Monday, August 25, 2008

Quotable Kids...

There are times when our children have done something warranting discipline. Strange, I know. But it is true. I can admit it... my children are not perfect. There! Ha ha.

So, either Jay or I will have to issue their consequence. And often times, after we have given them correction (namely, applying the hand of wisdom to the seat of knowledge), we will sit down with them and explain why it was necessary for them to experience the consequences of their actions.

At the end we will say, "Mommy and Daddy do not like it when you make bad choices, but we always love you."

My adorable son, B. He brightens my day with just the glimmer of his crystal blue eyes! He is always so happy and jovial. Even when he is being disciplined, he takes his correction bravely, and is back to smiling as soon as it is over. He loves to laugh, and tell jokes, and he is just a joy to be around.

The other day, as we all sat down to dinner, B asked me if I had made broccoli (one of the few foods that can erase his smile). When I replied that I had not made broccoli for this meal, he gave a sign of relief and said:

"Even though I don't like it when you make broccoli, I always love you, Mommy."

Jay and I exploded with laughter and gave him a big kiss for being so darn cute. Just for that, I may never force him to eat his broccoli again! :o)


Here is Ben's new haircut.
He told us he wanted to look like his daddy.
I guess no one told him his daddy didn't choose to look like that :o)
When all was said and done, he cried for a couple of hours.
He hated his new haircut because he missed having hair. Who knew? Ha ha.
He now has a goal to grow his hair out to look like Zach and Cody (from the Disney show).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Kids Who Cry Wolf... Loudly

I was busy collecting, sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting away the immense mounds of laundry my family goes through on a daily basis, when I heard a familiar sound.

HELP! HELP!

Now, many of you might think it mean of me, but I do not always run to find the source of that scream, because most of the time, it turns out to be a false alarm.

I have been trying to explain to my children (for as long as I can remember) the danger of crying for help when they are just playing around. I have told them the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. Several times. To no avail.

The kids are very animated and imaginative children (they kinda had no choice, having Jay for a dad). They would rather play pretend on any given day than play any video game in the world. They even put on shows for us on a regular basis... costumes, props and everything (It's more entertaining than TV most of the time!). And they take their acting roles very seriously.

One example is a fun activity we seem to have adopted into our nightly routines. We will read the Scriptures together (in which the kids usually take on the roles of the characters in the Bible story we are reading), then we will pray, sing a song (to or about) the Lord, and then we will play "Jonah". I am not really sure how this particular game got started, but it has become a favorite, and something they all (even little H) insist on doing before going to bed.

The children will pretend that they are Jonah, running away from the Lord. They hop aboard the ship bound for Tarshish (they will often even purchase a pretend ticket). We (as the shipmates) will ask them all sorts of questions about themselves (as the character Jonah), and they answer them the best they can (what's your name, where are you going, why are you here, etc). Then, the whole ship begins to rock, and we all pretend to be in the ship being tossed by the waves.

The kids will say (in turn, and very dramatically), that they are to blame and that they are running away from God and the only way to save their lives is to throw them into the sea. Jay and I will then grab them by the hands and feet, carry them to their rooms, swing them a few times and throw them into their beds, where the giant fish (Jay) awaits to gobble them up (or at least nibble on their bellies). The kids just love it and even little H will run around the house saying, "Jonah, Jonah, peez!"

But I digress...

All that to say that the children tend to get extremely excited about their various roles, so that at times they are much louder than they should be. So loud, in fact, that one day, while we were moving into this house, we received a knock on the door from a police officer. Yes, sadly, it's true. I had never been so embarrassed in all my life! Apparently, our new neighbor lady next door (an old, cranky woman we have discovered), hadn't had the opportunity to get to know my children (or any children for that matter) and, upon hearing all the noise, thought we were beating them or some such nonsense, and called the police on us. Mortifying.

So, no, when I heard this most recent cry for help, I did not jump to the aide of the crier. I waited to see if it was serious, or if they were just play acting again.

Then I heard R say, "Mommy! I really do need help this time. For real. I'm stuck in a bucket and I can't get out."

