WFMW–Travel Outfits


This is our first entree into the world of Works for Me Wednesdays. Shannon, over at the Rocks In My Dryer blog, hosts a fun carnival on Wednesdays where other bloggers chime in to share their tips and tricks and general advice.

This week the topic is parenting which is timely because I am a parent. If the theme had been Creative Ways to Decorate with Lint or Techniques of Professional Grouters, I would have been hard pressed to come up with something helpful.

Tim and I are very passionate about parenting. We are constantly studying, learning, and praying for wisdom in our parenting. One of our desires is to start a Tips for Tuesday Parenting Blog, to post, conveniently, on Tuesdays. We will begin next week, so come back and visit us for some further thoughts on parenting.

Today’s Parenting Tip – Coordinating Travel Outfits

Whenever we travel as a family, I make sure we are dressed in matching colors. This is done for both safety (easy to spot a wandering child in a crowd) and entertainment. By today’s standards we are a huge family and it pleases me to revel in our distinction. I am eager for everyone to know we are together and pleased to be known as a family.

texas 2006

August 2006 – By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35

There is also a subtle accountability that comes with this coordination. When a child puts on the Chosen Color of the Day and begins the journey, his identity has connection and meaning. He isn’t just a person traveling alone in a crowd; he belongs to a family. He is connected and his actions reflect upon the entire group. Similarly, as parents, when we dress to match the children, we are recognizing and identifying them as part of our circle of travelers. Without any additional words, we are acknowledging responsibility and culpability for our little color coordinated tribe.

Of course, the resulting amusement of those who see us, often works to our advantage. People become more amiable and jovial, softening in the presence of our group of sojourners. It helps that the children are heavily stocked with candy, treats and books/movies and are usually very well-behaved.

flying to MI June 2007

June 2007 – Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other. John 13:35

The only problem is keeping the outfits clean. One little spill, a change of clothes and the poor child is symbolically ostracized from the entire family. The trauma of that could last for years. Obviously this little parenting tip is rich with many far-reaching implications.

Join us next week for Tips for Tuesday – Parenting.


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A Day of Boys

Well, yesterday the estrogen was flowing good and strong as girls (over) ran the house, giggling and laughing and posing pretty for pictures. Today was a wee bit different.

Ding Dong!
8:15 am (For you morning people, who don’t understand nightowlism, this would be considered EARLY.)
In trooped three boys, mitts and baseballs in hand and scooters and helmets in the driveway. With mom and big sister both in the hospital and dad working, they were ready for a day of fun at our house.

They sweetened their early arrival with a pan of brownies and a lovely thank you note. Chocolate is really the perfect entree, don’t you think. Especially if the world is looking blurry and it’s early, WAY before 9 am. Nothing like a little chocolate to brighten a person’s outlook on the day. Really, I’m surprised salespeople don’t cart around chocolate when knock on doors these days. A few well placed dark chocolate M&M’s and they might find people welcoming them in eagerly.

Chocolate blathering (salivating) aside. Pretty much from that point on the boys were in and out of the house, up the stairs, in the garage, scootering down the street, throwing pillows/soldiers/little brothers. It was a grand time. I wish I could say I got great pictures from the day, but alas it was not to be. Somehow boys don’t seem to smile and pose for the camera the ways the girls do.

playing Labyrinth

In a rare moment of repose the boys decided to play a game. Since they were all relatively still, I was able to take a quick picture.

The 6 year old had war on the brain and kept trying to get David to play World War IV with him. Or maybe it was WWV, I lost track after the first battle. As long as there wasn’t any blood, I pretty much kept my distance. It’s just plain safer that way.

sarah climbs

Truly one of the last great climbers. Now if she can just get over her fear of heights.

After lunch, we went to the park. I was all set for some great action shots. Everyone except for Daniel and Sarah had baseball mitts and I had a picture all composed in my mind. The sun was shining and the balls and frisbees were flying. It was perfect. I sat down to write one thank you note, one note. I wasn’t reading my magazine or writing a novel, just one little letter to thank someone for dinner during our trip to Michigan in June.

Yes, June, as in almost 2 months ago. I’m nothing if not prompt about thank you notes. Of course, for me the true test is actually mailing the darn things. Right now I see that very same note lying on the floor, underneath the kitchen table, daring me to get it in the mailbox. Impudent thing.

get down?

Going up is easy. How do you get down?

About this time my sister in law would probably like to chime in with the, oh so funny, story about the card I handed her last Sunday. It was a thank you note for my birthday presents. The date on the card: July 2006. Yep, the card sat on my shelf (complete with stamp but no address) for a YEAR. A year, people. And then I actually went ahead and delivered it. There’s a level of shamelessness involved here that I’d rather we don’t explore too deeply. Of course, Elizabeth let me keep the envelope and the stamp, she’s extremely gracious that way. No doubt she was just overwhelmed by the lovely words of thanks in the card.

