Thursday, July 31, 2008


Well, here we are at the end of the summer. Well, the end for us, since school starts for Jeremiah again in three weeks. It's a tough time in our household. J ends his summer job this week and we won't get his first RCS paycheck till the end of September. So basically no money comes in for about a month and a half-- close to two months. It's tight, people-- spandex tight. 

And it gives me pause to consider the rest of the year and our usual financial security. I am here to say that J is an amazing Provider for his family. Not just in the sense that he provides oodles of boodle ('cause, really, you know us-- it's not really what I would call "oodles", per say), but he really has a knack for making every dime stretch to it's limit. The man can practically legislate money out of thin air. I say "legislate" because I think that his genius originates in his ability to manage money, rather than necessarily make lots of it (although I think, given a chance, he could also rake it in). He is an excellent Steward of what God has given us. 

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately where the authors are talking about ways to save money and skinny-up a budget by "going without". I won't go into too much personal detail (this is the internets, after all), but we are able to afford many of the little luxuries that many in the current economy are having to learn to do without, because of the way that J obsesses over the little details and minute categories of our weekly budget.

Now, lest I give the impression that I am married to an Ebeneezer Scrooge, let me also recount this recent conversation (while Sue and Ben were here):

Me: Sweetie, can I please, please have some money to go shopping?

J (controlled shock): What for??

Me: I just really, really need a new pair of jeans and then there's this really cool purse that I saw on sale and I totally don't need it but it's pretty and I want it...

J: Could you make do with $XX?


Seriously, ladies, who wouldn't die for a man like that? I ask you...

Ben and Jeremiah's Man-Date

The guys went out to see "The Dark Knight" together and we women stayed home with the chilluns. Here's the documentary:

Jeremiah tried to "shot-block" the "wife-arazzi", but I was just toooo good.

Aha! Ben, what happened to your face? Something's growing on it!!?? Jeremiah fleeing the camera...

Aw, man, he didn't open the door for you! Chivalry is dead. *sigh*

Final shot. Luckily he's not wearing a mini-skirt...

I know, I know, keep it G-rated....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Go read...

...Jeremiah's post today.

Seriously. Go.

Family Reunion

I tell you what, summer is crazy around these parts. We had two family reunions in one week. No joke. Here's pics from the first one. The C. family reunion somehow got left out of the picture thing. I haven't got a single one! Despite the record-breaking (in my life, anyway) hailstorm that ended it. So, no pics, but cool story. These are pics from the M. reunion at the KOA campground near us. Beautiful place, I highly recommend it.

Enjoying Gramma/Aunt/Mom/Sandy's coconut brownies:

Judah gets his first taste of watermelon...

And decides that he likes it!

Girl's going walkabout:

Gramma loves her little boy:

More cousins!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beach-ing cousins

Jeremiah and Ben were jointly paranoic about taking the cameras out to the beach itself, so all our "beach" pictures are actually of the house where we stayed. But the kids are still cute!

Back porch breakfasts:
Inside the house breakfasts:

Oh yeah, did we mention Sam has a girlfriend now? Meet Mina. (P.S. we love her!)

Who knew a box could be so much fun:

Come on guuuyyys... we have to... a group shot before we leave!

Monday, July 28, 2008


... everyone was so nice about my poem the other day. Thanks! But you do realize that now I'm gonna inflict more of them on you? Can't get enough of those comments! What can I say, I'm an oldest child-- "approval driven".

We're having a great time with Sue and Ben and Violet here, but been cu-raaaazy busy all weekend. I have tons of pics and some video, too, of the cousins that I'll have to get busy editing and posting. As a "fun-fact" for the day, let me tell y'all to notice in the pics how much they all look alike. They're double cousins. What's a double cousin, you ask? Well, when two sisters marry two brothers, that's whatcha get-- double cousins. Kinda redneck-y, I guess, but Sofi has developed a superb British accent recently, so it kind of evens out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

For my fat babies...

It's poetry time again at Pensieve, and this month I'm joining in on the "literary history-making challenge". Here's my first attempt at writing a 'pensieve'.

