Thursday, December 16, 2010

Conversations with Maggie: Christmas Edition

Max and Maggie are playing with those annoying musical dancing Santas at the Walgreens checkout. The cashier tries to ask Maggie about Santa:

Cashier: Who's coming to see you this Christmas?
Maggie: Grandmama Vicki!!!
Cashier: No, who's coming to your house to bring you lots of presents?

Smart kid. :-)


Coyote County Loser, the romantic comedy that my brother-in-law Jacob produced and Lucas helped to write, is now available for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray! This is a fun movie with a great message you can feel good about sharing with all of your family and friends!

Also, my parents are interviewed on the special features section, along with Jim Walters, as one of the real-life love stories that inspired the message behind Coyote County Loser. I think that is just so cool!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Inverse Power of Praise

Photo by Phillip Toledano as seen with the linked article.

I found this New York Magazine article very interesting. The basic gist of the article is that research shows that praising our children for being "smart" or "intelligent" will make them less likely to try new things and can actually hamper their confidence instead of building it up. Instead, it might be better to praise their hard work instead of their "giftedness." This really makes me want to re-think how I praise my kids.

I read one commenter on this article who suggested praising liberally with our children for virtue, but only praising for intellect when it is used to further virtue or in a virtuous way. I think there's a lot of truth to the concepts in the article. It makes sense to me. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sweetest Words

Some of you may remember that Maggie has not exactly been uber-interested in spiritual things, a fact which I haven't been too worried about, knowing that this is something only the Holy Spirit can do. But I have certainly been praying that God would speak truth into her little heart. This morning her Bible Study Fellowship truth was that "Jesus is the Light of the world." This afternoon, she told me this:

Maggie: Mom, I do love Jesus. I love Jesus, and I have light in my heart. [pause] I don't always make good choices, but I do love Jesus.

It's quite a shift from the dozens of other conversations we've had about Jesus. It's especially thrilling to me coming from my little Maggie Mae, who isn't one to say things just because she thinks it's what other people want to hear. Probably just about the sweetest little words I've ever heard.

Monday, October 18, 2010

You should join us!

Most of you know that I was able to travel to India in March with my sister-in-law Laura and International Princess Project. I am thrilled to let you know that IPP is bringing a piece of that experience right here to Siloam Springs this week!

If you live in Northeast Oklahoma or Northwest Arkansas, I'd love to see you at this free event Thursday night! Your eyes and heart will be opened to how God is working and moving in India.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Summer Visits

Fall is here!! With the cooler weather that has (finally!) arrived, I've been thinking back over the past few months and reminiscing about summer. We had a truly wonderful summer this year, complete with lots of visits with special friends. We didn't get photos of everything, but here are a few highlights of some of the special visits we were able to enjoy with friends and family during Summer 2010:

Friends Sarah and Ryan and their two boys came through town just a few weeks ago, and we enjoyed a great evening with them. So great to catch up with this dear friend!

Grandma Norris, Aunt Debbie, Lucas' brother Joe and sis-in-law Tammy and our friend Jim (taking the photo) at Downtown Disney during our trip to Southern California.

Lucas' brother Sam and Anne at their home in the Bay Area, California.

We loved getting to see our dear friends Jeff and Amy and their two kiddos during our trip to California as well!

The Dees crew enjoyed a very special evening at Nibbles Academy of Cooking for an evening of learning to cook together! What fun!!

Our niece Susan had her piano recital at our home. I was so proud of her!

Laura's parents, Bill and Polly, and their Grandson Seeley in Roswell, NM.

Uncle Manlio and Aunt Alva in Calexico, CA.

John and Janel and their precious kiddos came and stayed for a weekend- we had such a great time together!

The kids and I went to Owasso for a day to spend the day swimming and hanging out with Rita and her little girl, Ziva. Three months later, Maggie still says "Thank you, God, for the day at the swimming pool with Ziva" just about every time she prays.

