Yes, we live in Idaho. Yes, we love it. And for several years we did live next to a potato field. We've come to believe that Idaho might be one of the best kept secrets on the planet--partly because nobody knows where it is or even that it exists. No, we never dreamed of living here, but we also never thought we'd have so many girls in our family.

Here are some of our family adventures and other stuff that just needs to get out of mama's head and into type because sometimes she feels pretty profound. Yes, I have opinions. Sometimes those opinions are strong opinions. But I try to be as nice as possible when expressing them and mean no offense. So just chill and hear me out.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 11, 2014

An anniversary to remember

Over the last seven months I have had many experiences I have never had before.  Most of them have been life changing.  But frankly, I wasn't looking for anything life changing.  I also wasn't looking for the amount of stress I have experienced. 

Our house finally sold.   This came after seven months of living without a husband.  It is a relief to finally be moving forward with that.  We stayed at our place in Idaho so the kids could finish school and a few other commitments before we took off for Montana.  Especially since we didn't have a place to go to in Montana.  I have a new respect for families that live apart.  It is definitely  not my preference.

The first three weeks he was gone at least one kid threw up every day.  I finally realized it was anxiety since it kept going around and it was only once and they were done for a few days.  It also made sense that when a pack of kids whose dad is super awesome and super involved in their lives suddenly find themselves without a dad on a daily basis could experience some anxiety.  But still it was not fun.

It was not fun for us adults either.  I have had that man around for long enough that he is now a part of me.  And neither one of us have been apart for more than a couple days or a week at a time.  People ask how he is managing or how I am doing with the kids and I can't put it into words really.  I am not worried about him taking care of himself or me getting the garbage taken out.  He can cook and clean do laundry and take care of himself just fine.  I can take the garbage out, feed, cloth and bathe four kids, cook, clean and do laundry, and haul them and their horses around the country.  I can even unplug a septic system if I need to.  (Yes, I do know that to be a fact since it has been tested and proven that I can wrestle the lid off a septic tank, diagnose that the potty-training boy needs to not use a wad of toilet paper as big as his head, and fix the problem with a hose and a giant metal rod that weighs almost as much as I do.)

I already knew I have awesome friends and neighbors.  But they have also been tested and proven.  I have been sour and angry and not my normal self.  They have taken my children, brought food and coffee and beer, helped pack, fed cats, checked the house, returned routers, mowed the lawn, and just about everything else that I could not do from where I was.  They have saved my sanity by calling even from clear across the country just to check on me even after I lost my sense of humor and felt like a needy pile of angry and emotional liability that lives with her parents.  In short, I have not been a pleasant person lately and they all loved on me anyway.  I am so thankful.

Yes, at thirty-nine and married with four kids, I am living with my parents.  Here we are a good four hours closer to the husband and the horses are just down the road.  I am super thankful for that as well. 

Yesterday we had two trailers packed beyond capacity with our stuff, four kids and a dog and headed out with our two old vehicles that have over 400,000 miles between them over two mountain passes in 90+ degree weather.  I have never pulled a trailer that heavy and that far following my husband with four kids and a dog.  But I had told him I would do whatever he needed me to do.  I trust the man and would obviously follow him anywhere. 

Still, I was praying for an anniversary miracle at 60 miles an hour. 

The trip was absolutely uneventful.  I am beyond thankful.

Over Lookout Pass I felt my sense of humor start to loosen a little.  I decided that Lewis and Clark probably went faster on their way back home than we were going.  But that didn't make me go any faster.  I don't think I could have if I even wanted to.

About half an hour from our destination the husband called me.  He had a smile in his voice and something to say. 

"Do you realize that eighteen years ago we had all our belongings packed and we were headed out of Montana?  And today we have all our belongings packed with four kids and a dog and we are headed back to Montana?"

He was right.  We were freshly married, as in hours married, and headed out for Oregon and ultimately Washington.  I don't think I would call it irony.  But somehow this whole adventure feels right again.  For a while it just felt like a miserable holding pattern, not an adventure.  In fact, I resented that term "adventure" for a really long time.  When we made the decision to move, I remember it felt like we were supposed to be doing it.  And then we hunkered down without him and waited.  And he hunkered down without us and waited.

