Dealing With Frustrations In Kid Training

As I went downstairs to help catch up on our family’s laundry backlog today, I was shocked (and yet, not surprised at all) to find it in complete disarray. Various articles of clothing strewn everywhere from the steps to the washer and dryer, and then all around both of those.

“Alex!!” I thought to myself, angered and frustrated… and exasperated.

Alex is our now 8-year-old laundry helper. For some reason when he was about 5 years old he volunteered for laundry duty, and so, Mom was happy to employ his services! But, also for some reason—believe me, we’ve asked, but without success thus far—he can not do some very simple parts of it (even with clear instruction).

Now, there are many more important things we want Alex to learn. To consider others better than himself. To know that he is loved more than he can imagine by his Creator. To know that Creator. And plenty of other things we are building into his character, as with all our kids.

But at what point is this a character issue? My dad always taught me, “Do it right the first time!” I still remember it today, and I think I live it. So, I’ve been saying that with Alex on this, too, since we have had to re-wash loads of laundry more times than I can count.

The real character issue is that he seems to try to cover up his “forgetfulness” (when he doesn’t do what he tells Mom that he did do). When is it just a tiny eight-year-old boy learning to do a job that may be beyond his physical abilities right now, and when is it an issue of disobedience and even lying to cover up the disobedience. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.

Anyone reading this have any similar experience, and perhaps a solution or two that worked for you? Everyone is different, so who knows if it would work for Alex, but so far, we have not found any method of correction that has. And at this point the frustration is not just Mom & Dad’s, but also little Alex’s, too. And that’s no good.

So we keep plugging away at this parenting thing. Sometimes we learn a lesson from parents who’ve gone before us. Sometimes we learn from how our Father teaches and trains us. Sometimes we just learn “by accident”. 🙂 (We have a lot of practice!) But, we keep going, because even through any frustrations, there are not any cooler people on the planet than these six that God has entrusted to our care.

(Probably a slightly biased view, but 100% true from my vantage point.) 🙂

Pizza Makers

The kids got to be pizza makers for a night!We decided, sort of last-minute, to head out to one of our favorite places last night (Leo’s Pizza) and take advantage of the kids eat free Tuesday special ( …we have a lot of kids!!) We also got to drop by and celebrate a birthday with some friends, so it was a fun night out!

But the bonus for the night was, just after we were served our food by the guy who runs the place. He has taken a liking to our family, especially our cute kids. As he served the pizza he said to the boys, “As soon as you’re done, I have a ‘special mission’ for you, so let me know when you’re done.” We didn’t have any idea what he meant, but couldn’t wait to find out!

Once they were ready, the boys—and Kirsten—went over to “report for duty” … and that’s when the fun began!

They were outfitted with aprons (Kirsten’s needed a bit of help as she’s still a bit short…) 🙂 and then they proceeded back to the kitchen. He showed them around a bit and then got out a ball of dough for Ian to pound, Alex added the sauce, Kirstie added the cheese, and they all chose and added their own toppings! They threw the pizza in the oven and got to take home their first made-by-themselves pizza! 🙂 It was really cute, and so fun!

Click the picture of our little pizza chefs above to see the larger version (though, it’s a bit fuzzy since it was just from a cell phone). We already liked Leo’s Pizza, but I think we might like it even a bit more, now!

Another One Bites The Dust

Black Moor GoldfishAfter only about five weeks of being fish caretakers, we’ve managed to hold two funerals. I don’t think those are very good numbers. (And the fish would probably agree.)

Tonight we “buried” (Ahem… flushed) our second fishy in a “touching” ceremony that involved Alex and Kirstie eagerly watching every move as Dad “fished” the motionless little guy out of the tank, carried him over to the toilet and plopped him in. Comments like, “It looks like he’s swimming!” and much giggling ensued as Black Eye went for a final, swirly swim.

Are goldfish supposed to last a little longer than this? We managed to go a couple of weeks without another death in our fishy family… but… two in five weeks?

(The CountryMax folk would have you believe it’s very relevant that the two expired fishies were both purchased at Walmart…)

Well, we’ll keep trying our best. They are still fun to watch. (When they’re moving…) and the kids love them.

Hopefully there will be no more fishy funerals any time soon!

Related Posts Plug-In

You may have noticed the new look around here. is now a WordPress blog, and is sporting a new customized template, and a couple neat, new plug-ins.

Jen and I spent probably most of an hour tonight making use of the related posts plug-in. It was so fun! We were looking up an old story about Alex (titled, “Our Son, Jake”) and then at the bottom of that post, we decided to click on one of the related posts titles.

Well, about 20 related posts later we decided it was probably time to stop. (But we already plan to do that again!!) 🙂

There are some pretty fun stories from our kiddos through the years. You can also try just browsing the Family category.

