today’s dialogue

Mom: I am going to the library to return those books and the movie. Please go get “The Rookie” and its case.

Kait: Yes ma’am.

Kait leaves the room and a few minutes pass.

Kait: Mom, where is the case to “The Rookie”?

Mom: Um, I don’t know. You watched the movie yesterday. Where did you put the case? Maybe it was accidentally put with the other movies.

Kait: (yelling downstairs) BOYS! We need to find the case the “The Rookie”.

Stomping can be heard as the boys stampeed up the stairs.

Kait: do you guys know where the movie case to “The Rookie” is?

Joe: I don’t know.

Gabe: What are we doing again?

Mom: did anybody check to see if it is in with OUR movies?

Kait checks the wooden coffee table cupboard, twice.

Gabe: It’s in there Kaitlyn, I can see it right through the coffee table.

Kait: It’s not in there Gabe. I checked twice.

Gabe: (head straight down on the coffee table as if peering inside) It’s in there, your just missing it. I can see it with my x-ray vision.

Kait: (totally annoyed) This isn’t a game, Gabe. This is reality.

Mom and dad give eachother a funny look.

Joe: I know where it is! It is down stairs, I’ll get it.

About 10 seconds go by.

Gabe: Oh, I know where it is. It is down stairs on the DVD player. I’ll get it.

5 or so minutes go by.

Mom: Maybe it is in with the other movies.

Joe and Gabe return from their underground lair.

Joe: It isn’t down there.

Gabe: I will check to see if it is with the other movies.

2 or 3 more minutes go by.

Kait: I found it.

Mom: where was it?

Kait: Down stairs.

Mom: where downstairs?

Kait: In the video drawer with the other movies.

Mom: You mean it was with the other movies?

Kait: yeah, somebody must have mistakenly put it away.

This little short drama is brought to you by the Culbertson kids. What a group of total space cadets.

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Go Forth And Multiply… The Links???

It seems that my husband and I are cursed to only be able to produce little Links. I am not sure what the problem is, maybe it is the beans, or tortillas. Or maybe it is that stinking video game, Zelda.

Joseph is 8 and his whole life revolves around this little green character. He rarely gets to play video games – When I say rarely I mean like once or twice a month for maybe a half hour at a time. I think this might be why he pretends it so much. He made a costume and shield out of spare fabric and wood scraps and wears it every day.

What is it about this little elf-like creature that has him so obsessed? I never pretended to be Pac-Man or Donky Kong as a child. The thought never crossed my mind! Could you even imagine what that might have looked like? All little girls would pretend to be princesses and all little boys would pretend to be GI Joe’s. (For a while I pretended to be married to Joey Joe McIntyre ~ but that is an embarassing story for another day).

So, now Gabe(5) and Matthew(3) have started following suit. They are both wandering around the house saying “HUU” all the time while jumping or slicing through invisible villians with their swords. I now have the blessing of 3 little Links accompanying me.

Everywhere I go.

Everyday.

I am happy to see that they have such great imaginations and I am pleased that they are able to construct costumes and do woodwork to make shields, however, I am getting really tired of having Links at every turn. It is madness!

I remember once, quite few years back, that Joe actually cried when I told him that he wasn’t really Link. He was Joe, pretending to be Link. We had to explain this because of an incident with another child and he didn’t understand. When I asked why he was crying he said “I thought I really was Link”. At that moment I almost cried, myself, thinking that my child had some warped brain disease that caused him to confuse reality with pretend. A quick talk to some elementary educators relieved me of my concern. They said “no, it isn’t just Joe, all little boys are weird. Just be glad he isn’t pretending to be Cinderella”.

We are praying that Joe will grow out of this soon – and take his younger brothers with him. But, until then, we will just take pictures and video so we can laugh at him 20 years from now when he has his own wife with a little dude following her around doing the exact same thing.

Now, if only I possessed the talent to steer his imagination the way I wanted it to go and have him pretend to be somebody useful like, say, Emeril Lagasse.

I must go. I’ve gotta pry the Link suits off my sons’ and get them ready for church!

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Oh Where Art Thou Tomatoes?