We were all lonely and miserable.  There was even a point in February that we didn't see him for three weeks because the weather kept him away.  It was a really long three weeks.

I finally figured out that we were waiting for something to happen.  I have no idea what we are still waiting for, but after that I could feel my hope returning and a new confidence that things were bound to just click into place if I was patient enough.  My sense of humor was coming back, and I could use words like "adventure" to refer to our life again.

Through it all I have realized a few things.  Being separated from my husband is miserable.  And it isn't about not having him around to back me up when I could use some help with the kids or take out the trash or even take care of a septic system gone backwards.  It's about him coming home every night to his family and just being there.  It's about having him available to talk things through and muse about our days and the kids and the kids being able to pile onto him and get what they need from their dad.  It's about having him being able to just grab me while I am in the kitchen and kissing me and hugging me just because he can and he wants to.  It's about having him in my bed every night and waking up to him every morning.  It is about being able to stop by his office while we are in town and just seeing him and knowing he is close.  It's because we have a good marriage and without him I am literally missing a huge piece of who I am and who we are and how we work.

Without him there is a giant void that cannot be filled.  It is HIM that we miss.  And being with him makes life so much better.  Being without him is miserable.  So miserable that I believe that I can say without a doubt that I understand why some marriages don't make it through this kind of upheaval we have experienced.  This has been the hardest year of our eighteen year marriage.  But I believe that what doesn't kill you does make you stronger and knowing what I have makes me want to hold onto it even tighter and cherish it even more deeply. Time and again it would be horribly tense up until that moment he walked through the door.  And that moment I saw him all that miserableness would just melt away and suddenly it was all okay and I just needed to hold him and be held. 

Someone asked me a few weeks ago why I haven't been blogging.  I answered him quite honestly that I haven't been blogging because I really have nothing nice to say.  I am too angry and I don't want to put that out there.  It is not who I am and apparently I have to deal with it a little more quietly than some people.

Actually, I don't deal with anger quietly.  But I don't deal with it publicly.  Maybe that is more accurate. 

But even with all that has been going on, I think the kids are having a good summer.  We have been riding horses (even me!) and they are doing the summer reading program and the summer explorers down at the Grand-Kohrs Ranch.  We went Oregon to visit family, to Eastern Idaho to see all our great friends down there and we have seen their daddy quite a lot.  We have begun exploring Montana and have a list to continue.  They all have the tan lines to prove that summer has been great fun. And we can't discount that it is the summer at grandma and grandpa's.  What kid doesn't love living with grandma and grandpa for a summer?

It has definitely been a year of many changes.  But now we are moving in the right direction.  And we have a new appreciation for what we have.  And really, what we have is each other.  Definitely an anniversary of note in our lives together.  I may even go as far as to say that the anniversary itself is a miracle.  So we had two miracles yesterday.  And I am so very thankful. 

The adventure, to be continued . . .

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Violet!

Little Blondie Pants turned SIX yesterday.  She was SO excited.

I don't know if she was more excited about turning six or about getting a Snackeez.  She has been asking for one for MONTHS, actually.  Ever since she saw the commercial.  When she was opening her very last present, she declared that "I hope it is a Snackeez!"

Good thing her mother pays attention to these things.  Her birthday may have been ruined had it been something else. 

Her daddy even surprised her and made it home for dinner (He is working out of town.).  She had been asking him if he would FaceTime during dinner so he could share her birthday dinner with us.   (She chose ham and rice and peas.)  He told her he would do his best.  Then he just strolled around the corner with a dozen roses behind his back.  She saw him first and launched at him exclaiming, "DADDY!"  It was precious and I may have just sat there on the verge of tears.

There is a lot going on in our lives right now, but a little blond girl's birthday is really important.  And as far as I can tell, with a horseback ride in the morning and her daddy showing up for her dinner and her uncle and aunt and cousin and grandma and grandpa and mom and siblings helping her celebrate by eating homemade ice cream, she is one special little girl. 

She is also a beautiful little girl.  Inside and out.  We love our little Violet.  And we look forward to watching her grow into the beautiful young lady we see budding behind those blue eyes. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A girl and her horse: Thank you my old friend

A couple weeks ago a friend and I were watching our girls ride horses.  Grace's friend has this great little horse that she rides all the time.  They have been together for several years now and they have a whole lot of fun together.  They have that bond that only exists between a girl and her horse.  The one that comes from working together and struggling with what it is to learn from each other and teach each other how it works.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.

