The Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had so many people ask me for this recipe that I thought I should just post it on the blog.  You're welcome.

I know a lot of people who claim that they have THE BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I'm not going to make that claim.  Because these are the ACTUAL BEST chocolate chip cookies.

I take my cookies very seriously, people.  You can trust me.  It needs to be sweet but not too sweet, soft and fluffy, it needs to be heavenly.

So, here it is.  This gem comes from a cook book entitled "Hershey's Classic Recipes".

6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; beat well.  Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually blend into butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Bake 9 minutes at 350 degrees.

*Ok, the directions actually say that you should bake them 8-10 minutes, but I have this down to a science, man.

Other recommendations for the ACTUAL best cookies:
1.  always, always, always use real butter.  I feel that this should be common sense, but just in case...
2.  This recipe makes a very small batch.  As in 12-18 "regular sized" cookies.  Which is totally not enough because your friends and family will devour them.  I always make at least a double batch.  (Last week I made a triple batch for Bible study and they were gone in 2 hours.  There were also lots of kids sneaking them; don't judge).
3.  make sure that your baking soda is fresh to obtain maximum fluffiness.
4.  semi-sweet chocolate chips are the key to victory.



More Things that Don't Surprise Me

The boys that games play.  They don't surprise me anymore. 

See how many potty words we can say before Mom tells us that's enough? 
See how we can contort our faces/bodies to gross Mom out?  
     So often I'm almost not grossed out anymore. (PS - is it instinctual for boys to turn their eyelids inside out?!)
See how much food we can sneak while Mom is folding laundry/changing a diaper/trying to have a moment of silence? 
     Happens more than you'd expect
.  And the answer is about half a bag of pretzels and/or half a carton of ice cream.

When I shout "disgusting!", they giggle with delight.  When I say "you guys are crazy!", they beam with pride.  This is the norm, people.

No surpises.

The games that Dad creates for/with his boys.  They don't surprise me either.

 Cleaning out the garage?  Perfect.  Let's tie one end of a bungee cord to a bike and the other end to a post.  Walk the bike back as far as you can and let yourself go flying toward the post.  Voila!  "Bungee Bike".

Another phrase that may seem disturbing to the stranger's ear:  "Dad, will you throw pillows at me?"  (Uncle Tony gets some of the credit for this game, also.). But this is a beloved family game now.  It sounds like loving, quality time, no?  And it is exactly what it sounds like.  The boys run laps around the living room while Joe throws pillows at them.

We have no hope of ever being normal, you guys.

And yet, still not surprised.  By any of it.

One more fun-filled game to share:  hide and seek...for money.
  What?  I know.  We might as well teach them how to dial 1-800-BETSOFF now.

But this is apparently a thing.

If Roman finds Joe in the first 3 minutes, Joe gives him a dollar.  And vice versa.

Weird?  Yes.  Am I surprised?  No.

And don't pretend like you don't want to play.

Pride Comes Before the Second Child

Oh, Judah.

God gave me Judah because he knew I needed a sweet, spontaneous, adorable, cuddly, funny, blue eyed boy. 

And also because he knew I needed a little help in the humility department.

Judah is unpredictable in a delightful and terrifying way. He has made me realize that I know nothing about parenting and that I don't pray nearly enough.  As I attempt to teach Judah to obey and to love God and to love others, I am the one doing the most learning.  We have had some growing pains together and I can only hope we will both be better for it. 

Along these lines, there have been a few happenings that have happened over the last few weeks that have left me a little baffled. 

I am baffled at the things that no longer bother me.  I can't say I don't care what anyone thinks (I wish!), but I can say, that I care SO MUCH LESS about what other people think than I ever have before.  This is not because of any virtue in me.  It's all because I don't so much have that option anymore  (unless I never want to leave my house again).

For example, a few weeks ago I took all three boys to Mass by myself.  Everyone was sitting so quietly and nicely and I was about to pat myself on the back for making some progress in taming the wild things.  I was sitting there soaking in the Holy Spirit and then I heard a little crinkling sound.  I turned my smiling head to look at my sweet little cherubs and then I saw it.  Judah had unwrapped a tampon and was dissecting it.  Don't worry.  We were sitting in front of another family...who happened to have a 
teenage boy.  I'm sure that didn't make him feel awkward at all.  I surprised myself when I felt bad for the boy but not for myself.  I just laughed, shook my head, took it away, and made a mental note to be sure he hears this story when he's scared of tampons someday.  (Right, Adam??!!)

