Thursday, November 25, 2010


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day here. There was a fire in the fireplace all day long. There were pumpkin spice lattes in the crock pot.  And I somehow managed to cook a 14 pounds turkey, mashed potatoes, rosemary roasted squash, apple sausage stuffing (in the crock pot!!) and green beans and chocolate cream and pumpkin pies. Jim made some awesome dinner rolls. However, there were mishaps. I managed to burn the green beans, which I was steaming. Which means that I essentially burned water (Jim asked if I smoked the green beans. How cute.). And the cavity search of the turkey failed to turn up the giblet bag. I found it after cooking the bird and was fishing out little bits of paper from my gravy. All in all, though, not bad for a woman with three kids who hasn't had a good night's sleep in four years.

My parents took the two older kids overnight on Wednesday, which is how I got all the prep work done Wednesday afternoon and evening. Jim went to pick them up Thanksgiving morning which allowed me to get started on the cooking.  I'm always amazed at how inefficient holiday cooking is. I spent probably no less than six hours preparing and cooking the meal. We sat down to eat at around 1:15. My dad and I were in the kitchen cleaning up by 1:45. And this year, Danny said the blessing:

Thank you for food. Amen. Short, sweet and to the point.

I can't believe she's still dry, I say of Fiona who was wearing underpants for hours one day without a single accident.
Well, that's what happens when you spill your drinks all day long, Jim says.

Fiona, the potty is for everyone. Geesh, she pees in it one time and she thinks that she owns the potty.

Stop that! I was rather surprised to hear Fiona shouting at me in the kitchen one afternoon. She came downstairs on her own after her nap. Which means she can open doors now. I'm considering putting chain locks on several doors inside the house.

He's trying to put a round peg in a square hole, Jim says of Danny who is getting frustrated trying to put a toy on the shelf.
I think you mean putting a square peg in a round hole; that's harder, I point out.
Yeah, but [what Danny was trying to do] is easy, Jim counters.

Would you stop making a mess? I have to clean it up now. I don't like that, Danny tells me sternly as he sweeps the kitchen floor. Ditto, kid, ditto.

How did you get a tomato in your hair? Really, child, how?

No, Owie, you can't have my coffee, Jim says as Owie reaches for his cup. You stay up all night all on your own.

I just peed my pants. Ooooooohhhhh. This has to stop, Danny says. Um, I've been saying that for a year now, kid.

Gumbop, Fiona says. That would be "gumdrop."

Do you want a fig newton and a gumdrop? Jim asks.
NO, not two of them, Danny cries. (This is what happens when the kid has no nap.)
Daddy's so mean, Jim mutters.

What happened? What the heck. Danny exclaims upon seeing Nana and PopPop's gutted kitchen.

Why is the step stool in the sink? Jim asks Danny. Indeed. Seems young Daniel has a temper. I can't imagine where he gets that.

I want cereal, Fiona tells me, clear as can be. Who the heck taught this girl to speak in complete sentences?

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One day

One day I will wake up, stretch, yawn and leisurely get out of bed instead of hitting the floor at the sound of a fussy infant or an obliviously happy toddler exhorting her big brother to wake up.

One day I will put on clothes and wear them all day long without someone using them as their personal handkerchief.

One day I will walk down the hall upstairs and not be assaulted by the smell of urine-soaked diapers. (soon I hope?)

One day I will make breakfast for one person—myself—and none of what's prepared will wind up on the floor, the window, the ceiling or in someone's hair.

One day I will put deodorant on and brush my teeth shortly after getting out of bed instead of rushing back in from the van to do this after strapping the kids in their car seats. Maybe one day I'll even take a shower upon awakening.

One day I will grab my purse, my keys and my coat and get in my car (anything but a minivan) and buckle in only myself. I will drive in utter silence and will not have to explain the rules of the road or have them dictated by a precocious 4 year old.

One day I will not have to put up a baby gate, close the kitchen doors and secure the baby (or even take him with me) just to ensure the children's safety while I go to the bathroom. In fact, one day I'll go potty, I mean, to the bathroom all alone. 

One day I will walk into the TV room and the ottomans won't be overturned and there will not be a perfectly straight line of cars on the sofa. (The irony of this never escapes me.)