Now I do like my birthday to linger on, and am known to wring every bit of celebration out of it that I can, (in fact I just found out today that my friend Julee has a present for me – sometimes it’s not my fault that the party keeps on going) but some would contend that a year is really pushing it. I would argue with them, but I just found a thank you note from 2005 Christmas and I need to put it in the mailbox.


Um, Mom? HELP!!!

But I digress.

So there I was writing this lovely (and timely) note to some of our friends from Michigan, just about ready to take some fabulous, inspiring, action filled pictures of the kids playing ball, when I look up to see the group descending upon me. They dropped their sports gear and ran off to the playground before I could say, “Hold that smile.” Or even, “Wait, I have to take one more picture, stop moving, let me turn off the flash, oh, that one was blurry, I’m almost done.”

The moment was totally lost. Or was it? I didn’t worry too much because I have no compunction about completely restaging an event in order to properly capture it for the blog. Sorry. Just being real (in a fake, staged sort of way). I dropped the mitts off in the van and figured I would hand them out later and still get that Perfect Shot.

The older children ran off for an elaborate game of tag while I followed Sarah around. It wasn’t until I took a few pictures of her rock climbing that I realized my camera battery was almost dead. Great! I managed to take two or three pictures before the thing died. I contemplated running home for my spare battery. After all, I live close to the park and Joshua and Tom were 13 and 12 years old respectively and very level headed. The park was crowded. No doubt there were lots of responsible parents there who wouldn’t mind watching over my children (and the three extra I was babysitting) for a few minutes.

gotta get a drink

It looks like Luke is headed right for the drinking fountain, desperate for a drink of water.

The problem is I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t know which ones were the trust-worthy, conscientious parents and which ones were the psychopaths and kidnappers. It’s so hard to tell these days.

The fact that I even considered leaving those 8 children (three of whom were under my charge while their mother was in surgery) at the park without an adult there just so I could get a good picture, scares me! The fact that I’m sharing this in public is even more frightening. Then I think about all the decisions parents make all the time, every day.

drunking his head

He wasn’t looking for a drink but a dunk. Ah, that feels good.

Big Ones – schooling, discipline, Christian education, finances, entertainment choices
Little Ones – snacks/meals, bed times, clothing, and on and on

I am constantly analyzing and evaluating choices for my family. Sometimes it is easier than others and I can quickly come to a decision (like, hello I’m not leaving the children alone while I run home) and others take prayer, conversation and time.

If Tim and I have clear boundaries and standards for our family, even difficult decisions can sometimes be made speedily. For example, we don’t watch rated R movies so I don’t need to spend a lot of time looking over plot and character development and theme to try and decide if we will watch this movie or that movie. We’ve already drawn that line in the sand and therefore there isn’t any agonizing or debating in that area. In other ways, a habit of consistently making godly choices (serving others, speaking kind words, faithfully attending church, basing decisions on the Word of God and His precepts) can remove much of the doubting and self-questioning that goes on in making decisions.

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45

See how it was possible to turn all of this into a thoughtful, introspective blog? Yes, it definitely means I need more sleep. You all are patient to put up with me. I love the idea, presented in this verse, that we walk in freedom when we search out (and live by) the Word.

Enough rambling. Although I didn’t take enough pictures to really capture the essence of the day, we did enjoy the B. boys. Come back any time!

Kathy in WA
Project 365 – Day 210

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Girl Power

Excuse me, we’d like to chat but sometimes a girl just has to swing.

girls just wanna have fun

grab on tightlet's go!!

We will, however, stop for food. Food and giggling are very important in the Girl Power world.

smile, Sarah, they're looking at us

The big girls just sit around looking beautiful, but the rest of us have things to do.

hannah, rachel and bethany

Pick those flowers faster, girls!!

the girls pose for some pictures

We had friends over for dinner and games this evening. The little girls were busy and a bit difficult to capture on film without quite the blur of action. Rachel, Hannah and Bethany, however, were more than willing to step outside for a few pictures. We are very blessed to have good friends in our life.

Tomorrow we’ll have three extra boys over. Yikes! Don’t you know we’ll have some fun moments to capture on blog while they are here. :)

Project 365 – Day 209

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Never Ending Dodge Ball

One of the delightful things about having a houseful of children is that we almost always have enough people to play games. When I was growing up, it was much more difficult to put together a good game with the resources at hand:

Me: “Hey, Mark, how ’bout we go play a game of tag?”
Mark: “Who are we playing with?”
Me: “I figure you … and me … and Posie … ?”
Mark: “Beat it, kid, I’m gonna draw instead.”