Every so often, usually this is a good 4 or 5 times a day, something goes missing in our house. Usually, it is a sock or slightly more significant, a shoe. Never a pair of anything, just one and they always disappear right before we have to rush off somewhere.

Today it was not a sock, nor a shoe, that had me looking all over. Today, it was about 5 freshly picked tomatoes that were in our tomato bin ~ I know this because tomatoes are my very favorite food. I have a tomato sandwich every morning for breakfast and yesterday we had quite a number of tomatoes in the bin on our counter, this morning there were none.

How curious.

I looked all over. Did one of the kids put them in the fridge for some reason? No. Did my daughter eat them last night while we were out? No. Were they trashed? A quick inspection of the kitchen trash told me the answer was no. Don’t worry, I wasn’t going to get them out and eat them – or at least I wouldn’t tell you if I did. I just wanted to know if I should stop looking for them. I looked for a short while and then gave up, deciding that I had more pressing things to do.

Like reheat and drink the coffee I had poured an hour before.

I went on about my chores, picking up toys off the kitchen floor so Kaitlyn could sweep and mop. I thought about the fresh picked tomatoes a few times throughout my day and was baffled at what happened to them. Nobody knew. Not even a clue was left as to what happened to my beloved tomatoes – though we questioned the troops, save the 19 month old who would have nodded yes to anything we asked him.

It was just about time to start making dinner. I needed my dinner making caffine fuel so I grabbed the coffee pot and poured a fresh cup. I usually use a flavored, refrigerated creamer but I am running low and doing my best to conserve. Sugar and milk it was. I grabbed the milk out of the refrigerator and moved to our large sugar bowl. When I took off the lid and stuck my spoon in it hit something a little non-sugar like. I peered in to see what? Is that a tomato??? Sure enough, all of my tomatoes were snug in my sugar bowl.

Now this is curious.

Everybody in my family enjoys tomatoes except for Joe. He doesn’t like them so we never force him to eat them unless they are baked into what we are having ~ he doesn’t seem to mind them that way. So that rules out somebody hiding them so nobody will use them for dinner. We also have more tomatoes ripening in a friends garden across the street where we can pick them freely. So that rules out somebody hiding them so I won’t eat them all.
We question everybody again, hoping to find out what exactly happened – simply out of curiosity. Nobody was in trouble. I was actually finding the entire situation quite humerous. Once again they all were clueless. Of course we didn’t ask the baby. At 19 months old he couldn’t possibly have any idea how the tomatoes made their way into the sugar bowl.

The baby.

It suddenly dawned on me that I had found him earlier in the morning perched on a chair trying to flour his face. I looked at him again and it all became clear! The tomatoes were sitting in the bin, which resides right next to the flour bowl, which neighbors the sugar bowl.
We had figured it out! Ben, our sweet little monkey (much the climbing child), had put the tomatoes in the sugar bowl, put the lid back on it without spilling anything onto the counter, then opened the flour bowl and proceded to decorate himself.

And, with that, the tomato mystery was solved. Now, if I could only figure out where he stowed the match to my brand new, very expensive, Harley Davidson riding gloves. Perhaps we will never know. Or just perhaps it is sharing a jar with the rice!

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Human Preservation Obsolves Kids’ Toys Of Guilt

God Blesses us in so many ways. I was just telling my husband last night that I have been happier in my first decade as an adult than I ever was as a child (I didn’t reach adulthood until I was about 22 years old). I would never go back to childhood in a million years. It wasn’t horrible, but my life now is just so filled with joy.

Like the joy of Matchbox car foot puncture in the dead of night.

My kitchen looks more like a playroom than a place set aside for preparing food. There are more children’s objects on the floor of the kitchen at any given time than anywhere else in the house.
Why? Nobody plays in the kitchen. There isn’t a jungle gym in there. It is not bright and colorful to attract stray play things who are bored of being alone in their rightful places.

I have recently been enlightened after pondering the kitchen toy floor problem.

