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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Not all Parrot

Gabe (3 1/2) talks....some. He lets us know, with two or three words, what he needs or what he's thinking; but he doesn't really converse. I'm never too sure how much he's capable of comprehending because we're missing the back and forth dialogue. We do know that he can repeat; but we forget sometimes that he's not all repetition.

Yesterday in church I had to take him out and go to the nursery because his parroting was getting distracting:
Pastor: Turn to the book of Mark.
Gabe: Book of Mark
Pastor: We're reading from chapter seven.
Gabe: Chapter seven
Pastor:....the Lord our God....
Gabe: Lord our God

Today I figured we were just experiencing more of the same when I got a little surprise and a reminder that this guy is on to more than we think sometimes.
Mama: OK, let's go.
Gabe: Let's go.
Mama: That's right Gabe, you got it.
Gabe: I got it.
He knew to switch the pronoun from 'you' to 'I'. It was like it was his little way of saying, "See, I know what I'm talking about."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


When you have children spread out over a wide age range, it is not uncommon for the older ones to reminisce about how much harder life was for them than it is for the younger ones. They like to talk about how much work they did and how soft the younger ones are.

The truth is, they are raised differently. It would be a bit absurd to think that, as parents, we haven't grown, matured, changed, or degenerated in some ways in the past 25 years. Our children at home now are not being raised by the same parents who were at the helm with the older generation. Not only are we different, but our circumstances are different; so things are just going to be different.

But, I thought it might help you "older guys" to see some of the work that was done by the "younger guys" recently. I didn't have my camera out to capture Troy and Shane hauling wheelbarrow loads of dirt from the back garden to create a slope by the house, or shoveling and spreading a dump truck load of rocks. (After ten years it looks like the basement is without leaks!) But, here are some of the woodstacking efforts by Dana, Bryce, and Owen. So, when you come for Thanksgiving and you're enjoying a warm house you can thank your lazy younger siblings.

Our hope is that we are better parents now and that our younger ones will benefit from the changes, but if we're not and they don't and the older ones really feel like these guys aren't getting toughened up enough I'm sure they'll make sure to do what they can to make life harder for them. That's just one of the many benefits of a big family!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mixed Message

Around our lunch table on Sunday afternoon, everyone shares a thought from the message. The younger children often come up with some interesting quotes but I think this one from today is my favorite:
"Of all the roads, the road to heaven has the most trees."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Piano Man" Duet

Chet was only home for a day before heading to Wyoming for his Thanksgiving break, but the house was filled with piano music and singing during the hours he was here.

I guess Gabe didn't want to miss a minute of it, because after I put him down for his nap and did a load of laundry I heard some extra notes on the piano. I walked in to find Gabe out of bed and accompanying Chet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Decorating with Chet

Bryce, Owen, and I went up to get Chet for Thanksgiving break and used the day to help him put a fresh coat of paint on the living room of the apartment he will be sharing with Priscilla in a few weeks (OK, Chet, exactly 6 weeks--he's counting).

I forgot to get a before picture before we'd started with the edging, but it's enough to understand why Chet was adament about painting it. He just wasn't a fan of the red and yellow.

Bryce and Owen took a couple of turns with the roller when they weren't absorbed in the games on Chet's laptop. Bryce found a way to make a game out of the painting. Owen decided he's not quite ready for a painting career,....or hobby. There's just a bit too much finesse involved in painting. He needs something that allows for little more 'slop and jump'. (Yep, he tried both...)

So Priscilla, here's your new living room!

The Perfect Place

Every so often a news story comes out with the title "America's Best Place to Raise Kids" or something like that.

I wonder how many people are scrambling to sell their homes and find jobs in the new celestial city of the year? I hope there are none. At least not for that reason.

The thing is, it's not where you raise your kids that really matters, it's how you raise them. If you teach them, by word and example, the Biblical principals of faithfulness, truth, goodness, kindness, love, gentleness, self control, patience, trust, peace, and obedience day in and day out, your actual physical location will mean very little.

So, when I really consider an answer to the question I'm not ready to put up a "For Sale" sign just yet. After living in five homes in four locations in three states I've found that the best place to raise kids is at home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Children's librarian, Mr. Tom, held this book up to read to the children at story time. Gabe got quite excited. He pointed at the book and squealed, "Lisa!!"

