Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One day at a time. This is our motto around here. Along with, this will not last forever.

Twin A. is still uncomfortable whenever he moves. We’re managing the pain as well as we can, and doing lots of deep breathing to try to relax. Last night he told me the fear of the pain is actually worse than the pain itself. He has been through so much.

The Llama Papa took our other two boys on to the family reunion campout in Michigan. (God bless him.) A. is sad to miss it, but has no desire to drive 3+ hours, even if we stay in a hotel. We’ve promised him a campout when he recovers.

And today is the toddler’s third birthday. For the last six months, he’s been talking about his “birthday party on the camping trip.” So I loaded him down with Elmo partyware and wrapped presents, and expect that he’ll fully enjoy his special day today. And, of course, we’ll have another party at home sometime next week. But in the quiet of this morning, can I just admit to you all that I’m hating this? Those of you who know The Toddler personally know that he is a bundle of energy and personality, and absolutely delightful. I hate missing his camping birthday party. Happy birthday, little buddy. Mommy can’t wait to throw you another birthday bash and watch your face light up with each new surprise.

The hardest part of this whole thing has been watching Twin A. in pain and being unable to fully take it away. Or worse, actually causing the pain. A few times a day, I need to help A. elevate his arm. It hurts to get in this position, but is essential for his healing. Moving him around while he cries for me to stop is the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a mom.

I’ve thought more than once about how God must feel with me at times, pushing me to look at places that are painful while I scream “stop!” And yet He knows what’s best for me. I believe this. And just like my heart skips a beat when A. chooses to trust me, even though it’s going to hurt, I have to believe God is thrilled when we choose to trust Him just a little bit more.

One of the things I’m most thankful for are the seeds of faith planted in A.’s heart. In the most difficult moments, he says, “I want to pray.” He told me he wishes God would just magically heal his arm, even though he knows that’s not how it usually works. We’ve talked about what God HAS promised us: that He’ll always be with us, no matter what.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I’m also thankful for incredible friends and neighbors, who keep sending cards and dropping by with goodies and movies and games. And I’m incredibly thankful for my friend, S., who has some downtime before her classes start, and offered to come stay with us for a few days. I can’t imagine this past few days without her, honestly.

God is good. God is faithful. God is trustworthy.

This is what we’re learning over here…well, that and that malt chip blizzards from DQ are really, really good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


What a day.

I’m sitting here next to Twin A. writing on my laptop while he sleeps comfortably in his bed. At the hospital.

Not where we thought we’d be tonight.

We were at my sister-in-law’s house and the cousins were all playing on the playground across the street from her house when A. fell off the monkey bars and started screaming bloody murder. He broke / dislocated his arm. I won’t describe the break here except to say that it was really bad.

(Llama Papa actually passed out while the ER doc examined A. For about thirty minutes, I was afraid he would be admitted too! Thankfully, he's fine.)

Long story short, I’m here with my boy after a long day at the hospital and surgery to put his arm back together again. (With three pins!) His surgeon anticipates a full recovery.

I feel like I should say something profound, but I just don’t have it in me tonight. I can't rehash the details of the day's events, not yet. This mama is exhausted—physically and emotionally. I feel like I need to just crawl into the corner and cry for a good long while, preferably with a large stash of chocolate, but that will have to wait.

So until then, I’ll just say that I’m grateful for my amazing family, who steps in without being asked and does whatever needs to be done. (Including putting my toddler down for his nap and showing Twin B. such a grand time!) I’m grateful for good healthcare and health insurance. And in this moment, I’m grateful for the quiet of this hospital room, and the grace that’s been here with us all day. God is good.

Monday, July 20, 2009

you can just make vanilla pudding?

“What should we have for dessert?” I asked Twin B. His teacher is coming over for dinner tonight, and we were getting ready yesterday afternoon.

“I don’t know,” he said.

I looked in the fridge and saw three baskets of strawberries. “What can we do with these strawberries?”

Then I remembered the pound cake in my freezer downstairs. (Leftover from a 3-pack from Costco’s bakery—delicious and a great deal!)

