Saturday, January 31, 2009


In my vast experience in parenting, 21 years and 8 months today, I have endured a great amount of whining, fussing, complaining, begging, demanding and pleading from my six children. To combat their weapons of self-interest and self-absorption, I established a few simple rules. I did have their higher interests in mind, but also my sanity was at stake. Like fingernails to a chalkboard, whining can drive a parent into a state comparable to their child's. While child training, I had to maintain my maturity so they would live long enough to achieve theirs.

momma mindy's rules for no whining

1. NO means NO. I do not change my mind. Sometimes this was as much to remind myself as my children. I knew I had to carefully examine the question before me and make a wise, firm decision, then stick to it. Giving in only once weakens your credibility and your own resolve. If they win once, they will continue to badger, knowing that you might change your mind.

2. If you ask you can't have. This was for those many years of grocery shopping when I was required to take all the children with me. Treats were purchased because I WANTED to reward them for good behavior, not purchased as bribery to stop bad behavior.

3. My ears didn't hear words that were accompanied with whining or without proper manners. I would gently cup my hand to my ear to remind them that my ears weren't hearing and they needed to repeat correctly.

By diligently following these simple rules, I tried to be a consistant parent who didn't train a child to whine by conceding to their antics.

Imagine my surprise when a whining session interrupted a lovely Mother/Daughter Expedition to downtown Seattle. I had treated all four daughters, ages 6 to 21, to a treat at Starbucks because I WANTED to, not because they asked, and we were sipping and chatting in a very should-be-blogged-about moment.

Our tranquility was shattered with an unthankful, whining beg.

"M-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-m, can I please have a cupcake?" (Don't they know yet that the longer it takes for them to say your name, the higher the likelihood that you will deny their request?)

"No." I said it firmly and confidently.

"Please, I need one. They look so good. Look at them, all full of frosting, don't YOU think they look delicious?" (Don't they know that a mother knows the difference between a need and a want, and their inability to discern the difference further increases their chances of denial?)

"No." I was NOT going to change my mind.

"Please, please, PLEASE!" Folded hands, poochy lips were starting to be dramatically added to the request, but my backbone was like steel. By now, the six-year old was warmed up. She sat forward on her chair a little, leaning forward, totally engaged.

She continued watching, smugly knowing her older sister was NEVER going to get that cupcake. I refused to answer. I allowed a dramatic pause, then gave the perfect mother lecture.

"You know that we are cutting down on sugar in this family. Because I have had cancer, your chances of getting cancer are increased. You know cancer feeds on sugar, and I am trying very hard to cut it out of my diet and decrease your intake." With barrels blazing, I continued on, mistaking the glint in her eye for wise acquiescence. "I need you to support me in this. I need to have the family behind me."

My soliloquy of wisdom only fed her desire, like sugar to cancer.

"But, M-AW-AW-AW-AW-AW-AW-AW-M, my cancer really, really, really needs that cupcake!"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Survived my First Earthquake!

I am now a true Washingtonian - I have survived my first earthquake.

This morning I was lounging in bed, actually it was just after 5am, and my husband was up reading his Bible in the kitchen. I was jolted wide awake with the sensation that someone jumped on my bed. I sat up and began to call the kitty, thinking that maybe our cat had disturbed my sleep. He's a very big cat. No kitty anywhere. I called my husband and made him look under the bed with a flashlight. After accidentally shining the light directly in my eyes two times, he assured me there were no boogie men under the bed. We gave up our investigation, but were mystified. I KNEW something bounced my bed and I was a little freaked out.

Reading the news online this morning relieved my fears. I am not a dreamer, a hallucinater, a liar or a freak. I am a victim. An earthquake survival victim. This morning the KOMO headline declared "4.5 Magnitude Quake Rattles the Puget Sound Area." No damage known so far, no trauma, just bragging rights to living through the Quake of 09.

I have lived in Kansas, tornado alley, suriving seven years of deadly tornadoes. During the worst storm, a rare inland hurricane forged its way between our house and our neighbor's house. No damage to houses, but it took us days to removed all the downed trees from our driveways.