Beware! Quiet Toddler in the House!

I can't believe he pulled one over on me. I'm supposed to be experienced, and ready for all the old tricks kids have up their sleeves. But, I missed this one.

Dana took the three older children to sing at the nursing home this morning and I was home alone for a few hours with Gabe. He was occupied with his cars, lining them all up and driving them along a seam of the couch cushion.

I decided to use the quiet time to get Shane's English assignments written up for the next five weeks (although he's in the public high school he is doing some of the work independently). To ease his bookload I decided to just photocopy the pages he would need from his huge textbook.

I got up to check on Gabe who was still quietly playing with his cars. He was fine. A few minutes later he walked into the kitchen with a tissue, blew his nose, and tossed it into the trash can. I love watching him do that, he looks so grown up, even though half the snot ends up on his face! I checked his face, it was fine, and went back to the lesson plans.

A minute later Gabe was back at the trash can with another tissue and I absently-mindedly made a note of how I'd need to teach him to use a tissue for a couple of blows before pitching it. It took another minute for my mind to kick into Mom-gear and realize how quiet it had become and how stealthily Mr. Gabe was moving in and out of the kitchen. How did I miss it? Something was surely going on.

And, something surely was. I really should have been clued into the fact that Gabe does NOT have a cold of any sort right now and therefore has no need of blowing his nose! He got me. And doesn't he look so proud of himself!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Funniest conversation I've heard in a long time

Last night I listened to what I thought was a 'very funny conversation'. Keith would call it a 'very frustrating conversation'. I suppose any conversation between a man and his phone would have to be funny AND frustrating.

Keith was trying to figure out the voice dial on his (not-so) "Smart Phone". The conversation went pretty much like this.
Keith (into his phone): Call Home
Computer Generated Voice: OK. Did. You. Say. "Joe"?
Keith: No
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Comb"?
Keith: No
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Poke"?
Keith: Where are you getting these names?! How about this one, "Call Cindy."
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Josie"?
Keith: No
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Molly"?
Keith: NO!! Try this, "Call Joey."
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Josie"?
Keith: No! "JOEY"!
CGV: OK. Did. You. Say. "Rick Corp."?
Keith: NO! I did not say "Rick Corp." or "Josie"! Where are you getting these names!? I said Joey! JOEY! CALL JOEY!!! AHHHH.

Babe, just dial the number.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Right to Life

A week ago today I branched out and did something new. I took a bus to Milwaukee to attend a Wisconsin Right to Life event and hear Sarah Palin speak. I have not been actively (meaning in-person, outside my home) involved in politics or pro life. I've been a behind the scenes supporter but being there in person was different.

I'm not sure why I did it. I got an email, was interested, ran it by my husband, and the next thing I knew I was on a coach bus making friends with fellow-lone-rally-attenders Arlene and Ida.

Our bus showed up almost three hours before the main event and we were among the first 200 people in the door out of a crowd that would number almost 3500. The distance from my seat to the podium wasn't more than the distance from home plate to second base.

The Wisconsin Right to Life executive director, Barbara Lyons, gave factual information about the number of abortions done annually in Wisconsin and compared those numbers to the work being done by the WRTL. I love facts--especially when they don't gloss over the less attractive ones.

Sarah Palin stuck to the topic of the evening and encouraged the crowd to speak out for the unborn and not back down in the fight for life. I appreciated her openness, honesty, and ability to share the difficult path she's walked in regards to her own family situations. Knowing, prenatally, that her child had Down syndrome and then choosing not to abort puts her in a 10% minority. I don't know what minority her daughter is in as an unmarried teen carrying her child to term, but I don't think our privacy acts even make those numbers public. In any case, Mrs. Palin was open about the affects of these events and lives on her family and gave her stand on this issue a personal credibility that empowers the messages.

Most of all, I appreciated the personal faith and Godward orientation that she expressed throughout her speech. I don't know her heart, but the way she communicated was genuine and personal and I was emboldened to stand unashamedly for my faith in Christ and how it affects what I do and what I believe.

So, does this lead me to get more politically active? No. I was interested and I'm glad I attended the event. But, national politics was not my goal. State politics is not even my goal. Locally, I resolve to remain connected in whatever way that I can to the "politics" of my community. But my main goal and focus is still to raise my family, train my children, and do what I can to support those who are able to take a more public stand.

