Lessons Learned in the Creek

The year was 1996 and I was a happily independent 16 year old with a brand new driver's license.  My dad taught me to drive using our new-to-us Ford Taurus SHO.  I'm not into cars very much, but this one was beautiful:  Shiny black on the outside with gray, leather interior and a moon-roof.  I thought I was pretty cool because I knew how to drive a stick-shift.

In high school, I grew up in a charmingly spacious, completely restored (by my builder father) Victorian home on Main Street.  We had a pond behind our house that overflowed into a spillway and ran down a creek that was nestled in a small patch of woods running parallel to our driveway.

One sunny Summer day, I pulled my fancy car into the driveway and turned toward the garage so that the back of my car was now facing the creek.  I put my car in neutral.  I was still new to this stick-shift stuff, but I was proud of my innovative idea.  It saved me that extra motion of thrusting it into gear.

I bopped up the back stairs and into the side door.  My mom was standing at the kitchen counter as usual, and my two brothers were talking with her, most likely sampling something she was preparing.  We were casually talking when Jason, my older brother, asked, "Heidi, is someone driving your car?"  We all turned to look out the window just as the black beauty rolled off the driveway, slowly making its way down the hill toward the creek.  We raced outside.  Jason tried to open the door and get into the car, but his arm was nearly ripped off in the process.  I watched, helplessly, as it gained speed, plowed down small trees and completely wedged itself in the quickly moving stream.

In a frantic state of mind, I ran into the river and began pushing at the car, as if by my own strength I could move the beast out of the water.  I was ridiculously crying, "I'm in so much trouble!  Dad loves this car!  I'm in SO much trouble!"

As I was standing up to my calves in the water, with tears covering my face, I knew that my dad didn't love that car more than he loved me.  However, I thought that he might be just a tad bit upset about this, and I hated when people, especially my parents, were disappointed in me.  I remember thinking that I was so dumb.  "Neutral" obviously does not keep a car from rolling.  I knew what I had done wrong, and I knew I would never do it again.

While I thought the world was quickly coming to an end, my mom was snapping pictures.  (So glad she did!)

A tow truck was called, and a diminutive, ancient man arrived.  I cried to my mom because I didn't think there was any way that he was going to be strong enough to push that large SHO out of the river.  Turns out they have machines for things like that.  ;)

My dad returned home about this time and immediately went up to me, hugged my despairing self and asked, "Are you okay?"  Nodding, I mumbled a tearful, "I'm so sorry," as he kissed me on the head.  Then he turned to survey the damage.  Miraculously, after plowing down some small trees, going over rocks, and smacking up against the bank of the creek right next to a tree, the car showed no sign of the trauma, besides a very small scratch on the bumper.  Talk about relief!

After this event, my brothers teased me in a good-natured way every time I drove, reminding me to never leave the car in neutral.  However, my parents didn't ever yell or lecture me.  I had learned my lesson well, and they knew that. 

Contrast the response of my parents with that of a woman who had a son that accidentally drove his car through their garage door.  Totally out of control, she yelled and belittled, spewing that she never wanted to see him again.  I imagine that those furious words, truthful or not, had an impact on their relationship (or lack there of).

Through this experience I learned that it's a bad idea to park a car and leave it in "neutral".  More importantly, I was shown how to be a parent who chooses to love on my children, with all their faults and mistakes, even in stressful situations.  I also gathered that it isn't always necessary to add additional consequences (or words) on top of the lessons that life teaches so well.

I am extremely thankful for the example that my parents set.  May my husband and I set a similar example to our children and always heed these words from James 1:19-20:  

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

The Sistine...Table?

For history this year, we are going through The Mystery of History volume 3.  Today we learned about Michelangelo.  One of Michelangelo's most famous works of art is the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Can you even imagine spending 4 years painting a ceiling?  
I can't, but Emilia can - at least a little.  :)

Apparently it's easier to steady yourself if your feet are on the "ceiling" as well.  Wonder if Michelangelo learned this trick?  :)

I think she'll remember Michelangelo after spending some time under the "Sistine Table".


4 Cream, 4 Sugar

I turned 31 this year, and I've noticed that I am drinking more coffee than I ever have.

I don't have it every day.  I actually only have it a couple times a week, but I think about having it way more often than that, which is why I limit myself.  :)

When I buy a cup of coffee, which I also try to limit, one of my favorite places to get it is McDonald's.  It's only $1.06, and I can usually find that amount in change laying around my car or in my wallet.

I like my coffee sweet and creamy - as in, 4 cream, 4 sugar, sweet and creamy.

However, I am a little embarrassed about this because I know full well that I am probably not considered a "real" coffee drinker by most standards.  You know those people who like their coffee black (Hi Dad and Mom!) and would never, ever consider ruining it by adding anything.  I do wish I liked it black because it would be quite a bit healthier for me...and less embarrassing.  But I don't, and I can't see it changing anytime soon.

