Special Moments

Some days just have those moments.

Today has had plenty. (And not all good ones, mind you.)

Jen had a super-frustrating day with (she said) every one of the kids, who just wouldn’t listen to her at all. They only wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. Eventually, she just couldn’t take it anymore and walked away from what she was trying to do, attempting to clear her head.

(It was during this time that Jen decided to make soup, which is something she wouldn’t usually do, and without a recipe, which is something she definitely wouldn’t do! The best part? It turned out great! Was a nice “moment” for Jen to enjoy a great (tasty) bit of success in an otherwise hard day.)

At dinner, we came to another moment where I erupted into a very intense monologue full of very direct, clear reminders of things we’ve taught the kids since they came into this world. Very direct. Pretty loud. And I meant every word of it.

That was a moment.

Then Mom went out for the evening to do some shopping, but mainly to “clear her head”. Much needed, and hopefully she is being refreshed. (I’ll find out when she gets home!)

As the clean-up team took care of the kitchen (and the other two took care of the other rooms) I bathed the youngest two. They really needed it.

(Note: I am quite sick. Nasty head cold, stuffy, bad cough, just keep saying, “My head feels weird…” So… that makes for a more interesting bath time. Oh, and Cam is just as sick as me!)

That was a moment. (But not too bad, actually.)

The girls got their baths, and I got everyone dressed for bed and hair brushed and all that must be done. Then Alex got his quick shower and we were ready for the evening activity.

Tonight, it was singing.

I got my guitar, and a box of chord charts for worship songs, and we just started playing through them. Some the kids knew, most they didn’t. But that didn’t stop them from singing. And dancing. And smiling. And really LOUD singing!

That was a moment. A different sort of moment. (A heart-smile kind of moment.)

I encouraged Ian to get his bass guitar out, and Alex converted a plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat bucket into a percussive instrument, and suddenly we had a band. And even though we didn’t know the song to begin with, by the end of one song Julia had a huge smile on her face… and tears on her cheeks.

“I’m crying!” says little Julia Gayle. “Why are you crying, Julia?” I asked gently. “It’s just because of the singing!” She almost couldn’t believe that music could do that to you, but at the same time, she knew deep within her that it did do that to her.

That was a moment.

Then came bedtime. We usually play with a Dad-animated stuffed friend at some point. Tonight it was the stuffed friend, Baboo. (Cam’s name for his little red-white-and-blue doggie.) We laughed, we had fun, we hugged (Cam wanted two hugs..) and we prayed together for our family.

That was another moment. (After which Cam wanted another hug…)

Days are full of moments. Some are good, some are “eh”, and some are pretty bad (or really bad). I feel like today kinda had all of those for us. Maybe most days do. Sometimes we get tricked into focusing on the bad moments though and we miss the little good ones that are still there, or can be there if and when we look for them.

They’re there. They were for us tonight.

Keep your heart and mind and eyes fixed on Jesus, and he’ll show you the moments. He’s in the moments, actually. All of them.

And if we know that—and live that—that is what makes them special.

Some Things Never Change

Since the beginning of time, young kids have seen the colored tiles—whatever shape they might assume—as an endless playground for the imagination, and an exciting test of their balance and coordination skills.

And the Campbell children are certainly no different!

Walking the mall with any of our youngest kids is never really walking, it’s traversing. It’s an expedition. Through fiery lava, or dangerous waters infested with countless perils and vicious creatures!

The most recent expedition was with Emma, who was more of an athlete than an explorer. Her task at first was to maintain perfect balance across all the colored tiles, but that soon changed to being able to completely clear the four-square blocks, long-jump style! (Which she actually did quite well!)

I could not help but (vividly) recall my childhood, where I was doing the very same thing. And as I’ve said, I can’t think of any one of our children who have not. What is it about our youth that allows us the freedom—that nearly demands that we see life as play?

And better yet, where does that go?