Our fun and wonderful friends Gene and Mollie from Idaho brought their two sweet girls to visit for a day as they were in the area visiting Gene's family. Max was so thrilled to have his best little friend from Idaho here for a day!

Lucas' Dad, Maria, and Maria's Mom Elisa in Temecula, CA.

I wish we had photos of everyone we got to visit with over the summer– we feel so blessed to have so many friends and family to love in our lives. Thanks for the awesome summer, everyone!

Farewell, Summer! See you next year!

Conversations with Max

After church on Sunday, Max heard me talking to a friend who was being induced last night to give birth to her fourth child and first girl (Congrats, Stephanie!) As we walked to the car:

Max: She's having a baby tonight?
Me: Yes! And it's going to be a little girl!
Max: How do they know it's going to be a little girl?
Me: The doctors have a special camera that takes pictures of the baby while she's still inside the Mommy's womb. Isn't that neat?
Max: (thinking for a few seconds) But how do they know it's a girl? Do they look at the hair?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conversations with Max

Max: Mom, when I grow up I will clean my whole room all by myself without any help from my wife.
Me: (laughing) Well, I bet she will really like that.
Max: Yes, she will say, "I love you." Also, I when I'm grown up, I will help my kids clean up their rooms every time.

It's on the record, buddy. :-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Conversations with Max and Maggie

In the car today, listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's .

Maggie: What's this song about?
Me: It's about the day a little girl believes in Jesus.
Maggie: What'd she believe?
Me: Well... she believed that Jesus is who He said He is in the Bible. That He is God's son who came to earth; He was completely God and completely man, but He never, ever sinned, had a bad attitude, lied or made a wrong choice. And even though He never sinned, He loved us so much that He took the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross. And then three days later He did something that no other person has ever been able to do- He raised Himself from the dead, and now He's living in heaven and making a home where all of us who believe in Him will live with Him forever.
Max: I BELIEVE! I believe in Jesus!
Me: I know you do, Max. Nothing could make me happier.
Maggie: I don't. I don't believe.
Me: That's okay. It's okay if you don't believe in Jesus today. Someday you will.
Max: (panicked) But, Maggie, you have to believe in Jesus! If you don't believe in Jesus, you won't be able to go to heaven, and heaven is a great place!
Maggie: Can we hear the song about the little girl who believes again?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Conversations with Maximus

Last night at bedtime prayers:

Me: Maximus, what would you like to pray about tonight?
Max: Well.... do we know anybody who's sick or anything? How is Grandmama feeling today?
Me: Grandmama is feeling a little bit sick today.
Max: (shaking his head slightly) Hmmm... I really only like to pray for people who are medium sick or more.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Back from the California breeze to the Arkansas Humidity

After a week in Sunny yet cool Southern California, I'm back to the land I love: Arkansas. :-) When I left the house we were staying in Camarillo on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., it was 57 degrees. Back home in Arkansas, it was 103 on Tuesday. Quite a difference!

I had a great week with my Dad, Mom, Mitch and Russ in California. We missed having Tyler there- it was almost like old times. In some ways it's hard to believe that it used to be just the six of us all the time. I love how families have a way of multiplying and expanding!

The two highlights of the trip for me were definitely hearing my mom speak two times (the purpose of the trip) and visiting with Lucas' parents in Fallbrook.

It was my first time to visit Chaney and Maria's home without Lucas or the kids, and it reminded me how blessed I am to have so many people in my husband's family, on both his mom's side and his dad's side, who have embraced me as one of their own. It's a little hard to articulate, but I had a true sense of going home when we pulled up to their house. That's an intangible treasure to have with one's in-laws, I think– not something that you can force to happen or always even work to create. It's something I always wanted and prayed I would have with my husband's family, and God gave it to me.

