Posted in My Interests, Parenting, Travel, Uncategorized

My New Favorite Place on Earth – Cinque Terre! Italy part 3

When we finally made it onto our train out of Rome I was feeling a bit like a cat in a tub of water.  We settled onto the train with some McDonalds comfort food which is saying a lot, since back in the States McDonalds is not on my comfort food radar at all! However, when in Rome…er leaving Rome. Whatever.

Our train took us north through Tuscany.  With our limited time we chose to travel over to Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera coastline instead of Florence.  Although we can appreciate fine historical art, our family enjoys more than just this, and as I wrote in my previous post, our son in particular was so over the naked statues everywhere. 

Our train did take us through the city of Pisa.  We didn’t have time to get off of the train, but caught the slightest glimpse of the tower from the train window and decided as a family that it counted!  This was such a relaxing a beautiful train ride!  We passed breathtaking vineyard areas with the tall pointy trees 

And the olive trees were everywhere.  I may have to figure out how to grow one of these beauties back home.  This was all on one side of the train, while on the other was the beautiful blue coastline.  It was about a two hour train ride through many tunnels into our final destination for the day. We were staying in the town of Manarola in the Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre pronounced (Cheen-kway tehr-ray) is a grouping of five fishing villages that used to only be accessible by boat.  They are connected by a trail that many visitors to the area enjoy walking.  It is supposed to be one of the best hikes in the world hitting all five villages in one day if one chooses to hike it that way.  We weren’t going to be able to do the hike, but that was just as well – it gives me a reason to return.  I now consider this one of my favorite places on earth!


Manarola is literally built into the hillside.  There are no vehicles in the town just a main road.  The only down part is that it is literally built into the hillside – that means walking up that hill to get to your apartment.  But oh that walk was worth it.  And beneficial too, as the food was also tremendous.

The first thing we did after getting off of the train is walk through a tunnel in the side of the hill to get into the village.  It’s like going through the wardrobe into Narnia people!  When you walk out into the sunlight on the other side, it truly feels like you’ve walked into a totally different world.  We headed up, up, up, up, up (pant pant) up up up to our apartment to be terrifically rewarded with the view of a lifetime!  We gave kudos to our Meggers for picking this stop.  She had seen Manarola on a calendar she had in her bedroom and though it would be cool to see.  Since this trip, I have now seen this picture all over the internet.  I’m not sure how much longer they will be able to keep this village so quaint and awesome, but we’re glad we got here when we did.  After all of us taking pics and videos of our place we headed back down stopping at each little curve in the hill to take another picture.  The town is still so antiquated and protected that even the shops close at 6:30 or 7:00 so we did stop to buy up all our tchotchkes and t-shirts.  Then onward through town, we were headed for the sunset setup to get the famous picture for ourselves.  We were not disappointed.  The only disappointment someone could even slightly experience here is not being a professional photographer which I am nowhere close sigh!

We were finding ourselves hungry and there is a restaurant up on the hill overlooking Manarola.  Lynn suggested looking into eating here, but we were pretty sure it may be out of our price range with the location and outside seating and views.  Oh how thrilled we were when we found out how affordable it was!  Within minutes we found ourselves seated along the coastline overlooking this magical place and enjoying the best food in all of Italy.  Seriously, Nessun Duma was awesome!  We ate Focaccia bread sandwiches which seems like such a cheap name for such deliciousness in my mouth!  We even splurged on dessert since we were intoxicated by the atmosphere. 

I practically had to drag myself out of here the next morning when it was already time to leave.  I’m trying to talk Lynn into us taking a honeymoon whenever our daughters get married and going back to Cinque Terre!  I mean, shouldn’t the parents of the bride get a trip too?  Ok, so I may have to work on my manipulating skills, but somehow, if the Lord wills it some day, Manarola, I will come back to you.

Ciao for now! Next stop…Venice!

Posted in Daily Musings, Parenting, Travel, Uncategorized

Italy Here We Come: Germany week 6

Week 6 was one of the longest weeks of my life and it will most likely take multiple posts to cover it. Often when people refer to something as the longest of their life it is in a negative aspect, but this one was a whole mix of adventure that just makes me smile when I look back on it. 