Also, the other day in Target, Judah brought me the largest bra he could find and said loudly "You should buy this, Mom!"  Thanks.  Thanks for that.  But again, the ladies next to me were the ones that were mortified.  I just had a good laugh, asked him to put it back where he found it, and we moved on.

Oh, my Judah.  Never a dull moment.


Wants and Needs

I want to be seen.
I want to be important.
I want to be wanted.
I want to be heard.
I want to be treasured.
I want to be liked.
I want to be needed.
I want to be praised.
I want to be right.
I want to be valued.
I want to be in control.
I want to be on my A game.
I want to be neat, tidy, perfect, pretty.
I want to seem holy, patient, loving, giving.
I want people to talk about the good in me.

But it's not about me.
And it's not about what I want.

What I NEED is to see HIM.  In everyone, in every place, in every circumstance.
I need to make others feel how important they are to God.
I need to want Him above all else.  I need to want Him more than I want what he can give me.  
I need to hear, no, really LISTEN to the cries of the souls I encounter everyday.
I need to treasure His presence.
I need to like doing His will, even when it means I am not liked by those who might disagree.
I need to need Jesus...to need mercy, to need forgiveness, to need help.
I need to praise Him with every word, with every action.
I need to be right only about His goodness.
I need to value humility, service, suffering, grace.
I need to be under His control.  Every moment, every decision.
I need to recognize that failing is my chance to rely on His strength.
I need to be messy...shedding blood, sweat, and tears for the Kingdom.
I need to claim my imperfection so I can proclaim His redemption.
I need the beauty that comes from fearing The Lord.
I need to stop caring about SEEMING any particular way, and start being obedient to what He is asking me to do.  Lord, make me who you created me to be.
I DON'T need people to talk about me.

I want people to talk about HIM.

Sent from my iPad


The one I wrote a month ago.

oh, hey...

Sometimes I remember that I have a blog.

Sometimes I go to write on said blog and Blogger is being a jerk.

So then I send myself an e-mail and hope that tomorrow I still remember I have a blog.

Really, though, I miss writing.  One of these days I'm going to figure out how to make a habit of it.

August was a month of lots of visiting with family and friends.  And finally getting around to ordering homeschool materials and planning a little bit for this school year.  And then September rolled around and we actually started school.  It's going really well so far.  Except that when I start homeschooling in the fall, I kind of forget how to clean the house.  I mean, I remember that I have to spray vinegar and wipe with a rag...it's more that I forget how to make time to teach the children AND clean the house during the day.  Oh, and dinner.  People around here want to eat all the time!  (myself included).  So, I have to relearn how to make that happen while teaching and cleaning.

I really love teaching and so teaching my kids is such a joy for me (most of the time).  Let's not pretend we don't have bad days or unproductive days or days when sending them away for eight hours sounds very appealing.  But, I love getting to see the ah-ha moments, getting to hear them making connections, and getting to be present and part of their growth.  It's awesome.

Here's what my wild men have been up to:

We have been reading The Little House on the Prairie and Roman is just so loving that.  Today he created his very own wagon using a wheelbarrow, some rope, and a lawn chair.  He made a "fire" out of branches and he really wants to build a log house.

Roman has been learning (and LOVING) Spanish and then tonight at bedtime I heard Silas in his crib reciting some of Roman's spanish vocab.  So funny to hear his sweet little voice saying "gato" and "caballo".

Roman's current wisdom:
"Sometimes it's hard to stay happy".

Preach it.

That is like the number one thing that is hard to do.

Also, today he was reading his Bible story about God creating Adam and Eve.  He looked ahead to the next page (the Fall) and said "Mom, Adam and Eve look different now".
"How do they look different?", I asked
"Well, their faces look sad now.  They just don't look the same".

I had the humbling expereince of explainging 9/11 to Roman this year.  He saw the American flag hanging over the middle of the street from one of the Fire truck ladders and asked about it.