I commented to my friend that that horse is going to be a part of who her daughter is forever.  That horse will always be a piece of her.  I guess you can say that I speak from experience.

In the early 1980s my dad traded two bull calves for a colt, Shamere.  He was a wild thing.  We had to rope him to catch him, actually.  He was 3/4 Arabian and 1/4 quarter horse.  Nothing special in his blood lines.  Nothing special to look at.  Horse people would think that anyway. But he was mine.

I had no idea what I was doing, but he and I struck out in the world and finally came to many agreements.  Agreements such as I don't mind a crow hop every now and again, but I like to keep my behind where I had it.  And he can go fast, but on my terms, but he better cross the canal when I want him to or we will spend an hour or more coming back to it and actually be at it long enough that great grandpa notices and walks all the way out to the back forty just to check on us.

And speaking of that old cowboy, we went with great grandpa on his last ride.  It happened rather spur of the moment.  We had been working cows at his place and when we were done we had an extra horse that needed to get back home.  I think someone kind of jokingly said, "Grandpa could ride her."  And then we all looked at one another a bit surprised like.  I had never seen him on a horse.  But gosh darn if he didn't end up on old Peanuts and we rode the two miles home.  I remember looking at him on that horse.  He had that faraway look in his eyes.  I still get choked up thinking about it.

Shamere and I spent all our time chasing cows or running around in the foothills of our mountains.  We swam canals, jumped logs, jumped over puddles, carried calves in from the back forty, and one time we even got hit by a mad bull.  I rarely had the inclination to even put a saddle on, which meant he spent some time standing in low spots and being lead around so I could find the right rock to use as a booster.

He was my friend, my therapy, and my escape.  I would come home from school or finish my jobs for the day and go find him for a ride in the hills.  I always came back a better person and I am positive that did my family good.

He gave rides to anyone who visited and wanted a ride.  He even did a birthday party once.

When dad sold the farm, Shamere came to live with us in Washington.  There he introduced our kids and their friends to riding.  It was incredible.  If I got on him, he would dance around and just want to go.  But if we put any of the kids on him, he would just stand there and wait for us to tell him what to do.  And the best story of all is when my very pregnant-with-twins friend got on him and took off in an attempt to move things forward a little.  Or a lot.  It didn't work, at least immediately, but it still makes for a good story!  My friends and their kids love him still.  The old man was touching lives outside of our family.

Then he moved to Eastern Idaho with us.  And then North Idaho.  Here he spent the last two years teaching Grace a thing or two about riding.  She even took him to 4-H horse camp last year.  She spent a bunch of time getting him into shape and they had a great time.  He showed off his cow sense (which was nothing to brag about really other than he knew they were cows and had an idea of what to do with them, which was more than most of the other horses in there!).  He played cowboy polo, experienced an English saddle, and got all dressed up for drill team.  It may have been the busiest week of his life!  But he was absolutely up for it and it was an incredible week for us all.

Later that summer the girls took the horses swimming.  And wouldn't you know it if the old man was the only horse that would actually swim!  That's a long way from the young guy who wouldn't cross the canal and always shied away and dumped me off in puddles.  He probably just thought it was fun. 

I think the most impressive is that he and Grace were winning ribbons those two years.  I didn't do anything like that with him and the idea that he was out there winning ribbons with my kid was a bit unbelievable.

That bond was forming.  I loved watching it.

Last summer Grace got a new horse.  Thanks to what Shamere taught her, she is teaching that horse a thing or two about what she expects from a horse.  The bar has been set pretty high.  Just this week I was watching her with that new horse, Custer.  He was feeling his youth and giving her a bit of a hard time.  And she lit into him and made him pay attention and start behaving.  I stood on the deck just watching and swelling with pride.

With the new horse for the older girls (we got a little old lady mare for Calla and she is in LOVE!) Shamere started getting more attention from the five-year-old girl.  We would saddle him and throw her on and they would ride around and around in the field out front.  She loved it.  He loved it.  He had a new girl.