Our German church family at our Valentine’s Day Dinner.

We started off the week with church, of course.  We went early so that I could drop off thefamily and drive over to the children’s hospital to see my friend Marina and Baby Ben whose finger had been crushed. Visitors were not allowed up to this point and I wanted to try and be an encouragement to her.  This, I might add,was the first time I had driven in downtown Mannheim.  Often Mannheim is described as an easy city to get around because of how it is sectioned off into blocks.  However, this isn’t the case with the entire city, only the very central part.  Of course the hospital was on the outskirts of this area where the roads literally go in all directions and diagonals.

Rhein River Baptist Church

 A little background on me, I’m not one of those useful minister’s wives who can sing or play piano.  However, I have always been an asset to my husband’s ministry in that I’m pretty good with directions and navigating.  We’ve been to numerous large cities, NewYork, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles etc. The only one, up to this point where I have gotten totally turned around is Houston, which is awful!  Now I can add another – Mannheim. I am so thankful for GPS systems in newer cars!  Seriously, I couldn’t have done Europe 20 years ago people!

So, here I was trying to listen to this GPS tell me where to go when I noticed a car to my right and a motorcycle who are both motioning to me like I’m crazy.  Then it dawned on me, I was totally in the wrong lane where oncoming traffic would be approaching any second.  Funny thing was, neither the car nor the motorcyclist would move to let me over – go figure!  When I finally got myself settled in the right lane, I made it to the hospital parking lot. As I pulled in the guard in the booth, who spoke impeccable English, asked what business I had there.  I let him know I was there to visit a friend and their child.  He frankly told me that I was in the wrong parking lot and that it was only for people bringing their own children into the hospital.  I promptly apologized and asked for directions to the proper lot.  Instead. he found it easier to let me know that he would let me in, but that I’d better read the signs well or else I would be charged 200 euro!  He informed me that not knowing German would not help me in the matter and just not to be stupid in my parking (his actual words!)  So, with some trepidations I drove on down into the parking lot and found a spot that didn’t seem to have any ominous signs around it and went in for a visit. 

Baby Ben was in very good spirits and getting along so well even though his little hand was all bound up! Truly, he is such a happy contagious little fella.  Marina seemed to be doing well too, as much as a momma can who has been stuck in the hospital with her little one for days.  We had a great visit and I returned to the church only 20 minutes late – a success under thecircumstances.

That night after service we had our monthly pizza fellowship where my friend Asha, who is a British young woman working as a nanny in Germany, made me some actual British scones!  I make scones for Lynn’s Sunday School class back home in the states, so it was fun to try an authentic recipe, which was outstanding and yes – I gotthe recipe!  She was so pleased that I put the jam on first and then the cream as I guess this order of toppings is debated throughout the UK from village to village. Thank you, Asha!

Our big plan for the week started on Tuesday.  We really wanted to fit in a trip to Italy while we were in Europe.  This was a little bit complicated as we had a Bible Study every Tuesday night which kind of breaks up the week and the time for travel. However, we were undaunted by this challenge and came up with a masterplan to work around our limitations.

  One thing Americans think of when they think of Europe is rail travel.  In theory it sounds like an easy and obvious way to travel.  However, it is a littlebit puzzle-like to fit the plans together. For instance we hear of night trains that will whisk you off to your destination while you sleep!  Sounds great in theory, but the problem is getting to the night train.  Our closest one that went to Italy was in Munich.  The problem was that we couldn’t get to Munich in time to catch that train. So, instead we had to piece together an overnight trip that turned into a grand adventure.  Another, weird thing about rail travel is that they sell you on rail passes, but that doesn’t necessarily get you everywhere you want to go. More than likely any large trip you take will entail purchasing reservations on the trains you want to catch. So after piecing together your route, you then have to add together all the reservation costs.  It takes hours in the planning for a family our size, and I never did find where anyone would help.  This would be a great job – being a train travel puzzle solver. 

Midnight at the train station – Before the adventure began.

