Sing the Bible

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the music of Slugs & Bugs.

It was VBS time, 2016, and though there are few busier times for a pastor’s family, my mind was preoccupied with the “Story Warren” website, an online resource that helps parents foster a holy imagination in their children.

I felt I’d stumbled into a secret tunnel that led me to a magical like-hearted community where children are treasured and imaginations are nurtured and God is glorified, all at the same time. And just when I thought I’d discovered all the faces and facets of this movement, I’d find another…and another! Writers! Poets! Musicians! Artists! Each delightfully using their gifts for the Lord.

I was atwitter and, as time allowed, would come back to read more — sometimes even during my breaks between VBS music classes.

Arriving home that night, I pulled the website back up to check out more of the recommended links…

and that’s when I landed upon the site of Slugs & Bugs.

It was a love at first sight moment. The artwork reeled me in, I think. A lightning bug playing a bulbous bugle? I’M IN!

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And though I was clueless about who they were and where they’d been all my life, I just clicked on the first video I saw. It was called “God Made Me“, and I wish you could have seen my kids’ ears immediately perk up, all across our house. In seconds, I was surrounded by children, and their eyes were lit up in my favorite way, and they were giggling, and I turned to my husband and resolutely said, “No offense to Lifeway, but this has to be our new VBS theme song.” The whales and the sea and the green and blue…it was simple and funny and quirky and it fit perfectly with 2016’s “Submerged” theme.

The next night, before learning our Lifeway songs, we played that Slugs & Bugs video for each class, and a current went through the room every time, whether it was the 5th graders or the preschoolers. The kids sat up straighter, their eyes began to dance, they were cracking up…it was thrilling to behold.

“God Made Me” turned out to be the number one requested song of the week — in every class! — and what I loved most is that the kids actually SANG it. Loudly. Childishly. Smilingly! Every single word. Every single time.

That was last summer, and as the year has passed, our family has added more Slugs & Bugs songs to our library and, although we still have a couple albums to go, there is already no way to pick a favorite.

There are songs like “I Wanna Help” that have inspired our kids to work around the house (HALLELUJAH!).

Or “Tiger” that I’ve heard my girls singing together whilst pretending to run a zoo (be still my heart!).

Or “The Ten Commandments” that teach about God’s Law while also teaching about our inability to keep God’s Law while ALSO preaching the good news of Jesus while also teaching important vocabulary definitions like “covet” while ALSO teaching about the leading monsters of literature. Phew! Instant classic.

Or “Masterpiece” that fills my heart with praise (usually while my daughters do ballet across the schoolroom…the perfect twirly song!)

Or “It’s Sleepytime” that just slays me and causes me to shamelessly beg my 10-year old to let me rock him to sleep, just like old times.

Or “Tractor Tractor” that makes our entire family to smile, from age 3 to age 36.

Or “The Boy Who Was Bored” that is so epically cool and boyish it HURTS.

Or “You Can Always Come Home” that…sniffle sniffle…is so everything I want to say to my entire family, every day.

Or, yes, even “Mexican Rhapsody” that gets in my head SO BAD but that I can’t stop loving because…it is so stinking funny!!!

I could go on and on. Diverse musical styles. Humor. Ninjas. Bible memorization. Potty-training motivation. The Society of Extraordinary Raccoons Society. Biblical principles. Pirates. Monsters. Imaginative poems and rhymes…it’s all there, and it’s all fantastic.

There are people in this world who, just by being who they are and creating what they create, produce the keys to children’s hearts. They intuitively know exactly how to turn a phrase, to paint a picture, to make a rhyme, to sing a song…and in so doing, they unlock the magic of childhood in its fullness.

Slugs & Bugs has that ability in spades. There is so much music on the market that give children a knock-off version of what the pop world has to offer and, while it might make them feel cool and edgy (I know, I remember how it felt to sing with my Barbie cassette in Elementary school), Slugs & Bugs meets kids where they are and says, “You are free. Free to be little and silly and funny and adventurous and starry-eyed and exactly how God made you to be.”

You know what? I think that’s a message worth investing in, and that’s why I asked Slugs & Bugs if I could help spread the word about their new Kickstarter campaign that, if its goal is reached, will result in TWO new “Sing the Bible” albums being produced in 2017 (one of which is a Christmas album inspired by Charlie Brown, SWOON!). Listen, y’all…

the Gore family needs more Slugs & Bugs music in our life.

And I think yours does, too.

We have a lot going on in our house — as I type, we are simultaneously raising funds for a mission trip to Tanzania AND for our one-room schoolhouse in Oklahoma — but we believe in this music SO MUCH that we plan to sit down this week to determine what we can commit to the campaign.

I hope you’ll join us.

You can check out the Kickstarter page here:

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The reward packages are so fun, and you’d better believe if I had a spare $5,000, I’d drop it in an instant to get that free concert! I’ll be honest, though, the virtual high-five and free coloring pages sound pretty awesome. 🙂

You can also find sneak peeks of songs that will be on the albums and I’m already making major heart-eyes at  Galatians 4, it’s light and airy and leads me heavenward. I know you’ll love it, too.

If you’re a parent, a grandparent, or just a champion of children, PLEASE don’t miss this chance to be a part of an amazing project that will feed the hearts and souls of families all across the Kingdom of God.

Thanks for lending me your ears today, precious readers! Now…spit spot!…go lend your ears to some Slugs & Bugs. Pick an album, any album. You won’t be disappointed.

~

Any Slugs & Bugs fans out there? Tell us your favorite songs! And be sure to share the Kickstarter link with your friends and family: http://bit.ly/STBVol3

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The Wassup Chronicles – Vol. 1

Welcome to “The Wassup Chronicles”, where I tell you what’s up in my world and…you listen. (but then you get a turn, too, so hang in there!)

~

Good morning friends!

I have been working on and off for months — MONTHS!! — on a blog post titled “The Mission Statement of Mrs. Gore’s Diary”.

‘Twas one part funny and three parts dramatic and, oh, about five parts explanatory and I worked on it and I worked on it and I worked on it and I put other writings on the backburner and I let it clog up my idea queue and, last night, after pulling it up again for the 35th time since January and still finding it lacking or missing something (or more likely having too much!!), I said…

PHA-HOOEY!!!

I’m done with it.

Moving on.

I mean, all it was was my entire manifesto for living, so…whatevs, right? Sometimes writers write for themselves, and I suppose this was one of those instances. I know now what the mission statement of Mrs. Gore’s Diary is, so that’s cool. All 3000 words of it.

All that to say, I’m FREE this afternoon! And, rather than nail myself down to a specific topic (for instance, mission statements), I just want to blab.

So what do you want to talk about?

