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  • Heard in the Dare House

  • Naomi"Mom, isn't the Charleston that dance on that show Fresh Prince...or....?"
  • Pete"We should all act out a Shakespeare play. Maybe Macbeth?"
    Anna "Oh! I want to play MacMeth!"

  • Josh"Owe! I bit my tongue!"
    Mom "That's not part of dinner, dude."
    Josh"I know. That's why I didn't bite it off, Michael Tyson"

  • Dad "Josh, do you know who Mike Tyson bit?"
    Josh"Uuuhh...yeah...like... Leonard Skimmer?"

  • Anna [When we were all talking about love languages, Dad explains how you can change over your life]"Oh yeah, totally. 'Cause I used to be into drawing."
  • Anna [after falling off her bike]"I'm OK! I don't need the arcade kit!"
  • Dad [Getting ready to give a gift to the girls for their piano recital]"Alright girls, we're going to do something that's long overdue."
    Anna "Ha. Probably taxes..."

  • Josh [After reading Peter's sign that said, "DJ takes requests, and tips] "Hey. I have a tip for you. If people don't like the song you're playing, you should change it."
  • Anna "Sometimes I look around and think, I am Anna...and these are other people..."
  • Josh "Listen. You give me the Simon's Quest code and I'll shop in the women's section!"
  • Josh "You smell like an air freshener, Mom."
    Dad "oh Josh those are kind of cheap so that sounds like you’re kind of insulting Mom when you say that."
    Josh "MMMMmmmm…you smell like a $100 air freshener."

  • Anna "Mom. Where’s the first Bible ever. Like ever."
    Mom "Ummm, I’m not sure. But maybe you could ask Dad about that"
    Anna "Well. I was gonna, but I didn’t want to get a whole sermon…so I asked you"

  • Dad "Hmm. These chips taste stale."
    Mom "They're not stale. They're just from Aldi."

  • Naomi "Look Mom! My foot is bigger than Anna's whole face!"
  • Peter [Interrupting Mom quizzing Naomi on Science by asking, "What's inside the membrane of a cell?"] "...Insane?"
  • Anna [Seeing Almonso Wilder grab Laura Ingles' engagement ring from the kitchen on Little House] "Hmph. He just grabbed a chill pill."
  • Josh "Dad, my grammar book must be in labor. It keeps talking about contractions"
  • Josh [After Dad picked a crumb off Josh's shirt]"Dad, you're like a parasite, cleaning me."
  • Anna[Watching Dorothy's friends break her out of the wicked witch's castle]: "Well. That's why you always keep your axe with ya."
  • Josh: "I wonder if there are any tornadoes at the campground we're going to."
    Anna: "Yes. There are. I know. I checked on E-Bay."

  • Mom: "Mmmm, Josh. You smell really good. Are you wearing cologne?"
    Josh: "Wait. My.....Clone Trooper, you mean?"

  • Mom: "I delivered all four of these kids. The least they can do is let me have the rest of the dill pickle potato chips!"
  • Josh: "You're a weak-aholic!"
    Dad: "A weakaholic?!"
    Josh: "Yeah. You're addicted to being weak!"

  • Dad: [After listening to the long piano intro to Chicago's Does anybody really know what time it is?] "I don't like that dissident music. It's all crazy and off time."
    Anna: "I like it! 'Cuz that's how I play!"

  • Paul: "So according to this book kids, who shot JFK?"
    Josh: "Lee Elvis Hardwell?"

  • Paul: "How Many Kings by Downhere is a perfect running song. The beat is just my pace."
    Jen: "Oh yeah? My song is Canon in D."

  • Anna[while washing herself in the shower]: "Hmmmmm. Arms are helpful."
  • Anna [Seeing Mom running water in the kitchen sink]: "Hey! You want to pay bills?!"
    Mom: "Huh?"
    Anna: "You're wasting!"

  • Josh: "Mom, can I play Mario?"
    Mom: "No Josh. Today is craft day. We're doing stuff for someone."
    Josh: "Yeah. I was gonna beat the game for Dad."

  • Anna: [Laying in bed, in a depressed voice]"Naomi, what do I do with life?"
    Naomi: "Uhh...how about you go to sleep?"

  • Mom: "Weird, I've always heard that song differently. But hey, what am I?"
    Anna: "A human being!"

  • Anna: [After being told to eat her dinner]"Mom, I took two bites! You can see the ground!"
  • Josh: "Man, I want to go to a casino."
    Mom: "What?!"
    Josh: "Wait. Is casino the same as gazebo?"

