Friday, October 30, 2009

The Dip Stick

I am always amazed how different each child is.  And yet, they also have many personality traits in common.  All of my kids have a great sense of humor.  That's a good thing because, in our family, it would definitely be detrimental not to.

For Paul's birthday, he said he wanted a "Rip Stick" which is a new type of skateboard with a twisty joint in the middle.  Several of his friends had them and being the sports enthusiast that he is, he couldn't wait to claim ownership of one himself. 

When his dad asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he got the "Rip Stick" answer, to which Eric assured him that he could MAKE him one. 

Paul's smile suddenly turned to a frown.  Make one?  Uh, no dad.  That's just not possible.

Over the course of a couple weeks the topic came up again and again wherein Paul would be talking about the cool board and Eric would assure him he could just make one--for a lot cheaper, ya know??  He even tried to convince Paul the other kids would be JEALOUS because his would be so cool and he could call his a DIP STICK!

Let me tell you, Paul didn't seem too impressed with the idea of a Dip Stick.

So, the day of his birthday comes and there is no package shaped like The Stick but Eric is out in the garage hammering and banging and making all sorts of noise. 

I took Paul aside and told him that his dad was out there making him something and that even if it didn't turn out quite how he imagined to just pretend he was really happy so he wouldn't hurt his dad's feelings.

Paul laughed, thinking it was a joke.  I kept a straight face.  Then, Paul got really sober thinking maybe it wasn't a joke.  He vacillated between the what-ifs, all the while hearing the hammering and banging out in the garage.  He definitely looked worried--between hopeful laughs!

Finally, Eric had his proud moment of coming in with the dad manufactured "DIP STICK"!


It is a board duct taped to two roller blades!  It even has a broom stick handle taped onto the board so it looks more like the twisty thing on a real Rip Stick.

We were laughing so hysterically Paul was pretty sure it was all a joke.

Still, he was one happy guy when we pulled out a real Rip Stick!

He had a great time with friends at the Bowling Alley:

Here's a cute pic of Kim teaching Vu to bowl:

Happy Birthday Paul!  Never stop laughing!  WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Are You Rich?

Watched this with our small group tonight.  Thought it was profound and wanted to share. 

To see the end onnect to the Rob Bell-13-part 2/2 (at the end of the first clip)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview With The Mother Of Twenty

A friend e-mailed me this interview with the mother of 20.  That's 20 CHILDREN. 

Makes 8 seem like nothing!

Here's one of my favorite pics of the day Patrick came home from the hospital.



"The more children, the more love."

Mrs. Lucille Dippolito is a nurse and the mother of 20 children. The youngest is 22 and the oldest is 43. One child died a few months after birth. She has about 30 grandchildren, though she said she has to update the count. Three more are currently in the womb. Her husband died in1993. She currently lives in St. Marys, Kansas.

Of her children, Mrs. Dippolito says, "They have things that money can’t buy." And of parents, she remarks, "Your children you take with you into eternity"

The following interview was conducted on February 20, 2002 by Scott Johnston, Research department, Priests for Life:

Q. Did you always want to have a large family?

"Yes I did. I wanted to have six boys. God gave me the baker’s dozen—13 boys! After the first little girl came, I wanted more girls."

"Eight children were born at home. I knew what I could do and what I couldn’t do."

"I come from a family of four. I lived next door to a family of 10 children, and those children were always happy! They were happy within themselves. My mother comes from a family of twelve. [Children in large families] seem to have things that money can’t buy."

Q. What do you say to people who say they can’t afford to have more kids?

"For every little mouth that God sends, He sends the little bit that is needed. I had faith in God that if He sent me a child, He was going to feed that child. I lived better than some families with two or three kids. My kids started doing things! It’s not how many kids you have; it’s your faith in God."

Q. How were you able to manage with so many children?

"I said to people [after having a certain number], ‘I’m retired.’ I got one to do the laundry, one the baking; they rotate their duties."

"We had chickens, pigs. . . . Each child had a responsibility. We butchered our meat; we had a dairy cow. It was a mini-farm on ten acres. A priest friend used to ask us: ‘Is there anything in this house that is not homemade?’ [Some things they made included their own butter, and altar candles.] Some of the talents they have they learned from their grandparents. I sew, but now my kids make my clothes for me. I gave to them, but look what I got back!"