Our original grand plan was to get home from Bible study about 8:45-9:00, sleep for a couple of hours then head to the train station to catch our first train at midnight.  This first train really only took us right back up to the Mannheim train station, but we wanted to park the car for free and where someone could watch it for us.  Lynn is discipling a man every week who can’t get out because of health conditions. His apartment looks right over the parking area where we left the car, so that worked out nicely.  Anyway, our train from Mannheim didn’t actually leave until 3:30 in the morning (I know!Crazy right!?)  So we planned to just hang out in the terminal area until then. Here’s where the adventure started to unhinge.  When we arrived in Mannheim, we were greeted with the realization that they actually close the inside of the building from midnight until 4:30am!  We were faced with having to wait for 3 hours outside in the freezing cold!  We tried to huddle up against the doorway out of the wind where an elderly couple were doing the same thing.  It didn’t help – at all.  After a few minutes of this we got on our phones looking for an all-night coffee shop or something that might beopen.  No coffee shops were open unfortunately.  I told Lynn that maybe we could just go to a hotel and sit in their lobby for a little while.  He eventually went up and around to the street view and the elderly man followed. A few extremely long minutes later he reappeared and said that there was a doner (shawarma type place) open across the street from the train station and maybe we could go over there and buy some food and sit a bit.  This seemed like a good plan so off we went wheeling our luggage behind us.

Mannheim Train Station – in the day when it’s open!

Immediately when we walked in, I knew this was not going to be a good experience.  The place was crowded with people, smoke, and a whole sketchy atmosphere. A couple of things to note here:  1. It was the week of Fasching,which is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s a carnival time of partying the week before Ash Wednesday for the Catholics.  Most of the country celebrates this time with raucous parties and dressing up in costumes, similar to what people do at Halloween time in America.  2. Germany doesn’t have the same kind of anti-smoking-in-public-places laws that the U.S. has.  So there we sat in the smoke-filled room with people in costumes coming and going.  It was quite the education for our family in social anthropology as we watched people like Pirate man with his two devil ladies on his arms coming in to get a late night/morning snack.   Lynn ordered a couple of doners, but we weren’t exactly hungry, and the atmosphere was killing the appetite as well.  I noticed the elderly couple did the same as us, but only stayed about a half an hour before leaving.  I’m not sure where they went or maybe they had an earlier train than us.  I saw a single young woman come in wheeling her luggage behind and my first thought was “wow, that seems kind of dangerous for her to be out in the middle of the night with luggage by herself.  She must be a student and/or avid traveler.”I couldn’t help but overhear her talking on her phone in English – she was American.  After finishing her middle of the night meal she retreated into the bathroom which was only inches from my chair where it sounded like she was sick. On my left were a couple of men who were playing on the slot machines.  They were there for the entirety of the night/morning while we were there.  We didn’t see any of them win anything, but the coins kept going in as the cigarettes kept getting lit.  Then walked in a blond girl with a funky haircut and leather jacket.  She reminded me of some kind of 80s punk star or something and she was twitching like crazy as she ate her doner.  I’m pretty sure it was a tweaking kind of twitch from drugs. It definitely wasn’t normal and as she finished, I noticed her reach into her purse and grab a pill from a folded-up piece of foil and pop it in.  Pretty soon one of the slot machine men noticed her and bought her a drink and well, let’s say they left for awhile.  Meanwhile, the young woman in the bathroom was concerning me as she had been in there for over 30 minutes.  I was thinking all kinds of mom thoughts,like was she ill?  Was she doing drugs? Did I hear crying?  Did someone follow her in there? Is she even alive?  I was about to go investigate like Angela Lansbury from “Murder She Wrote”, when I finally saw her come out of the bathroom and I whispered a prayer of thanks and relief to God that she was ok.  Or at least seemed ok.  Throughout our loitering we noticed cars pull up and deals (probably illegal) go down.  I was stuck between feeling awful that my kids were getting this kind of exposure to just not even caring because at least it was warm.  I was so happy to see 3:00 show up on my clock. 