The answer is that quite often, what you will find in our kitchen is food and our children live to eat. You would think that they had only heard of and smelled food but never actually tasted it. When we sit down to meals they eat like mad, dish after dish, until there is no more (with the exception of Gabe, who eats a lot but does it ever so sllloooowwwwlllllyyyy).

Recently I have taken to paying more attention to the toy issue, sure that I would likely spy toys sneaking around corners then making their break for the kitchen before the cat sees them and attacks. What I was surprised to find is that it actually wasn’t the toys themselves that were the culprits.

Here’s what I’ve discovered. 
It turns out that when my kids smell food they run into the kitchen, toys dangling from their short, child sized arms. As soon as they spy food on the table their little hands open in glee and whatever they are holding falls crashing to the floor. This appears to be an instinctive reaction designed to preserve and prolong life because you can tell by the way they race to the table, sit there wiggling and waiting for the blessing to be said, that they are, in fact, on the verge of starvation.

It is so good to know that they have that instinctive reaction. They definitely got that one from me, for I am known to drop everything and run for coffee in the same child like fashion that my kids run for food. Speaking of coffee…

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Gifts of the dryer Elite

Ben (19 months) is sleeping, Matthew (3) is killing his own guys, not sure about that one. Joe (8) and Gabe (5) are playing some board game that consists of killing troops and taking over the world. Kait (11) is sitting with her 10 year old cousin giving her a lesson in website construction – being that Kait has constructed many webpages, including designing eBay when she was 3 – she knows everything about website building, satellite and shuttle operations, and everything else, being that she is coming into that all knowing kid stage. The pre-teen years.

I have just taken a break from piddling around the house kinda doing chores – laundry, dishes, and stuff. My adventures as mom of this home have brought me great gifts. I get tons of hugs, smiles from happy kids, and gifts from my Elite dryer.
Let me explain.
One would be happy to find money in the dryer on a regular basis. Whenever I find money in the dryer I feel like I’ve actually been paid to do a chore. However, money is poo compared to what I have had the pleasure of uncovering as I emptied the dryer today.

It was a old and rusty belt buckle. It did not originate in this house. We have no idea where it came from, but what a joy, none-the-less. I am sure if we cleaned the 100 year old rust off of it we might find something worth, say, a moldy raisin ~ which is better than a kick in the head!

All our boys are denying that they found and left a belt buckle in their pocket, though we are pretty sure we know how this treasure ended up as part of our Elite gift basket (we toss all our dryer gifts into a basket on top of the dryer). As we have mentioned before, we have 4 boys. They are the delight of our lives.

Sometimes.

These little guys spend hours on back yard excavation and we live in a 100 year old house. They aren’t looking for rusty belt buckles, those are just perks. They hunt specifically for bones. My daughter and I find this completely gross but my boys are facinated with animal femurs and such and have collected a growing number of them. They are neatly displayed on a shelf in their room, where occasionally they jump off, roll across the room and hobble up the stairs to my kitchen floor, because, of course, none of my boys would ever do such a thing as break the rules and carry them around dropping them places…but that is another story.

So, we feel it is a safe bet to guess that it is probably one of the boys, while excavating, happened to sit down beside said belt buckle and it somehow fell into their pocket without them knowing.

Hmmm – that would actually explain a lot.

I guess maybe one of these days I should teach my daughter (and train myself) to start checking pockets before we wash clothes. But the draw back of that would be that we might miss out on the next gift – maybe it will be something really worth saving.

Like a rock in the shape of a rock.

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gearing down for the holidays

The holdays are somewhat humerous. Christmas is a mere 4 months away and you know what that means, slick roads and fender benders. I, personally, refuse to drive when it gets below 40 degrees. I have no real good reason for this except that it is cold. This pretty much takes out the holiday season for me because we live in Eastern WA state where it likes to stay in the teens and 20’s much of the time.

Christmas gift shopping consists of eBay searches and web surfing, then one or two hours at our local shopping mall – this is, in fact, the only time during the year we take the entire family to the mall together. Splitting up kids and setting watches is followed by mad dashes, hiding behind store shelves when we accidentally meet up in the same store, and then waiting and waiting because, inevitably, either my husband or my watch breaks every time. Or is it that we forget to look at our watch?