Baby Buddha

Swirls of barely-there silky hair, doughy thighs, pillow-fat feet kicking my arm.
Contented gurgles, milk-dripping mouth sucking noisily at my breast.
Slobbery, wide open mouth kisses, smack on my lips like strawberry Bubble-Yum.
Moist, sticky, tickle-begging fat rolls, jiggle-giggling under my fingers.
Warm soft breath, pausing heart-breakingly for a moment in slumber, then flowing on, setting my mind at rest.

Be sure to check out all the other awesome entries!

You might be a mother if...

...your bedroom floor is covered with cheerioes, because when the kids woke up at 6:15 am, you thought giving them a bowl of cheerioes and sitting them down on a comforter at the end of the bed and telling them to "be little birdies sitting in your nest and eating birdie food" was a good idea and might buy you fifteen more minutes of sleep.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mama's Bad Day

So after seeing that I had linked back to her ol' poop story, Smocklady decided to hold a drawing for a $25 gift certificate for anyone who will post (or link to) their favorite "Mama's Bad Day" story. You can enter twice by leaving a comment on her site and also linking back to her from your own blog. You should give it a try! I know some of you-- you've got goooooood stories. Laura, the infamous Martin's Grocery Store Debacle???? If you don't post it, I will!!

One of my favorite stories of Bad Day for Mama involved Sofi at about age... three, maybe? We were in the shoe store looking for dress shoes for a wedding I had to be in (I believe). At the time Sofi's interest in shoes was minimal, at best. As I tried on pair after pair, she was wandering around pulling stuff off shelves and generally getting into trouble. In the aisle next to us was a man and his wife/girlfriend, also trying on pair after pair. The man was a bit on the chubby side, but gamely crawling around on his knees pulling out pairs for the woman to try on and helping her shove her feet into them. As he reached over at one point, his pants began to creeeeep down his backside. I saw Sofi notice, stare and then reach to pull on my arm, "Momma, Momma!" I knew what was coming. In what seemed like a perfect slo-mo moment, I shoved the shoes I was trying on into the box grabbed her into my lap and started frantically trying to change the subject as I gathered my gear and tried to make a quick get-away.

 "Momma, that man's butt is peekin' out!!" 

It's amazing how far a two-year-old's voice can carry in a shoe store.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh. My. Gosh.

This is hysterical. It will totally make your day. Especially if you are a mom of young kids and feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all....

The internet is a wonderful place :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the phone

Judah says "hi" and "bye-bye"

Pearl #3

Many parents have applied simple training procedures and gained complete control of their families in just a few days. By restoring order, these parents have eliminated the outward circumstances that provoked everyone to confusion.

It is a blessing to have discipline and peace in the home, but the absence of conflict does not necessarily imply joy. Joy is a positive virtue, not just an absence of conflict. Some are parents are just joyless, regardless of the circumstances.

Here is an example of what I think a lot of people who vilify the Pearls miss when reading their work (or reading other people's criticism of their work, which is a whole 'nother issue...). Their teaching about training and discipline is not an end in itself, it is a means to a greater end-- that of a peaceful, joy-filled home. In other words, we don't train our children to obey immediately and without question because we just want them to, because it's good for them to, because it makes us look good, or to keep them from one day possibly being run over by a car. We train them because a parent-controlled, quiet and well-ordered home is a home where peace and joy can flourish.

That second paragraph is vital, though:

It is a blessing to have discipline and peace in the home, but the absence of conflict does not necessarily imply joy. Joy is a positive virtue, not just an absence of conflict. Some are parents are just joyless, regardless of the circumstances.

So a parent's responsibility is not just to provide an atmosphere in the home of "absence-of-conflict", but to fill the home with joy.

Just for fun....


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Going retro.........

Remember this, people?


Sofi, the Adorable, age 2

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pearl #2

In many families the problems are not deep-- bad, yes, but not deep. They don't have deep-seated hostilities or resentments, just chaos. Families without enforced boundaries are like intersection without traffic lights. The "me first" attitude rules relationships. When rules are not enforced so as to guarantee the rights of everyone, "road rage" comes home to the family. Like erecting a traffic light, when parents take authority and enforce boundaries, order is established, the tension leaves, and everything runs smoothly. When there is no adequate authority, children are generally too unruly and the home is too disorganized to permit positive interchange between family members. Frustrated parents develop permanent expressions of criticism. The family is marked by lack of joy.