“Let’s make a trifle!” I said, running down the stairs to get the pound cake. Then I reached into my pantry to grab some vanilla pudding, but couldn’t find any. I checked my overflow pantry in the basement. Nope. I really didn’t want to go to the store, but I also really wanted to make this trifle. I considered going door-to-door, asking neighbors for vanilla pudding when it dawned on me: I can probably just make it.

I googled “homemade vanilla pudding,” and sure enough, dozens of simple recipes popped up.

I quickly gathered the ingredients and got to work. Five minutes later, I was tasting the most amazing vanilla pudding I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. So creamy and delicious, I don’t think I’ll ever buy a little box of pudding again. It was that good, and I swear, so easy to make.

In an age of convenience, I tend to forget that some of the “ready made” products I use are really convenience foods. Truly, I thought of boxed pudding as a “staple” not a “convenience.” But homemade is so much better, less expensive, and uses ingredients I almost always have on hand.

And our trifle? I’m guessing it will be the best we’ve ever had. And I pray Twin B.’s teacher will feel honored and appreciated for all of her hard work last year.

Simple Vanilla Pudding

2/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add the milk and egg yolks. Stir it until blended and them cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it right to the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.


(To make a simple summer trifle, layer pound cake, vanilla pudding, and sliced fruit in a clear bowl. Top with whipped cream, if desired.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The difference between men and women

We were at Lowes on Saturday for their kid’s building clinic, and as we walked through the front doors, Llama Papa said, “Oooh, oooh, oooh DeWalt!” In that super guy grunty, drooly way, kind of similar to the way I talk about dessert. Kind of. Anyway, I assumed he was interested in looking at the drill section after helping the noisy boys build their treasure chests.

After the class, I had a question for customer service, so Llama Papa grabbed our three boys and said, “I’m going to check out the DeWalt display.”

“Sure honey!” I waved. A few minutes later, I asked my question and started looking for the rest of my family. They were nowhere to be found.

I circled the store several times. Nope. Nowhere.

Now, I have to say I wasn’t too upset. After all, he had the kids. But I was curious. Where are they? In the bathroom? Plus, the store was entirely too quiet. Usually our toddler acts as a portable homing device everywhere we go. Just follow the screeching, laughing sounds.

Finally, I called his cell phone.

They were outside. At the DeWalt display out in the parking lot. And we laughed because, I swear I am not making this up, I didn’t even notice the semi truck full of power tools that we walked right by on our way into the store.

And that, my friends, is the difference between men and women.

(Or at least between the Llama Momma and the Llama Papa!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

baked ice cream

Are you a “YES” Mom? Jill Savage issued a challenge for the month of July over on her blog that’s right up my alley. Saying “yes” to our children instead of “no.” (She’s not talking about the absence of boundaries or never saying “no,” but rather, saying “yes” whenever you can.)

When Twin B. saw this book on clearance at Border’s, he went nuts. “Can I buy it, Mom?”

“Sure,” I told him.

“It’s only $1.99. That’s a good price!” He exclaimed.

“It is. And a good value.”

And so we began our summer of science experiments. There was the raw egg that turned into a bouncy ball when submerged in vinegar…for a week.

Twin B. has spent hours pouring over this book, gathering random supplies, and excitedly conducting experiments.

But the one he really wanted to try, more than anything else, was the baked ice cream. At first, I put him off. “I need to make a trip to the store first,” I told him. “We need more vanilla ice cream.” But he persisted. Every few days he’d ask, “Can we try it tonight?” And I would say “Not today.” It just looked like a big mess.

But if you know me at all, you know that I love to foster my children’s imaginations. If it’s not dangerous or unkind, I’m usually fine with it. (I mean, come on, I let a raw egg sit on my kitchen counter for a week, people!)

