Monday, August 22, 2011


Have you noticed that nobody waves anymore?
Well, not nobody, but most do not wave.
Sure people wave at those they really know, but just the good ole raise of the paw to a stranger is very uncommon in these times we live in.
Matt is a waver. I am not.
It’s not that I’m not friendly, it’s just that when I’m driving there is typically a “crisis” of some sort in the back and I am intent on staying on the road and not crashing.
But this is really no excuse. There are plenty of times I’m alone or the kids are behaving and I don’t wave because I just don’t wave.
We, as a society, are so busy. We are so connected, yet so secluded.
It’s very sad, actually.
We don’t have time for community. For shooting the breeze. For worrying about other people’s needs over our own. (I’m talking about myself more than anybody else in particular.)
Back in the day when life was slower (which I’ve seen only on T.V.), people visited each other’s houses, sat on the porch while the kids played in the yard.
The women stayed home so there was more time for friendships. People weren’t off here or there every single day like our lives are today.
I’m envious.
I hate the hustle bustle. Life is fast enough without the added nonsense. All the fill in the blank we pile onto our schedules takes away from the real fragrance, the essence of what makes a satisfying life.
I read an article about an elderly woman who really had no reason to be happy and content. Blind. Old. Moving into a nursing home. Yet she was pleasant and gentle. Satisfied.
How in this world we live in is there such a thing?
It seems so unattainable.
But she had it. She couldn’t see, but she had it. She was close to death’s door, but she had it.
Her secret was a choice. She chose to — despite her circumstances — get up each day and be content. To accept each moment, whether it was good, bad, boring, exciting.
She filled her “memory bank” with those contented memories and now, although she can’t see and is moving to a place most people dread, she is satisfied. She can make daily or hourly or minute-to-minute withdrawals from the “bank” of her youth, which she intentionally filled with memories.
Stopped me dead in my tracks.
Sounds like something I need to do. Something else I have to do.
But I’m too busy to do this.
Two kids have ear infections and are on different dosages of antibiotics. School is starting and there are school supplies to label, doctor check ups. Clean the house. Make dinner. Oh, I have a headache. The daily grind.
Nope, I am too busy.
Can I afford to be lost in the busyness. No.
I can’t afford to be carried away by the speed of this society.
I am going to stop.
This moment only.
Typing the words makes my pulse slow. Makes my ears more attuned. My eyes can see life. My vivid life. What I don’t want to miss. What I can’t afford to miss.
Because one day I will (God willing) be that old woman.
Someone will be dropping me off there at a nursing home and I will be alone.
If I’m too busy to enjoy and accept and choose to be content in my life now, how can I expect to be happy or content or satisfied then?
I have decided I am not going to put off living, breathing in and depositing the precious and sustaining memories of now.
Masen is nearly the age Kadence was when he was born.
It was only a blink ago.
My brother will celebrate his 18th birthday this week. It seems like only yesterday he was a toddler.
Didn’t I just graduate high school? Nope, my 10-year class reunion is this year.
Right now.
This life stage.
Breathe in.
Choose to accept.
Choose to be satisfied.
Take the time to wave.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I’m sure you’ve heard about those kid-lovin’ folks down in Arkansas, the Duggars.
If you haven’t, they are a family with 19 kids “and counting,” with very conservative values, a hit reality television show and two books.
I love love love the Duggars.
Everything about them is totally opposite of our culture’s definition of normal and I am so attracted to their way of life.
A mentor of mine told me the reason I’m drawn to them is because they are a light in this dark world. A breath of fresh air. Gentle, kind, peaceful, loving, forgiving, graceful. Seriously, these folks are living right.
I know I don’t KNOW them and I KNOW they aren’t perfect (they know that, too), but in this day and age, I truly believe God is using them as an example —truly a one-of-a-kind example of how He wants us to live.
Every aspect of the Duggars life has been based on Scripture.
We are supposed to relinquish control in all areas of our life to God. He controls all. We can’t pick and choose. It’s easy to believe we have control (vasectomy, etc.), but God has the ultimate say in whether or not a child is brought into this world. That is why the Duggars believe it is God’s will how many children they have.
They believe children are a gift from God. And that’s biblical.
And I find it very ironic that it is “PC” to offer a woman the “right to choose” as long as that choice doesn’t more than a typical number of children (China).
The Duggars also live debt-free (including the 7,000 square foot home they built together as a family project). They homeschool, wear modest clothing, have family focused pastimes, have daily family Bible times and watch very little television.
It’s easy to glance at the cover of this family’s book and immediately cast judgment.
What an irresponsible use of limited earthly resources!
How can they possibly give each child the attention he or she needs?
They are fake. Nobody can be THAT happy.
But I truly believe they ARE that happy.
And my answer to all the other questions people pose about their impact on the earth and the health of their children: Isn’t God in control of all that too?
Doesn’t He know what He’s doing?
From what I can see (and from the fruit of their works) their children are growing into happy, well-adjusted contributing members of society.
Two of their children own their own businesses.
Three of them are trained to be first-responders and volunteer on their area fire department. (When they got word of the deadly Joplin tornado, they immediately loaded up and lended a hand.)
While Matt and I both believe the Duggars are living right, we don’t live exactly like them. I don’t know about Matt, but I am afraid. (Isn’t that pathetic?)
I don’t know if I could take the ridicule that people would give me (even though that scorn is also biblical).
The Duggars take all the critiscm in stride and show love toward those that hate them.
Despite all the mockers and doubters, this family continues to rise above.
And they give all the glory to God. I am thankful for them.
Check the family out for yourself at