I can identify with this pretty deeply. When chaos is reigning in our home, the joy goes out the window-- my joy and the kids'. I tend to lose my temper more easily and little things that would normally be slight traffic bumps turn into major issues.

That second-to-last sentence is really important to me-- "Frustrated parents develop permanent expressions of criticism." I know this happens. I can see my own attitude reflected in my children's sense of well-being on a given day. When I've become lax about behavior and attitudes, that leads to a sense of "out of control" around the house. This out-of-control-ness leaves us all feeling grouchy and irritated with each other. My irritatedness takes itself out on the kids in criticism of their behavior. My criticism creates an environment where my children do not feel "safe", because they are suddenly held responsible, not for their own actions, but for mommy's feelings. "You're making me crazy! Why can't you just behave!" Or, "Don't you see that your bad attitude is making Mommy feel sad? You don't want Mommy to be sad, do you?" (Bleh, that last one always makes me feel a little sick when I hear it coming out of my own mouth-- or anyone else's, for that matter.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pearl Number 1

Parenting, like courtship, must be properly seasoned with joy. Parenting without joy is not only tasteless, it is tiring. Joy is more than the fragrance of the moment, it is the energy required to live life to it's fullest. Parenting without joy is like music without rhythm, or flowers without color. A joyless parent con no more raise happy kids than a skunk can raise skunklets that smell good.

This is, I believe, the crux of the message of the child-training part of the NGJ ministries. This is, at least, what stands out to me the most and has influenced my parenting in the deepest way. It is also something that I think a lot of other parenting books don't address in quite the same way. I appreciate also that the next paragraph goes on to address the practical application of this principle.

You say, "But my kids destroy my joy!" I am sure it's mutual. Without aggressive, deliberate child training techniques you kids will be unruly, and your home will be disorderly-- sometimes explosive. You will be unhappy, short, rude, and a gripe. If someone were to ask your kids if you are joyful, what would they answer?

So notice that the key part of implementing Joyful Parenting is to have "aggressive, deliberate child training techniques". Unruly and untrained children destroy the peace and joy of a home, but the blame still lies on the shoulders of the joyless, un-prepared parents. Joyful parents with a plan to train their children in peace and joy create an environment where joy can flourish and grow.

I mean, you can talk all you want about keeping joy in your home, but if your kids are rude, sassy and disobedient, regularly throwing fits and with a complete lack of self-control, then you're fighting an up-hill battle.

On the flip side, you can have little automatons, that obey without question every whim of their autocratic parents-- but without joy, you're going to see their back-ends in the far distance as soon as they turn 18. And none of us wants that.

So the bottom line is that a joyful attitude in the parents must walk hand-in-hand with a positive, pro-active (as opposed to re-active) approach to training your children in righteousness.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to a previous topic

A few months back I got into a discussion on this blog about spanking and how we use it in training our children. I had intended to continue the discussion for several more posts, but became discouraged by the direction things had gone in comments and private emails received from some readers. I felt as though I had been forced into a position of defending spanking as the only philosophy of child-training, rather than discussing it as a useful tool (which is how I started out the discussion). And I also felt somewhat handicapped in the discussion because of some people's emotional reactions to the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl-- which we put into practice in some part, in our own ideas.

But because child-training is a topic of great interest to me (partly because it's what I do all day :) ) I would like to re-visit it. And I would like to do it by re-introducing you to the Pearls. I think they get a bad rap from people who read short excerpts from one book and then toss out the whole ministry-- tub, bathwater, baby and all. I'm also hoping that some of my friends who are just hearing about the Pearls for the first time will appreciate this small taste of what they're all about.