When we got over to the station, we hardly even cared that we were in the cold again, we were all a little bit traumatized and glad to be out of the doner place.  It’s funny what perspective can do for an attitude. We heard an announcement over the speakers, but it was all German, so we didn’t understand a word.  When we saw 3:30 come and go without a train, we asked a man who was there in the cold with us what the announcement was saying.  He informed us that our train was going to be an hour late! I looked at Lynn and said, “I can’t go back over to that doner place!  Please don’t take us back over there.”  Which was a silly thing to plead as he wasn’t about to take us back over there. However, that left us on the freezing cold platform in the dark cold night to wait. 

We all tried to find our own way to cope.  Jarod curled up on a bench and tried to just get into a tight ball like an armadillo. The girls sort of did the same on the other side of the bench.  Lynn and I literally closed ourselves into a phone booth (yes, they still have some of the old time looking Superman-changing telephone booths over here). The gentleman who had let us know about the delay took a double look at us and just smiled and shook his head. We were desperate and didn’t care. Yes, it is beginning to sound redundant, but it literally was one of the longest hours of my life.

When the train finally arrived, we were delighted to be in the warmth.  Then I realized that my seat next to the window had some sort of air vent that was blowing cold air that I couldn’t control.  I was swept back in time when we would go on youth activities with the teens at church on our big MCI touring bus and it would blow cold air at your face all night.  However, it wasn’t quite as bad as being out on that train platform, so I curled up and just tried to sleep. 

Our traveling adventure wasn’t over yet though.  We had two more train changes before we would make it to Rome, so I had to set a timer on my phone so as not to sleep through our stops.  Because of the first train’s delay, it had a domino affect on all the other trains for the day and we had to keep getting in lines to get our reservations exchanged.  I will say that throughout Switzerland, the train station personnel are very helpful when travelers find themselves in these situations.  Thankfully the rest of the day’s travels went relatively smoothly thanks to them.  We rested and took in the picturesque landscapes like going around Lake Lucerne Switzerland and pleasant people that we got to meet like the American widow who had moved to Europe for a change of scenery after losing her husband.  She was encouraging and helpful with tips and warnings for our time in Rome.

