The Joy of Cooking
Saturday, March 31, 2007

I guess I need to start letting the boys help me cook more than just brownies....

Today I was making our breakfast, and Dylan wanted to help. I let him whisk the eggs and he seemed a bit overly excited. After about a minute of whisking he asked, "Mommy, when does it turn into chocolate?"

Friday, March 30, 2007

After over 7 years of living in the Dallas area, we are packing up and heading West. Jonathan has accepted a Children's Pastor job with a wonderful church in Lubbock, TX. (You can read his thoughts on the move here.) It is indeed a bittersweet parting, for we have been blessed to work at a wonderful church with a wonderful church family. I know the Lord has incredible plans for their future as well. Telling our church family we are leaving is by far the most difficult thing we have ever had to do. (And by "we", I mostly mean Jonathan...because I hate being emotional and dread confrontation and I pushed it all off on him.)

We have listed our home for sale, and we'll be moving the last week of April (
whether the house sells or not!). God has made himself so evident through the entire process of accepting this new position in Lubbock, and I know he will continue to be faithful as He works out the details of selling our home. I just hope He does it in such a way that I can say, "Wow, God! You worked that out so quickly and painlessly!" and not "Thank you Lord for increasing my faith while we waited for many expectant months for our home to sell." Either way, all I have been given is truly all I need, and I am thankful.

Funny stories about telling the boys we're moving:

He really does love his bunk bed.

Great Article
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thanks to Margo for posting a link to this article from Focus on the Family on her blog. I found it so challenging and humbling and encouraging that I wanted to link to it as well. It is a great read for worn out mom's of all ages!

"Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness..." -Richard Bach
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I received a truly wonderful birthday present today from my best girlfriend: a well-loved copy of Gone With The Wind printed in 1938. It came in the mail today, along with a devotional book with the writings of Amy Carmichael.

Not only is this a wonderfully thoughtful gift, (
verifying that she faithfully reads my blog), it's also packed with sentiment because of the way the book was acquired. Those of you who know Lisa are right now sarcastically thinking, "Really? A sentimental gift? From Lisa? NO WAY!" She is one of those lovely souls who knows no other way to be but sentimental.

In early summer 1998, six of us girls who grew up together in Sand Springs, OK, plus my college roommate that fit right into our tribe, took a trip together to Eureka Springs, AR. We had just finished our sophomore year of college, most of us attending different universities around Oklahoma or surrounding states. You might be thinking, "Eureka Springs, AR? Don't most college girls take trips to Vegas or Ft. Lauderdale?" Yeah, well....we really weren't the type, okay? And one of the group got a tongue piercing on the way home, and another a tattoo, so we weren't all totally bookish. But I digress...

We had a great time, and looking back I'm so glad we carved out time in our crazy lives to reconnect and take this trip. About one month later, I was married, and within a year after that I had moved far from my hometown to Dallas. And now we are spread literally all over the globe...
Virgina Beach...Dallas...Nashville....Tokyo....Seattle....and Tulsa. Thankfully the internet allows me to keep up with most of these girls, and I see a few of them every summer or at Christmas time. But now our families, husbands, and jobs would certainly not allow us take a week long trip together very easily.

It was during this trip to Eureka Springs in a "quaint little shop" that Lisa excitedly discovered and bought the copy of Gone With The Wind that I received today in the mail. I can't believe it was almost 10 years ago. She said that she had read it several times and wanted me to have it. In keeping with her sentimentality, I promise to keep it until Lauryn is old enough to read it, then send it back to her for her daughter Claire to read.

Truth in Advertising?

Observed while getting ready for my day:

My shampoo promises to "transform dull, lifeless hair into shiny, gorgeous hair."

My face cleanser vows to reveal "younger, healthy-looking skin."

My toothpaste claims it will give me "beautifully whitened teeth."

My body lotion supposedly "creates a healthy, summer glow all year long."