The Pearls have given permission to reproduce the first chapter of any of their books, as long as it is printed in it's entirety. I've chosen the first chapter of "The Joy of Training, Vol 3", which is a compilation of articles from their magazine "No Greater Joy". I'm installing a button on my sidebar to take you to their site where you can read more if you are interested. I plan to take the chapter paragraph by paragraph and do a little commentary of my own along with. I think I've talked Jeremiah into joining me in this little project, so we may alternate paragraphs on our two blogs. Check out his blog as well, to get the Daddy perspective  :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Judah doing various cute things...

Judah making his dinosaur growl.... and his fire engine siren noise.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back to Biking

When Sofi was a baby, we biked. A lot. It was tons of fun. But when she grew out of the baby carrier (way earlier than most kids-- thank you, Mullen family genes :) ) our biking weekends went the way of all flesh. Jeremiah still biked to work and I took the bike on the occasional Walmart trip.

When we moved downtown in 2005 I assumed that we'd get back into it, but it is just too hard to find a way to tow along a growing three-y/o on a bike. They don't make carriers with a high enough weight capacity. I rode into town for my short gig at the tea shop, but it was mostly J who kept the tradition alive.

Then, of course, along came Judah! And things got even more complicated. But this summer, as gas prices have soared over $4 a gallon, I got desperate. I actually clocked my mileage for one week. It was a shocker. I drove over 45 miles in one week and no one trip was further than six or seven miles from my house-- most were under five. That's suuuuper sad. It made me realize what a waste of time driving is! 45 miles of potential exercise, fresh air and exhilaration for the kids. And as you have all heard me complain before, I have the hardest time finding space in the day when the kids are occupied and I can exercise. There had to be a way to return to The Way of The Bike.

And there is! Check it out! These are our new wheels. We all rode together downtown for the Valley Fourth last night and had a blast. Granted, Judah is not real thrilled with the helmet.

But I have high hopes that he will come to associate it with the fun of a bike trip and learn to love it as Sofi did.

I got so excited about all this (saving money, cutting down on our carbon footprint, getting exercise and fresh air, teaching the kids a different kind of lifestyle, etc) that I started Googling. I always do that when I get excited about something. Some people jump up and down. Some people call all their friends to tell them about it. Some people buy accessories. I go Googling (dibs on the copyright for that t-shirt).


I found out that there's a whole culture building up around using bikes as transportation, rather than recreation. As usual, the Europeans (the Danes, in particular) are waaay ahead of us on this. There are some really awesome website out there, chronicling some really cool trends and movements. I give you my favs:

Check them out, and let the guilt return you to a wiser way of life.

(Okay, okay, I realize I just got a little Mr Miyagi on you there. Sorry.)

Please Visit This Link

.. and read it. I find myself becoming more and more passionate about this subject and this article has given me hope that one day there will be places in this country that follow the Danish example.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Stupid Blogger

I've been trying to upload this video to blogger for several days now and keep getting weird error messages and incomplete uploads. So I finally resorted to YouTube. Hope it worked.

Enjoy my WaterBabies!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My grandfather died this weekend. Jerome Cunningham has been a part of my life for 20 years and I will miss him. He was my biggest "fan" and encouraged me in my writing attempts even long after I'd given up hope of publication. Every time I saw him, he'd ask what I was writing these days. He was quite the prolific writer himself and I hear his kids found notebooks full of his poetry that they never even knew were there. 

He also loved music and joined my grandmother in supporting all of us in our musical endeavors. But he has been deaf as a post for as long as I can remember. I don't mean normal-old-person-hard-of-hearing. I mean, Deaf. I am sure the first thing he did in heaven was sit and marvel for a moment-- glorying in the cacophony of praise surrounding the throne of God.

But one of the most influential thing about my grandfather was his faith. The minister pointed out to us grandchildren in the memorial service what an amazing heritage we have. We are the third generation of men and women of God. My children make generation four of the faith. That's pretty amazing-- almost unheard of in this day and age. I had to agree with him. Jeremiah and I have been amazingly blessed in our families. Granted, they weren't perfect, but they followed the Lord to the best of their ability and I, as their progeny, wish to take a moment to rise up and call them Blessed.

We will miss you, Papa Jerry. Hope you're enjoying all that good music!!