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sometimes we read that and see the part about “turn[ing] from your sins” and that will “get us into” the Kingdom of Heaven. And thus, becoming like little children is perhaps being born again (spiritually), or even maybe being more trusting, having more faith.

But in the context, Jesus was asked who was the greatest, and his answer was someone who might seem like the “least”. What he chose to point out was the humility of a child—which, in contrast to the question raised, sharply reveals the pride of the questioner.

Without pride, we are free to play (no matter what anyone might think of us). Pride is, after all, just our self-given worth. It’s what we imagine ourselves to be, that we usually are not.

Humility, being the opposite—and the quality Jesus said we, like children, should aspire to possess—is not concerned with what others think of us. There is a nearly unshakeable freedom to fully enjoy life as it unfolds before you.

How many of us live like that? Maybe we should.

Maybe I will.

I did that night with Emma. We skipped through parking lots, jumped from tile to tile, and slowly enjoyed every moment as we made the trek through the adventure-land that was our local shopping mall. The joy was definitely in the unpretentious frivolity we were engaging in, but it was also in just being together. Taking interest in each other.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

If we’re not concerned with us, there’s a lot more room to enjoy the things and the people around us.

Emma sure was. And I bet your kids are pretty good at it, too. As, I’d guess, were you.

Some things never change. Kids will always see the colored tiles in malls as the next great adventure, even if they’ve conquered it before. And, the truth of God’s words, that life in his Kingdom is found when we are humble and unassuming, like little children.

I think it’s time for a stroll through the mall…

Scripture quotes from Matthew 18 and Philippians 2, both from the New Living Translation.


There are days that it’s incredibly hard to see the good side. Where you’re so completely overwhelmed by the crushing weight of sadness, or failure, or just plain pain that you can’t see a way out of and seems it will never end.

For whatever reason, we’ve had more than our share of those around here lately.

But last night as I was putting the four youngest kids in bed, for some reason I decided to start (quite randomly) naming things that I was thankful for. “Thank you for Mom… and for (insert sibling name here)…” was how I began. Then I began just literally saying any word that came to mind. Some things I saw around their room, or then any related item or word. It quickly exploded into a fun game of who can think of the most random thing to be thankful for!

And the neat thing was, it worked.

The kids were not that excited to go to bed last night, but that little exercise lightened their hearts, and perhaps enlightened mine.

I found it was easy to rattle off all sorts of “good” things that we can be thankful for. Stars, trees, the sun, the moon, Grandmas & Grandpas, other friends we love, books, paper, paint, carpet, air conditioning, and so on. So I began intentionally thinking of “bad” things. (Or at least, weird things to be thankful for.)

“Thank you for toilets. For bottoms. For toilet paper.” Emma (our three-year old) picked right up on that, “Thank you for pee pee… AND poo poo!” And then I actually made myself say, “Thank you for HOT days.” (Reasoning in my mind that, though I loathe and detest the heat, I do love a good, juicy tomato … and they rather enjoy hot days.)

This seemed to work for all of the kiddos from the youngest (just about 2) who would grunt his approval with a little, “mmm hmm” after every word or phrase I’d say, to the room full of his three sisters all spitting out random words as fast as they were able to fit them in. It really was incredible!

It made me think of a book that Jen asked me to read, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Jen reads her blog, and so decided to purchase her book, and was challenged (in a good way) to try to change her perspective on life, as Ann has tried to do. It’s kind of a “glass half-full vs glass half-empty” idea, but a bit different. Her challenge was just to write down 1,000 things that you are thankful for. A few each day.

I think we may have hit about 400 last night alone! 🙂

There are so many things that we can be thankful for. It really just depends on your perspective. If you can come at life looking for goodness, you’ll often (usually) find it. If you’re expecting bad, you’ll usually end up there.

So maybe try it tonight. Putting kids to bed… after they are in bed… on your way home from work… just let you brain bounce from one thing to the next and speak it out, “Thank you for _____.” Not just things that God directly gave us, necessarily, but think about the things that are part of our everyday lives, and how they help us. We really do take much of life “for granted”, as they say. Doing so lifted my spirits last night, and four other tiny spirits.