We could talk about Valentine’s Day. It was probably my least prepared holiday ever, and I’m trying to figure out why. Was it because my mom and Amy were out of town the week before and we didn’t have time to plan our annual party? Was it because I’m still trying to recover, somehow, from Christmas? Was it because my heart just wasn’t in it?

I don’t know, really. But I learned something: you can prepare for weeks to have a holiday or you can prepare the morning of, and chances are, your kids are going to have a blast. By the time they came to the breakfast table on the morn of the 14th, we had a pretty table set, and festive donuts, and a little gift at each place. Best of all, the kids got to pass out the cards they had made for each family member the day before, and it was so fun to see what sort of sweet nothings they came up with on their own.

Yesterday's Valentine breakfast. Donuts. Fruit. Strawberry milk. Lots of fun. Lots of love. ❤️😍❤️😍

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I’m always analyzing the purpose of education, and I discovered yet another reason we should be passionate about the schooling of our children…

so they can make their Valentine cards WITHOUT US!!!

I didn’t even have to make Shepherd’s cards, because his big brother transcribed them for me! (#manny)

All in all, it was a fun day, and the Mister and I even squeezed in a date last night!

Which leads me to the next thing we could talk about, if you’re in a talking mood…

La La Land.

Ohmuhgoodness.

Yesterday was my second viewing of this…this…this…CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE!!!…and I loved it even more the second time around. I so want to really talk to you about this movie but I abhor spoilers and so I can’t. All I can say is:

1. This is the coolest, most suck-your-breath-right-out-of-you-for-two-whole-hours movie.

2. Especially if you are well-acquainted with the old movies — SO many nods to the films of yesteryear, in major ways, but then in manifold subtle ways that just knocked my socks off.

3. Don’t expect a Christian worldview, duh, but this is actually a pretty clean movie. I was shocked by the utter lack of all the things that are routinely shoved down our gullets by Hollywood. THAT SAID, while there are not an immense number of expletives, the ones that are in the movie are like…BAM!!! The kind that make you flinch. I just didn’t want you to tell your hubby that “Mrs. Gore says this is a great movie! Let’s take the KIDS!”

4. I’ve seen the movie twice now and the second viewing was the best. I came away really understanding the film and letting it teach me something rather than trying to make it what I wanted it to be. I realize that’s vague but…just watch the movie. You’ll see.

5. I have a maternal sort of adoration for Emma Stone. I want to make her biscuits and jam for breakfast and tell her not to stay out too late and I also want her to know that she always has a place to come home to. I’m assuming she could afford to add a room on to our house because we don’t have a spare room, so that would just be an added bonus to the adoption.

Which leads me to the next thing we COULD talk about. If you wanna…

Some of my Facebook peeps already know about this, but GUESS. WHAT??

We have a special project in the works at Gore House.

(Doesn’t “Gore House” sound very Halloweeny? Ew. I mean, I like Halloween, you know that, but not the haunted house part of Halloween. Which is totally what “Gore House” sounds like, a haunted house, oooooooooooooooo!!!!)

Anyhow, special project.

The plans have been drawn up. The bids are about to come in. The fundraising has begun.

Ready?…

WE’RE BUILDING A SCHOOLHOUSE!!!!!!!!!

Oh, man, you know what, we can’t talk about this here. I’m gonna need a full blog post to talk about it. Just…consider this the official teaser trailer, with lots and lots more coming soon to a Gore House near you.

(ooooooooooooooooo!!!!)

Let’s see, what does that leave for us to discuss? Assuming you’re still listening…

Oh, how about this?

I got bangs in December.

I no longer have bangs in February.

I mean, I still have bangs, but they are long enough to pin back and, although my mom and my kids and my nieces REALLY loved them, and my husband really liked them, and even though I felt cool(ish) again, we have decided to part ways (literally, they’re parted down the middle and subtly pinned to the side).

Why? Because Mrs. Gore ain’t got time for THAT. Did you know that, when I don’t have bangs, I can wash and style my hair and it will last me for three whole days (and then maybe a half-day more with a lil’ dry shampoo, thank you Oscar Blandi)? And when I say “it will last me”, what I mean is that I don’t have to touch it, think about it, or even brush it in between. And did you know that I didn’t know how wonderful this was until I lopped off a whole section of hair atop my forehead and had to deal with it every. single. day.?!

All I had wanted, really, was to look as awesome as #ohhoney. (If you don’t know what all these hashtags mean, you’ve really got to join us at Facebook, pronto!). I’m mean, sure, she’s FIVE, but who cares? Her bangs are DIVINE. She looks like a miniature Jess from “New Girl”. Or a tiny Audrey Hepburn. When she wakes up, they are more or less perfect. And when she’s in the wind, they’re perfect. And when she’s wearing a hat, they’re PERFECT.

(See what I mean? This was after a windy and sweaty morning at Vintage Market Days…)

I'm always an #ohhoney fan. But after we take the sponge curlers out of her hair…😍

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My bangs, however, were little hair devils that stuck out in a million directions when I woke up in the morning. And when I was in the wind they stuck out in two million directions. And when I wore a hat…just no.

Even worse, somehow, when they weren’t being hair devils and were as en pointe as I needed them to be, they were making me feel vain in church and I seriously thought I was done with that, my sisters.

I’m not kidding, that’s when I really knew they needed to go. Preacher’s wife can’t be feeling vain on a Sunday morning, not when preacherman is bringing the Word to the flock. Get thee behind me, Bangstan.

So, do I regret getting bangs? No I don’t. I’m so glad I tried it. It was fun and exciting and I’m glad I got it out of my system.

Did I like my bangs? Not enough.

Maybe someday, when I have time to wake up and groom myself every morning instead of every third or third-and-a-half morning, I’ll give it another go.

If I’m no longer vain.

(But I probably will be. Even though I won’t know it until I get the bangs.)

Ah, this was a fun talk, and I’m going to try to do it more often. Thanks for listening.

Now tell me, wassup in YOUR life? What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Have you seen La La Land? DO YOU HAVE BANGS?? Are they perfect or are they hair devils? I’m all ears…

 

Where I’m At!

A sweet reader, noticing that I hadn’t published a blog post SINCE JANUARY, checked in on me last week, and I realized that it was high time I popped over here to the blog to post an official update.

Mrs. Gore’s Diary has not been anywhere close to this quiet since its inception in January 2011. In fact, if you would have traveled from the future and told me a half a year ago that I would go THREE WHOLE MONTHS without blogging, I would have said, “What happened?? Am I dead?!?! WHO DUNNIT???”

Mostly because this space on the internet, since day one, has been pretty important to me.

I adore this jotting down of my memories and my moments, and it is so dear to me to have a place to share them both with like-hearted readers who have treated them so lovingly.

So…with all this blog fidelity in my heart, where in the world have I been??