One day I will set a cup of hot tea on an end table and eat a cookie in the living room instead of putting the tea on the highest shelf and eating cookies in the hall closet.

One day my conversations with my husband will not revolve around poop, pee pee accidents, time outs, pacifiers, the status of the laundry or the location of Dennis the monkey, Professor Gilbert (the cat) or Princess Piggy.

One day, at dinnertime, I will feed and cut food for only myself and I will not get up to fulfill one more request for icy water.

One day my husband and I will go out to eat and the dinner conversation will not turn to the plots of such books as Owl Babies and Little One Step.

One day my exercise routine will not include bending, squatting, lifting or sweeping the floor.

One night I will slip into bed, flip on a lamp and read a book that has nothing to do with how to get children to sleep, obey or eat.

One night I will drift off to sleep without freezing every time a child rolls over or coughs or whimpers.

One day, maybe a beautiful fall day like today, I will cook a pumpkin pie and prep Thanksgiving dinner without maneuvering around a sleeping infant in a sling. Maybe on that day I will be preparing for the arrival of my grown children—because they will not be living at home. I'll probably be looking forward to a house filled with noise and chaos. And I may even cut someone's meat at our holiday meal just for old time's sake.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A quick update

Judging by which rooms I find myself in most often, it seems that I spend most of my time monitoring what goes into and what comes out of my children. I'd forgotten what it was like to spend most of my day shuttling between the kitchen, the bathroom and the diaper changing station. I've been spoiled. I've spent most of this week shoveling food into two kids who are eating like there's no tomorrow, chaperoning one in the bathroom and changing the stinky diapers of a 6 month old who is eating solid foods.

After Fiona's dismal potty statistics over the weekend (potty 1, pants, um, a lot), we decided to ditch the effort and try again later. After all, she's only 22 months old. However, Fiona has forced us to continue. During the week of Thanksgiving. With multiple outings and overnights planned starting tomorrow. Our timing around here, and especially with her, sucks. Last year at this time, we had just begun helping her sleep more soundly through the night. She was nine months old and 10 days into the operation we took a Thanksgiving trip to Maryland. So here we go again.

I tried to to deter her by putting her in a diaper Monday morning, but within 15 minutes of being downstairs, she was trying to take it off in favor of the potty. Fiona is obsessed with the bathroom. In fact, she thinks that she owns the toilet. She screams "MINE" when anyone else goes near it. She goes in and sits on it several times an hour. She flushes the toilet a dozen times a day whether she does anything in it or not. (I'm expecting a very high water bill.) And while I'm not trying to incentivize (is that even a word?) potty going with her yet, I am trying to disincentivize the toilet flushing by making it's use a reward for actually delivering something into it. 

About an hour after breakfast on Monday morning, I had a bare bum rebellion on my hands. Danny saw Fiona running around half naked (I can't keep undies on her either) and decided to join the party. There's been a lot of that since. This evening, we had naked time before bath. And somehow a potato landed in my chocolate cake amidst the shenanigans of two naked, giggling kiddos. In an effort to be super efficient and a super cool mom who lets her kid help in the kitchen, Danny and I made the Hershey's chocolate cake recipe this afternoon in many different configurations—mini cupcakes for us, regular cupcakes for his preschool class (next week is his birthday) and the rest poured into a round pan. It's not like I really had plans for the cake—I was just going to slowly and secretly devour it in the hall closet over the next few days. I'm not sure what became of the potato.

I have, however, enjoyed the slowed pace that comes along with potty training. We haven't had anywhere to go. There was no preschool this week. No play dates planned. We've been outside a lot jumping in the leaves—nature's answer to the plastic ball pit. The kids have been jumping off the picnic table and careening down the slide head first into huge leaf piles. Heck, even I have been laying around in the leaves. And Owen, of course, has been shoving as many of them in his mouth as he possibly can.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've gone completely off the deep end here. I'm actually considering a potty training attempt this weekend with Fiona. She's almost two, she's interested and she can pull her own pants up and down. So one day this week, I started putting her in underpants for a few hours after her nap, from which she woke up dry.

The first afternoon Danny, a k a Admiral Pee Pee Pants, showed her the ropes.

"See, Fi Fi, you pull your pants down and sit on the potty, then you pee," he says as I try hard not to laugh bitterly at the irony of all this. 