Speaking of Rome – well, I’ll write about that adventure inmy next post…

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons, Parenting

No Sarcasm Saturday

I’ve found it!    What, you ask? The secret to building up your savings account? The cure for cancer?  The gumption to train and complete a marathon? Oh no my dear friends that’s all cupcakes and fluff.  I’m talking about THE most difficult self-imposed discipline outside of diet and exercise…No Sarcasm Saturday.   I know, I know this raises many more questions like “what on earth would motivate you to do such a thing?” or “Why?” or even “How long did you make it?”  All in good time my dear friends.  First let me give you a little background.   It all started way backlast week sometime.  I was trying to watch one of my favorite HGTV shows called “ Love it or List it”.  However, during the show one of my children (who shall remain nameless for her, his, ahem it’s protection) was just deriding these poor people on the show.  I found myself getting more irritated by the moment.  This child sounded so mean, so hateful, so judgmental and uh…so much like me!  Sarcasm is one of our main sources of humor in this family.  2nd man and I love watching Food Network, HGTV or even ESPN shows and totally deriding the logic behind which most of the decisions are made.  Truly, this is just a coping strategy for our own lusty jealousy.  Hmmm do I want the brand new house with five bathrooms and all new appliances that is $100,000 over budget or do I want to stay in my mid-century “bungalow” with it’s outdated electrical system, bowing floors and cracked foundation without a dishwasher?  Ah the decisions people must face.  It’s sad really.  We watch and shoot out scathing remarks about how materialistic our society is and how there are people starving in other countries living on floating shacks along rivers (funny though, they still have smartphones and reception –true story I saw it on TV too).  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, the degradation of our American society.  Like I said, I’m basically just jealous and get a kick out of the whole process. However, listening to my own kid doing the same thing sounded so harsh and critical.  I went from being irritated to being strongly convicted.  She/he sounded like a bully on a playground.  If I had caught him/her doing this to someone face-to-face I would be mortified and then I’d lay into him or her about apologizing and how we don’t treat others this way.  I’d probably go into how that person is one of God’s creations and therefore we have no right to be so critical.  All of this is true.  However, somehow people don’t seem as real to us if they’re on TV so a freedom of expression gets exercised regularly. We’re sarcastic with each other as well.  I’d say 95% of it is truly meant in good fun and humor.  However, there are those days when someone gets their feelings hurt.  But, mostly it’s how we relate to each other in a humor filled way.  2nd man and I often find ourselves even having the same sarcastic thoughts about different situations.  But, as a friend of mine explained to me, it can all be taken and given in different spirits depending on the people involved, so sarcasm must be handled delicately.  For instance she is a choleric personality and tends to go from humorous to critical in a quickly falling landslide; whereas her husband, who is very sanguine, keeps it on the light and humorous quite easily.   This made a lot of sense to me.  I know there’s a lot of debate about the validity of the whole personality thing, but I’m a believer in how it plays out in people’s lives.  My choleric child sounded scathing and harsh, but my own sanguine/melancholy personality keeps it on the humorous or sometimes overly-sensitive side.   So, with all of that said, I approached 2nd Man and told him I thought we should have a “no sarcasm day.”  He thought it was a good idea, but didn’t do anything about it immediately.  Then, Friday evening at the dinner table I made some kind of sarcastic remark and he pounced.  “Your mother and I have been talking about something lately, kids.”  He said.  To which thy replied, “are we in trouble?”  “No,” he said, “but we’re going to try to have a No Sarcasm Saturday tomorrow.”  Our oldest was instantly worried. “But it’s outreach day at church and, well, we teens speak in sarcasm.”  “I understand that.”  Replied 2nd Man, “but we’ll have to make do the best we can.”  We determined that everyone would start out with 100 points and the person with the most points left will get a dessert treat of their choice at a special place on our vacation in a month. I have to be honest here.  It was hard.  I woke up with much trepidation, scared to enter public with my family, wondering how ashamed I might be.  But, overall it was a good experience.  I caught myself having sarcastic thoughts all day long.  The hardest part of the day was going to Wal-Mart (did I mention we did this on a Saturday?)  I was never so thankful to go to the grocery store ALONE.  Even in the parking lot where Honey Boo boo’s mother’s look-alike about rammed my car to get a space she thought I was going to get to first. (You must understand how hard it was to even write that last sentence.  I had to wait a day so as not to get docked points.)  We had one daughter who tried hard, but was honest when caught.  Daughter number two kept docking herself and was about out of points when we confirmed that you had to be caught by someone else, and then our youngest son didn’t quite ever get the concept of what sarcasm even is.   However, it was a good exercise in discipline and learning to be kind.  We really didn’t have a winner at the end of the day.   We’ve actually decided to do it again perhaps next week.  I’ll confess I’m not willing to give up this form of humor for a lifetime – I don’t think that’s possible.  However, temperance is never a bad thing, so I’ll take it one challenging Saturday at a time for now.  

Posted in Parenting

Love that boy!

Jarod Reece in all of his glory

 Today’s post is primarily for the sake of the grandparents, so please bear with the adorableness of these pictures.  I don’t really have anything very profound to say today except….LOVE THAT BOY!  Does anyone else’s boy ever do this kind of thing?  I mean, we gave him the talk about not wasting the time of the Olan Mills guy or our money, and how these aren’t pictures on our camera, and how we really want some good pictures of our kids and this is what we get. 

It’s like he oozes personality and can’t keep it in.  It’s some kind of third child comedian thing going on.

In his defense the photographer was being rather silly and probably instigated it, but really?  Seriously?

Thankfully, we got some good shots as well.  Again…LOVE THAT BOY!

You break this heart -I break your thumbs.  Love, Momma
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Parenting

Question for Mothers of daughters

 I’m supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my lesson for tonight, but I got a little sidetracked with a thought that I just had to get written.  One of my last points for this evening’s lesson is to challenge the girls to include their parents in their love life.  Sounds kind of weird and hokey huh?  However, this really got me pondering my own motherhood and wondering what some other moms thought about this.

  It’s a little late in the day to get the feedback I suppose, but if you have a minute please do give me a comment or email me, or FB me, or something.  If you find yourself reading this later than today Feb. 29, then I’d still love, love, love to hear your thoughts.

So, here’s my question for Moms of daughters; What would you say would be your response if your teenage or college age daughter came to you confessing that she had messed up morally?