  • Jen to the kids: "Guys, don't forget toppings for your salad. The more colors on your salad, the better it is for you."
    Josh: "Even if it has Superman ice cream on it?!"

  • Anna"Huh? Craig has a list?"
  • Anna"Naomi, can you look at your calendar with your eyes closed?"
    Naomi"No. No one can, silly."
    Anna"Chuck Norris can!!"

  • Mom"Thanks to Naomi, who passed her headache on to me."
    Naomi"Pastor Headache? Who's Pastor Headache?!"

  • Darefamily: “Night, Pete. Night, Naomi. Night, Mom. Night, Dad...”
    Anna: “Night, vision!”

  • Anna: “Dad, do you believe in Santa?”
    Dad: “Sure, St. Nicholas was at the council of Nicea. He punched Arius in the mouth for his heresy…”
    Anna: “Hmmmm…I don’t remember seeing that in the video…”

  • Pete: "Josh, you know what the Pope is, right?"
    Josh: "Yeah. The stuff in the orange juice."

  • Anna: "Yeah! Let's get this starty parted!"
  • Josh"Bummer Mom, you're not ticklish. But I can still hurt you, because your nervous system is working!"
  • Josh"Sorry Grandma, I don't really like antiques...unless they have up to date stuff."
  • Naomi:"I'm not sure what I'm more afraid of, a whale or a shark, 'cuz I know how to fight a shark, 'cuz they're really weak in the eyes..."
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    Road Trip to Scranton!

    On Monday morning, January 2nd, we surprised the kids with an announcement: a road trip to Pennsylvania!!! We woke the kids up at seven and were driving out of the garage by 8:24 am.  Miracles do still happen, I guess.


    The drive out of MI and through a bit of Ohio is pretty boring.  However, once you enter Penn, it’s so beautiful.  I’m sure all of the hills didn’t help our gas mileage but the scenery through the Northern tip of the Appalachians is absolutely amazing; the mountains and huge rock walls were beautiful! We were all wondering if the locals there ever traveled to Canton oohing and ahhing over how flat everything was.

    We drove through Ohio before getting to the State of Independence, but most of the driving was in Pennsylvania itself.


    The kids before they had read the sign.


    …and after we threatened them.


    Soon we were back on the road! Nothing exciting happened for about seven or eight more hours when we finally got to our hotel!  Well, we found our hotel but decided we needed to hit up a gas station before checking in.

    That was a mistake.

    It took several twists and turns in back-roads and neighborhoods through Scranton’s northernly neighboring city Dixon City before finally finding fuel but it was kind of worth it because it was a full-service gas station! Very cool.

    Anyways, we reached the Holiday Inn in Dixon City around 9 pm. There was a POOL. 😀


    swimming in December?



    ^^the view from the kid’s room^^


    The next morning we all enjoyed a breakfast of cold stiff hotel waffles (Naomi didn’t know they were toaster waffles and were meant to be eaten after being toasted) and decent sausage gravy (they taste good together, ask Naomi) After breakfast, we left the hotel and headed to the Steamtown Mall. Right away I (Paul) led Jen to the best part in the mall:



    This is the actual sign that used to be off the freeway just outside Scranton. This sign can be seen in the opening credits of the popular TV show The Office.  For the afternoon we drove around and saw other sites that appear in the show, which none of the kids watch so they couldn’t appreciate and had to sit in the car for half of the time staring at a brick wall waiting for their parents to remember them. But we had fun!


    This was the train yard behind Steamtown mall. It was just a cool looking shot.


    This was Cooper’s Seafood. Another place of interest for Office fans. They had a little gift shop with funny hats that hundreds of people had previously worn.


    Inside Cooper’s.

    We started driving home that afternoon/evening but realized it would be 3 am by the time we’d get to Canton so we took our time on the drive home. We stopped in a neat little town called Clearfield, PA and visited a couple of small shops in their downtown area and then checked into the Hampton. This hotel also had a pool but everyone was too tired to swim except for Josh and Anna.



    Not tired:


    The next morning we stopped at several more places to break up the drive so it didn’t feel like the ten-hour drive it was to get there.drivin2


    The pictures really don’t do it justice. Every bridge we crossed had ridiculously huge mountains and trees surrounding and rivers underneath, it felt like a movie. As obscure as Scranton sounds, it’s actually a great city to vacation in solely because of the scenery.


    Unfortunately, we don’t have photos, but Scranton was very appropriately named the Electric City because of the way the whole city just lights up like a million Christmas lights at night. The view is INCREDIBLE when driving on the highway.