Perhaps you would not approve of my reaction to this news, but I immediately started laughing and ran to get my camera. This is what I saw....

video

To be completely honest, I was more concerned with the overflowing trash can in her room, than getting her out of the bucket! Ha ha.

And, would you believe it, but now that the kids know that all they have to do is tip themselves over to get out of it, they will take turns getting "stuck" in the bucket (which is actually R's laundry basket), and see how fast they can get themselves to tip over. They call it "Aunt Fannie" (from the movie Robots).

Whatever. At least they are entertaining themselves! Ha ha.

Friday, August 15, 2008

11 Years and Counting

Saturday, August 16th, 2008 will mark our 11th wedding anniversary.

11 years! Can you believe it? It's so hard to believe it has been that long already. It has been one long whirlwind of LOVE... (and blood, sweat and tears)! Ha ha.

Sooooo many changes have taken place in our lives since we first vowed to love each other unconditionally (in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do we part!) on that Saturday afternoon, 11 years ago.


Since then, we have....

added - 4 children. lived in - 4 States. changed jobs - 10 times (or so). visited - 5 countries. made - countless friends. prayed - countless times. grown stronger in our relationship with the Lord - continuously.

We have been through the ringer more times in these 11 years than most people have been in a lifetime. Life at times has been such a struggle for us. But our faith in the Lord in the face of such adversity has only been strengthened with each new obstacle.

One of the sayings Jay has used with people over the years when counseling and discipling is, "The Lord's refining process can be quite painful at times, but it is always worth it in the end."

The Lord must sometimes put us through the fire, in order to burn away that chaff. He must do this to get us to surrender more and more of ourselves to Him, so that more and more, we can begin to resemble Him.

Following that advice, and "practicing what we preach" has been a difficult pill to swallow at times, but following it has always worked out for the better.

We give all the praise and glory to God our Father, who has been the ROCK that this marriage is rooted in!

And it will be only by His unfailing Love and Grace that we will have the honor of having another 11 years (and more!) to spend in complete wedded bliss, learning to love each other unselfishly, the way Christ loves us all.

Thank you guys, also, for the part you all have played in supporting, discipling, sharing, praying, and loving us through the tough times.

We love you all.

Michelle & Jay <><

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Addition to Our Family...

For as long as I can remember, the kids have bugged the pieces out of us about getting a dog. But we knew better. Oh, yes we did. We knew how much work dogs require. Having a dog is a lot more work than, say, having a cat.

Cats are easy. They require very little effort to sustain their life. A little food, a little water, the occasional scooping of the litter box, etc. Other than that, a cat will pretty much live its own life and leave you alone. Not so with a dog.

Dogs, unlike cats, are not born already knowing where to go to the bathroom. Dogs think everything is their bathroom. You have to train them to go outside to potty, train them not to chew on your belongings, take them for walks, etc. Dogs are a big responsibility.

So, it is for this reason that we have been continuously denying the children's request to get a puppy... until now.

A couple of months ago, Jay made them a promise that if they showed great maturity and behaved responsibly when doing their daily chores, we would get them a dog as soon as he got a job to afford one.

You better believe that the very day we found out that Jay got a job, the children were jumping up and down squealing with delight because they could "finally" get a dog.

We did a lot of research first, to make sure we would get the type of dog that would fit our family the best. After discovering that the "perfect" dog for our family (according to the online dog-analysis), would cost us $600, we tried to find a used, but cute and lovable "close second" at the local SPCA.

But, instead of finding cute and lovable, we found loud, angry, mean, and not-so-lovable. (we even saw a 3-legged one, which really creeped the kids out). It didn't take much longer for us to realize that we were not going to find our new furry friend there!

After searching high and low in newspapers, pet stores, etc., we finally found a website with lots of free and inexpensive dogs for sale. (http://www.craigslist.com/). We went to visit several puppies, but we just weren't able to find any that we absolutely fell in love with... until now.

Meet "Miley"...



"Miley" is a 7 week old Beagle puppy, and she is the sweetest little thing. She has already made herself quite at home here with us.

R acts like the puppy is her own child, carrying her around everywhere, and Miley just lets her. She likes to curl up in a little ball in her lap.