My face moisturizer is apparently a miracle in a bottle, claiming it will, "leave skin soft and smooth...improve skin texture...even out skin tone...improve skin clarity...and prevent breakouts while clearing up blemishes. A total soy complex provides beautiful even looking skin!"

All this leaves me wondering - Why am I toiling away among the rank and file housewives of the world? I have been using these products faithfully for years. I should totally be a supermodel by now.

From Generation to Generation
Monday, March 26, 2007

This is another installment of Serious Thoughts from the Laundry Lady. It is in every way directed toward myself, for if it were only directed toward others I would be seriously ignoring the huge plank protruding from my own eyeball.

I am the wife of a children's pastor, so obviously it's important to me that parents bring their children to church. But more and more it is grieving me that parents think they are doing all they need to for their children's spirituality if they simply bring them to church every time the doors are open. I can search and search scripture and never find an admonition to simply drag kids to church and dump them at the door of the children's wing.

So then what is required? If just "living right" and faithfully attending church is not quite enough, what is expected of me as I raise my children?

"One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts."
Psalm 145:4

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Love God with everything I am...teach of His commands in every natural setting that my children and I walk through each day. This is so much more involved and relational than just bringing kids to church and asking on the way home "So whadya learn today?"

Indeed, at my church the Children's Pastor does a wonderful job of communicating the truths of God's word - in fact I would say there is not a better communicator to be found. (I might be a little biased in this opinion.) He makes God's word relevant and exciting, he gives the kids practical ways to walk out their faith, and he shares the ways that God has worked in his own life. However, his words can not possibly have the impact on a child that the words of a mother or father can have.

What is more powerful...

...a children's pastor teaching for one hour about God's provision, or a son hearing a father joyfully praise God that the bills have once again been paid?

...being told by a children's worker that God wants to give you the desires of your heart, or a young girl hearing her mother sincerely praise God for giving her the husband and children that she had longed for?

...being taught that we are all called to serve, or giving sacrificially as a family to meet the needs of others?

My challenge to myself is to remember to seek God in such an authentic way that my love of Him will naturally flow into every interaction and conversation I have with my children.

My friend Lisa says this of her mission to raise godly children:

"First and foremost, to delight in the Lord my God daily, publicly, and personally within sight of my children--that they would see firsthand the pure joy of loving Him and living in His light; and to lovingly create a home in which the Lord's ways are authentically, beautifully taught and revered."

Awesome. And so much more infinitely important than perfect attendance on the Sunday School chart.

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"I have to go! NOW!"
Friday, March 23, 2007

My three year old has an annoying habit of demanding to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune times. The frustrating thing is that we'll be somewhere in public (the mall, a restaurant, etc.), and I'll take all three kids plus myself into the restroom. (Quite a challenge maneuvering all of us being the slight germophobe that I am, but that's another subject entirely.) I go...Ryan goes...Lauryn gets a diaper change, and Dylan REFUSES to even try. No amount of coercing can convince him. "Mom! I said I DON'T need to go!" So we leave the restroom, starting happily on our way to eat or shop or whatever. Literally two minutes later Dylan wants to be taken to the restroom. WHAT?!?

Same thing applies when we are in the car for long road trips. We'll stop and take and bathroom break and Dylan claims he doesn't need to go and won't even try, then five miles down the road we're pulling over again. And I can't just make him wait, because I've tried that with disastrous results. I decided today that maybe this is his small way of controlling his universe. I can tell him what to wear, what to eat, where to sit, and when to sleep, but I can't force that liquid out of his bladder until he is darn good and ready. It's his one small act of power.

To add to the public restroom drama, my four year old is already begging to be allowed to go into the men's bathroom. Alone.
"But mom! I'm a boy! I don't wanna go in the girls bathroom!" Sorry kid. That's the way it's gonna be for several more years. No way I'm sending my baby into the bathroom by himself. In addition to fearing that there could be a predatory weirdo in there, I also just know that he would be running his hands along every germ infested, nasty surface imaginable then doing an inadequate job of washing his hands.