But just like everything else, my old boy was getting old.  Last summer the vet told me he was running of teeth.  It is really hard to eat without teeth.  And he was suffering from what she calls "the curse of the gray horse."  Basically, they start to get melanomas growing all over their bodies.  But he still looked good and was eager to please.  In fact, at one of Grace's shows last summer, he scared the daylights out of her when he gave her a little crow hop in one of the events.  Apparently he forgot that he was almost 30.  I got it on video.

Last summer at camp, he actually bit Grace.  Up to that point, he had never bitten anyone.  Looking back, I think that cinching him up that particular time actually hurt.  This spring I realized that he hadn't wintered well, at all.  He seemed weak and had lost a lot of weight.  And he wasn't gaining any of it back.

The vet agreed with my assessment.  His teeth were no longer much good.  The melanomas were bigger and were around in his neck and mouth and were beginning to disrupt basic functions.  He wasn't suffering yet, but he wasn't far from it and he was not going to get better. 

I guess I knew it was coming. 

Our family has amazing friends.  And this horse touched them as well.  When we made the decision to have him put down, things just fell into place.  One friend offered his final resting place.  One family offered to make it ready for him.  Several families offered to take the kids if we needed it.  Everyone was thinking about is and praying for us.  My dad even showed up.  I was overwhelmed by it all.

I don't know how it went down nearly 30 years ago when he traded two bull calves for a horse, but I don't think my dad could have had any idea how many lives that horse would touch.  And change.

I blame that horse for the fact that I after having sworn not to drag kids and horses all over the country, I have spent the last two years doing just that.  And loving every minute of it.  I blame him for that, too.  I also blame him for the fact that I am looking forward to it for years now.  I blame him for the fact that my oldest girls are confident and actually pretty good at handling their animals that are over ten times their size.  I blame him for the fact that I get to watch them, heart swelling, as they smile excitedly and tell me what they did with their horse or as I watch them try new things with determination.  I blame him for the fact that I look forward to the same thing for my two younger ones as well. I blame him for a lot of things.

But the truth is, he is a part of who I was.  He is a part of who I am.  And he will always be a part of who I become.  And he is a part of who our family was, who our family is, and who we will be.

A girl and her horse.  It is always a beautiful thing.

We miss you already old boy.  Thank you for being so awesome.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A heart-warming story of love and rejection and not giving up

Confession:  I stole this post title from my friend.  Because it is perfect.

A few months ago Violet (5) announced at dinner that she met the boy she thinks she is going to marry.  Upon exploration of the subject through some questions posed to her by her father and me, we learned that said boy was in some of her classes at our home school co-op and he wore striped shirts a lot.  And pants.  He always wore pants.  (We decided that was a very good quality in a boy.)  Unfortunately she didn't know his name.  We told her it might be a good idea to figure that out and sent her off in the world with that assignment.

Now, I had a suspicion that I might know who this boy was, but I could never quite nail it down.  And a couple weeks ago we invited a fellow homeschooling family over, which we should have done long ago because they are awesome.  And what do you know?  The boy she thinks she is going to marry hops out of the car.  She was elated.  We will call him Mr. C.

We hung out all afternoon, went on a walk, ate lunch, let the kids run wild (because that is what home school is, right) in the woods (with pants on of course), and just enjoyed the day with them.  (Have I mentioned that I don't like moving and leaving my friends that I have just freshly settled into?  Again?)

At any rate, Violet and Mr. C were pretty much attached at the hip the entire time they were at our house.  It was adorable.

His mom and I are thrilled.

Later that day Violet announced that she asked Mr. C to marry her.  And he said no.  She didn't seem too broken up by it, but I did call his mom to let her know what was going on.  It seemed important.

At dinner that night Violet was talking to her dad about her proposal and how he turned her down. (They are breaking him in early I think.  He can have these conversations now without turning unnatural colors and looking like he might pass out.) While this conversation is taking shape I got a text from Mr C's mom that said,  "Richard just asked Mr. C why he said no.  Mr C sighed a little and said, 'Well ... there's someone else ...'  We died laughing."

I confess I had my phone close by and laughed quite heartily myself!  Violet's reaction was even better.  She sat there for a bit and then said, "Mom, when me and Mr. C get older can we go on dates and stuff, like to movies and ice skating?"  