First, do keep in mind that I write over at the Facebook page nearly every single day. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have a ball there, sharing funny stories, poignant moments, pictures, videos and product reviews – it’s the perfect format for my life right now, and I’m ALSO not exaggerating when I insist that I have the nicest Facebook readers on the whole internet! It’s as happy as Mayberry over there, which is exactly my sort of town, even if it has to be found online.

But if you’re NOT a Facebooker, I can see how you’d probably be worried that I might have fallen off the face of the earth.

Good news!!

I have not.

In fact, I’m here, right this minute, sharing these words! If you could stick your finger through your computer screen, you’d poke me right in the eye!

So here’s the dealio. (and I’ll try to keep this shortio.) (but we all know I won’tio.)

God willing, I have not left blogging behind for the long-haul, but there have, in fact, been several things contributing to my lengthy absence, small things that, whenst added all up together, turn into THREE MONTHS OF BLOGGITY NOTHINGNESS.

First of all, and this is such a piddly and ridiculous reason, my Mac has reached maximum storage capacity, so that I cannot upload any new pictures without finally being forced to go through the thousands and thousands of photographs and videos that we have on our desktop. In fact, I’m not only going through them, I’m editing them, I’m uploading them to Facebook and Shutterfly, I’m sending them to our external hard drive, and then I’m deleting them. The process is so mind-numbingly slow, and most of my holiday and party pictures from the last couple of months are still on my camera, which literally KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT with photographic angst. Thus, when I have sit-down time, I am usually working on pictures instead of writing, which is just the opposite of “the berries”.

Now…have I slowed down with taking NEW pictures to keep this problem from continuing to escalate? No, I have not. I just keep snapping away, la dee da, and soon, our new camera will ALSO reach maximum capacity, and then we’re all really going to have A PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS!!!!! I think I have camera stress as evidenced by my excessive use of all caps. It might be a first-world problem, but it is a PROBLEM. OKAY?!?!

Secondly, and this is much less piddly and unimportant that my first reason, our family has been catapulted into a busier stage of life than ever before.

WHO knew that, when your daily napping infants and toddlers grew to school age and you decided to keep them home and act as their educator, you would no longer have as much freedom to sit in front of a computer for hours and hours and spill your guts to anyone who would listen?!

Call me naive, but I honestly didn’t see that coming. However, with our oldest now in the 3rd grade, our schooling has picked up significantly, to full-time-ish job hours (with a heavy emphasis on the “ish” part).

On TOP of that, our ministry life has also rapidly picked up, with more teaching and meeting opportunities than we previously had; I pinky promise that we are still being exceedingly careful with our schedule to make sure that we keep our family tight and whole, but I’m telling you, we went from about 10 miles per hour for the last 8 years to a cool 75 in 2016.

On top of THAT, with our kids more grown up and the matriarch of the house less pregnant/nursing/newborning than she previously has been, we are also having an unprecedented amount of people in our home, which means that I have another full-time job on my hands: keep this pit of our house picked up!!! Daily!!! And, unfortunately, there is no “ish” to this department of my life. It’s full-time, to the max. In fact, I’m sweeping right now! And boiling a chicken. (Just kidding, I’m sitting and helping Betsie with her school. But there are clothes in the dryer, so there!).

Which leads to the third thing. With the above point in mind, on the heels of this new season of life, I have found myself in a bit of a homemaking boot camp.

Can I tell you something about Mrs. Gore’s adolescence? I was the last child in our family – which we all know means I was very important and celebrated and tended to – and I had a very busy school and social life, to the point that I usually came home at night to eat and sleep. What that means, more or less, is that, when I got married, I didn’t know how to do NUTHIN’.

Mr. Gore and I moved into a tiny seminary apartment that was easy enough to keep picked up, and I began dabbling in cooking and tidying up. But just when I was finding my feet as a housewifey, I got pregnant and we moved back in with my parents for what turned out to be three years – I might have tried to help carry the housekeeping load during that time, but my mom was right there beside me, holding up the universe and making it look easy (while also making me feel like I was doing an AWESOME job at being alive). Looking back, I don’t know HOW much I really did then. Did I ever cook? Did I wash our sheets or did she? I don’t know. It’s all very fuzzy, in a hazy good sort of way, so I doubt that I was doing much, even if I felt like I did.

Anyhow, by the time we moved into our first real home – with two stories to take care of! – I had a toddler and a new baby and mountains of boxes to go through that had been in storage for years. And then I got pregnant again…and then AGAIN…and, well, 2015 was honestly the FIRST TIME I began to come up for air for a very very long time.

That said, this past year has felt like a brand new world where I sort of have these crazy things like, I don’t know, brain capacity and confidence and drive and a SPIRAL-BOUND PLANNER, for crying out loud and, as a result, I’m finally becoming the queen of this here domain.

And though I had performed somewhat decently in my homemaking capacity during those baby-growing-and-birthing-and-nurturing years, I am now intentionally pursuing rigorous cleaning routines and meal plans and laundry rituals for really the first time in my entire life. This is, of course, in between homeschooling.

Conclusion: Dang it, being a homemaker/homeschooler is HARD WORK!  (Even though I LOVE IT.) And you really can’t sit down very often, or the entire operation will come crumbling down on top of your head.

But!

But!

BUT!

Even more than all of the above, there are, in fact, deep and spiritual reasons that I have been away from my blog for such an extended period, and it’s some really good stuff. The Lord has been working very specifically on my heart since last Thanksgiving in ways that have completely changed my life and my practices. I would go on and spell it all out here, but I have actually been keeping a loose journal about it some of it and, if you don’t mind, I’ll let it do the talking.

How about tomorrow?!

And just like that, what do you know? I think I’m blogging again!

it’s good to be back.

Howdy Do, from Me to You

Do you ever bump into someone that you recognize and you might even know their name, but you don’t really know HOW you know them or much about them, really…

only that you know them and they know you?

And then you start talking and it becomes too late to ask them what their name is and where you met them and why you keep hugging each other?!

I have been blogging now for many a year, and I have, by the magic of the internet and the grace of God, gathered up a sweet little gaggle of readers.

My audience is in no way huge, mind you — I always remind my ego that I have significantly less Facebook followers than our local pumpkin patch! —  but since I assumed it would be my mom and my church friends and my aunts and Grandmother reading my writing, I am nothing less than amazed by any increase that comes my way and, consequently, very grateful.

Some of you found me through a search engine, some on Pinterest, some through WordPress, some through a friend, but lately, as I’ve had to keep my writing to a shorter format, most of you have found me on Facebook.

(Facebook is my jam, yo.)

And I realized this week that, however or wherever you found “Mrs. Gore’s Diary”, many of you might be reading my daily updates and have absolutely no idea who I am, what I stand for, what I like, what my policies are, and who the little people are in all my pictures.

Let me take away any of the awkwardness for you and introduce myself, from the very beginning.