Now, I know most of you are assuming that we named her Miley because of R's love for a certain TV personality with the same name, but you would be wrong. We named her Miley because she has a marking on her back that looks like a smiley face. I've included a pic, so hopefully you are able to see it...
We thought it was cute, and the name seems to fit her well.

The kids love her very much and so far have done exceptionally well in dealing with the challenges of raising a puppy. They help with potty training, cleaning up the messes, etc. Last night, Miley was up all night yelping and howling because she was in her crate and was lonely. I had no idea, but R got out of bed and stayed next to Miley and calmed her down all night long, eventually crashing on the couch in between Miley's wake times. The poor girl was so exhausted the next morning, she could barely walk in a straight line! But she never complained about it one bit. She said she enjoyed helping Miley feel better.

The other kids love the puppy too...



Even Kiki the Cat seems to have bonded with little Miley.

All in all, we think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! :o)

****CORRECTION****CORRECTION****CORRECTION****

Okay, so when I wrote the above post, I didn't realize I would have to be making this correction, but... there's more to the story of how we got Miley that I failed to mention earlier. Let me backtrack a little...

After searching for a dog, we found a woman an hour away who was giving a dog away "free to a good home". We immediately called her about it (dogs are very seldom "free" anymore). She informed us that the dog was a 5 year old cocker spaniel.

OK, so far so good. Cocker Spaniels tend to be good dogs, and Jay used to have one as a child and has many fond memories of her. Sounds great. A nice, sweet, normal, already house-trained, lovable older dog to join our family, right? Nay, Nay!

He is not a normal 5 year old cocker spaniel. He is a very special 5 yr old cocker spaniel. He is THE "Plains Sly Rambo", THE double registered AKC/CKC, 5th generation pedigree, purebred, championship bloodline, very rare American Cocker Spaniel. (if you have a squinty, confused look on your face and all you can do is blink, you pretty much know how we reacted, too).

We are not crazy dog loving people. We like dogs, like most people do. But we understand the difference between a dog and a human. The only experience we have with people who go over the top with their dogs is on TV. I mean, we watch the Dog Show every year (well, at least part of it). But we have never experienced craziness like this first hand.

The woman who was giving him away told us very soberly how serious this poor dog's situation was when she got him. Apparently, poor "Rambo" has such a desirable bloodline, that he was used as purely a "stud" dog his entire life. Now, when Jay heard this, he had to laugh. I mean, it sounded like a pretty sweet deal, right? Sit around all day and be presented to very eager and willing ladies to.... um... ya know. Doesn't sound all that bad, right?

But, unfortunately, the first couple of people who owned Rambo let greed get in the way of their proper treatment of animals. Rambo was kept in a 4x4 cage most of his life, never being allowed to get out and exercise, or just run around and play. He was beaten into submission by his owners. The woman who was giving him away told us that she rescued him a little over a year ago from a puppy mill, and that he had made a lot of progress into becoming more of a "normal" dog. But he still had a long way to go and needed a family who would love him and be patient with him as he tried to learn how to trust again.

Well, the moment we laid eyes on this dog, we fell in love with him. He was beautiful. He was chocolate brown all over his whole body, curly hair on his ears, short hair everywhere else, and smaller than most cocker spaniels (hence, the emphasis on American cocker spaniel). We thought he would be the perfect addition to our family.

He was very skittish and shy from so many years of being mistreated, but he was exceptionally well behaved with the children, and we never heard a noise out of him. We allowed him to "hide" in the house until he could grow accustomed to our noises and smells, etc. A day and a half later, we sent him outside to go potty, not knowing that the lawn guys had just arrived to mow the lawn. They left the gate open, and out went Rambo. He disappeared completely. It reminded me of that movie where Chevy Chase first gets a dog and the minute he takes the dog off its leash, it starts to run... and then keeps running and never comes back.

We drove all over the neighborhood looking for Rambo, and called all of the animal shelters in the area to see if anyone had spotted our pooch. There was no sign of him anywhere.

After another couple of days, the kids were very sad that their dog had disappeared, so we went back online to search for more dogs to love. That is when we found Miley and adopted her. And you know the rest of the story. And so did we....

