Day 7: I need you

Driving by the plain of Bethsaida, near the sight of the feeding of the five thousand
Driving by the plain of Bethsaida, near the sight of the feeding of the five thousand
Synagogue at Chorazin
Synagogue at Chorazin
likely spot for the Sermon on the Mount
Near to the place of the Sermon on the Mount

If you’ve been reading my posts about the other side of the Israel trip, then you know that yesterday’s shopping trip ended up to be sort of stressful.

However, determined to have all the fun that we could have, I scheduled another shopping trip with another friend to another favorite place of mine: Goodwill. (Love to look at high-end places; buy at less than high-end places.)

Well, this trip did present me with another episode of stress; but the ending was much happier.

My girlies went with me and we were all ready and excited. My plan was that I would have the youngest sit in the child seat of my shopping cart; and my friend (who is so awesome and loves my kids) could push my two-year old in her cart. The older two do really well staying with me and I knew that they would have fun looking through stuff with us.

Hello Goodwill: bye-bye shopping cart idea. Goodwill doesn’t have carts!! At least this one. Just one more reason why I like Salvation Army better.

Anyways, it was cumbersome to carry the baby around and look at the same time, but we were not dismayed.

I ended up with some really great finds which actually felt like really small steps towards some of my goals for my home. I so want to be able to decorate my house and make it beautiful without spending much. This was really the first time that I felt like I found stuff (even looked in the right places) to start accomplishing that.

Here are my finds: Gorgeous brown sheet, bright yellow table cloth, yellow fleece scarf, gray sheet and pillowcase with white stripes, and my very favorite a sunshine mirror! All this for fourteen dollars and change.

I’m not even going to begin to tell you what I hope I can do with these, but if I ever get around to it, I’m sure I’ll be proud as a peacock and let everybody know.

When I got home, I got a text from my neighbor saying that she was so heartbroken about what had happened in Connecticut. What happened in Connecticut? I got on my computer and found out.

How trivial my thrift store finds seemed now. How could I have enjoyed such a fun, carefree time with my friend and kids when parents just like me were having their hearts ripped out?

It wasn’t okay that Paul was gone anymore. I needed him, and I needed him now. Somehow I made it through the rest of the evening with the girls. After they went to sleep, I sat on the couch in a news-induced stupor wondering if something like that would ever happen to me.

It was late when my resistance gave in and I finally went to bed.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
Bonfire by the Sea of Galilee ~ I ask you, what is cooler than that?
Bonfire by the Sea of Galilee ~ I ask you, what is cooler than that?
Jordan before flowing into Galilee
Jordan before flowing into Galilee
Jordan River
Jordan River

Have you ever had an opportunity to do something you really wanted to do, and then realized (after the fact) that you sorta squandered it?

A dear lady our family knows offered to watch the girls so I could go do something by myself. I knew just what I wanted to do: another young mom I know gets out a lot, but not often with another lady and without her kids. So she worked it out to have someone watch her kids and we went shopping at this fabulous consignment shop I had been to. (It really is fabulous! set up like a boutique; adorable, totally in style clothes; ah! I want to go back!)

Anyways, we had a great time at the shop. I am such a poky shopper. I just love to look and look and think and think and go back; then try stuff on; decide none of it will work, etc.

Seriously, anyone who will go shopping with me ought to get a Joan of Arc award.

Every now and then, though, I see something and know I want it. (That’s why I take forever all those other times, because it’s just so hard to push me over the edge to spend money on something that doesn’t wow me.)

This time, it was a yellow wool skirt. My favorite color is yellow, but this was a new shade for me; kind of like a winter yellow? Definitely with gray undertones. Mm…mmm. Big fabric-covered buttons on both sides of the waist. And it fit. And I knew I had Christmas money coming. Then I found a yellow rope necklace to go with it and the deal was done!

Well, that was the good part. I was happy. yay.

Then, we went a few other places and I realized that I didn’t have the number of the lady who was watching my kids. Was today the day she had to pick up her grandson at school? Was she upset with me for not being back sooner? My mind started to go ka-fluey. I tried to switch lanes and almost collided with a car in my blind spot. Arg.

I dropped the girl off and rushed home, worrying the entire time about whether I had stayed out too late. (small note: the lady had specifically said, “Stay as long as you want, I’m good.”) But did she mean this long? If only I had written down her number before I left. Lack of preparation: you trouble me again!

Of course, when I got home, everything was fine. She was completely reassuring that she didn’t have anywhere to be and just wanted me to have a good time. So then I went from having a good time, to worrying I had too good of a time, to wishing I had had a better time instead of worrying about yada, yada, yada.

End of story: I felt awful. Even seriously second guessed buying the yellow skirt.

Moral??? Um, if you get a chance to get out as a young mom, just remember that stress and trouble and yourself will go with you even when your children do not. Always have a phone number to call your babysitter; even if you think you’ve had it previously (I did) check again, your nerves will thank you. And try to have a good time.