So, one night, I said “yes.” We worked together to make the meringue. We put the ice cream on top of cookies. (Cheap, Aldi cookies in case the experiment didn’t work. You wouldn’t want to waste a good cookie on a science experiment.) Then we carefully covered the whole thing with meringue and put it in the oven. For an hour. Now, according to the book, the cream of tartar in the meringue acts as a sort of insulation for the ice cream. But an hour? I started to wonder if that’s why the book was on sale. None of the experiments actually work.

We watched through the oven window while the ice cream slowly melted, and cut bait after forty-five minutes.

We laughed and laughed at the craziness of putting ice cream in the oven for an hour…and then enjoyed “real” ice cream sundaes for dessert.

How about you? Are you a "Yes" mom?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity

All week I’ve been blogging about Keri Wyatt Kent’s new book, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. I jumped at the chance to review the book because, a) I love free books, and b) I love Keri Wyatt Kent.

I’ve read numerous books on Sabbath and rest, and they’ve all contributed to my desire to observe the Sabbath. Keri’s book stirred the desire again with the reminder that, truly, God designed us to work hard, and then take a day to rest.

Stay-at-home moms, I can hear you clamoring in my head, “But I’ve got four children under the age of six! How can I possibly rest!”

Relax. Take a deep breath. God is not asking you to neglect your kids. But if you’re exhausted, and I know you are, I want you to read this book. If you’re local, I’ll loan it to you.

The thing I love about this book is the complete absence of guilt. I read it cover to cover and have a renewed desire to take my Sabbath observance a bit further—not because I think I should, but because I desire to experience all that God has for me. And it’s not just about the Sabbath—it’s about creating a life of sanity and balance, where we make room for relationships with God and others. We stop in order to connect with the people we love most.

I’m a fickle observer of the Sabbath. We usually attend church in the morning, and take naps in the afternoon, so the rhythm of the day feels different from the average weekday. Sometimes we invite friends over for dinner on Sunday night, and sometimes I go grocery shopping. Ahem. (Notice I said “fickle observer”?)

I’m wondering what it would be like to take this further. To work together to pick up our house early on Saturday, get the grocery shopping done if I need to, whatever needs to get done. To enjoy a leisurely dinner on Saturday night, turn the television off and play a game or go for a bike ride or a walk. Put the kids to bed and just be with my spouse, with no distractions.

Sunday would be for worship, rest, and fun. After church, we have a simple lunch, take our naps (the big kids can watch TV or read), then we enjoy family time together. Maybe we go swimming or biking. Maybe we have friends over. Maybe we play a game.

This sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

And now I’m asking myself what it requires of me: being willing to work hard on Saturday to make preparations for Sunday, being disciplined to keep the computer off for a full 24-hours, and being fully present to my family. For me, those are the big ones. No doubt the list looks different for you.

One of the things Keri stresses in her book is to simply start somewhere. If you’ve never observed the Sabbath before, maybe just giving yourself permission to leave the laundry and read a book instead is the place to start. Wherever you’re at on your spiritual journey, Keri’s book will encourage and inspire you. It’s like taking a huge breath of crisp, fresh air.

If you’d like to purchase Keri’s book, Rest. A group study guide is included at the back of the book, making this a great “book club” choice!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Do you observe the Sabbath? What has been the greatest reward to you, personally, from this observance? What are the biggest obstacles you face?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rest on the Lake

This photo captures a moment between my twin boys and my dad that is precious to me. Watching them ride a paddle boat out to the dock together and just relax in the sun epitomizes vacation in my mind: reconnecting with people we love, having fun, relaxing. And here are three of my favorite people doing all three.

This week, I’m writing about Keri Wyatt Kent’s book, Rest. One of the things she writes about that really resonates with me is the idea that to rest—whether it’s a daily rest, a weekly Sabbath rest, or an extended vacation—is to trust God.

Think about it. When we take a deliberate break from activity in order to reconnect with God and our families and friends, we’re trusting that God can keep on being God while we take a break. We don’t need to keep on consuming and working and checking email and being productive…we can stop. We trust that for today, we have enough.

Do you have a hard time stopping, even on vacation? What can you do ahead of time to make your time away more restful?