We never go to the movies.
An even more acurate statement might be that we, as a family of six, have never been to the movies.
You can imagine the reasons why.
All logical paths to the conclusion that the movies are just not in the cards for us.
It’s better just to stay home and contain the madness. Save the money.
It all made sense until a couple weeks ago I read that an area drive-in would be premiering Cars 2. Since the first Cars movie is an all-time Oehlschlager favorite, my mind began to churn.
“Maybe it would be fun if we ALL went to the drive-in!
Surely we could handle all the kids. It will be dark. They will sleep. The weather is going to be great...”
So, I convinced Matt that this a great idea. The kids needed no convincing. They were stoked! To say the least.
I popped popcorn to fill a giant paper grocery sack (just like Mom said Grandma Rosie used to do), and I stacked blankets and pillows higher than we could carry in one trip.
The excitement pulsed in the air. Smiles across the board.
The seemingly multiple-mile long line to get into the drive-in did nothing but boil the waters of excitement.
We eventually parked into the very back row. All the way in the corner. Movie screen barely visible.
At least an hour before showtime.
Soon the popcorn ran out.
The drinks were drained and turned into trips to the bathroom.
The bedtime hour arrived and the children’s patience left.
No one was happy with their “cozy spot.”
She’s touching me!
I’m hungry!
I have to go the bathroom!
I can’t find my shoe!
My wishful memory making trip was having a head-on collision with the reality of taking four young children to a crowded drive-in with little to no escape.
Mae (our 3 year old who is not capable of whispering), who also goes into super-sonic hyperactive drive when tired, transformed into a bundle of uncontrollable energy.
The movie began a little while after 9 p.m.
This didn’t stop Mae, who did everything EXCEPT watch the feature film.
He talked to our “neighbors,” “mowed the grass” and “pulled up thistles.”
And, true to form, he snuck in a few bathroom breaks. NOT where they were intended. Thankfully, the dark saved us.
Meanwhile, the other three had semi-settled down and we eventually quieted the fourth with about a half hour left in the show.
Not even 20 seconds later snores sang out from the Suburban, and Matt and I enjoyed the final moments of the movie in peace.
Don’t ask me how the movie was, because I honestly can’t say.
I did more chasing, refereeing and threatening than I did watching.
And despite the fact that the drive-in was (compared to my fantasy trip) less than perfect, my kids had a great time.
That’s all they could talk about the next day.
Then it hit me. My perspective was too tall. Too adult. Too much to ask of them.
Their lives have only been spent together. They know nothing else.
Quiet. Peace. No disagreements. Those are all foreign.
All of the “reasons” that made this trip less than my ideal are attributes to their age and factor into our daily life.
How could I expect that that would change because we paid $20 to sit in the back of a field surrounded by strangers?
When I look at the evening that way, we couldn’t have had a better time.
Memories were made. We smiled, we laughed, some cried.
But most importantly, we survived!

Broken arm

I will never again complain about not having a topic to chat about in my upcoming columns.
Because last Tuesday, only a few hours after I told Charlie I had nothing to write about, a column fell into my lap.
Well, it actually fell out of my son’s bed and landed us in the emergency room for a few hours.
Thankfully, we finished up the Back-to-School edition early, which NEVER happens, and my house was clean and the laundry folded and put away.
I was so ahead last Tuesday night, I indulged myself and stayed up way too late doing nothing worth the lack of sleep.
As soon as I forced my lamp off, I heard a thud upstairs. Not an alarming sound at my house.
After moseying upstairs to investigate, I found Rylan disoriented and crying in the girls’ room. Didn’t really seem out of the ordinary, so I put him back to bed and tried to soothe his crying.
You parents out there know sometimes when kids wake up when they are extra tired, they just cry, at least mine sometimes do.
I headed back downstairs to finish out the few hours of sleep left in the night.
But Rylan just wouldn’t stop crying. Then it turned to more of a wail. (This did not go on very long. We aren’t THAT mean.)
Matt decided to see what was happening and brought Rylan downstairs so we could calm him down.
At this point, it was obvious something was wrong.
He wouldn’t move his right arm and it was just laying on our bed like a limp noodle.
Pause for some background: I have a tendency to pass out at inconvenient times like medical emergencies. Just the talk alone of medical stuff can make me teeter on the brink of consciousness. Another note: this REALLY annoys Matt.
And, of course, with the broken arm chatter, I began to feel the fade.
I told Matt I was going down.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
By this age, I am an old passer-outer pro and I knew exactly how to handle it.
I slid off the bed and laid on the floor. A few seconds later I felt up to crawling to the phone and called my parents for back up.
Yes, you can laugh. Matt makes merciless fun of me (after the fact).
After I made contact with my folks and faded in and out of consciousness for a few more minutes, I crawled to the kitchen for something to snap me back into reality.
In no time, we were off to the E.R., where we found out Rylan had a “Greenstick break” in his forearm. They casted him up and we were on our way home in record time.
I couldn’t believe how well he did. Once he woke up and the ibuprofen kicked in, he was chatting it up and was in a pretty good mood.
Life around the farm has been pretty interesting since the broken arm.
Rylan has had to teach himself how to play the Wii, eat (yes, in that order), bathe and all the rest.
We go Thursday for his permanent (six-week) cast and he is going to pick Mt’neer green (if he can choose) because football season will be under way soon and he wants to represent.
Poor Rylan. It seems he is going to be “that” child in our family.
He has rode in an ambulance, been hospitalized, had staples, has had an allergic reaction to antibiotics, will soon have braces and now has the family’s first broken bone.
Even though he will start kindergarten in a cast and his summer swimming days have ended early, he is in pretty good spirits about it all.
After all, like he told his nurses, he is “as tough as a snake.”