I have lived in North Dakota and Minnesota and survived too many years of blizzards and highway closures. We lived through the winter of 96-97 with 117 inches of snow, beating the previous record by about 27 inches. The average winter snowfall in ND is 40 inches. During that time we survived, and I mean survived, 8 major blizzards, 2 ground blizzards and 4 winter storms. (Yes, they're all different.)

Of course, after winter comes spring, and the snow must melt. It turns into water, which floods the very flat prairies. The flood of 1997 devastated the state of ND when three days of thawing was followed by three days of rain, followed by days of freezing and snowing. Telephone poles snapped all across the state like a row of dominoes. People were drowned, stranded, lost their homes, their animals, their equipment, their businesses, their hope.

I have been warned since I moved here to fasten down things in case of an earthquake, and I never got around to it. I am so thankful there was no damage and everyone is fine. So, I can laugh, and go check for damage.

After all, a pen might have rolled off the kitchen counter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weapon of Mass Destruction Discovered at Gramma's Home

Doesn't our little WMD look innocent?

She was just getting started.

The mess got worse, but I find it so adorable.
Must be a Gramma thing.
It WASN'T a Momma thing in our house!
"Just about the time a woman thinks her work is done,
she becomes a grandmother."
~Edward H. Dreschnack
I thought it was so cute that Brookie remembered
which drawer held her cups, dishes and silverware.
"Women over 50 don't have babies because they would put them down
 and forget where they left them. " unknown
I didn't realize she was keeping her full sippy cup in here, too.
Grandpa will be fixing the drawer this week.

"Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day
 and  now the day was complete. "~Marcy DeMaree

Oh, poor Brookie!
Now she can't play with Gramma's antique playpen anymore.
Grandpa will be fixing the playpen this week.

"Grandchildren are spoiled because you can't spank the Grandma!" unknown

By the way,
if you are ever missing your shoes at our house, follow the trail of toys.

I'm sure you'll eventually find them.

"Grandma, I want to follow in your footsteps
because you are following the footsteps of Jesus." unknown

Isn't this sweet?
Brookie climbing on the table like a good, little granddaughter.

Perfect love sometimes does not come
 until grandchildren are born. ~Welsh Proverb~

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dreamin' of a White Valentine's Day?

Just when we thought we were ready to kiss winter goodbye, and rub that in to all the relatives in double-digits-below-zero-Minnesota, we were surprised yet again on Sunday. It was a light but crunchy and slippery snow, useful only to look at and to make you fall down the stairs. We're wondering if we'll have any more white holidays... This view is just to make all the mid-westerners laugh at what we think is a lot of snow.
My winter cheer - no matter how gray the skies, how white the snow, how wet the rain, the heather endures it all and gives me something to look at and enjoy during the drabbest months.
I also cheer myself with the knowledge that our snow doesn't last - unlike those in the midwest who will be enduring until March.....or April.....or maybe May?????
I loved the new cushions on my patio furniture, but, they only lasted about 24 hours. Today we had a lovely 41 degree day and most of the snow is already gone. Not to rub it in, or anything, that the snow is almost

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Highly Skilled Domestic Engineer

I always knew that being a mother would take incredible skill and stamina.

I knew that my endurance would be tested beyond imagination and I would have to dig deep within my personal knowledge and resources to develop highly important problem-solving strategies.

I knew that the functionality and the efficiency of the household was going to depend on me.

I knew that posterity depended on my ability to pass on these skills
 to my highly intelligent offspring so that they could function
with success and brilliance in the broad world around them.

I didn't know that some of motherhood skills were so highly-advanced and so incredible,
these feats could not be attempted by the father-figure of the household.

I didn't know how hard this passing on of brilliance and talent would be.