One of those people is Carla. Visit her blog at Operation Outcry Wisconsin to see the details of her devotion to supporting women who have had abortions and educating the public to the truth of this atrocity.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prepositions: something for everyone

Application #1) The grammar curriculum I use with my older elementary students has them memorize the common prepositions as a basis for all sentence structure. It's been a very useful academic exercise.

Application #2) Gabe is now learning the practical meanings of the most common preposition such as over, under, in, out, above, and under.

Application #3) Girls/Ladies of all ages, I went bowling this week and saw something that led me to think we really need to key in on and review the meaning of one of those words--"under". It is very useful as a prefix: as in,
underground: below ground, not seen from above; or
underwater: below the surface and not seen from above.
How about "under"wear?
Any questions?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Talk about a coincidence!

Late Monday afternoon Keith called to tell me he had a business trip come up and I was going with him. It was only for a day and he had the home front taken care of.

We left home at 8 to destinations unknown (to me). By 10 I was pretty sure we were going to Duluth and an hour later I was really sure.

Keith went to his meeting and I shopped, enjoying myself except for a slightly guilty feeling for not contacting my aunt, cousins, or niece who live in the area. "Oh well," I thought, "nothing I could do about it, having not known where I was going and all."

Well, just as we were finishing our supper at a local restaurant, and Keith was mentioning something about a man we know named 'Tony', he pointed and said, "Speaking of Tony..."

There, being seated at the table directly behind me was my cousin Tony and his family!

We enjoyed an impromptu reunion and left with a promise to get our families together for a visit soon. I'm still shaking my head in amazement.

Additional Note: In case you don't know--the population of the greater Duluth metropolitan area is just under 1/4 Million. Also, we were eating out on a Tuesday evening, not a typical night out for a family with three pre-teenage children. And, the restaurant we were at had three separate rooms for dining. I'm still amazed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who's to Blame?

I grew up in a relatively liberal church and now attend a relatively conservative church. I say "relatively" because it IS all relative. My high school friends in the "Jesus People" movement thought my church then was conservative. And I have friends who think my church now is liberal. That's moderately beside the point.

Here's the thought. I've seen a lot of young people caught up in "following the crowd", partying, "living it up", "doing what feels good", or just otherwise embracing an immoral lifestyle. And at some point I've heard them point the finger and lay the blame on: their parents, their church, or their general upbringing.

And these are some things I've heard:
From the ones raised in the more "liberal" lifestyle.
"I wasn't given enough direction."
"I didn't experience tough love."
"No one taught me better."
"I never heard warnings to avoid sin."
"I was taught that 'Jesus love you', that God hates the sin but loves the sinner, so sin was no big deal."
"It's 'their' fault"

From the ones raised in the more "conservative" lifestyle.
"My parents were too strict and caused me to rebel."
"Hearing about sin just made me judgmental."
"If I hadn't been so sheltered I wouldn't have been so curious."
"It's their fault."

I've seen immorality lived out by people raised both ways--the 'liberal' girl with an unplanned pregnancy, the 'conservative' girl with multiple sexual partners, the 'liberal' boy getting drunk, the 'conservative' boy getting drunk, etc. I've also heard them all blame someone else for their behavior.

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear someone simply say,
"My heart was inclined to wickedness and I chose to follow it."
"I'm not stupid, I know the difference between right and wrong and good and bad, and I made my choice."

We may be influenced by our environment, but we are not controlled by it. The choice to embrace sin is entirely our own. The choice to lay the blame on someone else is as old as time, and if we choose to lay the blame for our behavior on someone else we are just as deceived as Adam who blamed Eve for his disobedience.

So, do what you do, and own what you do; or recognize what you did, and own what you did--laying blame on no one but yourself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Super Hero Moms

I know that sometimes Moms get tired of having to do (or feel like they are having to do) everything for everyone. Children believe we know everything and can solve everything. I'm not sure if that's a compliment to our natural prowess or if they're just being too lazy to figure it out themselves.

I had two recent such "SuperMom" situations.

One of my boys collected some shells when we were at the ocean last spring. This wasn't a moderate I'll-grab-a-couple-of-shells-to-throw-in-my-drawer sampling. He filled four quart-sized cups! They got left in a cubbyhole of the RV for months and after they were discovered he left them on the porch for several weeks. I told him Monday to put them away or I'd throw them away. A towel was laid on a work table and each shell was washed in a bowl and laid out to dry. After two days on the table my ultimatum was repeated.