Also, another fun part of the new design is the new featured product that loads each time you load a page. Four of our CDs and all three of my books can be purchased from this website now, thanks to another plug-in.

So have some fun poking through the past six years of posts, and some of the new features of the 2010 version of And, lemme know what you think (and any suggestions you may have for more cool plug-ins!)

Unseen Help

My two boys and I have been trying to read through the book of Luke this month. At least the beginning, where we got to read again the story of Jesus’ arrival. It really is both ordinary and incredible all at once.

We read the part about the angel appearing to the guys who were taking care of sheep in the middle of the night. And then how there were lots more angels with that one angel all of a sudden, and they were singing! (Or shouting?)

Luke 2:8-15
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

After reading that, and talking about the craziness of an angel just appearing out of nowhere, and then a million more showing up and chanting in unison, kind of like a pep rally from heaven. The contrast I was pointing out was how that was shockingly weird compared to the very ordinary entry of God into his created world. Born just like the rest of us. Spent his first night in a barn (not like most of the rest of us). Fairly ordinary.

To ensure that it wasn’t only ordinary, God chose to let some (ordinary) folks in on it. In a super-incredible way.

As we were talking about those angels and the super-incredibleness, Ian said, “How far away do you think people could see that? Was it only the shepherds who saw it?”

“Good question!” I replied. It was! I wonder if God chose to reveal the news only to those men right there. You’d think that “vast hosts of … armies” and the”radiance of the Lord’s glory” might be somewhat conspicuous. But I wonder…

Ian’s question reminded me of a story from the prophet Elisha’s life. I couldn’t remember exactly, so I told them I’d look it up and we’d read it together. It was related in that an army of angels was all of a sudden revealed to one person (and in position for battle) when before they had been unseen. (Perhaps like the angels the night Jesus was born?)

The story is from 2 Kings, and is fascinating.

2 Kings 6:8-23
When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”

But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.

The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”

“It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

“Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please make them blind.” So the Lord struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria.

As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”

“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”

So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

There is so much to this story! I wish that I currently had time to share my thoughts on this one, but I’ll stick to the link to the first story for now…

The armies of heaven (as they were described in Luke) were apparently poised to assist Elisha, though no one could see them. And, when Elisha prayed that the servant could see them, my guess is that only the servant could then see them (along with Elisha). The rest of the story is fascinating, too, with some Jedi mind tricks played on the army sent to capture Elisha. Who knew 2 Kings was the source of George Lucas’ inspiration?

Also, it is interesting to note the description of this unseen army. “Horses and chariots of fire” sound rather menacing! If these are the same “armies of heaven” that are in Luke’s story, no wonder people are always afraid when they see these guys!

I’m not sure if more than the sheep herders were able to see the messengers that night. Perhaps they were the only ones to see the spectacular first christmas light show. That would fit God’s apparent M.O. He slipped in, nearly unnoticed. And it continued for many years to come. Even when he was working miracles, there were times (it seems) when his students forgot who he was, and he was—in a way—God, unnoticed.

There is something so ordinary about him. It’s fun to read the Christmas story and see how he came to be one of us. He is not like us, but he chose to be. God came to live with us. The unseen became seen.


Vote For Alex!

Family Fantasy SportsI received an email today, addressed to our son Alex, from the owner of the fantasy football site that is hosting our family league this season. Apparently, he has been chosen as one of 20 finalists for “Best Team Name”! How fun!

His team is The Determinators. If you go to this link, you can select his team name from the list and click submit. Right now he’s in second place (it’s early, but apparently other people besides his family are voting for him) 😉

The top five vote-getters will receive an NFL mini-helmet of their choice. (He’d love that!) And, it’s just fun.

Oh, I neglected to mention… not only does he apparently have the coolest team name in our league of eight teams… he’s also leading it, and currently undefeated!!!. (But, he’s playing my team this week, so… better watch out!) 🙂

So, if you have a moment, please click the link and vote for Alex. Thanks!

Bulletin: Nintendo Wii Now Sporting Lower Price

Wii now sporting lower priceI got a marketing email from today that I decided to pass along here on my blog. I have a long list of things in every area of life at the moment, which has prevented me from sharing thoughts and stories here that I really want to share, but this figures to be pretty short, so…

Apparently, the price of the Wii video game system has been lowered from $249 to $199. That’s neat. Our boys are saving up their paper route money to buy a Wii … they will be very glad to hear this news! 🙂 I clicked the link in the email to see the price for myself, and it’s true… and the cool part about Amazon is, you can get the same item from third-party sellers (new and used) usually for even less. I believe I saw a low price of $144.

So if you’ve always wanted a Wii but never got around to it… perhaps now is a good time? I guess they’re gearing up for the holiday season already!