I didn't know that in some areas the skill

would be impossible to be passed on

and would be borne and used by me




Bathroom Number One


Bathroom Number Two

Bathroom Number Three

And, as I was chagrined to discover when this truck drove by -
professional help is NOT available.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Telephone - You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

In 1973 I began my addiction with the telephone. We had just moved across town and I had to learn to dial the rotary phone, a wall-mounted beast we rented from Mountain Bell, all by myself so I could call my friends from the old neighborhood. It was a chore to dial this phone, with my teensy-tiny 9 year old fingers. You stuck your finger in the hole of the number you wanted and had to rotate it all the way around the circle until it touched the metal stopping bar. If you were careless and didn't dial all the way to the end, you had to start all over. To hang up, you pulled down on the bracket that held the hand receiver. (I know, I am really dating myself!)
We thought we were so special when our parents upgraded the technology with the extra long twisty cord for the phone. You could actually walk around while you were talking on the phone, as long as you were within twelve feet of that big black thing on the wall.
Meanwhile, while I was walking around the kitchen with my 12 foot cord talking about things 9 year old girls find important enough to talk about, this man, Dr. Martin Cooper, general manager of Motorola's Communications Systems Division, was walking the streets of New York and making a call on this 30 ounce brick-like phone. Who did he call? His rival at AT&T Bell Labs.

By the time Motorola offered their phone to the public in 1983 it went from brick to butter at only 16 ounces, but cost $3,500. A new Dodge RAM 50 Truck was $5665.00 - a phone was over HALF the cost of a truck!!!!!! I wonder if any teenagers had cell phones in 1983?

Today, the technology in phones has blossomed to functions probably never imagined, even by Dr. Cooper. Did he imagine a camera that could take a message, a picture and a video clip? Did he imagine listening to music or playing a game? Did he imagine that teens would use the phone for almost everything BUT actually making a phone call?

Special achievement - Rebekah just memorized her home phone number. She is using Daddy's cell phone to call the home phone. Proud moment in our household.

Special Achievement - Bethany gets her first cell phone! She is 18 and waited patiently, almost, for this special privilege. Expensive moment in our household. We aren't typical Americans, we actually have two teenagers that DON'T have phones. No, it is NOT child abuse.

Texting already? It is considered a national pasttime for today's teens, but considered a national waste of time for more mature adults. OK, that was a nice way of saying us really old people.
Special Achievement - Scott is learning to program his own cell phone. Stressful moment in our household. Actually, he made Grace do a lot of it, but he figured out how to make a call and answer a call. Good boy!
Special Achievement - Brookelyn made it all the way down the hallway with the cordless phone before we noticed what she was doing. Typical moment in our household when Brookie is around.

Special Achievement - Brookelyn called Gramma and asked for a cell phone of her own.
Gramma said yes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cat Feet Fog

We have been experiencing fog that lingers all day long. Usually, it greets us in the morning and burns off by early afternoon. It makes for beautiful scenery, but treacherous driving. The fog settles around your home, your street and your world like an unwanted hug that has lasted so long you are sqirming uncomfortabley.

Check Spelling
The White Fog Creeps From The Cold Sea Over The City
by Conrad Aiken

The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city,
Over the pale grey tumbled towers,—
And settles among the roofs, the pale grey walls.
Along damp sinuous streets it crawls,

Curls like a dream among the motionless trees
And seems to freeze.

The fog slips ghostlike into a thousand rooms,
Whirls over sleeping faces,
Spins in an atomy dance round misty street lamps;
And blows in cloudy waves over open spaces . . .

And one from his high window, looking down,
Peers at the cloud-white town,
And thinks its island towers are like a dream . . .

It seems an enormous sleeper, within whose brain
Laborious shadows revolve and break and gleam.

And, a well-known favorite.......

Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Sara Teasdale surely understood the emotional impact of being oppressed by unrelenting weather.

Gray Fog
Sara Teasdale
A fog drifts in, the heavy laden
Cold white ghost of the sea —
One by one the hills go out,
The road and the pepper-tree.
I watch the fog float in at the window
With the whole world gone blind,
Everything, even my longing, drowses,
Even the thoughts in my mind.
I put my head on my hands before me,
There is nothing left to be done or said,
There is nothing to hope for, I am tired,
And heavy as the dead.

As the fog continues, I am choosing to enjoy it.
I will feel the fog wrapped around me like a cozy afghan,
I will enjoy presence of the watery mists that makes me
focus on only what is before me...

because I know I have much to hope for,
my hope is in the Lord,
who is muting my world
with His breath of love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Norman Rockwell Moment

Tonight, we had just gathered around the dinner table as a family, and were enjoying the warmth of our love, the comforts of home and the joy of one another's company. It was a Norman Rockwell moment, and I was basking in the time warp in which nobody was fighting or poking or jesting or taunting.