The week was definitely a special one, and I was so grateful to be able to go. I have to give a MAJOR shout-out to my sisters-in-laws and friends who helped so much with the kids while Lucas was at work so that it was possible for me to go. And of course to Lucas who worked so hard while I was gone to give me this gift. Thanks, everyone!

Here are just a few snapshots from the week:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One of THOSE days

Most days, I simply don't get Maggie.

Oh, don't get me wrong: I absolutely love her and I am so enamored with her that I know I am sometimes one of those completely annoying moms who wants to talk way too much about every minute detail of my daughter's latest developmental marvel.

But when it comes to her motivations and actions, I am completely dumbfounded. Coming from this people-pleasing, can't-we-all-just-get-along, life-is-just-so-much-nicer-when-we-all-follow-the-rules-and-don't-rock-the-boat type of person, Maggie is a total mystery to me. Fortunately, this means that she won't have to deal with all the sin and vices that come along with being a people-pleaser.

Unfortunately, it means she can be really, really difficult to parent.

Yesterday was a doozy of a day. It started out with my discovery that, sometime during the night, she had procured a pair of scissors and chopped up a down blanket, leaving a total disaster zone of feathers in her wake. She had also done a significant amount of slicing to her new curtains as well.

In addition to the normal strong-willed-child discipline issues we're dealing with every day, yesterday had several other pieces of straw that just about broke this camel's back. When Lucas got home and saw what a hard day it had been, he asked what he could do to make it better (he's so great, huh?). I said I think the only good option was to ask my daughter for forgiveness for all the anger and impatience, and then go to sleep and start again tomorrow.

And you know what? Today has been better. While I was spray painting a bookshelf in the back yard, Maggie slid open the door and stuck her head out, along with a bottle of glue:

"Hey, Mom- I'm going to glue my pony to my wall. Is that a good idea?"

At least she's learning to identify when it might just be a good idea to ask first. This could be a breakthrough, folks.

Stay tuned for great things from this little Maggie Mae. I know God has something important in store for all that passion and spunk. Can't wait to see what it is!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Conversations with Maximus

While looking at pictures of our friends Jonathan and Grace on their blog:

Maximus: Why do they like each other?
Me: Because they are brother and sister, just like you and Maggie. Do you and Maggie like each other?
Maximus: (hesitating) Well..... sometimes she smells kinda bad.

Perhaps he was searching for an excuse. At any rate, we had a good but brief conversation about how we need to love people even if they smell funny. :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We've come a long way, Baby

I'm thankful for days like this, when God gives me a glimpse of progress in my children:

For whatever reason, haircuts used to be a MAJOR ordeal with Maximus. He would go into a total panic every time. He would start yelling and thrashing and then would get himself so worked up that he would gag and throw up. We went through about two years of this, and every time, I would walk away with my head hung, utterly embarrassed and frustrated.

Over the last year, he's done a little better each time. Then yesterday, it happened: an entire haircut without so much as a whimper. He told me in the car on the way to see Ariane: "Mom, I just realized that haircuts don't hurt. I still don't like them, but they don't hurt."

Once we were at the salon, he got up in the chair and looked straight into the mirror. He set his jaw and stared at the same spot on the mirror the whole time. He looked determined.

And maybe it's silly to be proud of him for overcoming something that never should have been an issue in the first place, but I am proud of him. And I'm thankful for a much-needed reminder that today's battle might just be tomorrow's non-issues. A message my soul really, really needed to hear.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Plague of Flies

Okay, Siloam Springs friends. WHAT is up with the flies this summer? The fly situation is rapidly approaching plague status in our house. Anybody have good tips for dealing with flies?

Monday, July 05, 2010

I know exactly what you mean, Buddy

Maximus: Mommy, why is it just so hard to always obey?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Keep Moving Forward

Sorry for the absence, folks. We've been without internet service until this afternoon when my brilliant husband got us rolling again.