I am of the mindset that less is more when explainging difficult/adult/tragic things to kids.  I gave a very  brief description and he asked me to tell it again.  he said he was glad he wasn't in New York City that day.  Later at dinner, out of nowhere, he said "I bet there were some babies that died in their mommies' tummies when those towers fell down".


Judah's current favoirte things are:
-looking at food advertisements/coupons in the newspaper.  I should have known that the topic would have to be "food" to get him interested in reading.
-the Veggie Tales movie "Jonah".  He loves to draw Jonah and Kahlil.  He also did a lovely picture of Jonah IN the belly of the whale.

Judah has also taken to calling me by my first name.  Except that he can't really say it (no kids ever can) and most of the time it comes out with a little bit of a southern accent "Hey, Ruffann".  It's funny and yet annoying because, HI, I'm mom.  remember?  You came out of me.  Have a heart, kid.

When Judah sees that the sun has risen in the morning he says "Outside is up, mom!"

One morning I was kissing him and he said "No more kisses, mom.  Judah's need a break".

Silas continues to be super sweet although we are definitely 2 now and have more whining and tantrums than we used to.  His favorite thing to say to his brothers is "don't fodder me" which = don't bother me.  So funny.

He has also started meowing when he is forced to do something he doesn't want to do.  Show me that one in the parenting books.

He is a squirmy wormy during Mass right now.  Helpful (and hoarder) big brother Roman always brings him prayer cards after he comes back from children's church.  (I realy need to write an apology letter to whoever purchases those things.  We have probably stock-piled hundreds of dollars worth).  Silas was looking at one of the cards Roman brought him and Joe said "Who's that?"  Silas responded "Pope Francis".  Later in the Mass he dropped it and screamed "MY POPE!"

A word you'll often hear Silas say:  "super".  Everything is "super fun" or "super yum".

When we are driving, and we turn onto our street, he says "I found my house, mom!"

The other night, Silas had a bad dream.  At breakfast Joe was asking him what his dream was about.
Roman:  "Was it a lion?"
Silas:  "No"
Judah:  "Was it a raccoon?"
Silas:  "No.  There was a ladybug gettig my toes!"

That's all for now, folks.  En


BLOGGER finally doesn't hate me.

Ok, I promise that I tried to post about a month ago but Blogger decided that it hated me for a few days.  Just wouldn't let me type in this text box at all.  Anyway, I'll add the post that I wrote a month ago soon, but today I just have to vent.

I am not entirely sure what is happening around here, but the you-know-what has hit the fan.

Last week we learned that we have to put thousands of dollars into the house we still own in Iowa.  So, that's fun.  We have been renting it out and that's what we will continue to do this year.  But first, we will spend thousands of dollars on repairs and updates.  Which is perfect, because I always wanted to put tons of money into a house that we will never live in again.

BUT, we have the money to do it.  We have been blessed with a job that has provided the opportunity to build our savings.  We may not be using the money on what we thought we would, or what we wanted to, but we have it.  This is nothing more than grace.  There was a time when we could barely pay rent on our two bedroom apartment, when we owned one car, and used a calculator in the grocery store so as not to exceed our small budget.

A few days ago, we had to relace our septic pump.  Luckily, we got it replaced before there were any yucky ramifications, but I'll tell ya, those babies are not cheap.

Yesterday, Judah broke the windshield in our van.  With his HEAD.  I don't even know.  HOW does one accomplish that??  He was just standing in front of the front seat jumping up and down excitedly telling me something...smacked his head up into the windshield, and suddenly a snowflake appeared.  He didn't even cry so he's definitely not hurt.  But SERIOUSLY.  In all honesty, I believe there must have been a chip there to start with.

Thank you God, for giving my child a hard head.

Today Roman broke the window in his room.  With his foot.  Don't worry, he's fine.
And also, take me to therapy now.

When I called Joe this morning to tell him about the window, he said "I cannot believe this week".

How many panes of glass can be broken by a small band of brothers over the course of a few days?  I don't even want to know the answer.  Maybe I'll leave Silas in his crib this afternoon, so as to preserve all the windows that are apparently in danger.

So, in summary, everything is broken.  All the boys are miraculously uninjured.  And God always makes a way.

Just in case you were wondering what we are up to.