(pssst! And if you’ve been reading for awhile and have an acquaintance with our life, let this just serve as an update!)

1. Hi. Obviously, my name is Mrs. Gore, and I am the primary writer, party-thrower, picture-taker, and product-sharer behind “Mrs. Gore’s Diary.” I am tall and sturdy and what I would describe as passingly attractive, thanks entirely to modern technology. I have often said that I would have been a very ugly Victorian with my beyond-awful vision, terrible teeth, fussy complexion, and hair as voluminous and frizzy as a horses’s tail. In fact, when I don’t tame my hair, my husband calls me “Hagrid’s Baby.” All that to say, I am so grateful for optometrists and contact lenses, good make-up, dentists (sort of), and dependable hair tools. Because, you know, it’s fun to be able to leave the house and get groceries every once in awhile.

2. Over the last two years, I have been writing a book about marriage and motherhood. In fact, there is a section in that book about WHY I go by the pen name “Mrs. Gore” (because there’s actually more to it than it simply being my last name! Did you know that??). But if I told you now, I’d have to kill you. And we can’t have that, because, a) I don’t want to go to jail and b) it is important that I eventually have more Facebook followers than the pumpkin patch! (Just kidding. The pumpkin patch is truly awesome – it deserves to be well-known and celebrated). Anyhow, I hope to finish this book soon and start sending it out for publication. I would say I’m “doing my best” to hurry up and complete it, but there’s this little thing at our house called “when the kids go to bed, we watch TV every night and eat ice cream.” I suppose I COULD work on my book after the kids’ bedtime, but…nah.

3. My husband is a Southern Baptist pastor, a gifted theologian and, more recently, a truth-bringer to the foreign land of Tanzania. If I could finish my long book, I’d love to write a short book about our experience with the global mission field – it was big doin’s, I assure you. I love Mr. Gore. Like, LOVE him. Our church is tiny and wonderful and incredible, and…fun fact!…I have actually been attending there my entire life! And speaking of writing short books and long books, I could pen an encyclopedia about our church’s story, but just trust me that I can’t believe I get to be a part of such a tale, a wretched sinner like me. God is good.

4. The Lord instilled in me, from a very young age, the importance of family and setting down roots. And now when I look at my life, I see that He obviously had a purpose for that! If God allows, my husband and I will be so happy to stay in our church forever, with the people who have heaped love and wisdom and care upon us for many, many years. My parents live ten miles from us, and my husband’s family and all three of my brothers and their families live within two hours of us. All of these people are written — nay, etched — on my heart, and if you stick around for long, you’ll see many of them in the posts I share, in the pictures I take, and in the traditions we practice. I am sort of passionate about spreading the word that the grass isn’t necessarily greener down the road, not when the unifying blood of Christ is available in your own backyard.

5. My husband and I have four children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2. Boy, girl, girl, boy. We have been called to this mission field of hearth and home, and would love to maybe someday perhaps Lord-willing add at least one more pipsqueak to our line-up. We are pretty big fans of having the pittering and pattering of feet in our midst, even though our house is already the living embodiment of “The Family Circus.” The more madness, the merrier, we say. Well, my husband says. I agree wholeheartedly, when I’m not hiding in my room. Here’s a picture of our whole family, our first photo after Mr. Gore returned from Africa…

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6. I am not a perfect woman and, even though I am a professing believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, I struggle with many things, including-but-not-limited-to a weak faith, anxiety, hypochondria, introversion, materialism, idealism, people-pleasing, procrastination and self-loathing. Speaking of self-loathing, I desperately hate my weaknesses, but they do make me long for our forever Kingdom. I used to be terrified of “the end”, whether it came in the form of death or the Second Coming, but I finally understand now (on most days) that I’m not made for this world, and neither are you. And that changes EVERYTHING, does it not?

7. I love, love, love pretty things. White enamel, floral prints, old silver, piles of books, teapots and percolators, ticking stripes and buffalo checks, vintage signage, little pearls and petite gems, birthday candles, roses and peonies and wildflowers, pastoral scenes, church steeples, supple leather, and romantically chipped paint. I have a serious glassware problem, a cardigan addiction, and I have been known to spend entire afternoons in Anthropologie. I have learned in the last decade, though, the difference between enjoying pretty things with an open hand and being ruled by them, and I’m much happier for it.

8. I am a homeschooler. I have a homeschool blog that I update MAYBE once a year, if you’re lucky. It’s important to me.

9. One day I shop at the organic food market. The next day we eat Puffy Cheetoh’s and chicken bits from the gas station. One day I banish all screens from our lives. The next, the kids watch back-t0-back episodes of “Little Bear” while I search for the end of the internet. One week we are on a great schedule wherein the house remains clean, our homeschool boxes are checked off, I write ten chapters of a book, and all of our errands are run. The next we arrive at church shoeless with only a vague idea of whether it is Sunday or Wednesday. I don’t like to think of it as “inconsistent” so much as…moderate. Let’s all just keep it somewhere in the middle, everybody. Excellence is for spelling bee kids.

10. I have many Lucy moments. Like the time I got stuck in the back hatch of our van or the time I met the Pioneer Woman. I enjoy being laughed at, though. I consider it a ministry.

11. Other things I like, in no particular order: Sunday mornings. Coffee. Jane Austen. Classic movies. Doris Day. Bing Crosby. “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Chips and queso. Holidays. History. Country drives. Cold weather. Well-written hymns, old and new. Baby chimps at the zoo (my family has to drag me away). Clean scents. Harry Potter. Humor. Outdoor shopping centers. Aslan. Being waited upon. Being tended to. Having my food prepared for me. Winter coats. Disney Princess karaoke. Sitting at Panera Bread with my laptop and a cup of Hazelnut. “A Christmas Carol.” Kindness. Fat babies. Children’s stories. Cozy blankets. Redemption. Pebble paths. Dark chocolate. Antique shopping. Old quilts. Laying on my back and looking up at the trees. Farm animals. Music, in whatever form I fancy for the day.

12. Strange-but-true factoids: a) The first time I fasted was in college for G.W. to win his second term. I made it three hours. b) I went through a mini depression when Regis Philbin retired. He filled in for Steve Higgins on “The Tonight Show” about a month ago, and I cried like a baby. Seeing him with Jimmy Fallon – the only person who could possibly fill the Regis-sized hole in my heart – was just too much joy for one night. c) I have frequent daydreams about living in a senior retirement village. And I don’t mean in the future, I mean, like, now. Just me and the WWII vets, playing cards and drinking coffee, getting my hair done without having to leave the building, a piano for me and my pals to sing all the old hits…YES, PLEASE.