By this afternoon, my daughter was wearing underpants and hasn't had a single accident and my son was wearing pajamas, no underpants and some Spiderman boots because he had peed in all of the pants he owns. And he has a lot of pants for this very reason. Sigh.

And without further ado ...

We got to hack down the trees and change the leaves, Danny proclaimed a few weeks ago. He had been frustrated that the leaves weren't changing colors yet. I remembered his comment a few days ago as the leaves finally began to change. And it is quite spectacular to behold.

Do I really need a how-to [on putting Owen's pajamas on]? Nana asks as I'm describing how best to wrestle him into pajamas. Imagine trying to dress yourself on a navigational buoy in a hurricane. Yeah, it's that difficult.

Eat what's already on top on the trash can, Fi. She decided to put her snack on top of the trash can. Honestly, after finding 1-year-old Danny toddling around the back yard with a piece of petrified dog poop in his mouth, I am utterly unflappable.

Getting a snack ready? Jim asks as I'm sweeping the kitchen floor. That night's haul included a fork, two baby food jar lids, several dried apples, a dried orange rind and a pile of cracker crumbs.

Ugh. Don't put your carrots in the play dough. Ok, so maybe I shouldn't have let her take the play dough out while lunch was still on the table.

It's play time, then bed time, then clean up time, Danny says as he ticks off each event on his fingers.
So it's clean up time after going to bed?
Yes, that's a good idea. 
How convenient for you, dear.

Fi disastered it, Danny says. Yep, that's what our girl does around here. (I don't even remember what she "disastered.")

What are we doing tonight? Jim asks.
Giving the kids Benadryl and putting them to bed, I reply. What? They're all full of snot (among other things).

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the colors.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The one about Owen

Owen is six and a half months old. And he doesn't like sleeping. I asked a good friend to please remind me of this when I start thinking that I want another baby.

All the old wives' tales are just that: old tales. My kids never slept better when they started eating or when they hit 13 pounds or when they had lavender baths or went to bed earlier or later or didn't nap or did nap or even were dosed with Benadryl (which I would never do, of course).
My children simply don't sleep for the first nine months of their life. Coincidentally, that is when my children experience the most rapid physical and mental development. I'm convinced that they're just too busy and eager to learn to sleep with any regularity. They have all been great nappers but crappy night-time sleepers. (And since I don't sleep too well when I'm pregnant, it's been about two and a half years since I've had a good night's sleep.)

Lately, Owen has been bucking the bedtime routine.One night this week he was up until 9:30. We had tried several times to get him to sleep, but he kept popping back up, wide eyed and laughing. He spent at least two hours playing quietly on the floor and then finally fell asleep in the chair with Jim.

The next night, after two failed attempts at bedtime, he began clapping his hands for the first time in his life and then tried and almost succeeded in pulling up on the baker's rack. Clearly, I have steroids in my breast milk if my six month old can do that.

Other than that, we like him pretty well. He's growing and learning and laughing at his brother and sister. At his six month appointment last week, Owen weighed in at 18 lbs 14 oz. and is 29 inches tall. He's happy most of the time, even when he's up at night. When he wakes, he usually wants to nurse but doesn't want to go back to sleep. The only reason he cries at night is because we won't play with him. (I know, we're so mean. Who wouldn't want to play with a baby at 3 a.m., right?)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Danny, Owen and I have been recovering from a cold this week. It's been kind of nice.

Wait, that didn't sound right.

What I mean is that pulling back from our regularly scheduled activities has been a breath of fresh air despite all the coughing and boogers. Monday, we took it easy. Tuesday, Danny stayed home from preschool and we played inside, watched videos and eventually went outside to play. By  Wednesday morning, Danny had gotten himself up and dressed, ate breakfast then bundled himself up to go outside by 8:00 a.m. No hounding to get moving, no threats over breakfast, no rushing out the door for preschool, no errands to run.  It was just nice. And Danny and Fiona played together as if they might actually like each other. (Next week, I'm expecting World War III.)

And without further ado ...
Mom, come see, there's a mess. Um, I'd rather not. But thanks for the update.

What's wrong, Mom?
I'm sick.
You need to sleep, he says, nodding his head.
Oh, if only you all would let me.

I went to sleep and woke up and it's still not my birthday. Ooooohhhhh. It's going to be a long month here. His birthday is December 1.

