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.

Kirsten
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. 🙂

Ian
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
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.

God’s Clothes

While cleaning up the girls’ room today, there came a point where we had to reach up high to get something. As I stretched, Julia, our 3-year-old, stated, “God could reach that. He’s super tall.”

“Yes, I suppose he could,” I agreed. “But he’s not really just… tall. He’s even bigger than that.”

“Yeah,” Kirstie chimed in, “He’s so big that the earth is just a speck to him!”

“Well, that’s right,” I said. “But he’s even so big that he’s just everywhere. There isn’t anywhere you can go that he isn’t. Isn’t that cool?”

They nodded in agreement, and we continued the clean up. After only a few moments of silence—during which the mental gears of the 3 and 5 year olds never stopped—the conversation continued:

“I wonder if God wears clothes.” (I think I may have laughed out loud at that one… at least chuckled.)

“I don’t know,” I admitted, “I guess he could… but he doesn’t really need clothes…”

“Well, if he did, he’d have realllllly big clothes!”

Yep. I guess he would.

Love the way tiny minds think!

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!

Serious Discussions

After seeing her Mom crying while listening to the Beauty Will Rise album in the van yesterday, Kirstie seemed to be the most affected by the story of a five year old girl going to heaven. (Perhaps because she is also five years old herself?)

She told me about it when they got home, and kept bringing it up. So we got to chat about the strange paradox of the joy of heaven and the sorrow of death, the reality of where our “home” is and the beauty of living in a broken world that Jesus walks through with us. (Good stuff about that paradox in 2 Corinthians 5.)

It was so interesting to see the seriousness in her face as we talked about these things. As she talked about a little girl dying. As we thought ahead to the time when both of us will go home to heaven, eventually. She said, “But you’ll always be my Dad. Even when you’re a Grandpa, you’ll be my Dad.” She added later, “And I’ll always be 5, or 6, or 7.” 🙂 I assured her that she would grow up, and that was a good thing.

And I also hugged her and assured her that I’ll always be her Dad.

Even our three year old got in on the serious discussions, relaying to me the story of Maria Chapman, how she had died and gone home to heaven. It was pretty interesting how the new album we were listening to sparked many thoughts and discussions throughout the day. And why not? It is a strange part of life. Death, seeming like an end from behind this door, but our confidence that it is a beginning … happy and sad all at once. How can that be?

Who knows what the future holds. On the album, Beauty Will Rise, the song “February 20th” is about that day in 2008 when Maria was asking about heaven, and said she wanted to go there. A line from the song says, “But we could never have imagined she’d be going there so soon.” We never know. All we know is that Jesus said he would never leave us, and that when we die here, we will be with him. For real.

For now, the events of the last day or so have made me notice when my kids need me. I may be doing something, feeling busy… but I can do that later.

How special each of my kids are to me. How special Jen is to me. That is what matters. Now, and forever.

Thanks Steven, for the reminder.

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.

Grateful

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
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
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!

Kirsten
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!

Julia
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!

Emma
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.

Target Practice

Kirstie - the live targetToday just after lunch, Ian and Alex were testing out a new Nerf dart gun set. It apparently includes a vest with little targets on it that presumably one or both combatants would don as they battle it out.

In today’s test however, Kirstie was wearing the vest. (And the cool, protective googles.) And she was stationary.

(That was the best part!)

So, big brother Ian was taking shot after shot at his 5 year old sister, while she just stood there and took it, giggling each time a dart would hit the target. (Other big brother Alex was collecting darts and reloading his older brother.)

One of many funny moments in the Campbell household. It’s certainly never dull around here. 🙂

The Boys Room

Tonight I took my daughters to the bathroom while we were out for dinner. On the way down the bathroom hall, our five year old said somewhat sheepishly, “Do we have to go in the boys room, Dad?”

I was a bit surprised by her sudden awareness that we would be using the “boys room”, she hadn’t cared before… but I replied, “Yes, Kirstie. We have to go in there ’cause I’m a boy!”

We went in and headed to the one stall – all three of us – and as she got ready to use it, she seemed really hesitant. I made sure all was properly cleaned and then she asked, “Dad, can you please cover it up?” She has this thing about automatically flushing toilets. It really, really bothers her. So, I knew what she was talking about once she asked and said, “Sure, no problem.”

I dutifully covered it up while she did her thing, when she revealed a bit to me about her earlier question. “That’s why I don’t like the boys room, Dad. They have the toilets that flush themselves!”

“Yeah, some places do,” I said. “But, those are in the girls room, too.” (I actually don’t know that, I suppose, but, just assumed.)