It's Update Time

I think it's about that time again.  Time for me to tell you about the ridiculous, hilarious, sweet, memorable moments that have happened recently in the Pometto house.  And maybe I'll tell you about some of the moments that made me want to run screaming into the woods, never to return.  We'll see.

Mr. Roman:
  • Lost is front two top teeth this spring.  He looked so cute toothless and I tried to savor the days of no front teeth because his adult teeth are coming in now.  :(  ADULT teeth.  Do we have to call them that?  Let's think of different word, one that doesn't give me premature empty nest syndrome.
  • Likes to listen to Adele.  Can't blame him.  His favorite is one you may have heard before "Boomah has it".  Ha!
  • Roman describes his Dad as "crazy, but nice". 
  • Says the most grown up things sometimes such as "Kim I'd like to introduce you to my new friend, Walker" - Walker was a boy he met at the park two minutes before he said that sentence.  What a social buterfly!  Other grown up things he has recently said:
    • "I'm sorry, what was your name again?"
    • When I try to get him to leave church he says "I need to talk to a couple more friends"
  • The other day we were driving somewhere in the van and everyone was silent.  No, really, no one was talking, it was very strange.  So, all of the sudden Roman says "I have so many things I want to ask Grandpa David".  I smiled.  "Like what buddy?"  He answered "I just want to tell him how much I miss him".  I almost had to pull over because oh, my heart.

Judah boy:
  • Recently told me he wants to be an owl when he grows up
  • He is still so, very unpredictable and we are always trying to figure him out:  figure out what motivates him, figure out how to parent him, figure out how to help him communicate, figure out how to take the agression down a notch, figure out how to help him find things that he likes to do.
  • Had to have his arm in a sling for a few days because he fell off the monkey bars and bruised the bone in his elbow.  He is now fully recovered and back on the monkey bars. 
  • When I say "my sweet Judah" he responds:  "My sweet mama".  Heart.melting.
  • We had a blues clues birthday for Judah.  This was completely Joe's (brilliant) idea.  Judah boy loves Blue's Clues and so Joe made clue cards with the paw print clues on the front - the three clues were:  candles, presents, and the number 4.  He was very excited and, after sitting in his "thinking chair", he figured it out:  we were about to have a birthday party!  I love to see the sheer delight on his face when he's excited.  So fun.
  • He loves to be doing manual labor.  He does really well if you give him a "job"...recent jobs we have given him:  carrying dresser drawers from one room to the other while rearranging, carrying tree branches to the fire pit when we were trimming the trees.  I keep trying to think of more jobs that burn energy.  Ideas welcome.
  • The boys are kind of into potty talk right now.  So there's that.  Judah doesn't really get it most of the time, though, which makes for some hilariousness.  Roman and his friends started in on some "pirate" potty talk the other day after church.  (I don't know...your guess is as good as mine) They were taking turns saying sentences like "pirates who wear diapers!"  followed by erruptions of laughter.  So, Judah started saying sentences with "pirates who..." and expecting laughter afterwards.  Joe and I actually do laugh pretty hard at them because, what??  My favorite "Pirates who bite their dolphins". 

Silas baby:
  • started saying "I love you" spontaneously, which is always so much fun
  • talks to you like you talk to him, for example, he says "Hi, sweet pea!" and "Can I hold ya?"
  • Joe travels to Wisconsin Rapids fairly often for work.  Silas thinks that "Wisconsin Rapids" is "Wanna go see rabbits".
  • Me:  What does a horse say?"  S:  "Yee Haw!"
  • If he can't open something he says "it's too heavy"
  • We have been at the zoo a couple of times this spring.  One day, leaving the zoo, Joe asked Roman what his favorite animal was.  A few minutes later Silas asks "What's your favorite animal dad?"  Joe answers and then Joe says "What was your favorite animal, Si?"  Silas said "I saw the moose!"  And then we laughed and laughed because there is definitely no moose at our zoo.  Also, when you ask him about the zoo he will say "I played with the lions!  I played with the monkeys!"
  • Tries to say "granola bar"...it comes out "gween-a-willa-baller". 
  • Saw a Thor action figure and said "that's a mean Jesus"  HA!!
  • tries to say "pistachio" comes out "mestashew"
  • Joe is very protective of Silas.  Silas is the sweetest kid ever and so it's hard not to be.  At the park one day some kid pushed Silas and Silas cried.  We actually had to LEAVE the park because JOE was so mad. 
is finally getting past the puppy chewing stage, which is a huge relief.  He continues to be great with the boys but also continues to not realize how big he is sometimes...so occasionally Silas gets knocked over in the excitement.  :(
We have a lot of nicknames for Char:
Char Char
Char Char Binks