Anyway, this one day drives me crazy. After about two sips of water and 10 emergency visits to the bathroom (ya’ll with kids know what I am talking about)we finally get pointed towards the exit, hide all the gifts from eachother in the back of our subdivision (suburban), pile the kids into the car and buckle smelly carseats, we finally arrive home. Then there are hours of gift wrapping, which results in the ugliest wrapped gifts I have ever encountered. Always having a baby in the house has taught me that pretty ribbons and bows are to be worn by children and pets, not packages. This doesn’t really matter anyway because under our tree gets so full that you cannot see where one gift ends and the other begins.

I say HOGWASH to Chrismas this way! There will be absolutely no more of this crazy nonsense for our family. We always end up over spending, racking up credit cards, and purchasing things that, honestly, have absolutely no use or meaning outside the few weeks that surround Christmas ~ and assist in taking away from the true meaning of the day.
After a very short 9 word suggestion from me, Ryan excitedly agreed that this year would be different. There will be no presents except for maybe a pajama outfit and the annual Christmas ornament each of the children receive to save for their own trees when they are married with families. This year we will start our own very special tradition. We are leaving town for a week and going to a nice cabin in the middle of nowhere with a few sleds and snowmobiles ~ and our beloved kids.
Expecting sighs of disgust from our grief stricken children, we were pleasantly surprised to be met with shreaks of joy and excitement.

So, our Christmas will be real this year. Real family, real good food, and real meaning. Christ is our savior and celebrating him should be our focus everyday ~ allowing Christmas to get in the way of that is just unexceptable!

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A Blessed Marriage

My husband and I have been married close to 10 years now. When we married both of our lives were headed down very rocky roads (a story for another day). God definitely had a hand in our union as Ryan and I joined lives and became one.
Learning to live with a perfect stranger, which he was at the time, was as much a learning experience as it was an adventure. Not only have I learned how to do laundry, cook and clean, I have also learned that my husband loves Jalapenos. His favorite past time is camping and he can bake a mean homemade pizza. He loves people and he is the life of any party. He is funny, goofy, and will make a joke and get me laughing to spare a fight.
What I have also learned is that he is a do-er. He wants to get things done. He is a family man more than anything else and he takes his God given roll as our protector very seriously. Not understanding this about him has moved me to frustration many times. You see, I am a recovering complainer. Complaining makes me feel better and so I do it every time I am feeling sad, sick, tired, or frustrated. I was quite sad and tired for about a year of my life. I wasn’t depressed by any means, I just missed home because we had moved and I had a hard time adjusting without my church family and my dear sister. Without coming out and saying it I did blame him. My husband had made the choice to stay in the Navy which caused us to have many more moves ahead of us.
I started to complain about everything. I never had a good day and when I did I declined to tell him about it. I made an effort to find something to complain about when he asked me how my day was. Complaining became a habit, something I did without even thinking about it. I didn’t want to make him feel bad, I just wanted him to know that I was not happy where we were. I guess I just wanted him to turn back time and change his decision.
I was very selfish. I never thought about how my unhappiness might be effecting him or my kids. My dear husband, who was struggling in a Navy school trying to make a better living so he could support the ever growing family he was completely devoted to, was met with ill will and discontent after each hard days work. The decision he made to leave our beloved Carolina home to continue in his Navy career was not made selfishly. He made this decision with a prayerful heart and us in mind. He knew that as long as he was in the military his family would be taken care of. A guaranteed paycheck, free medical care, and family resources at every turn was hard to pass up, even if it meant working a job with impossible and ungodly people, leaving for extended periods of time, and dealing with a schedule that doesn’t always permit families. What a tremendous amount of responsibility he has to carry, and then with the added job of trying everything to satisfy the wife he dearly loves – he must have been stressed to the max!
I am not really sure how, when, or why I came around. Maybe it was when I dove deeper into my Bible studies, or maybe when it was when I noticed the stress he carried leaving its mark on his physical body. He was tired, sluggish, and very quiet. He stopped laughing as much and was short tempered with the kids. Although he would never admit it, it started to appear like he didn’t want to be home with us anymore.
No matter what it was, I knew something had to change.
I sought at first to try to change him. I would ask him all kinds of questions about how he was feeling; That maybe we should have stayed in Carolina and he would have been happier. Maybe he should think about dropping out of the program. We never fought about it, it was just conversation. I was trying to find something in him. I was seeking his happiness. It was quite a while before I realized that I was holding his peace captive in my own unhappiness.

