Posts Tagged ‘family’

Top 10 Things That Happen When You Have 4 Kids

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

By today’s standards, we have a big family.

We have 4 kids–not very many when you consider the broad scope of human history.  But today, it’s kind of a big deal.


When people find out I’m a mom of 4 (beauties), first they look at me like I have a horn protruding from my forehead, which is  followed by a slightly muffled gasp, which I suppose means: You’re crazy. (Well, we are a little.)

The most common response that people say out loud is: Gosh, I have 2 kids and I can barely handle them!

Yes, parenting is hard. Parenting 2 is hard. Parenting 4 is hard. And, I’m pretty sure parenting 1 is hard, since I was an only child–my mom is raising her arms right now and belting out an AMEN.

But there’s just something different once you get beyond 3 kids. Things get a little tricky.

Here are the Top 10 things that change when you have 4 kids:

10. You cannot fit your whole family into any car that’s remotely cool. It’s minivans all the way–for years. The first time I was ever called Ma’am was in a drive-thru window at Starbucks, a few days after I started driving the MomMobile. Mind you, I was 28 at the time. Sheesh.

9You can no longer fit your family into 1 hotel room. Two double beds and a sleeper sofa just aren’t going to cut it. So go ahead and add that extra room to the budget when you’re making your vacation plans–or not, because…

8. You can no longer fly on airplanes. Well, I guess  some of you could, but for most, 6 plane tickets is equivalent to feeding your 13-year-old son for a month. Dinner wins.

7. Four bedrooms or bust. A 3-bedroom house just won’t work anymore, unless your kids are the same gender and can share bedrooms.

6. You always double a recipe. Always.

5.  If you remember to do something for some of your kids, you’re inevitably forgetting to do something for your other kid(s). 

4.  Your kids will never have matching socks. Ever.

3. Your kids will never, ever agree on what movie to watch. Ok, this probably happens in every family, BUT the more people there are, the more opinionated the room becomes. Just saying.

2. You’ll have a greater chance for heartbreak. The more kids you have, the greater the chance that someone (or two…or three) will break your heart along the way, but…

1. You’ll have a greater chance for JOY.

A wise friend once told me #2 and #1.  I didn’t understand it at the time, because I was just starting to have kids, but now it resonates. There are things my kids do or say sometimes that make me feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. There are things I say to them that I later regret.  That’s heartbreaking. And I’m sure there’s only more of that to come as they get older.

BUT, the JOY multiples with each one. The way they look when they’re sleeping, the times they cheer for one another, the times they win poetry contests and geography bees, the times they laugh, the inside jokes, the times they still say: I Love You.

I get those times x 4.





The Unlikely Hero of Family Game Time.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

As my kids get older, it’s getting harder to find an activity that everyone enjoys. Movie tastes are changing, for instance. The older boys want Avengers and the Hobbit, while Abby wants to see Annie and Home. We used to plop them all in front of a screen, and whatever Disney/Pixar film was out at the time was everyone’s favorite.

(And then, there’s Jonathan, whose new favorite movie is CARS, which is “so-ten-years-ago” according to the older kids [funny how I find them glued to the couch next to Jonathan whenever it’s on…hmmm.])

It’s the same with games. Candy Land used to be a crowd-pleaser. Not anymore.  Now, he wants to play Monopoly, she wants to play Clue, and the other one just wants to listen to his iPod (for Pete’s sake).

So, last night when we pulled out a new game for family time, I was skeptical.


Enter Story Cubes. The rescuer. The hero. The redeemer of adolescent family time.

slogan bracelets


You should have seen how fast everyone gathered ’round the coffee table to try it out.

Honestly, I was still skeptical. I thought interest would last for about 5 minutes, but guess what? Wait….for….it.

Everyone loved it, and I mean everyone. Mom, Dad, Adolescent #1 and #2, as well as our 9-year-old (who wishes he was an adolescent,  for the record.) Jonathan even squealed with delight from the confines of his bedroom when he heard us laughing.

The game is actually very simple. There are 9 cubes with pictures on each side of the cube. One player rolls the cubes (like dice) and whatever images the cubes land on are the pictures you use to tell a story. The first player chooses  which image to start with and begins the story with “Once upon a time.” Each successive player chooses the next cube to continue the story, until all 9 images have been used. The key is to tell a story that connects all 9 images.


Warning: when you play with a 9-year-old, there will be countless natural disasters, endless casualties, and fish parachuting  from burning buildings.

Just be prepared.