I also just have to say that we love Wisconsin.  We love this community.  It's amazing to see the way God has moved in this place in the past year.  There has been plenty of sorrow, but the way this community continues to lift high the name of Christ, continues to share the Gospel, continues to serve is so beautiful.

I am happy to say that we have made so many great friends here.  You guys, I have found my people.  The ones who, at the park, watch your child drench himself in the water fountain, take off all of his clothes and run laughing to the climbing wall....and these friends...they laugh and say "at least he left his underwear on". 

God bless them.


Just a few faves...

1.  Grounds for Change.  Delicious coffee.  Fair trade.  What more could you ask for?

2.  Starfall.com  If you have preschool age kids, this is a great way to get them interested in phonics.

3.  coconut oil.  I have been loving coconut oil for a long time now.  Now, this list of 101 uses...well, some of them might be a bit of a stretch.  But if you're not using it, then you're late to the party.  Get on the bandwagon already.  I use it for healthy cooking, face moisturizer, and shaving cream (!!  This is probably my favorite use!  Thanks for the recommendation, Chrissy!)

4.  Renew lotion.  Coconut oil is all I need most of the time.  But I am a mom to three dirty, yucky, stinky boys.  I have to wash my hands a lot.  I also live in the North.  It's cold here.  Winter skin care is serious business.  Thankfully my friend Lindsay sells Melaleuca products.  If you want to order, send me an e-mail and I can hook you up.  Oh, and if you decide to go with the Renew lotion, do yourself a favor and get the 20 oz bottle.  You won't regret it.  I have never used a moisturizer that lasts so long, even with the constant hand washing.

5.  All Sons and Daughters.   For your listening pleasure:

6.  Sevenly.  Because people matter.  Get a cute new top AND help someone.  Win.Win.

7.   Do some research before you shop:
Green America  and Free2Work are great sites (and also have mobile apps!) 
I have been doing some reading about slave labor, child labor, and human trafficking.  This is scary stuff, friends.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of such big problems - especially in light of how deep the corruption is in some major companies.  But, I don't want to cop-out and say we can't do anything.  Surely, you can't be certain about every purchase you make being completely ethical, but I'm trying to change the things that I buy on a regular basis (like coffee, chocolate, make-up...that pretty much sums up all of life's needs, right?  :)).  I also feel like I could change where I make bigger purchases that I can plan out/research ahead of time.  Let's make our money talk!

8.  Along those lines, here are some some sites where you can read about slavery and find ways to be part of the solution: 
The A21 Campaign  "Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every thirty seconds, someone is forced into this type of bondage—modern slavery"
End It Movement  "Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern–day slavery, but nothing will EVER happen until we are."

9.  National Geographic Picture of the Day  I have probably already written about this in a previous post, but I'll write again because we love it that much.  This is a much-loved part of our school day.  We like to look at a new, breathtaking picture every day.  We make observations, write stories about them, find the location on a map, do some research about that particular place/animal/thing, the list is endless of what you can do with this! 

10.  If you're not following Honest Toddler on twitter, you should be.  So so funny.


Homeschooling: The Why

I have had several people ask me about homeschooling lately and so I thought a post might be the best way to communicate my thoughts on the topic.  You know, given that I can't get through a phone conversation without having to say "hang on, I have to stop Judah from climbing the counter to steal chocolate chips" or "Call you back, just found Silas playing in the toilet."

Homeschooling has been a topic of discussion in our family for quite a while.  My degree is in elementary education and so homeschooling had always been an idea I had tossed around.  Roman turned 5 last June and so it was time to buckle down and make a decision. 