I assumed our youngest, Rebekah, must have felt the emotion of the moment as I did, because she asked, "How come we don't hold hands when we pray?"Stirred by her honest question, I reached over and tenderly grasped her precious little six-year old fingers. I turned to my husband and tenderly clasped his hand. He, in turn, grabbed Jon's nail-bitten hand. Jon awkardly grabbed Bethany's hand, and with only the slightest hesitation, Bethany reached for Grace's hand.

The time warp was gone. Instead of the joy of one another's presence, we were brought back into our own reality with the squeezing, squealing, pulling, prodding, giggling and taunting that followed. As Grace reached for Rebekah's hand, to close our circle of love, she resisted, then succumbed with a little sigh.

Good parents that we are, Scott and I instantly decided that if the hand-holding caused this many problems for our children, then this would HAVE to be protocol until their hearts and their behavior could lovingly, obediently and charmingly embrace this new family tradition.
Beka admitted as she reluctantly continued holding Grace's fidgety hand,
"Mom, I didn't say I wanted to hold hands when we pray.....
....I just wanted to know why we didn't."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shooting Elk out of Season

We were enjoying a beautiful, scenic drive down Crystal mountain
 when we spotted an adventure prancing on the side of the road.
Being law-abiding citizens, we would never poach, however,
we couldn't resist the temptation, when we drove by this herd of elk,
to shoot out of season -
with my camera, of course.

My husband was amazed.
He spent five days during elk hunting season hiking the hills an hour away and only saw four elk.
We were giddy with excitement to quietly walk among these creatures,
being a part of their world for about an hour.

The elk were so tame we could walk up and ask them to "say cheese!"

So, what do you do when you see a herd of elk?
You pose with them.
Other people may have cherished family photos of their children
 with Mickey and Minney at Disney World, we have Erma the Elk.
She was one of our favorites as she daintily crossed the bridge, like a Billy Goat Gruff.

You also see how close you can get to them without spooking them.
Jon wanted to get closer, but we were spooked.
We wanted to respect their space and their instinct.
After all, they are still wild animals.
But, then again, that's what people say about my kids.

You can also call them.
Can't you hear Beka coaxing, "Here, Elk! Here Elk!"

Oh, nice profile. This was an amazing moment.
I wonder what this gal told the rest of the herd about us.

It got even more amazing.

Scott knew that elk are curious animals - he wanted to see just how curious.
This is how curious.
His fingers and our window got totally slobbered on while this elk tried
 to figure out what this green thing was.
Don't worry, no elk were harmed in the shooting of this picture.
And, we still have the cap safely in the Jeep.

Nice garland of greenery. This must be the Christmas look.

On our way out we saw something that convinced us elk can read.

Smug little booger.
I am convinced that not only can they read signs, they can read a calendar.

See up close?
They KNOW it is not hunting season.

 Then we saw a neighbor playing Doctor Doolittle with the elk.

It was a few touchy-feely moments as she let the elk lick her hand.
She was probably elated.
We were a little nervous.

When this woman reached up to pat the elk on the head,
she got a light head butt.

She tried to contact the animal one more time
and it raised its left front paw at her.

I don't think she was reading the signals right,
and we were thankful when she finally walked away.
We weren't sure how we could help her if the elk attacked.

We always enjoy the Lord's creation, but this was a special experience for us.
Elk are magnificent creatures, I know that's cliche,
but they are indescribable.
We enjoyed seeing them in a wilderness surrounding-
hearing them, watching them and walking among them at such a close range.

Elk aren't specifically mentioned in the Bible, but it says in
Psalm 50:10
"For every beast of the forest is mine,
and the cattle upon a thousand hills."

The Lord goes on to tell us that He owns everything
 and He doesn't need or ask anything from us except
v. 14 to offer Him thanksgiving
v. 15 to call on Him in times of troubles
v. 23 to offer praise to glorify Him
v. 23 to show the salvation of God.