The 23rd Psalm has never sounded so cute.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Apparently Ryan has been memorizing part of the 23rd Psalm at preschool. (Either that or it's been dropped supernaturally into his brain, because I know he hasn't learned it at home or at church yet.) I overheard him yesterday reciting it to himself as he was playing. He was saying it perfectly as I was eavesdropping, but he got a little bit camera shy when I made the video!

As I watch this again, I wonder if he knows that "Yea" has a different meaning than "Yay!"? In a four year olds world, "yay" generally means, "Yay, we get ice cream!" or "Yay! I don't have to take a nap!" I wonder if in his little mind he's wondering, "Why should I be so thrilled to be walking through the valley of the shadow of death?"

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Note to self: Lauryn may be growing into quite a prissy little girl who enjoys dresses and purses. However, this does NOT mean she is above getting remnants of chocolate cake out of the trashcan (luckily it was perched on the very top) for one last delicious bite, and then becoming furiously mad when it's taken away.

Don't Worry Mom!

Dylan's newest and most overused phrase is "Don't worry!" If I hear a crash, soon after I generally hear "Don't worry!" Lauryn screams, and soon after it's "Don't worry mom!" Dylan decided yesterday to shove the wrapping paper from Jonathan's birthday gifts into the toilet, but according to him, I shouldn't worry about it. After I realized I had heard the toilet flush about three times in a row, I walked into the bathroom and was greeted with the all too familiar refrain.

Today he found a new way to bring me comfort using his catchphrase. I was in the living room, and he calmly walked in and put his hand reassuringly on my arm. "Mom, I spilled my milk. It's on the table and floor and Lauryn is playing in it. But
don't worry! You can just get me some juice."

Matthew 6:34 may need to be his next memory shouldn't be too hard from him to embrace, and he can continue to remind his mother.

HOW old!?!
Monday, March 19, 2007

Overheard at dinner:

"Daddy, I had a fun time eating your birthday cake and watching you open presents yesterday."

"Good Ryan. I'm glad you had fun. Do you know who has a birthday next?"


"That's right, and do you know how old she will be?"


I know this is exactly the type of response that Jonathan was hoping for. Snickers, smirks, and snide comments like, "What? Forty-one? So you think Mommy looks older than Daddy?" flow freely tonight.

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age.

- Robert Frost

Happy Birthday LittlePastor
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Today is my husband's 31st birthday. Luckily, I am not yet 30, so he gets to be a man in his thirties with a hot, young twenty-something wife (for one more year at least!). We started dating when he was the ripe old age of 17, so this is my 14th time to celebrate the occasion of his birth.

Jonathan half-seriously says that on someone's birthday, it's that person's mother who should really be celebrated, so usually he congratulates his mom on all the hard work it took to bring him into the world. (Just one of the many, many reasons I love him!)

I took the kids to pick out his birthday card, and I had read several to Ryan that he had rejected. After reading three or four that Ryan didn't want, I asked:

"Ryan, why don't you like these?"

He replied: "Because! I want one that says, 'Happy Birthday Daddy. I love to wrestle with you. You are the best wrestler in the world. You are the best dad too. I love you.'"

Happy Birthday

Cool Cats
Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ryan's soccer season is in full swing. His dad is coaching the team, the "Cool Cats", and they are indeed cool.

Ryan's main objective this season is to score a goal. At this point it looks like it could go either way regarding whether or not that happens, but I'll keep you updated!

Dylan does his best to entertain himself on the sidelines since he's not quite old enough to play yet. His Uncle Stephen bought the boys some soccer
(futbol) jersey's in Colombia a few summers ago, so at least Dylan gets to wear part of a cool uniform!