I want to make it clear that I had mostly great experiences in the public schools I attended.  I have several teachers that I could name as huge influences in my life, both personally and intellectually.  I think, like most people, I had a couple of not-so-great teachers too, but that's the way it goes..  I always enjoyed school.  With a very few exceptions, all the teachers I know are heroes.  They work so hard to not only educate, but genuinely care for each student in their class.  Which is a big job when you have 20 kids that you are responsible for on a daily basis.  If you don't know it, teachers are up at night thinking about the best ways to motivate your kids; they spend  hours of their time and hundreds of dollars of their own money trying to make projects awesome and engaging.  They are the most underpaid, under appreciated and SIMULTANEOUSLY the most dedicated, life-giving workers you'll ever meet.  Teacher friends/mentors, you know I love you!

ANYWAY, when we moved, we really had to get on figuring out what to do.  Since our church here in Wisconsin has a school, that seemed like the obvious choice if we weren't going to homeschool.  Joe and I visited the school and Roman and I actually went to one of the kindergarten visit days, too.  I had no complaints about anything I saw at that school. 

Our decision to homeschool was not out of fear or lack of options.  It has simply been what we feel called to do.  It's what we feel works best for our family right now.  We have no long term plans for our kids' educations.  We want to keep prayerfully discerning what is best for our family.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the reasons that we homeschool:

  • attention wise, we felt Roman may be better suited for kindergarten as a 6 year old, but he could already read by his 5th birthday so I didn't think it would be wise to wait a whole year to begin schooling
  • Joe works a lot of evenings.  I'm thankful to say that he is really good about making time for family and balancing home life and work life.  SO, when he works a lot of evenings, he will often take a morning or two to stay home during the week.  I want our boys to be able to have as much quality time with Dad as they can.  So, homeschooling works well.  Roman can do schoolwork in the afternoon, or we can do some kind of field trip all together or he can read for Dad.  That's always way cooler than reading to Mom.
field trip to the children's museum

  • It seems like the natural extension of what we have already been doing.  I have been staying home since Roman was born.  If I can teach him effectively at home, why not do it?
  • I always tell my kids "brothers are best friends".  I want them to have lots of quality time together and they definitely get that when we're home together during the day.  Let's be honest, they also fight a lot.  Such is the life of siblings, no?  I also love that when we spend time with other homeschool families, they get to interact with kids of all ages.  Getting along with peers is awesome and important.  I think it's just as important for our kids to be able to talk to teenagers and adults confidently, and for them to learn to include younger kids in whatever game they're playing.
  • We have had a big transition in the last year with moving to a new state.  I wanted this year to be focused on family bonding. 
  • There is an awesome homeschool group that we are a part of in Madison.  I think the community aspect is really important.  Roman actually goes to a kindergarten class on Friday afternoons (September-April) and he loves that! 
  • The little ones are around all of the learning and they like to get involved. 

  • (a great way to enterain the littles.  Grab an old cookie sheet and a permanent marker.  Write the alphabet on the back side of the cookie sheet.  Get some letter magnents and let the match up begin.  Judah has recently mastered this game.  Silas, as you can see, is still working on it.  :)  )
    (This is what happens when the littles are not being entertained.)

    Judah is just starting to write his name!  Yay!
     (He also wrote about ten letter A's on the wall behind the couch in the basement.  In pink marker.)