The kid is not giving up very easily.  I admire that in a girl.  She knows what she wants and she is going after it.

So then today we were at a function with this same family and there were about six families worth of home school kids running wild outside (because isn't that what home school is all about?  With pants of of course.).  Violet came in after another cupcake and someone said that she had been trying to sit on Mr. C's lap.  I kind of looked at her sideways and told her she needed to make sure to give him his space.  She just giggled a happy giggle and ran out the door.  It was adorable.

I like the kid.  I like his mom.  (I haven't met his dad, but I am sure I would like him, too.)  I like his siblings.  Violet has good taste in friends.  Oh, and when we were visiting today, we discovered that Mr C and Violet have names that mean the same thing.  It was meant to be!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Birthday girl!

And, she is EIGHT!

I must say, she is my favorite eight year old. I love the little girl that she is and I love the young lady she is becoming.

Yesterday she got her ears pierced. She waited over two years to get it done. She was a champ. And then we went to one of this places that has a bunch of inflatable bouncy castle things. Her grandma commented that our little adventurous Calla is still alive and well in there.

Look out world, here she comes!  I warned you, but in all honesty, I have no idea how you could prepare for the force of nature that is now eight.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You know that thing I said I would never do again?

This fall the husband took Calla to soccer practice.  I took a different kid to a different sports practice.  The husband texted me this photo.

His message with the photo was something like, "ut-oh."

Anyone who knows us and our last six years knows that rainbows generally mean something.  Something big.  Started here, then here, then here.  Since the first one we have moved five times and had another baby.  While I don't generally go into a lot of details, I guess it will have to suffice that it really is a big deal.  Rainbows are a promise.  God gave Noah a promise with a rainbow.  Apparently he uses them with us, too.


You know the cliche about how God opens doors for us to go through and if He doesn't open a door, we should maybe start looking at the windows?  Well, I have not been looking for doors and windows that are open. And if I thought they might be open or I sensed any hint that they might open, I promptly secured and locked them.  Because I have been just happily going along with this whole settling in thing and getting my kids all involved in activities like basketball and soccer and piano and dance and 4-H and other stuff that we all enjoy.  We have met some awesome people and started to feel like we could just live here and be in a great church and have great friends we love hanging out with.  And I get to have my husband home every night and on weekends and recently we started our annual winter movie series and we are just happily bouncing along in our family and marriage and all.  It has been so nice.

And then God blew the whole side off (forget doors and windows) and shoved us through.

At least that is what I feel like.

We are moving.


Yet again.

Yes, again yet again.  This will be SIX times since Violet was born.  She will be SIX in July.

So now after the husband and I agreed that he should apply, had an interview and was offered and accepted the job, all while I was in my little corner praying that God would say something like, "Oh, just testing you, you know like Abraham and Isaac ... " and after I have felt every emotion from shock, anger, fear, hope, hopelessness, and grief.  But mostly shock.  After crying on the phone with my mom, confiding in my friends, crying in my kitchen with the husband, crying in my friend's kitchen, and attempting to tell everyone I felt shouldn't hear it on the streets, we are officially moving to somewhere around Bozeman, Montana. 

And we are doing it sometime between now and, well, when it happens. 

I am officially ...well ... I don't know what I am or even what I should be.  I am no longer an emotional, panicked, crying mess.  I have pulled it together and now I am feeling like moving closer to my parents and back to my home state and bringing five more people, three horses, and a dog is probably a good thing.  And looking back over the last six years (which feels like more than that, actually), I can see that God has been steering us towards this.  It is an incredible opportunity for us. In particular it is an incredible career opportunity for the husband.  For him this could be the career opportunity of a lifetime.  And frankly, the world would say that he deserves it.  He is the hardest working guy I have ever met.

I realized something last night.  I realized that even if the husband decided we need to move to some third world island nation and raise goats and coconuts, I would probably follow him.  He is my husband after all.  And he is a good one. The best actually. He loves me and his girls and his boy with the kind of love that would require him to throw himself in front of a train if it meant saving any one or all of us.  It is the least we can do to make the best of this situation.  So far that attitude has not failed us on our other recent adventures. 

Dear 2014,

Bring it on!


p.s.  I guess a move to Montana will require a blog name change. 