Lauryn pretty much just gets snack after snack, my way of keeping her in her stroller for as long as possible. Usually during the last 10 minutes of the game she gets fed up and I let her out, then I spend the rest of the time keeping her off the field. We are surrounded by 20 acres of open expanse, but she heads right out toward the action as fast as her feet will carry her.

Three Yr Old Theology

At lunch at Taco Bueno today, Dylan had been sitting quietly eating for about five minutes. Suddenly, he put his food down and asked me with such seriousness: "Mommy, did Jesus eat burritos?"

What's In a Name?

Papaw picked up Lauryn's doll and asked Ryan, "Ryan, what is Lauryn's doll's name?"

Ryan took a few moments of quiet contemplation and then answered, "I think her name is "NO!", because that's what Lauryn is always saying to it."

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...
Monday, March 12, 2007

We arrived safely home from our short trip out of town. The flight to our destination was pretty uneventful (lots of "Awesome!" and "Cool!" from the boys during take-off and landing). The flight back home today was a little more difficult, with Dylan and Lauryn both crying periodically for the hour we were in the air. Did I mention our flight happened during nap time? The kids had a fun time visiting a new city, but it was also a long weekend of not sleeping in their own beds, eating out for every meal, and generally being annoyed with each other in the hotel room and mid-size car we rented. Our mini-van might not be stylish, but it's wonderful at creating some distance between the kids! Much less "Stop looking at me!", and "He's touching me!" when they are spread out over two seats in the van instead of crammed in the back of a sedan. Also much less kicking of the back of Daddy's seat, which makes the ride more tolerable for everyone!

I'm glad to be home and the kids leave tomorrow to embark on a 6 hour drive to Oklahoma to visit family! So after one night in our own beds, we'll be off yet again. It's not that I'm a glutton for punishment. Ryan is on his Spring Break from preschool, so it seems a very good time to take a mid-week trip. Plus, the kids and I have been missing the grandparents and great-grandparents and a visit is overdue.

While I was at work this afternoon, my dear, delightful husband washed the laundry from our trip this weekend, so I am off to pack (re-pack). We'll be back in Dallas on Friday!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Our family is taking a short vacation this weekend. We'll be back on Monday. Check out my husband's blog for some "quotable quotes" from the boys regarding our upcoming flight.

Mean Streak

Who was the biggest bully at the mall play land today? The cute 18 month old girl in pigtails, that's who!

I suppose when you have two big brothers that you battle with regularly, it starts to become habit to be quite forceful regarding your opinions. Lauryn was pushing people out of toy cars, pulling them off the slide, and practicing her word o' the day, "NO!" One poor toddler wandered over to our bag and tried to take her sippy cup out of the diaper wasn't pretty. I did a lot of apologizing to others parents today on behalf of the pint size bully.

Hopefully it's just a phase....

"It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Emerson
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

It's 70 degrees and sunny this afternoon in Dallas. It would be a crime not to go to the park in this beautiful weather!

Dylan's preferred method of swinging.

No fear of heights here!

Slide racing. It never gets old.

Photo by: Ryan
Lauryn was quite exasperated with the photographer,
who after begging to use the camera took what felt like 3 full minutes
to finally snap a picture.

Going to check out the ducks.

Ducks. Ryan crowned the big black one
"King of the Duckies."

Haircuts: Then and Now

Jonathan took the boys to get their haircut yesterday. For a while, I had been cutting their hair at home with the clippers. Sometimes it looked sorta almost okay, sometimes not, but I was slowly getting the hang of it. Someone (Jonathan) dropped my clippers and broke them, so we've been forced to shell out the 25 bucks it costs to take them to the professional.

Yesterday when they got home they looked so big and grown-up, and I got nostalgic about their very first haircuts.

Ryan is our first child, and when he got his first haircut it was the main event of the weekend. Jonathan's parents and brother were in town, and all five of us hovered around Ryan watching him go from baby to toddler before our very eyes. Since Papaw offered to foot the bill, we took him to a place where he got to sit in this race car and watch a "Wiggles" video while his hair was being cut.

