."

Really? Scientists determined that, did they?
I wonder how long they studied it.
I wonder who agreed to take part in those scientific studies.
I wonder how many people are now going to sue because they were actually hoping that the head banging they'd agreed to do was going to enhance their lives.
I wonder when the headline "Lay persons determine that individuals who actually clicked on and read the previous headline need to have their heads banged" will show up.

Head banging is a serious concern among family members of those for whom this is a problem and a reality. I hardly think they need "scientists" to tell them that it's "bad for health"!

The difference an 's' makes

We recently had visitors who did their best to learn a dozen names and put them with a dozen faces in about as many hours.

One of our guests looked at Troy and said, "You're Troy," with a grin.

He then looked at Shane and announced, "And you're an 'S'".

Now try saying that out loud and hear for yourself what Shane thought he said!

The difference an 's' makes Part 2

Every family has them (or should)--work lists, jobs, chores, to do lists--whatever you want to call them, those responsibilities that are meant to build character and help parents stay sane while trying to run the household.

In our house we call them "jobs" and we have a job chart listing the responsibilities of each person with a small stipend attached to each job. At the end of the week Mom tallies up the completed jobs and makes a payment.

A few days ago Owen said to me, "It's weird that I have money even though I don't have a job."

"Oh?", I responded, "Then how do you get your money?"

"Jobs," he answered.

Did I miss something?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More about the moon

That Lisa cracks me up. I know the days are numbered until maturity will win over and her baby cuteness is a memory. But we sure enjoy living those memories today!

One of our favorite memories took place four years ago when I bought Lisa her first package of big girl underpants. They were a bit snug but I figured they would do while she learned how to keep them dry. The first time she wore them she squatted down to play with a toy, stood up, and declared,
"Mama, my chunks are hanging out!"
We laughed about that for a long time. Then it was forgotten, except as an anecdote written up in the family "funny book". Well, it turns out that we never told Lisa to use any term other than "chunks", probably because it's not something that happens along in many of our conversations. Therefore, I was just as tickled the other morning when she told me,
"Mama, you need to buy me some new undies. When I woke up this morning one whole chunk was sticking out."
More about the moon?? figure it out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Am a Rock

Having two AFS students living in our home causes me to frequently reflect back on my own AFS experience twenty-eight years ago. That's a good thing, because I find that reflecting on my more youthful thoughts and experiences always helps me to understand and relate to my children a bit more effectively than I would otherwise. But, I also find that some of those thoughts, feelings, and ideas repeat themselves and run through my own mind and heart today. However, there is a difference in my response to those thoughts, due to the experience, wisdom, and additional information that I have acquired for dealing with it.

And that brings me to “the rock”. While in England twenty-eight years ago I became a bit of a Simon and Garfunkel fan. I was drawn to the simple musical style and harmonies of their songs as well as to the words of a few of them—especially “Homeward Bound” (for obvious reasons) and “I Am a Rock”. I used to think that I connected with that song because of the isolation that I often felt as the foreigner. I was always the “different” one who stuck out, I thought of myself as “a rock”—isolated, independent, stoic, strong (or so I liked to think).

A few weeks ago I heard that song again....

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow

I am a rock
I am an island....

I was feeling lonely and sad, I felt overworked and overlooked, and I reconnected strongly with the sentiments of that song. But, time, experience, maturity, and faith in Christ later gave me some very new insights into my connection with it.

That evening I was walking outside and I looked up at the bright, full moon shining down on me. I love the winter nights when the moonlight on the snow is so bright that you can 'see in the dark', even without the sun. Then I reminded myself, the moon was not shining, it was reflecting the light of the sun.

And then I considered that, as a child of God, I am to be doing the same thing—reflecting the light of the Son. My life is to be aligned so that I fully reflect His light on the world around me. I am not to seek glory for myself so that I come between the Son and the world, eclipsing His light but I am to be perfectly positioned to be the reflector of His glory for those in darkness who cannot see His light.

I prayed, “God, let me be a moon.” I lost all thoughts of loneliness, sorrow, and self-pity as I thought about the Son and my calling to be used of Him.

Like the moon I have no light of my own.
Like the moon I receive light and warmth from the sun/Son.
Like the moon I gain nothing from this world, I only give.
Like the moon, I am a rock.


Moms--don't forget this.

When you ask someone to stop at the store for milk and yogurt don't forget to ask them to bring it in the house when they get home. Because, after 36 hours in the trunk of a car in the dead of winter, dairy products will freeze solid.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Day

Daniel and his family came to spend a wonderful couple of days with us this week. Everyone enjoyed a variety of card games and hiding games--including running the circle of the house in the dark (you should see that Mr. Kleven play "Sneaky Teaky"...or was it "Sneaky Peekie"?). We all had a great time out at a recreational camp snow tubing and playing broomball. Ellen, these pictures are for you, WE MISSED YOU!!

First we went tubing. Chet actually went down the hill like this. He looked kind of like a big pack of black licorice lifesavers, if there were such a thing.

Gabe--just loved every minute of it, runny nose and all, until his hands got cold. Then he was positively DONE!



Light and Dana

Katie and Maria


Gabe leading the way for the train.

Lisa catching a ride up the hill with Keith--she loves having big brothers, and not just for the rides!

The Ever-So-Competitive Broomball Game

Mendo and Daniel wishing their feet would slide the other way

Looking for the ball to come down

Chet and Daniel ready to go at it

Daniel, after a face washing by.....????

On Friday most of the group went ice fishing, braving single digit temperatures and moderate wind. Dad asked the Klevens to each describe the experience: Mr. K--It was great. Micah--It was fun. Katie--It was fun, marvelous, fantastic, the best time fishing I've ever had. Daniel--It was cold. I think Daniel's my kind of ice fisherman. Ellen, you'll have to buddy up with his sister for future extravaganzas, as Dad calls them.

Somehow four large fish got left in a sled full of my kitchen. Any need to wonder what my second reason is for not liking ice fishing?