Oh yes, I did try to recount this pitiful tale to my husband who was halfway across the world on the most exciting and engaging trip of his life…via email. He better like that yellow skirt. = ) 

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Moat built by crusaders at Caesarea Maritima
Gate built by Solomon at Megiddo
First century rolling stone tomb

We go to a big church. I love our church. Today, it was incumbent on me to get myself and my four small daughters to church alone.

The prospect of getting four little girls up and out the door early might sound daunting, but I wasn’t really worried about it. Deep down, I know what it takes to get places ready and on time; I just get lazy and leave things ’til the last minute and then pull out the old, “but I’ve got four little kids!” excuse.

Anyways, times like this I realize I’m going to have to be on my game and what do you know? Things normally turn out fine.

***Interpretation of everything I just said for a male: Everything went fine getting the girls and I to church.***

I dropped them all off at their respective nurseries and classes and headed upstairs to our adult Bible fellowship. Our room is at the end of a long hallway opposite of the stairs. Walking past people, it seemed that everyone had someone to talk to. Of course, people said hi and everything, but it was the first time I really felt alone.

I sat and learned and talked to people and everything like normal, but it was all so un-normal because Paul wasn’t there. I guess you don’t know what a privilege someone’s presence is until it’s gone.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Remains from Herod the Great's palace at Caesarea Maritima
Remains from Herod the Great’s palace at Caesarea Maritima
Original floor from Herod the Great's palace at Caesarea Maritima
Original floor from Herod the Great’s palace at Caesarea Maritima

Today was a happy day. Honestly, just the prospect of having the car and being able to go out and buy Christmas decorations temporarily erased the thought that my husband was gone. I had this funny mental image of myself holding a cardboard sign that said in sloppy black marker, “Will trade husband for car.” (I’ll never understand my mind) Apparently I chose flippancy as my way of dealing with Paul’s departure on day one.

I did realize how important it would be to not lose my car key. Going to try very hard to give extra attention to putting it where it belongs.

While the little girls slept, Hope and Sophia and I cut little triangles of scrapbook paper to make Christmas banners. Then we made banana bread, which is always a hoot.

At bedtime the girls went to sleep fine. We’d been able to maintain a happy, upbeat tone all day.

I wanted to go to sleep and probably could have except that I had to prepare a craft for the next night at AWANA. When that was complete, I began trying to go to bed.

It’s hard to turn out that last light. After everything was ready and I couldn’t bring myself to do anymore, I realized…this is going to be hard. Thirteen nights like this. And this is only the first.

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

What can I say?

I resort to this blog to give a raw attempt at processing all that is going on in my mind tonight.

How are we, hundreds of miles away, supposed to deal with this grief? And how can we even label it grief when compared to what the actual families are suffering from?

Natural reactions as a mother are fear, over-protectiveness, anger, confusion. Just because I know that evil will never go away until Christ is ruling on this earth does not mean I just stand by and let it take over.

But what can I do? What difference does it make that I feel badly or that I have this temporary sense of motivation to change things? That doesn’t help the families. They’ll never know if I’ve cried; they’ll never even know if I just go on with my life unaffected. These are real people, just like me and there’s nothing I can do to comfort them.

I feel helpless.

So what I’m asking myself is: How can I help people in my own community who might be at risk of becoming the kind of person who would commit an act like this? Or, is it enough to once again renew my commitment as a mother and pour myself into my children’s spiritual, emotional and physical development? Or is the solution somewhere between those two extremes?

No answers come.

I pray for the families; that they would come to rest under the wings of an Almighty, beautiful God, to know and trust His gracious sovereignty, and to long for the day when Christ will rule as King and banish evil eternally.

I pray for little children to sleep without nightmares, or at least to have big, warm, comforting beds to run to when the inevitable nightmares come.

I pray for moms and dads to be able to weep out their sorrows even when clamming up seems so much better.

I pray for teachers to remember the priceless gifts that fill their classrooms.

I pray for law enforcement officers to renew their courage and to somehow know how deeply we appreciate them.

I pray for teenagers to stop watching violence on TV.

And I pray for myself, to never forget how precious life is, or to waste a day of motherhood, or to pass up a stranger who I could help.

God help us.

Sometimes I just stop


I often joke with my husband that I have to live two days in the future if I want to actually be prepared for anything.

My mind, my body, and my life are in constant forward motion.

“We have to finish breakfast so we can do our morning jobs; we have to finish cleaning up so we can play; if we get all this laundry folded we can read before it’s time to make lunch; let’s hurry and finish lunch because if the girls get to their naps on time we can go outside and play before it’s time to start dinner;” and on it goes.

Being prepared and planning are vital. They allow me to enjoy so much more than survival with my children. But every now and then something happens and all the forward motion stops.

A hug.

A simple, spontaneous hug from a little girl.

All of them have done it to me; and I love it. It surprises me every time.

Countless times during the day do I pick up a child for one reason or another. Normally it’s driven by that forward motion, transporting them here and there.

But when they hug me, here and there and plans and schedules fly right out the window.

Today it was Mckayla. When I carried her into her room to lay her down and began singing, she laid her head on my shoulder… and just stayed.