Dear Lord,

Please let this be the last time.



p.s.  Thanks for the incredible opportunity for the husband.  What a blessing.  And I look forward to seeing what you do with and through him. 

The first rainbow.  I still remember the exact feeling I had standing there looking at it.  This house has since burned down.  And every job the husband has left we cannot go back to because none of them even exist anymore. But every move has been SO right. Honestly, I like the feeling of ultimately being NOT the one in control.  Especially looking at this and all that has happened since. 

Writing is good therapy.  I should probably do more of it.  Forces me to think things through and in doing so I gain perspective. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Against the world at ten-years-old

Last week this girl turned ten.

 TEN.  That is double digits.  She is actually growing up and starting to *get* things.  Things about life that make her dad's head spin.  She is smart, beautiful, gracious, and kind.  

And she is absolutely confident when she is on a 1,300 pound animal with a mind of his own.  There is something about a girl and a horse.  This mama totally gets it and it does my soul good to watch my baby out doing what she does with that animal.  My mom says that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a girl.  Yes, it is.  And having watched her go from being in tears of frustration last year to charging forward and challenging this new beast of hers (yes, her own horse), I can't help but swell with pride.  She is getting a lot of things.

Now, one thing about growing up that sucks is the whole losing of the innocence thing.  It happens when we start to *get* things I think.  We start to understand that people just suck sometimes and even when we do nothing to provoke it, sometimes we are hurt by the world.

I confess that I listen to country music.  And I listen to it a lot more than I probably should.  What does this have to do with anything?  Well, country music is maddening I think.  One song I'm laughing, the next I'm nearly in tears, and then the next one has me seething because if anyone ever did that to my kid I would be furious.

One particular song caught my ear recently.  The song itself is actually quite pretty.  Until you listen to the words.  Tyler Farr's Redneck Crazy.

Gonna drive like hell through your neighbourhood
Park this Silverado on your front lawn
Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
I'm about to get my pissed off on

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy

Wish I knew how long it's been going on
How long you've been getting some on the side
Nah, he can't amount to much by the look of that little truck
Well he wont be getting any sleep tonight

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy
Redneck crazy

Did you think I'd wish you both the best, endless love and happiness
You know that's just not the kind of man I am
I'm the kind that shows up at your house at 3am

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight
You gone and broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy
You drove me redneck crazy, oh 

So basically, this guy rods through her neighborhood at 3am, parks on her lawn shining his headlights into her bedroom window, cranks his stereo and throws beer cans at her house. He also judges the other guy by the size of his truck, which I admit I kinda laughed at.

Now, the girl doesn't sound much better, stepping out on him and all.  She may be a piece of work all her own.  But I kind of wonder about his emotional health to begin with.  Maybe this girl was just scared to break up with him for fear that he would go crazy.

Without knowing the whole story I can't go defending her or her actions, but doesn't his response sound illegal?

Oh, and he's not looking for a fight, but, you know, if something happened, he'd be up for anything.

I pointed this whole situation out to my husband one day. He pointed out the whole stepping out thing. Yes, she was not all innocent and this guy is responding to an injustice.  I get that.  And who doesn't want to defend themselves to a certain extent?  But I think this guy goes WAY too far. 

So after this discussion with my husband I went about my business and suddenly realized that I was at one point in my life a little redneck crazy.  When I was in high school I broke up with a guy and then found out that he had been participating in activities that would have most definitely resulted in the end of the relationship much sooner.  Then one day not too much after the break up I was  reading the local newspaper and found a little blurb stating that he had been arrested and put in jail for driving under the influence and writing a bad check.  I found this very interesting and cut it out.  Then I found the nearest copy machine and enlarged it so it fit perfectly on an 8.5"x11" piece of paper.  Then I wrote a smart-ass comment on it, put it in an envelope and mailed it to him.

My husband thought I was horrible.  But, that is NOT illegal.  And I pointed out that I hope if our kids find themselves in situations like that, they have the guts to stick up for themselves, even if it is after the fact.  And in a way that is NOT illegal or dangerous.  Nobody needs to put up with being treated like crap.

Now, with my girl turning ten I have been thinking a lot about how we are going about teaching her and the rest of the kids this.  I have concluded that the best way to do that is by example.  And apparently, I am kind of ashamed to admit, we have been doing a fine job of it. 