Perhaps it can lift yours, tonight, too.

Will You Let Me Love You?

Sometimes babies do dumb things. OK, a lot of the time. But usually (really almost always) they are really cute doing them, so, you tend to pretty easily forgive. (That and, they’re all fairly new on the job, so, you cut them some slack.)

Well, today, Emma (who is 2, almost 3) decided she would live up to that.

After her baby brother’s nap (he is 1), she joined him in his crib for a little bouncy fun. Well, the bouncing turned stale I guess, and she thought it would be fun to involve the curtains in the play. It might have been fun at first, but then she jumped a little too high, and pulled a little too hard… and…

The curtain rod is no more.

I came down from my office to get them and noticed that the window did not look right. A quick glance downward revealed the nature of the change in appearance, and I just shook my head in frustration. I surveyed their faces and surmised that Emma was the culprit. (She admitted as much within a few seconds of my assessment.) I scolded her, and removed them from the crib and examined the damage to see if it was reparable. It was not.

So I left the room frustrated and, was also frustrated with Jen that they had somehow escaped her custody. I was just frustrated.

Skip ahead through dinner (steaks!), and bath (fun!), to Emma’s bedtime. She is once again in her brother’s crib (how else can you say good night to him??) and that brings back to her mind the events of the early evening.

“The curtain is broken,” says a sad-voiced Emma.

“Yeah, it is,” says Dad, matching her tone. “But it’s OK, I can fix it.” I even began sort of propping it up to hopefully block some of the morning sunlight.

“Will you let me love you, Dad?” came the sheepish, sullen request.

It took a few seconds to register. I am not sure I’ve ever heard those words strung together, or spoken like that. In our family, we learned that when we wrong each other, rather than saying, “I’m sorry,” which is nice, but leaves the offender still very much “in control”, we feel it’s more appropriate and meaningful to approach the offended, and humbly ask their forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me (for [insert offense here])?”

That is what Emma was asking. She may have been mimicking the tone and phrasing (her own interpretation) of what she’s seen, but I think it was also coming from her heart. And her two-year-old brain actually revealed something amazing to me.

“Will you let me love you” is, in effect, what we’re asking when we ask for forgiveness. Yes, that we’d be forgiven, and receive love from the offended, but also that we’d be allowed to freely give love, too! How could Emma know that? But that’s the great thing! She does!. Jesus said we should be like little children… and that is why. To Emma, life is very simple. Very relational.

(It’s also about candy. And rubber chickens. And frequent screaming. But that’s for another blog post…)

Tonight, Emma got it right. And she got a great big hug and kiss.

And I definitely let her love me. 🙂

I’m Such A Baby

Tonight I was noticing just how much I am like our one- and two-year-old children. Now, for the most part I’ve learned to control my responses a bit more (not to mention my excellent potty-trained record) but watching them tonight—and in particular, the way I, their father, interacted with them—I realized just how much I am being the whiny, impatient, uninformed, short-sighted baby.

That’s exactly what you’d expect from a baby, right? The poor creatures can’t talk… they can’t do most things for themselves… they’re at our mercy! So, pretty often then are frustrated to the point of tears (along with kicking and screaming sometimes) and, well, that’s kinda how I felt tonight.

As I was bathing our 1-year-old son, he kept resisting me in various ways. He wanted to hold a toy a certain way at a certain time, but I need to bathe him and so he just had to wait for a bit till he could have it again. But, in his impatient short-sightedness … he cried. Then, once that was over, all was fine. Then while rinsing him off he was crying because the water was going over his face … but again, if he could just think of the bigger picture … he’d save himself the trouble of crying and all that fussing about his (very) temporary discomfort, since he’d be thinking of the great clean, warm, comfy feeling he was about to have in about 3-5 minutes.

