What the fly on the wall heard, week 3

“Mommy! I haven’t wiggled at all yet!” (Sophia whispered loudly three-quarters of the way through Sunday’s sermon)


All the girls learned to say “Yeah” as their first positive response; and we were thrilled with that… when they were babies. However, lately I’ve been realizing that that is still their initial response and wanted to bring it from a “yeah” or “yep” to a “yes” or “yes, ma’am.” So I told the older three girls what I expected and then we played a little game where I would ask them a yes or no question, and they would have to reply correctly. Of course Hope answered with precision. Gracie got mixed up between sir and ma’am, and Sophia…

“Sophia, are you two?”

“No, ma’am!”

“Sophia, are you four?”

“Yes, ma’am!!!”

“Sophia, do you like pickles?”

“Yes, mammy-sir!!!!!”

“Sophia, is it dark outside?”

“No, mammy-sir-ee-b0b!!!!!!!!”

And then we stopped.


(Gracie to me) “What’s your name?”


“But you call yourself Christie.”


(Mckayla, every time Paul walks in the door) “Daaaaaa-deeeeee!”

Too funny: A reblog from Ita Vita African

This is from my dear friend Amy at Ita Vita African. It cracked me up, and I thought you might enjoy it, too. Let’s just say, where they serve in South Africa, people have names that are hard for us to understand.

Keeping the Tyrants Straight

9 March 2013 by Amy

Here’s a recent conversation at our house:

Seth: I have to go to a funeral tomorrow.
Amy: Oh! Who died?
Seth: Hitler’s mom.
Amy: Ohhh. That’s too bad.
Seth: No, not Hitler from church. The other Hitler. The man.
Amy: Do I know him?
Seth: I don’t think so. He worked on the road with me.


Amy: Oh! Oops. I was thinking of Saddam Hussein’s mom.
Seth: Yeah, it’s hard keeping all those moms-of-tyrants straight.

What the fly on the wall heard, week 2

This just in from Sophia

“We’re hiding from poisonous snakes. They have guns.”

(I say) “Poisonous snakes don’t have guns.”

“These ones do,” she insists, “They’re right in their brain!” (pointing to right eye)

She continues, “And when they want to shoot, they just raise up their tail, and it hits the gun, and shoots! Even if you’re far away.”



(Gracie) “Mommy, what is ba-ba-jo-ja?”

“I have no idea.” (Mommy)

What the fly on the wall heard

For a long time I have wanted to have a place where I could write down all the ridiculous things that are said in our house on any given day. My sister gets a great kick out of some of the things she overhears during our phone conversations. We’ll see if I can remember to record them as they come.

For today, here is your first edition of What the fly on the wall heard:

“Can you please get me that can of chickpeas that you put up on the piano, Sophia?” (Christie)


(Hope, teaching kindergarten to Sophia and Gracie; just after she taught them how to spell “owl”) “And the way you spell ‘ouch’ is O-W-L-T-H.”


(Gracie, on the way home from getting vaccines) “I’m going to tell Daddy the doctuhs huht me!”

Hope you enjoy! Have a lovely weekend. 

Why you really should eat a good breakfast when you’re pregnant, part 2

My sweet and wild second child
My sweet and wild second child

This morning (the morning of the day that I would be totally humiliated) had to be different.

There was a funeral scheduled for late morning and I was to play the piano. That meant I had to be up, showered, dressed, made-up, beautified, practiced, and fed. Yes, fed. I was so proud of myself when I sat down to eat my breakfast of Cheerios and grape juice. Wow, I was really taking care of myself. This morning I knew I had to have all of my energy and strength at top-notch.

Little did I know that in less than twenty-four hours people would be chastising me for eating this  meager breakfast that at the time I was so proud of.

Everything was going completely fine with the funeral. Maybe, maybe, I felt a little tired, hot, and thirsty; but seriously, I don’t think I thought of any of this until it was too late.

A soloist got up to sing “The Old Rugged Cross” before the message. Somewhere during the second or third verse, the darkness and stars started to invade my vision. That’s weird. I had passed out before in high school so at least I was familiar with that sensation. Oh well, I’ll be fine; I know how to play this song without looking. 

By this time all I could see was complete black, but I could still hear the man singing and my playing sounded okay… until it stopped sounding okay. Wait, that’s not right. I’m supposed to play a B flat chord here. I remember still not being worried; I know where that chord is; but I kept searching for it and couldn’t find it. Wow, this sounds bad; this sounds weird. 