13. The older I get, the more committed I am to writing. It is my #1 pasttime and hobby. I write every day, in some capacity. Sometimes blog posts, sometimes children’s books, sometimes Facebook statuses, sometimes letters to friends. But the necessary free time for sitting in solitude and writing down your thoughts, I have found, is hard to come by, especially when one homeschools. You see, there are always children here. Always. Which I love. But, yes…children. Everywhere. At all times. Therefore, one of the HUGEST lessons I have learned since I started sharing my writings on the internet is that…

well, I guess I’ll tell you that part tomorrow. I don’t want you to get sick of me just when we’re getting to know each other!

~

Stay tuned, y’all!

Updates and Such

It has been so long since I have regularly blogged that I feel like I should introduce myself.

Hi.

I’m Mrs. Gore.

This is my diary.

My kids, who are just learning to read, think the name of my blog is “Mrs. Gore’s Diarrhea”.

(It’s not. If I ever had such an ailment, which I’m going to say I haven’t, because, ew, I would NEVER blog about it. Talk about it on Facebook? Maybe. But not here).

When I first began sharing my thoughts and stories on the internets over four years ago, I was just a stay-at-home mom of two little children, looking for something to do during naptime. I had been a writer, of sorts, my entire life — whether it was tinkering around with children’s books, writing the first pages of short stories, journaling, corresponding — but I had never before found an outlet for my excessive wordage that so perfectly suited my heart and my writing style.

In fact, I distinctly remember sitting down with my older brother, Pete, over lunch in my early college days and telling him that, if I could only find an audience for my personal journal, I could possibly settle on writing as a career.

We laughed and dove into our appetizers because that was obviously ridiculous and would never happen. I was using dial-up internet at the time and Ree Drummond was still four years away from breaking the internet with her fantasticness; in other words, I’d never even heard of a blog.

Thus, once I sat down almost a decade later and published the handful of blog posts I had been secretly working on and discovered that my friends and family actually enjoyed reading them, I was hooked.

Blogging has helped and blessed me in so many ways. It has given me the consistent writing practice I’ve always needed. It has helped me to hold onto memories that I never want to forget. It has introduced me to the loveliest of audiences (that’s you!). It has given me a way to share the good news of Jesus with folks all over the world. It has soothed any of the loneliness that comes with parenting young children.

But what I’m wanting to focus on today, and this is the point I’ve been wanting to get to since I said “hi”, is that this blog has been a springboard into a project that I doubt I ever would have been brave or motivated enough to tackle on my own.

If you keep up with me on Facebook (where I make almost daily updates and drown the web with pictures of my children), you already know that, last summer, I began working in earnest on a book I had begun early in the year.

I wish I could give you more details on its origin, but I was postpartum and nursing and I honestly have NO RECOLLECTION of how or why I started writing it. For all I know, my husband wrote all those chapters and saved them on my computer and I went and stole them as my own!

Regardless, though, of how it all started, my goal was to finish the entire book by the end of summer before our homeschool year began on the day after Labor Day.

HA!

Hahahahahahaha.

HuhHAhaHAhaHAhoohee.

I am delirious with laughter.

Mostly because, almost one year later, I am still trudging along through one of the most heart-wrenching and exhausting projects that I have ever set my mind to, with several difficult and stubborn chapters of final revision still blocking my way to the finish line.

It would have been difficult to write this book if I were a single woman living alone.

It would have been difficult to write this book if I were a mom who sent her kids to school every day.

But writing this book with four little children under my roof, two of whom I HOMESCHOOL has been…

well, pure and utter and constantly interrupted madness.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I wish I could fully express to you, without sounding like a whiner, the journey this manuscript and I have been on, but I can’t. So I’ll just go ahead and whine.

There have been days of triumph, of feeling like I have written something really important and publishable. There have been days of absolute despair, feeling SURE that I have spent a year of my life penning the most unnecessary and unneeded book ever written. There have been spiritual battles, of fighting against my ambition and the temptation to write something for the masses instead of my Lord. There have been hot days, full of passion for the words I was sharing, desperate to help someone who is walking down paths that I have trod. There have been cold days, trying to connect to those passionate words already written and wondering how the girl who could write those words yesterday could feel so lukewarm today.

And then there has been the biggest battle of all, of daily fighting to be true to my God-given priorities over this tertiary desire of my heart.

Like all women and wives and mothers, my life is no longer my own. If it were, I feel quite sure I could be perfectly happy to sit at my writing work in a tiny house, typing away and eating my chocolate-covered almonds and sharing my heart all the live-long day.

But what, then, would I have to write about?

This family, this calling, this husband, these children…

they are my story.

Like, literally. My book is about them. How we met. How they’ve changed me. How God has sanctified me through each of them.

Thus, I have learned that, the most important key to my writing has been that I keep it where it belongs. Not first. Not second. Not third. Probably not even fourth.

Just somewhere far down the line, eked out during stolen moments in afternoons or evenings, in infrequent getaways to my mom’s house in the country, during Sunday afternoon naptimes…

whenever the Spirit leads and whenever I am free to enjoy this favorite craft and hobby.

This probably isn’t the most effective way to become a successful author who gets paid for her words, but during this season of my life, it’s the only way I know how to do it, and my sweet husband assures me o’er and o’er that God has used this this book for my growth and my good, whether it ever makes it beyond this Chromebook of mine.

At this point in the process, I am just over halfway finished with the FINAL revision of my book that has now reached 218 pages, 89,990 words, and probably many more to go.

Some chapters I finish in a day (those are my favorite).

Others take weeks (like the two chapters I stuck my tongue out at tonight).

But I have made it this far and I am pressing on with determination, and who knows? Maybe by the end of THIS summer, I’ll finally have finished this book that, for reasons unbeknownst to me, God has directed me to write and is teaching me to balance through His daily leading.

And then we shall see where she flies!

Until then, I’ll be here, blogging, whenever I can steal a moment, but mostly over at the Facebook page. Thank you for hanging in there with me and continuing to be the nicest and most encouraging readership on the web.

I am beyond grateful for all of you, my Mrs. Gore’s Diary readers.

(Unless you’d rather go by “Mrs. Gore’s Diarrheaders”? No? Anybody?…)

~

Writing books makes me happy.

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Writing books makes me sad.

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Writing books makes me wonder why I’m wearing sunglasses on my head.

At 12:35 a.m.

On a rainy day.

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I’m going to bed.

This and That and Lots of Nonsense

Greetings, bloglings.

This is Mrs Gore, coming to you LIVE today from, you guessed it, Panera Bread.

I can’t well remember the last time I spent a quiet hour at one of these tables, my husband sitting across from me with his Kindle and his juvenile drink (today he went with a smoothie, definitely a step up from the Horizon sippy milk he bought last time).

There is a steaming cup of Hazelnut situated a safe distance away from my new laptop, and…sighhhhhh…I feel so very relaxed.

I’m wearing REAL clothes.

I’m toting my beautiful, leather birthday purse that I never get to use because it is too tiny for diapers and wet wipes.