After that, the same pattern ensued when we were drying off. He was cold, he was wet … and in the process of trying to fix that, he had cried as I dried him off and dressed him. Again, all was better in the end, but he didn’t like the “getting there” part. And then when we waited for his cup of milk to warm in the microwave—a routine he is quite familiar with—he only whimpered and complained about the wait. I want my milk now!!!

Aren’t we like that? I am. I was tonight. (Maybe am?) I reconciled our finances tonight and we are so far behind at the moment, and besides that we’re excitedly pursuing another opportunity it seems God is leading us toward … but it’s still out of our reach. And our bills are piling up, while income seems to only be trickling in. Ugh. All I can see is that I’m cold, wet, and there’s soap in my eyes. I’m missing the part where my Dad loves me, and he’s taking care of me.

There’s a lot to the idea of living in the moment. It’s important to be where you are, or you might miss it. But sometimes, I admit, just like my two babies … I am way too in the moment. I forget how God has been with us through everything along the way up till now, and I forget that he moves much slower than me. Just like Cameron wants me to get his milk ready in an instant … it doesn’t work that way! It takes time.

God moves like that. He sees the whole picture, and he’s working all things for our good. I do forget that sometimes…

I guess I can be such a baby.

By the way, the photo above is from the end of a photo shoot with all our kids (credit Lindsay Karl), and Cam was very done! We weren’t ramming his head into that tree branch or anything like that… 🙂

Book Sales Are Dangerous

Stack of BooksOur library has a book sale annually where they weed out their own collection as well as receive hundreds of donations from generous library users and other friends of the library. It goes on for quite a while after the official sale portion. The starting price is $1.00 for a hardcover book and $0.50 for a paperback. A very enticing price for a book lover, to be sure.

But the most dangerous time on our library’s book sale is about one week after the sale starts, they lower the price to $2/bag of books. And that’s when they hook both Jen and me. We can’t resist! And even our kids are getting into it now! Emma (our two-year-old daughter) and I were out on an “OK Night” (One-Kid Night) tonight and we stopped to have a look at the sale and came away with many more treasures filling another bag of books! (Many of which she picked out!)

I say another because well… we just got five bags last weekend!

You can’t beat a good book sale—nor can we resist it, apparently—but there quickly arises the issue of where to store all these books once you bring them home…

Time for more bookshelves!

If you’re a book lover, too, there are still hundreds of books left to browse! Come have a look.

A Few Things I Love

Tonight I was noticing several things I love about our family, and I just wanted to write them down.

I love that our family reads. I mean really reads. We took our customary Monday walk to the library this afternoon (with MOM this time, since Grammy & Grandpa were here to stay home with the sleeping babies!) and each time we go to the library we can’t get less than a dozen books! (To be fair, there are MANY of us in this house…) And, when we get home, each kid finds a seat in the living room and begins devouring their new literary treasures. So great.

And then tonight, after giving the babies a bath, I asked Emma to pick out a book and read while I helped her older sisters get cleaned up themselves. I found her a very thick story book (with pictures) and once I showed her what a neat book it was she got very excited and ran to her bed to start reading it. Five or ten minutes later, she was still sitting on her bed, happily “reading” her book. She’s two!

All day long we are reading. Separately, together, doesn’t matter. And often we are telling one or more of the others something we’ve found interesting from one of those books. I love that our family reads.

I love that our family loves music. Tonight after the reading fun, we were finishing up getting ready for bed and I just decided to sing a couple songs with the girls. I didn’t think anyone was picking up on it, so I stopped after a verse of one song. A few moments after I was done, a tiny voice expectantly asked from her bed, “Sing more, Dad?” I looked over to see Emma, face and eyes beaming, slightly tilting her head… how could I say no? I sang another verse and she just giggled when I finished. She loved it!

So, I grabbed my guitar and we sang a few songs together in our extended bedtime routine. As soon as I grabbed my guitar, Emma found her little clay flute (from Argentina) and started playing that. Next thing I knew, she was out of her bed, standing in front of me waving her arms and dancing “ballet” with me. 🙂 She invited her sisters, and without much hesitation, the other two girls were doing the same!

