Nicolas’ privilege

At dinner…

Mommy: Nicolas, tell me one privilege you get just because you are part of our family?

Nicolas: I get a spank?

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart

Note: This post should have been done at the beginning of Lent, so forgive my tardiness. I will try and repeat this write-up again next year in order to give readers more notice.

But…if you are looking for a wonderful tool to use this season as you help your children and family prepare to celebrate Palm Sunday, Good Friday and the events leading up to and including Easter, specifically relating to the hymns which our churches often use for the celebration of the Passion of Christ, I highly recommend this:

It is one of a series of four books, all of which we own and love, which Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth have collaborated on and which are designed to help introduce children to the richness of these hymns. The book presents twelve Passion hymns, and includes some of the history behind each song, wonderful accounts about the authors, and a devotional which aids children in gaining an understanding about each hymn, as well as written music for piano/guitar. A wonderful CD is included and features beautifully orchestrated versions of all the hymns featured, with children’s voices accompanying the two women’s. It is extremely pleasant listening, and we often play selections from these cd’s during the week to help our children prepare for Sunday worship using whatever hymns we might be singing that day.

Our New “Toy”

Exercise. What a lofty goal. And yet, our 30-something bodies have been admonishing us that we would do well to care more about them, and specifically, to offer them some more frequent physical activity. Perhaps this was most keenly noted during a recent park date with friends and their children. The kids begged the mommies to be “IT””, i.e. chase them like mad all around the playground. How could we resist our sweet children’s request? So of course we joined the game.

But sadly, I didn’t end up having quite as much fun as I’d anticipated. Because it was during this little game of chase that I discovered I run more slowly than my 8 year old daughter, you know, the girl who has “gross motor issues” and spent time in physical therapy as a youngster. Or at least, I run slower than she after about 30 second’s time, because I, unlike her, have ABSOLUTELY NO CARDIO-VASCULAR ENDURANCE!! She spends time every day running, running, running. I used to be like that. But now I’m just old and somewhat “fluffy”….and my pants are tighter than they should be!

So Jay and I put our heads together to try and find a good exercise option we both could use. And quickly decided that a gym membership probably wasn’t the answer, at least for now: it exceeded our budget, and was just too challenging to fit into our already-busy-enough-for-us lifestyle. Plus, if children were ill, my ability to work out would pretty much go away.

Jay’s lower-back spinal fusion and nerve disease rule out a bunch of other exercise options, like running or playing basketball, or even (and he was really bummed about this, folks) doing step aerobics. So we began considering the idea of a workout machine in our home….and with the input of his doctors concluded that an elliptical machine would provide both a low-impact as well as a pretty intense workout all in one package. I myself have really enjoyed working out on ellipticals in the past, so it seemed a great choice for both of us.

As we started researching ellipticals, we discovered they come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. There were plenty on the used market but at first we tried to buy a new one, since, we reasoned, mechanical issues could arise and with a preowned machine, we might not be getting a good value potentially (i.e. we could pay less up front, but wind up with a lemon which would be useless). We set ourselves a modest budget, and went shopping at the stores. And after trying quite a few ellipticals, we made the discovery that the only ones which fit Jay’s “funny” foot (*the one which is permanently sticking a bit out to the side after numerous surgeries and which makes standing on many of the workout machines just an impossibility for him) were way out of our price range on the new market. Way. Far. Out.

Since purchasing an elliptical on which Jay could exercise was a priority, we figured that perhaps we would do better to check the used market for a machine which is known for holding up well, that had seen little heavy use. Now that we had a good idea of which brands we wanted to stick with, and which machines would accommodate Jay’s foot well, we had what we needed to shop the used market. And almost immediately, a deal popped up for Jay’s top pick, the lowest end machine made by a company called Octane Fitness, who manufacture only elliptical machines, unlike many other makers of exercise equipment. The Octane machines are famous for great quality, and also very specifically for a very narrow and unique spacing between the feet that ensures your hips don’t have to shift laterally and tax the lower back. This was a wonderful feature given Jay’s lower back issues.