Here's what we've been up to in the last week:

•VBS. Max and Maggie had their first VBS experience last week. Maximus absolutely loved every minute. Makes me think that he's going to love school- there's just SO MUCH INFORMATION to take in in the world! On Friday night after VBS he said, "Next summer, when I'm five, I'll get to go back to Bible school. I wonder what we will learn about. I wonder what the snacks will be!!"

• 7th anniversary. Lucas and I celebrated seven years of marriage on Monday the 28th. My sweet husband planned a really fun date for us, including going back to Magnolia Gardens Inn where we met and got married. It was our first time back there since the wedding. That was pretty cool. Nice work, Sweetie. :-)

• 7th move. This week we made our 7th move since we've been married. We like to celebrate our anniversary every summer by moving to a new house. It's so fun. You really ought to try it. Okay, I'll drop the sarcasm. We are really, really ready to be finished moving. Forever. We are super thankful to have a great house to move into (pics to come when I get a chance) and we love the new place.

• Mom and chemo. My mom started chemo back this week and has been really sick. If you haven't been following along with her blog recently but want to get caught up, you can check it out here. I hate that I haven't been able to help her much this week while we've been moving, but I am really glad for the way that God provided a new home for us and a chance to move this week instead of in four more weeks like we thought was going to be the case. We're within a couple days of finishing up the whole moving process, so I'm glad I'll have it behind me and be able to focus more on helping my mom.

There's probably more to tell that I'm not thinking of, but that's all I've got right now. Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Sweet

Me: Max, I love you so much.
Max (looking intently into my eyes): Mommy, [dramatic pause] your eyes look just like the Death Star.

Conversations with Max and Maggie

On the way home from VBS today:

Me: Maggie, who was your favorite friend to play with today?
Magggie: Um, Drew. She told me her mommy makes macaroni and cheese for her, too!
Me: That's fun. Did you play with Eli, too?
Maggie: No, he is Max's friend because he is a boy.
Max: Maggie, hear what it says in the Bible: If you are mean to someone who loves God, you should tell them you are sorry. Is that what it says, Mommy?
Me: Well, close. The Bible says that we should forgive everyone, not just people who love God.
Max: Maggie, you really can be friends with Eli. Let me tell you how you can be friends.
Maggie: How?
Max: You just walk up to someone, say "Hello!" and then shake their hand. That makes you friends.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Sad vs. The Tragic

The day before yesterday we received the hard news that my mom's cancer is growing and spreading at a rapid rate. Without miraculous intervention, she may not have many good days left. It's a reality that we have all been living with for the past two years, but each report brings even more clarity to the reality: My mother is dying.

It's sad. But not tragic.

The distinction between the sad and the tragic has been one of the most tangible and valuable gifts I brought home with me from India.

My sweet mother is 55 years old. She's been fighting terminal lung cancer for more than two years now, and the fight has not been easy. At various points on this journey she's been poked, prodded, drilled, radiated, poisoned, medicated, sleepless, exhausted, uncomfortable, in pain and SICK. And after all of this, aside from God's direct and supernatural intervention, she will still die of cancer. It is sad. It's not the way it's supposed to be.

But it's not tragic. Tragic is the 2-year-old child drugged and stuffed under a bed while his mother sells her body day after day. Tragic is the woman with acid burns scarring her arms, too terrified to flee an abuser worse than what most of us could imagine. Tragic is the shriveled, dying man, lying utterly alone in the dust and filth of a Kolkata street. Most tragically of all, these people and millions more are living in real despair, without the hope of Jesus Christ. This is true tragedy.

The life of Vicki Dees is not tragic. Her life is 55 years stuffed-to-the-brim full of hope, love, faith, joy, happiness, peace and trust. She has loved and been loved. Her life is also an eternity stretching out in front of her- an eternity that's far more amazing than anything our little human minds could conjure up.