We belted out the chorus, “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God!” until it was really time to be done. I put the guitar down and hugged each girl good night. As Emma was waiting her turn she continued to belt out, “How greaaaaaat….. is Goooooooooood!” And of course, always with a giant smile on her face.

Just beautiful.

And, just a day or two ago, we decided it was time to enjoy some other people’s music. And to enjoy it loudly. (I think I have passed along a great love for very loud music to my children from their Grammy, whom I believe still enjoys feeling her music!) We were boogying to some Michael Jackson (from his album Off The Wall.) Even Cam, our now one-year-old little guy was smiling, laughing, and dancing!

I love that our family loves music.

I also really love that our family knows God. Really knows him. Not just about him, or the concept of God. But that they think of him as a person, as I have come to know him in my adult life. I mean no slight to my parents (I am especially thankful for them today, too, as we’ve gotten to spend the last two days with them) but I do not recall growing up knowing the reality of God in our everyday life. Where he is part of our everyday thoughts, and speech, and actions. Not just doing “God” things either—like going to church, reading the Bible, and praying—but that he’s just part of who we are; we, the Campbells. I hope that will be a great foundation for all of our kids to have full and rich lives lived with and through him.

It’s been fun to watch it developing already. My morning reading with the boys involves reading some scripture (varying amounts) and then talking about it as we go. I love hearing their reactions, and thoughts, and questions… and then just working through them together. Me not necessarily teaching… more facilitating, and learning just as much as they are as we go.

There’s more, but this is already getting long. No way I could present an exhaustive list here. Perhaps I’ll pick up this thread again later, but suffice it to say… I just plain love my family. 🙂

The Family That Reads Together…

Time Pirate by Ted BellI absolutely love reading with my kids. Love it. I think I especially love reading stories that stretch out over days and weeks (even months in the case of some longer books the boys and I have read together, like Oliver Twist, and Nick of Time). The pure joy of entering new worlds every time you crack open the book and smell the fantastic aroma of time worn pages, or brand new pages for that matter.

I love reading, period.

The boys and I are currently reading Time Pirate by Ted Bell. It’s an historical adventure (a fictional adventure story set in an historically accurate setting) so it brings up plenty of questions about true stories from the past. The two “Nick McIver adventures” books have been set near World War II, as well as some time in the 18th century (he’s a time traveler, so… that helps for exploring several historical eras). We’ve also touched on WWI since the people Nick looks up to (his Dad, and his older friend, Gunner) served in that war. Nick rebuilt and learned to fly a Sopwith Camel bi-plane from WWI, which means we also are learning about flying (and sailing in the previous book).

There’s so much to learn, and it’s fun doing it!

Here’s a list of books (not comprehensive) that are currently in progress in the Campbell home (Dad & kids reading … Mom has a whole list of her own to add – maybe she’ll comment?) 🙂

  • Time Pirate by Ted Bell
  • The Story of Winston Churchill by Alida Sims Maklus
  • Voyager: an adventure to the edge of the solar system by Sally Ride
  • The Sun and Other Stars (from World Book’s Solar System & Space Exploration Library)
  • Galaxies and the Universe (from World Book’s Solar System & Space Exploration Library)
  • The book of Acts (Today’s English Version) by Luke (and God…)
  • Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (I read this with only the girls)
  • Anything and everything by Mo Willems! (He’s great!)

As I said, that’s not comprehensive… perhaps it would be fun to share a more comprehensive list? If you’ve not noticed it yet, there is a list of books that I am currently reading (and sometimes I’ll share videos/movies/TV that I am watching there as well) linked at the very top of this site. (Or just click here.) You can also see (when I’m feeling ambitious and keep it up to date) a few of the current reads along the right sidebar. But those don’t always include books that I’m reading with the kids. Perhaps I’ll share some of our favorites as a new page there: Books I’m Reading With the Kids.

One thing is for certain: BOOKS are definitely part of the Campbell family identity!