    ^^grabbing lunch at Pizza Hut in Ohio!^^



    I asked the kids when the trip was coming to a close, “So do you guys like to plan out a vacation and then look forward to it or did you like doing this one spontaneously?”

    They all exclaimed: “Spontaneously!”


    Great Thought for Parents

    Heard this on the radio yesterday:

    “Rules without Relationship breeds Resentment which leads to Rebellion.”

    What a great summary of a healthy approach to parenting!  Rules yes.  But rules with no loving and consistent context of acceptance and respect- no.  We can fake it for a few years while the children are young, but eventually an “all rules/no love” approach will cause them to resent us and our authority.  Which tempts them toward rebellion.  So remember the four “R”s!  Parenting is still the hardest job on earth to actually do every day but this mantra tucked in our back pocket may help keep us balanced a bit.


    Parents: What do your kids think is important to you?

    We write this post with humbled hearts.  We recently asked each of our children, at dinner, to write out three things that they felt were very important to Mom and Dad.  We told them there were no wrong answers and they could write anything they wanted at all.  They just had to be serious and not try to crack jokes (they get that from their Mom, I’m sure :))The items they wrote on their index cards only slightly encouraged us.  We were more concerned, if anything.  We’ll explain why below.

    Here are each of their cards –


    1. Have protection of us kids
    2. Balance playtime with worktime.
    3. And be devout Christians


    1. The new kitchen
    2. School for us
    3. Spending time with our neighbors

    Joshua(He only came up with two):

    1. Mom and Dad like kids
    2. Mom and Dad spending money on food


    1. Spend money to buy stuff for us and you guys
    2. These cookies (like I said, we were at dinner)
    3. Christmas

    We then had them circle the one item that they felt was most important to Mom and Dad.  Here’s what each of them circled:

    • Peter: Be devout Christians
    • Naomi: Spending time with our neighbors
    • Joshua: Mom and Dad like kids
    • Anna: Spend money to buy stuff for us and you guys

    Did you notice something missing from most of these lists?  How about loving God with all of our hearts?  How about the Bible?  What about prayer?  What about the local church?  Peter comes the closest, but the rest of the kids didn’t even think of anything close to the very fundamental elements that should be top priority in any Christian home.  This is not good.  This is an indication of the impression we are giving our children.  We need to make some adjustments.  We need to live out our priorities more intentionally and clearly in our home.  We have failed them, in a sense.

    This is also good news.  This tells us exactly where we are at and helps us move forward with a plan.  We need to not only reading the Scriptures together, but explaining to the children how precious and wonderful God’s book is to us.  We need not only to pray more often with the children, but also teach them what prayer is and how precious and important it is to us.  We need to not only drag them to church (:)) consistently but also create a culture in our home where the church is spoken highly of and it’s members loved in both word and deed.

    We love our kids and are profoundly thankful for their open, honest feedback to us as parents.  We want to live out our parental roles with an open-door policy, of sorts, making sure the children know they can think through and provide feedback to us as parents, in a respectful and appropriate manner.

    Pray for us – we need it.  The Lord is good to give parents the grace to make progress.  Sometimes he helps them, through the very children they are raising.  Praise Him for that.

    -paul (for both of us)

    It’s all about the “dmarc”

    I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time.  Thanks to someone who sent me an email that got me back on track and forced me to finally hammer it out.

    I’ve worked in the telecommunications industry for over ten years now.  One thing I’ve learned (perhaps the only thing) is how important the line of demarcation is.  Or, for short, the dmarc.  Let me explain.

    When a local phone company installs a line at your house, there is always a point of demarcation.  This point is where the phone company’s responsibility ends and yours begins.  Typically it’s in that little gray box mounted on your house.  The phone company will install and maintain the line all the way up to a certain point in that box and from that point on, you own the line and it’s maintenance going into your home.  If a tree falls on your drop line, call the phone company for repair.  If your kid puts a tack through your phone line in the basement, trying to build a cool fort, don’t call the phone company.  That’s your problem.  Get it?

    The more I listen to the news and the great amount of social questions and problems that we face today, the more things become clear.  Don’t mistake this to mean that I think I have all the world’s problems figured out or fixed.  That’s not what I mean.  I mean that all of them seem to boil down to a misunderstanding of the lines of demarcation between the institutions of the world.  First, let me explain the institutions –

    The Family. The family was created by God (Gen 1-4; Ephesians 5).  It has order.  All beings in the family have equal intrinsic value and yet all have distinct roles.  The husband, wife and children are all equal beings, but bear very different responsibilities.  The husband is to lead and bear the load, the wife is to help the husband and the children are to obey their parents and learn from them as they grow.  Much more could be said, but I’m trying to nutshell here.