It's not coming off, Danny says of the bite mark that Fiona left on his hand.

Something's sticking in my butt. It's a pine cone, Danny says. Oh joy. The 4-year-old potty talker has arrived.

Here, Fi, put this in your purse, I say when Fiona brings me her purse. We ladies put lots of junk we don't need in there. At that moment, four scrunchies, a baby sock, a medical receipt, a cell phone, one Sea Band, one pen, my midwife's business card, an expired driver's license, a birthday party invitation, about 10 grocery receipts and some cracker crumbs were floating around my purse.

Owie, you're going to try a little something tonight that we like to call sleeping. It's fun, it's easy and it makes people like you better, 'kay? Good thing babies don't get sarcasm. Or maybe they do. He laughed at me when I said this.

I think my prayers were answered, Jim tells me.  ... I got home today and Danny had no voice. Danny, who is incapable of speaking in a normal, non-whiny voice, has been sick with a cold this week. We're so sad for him.

Danny, don't wipe your nose with your spoon. This kid has also managed to wipe his nose on the waistband of his underpants.

Oh, and I just must share this little incident:

I heard Owen laughing hysterically in our bedroom while I was in the laundry closet. I came in to find Owen on his back and Fiona straddling him. He thought it was hilarious. I was terrified. Those two have a little thing going on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One from the kitchen ...

Do you know what this is?

If you answered, "a dried apple," then give yourself a gold star.

Do you know where I found this? If you said, "Trader Joe's", then guess again. I found it ...


(And yes, I did take a little bite out of it. I know, that was very unhygienic of me. But it was also pretty tasty, just like dried apples from Trader Joe's.) 

It occurred to me that in addition to my kitchen floor being a giant trough, it is also a food dehydrator. Go figure.

So ... if a sliver of apple left on the floor for, oh, I don't know, maybe 48 hours turns into a dried apple a la Trader Joe's, then, maybe using just the air in my kitchen and my habit of forgetting about various projects that I've started, I can make dried apples. Chances are by the time I remember the slivers of apple sitting atop my refrigerator, they'll be dried.

And this is what I got ...

Not bad. They're quite tasty, but not as sweet as the floor-dried version. I should have left them longer than 24 hours, but I'm impatient. I like to think of it as Danny's first homeschool science and economics lesson. Using free air in the kitchen instead of a $60 food dehydrator, decomposition and dehydration occurred, creating a tasty little snack or addition to our oatmeal or whatever. And it's a whole lot more hygienic than eating two-day old dried apples from the kitchen trough, er, floor.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Cosmic dot to dot

I made a decision Wednesday afternoon not to attend a childbirth educator workshop as scheduled. It was made an hour before we were set to leave. With the car packed. And my mom there to take care of the older kids. And it was the third time I had changed my mind that day.

The organization I was about to involve my family in is embroiled in a dispute among its members. One camp started its own certifying body in response to years of dissatisfaction with the current management. Lawyers are involved. And very strong, passionate personalities. And a whole lot of contention and uncertainty.

I didn't make this decision with my head, though. It's a little foggy up there from four years of intense sleep deprivation. My gut and my ailing, exhausted body had to convince my brain.

This organizational uprising came to a head Friday, October 29. I was supposed to leave Wednesday, November 3. And now I and countless others are in limbo. Some people I know have switched to the new organization. Others are on the fence. Still others are firmly entrenched with the original group. Clearly, I can't make this decision based on what others are doing.

I'd like to say that 11 years of learning to live a certain way of life helped me let go of the issue and focus on recuperating and spending time with my family this weekend. I spent way too much time monitoring the situation online, which is where much of it played out over the past week. And along with my head exploding
from a vicious cold, it was also bursting with the question of what this all means. Because I want to know right now what the next step is and why this happened when it happened. (Seriously, the timing of this could not have been worse for me. And it's all about me, right?) I really believe things happen for a reason and I'm always intrigued by the timing of such things. I like to connect events and timing in a sort of cosmic dot to dot. It really helps me see the big picture. Unfortunately, completing the dot to dot can takes months, if not years.