My make-up is on, and my hair is freshly washed, dried and curled, and I think I’ve already said this, but I’m sitting at a QUIET table. Very, very quiet.

Did I mention that there is coffee involved?

Yes, I think I did.

Anyhow, July is upon us and, as is usually the case, we are just now getting away to celebrate our June 11th wedding anniversary.

Because, you know, June 8th birthday parties always supercede June 11th wedding anniversaries; the day before our big day, we were celebrating Rebekah’s big day (5 years old? Are you kidding me??), and although we did pause for a few anniversary pictures at her party, we decided to table any observations of our marital union until a better time, i.e. when our babysitter wasn’t completely fried from the crazy schedules of her ten grandchildren, three of whom had birthday parties in the same week.

So. Here we are!

And if you didn’t know it already, you know it now. Me and Mr. Gore are, as the little girl in Sleepless in Seattle describes it, “mfeo”.

(Made for each other).

In our mind, nothing says “romantic” like sitting here in silence with our electronic devices. And after this, we’re going junk hunting at a few antique stores!

But before I sign off, I wanted to mention a few things…

1. It never dawned on me until this week that some of you who are subscribed here do not know about the “Mrs. Gore’s Diary FACEBOOK page“. I know, right? There’s MORE of me on the internet! If you haven’t joined us there yet, I do hope you will. It is without a doubt my happy place.

2. As such, many of you who are not following the Facebook page may not know why I’ve been blogging far less in the past couple of months: I’m writing a book! I have 76 completed pages thus far, and have been buckling down in hopes of finishing it before August, when my heart and mind really must be shifted back to homeschool. I am very excited about this project, although I really cannot objectively judge yet if it is the best book ever written or the absolute awfullest. 

3. I was so thrilled by your responses to “The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety“. Without a doubt, that post was emblazoned on my heart, so that I simply had to take a one-night break from book-writing to spit it out, staying up FAR too late for a mama of four. It seemed more like a cathartic exercise than anything, and so imagine my surprise when it began to take off and gather almost as many hits as “I Signed Up For This“. But what thrilled me the most about the entire thing is that the Word of the Lord landed upon so many hearts with that post and momentarily replaced fear with truth and peace. Incredible. Not to mention that I am super happy to welcome a new gaggle of readers. Welcome, new friends!

4. But wait! My week got even MORE exciting when I noticed I was getting an uprecedented number of comments on a blog post I wrote a month ago, titled “Refusing to Blink“. It had been fairly well-received when I first wrote it, but nothing spectacular, so I could not for the life of me figure out what in the corn-Sam-hill-heck was going on. But then my eyeballs fell out of my head when I saw the tweet from “Freshly Pressed” and realized I had received the great honor of being featured by WordPress in their Parenting section! So NOW, I have another new group of readers to welcome from the blogging community! Hi, guys!! I’m so excited to have you along and am waving at you very energetically in my mind. Can you see me?

5. Which leads me to my last point, made for all readers of Mrs. Gore’s Diary, whether you are from WordPress or Facebook or if you are my Mom or Aunt B. I read a blog post last week about “blogging etiquette” that actually gave me trouble sleeping. It was about the common courtesy of responding to your blog comments, and the writer made it clear that it is kind of rude to fail in this area. I understand what she is saying: if someone in real life said “hi” to you it would be rude to not say “hi” back. If someone said they liked something you said, you would say “thank you”. And if someone asked you a question, you would most certainly answer it. The article didn’t sway me, so much: I remain confident in my conviction that, as a homeschooling mama, I can spare no extra time on this computer with my back to my kids. BUT, as a hopeless people-pleaser, it did distress me very much to even think that I might come across as rude by failing to respond and interact with you who have been so kind to find a home here. Thus, I just had to take a minute to say “thank you!” to each and every one of you. I didn’t set out to blog for an audience outside of my immediate circle, but I’ve received one, anyway, and therefore, you are a GIFT to me. Seriously. You have no idea. Every comment, every ‘like’, every reblog, every facebook message, every kind word…it is noted and appreciated to the tippy-toe bottom of my heart. You guys are the best! Thank you for receiving me when I have so little to offer in return. And I promise, someday when I’m a little old lady with no tiny people running about my house, I’ll be the most interactive blogger you ever did see.

Phew! I guess that’s about it…

I’ll be back soon with some really fun birthday party posts, including a Kit Kittredge “penny pincher” party and a Nanny McPhee inspired picnic. Until then, I’ll be plugging away at the ol’ bookaroo and making almost-daily updates at facebook.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I need to get a refill of Hazelnut and smile adoringly at my husband over the top of my computer.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Gore!

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Mrs. Gore’s Hearty and Unsolicited Endorsement of “Moms’ Night Out”

You guys know that I have hermit tendencies.

If it weren’t for a few good people in my life, I would be tempted to hole up and become buried under the rubble of puzzle pieces and mismatched socks and stray Cheerio’s that is my house.

One of those good people is my friend, Chrissy.

Since moving to our town, she has made a faithful effort to plan a ladies’ night once a month where a group of us meet up to do something…anything…different than the stuff we do the other 29 days of the month (i.e. putting the puzzles back together, matching the socks and sweeping up those Cheerio’s).

One time we went out to eat and gab and cackle like hens.

One night we met at my Mom’s house to play board games (and eat and gab and cackle like hens).

Last night, we decided to go see a movie…

and eat and gab…

And OH, did we ever cackle like hens!

The movie?

“Moms’ Night Out”.

Since I live in a black hole, I had heard only a few things about it. Someone shared the trailer on facebook, but I never got around to watching it. I heard rumors that it was shown at a ladies’ retreat at Falls Creek which really intrigued me. My mom heard someone talking about it on the radio…

but the only thing I really knew about the movie going in to it was that it was apparently clean and that it was resonating with women.

And what I was completely unaware of when I took my seat in the theatre, flanked by my friends, a small cup of Dr. Pepper to my right, a pile of buttery popcorn in my lap, is that I was about to be taken on a two hour journey cataloguing MY LIFE.

You guys, it was like watching my every day activities, my secret frustrations, my rarely-expressed fears and the chaos and hilarity of raising my little children play out on a giant screen in front of my face.

The main character was even a homeschooling mommy blogger! You can’t get much more relatable than that.

And sure, the story took twists and turns that my life probably (and hopefully) never will, but throughout the entire story was a thread of spot-on humor, a glorification of motherhood, and a wellspring of encouragement for the tired mommy heart.

I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time the movie was over, my life seemed so normal. So sweet. And most importantly…

so important.

And silly things that at one time tempted me to lose my cool were all of a sudden typical and funny, even…

the day Betsie left hot pink nail polish footprints in the living room…

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the day that I sold my soul for a sandwich (read the AWFUL story behind this picture here)…

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the list of things I “signed up for” (read the life-changing blog post here)…

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all of it.