Ok, I know what the pat answer would be, but I challenge you to actually put yourself in that position for a minute or two and really ponder this.  Not just what you hope you’d do or what you picture yourself doing…what do you really think your response would be?  I ask because I’m quite sure from the past fourteen plus years of working with teen girls, that many of them don’t know or worse, they expect a terrible response.

Thankfully, this doesn’t include all of the girls I’ve ever worked with, or even really a majority of them.  I praise God for having come across some very engaged parents that keep an open line of communication in this area.  Some parents who are able to reassure their kids that God loves them unconditionally and so do they as parents.  Of course there would be disappointment to deal with and heartbreak involved as well.  We all (I’m taking liberties here I know) want what is best for our children.  We desire their happiness, and I’m hoping we desire their holiness just as much. 

“So, why are you even asking this question then?” you may want to know.   Well, I’ve also talked with many girls through the years that simply won’t talk to their mom’s about such thing.  This includes of course girls that have gone through our youth department, as well as girls I’ve met while volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center.   When I do encourage these girls to go to their mothers, they look at me as if they’d rather take an ad out in a newspaper confessing their faults than to actually talk to their mom!

 As a mom, of two daughters, this leaves me absolutely confounded.  My girls are only just now on the brink of “teenagedom” and I’m feverishly working to open new lines of communication, as well as keep old ones clear.  I’m constantly asking myself if I’ve shut them down in some way and how can I correct that if I have.  My oldest and I have had a few talks so far about the changes coming her way.  So far she doesn’t seem too traumatized by it.  However, when her Doctor asked if I’d given her any “talks” yet; I responded with, “yes, well, some talks just prepping her.”  He then proceeded to encourage her to save sex for marriage.  “I guess I should have been more specific with him,” I thought to myself as my wide-eyed 11year old sat staring at him without blinking.  Needless to say, we had an impromptu talk on the way home from that appointment.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m so very appreciative to have a Christian doctor who would care enough to talk to her as both a doctor and a daddy himself.  However, we hadn’t gotten to the part of the talk about WHY the changes would be happening. 

Anyway, this morning I came across a book we’ve had for a while called “Stay in the Castle” and decided to use it in place of Bible time for school.  It led to good discussion on how their dad and I pray that they would trust us to help guide them through their single years to find not just a good guy, or even a great guy, but the right guy for them. (if any, as my middle daughter is still declaring her vow to singleness so as to be just like Amy Carmichael).

Truthfully I’m full of thoughts and apprehensions of how these two very different personalities could go astray.  I’m a perfectionist, so at the first sign of bad attitude – I have a tendency to picture my sweet, beautiful, innocent daughter in a gutter somewhere having thrown her life away.  I try not to let this show through, but the tendency itself frightens me because I don’t want them to sense any fears that might creep into my unguarded mind.  I want them to see me as confident that God will take them and do something wonderful and beautiful with them.  I know this is true, if they will stay under Gods guidance and ours.  However, I also want to be prepared to handle any missteps in a godly way.  I want them to feel confident in coming to me with confessions or questions.  I want them to be confident that I’m not going to totally flip out on them (even if I’m flipping out in my head).   So I’m striving now to build the bridges and to keep my responses appropriate to the “little” things.  Who knew that raising kids would mean so much work on ME!?  I rest in the assurance that as long as I follow God and strive to honor and please him in my parenting; he will help take up the slack of my blind spots and reveal them to me as needed.  It’s a humbling position in which to be. 

I’m positive that those reading this, who are part of our church, have already seen holes in my parenting and/or flaws in each of my children.  You’ll never hear me claim to be doing it flawlessly.  However, my aim is to do it humbly and godly with sprinkles of praise and blessing along the way. (I love sprinkles!) 

So, there’s my challenging question for the day; any thoughts or advice on the matter?
Posted in Daily Musings, Parenting

Daddy’s Magic

We try to have “family night” at our house periodically.  Our schedule is so very busy (just like most people these days).  Evenings where we have nothing planned come few and far between, so we try to make these evening memorable for our kiddos.  Some are more memorable than others by either watching a movie together, to playing putt putt golf or going fishing.  However, last night Daddy (a.k.a. 2nd Man) made it really memorable for the kids by making it a magic night.