All around us, in creation, we see the handiwork of God.
We are cautioned in Romans chapter 1 to worship the CREATOR,
not only His Creation.

These majestically created animals are only a reminder of the Majesty of the Creator.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tired Mommy

As a mom of many, I am tired.

Tired from lack of sleep, yes, but I also am just tired....

......tired of cooking (I would LOVE that Willy Wonka pill that was a meal in a pill!)
.....tired of cleaning (they make self-cleaning ovens, why not self-cleaning houses?)
.....tired of breaking up fights
.....tired of shopping (and the saying that comes after the shopping - "there's NUTTIN' to eat!)
.....tired of cleaning toilets (I'm actually thinking of painting bull eye's inside of them)
.....tired of telling kids to blow their noses, make their beds, pick-up their stuff, do their chores, put away their laundry and be nice to each other.

I've had so many of "THOSE DAYS" this first semester, that I don't remember what the "OTHER DAYS" are like. In fact, I am not sure how to define a normal day anymore. Is the crazy, mixed-up kinda' chaotic day now my "normal" day, and the eerily calm day the "other" day?

A few weeks before Christmas, I was actually wishing I could get sick enough to go to the hospital for a few days. I know it is insane, but I was thinking about three meals a day that I didn't cook, staying in bed all day and having people wait on me. OK, I didn't say I was thinking logically, I was just dreaming...for a few seconds, anyway.

After three weeks of Christmas break, and being thrust back into the routine of crazy kids and home schooling, those thoughts of the vacation to the hospital are gone.

This morning in an email to my husband, I gave many reasons why I should just have a good ol' fashioned nervous breakdown. In addition to the staying in bed and three meals a day, I would have the following advantages:

-I wouldn't have to cut my own meat anymore, because I wouldn't have a knife.
-I wouldn't have to make my bed anymore, because I wouldn't have sheets.
-I wouldn't have to tie my shoes anymore, because I wouldn't have any shoelaces.
-I wouldn't have to pick out matching clothes each day, because I would be wearing a white jacket with really shiny buckles on it.

I am not trying to make light of mental health issues, I am only trying to laugh myself away from this becoming a possibility.

Laughter is healing.
Pr 17:22 "A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones."
Along with laughing, today I am encouraging myself in the Lord, as David did at a time of hardship.

1Sa 30:6 "And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him...but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."
My circumstances aren't as bad as David's, but the solution is the same....looking to the LORD.

As I looked up verses on my online Bible using the key word "weary" I got tears in my eyes, reading about the help and the hope there is in the Lord.

Galations 6:9 "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
So, I remind myself, and other tired and frustrated moms, let's not be weary, let's not faint!

We are doing well, we are mothering precious souls, we are teaching and training them in right ways. There will be reward, years down the road, but we won't get to the end of the tunnel, unless we continue through some times of darkness. Let's use His Word as the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our paths.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We Just Wanted To Go to McDonalds!

It was just an improptu trip to McDonalds with two buddies who wanted to eat some greasy fries and shoot some hoops in the new playland. It was our last day of Christmas vacation - yes CHRISTmas vacation, not Winter Break - and they wanted to celebrate a little. They even dressed in their basketball shorts to make a more memorable occasion.Nice timing, boys! Nice face!
I think he wants to try out for the new spokesperson for Jack in the Box.

Rare footage of the ball actually sticking in the net.
I wonder if the newspapers are interested in this photo?

We step outside to winter - again!
In one and a half hours, the ground,
foliage and cars were all covered with snow.

They're too proud to admit their skinny, chicken legs are freezing.
So much for wearing shorts for a memorable experience!
I think they both had goose bumps - or would that be chicken bumps? - on their legs.
McDonalds may want this pic for next year's calendar.

The yard was GREEN when we left for McDonalds.
Since we, midwest natives, left all our snow shovels on the curb when we left Minnesota five years ago, Scott is trying to sweep the snow off the stairs with a dollar-store broom with only half a handle. Apparently, it wasn't too sturdy of a sword during one of summer's battles.

Home, Snowy, Home.
Since it is all white again, do we get to celebrate Christmas again?