The Monday morning Craigslist posting for the Octane machine was asking a price around half of what the other USED postings listed this elliptical for. It took Jay only a few minutes to work a deal with the seller, and on Tuesday night, with the aid of a friend’s truck (thanks, DC!) and the help of my very wonderful (and very, very strong!) brother Peter, we set the machine up in our bedroom. Thank you, Peter! (editor’s note: the machine weighed 270 pounds!)

After getting the elliptical home, we had a nice surprise: we happily discovered that we had actually gotten a better deal than we’d even thought: the seller had advertised the machine he was selling as this model. What we purchased instead was this higher-end elliptical, with even more features and options for us to enjoy! All the additions to this model were electronic upgrades mostly related to heart rate during the workout: the ability to carefully monitor it with a wireless device, and several additional workouts designed to target the heart specifically. These will certainly be fun to try out.

Well, cheer us on as we embark on the long and challenging road to physical fitness…in a few months maybe we’ll post pictures of our less-fluffy and very buff selves (um, yeah, probably not) but for now I leave you with a photo of my favorite Elliptical Guy:


Living by Bread Alone!

All our offspring around the age of 18 months go from eating almost anything they are offered at table, to picking at their meal, and turning up their cute little noses at most foods they previously loved. It is a time of frustration for us as parents, as we fret that they are not eating in any sort of balanced fashion, and frankly, as the wee ones try their mommy’s and daddy’s patience time and time again till we are rather worn out.

Josiah, for instance, pretty much survives on wheat toast and goat’s milk. In his case, this disgust for all foods other than bread or milk quite obviously coincides with his “little” temper finally bursting forth and really showing itself in most every other situation he is put into ALL DAY LONG. From the battle at the breakfast table (in fact he is sitting right next to me yelling this very moment!), to the anger at my needing to change his diaper, to the crying himself to sleep…. every. single. nap time. and nighttime too.

All our kids, while not wonderful eaters, have responded well to our efforts to encourage them to form better eating habits, so I do not despair over Josiah’s finicky nature at all, at least at this stage. But I certainly look forward to helping him make progress in this area in the future. And let me encourage you that it would make my day, if when you are invited to my house to eat a meal, that you ooh and aah over whatever I feed you, and even perhaps beg for more! And I can promise you with certainty that I will not serve you wheat toast or goat’s milk.


I never posted back about a month ago that these sweet baby boys had come home after spending 70+ days in the NICU. Their mom has created a slideshow which you can view at their website to help get a feel for their journey so far. We rejoice with the Bollines that Adam and Andrew are home, healthy, and growing. Praise God for so many answers to prayer for this family.

From ix to iv

Though Jonathan read his first word at age 3, three years later he’s never shown much interest in reading novels. Until yesterday. After church, Abigail gave him Stuart Little (which she had just finished reading yet again), and for some reason Jonathan decided to read it.

Last night, as I was tucking the boys into bed, he asked if he could finish the chapter he was reading. Intrigued, I looked over his shoulder to see how far he’d read, and was startled to see he was just finishing up chapter 8. As a side note, he’d read through another 5 chapters before I left for work this morning… he’s really enjoying that book! But here’s the “Jonathan” moment we had last night. The dialog went something like this.

Dad: Wow, Jonathan, you’ve read a lot. You’re all the way to chapter 9.

Jonathan: How do you know that’s chapter 9?

Dad: See the IX in front of the chapter title? That’s Roman numeral 9.

Jonathan: What’s a Roman numeral?

Dad: Remember the Romans? They had a different way to write the numbers than we do.

Jonathan: <pause> Like the Star Wars episodes? They use Roman numerals.