            Years ago, before we even had kids, 2nd man had included some magic tricks into his repertoire for teens and Bible schools.  For those who are sensitive to the topic you can also use the term “illusions”  (disclaimer: no dark magic or satanic technique was used in performing any of these tricks.)     He hasn’t used them in quite some time as you don’t want to overdue the tricks or perform them more than once for an audience, especially an audience of kids trying to figure out the trick. 

            So, last night I suggested that 2nd man do some of his old tricks for our kids. He decided to do three of his favorites.  For Mr. Jarod man he started with a table trick.  He began by telling Jarod that he was going to actually use the saltshaker to pound some money through the table.   Our daughter, Megan provided the coins in question, which was a concern for Jarod.  Before anything was done he had to express to dad, “Dad, will you promise to pay Megan back for the money she provided?” 

Then he began to ask for “magic words” to make the trick work.

None of them seemed to work.

Then he “remembered” that it was the saltshaker that was supposed to go through the table.  He pounded on the napkin covered saltshaker and it went through the table!

Jarod was impressed…

…And intrigued.

Next, Daddy poured some salt into his fist

And it disappeared….

…No wait…it reappeared!

Then came the piece de resistance…the floating money

2nd man started by working up the static on Megan’s hair

Then he worked it…

…and worked it…

and wala!  Floating money!


The kids were duly impressed.  As were we when we first learned this trick. 2nd man actually learned it off of an old college friend whose spirituality we questioned when he performed this one for us.  Thankfully he appeased our fears and now it has worked wonders with our children.   Perhaps we’ll keep them wondering about Daddy for a while and use this power for good in obedience enforcement tactics. 

Or maybe we’ll just enjoy their expressions of awe for a while.

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting

Home School Tip: Give Blood to Get Free Field Trips

Ok, I shamelessly must admit that I’ve become cheap. After the hilariously horrible financial year we’ve had, I’ve become more creative in my modes frugality. So that is why the 2nd man and I have become blood donors, (oh and because we want to help save lives too, of course). I’ve now learned to tag that last line onto my own sentences about this whole thing.
It really all started while we were doing the fireworks stand this past summer and we saw an advertisement for a blood drive. They were giving away free tickets to baseball games, the zoo, free ice-cream cones and a t-shirt to boot! Well, my head started working and in the middle of the most stressful week of 2nd mans year, I dragged him down to the blood drive and made him do it. “Honey it’s free field trips right here!” I urged him. He just laughed at me and mocked the fact that I left out the part about saving lives too.
So, we did our part, stepped up to the poke and got our freebies. So, last week we decided to use the zoo tickets for a field trip day. (and to let others know we helped save a life of course). We packed into the car with 2nd mans Mom and the kids and all headed to Tulsa for the day. Overall, we had a good time. One of the advantages of home schooling is that we get to go places on weekdays and avoid the crowds. One of the disadvantages was that there were so many zoo exhibits shut down or animals that couldn’t be found. I think we finally spotted an animal after being there about 15 minutes or so. As usual our kids ended up being more excited about a squirrel running across their path than the rare watch-a-macallit in the cage. The real highlight of the day was when we were nearly finished, but still far from the entrance and found an abandoned wagon near the giraffes. The kids rejoiced at the fact that they could ride out of the zoo instead of having to keep up the endless walk. Here are some of the highlight pictures of the day:

The playing bear was very fun and cute.

Everyone loves a giraffe.

The petting zoo was nice.

I think this is some sort of pelvic bone…I chose to avoid explanations and just humor him with a picture…, which leads me to this question, “I gave my blood for this?” Oh right it was to save a life, of course.