    The Church. The church was created by God (Mat 18, Acts, 1 Timothy, Revelation 2-3), .  It has always been the called out and gathered together people of God.  A family of families, if you will.  All beings in the church, identical to the family in this regard, have equal intrinsic value and yet all have distinct roles.  The Pastor, for instance is an equal being with the janitor (hey, sometimes these are the same person!) but each has very different responsibilities.  The Pastor is to lead and bear the load, his deacons and elders are to help and the congregation is to obey their leaders as they learn and grow into Christ like disciple-making-disciples.  Again, much more could be said.

    The Civil Government. The civil government was created by God (Judges, 1 Samuel, 1 Timothy 2, Romans 13).  All those in the government have equal intrinsic value with those they represent and lead but they bear very different responsibilities and at times great authority.  The king/president/congressman/governor/mayor is to lead and bear the load, his advisers and staff help him, and his constituents do their duty as responsible, self-governed citizens serving their neighbors in the local, regional and national community.  Somewhat of an oversimplification here, I know.

    Think of this triad as three concentric circles:

    The family is the green core.  Everyone is part of a family.  The family is the foundation for all other institutions; the core, if you will.  Take away the family and you have no church or civil government.

    The church is the blue circle.  Made up of families, the church rests on fathers and mothers in families to do their duty.  Where there are dysfunctional families, you will find dysfunctional churches.  When churches don’t look back at the family unit, give it the training it needs and keep it accountable through discipline, they become enablers for more dereliction of duty among fathers and mothers only exasperating the problem of societal erosion.

    The peach(?) colored circle is the civil government.  Only when the family and church institutions are functioning properly will the civil government do what it was designed to do, not shirking it’s duty and not overextending it’s power.

    It’s all about the lines of demarcation between the institutions: the family, the church and the civil government.

    All of our social issues are traced back to either an unintentional blurring of these lines, or worse, an intentional disregard of the lines altogether.  Some examples –

    • Family is not responsible or allowed to exercise capital punishment, a role of the civil government and yet we hear a story of a Father killing his son execution style in broad daylight after discovering he did something inappropriate to one of his siblings.
    • Civil government is not responsible or allowed to raise and train children and yet through the public school system and a myriad of other social programs the “it takes a village to raise a child” mantra continues to be the predominant assumption among the masses.
    • The church is not responsible or allowed to exercise capital punishment or raise and discipline children yet we see from England’s history that they continually crossed this line, over-extending their authority both in Anglicanism and even after the Reformation in Calvin’s Geneva.  Regarding children, even today the church is often viewed as the dumping ground where parents can drop their children and expect the Pastors and Priests to teach kids right and wrong.

    –>The family is charged with raising and disciplining self-governing children, not the church or the civil government

    –>The church is a family of families with leaders who guide and train parents to do their jobs at home, in the community and workplace but who’s primary responsibility is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection, calling the world to repentance and faith in Him as the only savoir from sin and death.

    –>The civil government is charged with punishing the wrong doer (note: if the family and church are doing their job, there will be very few wrong doers thus smaller prisons, smaller police forces, smaller welfare programs, hence smaller government!  Therefore, it benefits the government to invest in the family, instead of creating more programs (with our money!) that allow the family to continue to neglect its responsibilities)

    When these lines are blurred, we waste countless hours of debate trying to solve our social problems.  When the lines are completely disregarded we have a broken down family unit, a dysfunctional church and an over-inflated, controlling government doing things it was never intended for.  Ultimately, this creates more problems instead of solving any of them.  Even if it solves some of them short term.  Without properly maintaining the dmarc’s between these three institutions, we get ourselves into all kinds of confusing corners.  Without stepping back from the tangle, we will never be able to properly answer the actual questions and begin solving the actual problems.

    Next time your voice or internet line is down at home and the local phone company says they’ve tested to “the dmarc” and proved their portion is working properly, you can try to yell and scream at them to fix your line, but your labor is in vain.  It’s not their responsibility.  Next time the wind blows hard enough and a branch takes your phone line down, the phone company can tell you it’s your problem all they want but they are obligated to come out and repair it.  Next time you’re listening to or watching the news and a story comes on about the government failing to provide some social program that does the job parents are to do or the family that screamed at the school system for failing to correct their child’s behavior or the church’s willingness to provide every entertaining bell and whistle to the youth culture so they can teach and train your kids on Sunday morning while you go read at Starbucks before the service, step back a minute.  Remember the lines between these institutions and ask yourself which ones are being crossed.