I love my husband.  I do not doubt my husband loves me.  And we have a great marriage.  We have a solid marriage that I feel good raising our kids in.  But we live in a fallen world and neither one of us is perfect.  And sometimes we find ourselves in a bit of a tiff.  Sometimes I find myself so angry at him that I can barely see straight. I am certain that he feels the same way at times.  I am not proud of that.  And I am also not proud of the fact that the kids see it.

But, on the other end, they also get to see the resolution.  They see the apology, the reconciliation and the moving forward in forgiveness and love. 

I am now old enough to have friends that have lived through divorce.  One day I was visiting with the mother of one of my divorced friends about another friend who was going through a divorce.  This mother commented that my divorcing friend called her divorced daughter for advice. (Still with me?)  I was actually kind of angry at that because it seemed like maybe she should have been calling someone who was MAKING a marriage work.  And I told her as much. Later I realized that both these friends experienced divorce and abandonment early on.  I can't fault them for that, but I was talking to yet another friend of mine about it later and she told me that one thing her father always said was children growing up in broken homes don't see the reconciliation.  They just see the end of the fight.  That really hit home for me and I will never forget it.

With that in mind, this summer we were all out in the yard as a family working to clean up a tree we had someone cut down.  It was a huge mess and a lot of work.  In the mean time the kids found a headless baby bird under the deck.  In an effort to find resolution I told them to go out back and bury it.  So the three youngest and the neighbor kid got the bird (that I wrapped in a paper towel) and a shovel and started back.

Before they even made it through the back gate, they were fighting.  Why?  Because Carsten wanted to carry the shovel, carry the bird, AND dig the hole.  None of the other kids were taking that news very well.  And there was yelling.  I commented to Brent, who was across the yard working with Grace, that I didn't know if this was normal, kids fighting over who gets to bury the dead baby bird.

Something was said as to why they were always fighting.  I told him quite frankly that Carsten, who was nearly three at the time, can be "a little shit."

Brent looked up and said, "I'll bet you say the same thing about me."

"No," I said.  "You are the big shit."

But then Grace piped up from where she was listening and said, "Mom, I thought he was an ass?"

We laughed.  And we laughed.  And we are still laughing.

Now, I am not proud of the fact that my kid has heard me call her dad an ass.  But she also sees me kiss him in the kitchen a whole lot more.  She sees him kiss me back.  She sees him go to work every day and work hard so we can have what we have.  She sees us laughing at the dinner table.  She sees us working out the weekly schedule with everyone in mind.  She sees him take days off so he can spend them with all of us.  She sees him take time out of what he is doing to teach her how to use the tools he is using and patiently explain why and how he is doing it.  She sees him out watching her with her horse with so much pride that he is beaming at her.  And yes, he treats all the kids with the same fatherly concern and admiration that so many kids in this world are missing.

I want my kids to grow up well rounded.  I want them to have a good education and feel like if they want to do something, it certainly isn't going to hurt to give it a shot. And if it doesn't hurt, they aren't any less of a person. But I have concluded that if my kids marry spouses that are the same caliber as their dad, I will be eternally thanking the Lord.  I pray for the kids God has picked for my kids.  I pray that they are gracious and kind and considerate and godly.  That they are good spouse material and good parent material.  I pray that they seek reconciliation and resolution and aren't afraid to admit when they are wrong and stick up for themselves and anyone else when they aren't.

Life is tough.  Like I said, sometimes people suck.  Sometimes we have to look sucky people in the eye and tell them the truth.  And if the truth is that they are being an ass, I hope that my kids can all stick up for themselves and say it like it is.  But I also hope that I can teach them that sometimes it's them being the ass.  And like their mom, they will have to look someone in the eye so they can admit it and apologize.  And then life goes on and we try to do better because hopefully we can learn from our mistakes.

Yes, all of this because my big girl turned ten.  Can you tell I'm feeling a little pressure to get this right?  I've been thinking a lot about what I want my kids to be.  Sometimes I wonder if it's something like a midlife crisis--except I just realized my kid is half-way out of my house.

Probably.  But then again, the little one is only three.  I hope and pray that I am up for this.