Even this.

(God help me).

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I came home renewed, refreshed, and eager to embrace this season of my life with a healthy and biblical and light-hearted perspective.

And as I sit here on my stairs with my laptop, a naked toddler next to me begging for nail polish, a baby asleep in the next room, and two always-hungry kids in the kitchen, I’m seeing it all with fresh eyes.

This mess is beautiful, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

And so it is official: “ladies’ night out” watching “Moms’ Night Out” was a night well spent.

Go watch it!

And be sure to eat, gab and cackle like a hen while you’re at it.

The 13 Ways in which “Frozen” Melted My Heart

I have a million things I’d like to write about.

January would be a great month to tell a few more stories from 2013 that I never got to, I have some random nearly-completed posts I could polish up, and I’m feeling antsy to share last year’s Valentine party before Pinterest moves on to Easter (Pinterest moves FAST!)…

buuuuut then we went and saw “Frozen” this week.

And even though it was an inconsequential day and, initially, was never on my dorky blog radar (don’t defend me…anyone who uses the words “blog” and “radar” in the same sentence is a DORK), it turned out to be such a sweet and special occasion, I wanted to jot down a few memories.

Care to accompany me?

For starters, our family doesn’t get out much. I could probably count on one hand the public events we have attended as a complete unit. The reasons for this are manifold: 1. There’s a lot of us, 2. 66% of us are little people, 3. Events, even with little people, are ‘spensive, and, most importantly, 4. We’re homebodies – it takes something pretty special to entice us out-of-our-doors.

But from what I was hearing, “Frozen” was pretty special.

And the timing did happen to be perfect. Gideon loves any movie. Rebekah loves movies with girls in them. Betsie is just old enough to sit still for a bit, and Shepherd is just little enough to sit still for a bit. We had Christmas money to spare.

Honestly, it was go to the movies now, or maybe in two years. This was our chance!

So, after picking up my Grandmother (who is visiting from Texas), we loaded up in our funwagon and headed to Tulsa where we met my Mom at the theatre.

(Oh. I should probably tell you now that I like to spell theatre with an “re” instead of an “er”. It makes me feel fancy).

And, well, since there is a very intense OU game blaring on the television right now and my husband and father are literally dancing around the living room, I am going to have to share my highlights in numerical fashion rather than the flowing literary style that I would prefer. Que sera sera. Thanks for reading what I write, even when I am distracted by football chaos and sports enthusiasts.

Without further ado, I present to you our outing to the theatre (with an “re”)…

1. Is there anything more fun than watching your kids experience something new? This was Gideon’s 3rd movie, Rebekah’s 2nd and Betsie’s 1st, and I realized as we entered into the theatre that I should take note of their response to, well, everything. The arcade games and vending machines at the front. The ticket booth with long lines of customers. The concession area that smells like popcorn and fake butter. The bathrooms with sensor toilets and sinks and foam soap. The long hallways lined with numbered movie rooms. The giant movie screen. The purply, velvet chairs. It was ALL new to them. Looking back, I’m thinking that the theatre should have charged us grown-ups double, because we got to watch two shows today: the movie, and our kids watching the movie.

2. Just like I hoped, by waiting so long to see “Frozen” the theatre was nearly empty when we arrived, save for a few other groups scattered across the room. Slipping into our chosen row, I spoke to the two women in the row behind us: “I apologize in advance that we are here.” They assured me that they were in “kid mode” which completely put me at ease. This was my first time to bring a baby to a theatre. Sooooo taboo. Unless, of course, you are at a matinee showing of a popular Disney movie.

3. Well I’m a dummy. Apparently we had arrived to the movie early, because by preview time, there was not an empty seat in the house. Which was awesome because, you might remember this, I BROUGHT A BABY WITH ME. Still, I was pretty at ease; an attempt like this with my firstborn would have sent me into hysterics.

4. It is also noteworthy that my Mom, who is notorious for being cold in movie theatres, had heretofore avoided seeing this movie because it looked “so cold”. “It makes me cold to even see the previews!” she said. So, being a thoughtful daughter, I brought a few blankets along for her comfort. You know what’s funny about that? So did she. So between our pile of blankets, our cardigans, my giant bag, Shep’s carseat and all our snacks, there was NO ROOM for us to be “frozen”. I was as warm as a “happy” snowman in summer. 😉

And now, a word about each of my children as I watched them watch a movie…

5. Betise was killing me. She looked like a doll, perched on her booster seat next to her Papa, eating popcorn out of a little Coca-Cola cup. True to form, although she sat nicely through the entire movie, she was more about the snacks than the show. I lost track of how many times the root beer and popcorn was passed her way. And while I feigned jealousy that Mr. Gore got to sit by her, I was secretly thrilled to watch them together, especially during the “sca-wy” parts when she would hide beneath his arm. Be still, my heart.

6. Rebekah sat next to me, and provided the most amusing commentary. She inherited her Papa’s booming volume, and while the rest of us chuckled throughout the movie in moderate tones with only a few loud laughs here and there, her chirpy voice would slice through the entire room: “BAHAHAHAHAHA!!! LOOK AT THAT SNOWMAN SLIDING DOWN ON HIS BELLY! THAT LOOKS LIKE FUN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN! HE LOOKS LIKE A PING-WAN!! Thankfully, I heard snickers all around us rather than hisses of “shhhh!!!” Folks truly were in kid-mode, thank you, Lord.

7. And Gideon. Complex of soul, his eyes are always telling a story; but when he is happy, they SPARKLE. It did my heart good to see lots and lots of sparkles everytime I glanced over at him during the movie. Flanked by his sisters, he would occasionally lean close to one or make a comment to the other, and he never groaned when he had to pass Betsie her drink again. Peaceful family times are a gift from God, and I loved seeing my son smack dab in the middle of this one.

8. So how did Baby Shepherd do? It was ironically funny, I suppose, that my baby boy who almost never cries decided to start crying two minutes into the movie. A helpless people pleaser, I lunged out of my seat and scurried to the darkened hallway of our theatre like my pants were on fire and stood watching the movie while I tried to rock him to sleep. The only problem was the little booger wanted to see the movie; he can barely hold up his head, but he was twisting his body around to stare at the screen, bobbing all over the place. I would finally get him cuddled back down when a noise or a song would interest him and he’d come bobbing back up. Finally, he gave in and I tiptoed back to my seat where he snoozed until the end of the movie. Phew! Good boy, Jake. I mean, Shep.

9. By the way, when I was rocking Shepherd in the aisle, I was also crying (not because I was frustrated, but because I have become a weeper, especially when I know my kids are having their hearts captured), which was quite inconvenient since I had no hands free. Tears and snot everywhere.