At that point, I stopped having thoughts. I just knew that whatever I was playing was not right.

People in the crowded auditorium started to wonder what was wrong. The soloist began to wonder if he had made a mistake; he kept coming back in, trying to find where he was supposed to be. My mom, who was in attendance, told me later that she was thinking, “Someone better get up there and do something.”

Thankfully, my knight in shining armor realized I needed help. Paul came up to the piano and put his arms around me (which was good, first because I always love his arms around me, and second, because this particular time it kept me from collapsing on the ground)

“Hey Bud, are you okay?”


“I’m going to help you walk off.”

“No, you don’t understand; I can’t see you. Everything’s black. You’re going to have to carry me.”

So there I went, off the stage, carried in my husband’s arms.

There went the little girl everyone had watched grow up. There went the girl who had played the piano for everything that had happened in that church for the last who knows how long. There went the person who had never needed anything. There went all that pride. Wait, actually, I think it stayed on the piano bench.

This would begin my realization that pregnancy is different from normal. Something wacko is happening with my body, and I better figure out what to do about it.

Seriously, Christie, why did it take blacking out at a FUNERAL?????

Sophia called the kettle black

January-June 2011 258Do you ever look at your children around the table and think “Were these kids raised in a barn?”

And then think, “Wait; they’re only 5,3,2, and 1, maybe this is normal.”

And then think, “I don’t care! We have got to learn table manners!”

Maybe that’s only me. I think these things often. One of the biggest areas I don’t understand is the little skill of silverware usage. Currently, my one year old wants to use her fork for everything because she just figured it out and is so excited. I spent months working with the other ones to master this skill at the appropriate ages. So why do they want to eat with their fingers now?

We were sitting at dinner tonight; Paul was actually with us. Everything had been fine and we were almost done. Gracie, who was done, held her fork up high above the table and let it drop… clatter, clatter, clatter. Paul looked over at her and gave her some serious instruction regarding what a fork should and should not do at the table.

“Gracie, you don’t ever bang your fork on the table. You don’t ever scratch the table with your fork. Your fork shouldn’t even be on the table unless Mommy put it there before we ate.”

“Yessur,” she replied.

Paul began to turn away from her and then with tongue-in-cheek added something like, “You don’t even use your fork to eat your food…”

“I do!”  Sophia exlaimed as she grabbed her last piece of pork with her FINGERS and popped it in her mouth.

Laughter poured out of me so suddenly that I had to cover my mouth to keep my food from, um… coming out. Paul looked at me to see what was so funny; all I could do was point to Sophia. He glanced over just as she pulled her fingers from her mouth.

He began laughing, putting his head down and shaking it.

Hope was already laughing hysterically as she had caught the moment with me.

Sophia began laughing because she thought she knew why we were laughing. (which made us laugh harder)

Mckayla laughed because that’s what she does.

We laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

It was so funny; so Sophia; and so forgettable.

That’s why I wrote it down here.

Why you really should eat a good breakfast while you’re pregnant, part 1

My first little monkey
My first little monkey

When I got married I knew how to part-write pretty well; I could analyze preludes and fugues; I could sightread about any piece of music that you could put in front of me. I could wash and wax a car until it gleamed; and that’s about all. (Notice I didn’t say anything about cooking, preparing food, knowing what a well-balanced meal was, etc.)

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would need some help. So I drove my husband’s little white truck to our little local library. There I checked out as many books as I could regarding pregnancy, went home, read them, and became extremely grossed out at the pictures.

At our first doctor’s appointment, the nurse went through a very specific list of foods and drugs that I could not eat and also a few items that I could take, just in moderation, or after so many weeks, and whatever.

Everyone I knew expressed their deep happiness over our coming baby. I got oohs and ahs and hugs and pats and well-wishes ’til I could not contain anymore.

But in all of this, I missed out on something very important. Either I failed to read it in the library books, or didn’t hear it in the doctor’s appointment. I definitely did not receive any advice from friends or family regarding it; perhaps they just didn’t understand how ignorant I was about it all.

But I learned. Oh, did I learn.

When you are pregnant, you have to eat

There’s another little person in there, and they’re hungry, too. Even if you’re as sick as a dying goldfish, you have to eat.

Because if you don’t, your body will take whatever sustenance it has stored and give it to that new, sweet, deserving little person.

And that will leave you with nothing. And when your body has to run on nothing, it isn’t pretty.