Here are some delightful one-liners from last night’s edition (paraphrased, because do you expect me to remember them word-for-word? It was almost 9 o’clock.):

“When lightning struck,  the people gained electrical powers.” (9-year-old)

“A giant Scarab beetle attacked all the people down by the river.” (Mass casualties)

” Everyone escaped the burning building, except for the sleeping mailman, but when a bee buzzed by his head, he woke up and parachuted to safety.” (Hero of the story: a bumblebee).


Okay, so these are pretty silly examples, but I honestly loved how the game forced us to work together and use our imagination(s).

AND, you can play it for a short amount of time, or for however long attention spans permit.

I also like that it’s pocket-sized,  so you can take it with you wherever you go–to the park, on a road trip, to a restaurant, etc.

Family Game Time Revived.

        * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

// What are games that your family likes to play together? // 

// If your kids are at different ages and stages, how do you spend time together as a family? //

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 








Hospitality Stories Part II

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


It’s a bittersweet day. Today is the final post for my hospitality series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found something useful along the way.

But, I’m excited to share another hospitality story  to end the series by one of my favorite people on the planet.

Marcella is a friend of mine from our seminary days. I met her  in the last couple of years that we were in Philadelphia, through a book club, and as soon as I met her, I wished I had met her sooner.

We also ended up in a supper club together, which was one of the highlights of my adult life, really. I have never laughed harder and felt so comfortable with a group of people.

Marcella was always throwing big parties and loved having people around. She’s an amazing cook, but even more, she has a sweet spirit that’s contagious. (Just look at that face!)

Marcella and her little boy, James

Marcella and her little boy, James

Photo Feature Wednesday on Tuesday: Liz + Iris

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

photo feature

I’ve been wanting to post these pictures for a long time, but have been bogged down with life’s to-do list. So, I’m making the most of the free time I have today to post them, since I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

This was my first spin at newborn photography, and I was sweating at the end. I call it photographer acrobatics–the twisting, turning, and crouching involved to get good shots, especially of a baby.

I’m always a little nervous about shooting indoors, since I’m not a professional and don’t carry lighting equipment with me. But there was a window in baby Iris’ room that let in the most beautiful natural light. I think the photos of Liz + Iris next to the window are my favorite shots. When I first saw them, I gasped.

newborn photography






Iris and her dad had some pretty sweet moments as well. Trent was a natural at holding her.




No newborn shoot is  complete without one photo of the baby crying, though I have to say, Iris was a champ. She was awake for two full hours and only cried once briefly. Maybe she wanted Luke’s jellybean?




Even when she cries, she’s cute.


To see the full gallery, click on the gallery below.  Or go to my Life in Pictures tab to see this gallery as well as other photos I’ve taken.


One Big Family

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Ok, I confess. I made them hold hands.

Ok, I confess. I made them hold hands.

I grew up as an only child. No siblings to fight with or sisters to share my jeans. My stuff was mine. I have 4 kids of my own now- you can laugh, it’s okay. I often marvel at the amount of bickering that goes on over who didn’t close the door, whose book it is, and who forgot to flush the toilet. “It wasn’t me!”- it’s a constant refrain in our house. The joke around here is that one day I’m going to end up in the loony bin, then Duane gently reminds me that I’m already there.


But here’s the thing. When they get along, there’s almost nothing more beautiful. Last night Stephen and Abby were doing a google maps tour of the last neighborhood we lived in. They followed the little google man up and down familiar streets and exclaimed together: “Ooh, there’s our old house! There’s the school! Let’s see if we can find the pool!” Then Abby said, “Stephen, isn’t this cool? We don’t even need a car to see our old neighborhood!” As I cooked in the kitchen listening to their chatter, I smiled to myself. I wanted time to stand still in the joy they had sharing life together.

A friend of mine recently told me that she thought I was brave to have 4 kids, especially since I was raised as an only child. I had never thought about it that way. I don’t feel brave, it’s more like a flat-on-the-floor kind of feeling. It was a grace-filled statement. When she said it, l felt okay to be overwhelmed at times.

Duane and I often look at each other in bewilderment wondering if what our kids are doing is “normal.” I’m pretty sure it is. This is where you chime in and say: “Yes, it is.” But then I remember why we had 4 kids in the first place: the joy. The absolute complete joy we had as each one made their entrance into the world. The joy that we still have as we live life alongside of them each day, even though they break our hearts some times. And sadly, we break theirs, too.

But God is writing a tiny story of redemption in this little family as a shadow of His really big story of redemption in the world. Hope and heartache, peace and bickering, joy and sadness. It’s a privilege to be in the story, even when it looks a lot like the looney bin.