“No they aren’t!” She insisted. “They’re only in the boys rooms!!!” That made me chuckle a bit. 🙂

She was pretty serious about this though, so I believed her, and then was sad for the gender that I represent. I thought about it and realized that if it is true, it shows that guys can’t be trusted to remember to flush the toilet!!! (This does hold true in our own home… the boys (NOT ME) do often forget to pull the handle…) Do we really need the toilet to remember for us???

So after a funny little insight from my five year old daughter, I’d like to implore those of the male persuasion to think a tiny bit about the people coming after them, and just flush the toilet. (Unless of course, the facility you are using has already given up on you, and the toilet does its own flushing… then I guess you’re off the hook.

🙂

Cooperation

Yesterday the kids were all having trouble coexisting, and it was driving a very tired Mommy crazy! So, after they made peace with Mom, (and on a bit of a whim on my part) I gave them an assignment. All four of them were to work together to create a story – typed up on one of their computers – to present at dinner time. I gave them an outline of four things that they could decide that would help them craft the story, and I insisted that each of them had to have contributed a part to the story.

When it seemed they understood, I left them to their task (and that left Mom a couple hours by herself while the baby was sleeping!)

I stopped by a while later to see how it was going, and they were working beautifully together! They all had little chairs set up around one computer where the biggest brother was doing the typing. They all seemed engaged, and the best part was… it was working! They were each being considerate of the other, welcoming and accepting each other’s ideas. They were just being nice!

I actually couldn’t wait to hear the story they were producing, too! 🙂

Just before lunch time (probably a couple hours later), Ian came up and announced that they had finished, and asked if they could read it at lunch, instead of dinner. I smiled and agreed. Really, all that I had wanted to happen had already happened… the fun story was the “icing on the cake”. Still, I was quite interested to hear what they had come up with, all from their own little brains!

I think I’ll post it here, exactly as Ian typed it. The title is, “Picnic Mystery,” … enjoy.

Picnic Mystery

There once was a family who’s name was the Schroders. The kids names were : 1. Aaron age 17

2. Scott age 15 3. Victoria (Vicky for short) age 14 4. stephanie age 12 5. antonio age 10 (tony for short) and then there is Momma,Pop. Now lets start the story!

We begin in Idaho the Schroders (who lived on a farm)were going on a picnic. They were bringing balogna sandwiches,a ceaser salad,apples and bananas,and ice cold lemonade,and last but not least Momma had baked a blueberry pie. Aaron and Scott were helping Pop in the fields. Vicky and Steph were helping Momma pack the food and other things that you bring on a picnic. Antonio went to tell the other boys to come in and wash up.
They started off, they were going to the park that was about half a mile away. They had cleared a nice path that they liked to walk through every once in a while. When they got to the park they decided to play a game of softball and then they would eat after the softball game. Momma did not want to play so she was the ump. They chose Aaron and pop as the team captains. Tony and Vicky were on Pop’s team. Scott and Steph were on Aaron’s team. They started the game and the first team to bat was Aaron’s team and he was first to bat. He it a triple and Scott hit a homer and they both scored. Then they struck out. So it was Pop’s teams turn Pop hit a single then Vicky hit double and Tony hit a triple and then he tried to score but he got tagged. There was no more scoring so they called a tie and ate. When it was time to eat the pie was missing! They looked everywhere but they couldn’t find it and momma said she would make another so they started to go home when suddenly Antonio shoutd “Hey look up there the squirrels have our pie”. SPLAT!! The squirels droped the pie on Atonio. They went home and Antonio cleand up.And Momma made another pie and enjoyed withOUT any squirrels.

Made on a mac

Written by Ian,Alex,Kirsten and julia

Made Me Smile…

Kirstie's Signature
On a lighter note, on my way home to my family yesterday afternoon (from my work that morning) I spotted a piece of paper with some drawings our five-year-old had made sometime earlier that week. I smiled at their amorphous cuteness. Fun to see what her mind and tiny hands had created.

But then I spotted her signature. Somehow, my heart welled with emotion and my smile got even bigger. (It is again as I type this.) There was something about the little dot over the “i”, and the backwards letters. The determination and pride with which they were applied to her creation, yet the beautiful, innocent simplicity in them. It was just perfect and made me so love that I get to be her Daddy. 🙂

Made me wonder if that’s how our Daddy feels when he sees our creations? Does he love to see the creations of his creations? They aren’t always spectacular, but they are unique and a piece of who we are. Doesn’t have to be art… can be anything we do or say perhaps. But is bears our signature.

And I just bet it does make him smile.