Q. Today’s cultural attitudes about parenting seem to suggest that good parenting means providing many material things for your children. Do kids need a lot of material things in order to be happy in their family and to grow up as well-adjusted adults?

"No. That’s the worse thing that you could do! Just providing everything their heart desires -- that’s absolutely wrong. They need to develop their talents. Doing is learning. They have to be doers.. . . This was the law of the family: by doing they were learning. By working for something they respect it. The more you give, there’s your happiness; that’s what you have to teach your children. You receive your happiness by seeing how they are developing. When I stand before the judgement seat of God, I’m going to tell Him I did everything for them."

"We were never poor, but we didn’t have lots of things. My boy had a natural talent for fixing cars. If we had been able to buy things, that talent would not have been able to come out."

"We have an engineer, a nurse. . . . These are things they did because they realized they are not going to get things handed to them. Parents are not here forever."

Q. In considering the prospect of having many children, our society seems to dwell only on the difficulties and hardships involved. What would you say in response to this consistently negative attitude about having many children?

"They are much in the dark. This is utterly false. Everybody is going to have a dark side; we’re not here to have heaven on earth. What are people afraid of today? People that don’t have kids have worse crosses than those who do! People need to start reading books on the joys of children. They are going to miss out on a lifetime of happiness. A baby is joy! Young people are very much scandalized; they are being lied to. They are being deprived of a lot of happiness. Having children makes you healthy. After each child I got stronger; couldn’t wait for the next one to get here! God gives you these things."

"You never have a dull moment…always something that you can look forward to."

"If you are always around young children, you will always be young at heart."

Q. Today there is a big emphasis on the idea that responsible parents must plan for every child they have. Did you deliberately plan each child ahead of time?

"Wrong! I’d rather take it in God’s time. I would have had a lot more kids if I could have! They don’t all have to go to college. Some of my kids are not meant for college. I took these children just as God wanted me to have them. I’m glad they’re here. I’d do it all over again. These are your greatest treasures. You can’t take a car into eternity! You will not see your boat in eternity! If you love children, every moment is a moment of happiness. This ‘I’m going to have them when I want to,’ that’s very selfish. Faith in God is the prime ingredient in having a family. God gives you talent; you have to do the work. These people are not getting joy from the right things. The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world."

Q. Another idea that society seems to suggest to parents today is that if they have many children, they will not be able to love all of them with the same depth that they could if they had a small family. What would you say to this?

"When number nineteen came, the family gives him love. He got so much love from the family. If he was an only child, he would never have gotten so much love! The mother can only give so much love. When you have a large family, the children are getting all kinds of love from all their brothers and sisters. There’s nothing more joyful than a baby."

Q. What for you are the greatest blessings of having a large family?

"Watching them grow, seeing their talents, the things that they give back. The love that they have for their father. They go to the gravesite and have masses said for him. Seeing them become good citizens. They are helping their country. These are great joys! My daughter who is a nurse and has helped bring people back to life. Look at the great joys! You watch them take their first step, say their first word—these are things that money can’t buy! The blessings far outweigh the hardships. The world dwells on the hardships. Everything has pain and joy with it. You have to take the bitter with the sweet. We aren’t in heaven yet!"

End of interview

* * *


Mrs. Dippolito is a very inspiring woman! She does not sound her age at all, but much younger and full of life. If you were talking for the first time with her, you would be amazed to learn she is a mother of 20 and grandmother of more than that.

She is a Catholic of very deep faith and tremendous trust in God. She is full of gratitude for all of the children God has given her. She has total trust in God for all things, and understands that in this life crosses always occur along with happiness. This is integral to her attitude toward family life. She has the realistic and hope-filled approach that since everyone will have crosses, why not multiply the joy as much as possible? To her, the more children, the more joy!

Mrs. Dippolito is also very disturbed by the lies that society tells young people today, especially the idea that fulfillment can be found in self-absorption.

Talking with Mrs. Dippolito reveals several key themes.

The large family is a great source of happiness. Mrs. Dippolito’s initial reason for wanting many kids was her experience that the most joy-filled homes were the homes with many kids. She wanted a home with much joy, and that to her meant a home with many children. She learned this in her own family. Each child is another unique face of love that is brought into the family and multiplies the joy by adding a new love. The blessings far outweigh the pains. Parents receive back many times over what they give.