What I haven't told you is that back on the beach I asked--"What are you going to do with all of those? Why don't you just take home a few of your favorites?" So, I don't really know what he was thinking when he came to me yesterday as I warned--"Put them away or I'll throw them away," asking, (in one of those accusatory this-is-your-fault tones), "But what am I going to do with them?" Hmmm, seems I covered that, why don't you try 'put them away or throw them away'.

Next was a call I received from a child-driver stranded without a working vehicle key. There had already been discussions between that child and the possessor of the working key about whether or not the spare key worked. There had also been instruction (unheeded) from the father to go out and test the key.

So what happened? Twenty minutes before that driver had to be somewhere I got a call--"Mom the key doesn't work." I was 30 miles away with the van in the shop for the day. Really? How was I the best solution to this problem?

But, my favorite Mom-can-fix-it story came several years ago when I was sick with the flu. I was in my bedroom resting while the family ate supper and my then-five-year-old got up from the table, came into my room, and asked, "Mom can you get me some more, please?"

So, us Moms can get burdened with feeling overworked and used, or we can take it for what it is--we are proven super heroes in the eyes of our children!

Note: If you are one of my children, you need not respond and burst my bubble. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interior Decorating

It's only taken me two-and-a-half years to get around to painting my living room. (I could have sworn it's only been one-and-a-half!) Time really flew. It didn't fly quite so fast for all of the family members and visitors who have been looking at my white primed walls and blue paint tape (look at the door frame) for most of Gabe's life.
It was stark, it was bleak, but at least the room was clean, dry, and warm with a comfortable seat--kind of like a city bus.

Keith likes things to look nice, but he is VERY patient with me and puts up with A LOT knowing that the best interests of our family may not include me putting my time into interior decoring. He never complained about the white walls but he HAD been wanting to put up our pictures. They came down in February of 2007 when we began our building/remodeling project. They have been gathering dust in our bedroom ever since. Last Saturday he was in major handyman-mode and announced, "I'm putting the pictures up, I don't care if the walls are painted or not." I was out of stall time--"OK!" I said, "I'll paint today."

So, I started. I'd had one hundred and thirty weeks to prepare and it came down to a split-second decision. I headed to the work room in the basement, lined up all the cans of paint that I had and started testing. I made a color strip on a stir stick and brought it upstairs so I could compare the colors to our furniture, the fireplace, and our favorite picture (a sunrise over the lakehome where we used to live).

I picked four colors that I thought would or could work and prepared a section of the living room for a test run. I took me about three hours (including dry time--during which I listened to Chet's football game. Crazy boy played with a 101 degree temperature and still got 8 tackles and 2 sacks!). I settled on three of the colors and started in, after I repainted my trial wall white again!

I had decided to do a faux glaze color wash. I'm not really sure exactly what that means but those are all the terms I came up with as I did my internet research. I started with tan. First I brushed the wall down with water. Then I took my glaze mix--I mixed one part (about 1 cup) paint with five parts glaze and one part water-- and brushed it on the damp wall.

The second coat was added on Monday. It was a reddish brown that was way too reddish and after the first swipe of the brush I grabbed a wet rag and wiped it all off! I headed back down to the paint supply and found a dark brown that I mixed in until I no longer ended up with a pinkish looking brown.

I didn't start that coat until after our school day and supper preparation were finished and I put my brush down at midnight. I was up at five this morning to finish it off with black. Yes, black. It didn't sound good to me, but my professional-painter-friend Ricki assured me it would work. I think it did. Of course, everyone has their own opinion and I will most certainly hear from some naysayers, but I contend with, "It looks better than a city bus!"



I even got the picture up!

More pictures and wall decorations will be coming and maybe a rug to cover the fraying carpet. But, since there's always a flip side to productivity and something's gotta give, I need to go clean my kitchen!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'd make a terrible arsonist.

How is it that one cigarette can set an entire forest on fire and burn through hundreds acres of woodlands and dozens of homes but I can't start one measly fire in our woodburning stove with a lighter, a stack of scrap paper, a binful of cardboard boxes, and a barnful of firewood!?!