The mighty flee before the weak
“The swift cannot flee nor the strong escape.” (Jeremiah 46:6a)

As it turned out, Mark was actually drawing up operational orders for armored-cavalry attacks on defenseless villages, a valuable skill which stood him in good stead in later years. Posie, though she was often willing, was too little to be a credible opponent in any game, six years younger than me and nine years junior to Mark. I usually had to find other ways to amuse myself with her. For the record, there are no witnesses to her wild claim that I put her in the clothes-dryer … although if anyone could use 40 minutes on “medium permanent press,” it would be her. (I love you, Poz!) :)

“In my day,” I tell the children, “Kids had to make do with ghost runners, ghost batters, ghost umpires, and even ghost spectators. I once played a whole game of baseball with just myself and three aluminum cans!”

“Right, Dad,” sneers my son, Weasel. “And I’ll bet you walked seven miles uphill both ways through blinding snow to get to the ballfield, too!”

I was hurt. I’m pretty sure that tale featured a hailstorm, not snow at all! Those kids just don’t pay attention anymore, when I tell my stories. But enough about me. Really.

This week Joshua invented a new game, which he christened “Never Ending Dodge Ball”. Organized dodgeball is one of his favorite games, and he greatly enjoys playing variants of the game at the gym in church or at the YMCA. As often happens, his creative brain came up with a version that can be played in our own backyard.

Rachel closes in for the kill
Rachel (like the Royal Canadian Mounties) can boast: “I always get my man … “

The rules to his never-ending variant are fairly simple:

Anyone who can find a nerf ball can throw it at any other player who is ‘alive’.
You must actually throw the ball at another player, you can’t tag them with it.
If you are hit by a ball (before it hits the ground) and don’t catch it, you’re ‘dead’.
When you are ‘dead’, you have to lie down on the ground (unless you are fussy about bugs, in which case you can squat).
If you have a ball and you are ‘killed’, you must hold the ball up so that anyone who is ‘alive’ can take it from your hand.
As soon as someone is ‘killed’ after you, you are restored to ‘life’ again.
If you happen to still have a ball when you are made ‘alive’, you are free to use it immediately.
If someone is newly ‘alive’, they must be allowed five seconds to get to their feet and run away.
You may never handle more than one ball at a time.
Hits in the head don’t count.

Turn-about is fair play
One moment you’re a predator, the next you’re prey …

Since there are two, three and sometimes four balls in play, the game can become quite interesting, with players chasing one another only to be hit in the back by someone they weren’t watching. Sarah adds a special wrinkle to the game, since she has a special little ball that only she can pick up (she is little, and couldn’t get the other nerf balls before her siblings swooped them away).

Sarah attacks, ruthlessly
It is easy to become distracted in a standoff with another player, only to feel a gentle ‘poink’ in the back as Sarah sneaks up and assassinates you.

The game has several cheerful advantages:

  • It can be played in a fairly small space, and boundaries don’t really matter.
  • Players are rarely ‘dead’ for very long, which is nice for younger players, low on patience.
  • The game seems equally fun for players from 5 to 41.
  • It can be played for a short or long time (or until enough players get hurt and go inside, crying).

A Mexican Standoff goes sour
“Mutually-Assured Destruction” is more than just a political slogan, in this game.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that my children are very kind to one another. They are careful not to run roughshod over the little ones, and they stick scrupulously to the rules. They good-naturedly allow the younger kids to catch them, and they throw the ball gently to avoid injury (well, most of the time). I am always very proud whenever I think about how considerate and loving they are to each other — surely, we are greatly blessed by the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these five rascals.

Rigor mortis sets in
Daniel takes ‘death’ very seriously …

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. — John 13:35
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. — Ephesians 4:2

Daniel pays off a penalty
Of course, injuries happen, and sometimes there is a penalty of five or ten push-ups for unnecessary roughness. Wasn’t it kind of Sarah to count the reps for Daniel?

Altogether, the kids probably played this game for more than an hour, today. David went off to bed with a bounce in his step:

David: “Josh, it sure was fun playing with you.”
Joshua: “I had fun, too.”
David: “Play tomorrow?”
Joshua: “Maybe!”

Project 365, Day 209

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Another beach

Today we met some friends for a picnic lunch at a nearby beach. I spoke to my mom as I scurried about looking for bathing suits and towels and she expressed surprise that there was a beach within 10 minutes from our house. Yes, there is more to Washington than coffee and Microsoft.