Oh Where Is My Hairbrush?

Emma CarolineI’ve been without a hair brush for a few days now. It first disappeared following a bath night for the kids when it was being passed around freely amongst the various heads in our household: predominantly the female heads, led by our two-year-old, Emma.

As I watched her wield the brush both for her own hair and that of her siblings, I knew that night that it would manage to disappear somehow… and I was right.

If you’ve seen VeggieTales, you know that Larry the Cucumber once had a similar problem. This time, however, I was fairly certain that my hairbrush had not been given to “The Peach” by Bob the Tomato …

I searched all the spots where it might have ended up: the girls’ room, the hallway outside their room, downstairs in a couple key locations, and everywhere in between. But in all of my searching, I did not find the brush!

Tonight in a moment of (mostly mock) frustration I complained to the girls at their bed time, “Wherrrrre is that brush?!? Why can I not FIND it?!”

Without much hesitation, and with an amazing matter-of-factness in her terse response, Emma said, “It’s in the van.”

The certainty in her voice made me question her for probably a total of 0.7 seconds.

(Which for an android, is an eternity…)

I smiled, and resolved to check the van later for the missing hair brush.

After the rest of the evening’s activities, only moments before writing these words, I decided to check up on Emma’s declaration. I opened the back door which had been locked for the night and ventured out in the rain to sift through the contents of the back of our van.

I filtered through the stuff immediately around Emma’s seat, and then, with a recommendation from Jen, I checked the third row seats … and there it was!

Just like Emma said it would be.

Some Fun Campbell Kid Moments

It’s been far too long here at GregsHead.net since I have posted any brief anecdotal tales from the daily life of the Campbell family. That used to be a regular occurrence, I think before there were so many sources for the humorous anecdotes… 🙂

But there are a few recent ones that I would like to record.

Lately it’s been fun to see Kirstie growing up. She had her sixth birthday in February, and continues to grow in understanding and maturity (and fun-ness!) On her most recent O.K. Night (One Kid Night) she and I got some books from the library and were reading them together. When we got to the one that she could read (a beginning reader’s book, but, a level higher than she’s accustomed to) she asked if she could read it to me. I thought it would be cute, so I said, “Sure, Kirstie, go ahead.” I was not, however, prepared to be rapt by the reading of the story! She was so great not only at reading along without missing a beat (though there were 5 or 6 words in this 5 chapter book that needed some time to sound out…) she was so expressive in the way she read! I didn’t notice it at first, since this is the way I read, or listen to people read, but then I realized… it’s Kirsten! She’s 6! And she’s not really an “accomplished” reader!! 🙂 How beautiful. I was really impressed, and look forward the being read to by Kirstie again, soon. 🙂

We’re in an interesting transition/stage with Ian. He’ll be 12 this year. That’s fairly old, for a kid. There are a lot of ways that Ian is struggling through understanding his place in life. Things that draw his heart that we know are not good for him, and things that are just different from what we want our family to be… (So Mom & Dad are doing plenty of learning, as well!) Last night we spent an evening with friends, and I had noticed that Ian was very good at helping with his baby sister. So, when we were in the car heading home—and after several “teachable moments” in the day—I made sure to let Ian know what I had thought earlier, about how he is going to be a great parent. Then, Ian spoke from the back seat.

“Dad, I was just thinking about parenting.” (Again, this was following a “teaching” moment not long before.) “I know we disagree on some things, but when I am a Dad, I want to parent just like you.”

I can not put into words how amazing that was. I’m sure I’m not even fully capturing what Ian said. It was beautiful and life-giving to our whole family. Those moments are really incredible.

Emma is just plain cute! She keeps talking more and more. And her beautiful little personality comes out through this newly acquired vocabulary. She is very confident, strong, certain of what she wants. And she’ll tell you! But we can also see just how amazingly nice, kind, and even gentle her heart is, too. More Emma stories to come…

There are so many more, but the moments are few. Will try to share some more in the near future.