Home again, home again…sicketty-sick

Do you get tired of hearing about our ailments here at House of Horne? Because we admit to being tired of experiencing them. This second bout ended just Saturday last, and we’ve enjoyed an almost full week of health. After canceling weekend plans twice in three weeks with first some family who were coming to visit, and then some out of town friends whom we haven’t seen in four years, we were all excited about a road trip to Austin to see my paternal Grandmother and her sister, my parents, and these guys. To this end we packed up the six of us and bathed the doggie (sounds fast and easy but you mothers of many children know what a production it is to pack and plan for a weekend away for all these people!) and headed to Jay’s parents’ to drop Sid before getting on the road to Austin.

On the way over, Nicolas began complaining of a sore tummy. We did not think much of it but he assured us he was quite serious, so we handed him a plastic bag for the remainder of the drive. Hoping a potty trip would soon put everything to rights, we rung Grammy and Grandy’s doorbell. However, before they could answer, all thoughts of a potty vanished as our boy began tossing his cookies – kudos to Jay who responded with cat-like reflexes and at least aimed little Nicolas away from the direction of their front door. Our poor boy was quite ill, but endured it very bravely…and told us as much afterward!

I knew the second he began throwing up that our weekend plans had changed, and honestly, the disappointment was quite keen. All of us (especially Nicolas!) are quite saddened by the return of illness to our home. We had so been looking foward to our trip, especially after all our other attempts at socializing have been rather violently thwarted.

Well, I wish I had some neat and tidy way to wrap this up, but I don’t, not today. Rotavirus the third time around is just anything but neat and tidy. So I will leave you with two thoughts: 1) Do not plan on any fun-filled get-togethers with the Hornes this spring. We’ll call you when we are rid of the plague!! and 2) I promise that next time I write I will try and have something more positive to share!

Moving pictures

I suppose my link to our “photos” is a misnomer, as Picasa Web now supports short videos. I added a couple to an album I uploaded last night to see how it works. Very easy to use… you simply select and upload them like a normal picture from within Picasa. Here’s an example. I suggest you select “Original Size” from the drop down menu, as these are low-res camera videos.

Composer versus Confection

Last evening, as he often does before our supper together as a family, Jay put on some classical music for us to enjoy. He mentioned to me that he’d chosen some Brahms in hopes that it might help everyone feel a little calmer and more peaceful. (Josiah had been yelling for some time prior to sitting down to supper.) Jonathan, upon hearing the name “Brahms” remarked with interest, “Oh, I know Brahms!”

As if on cue, Jay and I turned to him together, eagerly asking him what he could tell us about Johannes Brahms. Our parental ears were ready and waiting to listen to our eldest son’s knowledge about this Romantic composer. After all, Jonathan admittedly floors us almost daily with the wealth of information stored in his clever brain, much of that information drawn from lessons and experiences at his beloved school. Our parental hearts were swelling with joy and yes, admittedly some small amount of pride in this little six-year-old of ours who is rather like a walking encyclopedia and often knows much more about the great composers and famous works of art than do his thirty-something parents.

Unbeknownst to each other, Jay and I were both thinking to ourselves, “Ah, that amazing and wonderful school, where his little mind is cultivated, his spirit is nurtured, and his enthusiasm is fed with not just the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but the wonders of history, the magnificence of great literature, the beautiful artwork of painters and sculptors throughout history, the glorious music of renowned composers, and on and on and on…what interesting facts about Johannes Brahms are we about to learn that we never knew?”

After such a mental build-up you may well imagine our collective shock when Jonathan glibly answered, “You know, Braums…..well…..we went there, and they have great ice cream!”

Well now, indeed they do.

Rotavirus Returns

If I were not so amazingly tired, I would figure out creative ways to enlighten you with graphic details of the past few days’ goings-on around here. Suffice to say that last night we had three out of our four children throwing up. Poor sweet things.  Especially the baby, who got sick all night long, and continues still this morning.

We are trying to just keep things together, and hoping maybe this will be over soon. Of course none of what is going on here is life-threatening, and probably we shall all be healthy again soon.  Nevertheless, one thing that seeing my family suffer with illness does for me is to remind me that I don’t really love this earth as much as I sometimes think I do. I am thankful we have a home in heaven, where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”