    Conversation with Anna

    so, the kids are doing Art class with their art tutor and, to allow it to be done with minimal interruptions, Anna and I retreat into the basement.  it makes for some fun times and great one on one conversations.  also, i get to finish up some projects that i start, but that is for another blog post 🙂

    Anna usually helps me with my projects and asks a million and one questions while i am working away.  not sure what started this conversation but it was awesome.

    Anna: “if you get this [project] done, then you will be happy!”

    me: “yep”

    Anna: “and God just wants us to be happy…”

    me: “um,…do you think God wants us to obey Him or just be happy?”

    Anna:”Obey Him”

    me:” right! and when we obey Him, He gives us…” (not knowing what she was going to say here.  was hoping for ‘joy’)

    Anna:” PRESENTS!”

    me:(laughing)”uh,..no, i was thinking joy…”

    Anna:” oh yeah,…joy”

    i thought about explaining joy and happiness but, come on,…she is only 3!



    Just plain amazing…(to me at least)

    Here’s a challenge for parents (including myself).  See if by the age of eleven, you’re son can be managing four different paper routes, having two younger boys employed under him.  See if by the 8th grade, your child can be managing a filling station having already rGeneral James Gavinead most of the books in his local public library.  See if by 17, with an 8th grade eduction, your son can join the military, take the entrance exams for West Point Military Academy and get accepted.  See if he can graduate and go on to be one of the most creative, pioneering US Army officers in US History involved not only in the spearheading move to create fully functional airborne deployed infantry unit in WWII, but also instrumental in integrating the first all African-American Army unit into the 82nd Airborne Division.  See if your son can make General before he’s 40 and be the first paratrooper out the door for the airborne assault onto Sicily, Italy beginning the first in a long string of combat jumps by the US and allied forces into war-torn Europe.

    Sound crazy?  It is.  But it’s true.  It’s only pieces of the story of one James Gavin, 82nd Airborne Division Commander.

    As a Father of a 10 year old, I was amazed at his story…for obvious reasons.

    Gotta go, Peter needs to get a job.  🙂

    I have a ten year old

    Yes…i have a ten year old.  that doesn’t seem possible.  having a ten year old means two things for me.

    1. I have been a mom for a decade
    2. I will be thirty this year

    What have i learned in the past ten years??  hmmmm….

    • ~all kids are not the same.  my kids are not all the same…all have great personalities but all are so different!
    • ~homeschooling can be dangerous to a mom’s pride…it is quite humbling when your kids know more about the Revolutionary War (and the difference between sharks and dolphins teeth) before you do!
    • ~Potty training is not as scary as i once thought it to be (now that i am DONE 🙂 )
    • ~trying to teach a resistant kid how to ride a two wheeler might make one consider throwing themselves in front of a bus
    • ~schedules aren’t everything…
    • ~it is good to have friends who have kids the same age.  you can lock them all in a basement together for hours! ok,….maybe for 30 minutes so you can have adult conversation…but still….
    • ~being able to drop kids off at grandma’s house is priceless!!!!!!
    • ~lego’s are not from the devil…they actually inspire creative building!
    • ~FLOAM is from the devil…just ask pete and naomi…
    • ~taking time to be in the Word and prayer makes me a better mom…that needs to be the top priority
    • ~i should have worked off that baby weight between kids…hahahaha….
    • ~i have the best husband to be the best dad to these kids!!!
    • ~i would love to have a maid
    • ~i would love to have a chef
    • ~i wouldn’t trade my job for anything!!
    • i really think that in the past ten years, i have grown up quite a bit in many different ways.  as a Christian, wife, mom, person,…the Lord has grown me through smiles and tears.  it has seemed so long and yet it has seemed so fast!  but if the next ten years are anything like the past ten…i’ll take it!  i really am excited to be getting ready to go through these older ages with my  kids.  they are turning out to be some real fun people to hang out with.  Peter is so mature and responsible.  Naomi is such a lady (when she wants to be!) and very caring.  Joshua is just hilarious and so adventurous.  Anna, well, Anna is 3 and has an adorable voice and who wouldn’t love that girl?!  And the man that i married…i have no words other than to say that he is more wonderful than i could have ever hoped for!  He and I both know that it is the Lord’s doing and we praise Him for that!  Marriage and parenting are great in the shadow of His wing.

    oh, one more thing i learned…having a baby at 20 sounds a little young to me now…


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