A large family does not mean that the parents have twenty times more work if they have twenty kids. It is a community of mutual love and sacrifice—a learning place of care for one’s neighbor. The kids all pitch in and so as the family grows, many of the daily burdens are taken care of by the children themselves, as they are able, including much of the care for the youngest. They learn to do this work joyfully, especially by helping to care for their sibling babies. Mrs. Dippolito said her youngest child never cried because he was always being held by one of his brothers and sisters; they all eagerly give love to the younger ones. This youngest one can’t wait to have his first baby so he can have someone to toss in the air since he didn’t get to do this as his siblings did with him. This is a tremendous blessing both for the younger children who receive this abundance of love, and for the older ones who give it.

The large family is a natural school wherein the talents of each child can flower. Because of the sacrifices and cooperation required in a large family, the children by a kind of necessity have opportunities to discover and nurture talents and abilities that would not be discovered or practiced in a small family. Because the family could not afford to buy everything, the kids know how to garden, care for farm animals, cook, sew, can vegetables, do basic home repair work, etc. They develop from this a strong "can-do" attitude. They are versatile and flexible, because they learned it by doing things in the daily care of their family. Also, they learn to love with more effectiveness in serving others. This is because the more children there are, the more likely each child is to have counterpart siblings whose strengths complement their particular weaknesses. The sibling better at schoolwork helps the one who is less so. The mechanically gifted one fixes another’s bike (and the family car, and tractor, etc.). They learn to help and give personally to each other according to their individual weaknesses and gifts. In a large family, there is abundant opportunity for practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and for the discovery and growth of natural gifts which can all work together harmoniously.

A lack of material riches is not to be feared in raising a family. Everyone must work hard and sacrifice for each other—parents and children. But, if this is done, and most of all, if the family has complete trust in God as the ultimate provider and asks Him for all they need, they will be able to live a very happy life together. Many of the material luxuries so common today cannot bring anything approaching the joy that can be experienced in a close, large, family.

Faith. Great faith in God is absolutely vital to a full family life. A family simply cannot live the life meant by God without loving Him, trusting Him, and praying to Him. If these things are done, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Expect the cross. It is folly to try always to run from it. No one can avoid it, and society is harmed terribly by the increasing number of people who pattern their life after attempts to maximize their own comfort and self-interest. They are turning from the very thing that will help them to have the deepest joy in this life. Shunning the possibility of a large family because of potential crosses is a tragic delusion. Hardship is always a part of this life. A large family helps each member to bear each other’s burdens in mutual love—a school of embracing the cross together with others.

Family life ought to be lived with eternity always in mind. This means, among other things, knowing that children are gifts from God, that He wants them all to come to heaven, and He intends for parents to help them embrace the gifts He has for them to get there. God’s grace is available every step of the way. It is essential for parents to have the perspective that they are called to be with their children not just here in this world, but forever in the eternal life of heaven.

-- Scott Johnston

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It is impossible to have a child die from cancer and not be filled with the lingering question of "Why?"  Why God?  Why did he have to die?  Why did you take a child with so many gifts?  My child!  Joe was one of the most intelligent, handsome, athletic, loving, funny, HEALTHY people ever!  He was never sick!


Why him?  Why us? 

Why God?

And the "whys" often lead to even harder questions: Why didn't I know he had cancer?  Why couldn't I see the signs?  Why didn't we take him to a different doctor?  Why couldn't I protect him?  Why couldn't he be healed of a cancer that is supposedly so curable?

Why God?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Why us?  Why HIM?  Why? 

I know it doesn't do any good to ask the questions.  And yet . . . the questions haunt.

But even tho I'll never know the answers to my questions, I do know--


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Will Be In Your Box?

"These boxes all have names on them," Mr. Jones muses.  Turning to Peter he asks, "Do I have one?"

Some of you remember the story of Mr. Jones in Bruce Wilkinson's popular book, The Prayer of Jabez.  It's a story that's affected me profoundly; I often wonder what will be in my "box" when I get to heaven. 

For those who haven't read the book, it's about asking for God's blessings.  Near the beginning, Wilkinson shares the story of Mr. Jones who has just entered the gates of heaven and is on a tour with Peter.  They come to a large warehouse and Mr. Jones wants to go inside but Peter assures him he does not.  Mr. Jones finds this strange, especially after his tour of heaven is complete and he has seen everything . . . except the warehouse. 