UNTIL LAST NIGHT..........

We went to Tampa yesterday because MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) was free for homeschoolers (one of the wonderful perks of homeschooling!). It has got to be one of the best museums I have ever seen. We could not get it all done in one day! But we still had a lot of fun. Anyway, we got home and went to check on Miley, who spent the day out on our screened in lanai.

Once we got out there, who do we see? Rambo! Sitting on the other side of the screen door staring at us like, "well, are you gonna let me in or what?" We opened the door, he came in, went to the food dish, scarfed it up like he had never eaten in his life, and then let himself back into the house, and laid down behind my recliner and fell asleep (for several hours!).


I don't know what to do now. Jay and I did not want TWO dogs. We were kind of unsure about having ONE dog. This is going to be bad, I just know it!

Jay and I don't know if we can handle more than one dog. You will have to just stay tuned to see what will happen next!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

FIREPROOF - In Theaters September 26th

A few weeks ago, Jay and I were able to go out on our first date in over a year. While that news is momentous enough to use as the post for this blog, I am choosing to post about what we did on the date instead... (get your heads out of the gutter, people!)




Jay and I are on some sort of wonderful list in which we are asked to preview and critique movies before they come out in theaters. I don't know how we wound up on this fabulous list, but we love it! The last movie we previewed was Evan Almighty, and we were able to take the kids to see it with us (which they enjoyed very much). This time, however, we chose to enjoy the movie by ourselves, and leave the children in the care of Jay's wonderful sister, Melissa (and, Missy, if we have failed to tell you how much we love you for doing that, we do, we do, we do!!!) We went to see the movie, Fireproof, which is from the creators of Facing the Giants, and Flywheel. Both of those were great movies, so we knew we would be in for a treat.

We were right!

This movie is excellent! I cannot say that enough. It is great, great, great!!! If any of you out there know someone who is struggling in their marriage, tell them to go see this movie!!! And, when the movie comes out in theaters on September 26th, TAKE YOUR SPOUSE AND WATCH IT TOGETHER!!! This has the potential to drastically change your marriage, your view of what "true" love is, and your relationship with the Lord, for the better!

And it is a great conversation starter. Jay and I had a wonderfully long conversation about all sorts of things relating to our marriage during our drive home. There are really so few movies (fewer and fewer as time goes by) that put forth an honest effort to portray Christianity and God's Truth in a way that lines up with His Scripture. This movie does that... and does it very well!

We should all do our best to support this movie by going to see it during Opening Weekend. Here is the movie trailer that will begin to play in theaters soon:



Friday, August 1, 2008

Hallelujah!

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days.


I have just been so busy lately...


...busy singing the Hallelujah chorus!


Woo Hoo!!!!!!


Jay has a job! Jay has a job!!! Jay.has.a.JOB!


Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Only a couple of hours after his interview, he received a call and was offered the job.
He is now the proud owner of a genuine, authentic, bona fide occupation.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

So, on August 12th, Jay will begin his new career as Hospice Chaplain.

We are very excited (as if you couldn't tell already). This job is more in line with his education and experience, and with him wanting to become a pastor of his own church one day. It is to the North of us, too, which is good, because he won't have to battle the traffic in Tampa. And it pays a lot more than the other job (which is nice).

Co-incidentally, or rather (the way I like to say), "God-incidentally", the new job is located just a few blocks from our church! How cool is that? We have about 8 more months to live here for free (so we can finally start paying off all of the debt that has accumulated during this awful time), and then we will likely move up there to be closer to work, church, and friends, etc. It really seems perfect.

God has provided exactly what we needed... in His perfect way, and in His perfect timing.

Thank you to all of our wonderful friends who have supported us through prayer, finances, and friendship during this most difficult trial in our lives. We don't know why the Lord allowed this to happen in our lives, but if nothing else, our faith and trust in Him has never been stronger!

We feel so completely humbled and blessed that He would have used complete strangers (like the folks at our new church), as well as some old and distant friendships, to show us what true Christian love looks like to hurting brothers and sisters in need.

Thank you for letting Him use you to bless us, as well.