Case and point:

With my first pregnancy, I was sick at night. About seven o’clock I would begin to feel just awful. The thought of eating would make me groan. Even lying down felt awful, and it would be late before I could get to sleep.

For this reason, it was very hard to wake up in the morning. I would stay in bed ’til the last possible minute and then rush to get ready to go teach piano lessons. Most mornings, I went without eating. (Remember the whole not knowing anything about food part? Well, I didn’t know at all how to stock a pantry, or even buy groceries; so most of the time there wasn’t even anything to eat in the house.) If I grabbed a granola bar or an apple, I thought I was doing good.

But then it came. The morning of the day that I would be humiliated…

Seven observations from the Social Security office

I was about to go...
I was about to go…

After marriage I made my dutiful visit to the Social Security office to request a new card with my new name. However, I waited and waited and waited and waited… and it never came. Five years later, I decided to brave the miserable experience again. This time in a new state, a new city, and with four little children.

Here are my observations after the experience:

1. Pulling into the parking lot only to find that you have to drive around for ten minutes before a space opens up is a real optimism killer.

2. You now check in at a computer; this computer asked me a question that really perplexed me. As I stood there thinking, the security guard came over to see what was impeding the “progress.” It took her approximately .8 seconds to say, “Ma’am, what are you here for today?” I explained my predicament and ba-da-bing-tap-tap-tap-b-dum-woo-woo-woo-whop her fingers flew through the touch screen questionnaire and my waiting ticket printed out of the machine. Observation: I don’t particularly like rude, impatient people, but I will take rude, impatient helpful people any day over sugary-sweet employees who have no idea what’s going on.

3. The Social Security office was not exceptionally social.

4. The Social Security office did not make me feel especially secure, except in the knowledge that I would be there awhile.

5. The TV running information regarding how you really should be doing this online and saving yourself (and them) the trouble of dealing with your matter in person actually suggested that you “Like” them on Facebook and “Follow” them on Twitter. I would love to meet the person who has done that.

6a. A big sign posted in plain view on the wall stated something like this: Any person displaying disruptive, angry, or violent behavior towards a social security worker will be subject to fines, arrest, or imprisonment.

6b. I’m pretty sure that some of the folks who packed out that waiting room had been diagnosed with manic depression, bipolar, OCD, and other disorders that cause disturbing behavior; even others had obviously done their time in the fields of alcohol and drugs. It was curious to me how nicely they all were behaving; of course we were all feeling impatient and a little upset with the system, but somehow we suppressed those feelings and made it through.

6c. A few strictly enforced rules do an amazing job of curbing bad behavior.

7. I do have to admit that although the two workers I dealt with directly were moderately rude at the beginning, once they found out that I wasn’t mad at life or at them (and that my children were being angels, thank God!), they were actually nice.

And the happy conclusion… my card came in the mail today: hooray! I’m real!

The Patience Store


Have you ever said something to your children that came back to bite you; or convict you?

I don’t remember the exact circumstances surrounding this event, but I do know that Sophia was having trouble being patient.

I oh-so-lovingly-and-gently said, “Sophia, you need to be patient.” She replied unsatisfactorily a few times before I again insisted, “Sophia, you must be patient.”

Her response was classic. “But I don’t have any more patience!”

An idea popped into my head. “Well, you’ll just have to go get some.”

“Where?” she asked suspiciously.

“From The Patience Store.”

“But I don’t have any money.” This kid didn’t get off the boat yesterday.

I continued my thought, “It doesn’t cost anything; it’s free; you just have to go and ask for it. There’s as much as you need.”

I’m not sure if she was just completely amused at the idea, or decided to be more patient, or whatever; I don’t remember at all any further happenings regarding her and that conversation.

But I do remember that a few days later, I was having trouble being patient. Caused I’m sure by circumstances ordinary to any mom: needy kids, overflowing housework, not enough sleep, not enough devotion to Jesus. I was huffy and grumbling in my mind and tired of it all.

These words ran through my head, “You need to go to the Patience Store. There’s as much as you need; you just have to ask for it.”

Big sigh.

It really is that simple isn’t it?

Since that day, I’ve even thought about it further when pondering writing this post. James says that God gives to us liberally without asking why we keep coming back. He gives when we ask for wisdom. This wisdom we ask for is in direct response to the many, various and sudden trials of life. Why can we have joy in these trials? Because they produce that beautiful, precious, high-value virtue… patience.

It’s abundantly available.

I probably need to sign up for the frequent shopper card.