No, I am not under the assumption that you should blame other people for your actions or re-actions. My husband NEVER blamed me for his period of restlessness. To this day, it has never been deeply discussed. However, I know that I did not play a helpful roll in taking some of the stress off of his shoulders. All I did was put fuel on the fire of voices in his head saying “you made a horrible mistake, look at what you have done to your family, all this work is for nothing, you are failing at your #1 most important job, you have caused your family to suffer”.

Wow! Those kinds of convictions would put stress on ANY man who is trying to do best for his family. And blessed that we are, our year of uneasiness passed quickly. Ryan asked me once, after asking about my day and hearing my “poor me” response, if I was just going to mope and pout forever. There was a mix of such sadness and irritation in his voice and it was at that moment that it dawned on me that I needed to change ME, not HIM for the betterment of our family. Over the next few months I struggled with complaining. I would catch myself telling him how horrible my day was so I would try to add something like “but…. ” and would desperately search for something good to say. I still have complaining issues. I am a recovering complainer so I am always tempted to unload my frustrations on him. He doesn’t mind it every once in a while and I know that I always have him to turn to when I really need an ear to listen to me. Being the do-er that he is he desperately wants to fix what is wrong, be my godly protector, and I have learned that if it isn’t fixable I might not need to say anything. Complaining is okay, in careful moderation.

So, my new idea of wife-ing ~ Do what I can for my man! I love him, pray for him, feed him, keep the house tidy (okay, I am not super great at that one, but I try), I tell him how happy he makes me all the time, and I try to take care of the little things so that the big things don’t seem so bad.

That short season in our marriage didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Looking back, however, I see it in an entirely different light. Our marriage was never on the edge or ruin but our spirits were beginning to grow apart. How uneasy it makes me to think where that could have led. Thank the Lord for His hand in our lives!

We truly do have a blessed marriage!

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Our Blessed Arrows

“Our Blessed Arrows” is from our families favorite Bible verse.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them… Psalm 127

My husband and I have 5 children and counting. Our oldest and only girl, Kaitlyn, is 11. Joseph is 8, Gabriel is 5, Matthew is 3, and Benjamin as 18 months. I doubt we will reach the count of the the Duggar Family (15 kids!) but I know God will bless us with at least a few more children.

I have had to give up a lot to have this family. My ideas of life before kids were hanging out, partying, going to bed late and waking up around noon. I didn’t much like to clean, or even know how really. I cooked Mac N Cheese, Top Ramen, and made turkey sandwiches. My life was a mess. I had no ambition, no direction, no drive, no life. I was basically that kid that was never gonna grow up who would probably live in her parent’s basement forever jumping from one bad relationship to another except my parents didn’t have a basement and I wasn’t even together enough to have a bad relationship.

Having a family really set something off inside of me. I am passionate about being a wife and mother. I am a stay at home wife and mother and we homeschool our younguns. I have given up TV, staying out late, having an outside job, fancy clothes and cars (not that I ever had any of those), and so much more than I can even list.

Do I regret it? Not for a second. My goal is not to see how rich I can become, or how big a name I can make for myself. My goal in this life is to follow Gods will for me, acknowledge and accept his numerous gifts and blessings, and raise my children in a Christian household while training them up to be strong Christian adults.
There are many other things I want to have or do. There are earthly treasures that seem to call my name at every turn. I want and want and want. I am a selfish human. However, by giving up my strong will to God, something I find can only be learned by doing it over and over again, I have found an unearthly peace and comfort. I have discovered there is so much joy to be had by just being a wife and mother, by just living the life God intended for me.

By simply surrendering my earthly ideas of success I have come to understand what being truly content means. I know what peace feels like.

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