I don't know what the weeks and months out in front of us will hold. God has done so many miraculous things with her life already that I don't really have any reason to believe that He won't continue to do so. But worthless speculation aside, I do know that the days ordained for the beautiful life of Vicki Dees were set long ago, and there's really no good to be found in trying to figure out how many days that's going to be. If she lives three more weeks or 30 more years, it's all pretty short in light of eternity.

I think it's okay to be sad about this process of saying "goodbye" or rather, "see you later!" I certainly hope it's okay, because I've had a lot of sad days in the last two years. But the amazing gift of perspective God gave me in India has really helped me to see my mom's life in a new light.

If our all-knowing, all-powerful, utterly good and wise God allows my mom to die of cancer sometime in the near future, it will be sad. It will be hard. But life will go on. Both for her and for me! For her, she's going to be checking into a new home in heaven that is overflowing with treasures she's been sending that way since long before I was born.

For me, there's life after cancer. There's a husband to love, children to nurture, a Church to serve and a world in need of the Gospel. And I'm forever thankful that I've had such a beautiful example of just how to go about doing all of those things and more by faith.

Conversations with Maggie

Uncle Erick: Maggie, where does your Daddy work?
Maggie: JBU!
Uncle Erick: Where does Uncle Jake work?
Maggie: JBU.
Uncle Erick: Where do I work?
Maggie: JBU.
Uncle Erick: Where does your Mommy work?
Maggie: The KITCHEN!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quotes by Maximus

Maximus: "I've been thinking: After Uncle Jake gets back from California, I am going to ask him if he will make another movie once Aunt Laura gets here. It will be called 'Security Bots.'"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Max's Art

Max's paintings with his descriptions:

"In the jungle at night time with stars shining.
I am walking through the trees with a flashlight."

"Trees in the jungle with roots"

"A cave in the jungle with a giant spider."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 8: The Magic of the Mouse

Day 8: Anaheim, California/ Disneyland

After we returned to Fallbrook from San Diego, we reunited with the kids by spending the next day at Disneyland together!

Disney does it right. The whole day was truly magical for Maximus and Maggie!

Maggie plays along with a little bluegrass band. She loved it!

Meeting Cinderella:

We just happened to be in the right place at the right time for Maggie to have a completely magical moment meeting Cinderella. Several parents had warned us not to promise Maggie that she would get to meet the princesses because you often have to wait more than an hour in line to meet them and sometimes it's not worth it to spend that much of your day waiting. BUT... Cinderella just happened to show up just as we were leaving the Turtle Talk with Crush attraction. Maggie RAN up to her and hugged her long and hard. My little girl was totally star-struck.

After she said goodbye to Cinderella and came back over to me, I asked her if Cinderella had said anything to her. Maggie said in a hushed whisper of reverence (which many of you know is NOT normal for Maggie!): "No, she touched my face and kissed me." What a sweet moment for my little one!

After several hours at the park, we took a break and met up with Lucas' brother Joe and his wife Tammy, Lucas' Grandma Norris and Aunt Debbie, and our friend Jim for dinner at Downtown Disney. We loved getting to see all of them!

Jim is our Disney hero. We've become friends with him over the past few
years via Jake and Laura, and he is such an awesome guy. Even if he didn't use his
Disney management position to get us free tickets to the Mouse House. :-) Thanks, Jim!

After dinner, we actually took the kids back into the park to squeeze a bit more fun out of the day. We were there on Jacob and Laura's 10th anniversary, so we finished our magical day on the Jungle Cruise in honor of them. This is where Jacob proposed to Laura (with quite a bit of elaborate scheming and planning!) over ten years ago. Of course, they were in beautiful Hawaii celebrating on their own, but we got our little bit of celebrating in ourselves in honor of their big marriage milestone. We left a little song on Laura's voicemail while in line for the cruise:

Happy Anniversary to you,
Happy Anniversary to you,
In honor of your big day,
We're on the Jungle Cruise!

or something like that. :-)

All in all, a VERY magical day. Like I said, Disney knows how to do it right. We were so thankful for these awesome memories with our kids!