If you want to check it out, just click this page at

(AND… full disclosure… because I am an Amazon affiliate… a small commission will be credited to with your purchase! Win win. Love those.)

Reflecting on My Two Weeks as "The Mom"

The four oldest Campbell kiddos

For the past two weeks I have assumed the role of main caregiver for our five oldest kids, and main caretaker of our household stuff. It’s something I’ve done following the birth of each of the past four kids (pretty sure it started with our daughter, Kirsten) and something I always really look forward to.

This time was no different. Just even more fun!

I am definitely a very “hands-on” Dad, even when I am filling the perhaps more “traditional” role of main bread-winner. I am often the one preparing meals, involved in many aspects of the kids days (usually do bath and bedtime stuff) and I love my days off when I get to be with the kids the whole day. (Oh, I even like house work… which is probably kind of odd…)

What I love so much about the post-baby “vacations” is that I really get to fully enjoy my time with all of the kids. It’s not after I’ve already spent a lot of myself on work or other people or whatever… it’s all of me from the start of my day to the finish. It’s definitely a different dynamic for me when I can do that, and I’d imagine it is for the kiddos.


As I reflect on the past couple weeks, one thing that keeps coming to the forefront is the help and kindness of friends and family who have been around the past couple weeks. From friends bringing and making meals for us, to our two Dads fixing, building, and installing lots of great things … we’ve enjoyed all of the ways the people we love have loved us.

The Dads? Built and installed a gate for the kids on our deck, purchased and installed a new faucet for our kitchen sink, purchased and installed a new ceiling fan for our dining room, fixed the dishwasher, washing machine, bedroom air conditioner, removed weeds from around our house, fixed the vacuum cleaner and I bet there are a few things I’m forgetting! They were busy!!

We’ve had lots of visits with friends who came to see Cameron, but also just to enjoy a day of life together. It’s nice to have good friends who don’t really need a reason to hang out, just enjoy being together.

We even got a visit from my sister! (She doesn’t like to leave her house…) 🙂

So, beyond the time with my kiddos, I am also very grateful for all of the relationships God has reminded me that we are blessed to have.

My Reward

You’ll recall that this past week I posted some thoughts on Psalm 127, which was a nice reminder to me of how God has blessed me (us) with this amazing group of small people who call me Dad. One of the best parts of this time with them has been to get to know them better. When we spend all day doing life together, I really get to see more and more the very cool people God has made them to be!

Ian, our oldest, is a very sensitive fellow. He cares a lot about what people think about him. I believe it is an extension of his compassionate heart. Unfortunately, in a not-compassionate world, he has also learned to guard that tender heart by striking first. He often is the one making fun of, or pointing out flaws: things that when done in reverse are the most painful to him. This has also in recent months spilled over into his relationship with Mom & Dad. He has had a hard time receiving instruction. Over the past two weeks he and I have had many opportunities to work through that together, reading from the Bible and other smart books that remind young peoples that there is no greater source of wisdom than your father’s instruction and your mother’s teaching. Not sure what all has gone into it, but I definitely see a much more receptive heart, and a much softer attitude and greater perception of how his words and actions might make others feel. He is such a smart, perceptive boy… so nice to see his heart learning to beat for other people, too. So cool.

Alex has the passion in our family. Everything he does, he does! That can work against him in that he often erupts in quick outbursts of anger. Sometimes it turns inward, too, and he just sheds tears of frustration, not knowing what to do with all this emotion. Over the past couple weeks we’ve worked on being able to recognize and have self-discipline to stop the instant reactions, and consider the situations from the other person’s (usually big brother Ian’s) perspective. He’s doing so great with it, and I love seeing his little heart want to live in healthy relationships. God made him so relational. He loves, loves, LOVES people. Totally. He is the most generous, friendly, people-conscious of all of our kiddos. Love to see how he can direct the inborn passion for the good of his siblings, his family, and really anyone God puts in front of him!

Kirstie is a sweetie! She’s so tender-hearted and just a lover. LOVES to hug and be hugged. She’s packed full of compassionate emotion and definitely understands the concept of relational harmony. If it’s not there, she’s troubled – until she can help fix it. Kirstie is five, though, and so there are a great many conflicts with her next oldest and next youngest siblings throughout any given day. I’d say besides just having lots of fun picking out clothes each day and reading library books together and all the other fun stuff a day has to offer, we probably most worked on just thinking about other people … treating them the way you want to be treated. It’s so cool to see her beginning to grasp that. She’s a great helper, and I love, love, LOVE to get hugs from her!