Posted in Parenting

Growing Girls

There’s a lot of growing up going on around our house lately.  These two beautiful girls of ours have hit us hard in the pocket book as well as the heart lately.  As you can see daughter #1 got glasses just recently.  I feel kind of sheepish about this one because I didn’t realize the need.  Instead, people at church kept walking by her making comments like, “look at her squinting, does she need glasses?”  or “girl, can’t you see anything?”  After about a month of this, I finally realized I should get her checked out.  Poor girl has worse eyesight than I do. 
            Daughter #2 has an under bite and needs the braces to correct it.  According to the orthodontist it’s either this or we’re looking at jaw surgery in her teen years.  Thankfully she’s only 9 and thinks that braces are cool and kind of pretty.  So, on went the braces.
 I still think they’re beautiful girls.  Can’t believe that they’re growing up so quickly.  I’m trying to deal with it, but it seems like it’s coming so fast right now.  Why is it we’ve been in youth ministry for over 14 years, but all of a sudden I feel a little ill equipped?   Not the time to panic though.  It’s the time to reassess and make sure we’re covering all of our bases and reign in where needed.  God has been good and we’ve proven him time and time again through their early childhood.  I have faith in Him that He’ll see us through these upcoming tween/teen years and again we’ll find him faithful and true.  It’s an exciting time to watch God work.I probably better make this a short post before I break out into a chorus of “Sunrise Sunset.”  I also need to figure out how to make a buck or two to pay for all of this.
Posted in Parenting

What’s-His-Name’s Birthday

We finally had a birthday party for our son this past week.  We had to put it off a couple of weeks because of the busyness of the fireworks stand.  Yes, he really does have a name, but right now I call him “What’s his name” This is due mainly because his name seems to change by the hour right now, all depending on what video game he is playing or what super hero outfit he’s wearing.  What’s really great is the description that goes along with this imagination of his.  At any point during the day he will enter the room I am in and insist that I listen as he tells me something like, “Momma Momma I’m a green Bowser with a blue head and white spikey thingies and….”  Or it may go something like this, Jarod –“Hey Momma should I be Captain America or Superman?”  Me – “How about Superman.”  Jarod – “Nah, I think I’ll be Captain America.”  This leads me to wonder why he even asks and is this beginning of some weird reverse psychological rebellion. 
            So we decided to have a Captain America party.  Believe me this changed a few times before we settled on one character.  He seemed pretty happy with it though.  
Boys are fun.  I bought these cheap little water launcher things at the Dollar Tree and had his party at our church picnic pavilion.  It’s been in the 100 + range lately so the water was a good idea.  You’d think I’d bought them something really big or something.  That’s what I like about boys…they’re easy to please. Well…at least when they’re five.
His real name is Jarod Reece. I like this name.  I picked the Jarod off of a TV show character that I really liked some years ago (I know I know real spiritual huh?)  The spelling is different.  I didn’t think this would be a big deal, but it has caused some confusion since day one.  When we were in Pennsylvania one year and he split his head open the E.R. nurse came out and called him “Jay Rod” she kept calling it and calling it until I realized that she was calling us.  From then on there are some in the family that have kept calling him this. 
He’s been such a great addition to our family since day one.  After several miscarriages, 2nd man and I figured that we’d have no more children.  One day while in his prayer time 2nd man asked God if he would please bless us with a son.  I had finally come to a place in life where I was content with our two daughters since it seemed like we kept having losses.  About two weeks after 2nd man prayed this prayer I came to him and told him I was pregnant. I thought he was going to pass out.  I didn’t know about the prayer at that time.  I actually didn’t know about it until five months later when we went in for a sonogram.  When we saw that he was a boy we both cried.  Don’t get me wrong we adore our two daughters, but the desire to have a boy too was strong in the both of us. 

 I was in a panic the day of this birthday party.  I’ve been trying to get my house back in order after two weeks of fireworks stand work and before leaving for Chicago.  His birthday was already put off.  Then, the day just seemed to speed by.  As I was frantically trying to ice his cake 2nd man came home to my announcement that there would be no dinner. Just cake.  This was when I realized I didn’t have enough powdered sugar for the icing.  I did the best I could with what I had.  Not exactly my best masterpiece.  I cried to 2nd man about how we don’t do big parties for every birthday, just big ones.  I don’t want my son to remember his first big party as a time when his mother totally had an epic fail in planning and threw it together.  Thankfully, Mr. Jarod man came out at this time, took one look at his cake and with a big “WOW!” gave me a kiss…’nuff said

I love that boy!