Mr. Jones convinces Peter to show him the building and when they walk in they see stacks and stacks of beautiful white boxes wrapped in red ribbons.   The boxes are stored alphabetically.  Peter tries to stop him but Mr. Jones is intent on finding the box with his name on it.  Mr. Jones eagerly grabs his box to unwrap it. 

Here's what happens next . . .

"Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition, and he lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before.  Because there in Mr. Jones's white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give him while he was on earth . . . but Mr. Jones had never asked."

I often find myself wondering what will be in my box when I get to heaven.  An awesome family vacation?  A friendship that was never nurtured? 

A child? 

What will be in your box?

"And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."      Luke 11:9

Prayers Answered

Thank you to everyone who lifted prayers for Danette to come home.  It is with great joy I tell you she is now in the loving arms of her forever family!

Thank you God! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And The Winner Is . . .

The Asymmetrical!

Which is funny because it is the first dress I tried on.  It was also the cheapest!  And the favorite of my girls.  You can't beat Ross for prices!  I liked the "True Lies" dress but my kids all detested the sleeves.  I kept it anyway because it was marked down to $22.  Oh, and the most expensive was the granny in a gunnysack at $129 on sale at Nordstrom's.

We had a wonderful evening out with our daughters at a fundraiser for Holt. 

Thanks for the votes and the laughs everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sometimes, Life Just Isn't Fair

Patrick has informed me that I am simply not fair! 

Granted, I've been accused of this before, but this time will be especially memorable.

Paul had oral surgery to bring down a trapped tooth.  Being the unfair mom that I am, I allowed him to play video games for the rest of the day and I even rented a new one.  I also bought him ice cream, Trix yogurt, drinkable yogurt and Gatorade. 

Even tho I made sure the other kids got some of the bootie apparently the fact that he got more is just unfair! 

I asked Patrick if he wanted me to set up an appointment with the oral surgeon where he could get a shot, an IV, and a scalpel on his gum and he said, "YES!  Then I can play video games all day!  That would be FAIR!"

Sorry to break it to you Patrick.  But sometimes, life just isn't fair!

I'm happy to report that Paul is recovering despite being treated like a king--which is so unfair.

Thanks for all the comments on my dresses.  I'll let you kow the final choice soon!  I'll also tell you which was the cheapest and most expensive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vote Some Dresses Off The Island

I did it.  I went shopping.  It was horrid.  I Kid.  It was actually quite fun because I had my two personal shoppers and they enticed me with Starbucks.


I tried on about 142 dresses. They ranged in price from $11.99 to $129.99.

See if you can guess which one was the highest/lowest.

It's time to vote some dresses off the island. 

The Tarzan Look:

The Ruffles Have Ridges Look:

The Stuffed Socks Look:

The Granny In A Gunnysack Look:

The Check Out Those She-man Muscles Look:

The Real Possibilities Asymmetrical Look:


The True-Lies Sleeves Look (hard to see but the dress has diagonal tiers down the front):


Cast Your Vote.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Welcome To The Vietnamese Cooking Channel!

One of the best things about having kids is getting to relive my own childhood.  When I was little I liked to pretend I was on TV.  I would be cleaning the bathroom pretending I was showing my "audience" the proper way to clean a mirror.

Well, we finally made our Vietnamese Spring Rolls!  They were very yummy!  Vu suggested we pretend we were on the cooking channel while we made them.  What a blast! 

The chief chefs--Paul wetting the wrappers and Vu putting on mint leaves:

The final result. Would you like crab or veggie?

A satisfied customer--he still loves Vietnamese food the most!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Homecoming Court

Just in the last few weeks it has really hit me that my sweet little Lizzy is growing up.  And growing up means she will be moving out.  She will go to college in less than two years.  How did time fly by so quickly?




How will I ever let this dear, funny, creative, energetic child go?  She has been attached to my hip since the day she was born.  This is the stage of parenting I dislike the most. 

And yet, I know.  She will be the next one to spread her wings and fly away and I pray we are giving her strong wings to carry on.  We are very proud of the woman she is becoming.  She is beautiful on the outside, but more importantly, she is beautiful on the inside.

Here she is with her escort for Homecoming Court:


Proud Daddy:

And here she is all dressed up for the Homecoming dance:


Here's her date and yes, she and G4 are still together.  I think she likes him for his brains. 


