Reading the “Hard Stuff”

I love a good movie.


Sisters reading together

My kids do, too. They love marathon nights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or any super hero movie that they are allowed to watch (they think Iron Man is hilarious. I’m pretty sure it’s because of his ridiculously sarcastic sense of humor – which happens to be exactly like their dad’s.)

But this post isn’t about movies.

In today’s fast-paced world (complete with amazing special effects), sometimes it might

seem like plain old black-and-white books are downright boring.

But they aren’t.

Every few years I re-read one of my favorites – Wuthering Heights,

Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Tom Sawyer. A couple of years ago, on a whim, I read part of Tom Sawyer to them. They adored him (now whenever someone tattles in our house, they get called Sid), so we followed it up with Huckleberry Finn. I’ve realized that they aren’t big fans of Bible story books – they’d rather hear the real thing from the New International or the King James versions. So now I’ve started reading “hard” literature to my little kids. We read other great books out loud, too – The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Heidi, Charlotte’s Web, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (my all-time favorite.)

We all have a lot to do – life is busy. Life is hectic. Life is hard.

But let me encourage you to take a few nights this week to read aloud to your family – it doesn’t matter how old they are. A story – a real story can bring your family together like nothing else can. Even if you read something that you think might be too hard for them, they might surprise you – last year we read The Odyssey. I hesitated to even start it – after all, it was The Odyssey, for Pete’s sake. And my oldest kid was 8 then! Much to my surprise, they loved it – the heroes, the adventures, the monsters, the battles – and they understood a lot more of it than I thought they would. What they didn’t understand turned into a great learning experience as we figured it out together.

Last week we finished reading a book called Sounder that won the 1970

Newbery Award. It’s a 44-year-old, dusty old paperback that has few chapters and fewer pictures. And consider yourself forewarned: don’t read it if you’re looking for something light-hearted and funny. But wow, did it tell a story.

No, it’s not a feel-good book – not at all. But let me tell you, when you have three little girls sitting spellbound at the kitchen table and all four of you have to put your heads in your hands and cry… well, THAT, my friend, is the power of the written word.

Reading a great book together is a shared experience of the mind and of the heart. Maybe you won’t remember all of the characters’ names or your favorite quote, but one thing is for sure:

You will never forget the way it made you feel – and

neither will your children.


Winter Hiatus

I’ve been on a hiatus.

Actually, though we’ve been traveling a LOT and I’ve been super busy, the real reason that I haven’t been writing much is because we had to get a new laptop… and I have absolutely no idea how it works. Today I successfully figured out how to open a blank document! Baby steps, people.

The first week of December, my husband and I took a trip to Jamaica to do some work for a non-profit mission group. Then we came home and – boom! It was Christmas. Going from 80 degrees in Montego Bay to 17 at Cleveland Hopkins was nothing short of surreal.

Though I was glad to be home (my 3-year-old grabbed my leg and said, “Mom! You was gone for-ebber!”) the Christmas rush fell on me like a ton of snowy bricks.

After only one week of decompression, unpacking and gift-wrapping, we were on the road again… this time with 4 kids and a van-ful of Christmas presents.

Needless to say, the holidays were not peaceful and calm for me. They were hectic and kind of crazy. Don’t get me wrong – they weren’t BAD – I was glad to see my family and friends and be able to spend time with everyone. It was just too rushed.

The kids and I re-read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and I could relate to the unruly, unorganized Herdmans like never before.

As a matter of fact, reading that classic aloud to my kids (and crying when Imogene Herdman started to cry) was one of my favorite memories of this past Christmas. 


Ohmmm… Ohmmm…

Realizing that the craziness needs to be toned down a bit (thanks, Herdmans), I’ve decided that this year we are going to try to do a few things differently. No, I’m not going to worry about a list of resolutions that I’ll no doubt mess up long before the first of February. I just want to slow down. My kids are growing up really fast, and I would like to enjoy their littleness more before it disappears.

So… we are going to take fewer classes and have more PJ days.

We are going to turn off the iPad games so we can snuggle in bed and read lots of good books.

We are going to do more baking (probably the kids will do more baking – I am cursed with an uncanny ability to forget that things are in the oven.)

We are going to make more homemade things (like laundry detergent, baby wipes and salad dressing!)

We are going to spend more time together and just LIVE.

And we are going to slow down.

Actually, maybe we will all go on a hiatus.

Laughs for the New Year

Everyone’s favorite part of our family’s end-of-year newsletter is always the list of “funny stuff” that my four kids come up with throughout the year. To help you start your year with a smile, here is part of this year’s list:

  • Sadie to her friend Dalton: “Hey, you run like a girl! And that’s a compliment!”
  • Jed to his dad: “I a man too!” Dad: “Yep, buddy, you’re a man like Dad!” Jed: “No, Dad! Wanna watch I-ron-Man 2!”
  • We watched King Kong and laughed at his googly-love-bird eyes and giant smile until the girl got away. Then Adelaide shook her head and said, “Welp, I guess this means the smiling part is over!”
  • Jed: “Dere’s cweepy tings in da woods. Wike cwabs and wolfs and sharks and stwollers and soldiers and statues. Us be cwying in da woods!”
  • Sadie to Josie: “If you were the last person on earth and you had the last baby on earth and you were that baby’s mom, what would you name it?” Josie: “Lucky.”
  • When Grandma Beth saw an article in the newspaper about Adelaide going to the Lego Club, she said, “Adelaide! How did you make the paper?” Adelaide replied with a sigh: “Grandma, I didn’t make paper. I made LEGOS.”
  • After a fight over a favorite book, Sadie said: “I had it first!” Josie said, “Didn’t you learn anything in Sunday School? The last shall be first!”
  • Sadie, singing to her pestering little brother: “This old man, he said NO!”
  • Mom to Jed: “Do you know what color this balloon is?” Jed: “Yeah…it’s poop.”
  • Backing out of a parking space, I asked, “Is there anyone behind me?” Jed piped up from the backseat: “Me! Me! I behind you, Mommy!”
  • Me: “I found a gray hair!” Adelaide: “Don’t worry. I’ll still love you when you’re old. I’ll also still love you when you’re DEAD. But that won’t be for a while, right? Wait a second… How old are you again?”
  • Jed, after ‘tooting’ on my leg: “Hey. It ‘tinks in here.”
  • “Jed, how did you get out of your bed?” Jed: “I climb out.”
  • Adelaide, playing airplane: “And now, I will repair for take-off!”
  • Josie to me as I ran alongside her, carrying her brother: “Yah, mule! Yah!”
  • “Sadie, do not pile up any more blankets on the floor!” Sadie: “But MOM, the flord is har!” Mom: “But Sadie, you are a pat rack!”
  • Sadie, in a thwarted compliment attempt: “Mom, you are a handsome woman.”
  • Josie, in yet another thwarted compliment attempt: “You’re like a cow, Mom. You’re a good mom. Like a cow.”
  • Josie, annoyed that someone up ahead of her said that she was a slowpoke: “WELL, I MIGHT BE, BUT I HOPE THAT YOU REMEMBER I HAVE EXCELLENT HEARING!”
  • Adelaide: “There’s a little man that lives inside all of us—and that man’s name is Plaque. I learned that in my Teeth Class.”
  • Adelaide: “To catch a leprechaun, you have to lick him on his eyes.” Josie, laughing: “Not LICK him on his eyes! LOOK him IN his eyes!”
  • “Why does it say TV on that screen?” Sadie: “That’s just its name. Its first name is “T.” It’s last name is “V.”
  • Adelaide: “You don’t look like my mom. You kinda look like a witch.”
  • Josie to her sister: “Can’t you see that I’m INVESTIGATING something? I’ll let you have this when I am done with my INVESTIGATION! This is a serious INVESTIGATION that I am INVESTIGATING!”
  • Jed came into the kitchen with his toy hammer and said, “Hammer time!”
  • Adelaide: “I smell fear.”
  • Sadie: “Which marshmallow is healthier? Pink or white? Neither? Okay. I’ll use both.”
  • Adelaide’s disciples: “Rupert, Simeon, Levi, Judah…”
  • Adelaide singing: “Rocka my soul in da booba da Abraham, oh rocka my soul…”
  • Jed: “Sud-up.” Sadie: “Jed! Don’t say that!” Jed: “You did.” Sadie: “Yes, but don’t listen to me. I’m a bad example.”
  • After I gave blood, Jed said, “Poor Mommy. Dey stuck a noodle in yours arm.”
  • Mom: “Jed, you may not hammer any more nails until you put your pants back on!”
  • Jed to Mom, who is cleaning up a mess: You a good mom.” Mom: “Oh, thank you, my sweet boy. That is so nice to say – that I’m a good mom.” Jed: “No, Mom! You a good MOP.”
  • Jed: Mom! Dere’s somebody here! Dere is PEOPLE here! Me: Who is it? Jed: It us.
  • Mom: “Aren’t you hot in that coat?” Adelaide: “Yes. I’m just wearing it for fashion.”
  • Jed: “I play beanbags. Try and get em in da hole. I gotta pocus.”
  • Sadie, when asked what she’d say to a bully: “Well, first I’d say to stop it and pick on someone your own size. THEN, I’d say, ‘Hey, Buster, why don’t you just go on home now — and re-think your life?'”
  • Adelaide: “Mom, can I sit in the front seat with no carseat?” Me: “Um, NO. What do you think this is?” Adelaide: “Well, a free country.”
  • Mom: “Adelaide, how did I get so lucky to have you as my kid?” Adelaide: “I don’t really know. You’re just lucky. Yep… You’re da luckiest girl in town.”
  • Mom to Jed: “You are such a handsome guy. Where did you get that from? Mommy or Daddy?” Jed: “From de bafroom.”
  • I love the color-blindness and sweet innocence of children. When we were discussing civil rights and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Adelaide said, “Wait… We’re WHITE?!”
  • Adelaide: “I hurt my finger in the door!” Me: “Should I kiss it?” A: “No.” Me: “Should I laugh?” A: “No.” Me: “Should I cry?” A: “No.” Me: “Well, what should I do then?” A: “You should call on The Lord, that’s what! And say, hey, oh Lord, come over here and help me with this finger!”
  •  Dr. Josie to her patient, Grammie: “Don’t worry. Everything’s gonna be fine. You’re just gonna die soon.”

We’re just wearing this for fashion.

I hope your year is a good one. Oh, and don’t worry – everything is gonna be fine!


If you have some favorite funny sayings from your kids, I’d love to hear them.