Anyway, back to McDonald's.

We were on vacation.  Sitting in the car for a long time makes me tired and really want coffee.  So, my dear, sweet hubby pulled into a McDonald's.

I went inside and waited in a long line (I'm pretty sure everyone in the entire town was there) to get my one small, coveted cup of coffee.  When I got up to the front, I said, as quietly as I could, "One small coffee.  4 cream, 4 sugar, please."  The unsmiling (I think this is a requirement for McDonald's employees) woman rung me up and took my change.  Then, I found a spot near the back with the 50 other people who were also waiting.

Finally, after shifting my posture one too many times, I could see the woman filling my cup, adding the cream and sugar.  I tried to make my way to the front fast enough that she didn't have to blast my noxious habit to the whole restaurant, but she must have been wearing roller skates.  Once at the counter, she used her best stage voice and proclaimed, "Small coffee!  4 cream, 4 sugar!"

I walked to the counter with my tail between my legs, feeling all eyes attempt to scan my arteries.  "Yes, that's mine.  Thank you," I squeaked.  Trying to smile and hold my head high, like I was proud of the extreme amount of unwholesomeness I take in my coffee, I exited the building without making eye contact.  I'm pretty sure I heard a couple old timers say, "She's a fake.  Real coffee drinkers like it black."

Thankful to get back in the car and away from those judgmental onlookers, I took a sip.

It needed more sugar.  And maybe another cream.

I had another episode starring 4 cream, 4 sugarYou can read about that one here.  :)


Some Days and Today

There are Some Days I feel like I could pull out my hair while trying to maintain a peaceful, clean house and homeschool at the same time.

There are Some Days I look out the window, see that yellow bus driving by, and have to restrain my thoughts of how much I could get done in a quiet, (mostly) clean house with hour upon hour and only two children home instead of all four.

There are Some Days I question whether or not we are doing the right thing by keeping our children at home to learn instead of sending them off to school, like most other children.

There are Some Days like that.

However, there are lots of days like Today.

Today, I was able to start off the morning (an un-rushed 9am) by reading the Bible and discussing many questions about God and Heaven and temptation.

Today, I watched as Emilia (7) grabbed her Bible, unprompted, and turned right to Genesis to read to us about the temptation of Eve at the beginning of time.

Today, the LORD let me lead our sweet, little Matthew Bud (3 1/2), who's been asking many theological questions recently, in a prayer to ask forgiveness for his sins and to ask our LORD to be the LORD of this life.  Praise God!

Today, I shared in the joy that Jonny (5 1/2) had when he completed the first of his two math books and started on the second.

Today, I was able to take the kids, at lunchtime, to Daddy's new office and then to the store to pick up candy and other supplies to do the experiments in their science book.

Today, I watched as they all excitedly "sampled" the components (a.k.a. candy) of their model cell.

Today, I saw Matthew fly his new monster truck over his own version of a ramp.  Over and over again.

Today, I witnessed our three older children playing so well together in Emilia's room.

Today, I saw these same three loving on and helping to take care of their one year old brother.

Today, I was able to settle some disputes and put out some fires (thankfully not literal fires).

Today, I was privileged to change some diapers and wipe some tears away.

Today, I enjoyed hugging on, talking with, listening to and leading our kids all day long.

Some Days my thoughts can solely become absorbed with all that is messy, loud, or uncertain.

However, it doesn't need to be this way. 

I pray that in the midst of Some Days, I will dwell instead on the normal wonderfulness that God has given me in days like Today.


Emilia, The Baker (Videos!)

Emilia (7) has been learning how to bake some mean chocolate chip cookies.  
Here are some cute clips from her first attempt at baking them all by herself.

Would you like a cookie?  ;)

Linking up for "Teaching Children to Cook" on May 31, 2012 to Smockity Frocks.
and on March 5, 2013 to


"Manti" the Praying Mantis

We took a walk not too long ago and the kids found this guy hanging out in the grass.  Emilia brought him home and made a little sanctuary for him. 

We found out (from the good old web) that they like to eat other critters...pretty much anything they can catch.  I watched a gross video of one eating a mouse.  Fortunately, we were fresh out of mice, so the kids found a spider, an ant, and a yellow fuzzy caterpillar.

"Manti" wanted nothing to do with the food the kids provided, so we had to be content watching his sweet alien-like head-moving abilities.

We'd never encountered a praying mantis, so we spent quite awhile just staring.  God's creation is incredible!

We had our fun and then the next morning Emilia released him.

I'm pretty sure he paused to pray as he left, thanking God for letting him go!  :)

Tommy's Other Favorite Seat

Remember Tommy's first favorite seat?  This is another one of his favorite seats.

Veggin on Sissy.  :)  He sure is loved!
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