Or maybe his mom's cool car?


Or maybe his sense of humor?  Lizzy was re-enacting the scene from Titanic.  Maybe G4 hasn't seen the movie?


Or maybe, just maybe, she loves him for his face?


I tried re-enacting the scene from Titanic.  G4 just looked at me like I was a cougar.  I don't get it.

Hey, I have to find ways to laugh or I'll just end up crying over my little girl growing up!

I love you Lizzy!  You'll always be my sweet baby girl!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bedroom Solutions Part 2

Most people assume we moved for more bedrooms. They're wrong. I see no problem with kids sharing a bedroom! I will even go so far as to say I think it is BETTER--at least when they are young.

True, there are more unexplained messes that "Mr. Nobody" makes but there's also a sense of security that comes from having a sibling nearby at night. Kids who share will be more prepared for college dorms and even marriage. (The next time you hear your kids squabbling over a bedroom issue just assure yourself you are doing them a favor.)

In our old house, we often had three children sharing a room which made for some creative solutions including:
  • Bunkbeds of course--especially with a double on the bottom and twin on the top.  I especially love those that can be separated apart for more flexibility later on.
  • Loft beds--bed on top leaving floor space underneath.  Another nice set-up for teens is the bed on top with a couch underneath that converts to a double bed for sleepovers.
  • Small port-a-crib vs. large crib--even tho Hubby will deny it, our kids DID sleep in their cribs-- sometimes.
  • I've read of people making bunkbeds that fit standard size crib mattresses--genius!
  • Then there is my own invention of the old-fashioned trundle bed.  For years we used a crib mattress on the floor which we would slide under the bunkbed during the day.  That way, the "toddler bed" didn't take up any space during the day.  I also didn't have to worry about my 2 yo falling out of bed.  In order to keep the child on the bottom bunk from hopping out of bed onto the sleeping toddler (right next to the bed on the floor), I put a bedrail up along the side of the bottom bunk.  Smart, eh? 
In addition, if you have several kids sharing a bedroom and space is tight:
  • Take out the dressers to free up floor space--use large plastic bins which slide under the bed. 
  • Keep clothing to reasonable amounts--no child needs 20 shirts.
  • Use wall space/shelves/bookshelves to your advantage--lots of storage for small amt. of floor space
  • Rotate toys--keep extras in large plastic bins in storage.  Bring a new bin out on a rainy day.
Now, just in case you're building or remodeling I have to show you a very cool use of space.  My two little boys have a room that was built to use space in the ceiling!

Here's their bedroom:

But the builder put in a loft above which was just unused attic space:

Here's the ladder going up the wall--it's a bit steep but cool!

In the loft above there are shelves for toy storage and a small area for secret hideouts:

And even tho they have their own beds, they often like to sleep together:

Edited to add--please read great solutions/comments below and feel free to add those you have found helpful!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Catch Me If You Can

Wondering where Waldo Ann is?

Did she die from lack of caffeine?  Last we heard, her coffee supply was GONE.

No, her knight in shining armor didn't want a witch around the house so he bought her more coffee.  He said it wasn't a food purchase; it was a mental health purchase. 

I love you Honey!!!  You're my bestie!

Did she go dress shopping, have a panic attack and get swallowed up in the dress racks?

Did she decide to wear a different dress for the event? 

Perhaps this one?  Pretty, isn't it?


Did she decide to squeeze into the little black dress afterall?


No, after dieting for a day she has decided she WILL go shopping.  When.  That's the question.

College classes have begun.  See you next year after I graduate! 

Oh, and BTW, I AM graduating this year!!!  For REALS!!  I am going to have a gigantic graduation party, everyone is invited.  No gifts please. BRING LOTS OF GIFTS PLEASE!!! 

Of course, I still have lots of posts rummaging around my head that will have to come out before then--last update on our 30 Days, bedroom solutions part 2, Paul's bday, some great recipes, oh, and if you pay me in Starbuck's cards . . .
I will let you VOTE on my dress.  After I go shopping of course.  Assuming I go shopping and don't wear either dress above.

But if I wear one of those my bestie will turn into a beastie.  He's not much into the tree-hugger look.  Or the witch on a broomstick look. 

Actually, if I had a body like that, he might be.  But I don't, so stay tuned to vote.