As for Dylan's first haircut, he got the "second child treatment", and on a whim when I couldn't take his crazy puffy hair anymore, I took him down the street to the local Prostyles. At least I remembered to grab my camera on our way out the door. Life just gets a little more crazy the more kids you have!

And here they are today, climbing trees (with my help), and not wanting me to tell them they look cute. "NO Mommy, not cute! We look COOL!"

Mo on the Mind
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Many of you know that my kids call their paternal grandparents "Papaw and Mo." Papaw is generational; my husband and his siblings also called their grandfather Papaw. "Mo" however....Mo is just something my oldest son Ryan randomly started calling his grandmother, and (with some encouragement from his Papaw) the name just stuck. (edit: upon reading this post, Papaw insists he did not encourage the name Mo. I say my memory is a bit better than his, but whatever....)

We haven't had a chance to see Papaw and Mo since Christmas, and the kids are really itchin' for some grandparent time! Here are some snippets of conversations I had with Dylan just this morning:

[as I'm helping him button his shirt, he asks with much excitement] "Where are we going?"

"We're going to church."

[dejected] "Oh. I thought we were going to Mo's."

Later, when he notices my bracelet:
"That's a pretty bracelet Mommy! Did Mo buy you that?" (She didn't, but I guess Dylan knows she has good taste.)

As he's putting on his shoes:

"Mommy, who got me these shoes?"

"I did Dylan."

"Are you sure? I thought it was Mo."

After church he asked if he could show Mo his craft project, and during lunch he asked me if Mo likes pickles. I can't say whether or not she likes pickles, but we are planning a trip to visit Papaw and Mo and the rest of our Oklahoma family within a couple weeks, so I'll be sure to find out!

"Grandmother-grandchild relationships are simple. Grandmas are short on criticism and long on love."

~Author Unknown

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

Wishing She Was Gone with the Wind
Saturday, March 3, 2007

I watched Gone with the Wind again this week. (With apologies to Margaret Mitchell, I still haven't read the book. It's on my wish list.) I can't watch the whole 4 hour saga in one sitting like I did before I had kids, so I have to watch it in 30 minute increments over about 10 days.

Jonathan despises this movie. Every time he passes through the room while I'm watching it, Scarlett is crying or whining or fighting, or doing some combination of all three. During my last viewing he just couldn't take it anymore. He came into the room during one of her many tearful pleas,
"Oh, Rhett! Please, don't go! You can't leave me! Please! I'll never forgive you!" and he grunted at the TV:

"UUUUUGH! How can you watch that? ALL SHE EVER DOES IS COMPLAIN! I wish SHE would be GONE with the WIND!"

It was then I realized that there is a greater than zero chance that the last time I recorded the movie on our DVR and he deleted it, it probably wasn't really an "accident."

Ryan's favorite color is green
Thursday, March 1, 2007

He thought this was the coolest treat ever.

Giving Praise

Jonathan and I try to praise our kids every chance we get: "Very nice sharing"..."I like how you told your brother he did a good job"...."Thank you for being quick to obey"...."Great job using your manners"...etc. Even though I was ranting earlier in the week about the dangers of raising kids to be self-centered, I do still very much believe in the power of positive reinforcement; and of course every loving parent enjoys being able to praise their child.

It's been a hoot to listen to the boy's imitate us in their interaction with Lauryn. Just this morning I've heard Dylan say, "Good talking Lauryn!"...."Thank you for cleaning up Lauryn!"..."You look so pretty in that hair bow Lauryn!"

But the all time greatest praise giving happened a few months ago, when Jonathan took Dylan into the bathroom at a restaurant. We had been spending a great deal of time every day praising Dylan for his potty-training efforts. As they were exiting the crowded public restroom, Dylan loudly announces, "
GREAT JOB Daddy! You went pee-pee in the potty!!!"

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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