10. Another highlight of our experience was hearing my Mom and Grandmother giggling next to me. Actually, only my Grandmother was giggling. My Mom was cackling. (It’s okay for me to say that, because I’m a guffaw-er).

11. Where it was always such a treat to sit next to Mr. Gore at a movie in our courting days, it did something crazy to my heart to look to my left and see our little ducks all lined up in a row between us. Every once in awhile, we’d look at each other and laugh at a funny part. It was as close to brushing hands in the popcorn bucket as we could get.

12. Lastly, I can’t express how thrilled I am by the direction the Princess movies are going. I love almost every Disney movie there is and will eventually let my kids watch all that we own, but I am carefully meting out the princesses to my daughters for now; if they will be starry-eyed over a character in these formative years, I want it to be over someone very praiseworthy, like compassionate Belle. Thus, when we first saw “Brave” and I discovered that there wasn’t even a love interest and that Merida’s story was centered around her family, my heart did a jig. And now “Frozen”, the story of two sisters, one strong and golden-haired and one kind of ditsy (but loyal!) and brunette…hello, like Rebekah and Betsie?!…I just can’t. I don’t even know what to say. This is why I was weeping in the aisle of the theatre! Thank you, God, for this timely trend in story-telling!

I could obviously go on and on and on about everything I loved about the actual movie, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (plus, this football game is getting exciting!). So I’ll end with this…

Our van was full of sunbeams all the way home, and as the kids discussed their favorite parts and laughed all over again at what they had seen, I acknowledged once more how important it is to have good stories in your life, whatever their form; whether it is a tale we make up at bedtime, or a book we read out loud, or a new movie we watch at the theatre, story-telling gives us a common experience and memory, shared convictions, and in the case of “Frozen”, a kindred sense of humor. Which leads me to one last thing…

13. That snowman stole the show.

Banana Split For My Babies

My Mom is so much fun.

I heavily lean toward being a hermit, and I sometimes think if it weren’t for her, we would never leave our house. That woman’s got more energy than a spring colt.

(I agree. That analogy DID make me sound like an old lady).

Last week, after a couple of months of rarely leaving our house, she made a motion that we go to the local library and then surprise the kids with their very first banana split.

After hemming and hawing for a bit like an old curmudgeon, I seconded her motion.

And we all said “aye!”

I’m so glad I took my camera along, because the following photographs further support my theory that little kids are so easy to impress and that if you can’t afford to give them Disneyworld, no worries. You can always give them ice cream.

I snapped a few photos while Grandmother was ordering the top-secret surprise. The kids were excited and it was fun to watch the expressions on their faces as they talked and waited and tried to guess what was coming…

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Then, as always, they started getting antsy and wrestly. He pinched her…

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she pinched him…

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And I did my best to hold the fort down. Finally, it was time. Close your eyes, everybody!

(Not you, silly…the kids! You can keep your eyes open and keep reading).

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(As usual, Betsie peeked).

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Two banana splits and some french fries, coming our way! The fries were a surprise for me. 🙂 Sneaky, sneaky Grandmother.

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Okay…OPEN YOUR EYES!

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Please indulge me as I take a closer look at those surprised faces…

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And we can’t forget Betsie…

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Rebekah is surpringly picky about her desserts and a banana split proved to be too much for her to handle, but Gid the Kid TORE into his…

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Betsie, too!

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In case you’re wondering, my Mom and I did help them eat those humongous treats, but since there is nothing cute about seeing pictures of grown women eat ice cream, I decided to spare you.

We had so much fun, we spent less than $15, and the best part was that the hermit got to return home before the afternoon was up.

If your kids have never been treated to a giant banana split, may I recommend an ice cream outing in the near future?

Pretty please?

With a cherry on top?

Home.

At approximately 1:30 on Friday afternoon, we pulled into our driveway…

They were waiting for us on the front porch, and my heart skipped a beat or two as they jumped up and clambered down the sidewalk to greet us, shouts of “Mama!” and “Papa!” causing tears to cloud my vision.

The one-hour drive home had never been longer.

The first to reach me was Gideon, freshly bathed and wearing my favorite shirt. My Mom said he was anxious to get cleaned up for us because he “smelled like a puppy”, which told me that he was as excited about seeing us as we were about seeing him. I gathered him into my arms before even leaving the passenger seat and we held on to each other for dear life. My son and I, perhaps more alike than any two people in our family, share the same struggles and the same strengths. This pregnancy has been hard on us, especially the last couple of weeks, and our reunion was what I had been living for that last day in the hospital. When we released each other, our eyes were definitely “waterin'”, our smiles almost too big for our faces.

After an extremely long journey, we were home. Both of us.

Rebekah was next, skipping towards me in the long, pink dress she never takes off, her hair in long, golden braids. She covered me with kisses and informed me that she was going to take care of me. Her cornflower blue eyes radiated happiness and contentment, warming me to my toes.

I’m always home when I’m with Rebekah Sunday.

And then came shirtless Betsie Fair, wearing nothing but pink, floral culottes and a spunky little ponytail, hopping joyfully across the cobblestones that lead to our driveway. “Mama! Mama!” she continued to exclaim, her happy little face causing me to melt into a puddle of mama goo in the floor of our minivan. Betsie was my MVP that last part of my pregnancy, keeping me entertained and distracted by her out-of-this-world cuteness and unbridled joy. Scooping her up, I hugged her tight while she manically patted me and giggled and squealed.

Home.

In a big jumble of bodies and beautiful chaos, we landed in the living room. There were presents of crayon drawings to be presented, everyone had important stories to tell all at one time, and Baby Shepherd had to be thoroughly inspected by three curious siblings.

And I?

I sat in my favorite chair and took in the blessed moment. Coming home with a new baby always brings with it a fresh perspective and for the time being, the noises weren’t grating, the responsibilities weren’t drudgerous, the to-do’s and expectations were nonexistent, and I was as happy as I have ever remembered being in my entire life.

“Mom?…” I asked, “would you mind taking a picture?”

It suddenly felt very important for me to capture this moment for my memories.

“Do you want me to put a shirt on Betsie?” she replied.

“No. I want them all just like they are…”

Like everyone else in America, sometimes our family photos are staged, and the preparation for them has left me breathless and sweaty and uptight. We might be wearing matching clothes and not a hair is out of place, but the smiles are probably not genuine and there is no story behind our photograph other than “we look nice today and our clothes are awesome“.

But this picture was different.

We stopped our reunion for the briefest of moments, we quickly gathered into a cluster, we looked at the camera, and our faces were already beaming before my Mom even had to tell us to “say cheese!”.

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The feelings I experienced at our homecoming will be impossible to hold onto. Life will eventually pick up speed and we’ll be back at the grindstone, going through our days, doing our chores, fighting negativity and frustration and cabin fever. This day was a gift, for all of us, and a sweet reminder that…

together, at home, is our very favorite place to be.