Since she is only three years old, you may think it’s hard to know who Julia is, but strangely, she is the most amazing kid of all! (Yes, the others know we think that…) 🙂 Somehow God seems to have packed into her the best qualities of both her Mom and her Dad! She is so kind hearted (like you wouldn’t believe) and yet she is so bluntly open and honest about whatever she is thinking. She is not affected (much) by the opinion of others, or what they might think. That gives her great freedom to say what needs to be said. And yes, she can and does! (Even though she’s only three.)

When she was two years old, she was being watched by a church nursery helper who asked how old she was. She replied that she was two. “No, you can’t be two… you talk so well!” Julia answered, again, matter-of-factly, “Yes, I am two, and I can talk well.” 🙂

Julia has been a great help (LOVES to help Dad with laundry, dishes, and anything really) and is the most caring member of our family. She recognizes when hurtful words have been spoken or actions have been taken and helps to remedy the situation. Again, I so love to see how our kids are grasping that. It’s so important. To be honest about how you feel, and forthcoming about it, all toward the goal of resolving conflict … treating others the way you would want to be treated. She’s so great at it! It’s really unbelievable!

Of all the five kids that I had charge of for the past weeks, Emma had been the least known to me and has been the most fun to get to know. She’s only 17 months old, so she’s still “coming into her own” … but I got to know her so well over these two weeks. I know what she means when she lets out her little “words” (that are not words!) and I know how to read her, and I can see the precious heart that God has placed in her. She is very deliberate, determined, and knows what she likes and doesn’t like. But she is as loving and caring as her brothers and sisters.

Jen was particularly tired this previous pregnancy – which was a lot of Emma’s most formative months – and so baby Emma was not very responsive to any instruction. We had some pretty intense confrontations in the first day or two of my full-time care of her, but my loving firmness (and God’s help, I’m convinced) turned around her sweet heart in literally only a few days. She is now so good at submitting to Dad & Mom’s instruction (simple things like, “come here”, and “bring me a diaper”, and even using sign language (“please”, “all done”, and “more”), which she did not do before.

Despite her “tough” exterior, she is a lover, too. When I get her from naps, or when we’re going upstairs to lay down she will rest her head on my shoulder and just enjoy the closeness with Dad. I love it! It’s been so, so great to see her develop an even deeper understanding of my love for her and a greater trust in me (and my instruction). She’s so great!!

Going Forward

For the time being, God is providing for our family through the talents and abilities that I have. I am so blessed to be able to work from home for a large number of very varied clients in web and graphic design work. He has given me the work and it continues to come in, so I will faithfully (and gratefully) continue to do that as long as he continues to provide it. We are so thankful for the ways he has provided. Gives me great flexibility to still be greatly involved in parenting our kiddos.

I do hope for more. I hope that some day there will be a way that I can do more of what I was able to over the past two weeks (and not just at the expense of my sleep or energy in general). We’re not sure what that would look like, but think that perhaps God will provide such an opportunity in the (near?) future. That would be super amazing and awesome.

For now, I am so, SO grateful for the past two weeks and can’t wait for the next baby to come along! 🙂

Whatever comes next, I could not be more thankful for the life God has given me and the people he has placed under my care, and the beautiful wife he has given me to raise those people with. I’ll be asking God to allow her to see and enjoy the greatness he has packed into all six of our kids as she takes on the greater portion of the load of kid care and house care.

It’s quite a job! A wonderful job.

Julia’s Opinion of Money

This afternoon, following a nice lunch together as a family, the kids discovered that Julia had left a fifty cent piece in her food. (Yes, in her food.)

Incredulous, big brother Alex asked, “Julia!!! Why did you do that?? Don’t you know that’s fifty cents!!?? It’s real money!”

Without missing a beat, Julia held up her hands and said matter-of-factly, “I don’t know what to do with it… I put it in there because I’m only three and I don’t know what to do with money!”

Ha! Classic straight up honesty from Joodles. She’s awesome. 🙂

Dryer Sheets

I needed to do a couple loads of laundry tonight, so I was a little disappointed when I went downstairs and found some laundry sort of “in process”. (Note: our 7 year old does most of our laundry, and usually pretty well. But, well… he’s seven. Nuff said.) For some reason this time he had left a small load of partially dried clothes in the dryer. Very strange.

As I was inspecting the scene, I noticed that we also were out of dryer sheets. I checked with Jen and sure enough, there were no more. Not too bad… clothes just wouldn’t smell quite as nice.

I went back upstairs to do a couple more things then went down to get the now fully dried load from the dryer and move the one I just washed into the dryer when…

I saw a dryer sheet. Right there on the ground in front of the dryer!

My first thought was, “Wow! Neat. A dryer sheet!” My second thought was, “Whoa. Wonder if God put that there? It wasn’t there before…” My third thought was, “Does God give you dryer sheets?” 🙂

Those are my thoughts. Not sure if the tiny piece of scented cloth was divinely placed but… I’m grateful.

And I’ll be smelling a little better, too.