One of my earliest school memories was of doing a dot-to-dot picture at my desk while the school principal stood behind me telling a visitor that I was one of the school's star students. Then he leaned in to instruct me not go from number 5 to number 27, but to instead go in numeric order. Even at a young age, I would get ahead of myself in a rush to see the big picture. (Come to think of it, this incident may also have shaped my pathological fear of messing up when others are watching. A shrink would have a very expensive field day with this one.)

Over the weekend, the short-term big picture began to emerge. I could have spent four days at a training workshop with a mind poisoned and distracted by the dirty laundry that had been aired about this group. I would have been sick (by Friday, I had a fever). Owen would have been miserable. Jim would have been frustrated trying to keep him happy. My other kids would have missed us. My parents would have been exhausted. And I would have felt guilty for putting everyone through this and too distracted to concentrate on the training. Our money, time and energy invested in this group would have factored into a looming decision about whether to stay or jump to the new group.

In a way, I'm fortunate. I don't have to make a decision right now. I'm at the beginning of a new career. Actually, I'm at the pre-beginning. I didn't even start. I didn't take the first step, which is what this workshop would have been. Sure, I'd invested some time in the academic requirements. It actually didn't feel like work. I love reading about pregnancy and childbirth. I love being around pregnant and nursing moms who help each other feel empowered through birthing and mothering their babies.

As for the long-term big picture, that one is not so clear. I'd like to go from 5 to 27 in this cosmic dot-to-dot, but the resulting picture just wouldn't make sense. I'd like to just take my "lesson" from this, apply it and move on, but the lesson isn't even clear. I do know, however, that the choice is really about when not who I certify with. Because, ultimately, my loyalty is to my family—the four people who allowed me to personally experience the joy of natural childbirth.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I'm sick. I'm exhausted. I am supposed to be out of town right now. But I'm not. I'm in my kitchen at midnight, gulping ice cold water to soothe my sore throat. I made a decision Wednesday, a very, very last minute decision that I'm still processing. The only thing I know for sure right now is that it is never, ever, ever too late to change your mind about anything if your heart and your gut tell you not to proceed. No matter how much money is at stake, no matter how much time you've invested, no matter who else is affected by your decision, regardless of what others may think.

That is all.

Enjoy this week's offerings and maybe sometime soon I'll be able to process and tell you the what and why and how of this past week (as if you're all waiting with baited breath! Right?).

This is my space. Go find a place where I am not, I tell the kids. Seriously, they were crawling all over and under me while I was trying to type. How dare they.

When are you going to have another baby, mom? Danny asks. Um, how 'bout never? Is never good for you? It occurred to me later that for as long as Danny can remember I have been either pregnant or nursing.

Eggy, Fiona says as she points to the donut holes that Jim brought home. Considering that she doesn't like eggs, I think I'll just let her believe that one.

What did they talk about at church today, Danny? I ask

Goslings, he replies. Then he goes into a long diatribe about goose poop.

A few minutes later ...

Jim, Danny says they talked about goslings at church today. 
Oh, yeah, the holy gosling according to professor Gilbert. (PG is his stuffed, blind kitty.)
Darn, he's pretty good at translating!

It's sticking out, Danny says of his, um, member which is sticking out of his underwear.
Um, let me straighten out the waistband, I say, hoping this solves things. (It doesn't.)
It's still sticking out, he shrieks.
Um, just grab it and shift it over, I say. I am so not prepared to deal with boy issues. Who knew there needed to be a lesson on "shifting"? Jim, you want to take this one?

You know your kitchen floor is dirty is when you're sweeping up utensils, I remarked to Jim as he was making dinner.
He countered, You know your kitchen floor is dirty when you're sweeping up before dinner.

Good night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spiritually disheveled and that's okay

Shortly after Fiona's and Owen's baptism, we began going back to mass. Partly out of guilt. After their baptism, the priest asked if we were new in the parish as he hadn't seen us around. I told him that we've come on and off for years (mostly off) and that it was hard to get here with the children.

Since September we've managed to make it about every other week. This past weekend was the first time we'd made it for the second weekend in a row. And I'm using the term "made it" pretty loosely. This past Sunday, there was not much difference between night and morning thanks to Owen. Jim had taken Owen out to the 24-hour Wal-Mart so I could sleep in and brought back donut holes. I managed to get the two older kids dressed and fed and myself showered. But Owen wound up losing the getting dressed lottery and went in his pajamas. Turns out he wasn't the only disheveled one in our bunch. As I unbuckled Fiona in the church parking lot, I discovered that she had only one shoe on.