  • I want my boys to be able to do as much hands-on, messy learning as possible.  Because that's when they get really excited about something.  There are lots of ways to learn that don't involve desks or a classroom.  This is especially helpful for whild and crazy boys like mine.  And I like letting the boys be messy boys.  You can see the way their eyes light up when they get to to explore outside and really dig into things they want to learn about.  pun intended. 
  •  I like to have structured parts to our day (usually in the morning we do our Bible reading, handwriting, reading, and math.)  For kindergarten that takes maybe 1-2 hours, depending on how many interruptions we have and how quickly Roman catches onto the lesson.  I also enjoy having a good amount of the day that's open-ended.  This is where the child-guided learning comes in.  When Roman finds an insect outside we can all take turns making observations and go find a book that tells us more about that insect.  It's time that we spend on impromptu science experiments, exploring some art or music, watching a documentary, going for a bike ride, or writing letters to friends.  It's also time that we are free build more relationships with friends or family:  we could go to the zoo, cuddle up and read, have a play-date, or make a meal for someone.
  • On that same note, we can change things up when we want to.  It's getting close to the end of the year, sometimes Roman gets a little antsy on me.  The other day it was raining and he was mad that they wouldn't be able to play outside.  So, we got out one of our science books and read about water cycles, and did an experiment about rain.  That didn't make up for not being able to go to the park, but at least it gave him something new and exciting to think about for a while.  (And yes, I did let them out to jump in the puddles, too).
  • We can spend time on more important things when we need to.  Yes, I think there are more important things than schoolwork.  Obviously, most of our mornings are spent on lessons, but when there is someone in the community that needs our help or something we can do to reach out to someone, I want to jump on that opportunity.  That's WHY they're learning right?  So they can make a difference in the world someday.  (or today) 
  • We can travel when we want to.  We have family all over the country now so we like to get out and visit whenever we can.  It's nice that we can work our school schedule around (or into!) that.  For example, when we visited my brother and his family in DC for Thanksgiving, we did a lot US History reading/projects beforehand, and visited the Museum of Natural History while we were there.  We also strolled down to see the White House. 
  • I like hanging out with my kids.  I think I would miss them if they were at school.  They are interesting and funny and ask awesome questions and it's my joy to see them growing and changing every day. 

    (I love the simplicity of a child's mind.  This is story Roman wrote about a king:  "He will go to fight the bad guy.  He will save the people.  The bad guys is killed."

  • Of COURSE there are days that I think I'm INSANE for trying to homeschool.  Let's be real, no matter what school choice you make, there will always be tough days when you're going to question if you made the right decision.  Nothing is perfect.  What do you do when that happens?  Pray for grace, have another cup of coffee, and start over tomorrow.
  • We want our kids to know that their relationship with God, and their call to share the Gospel, is the most important thing in life.  We want them to see that knowing, loving, and serving God is an adventure that takes courage but that it will be their greatest joy!  I know that we could choose a private school where they would get that, too, and I know that many parents are great at teaching that while sending their kids to public school.  But, I like having them here and knowing for sure what they are learning and hearing.  And we can put the emphasis on what we feel is most beneficial.  For example, I'm a big believer in memorizing scripture, so we make that a part of life around here.  (Although now that I'm typing it, I'm realizing that I have been slacking on that.)  New mercies every day, see? 

(One of our favorites:  My Very First Art Book.   Each page shows a work by a famous artist and talks a little bit about the medium and technique they use.  Then it gives examples of ways your child can experiment with the same technique...this is Roman's chalk blending masterpiece.  :))

There are pros and cons to any schooling choice you might make, and I don't think there is a magical equation for the perfect education.  But we are loving the homeschool life thus far!


The Surreal and The Sacred

There are some things that are simply too sacred for words. 

That's how I feel about Kiley's story.  I know that whatever I write, it won't be enough.  It won't sufficiently capture the paradox of pain and beauty that is wrapped up in all of this.  But, I trust you, dear friends, to bear with me through this post.  I have been absent for a while because I know I have to write this.  I know that my heart has to spill this out before I will be able to write anything else. 

I know I have to write it, and I've tried.

I just can never quite do it.

If I tell her story here, it seems so real and so final.  I wish it wasn't.  I have such conflicted emotions about bearing witness to all of this.  There are times when it all feels like a terrible dream.  There are times when the presence of the Lord is so real that it seems like we're about to touch Heaven.  Sometimes it's all at once an honor and a nightmare to experience the unfolding of this thing.  The prayers and peace and the tears and "I can't believe it" whispers are real.  It's just so much to take in.


It was just over a year ago that I was sitting in Kiley's dining room, oohing and ahhing over her four beautiful children and her belly just starting to show #5.  It had been years since I had seen her.  She and Scott were in a Bible study with us in Iowa (back in the day!) when Joe and I were very newly married, and she and Scott were very new parents to sweet baby Aiden.  That night, over dinner, we marveled at the way that God is in the details.  He had established our friendship in Iowa and then arranged for our growing families to be reunited years later, living in the same town in Wisconsin.  God is so good.