Washington also has lots and lots of coastline, not to mention the many lakes and rivers dotting the landscape. After all, the rain has to go somewhere. The snow stays mostly on the mountains (where it belongs) but the water is plentiful. Washington has 342 miles of marine coastline from Cape Flattery (northwest corner of the Olympic Peninsula) to the Columbia River (border of Oregon and Washington), including the longest remaining stretch of wild beach in the Lower 48.

kids in the water

All of this is not including the extensive inland coastlines of the Puget Sound (an inlet of the North Pacific Ocean) and the Hood Canal (a fjord off Puget Sound). It was in one of these beaches that we found ourselves today. When I say “we” I mean all the children and none of the mothers. The grown ups were very busy soaking up the sun and staying OUT of the water.

Now we may be abounding in wonderful beach fronts but rarely do you find any sand, except on the Pacific coast. Washington “grows” too many rocks for the sand to establish any kind of dominance. The rocks and barnacles and gravel and cobblestones pretty much cover the ground.

sarah protests

What IS this green stuff? And what are all these rocks doing here, I thought you said this was a BEACH.

We tried to direct Sarah to a sandy spot with little seaweed. She wasn’t sure.

sarah tip toes along

For some reason, no doubt the sunshine after a solid week of rain befuddled my mind, I didn’t have the children pack their suits and towels.

“Aren’t we going to the beach, Mommy?” they asked.
“Yes, but we’re not actually going to swim,” I told them patronizingly. The questions these children ask some times, I tell you, it’s enough to make a mother wonder.

When we arrived at the beach (remember this is a beach AND a park), Michelle’s kids hopped out of the car dressed in bathing suits, carrying towels and floats.

“Um, I didn’t know the kids needed suits,” I said to Michelle, half accusatorily. “I thought we were going the park.”
“Kathy, this is the beach. Right?” Michelle looked incredulous but tried to do her best to hide it. She almost succeeded.
“Yes, but I didn’t think they were actually going to swim in it. I was thinking, you know, wading.”

Michelle looked from her children to my children, obviously calculating the odds that my kids would stick to “just wading” while hers plunged in. It didn’t look good.

waving from the water

Great bathing suits, guys, good idea!

Thankfully Heather, another friend meeting us at the BEACH, wasn’t expected for another 30 or 45 minutes. I sent Joshua off with the cooler and the younger children, gave Michelle my parking spot (for which we had already paid) and rushed home.

Which is how I had time to chat with my mom while scurrying about looking for suits. See that nice, tidy full circle there?


A boy among giants, well giant pillars anyway.

Rachel said the tide came in and, by the time we left, the water was almost to the top of the posts. I wish I had taken another picture. Of course, this time Eli would have been floating. I’m sure he would have been willing to sacrifice his personal safety for a picture for the blog. He just gives and gives, that Eli. :)

We ate lunch on the grass. The boys played frisbee and the girls enjoyed the hot sand by the volleyball court. At one point Joshua took all the children (there were 10, including himself) off to the playground. Heather, Michelle and I stayed back and conscientiously guarded the food and swim things. It was an important job and we were willing to make the sacrifice.

lunching kiddos

This spot was a little too sunny for Joshua, he ate at a picnic table in the shade.

Basically the children went back and forth between the cold water (searching for jellyfish, dodging rocks, and bravely ducking their bodies in the Sound) to the hot sand or hot sidewalk. At one point the girls were laying on their stomachs in the sand, heads together, talking away and the boys were on the sidewalk studying a group of scuba divers as they prepared to get in the water. Early on I put my camera away in favor of fun conversation with the ladies and so I didn’t capture some of those sweet moments. I’ve almost convinced myself that I don’t mind.

After lunch Tim graciously came by and rescued Joshua. The final party of picnickers (you know, the ones with the boy Joshua’s age) couldn’t make it, at the last minute. This meant Joshua was without a friend his age the entire time. He enjoys the younger kids but reaches his limit usually much before I’m ready to leave. To add insult to injury, this wonderful BEACH I provided was full of salt water. Joshua does not really do salt water, basically oceans are not his thing. If we go down to the coast, I hope he will reconsider, but for now we allow him to keep his prejudices.

I knew that I could either 1) have mercy on Joshua and pack everyone up to go home early; 2) relentlessly ignore his sad/bored face and assure myself that he has a book and would be fine; 3) beg Tim to drive over and take Joshua home.

what more do you need?

Tolkien and a Civil War canteen, really what more do you need?

Thank you for picking up Joshua, Tim!

A wonderful day of sunshine, water and good conversation. Holly, we missed you!!!!

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. (Revelation 1:1-2a)

Our hearts long to enjoy the river of life that is described in Revelation, but for now we’ll settle for some of the beautiful places the Lord has created here.

Project 365 – Day 208

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