How can something so simple be so wonderful? Everything else fades away and I’m just a mom holding a precious, soft, fuzzy-headed little girl. who’s hugging me.

Roses: someone else can stop and smell you; I will stop for this.

A happy place

blogpics 006This kitchen will never be featured in a magazine. It will never receive enthusiastic compliments from friends and visitors. It’s only future is to observe my less-than-perfect cooking skills and to endure my fledgling attempts to keep it immaculate.

But this little room is a happy place for me. Want to know why?

I get to teach my little girls how to make macaroni and cheese here. (And hopefully insure that they will never try to make a homemade salad dressing out of a raspberry crystal light packet)

What could be more fun than sitting on a floor with a four, three, and two-year old making lunch while the one-year old sleeps?

blogpics 002I wish you could have seen their delight at all they got to do; unwrapping butter, shaking in salt and pepper, adding and stirring the cheese. Hope was cheddar, Gracie was mozzarella, and Sophia was parmesan.

The floor got a little messy; it took longer than if I had just done it myself, but that didn’t seem to matter.  

This little incident really impressed me, obviously enough to get a camera and take some rough home photos.

Why did something so insignificant fill me with this deep, abiding sense of happiness?

I think that true happiness always catches us off guard. How many times have I done things trying to manufacture happiness? But there was none of that on this particular Saturday; just got up, got the girls up, made breakfast, probably played or folded laundry, sent my sweet husband off to the library and hoped that the rest of the day wouldn’t be too difficult.

And for some reason decided to put the pot of noodles down on the floor so the girls could make macaroni and cheese with me. Weeks later, I’m writing about it and still trying to figure it out.

Happiness doesn’t depend on beautiful surroundings, ideal circumstances, or perfectly planned activities. It just happens; I think I would argue it happens when you’re thinking about yourself the least.  

blogpics 010Okay, I could easily make a long list of things that sound more fun than making macaroni and cheese with preschoolers. I’m a big girl; I have interests, desires, dreams; but for right now, teaching them and spending time with them are the steps I find myself taking. And the big picture truth I’m thinking about is that these small steps have right here, right now, brought me to a happy place.  

p.s. Thank you all so much for reading; you’re giving me unexpected encouragement.

Just you and me baby

If I had a wishlist of things to do with my girls, one of the very top items would be to spend time with each of them alone. As you can imagine, with four of them four and under this is nearly impossible. (Unless you possess an incredible skillset including organization and determination, of which I do not! Hmm…one of the reasons for starting this blog…)

Anyways here is the long shaggy dog about how my wish came true! Sophia began showing signs of mild sickness first, followed by Gracie and Hope. After lunch, Sophia and Gracie were laying around practically beginning to nap on the living room floor. I wasn’t sure that Sophia would actually take a nap, but after putting her in my bed and laying Gracie down, one look at her said she was out. By this time it was time for Mckayla to go down and voila! I had an afternoon with Hope all to myself.

I think sometimes it’s the easiest to bypass the oldest when it comes to giving individual attention.

Her first request was to work in her letter book (always my learner); then we looked at birthday cakes on pinterest and played the piano. Oops…forgot to fold the laundry, again. Actually the most bizarre thing we did was to look at pictures from superstorm Sandy the day before. She asked me if some cars could swim.

Next I got to play with Mckayla by herself. Gracie was still asleep and Hope and Sophia were resting in my bed. I nursed her and then she did the cutest thing with The Open Road. She would flip the pages back and forth and say “DA-Dat!” every time she saw the mole. I could almost promise she tried to say “flower” too, but I’m not biased or anything. I love seeing the pleasure babies get out of doing such simple things over and over. Then when that finally got old, I tickled her and she laughed and laughed. That’s pretty much our favorite activity when we’re together, her and me. = )

And Gracie. Well, to start with she napped from 2:00pm to 6:30pm, and therefore averted the sluggish yuckiness that had afflicted her sisters. (Insert hilarious non-related to title theme story: At dinner Gracie saw a bug, proceeded to clap her hands and proudly pronounce, “I got it!” Then she looked at her hands, wrinkled her nose and said, “Him gwoss!” Was there a bug in her hands? Of course not.) So, there was no way I was putting her to bed at 8:00 like her sisters. We sat together by the bookshelf and she picked books and I read them. Then she would go back page by page and ask a dozen questions about everything she saw. If you’ve ever wondered what love feels like, sometimes it’s not so much a dramatic explosion inside as it is thirty pounds of soft, squishiness sitting down in your lap.

As I write this, I realize that there’s no special time with Sophia recorded here. Does changing her from a wet bed at 3:00 this morning count? Actually, Sophia was the first one up this morning as usual. We normally enjoy hugs and cuddles before everyone else gets up. Actually, I’d say it’s split half and half between hugs and cuddles and bouncing up and down and running back and forth in the hallway …on her part of course, I just watch and adore and try to bring it back around to hugs and cuddles.

I wish I could have time with them like that every day. They’re absolutely wonderful all together, but when I’m with them alone I feel like I can really soak the moments up so much better. Their expressions amaze me; I never get tired of watching them.

I love you, girlies