Unlike previous Sundays, the kids were restless and not able to be quiet. Fiona ran around the halls while Jim policed her (maybe giving her a donut hole was not such a good idea); I tried to console cranky Owen while trying to listen to the homily from the hallway. Danny did go into the children's Mass eventually and later told us they talked about goslings (that would be the Holy Gospel). We left before hitting the host. All in all, it was the worst attempt at Mass we've had since we started going back.

When we returned home, Jim finished repairing the kids' wagon (that mommy broke about a year ago when she hurled it over the fence after breaking up one too many fights between the kids). We took a walk down the cul-de-sac, then a hike in the woods across the street. I'm pretty sure God is in the woods on beautiful fall days.

I have a pretty good grasp on how to teach our kids many, many things—reading and match concepts, most manners, getting dressed, hygiene and so on. For some reason, though, teaching and talking about Jesus have been more difficult for us. We're not deeply religious people. We don't pray much around the kids, although Jim used to do bedtime prayers with Danny. We don't talk about Jesus too often, although Danny did excitedly proclaim recently that God made gum. We hadn't gone to church regularly because our specific denomination offers little in the way of child care or even age-appropriate programs. Yet we are deeply spiritual people. We rely on God's wisdom and God's grace every minute of every day, sometimes even without consciously knowing it. And that is difficult to explain to young children.

At Danny's preschool, they emphasize prayer as a habit, part of their daily routine. They pray when they begin their morning, when the eat snack and when they close for the day. That's good. At home, Danny now sets up the snack, getting out cups and napkins and exhorting us to pray. "Let's pray for food," he says. And he folds his little hands and says, "God is great. Thank you for food. Amen." He doesn't close his eyes, though. His first introduction to prayer was at school was a bit traumatic. The teacher told the kids to close their eyes. He did. And then he freaked out, crying "It's dark. It's dark. I can't see."

Many churches introduce children to Jesus through Bible stories. I've read Danny a few Bible stories, but his eyes glaze over. He can probably sense that I'm not too interested myself. As a child, I knew all the stories. My understanding of them was a little odd, though. For instance, I really believed that Jesus was born every Christmas and somehow four months later he was a man who hung on the cross, was buried and then rose again.  I had a very vivid picture of these things in my head. I remember being sad and anxious around Easter time because, in Jerusalem, people were getting ready to crucify Jesus. And when you think about the imagery surrounding such stories, it's hard to explain without giving kids nightmares. Daniel was put in a lion's den and prayed that he wouldn't get eaten. Three men whose names I won't dare try to spell were put in a furnace for not bowing down to an idol. God told Abraham to sacrifice his own son on the altar and he almost did. And the man who saved all these men was hung on a cross to die for our sins. There must be better ways to teach faith, loyalty and sacrifice than through Old Testament horror stories and the crucifixion.

I certainly didn't learn those things from the stories of Jesus' life and those who followed him in the early years. Relating my life to Biblical principles came only after, well, living my life. My life experience, some of it rather rough and dark, was what brought me into the fold. The church of my youth actually caused me to flee from the fold.

Would I have known Jesus was even there without the Biblical foundation offered in church? Maybe not. But my point here is that my road back to a relationship with God was a hard one, seemingly made more difficult by church and the ideas that were put in my head at a very young age.

My son may be on to something with his aversion to closed-eye prayer. I tend to pray with my eyes open. It's then that I see what's before me. And when I see what's before me, I am grateful and when I'm grateful, I pray. Even when what's before me does not appear to be ideal. Even when life is stormy. Even when the next right thing to do is not clear.

I wrote the preceding paragraph about two months ago and really needed to be reminded of that this morning as I struggle with what to do next in a certain situation. If Owen hadn't gotten up this morning at 4:30 a.m. (and gone back to sleep), I wouldn't be sitting at my kitchen table rereading these words, taking them to heart and praying a prayer of gratitude for the wisdom God surely gave me, for the grace He bestows and the spiritual discipline that He has imposed and I have accepted over the years. 

Spiritual discipline is a hard thing to teach to a child. But it's the only thing that makes sense in my world. We'll stumble along with the Lord as our guide, though, and hopefully, our children will see faith in all its messy action.