We feel so blessed that we have gotten to know Scott and Kiley again.  To be in Bible study together, to worship together at church and with friends, to have our kids laughing together at the park.  They invited us to all kinds of events at our new parish, introduced us to most of our friends here, and we always knew we could call them to ask where kids eat free on certain days of the week.  :)

A couple of months ago, Kiley was sitting in my dining room. We were laughing at the antics of all of our children running around, and she was trying to convince me to hurry up and get pregnant with #4. We talked about parenting and schooling and teaching our kids about Jesus.  I'm so thankful for friendships with depth...when you can talk easily about the things that really matter, and also laugh so hard your sides hurt.  Best combo ever.

This is where I keep getting stuck.  I don't even know how to go about describing the events that led to her going home to the Lord. It's still very new. It was all so unexpected.  Above all, because we are believers, this is very Holy ground.

It was a Thursday morning that Kiley went to kickboxing class at the athletic club. In the middle of class she sat down... and that was it. There was a blood clot in her brain stem. They airlifted her to the UW hospital and did everything they could. We were hopeful, but the third scan showed no brain function.


Surreal is walking into a hospital room, knowing it will be the last time you see your friend on this side of eternity.

Sorrow is hearing brokenhearted friends asking her to stay.

Solidarity is watching your husband reach out for hers...laying hands on him in prayer.

Fatherhood is three praying priests in the waiting room. 

Serene are the moments of remembering her redemption.

Sweetness is listening to the words a husband whispers over his wife in her last hours.

Sacred is the presence of Love Himself in the midst of the weeping.

Stillness is holding sweet baby girl, just four months old, days after we put her mama in the ground.

Heartbreak is hearing a three year old announce "mom's dead".

Healing is watching a community come together, embracing this family in their brokenness. The Body of Christ is alive and well, friends. I am so thankful to have seen Him move, felt His hands at work here.

Hope is hearing God's goodness proclaimed even in the darkest of hours. Heaven will surely gain more souls because of the faithfulness of broken believers.


We prayed for a miracle. Kiley knows how to get people praying.  :)
Sunday, March 3, Kiley got to meet her Savior. 

There is really no way to wrap this up. 

There is a gaping hole in a beautiful family.  There are little ones trying to comprehend eternity and trying to cope with this life without mom.  There is a man missing his other half. 

But the family knows this:
Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There is a community struggling, grasping for hope.  But they are a people committed to bringing this about:
1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
 who comforts us in all our affliction
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

There is a God who gives and a God who takes.  A God who knows us and loves us.  A God who grieves with us and blesses us with the promise of eternal life.  We have a God who is good and faithful and present and sovereign.

We are in this storm.  And the waves will continue to crash.  But we have this in Him:
Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain...

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight...
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

-excerpts from On Joy and Sorrow by Kahlil Gibran

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As the mother of BOYS.

As the mother of BOYS, I am realizing the following things:
1.  I will be cleaning pee off the toilet seat for the rest of my life.
2.  I will be listening to belching followed by laughter, probably for the rest of my life.
3.  I will have to say "hands out of your pants" at least 37 times daily...for the rest of...well hopefully not my life - hopefully I get to stop saying this one before they leave the house.
4.  I will be breaking up physical fights and then be baffled that the two fighters are BFF again after only 5 minutes.
5.  I will be feeding hungry mouths constantly.  And when I'm not, I will be hiding said food until the next feeding, so that I can ensure even distribution.
6.  I will be picking up pieces of broken things and saying "what happened here?" 
7.  I will be wiping noses and bottoms forever. 
8.  I will be saying "I guess you probably need ANOTHER bath now".
9.  I will be asking any combination of the following questions during the course of any given day:
"Why are you sitting in the sink?
Where is your brother?
Why did you take that?
Who hurt Silas?
Why is Judah crying?
Why haven't you picked up your shoes yet?
Is that poop?
Why is Roman outside?
Where is your underwear?
Have you washed your hands?
When are you going to learn to wipe yourself?
Who dumped out the dog's water?
How did you get THAT stuck in THERE?
Why are you naked?
Who got out the paints?
Why is the hallway covered in Q tips?
Who was using scissors? 
Did you ask Dad about that?
Did you hear what I just asked you to do?
Why are you so gross?"

The list goes on but that's all for tonight.  Just something I have been pondering.