Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Days!

The kids had 50's-60's day on Friday. Lauren and Sam chose to participate. They came up with their costumes on their own(because, in case you didn't know, I am not good with costumes!)

She is growing up
Who taught him to do this?
The Fonz! Hey!
(Many of you are too young to know what I am talking about.)
Laila wanted her nails painted, so Lauren hooked her up!
I just love those sweet little toes!!
Just because she is so pretty

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How We Roll

Isaiah's hair is still intact today. I am thankful. Let's see how long we can keep this going.

I joined Pinterest. I am afraid.

I get lots of questions about how we manage our household. So, I thought I would share a few systems we have come up with to make sure we are living out our values.

~We really value sitting down together as a family to eat. That is getting harder and harder as kids get older. Currently, we have Abby taking piano lessons, Sam playing basketball, Cody having youth group activities and starting wrestling next week. Sam will move to baseball and Lauren will start soccer in the spring. On any given day, we have kids going every different direction. So, we plan to eat 3 meals together a week. One of those is Sat. morning big breakfast. If sports interfere, we do it on Sun. morning since we go to the second service at church. Right now, we sit down together during the week on Mondays and Thursdays. I know that I need to plan to cook a nicer meal on those days. We like to use those times to talk and catch up on our week. We do a thing we call "favorite and not-so-favorite." We share our favorite thing from the day and the not-so-favorite thing that happened.

We usually have leftovers the other days or I will fix something easy like mac n' cheese, sandwiches, pizza, etc. I also keep some regular items for them to choose from on nights when we have "miscellaneous." Here is a sampling of those choices: pbj, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, meatballs, quesadillas, corn dogs, apples and peanut butter, Ramen noodles, taquitos, etc. On "miscellaneous nights," I often let Lauren and Abby cook for all the kids. They really like being able to prepare food. Sometimes they will play restaurant, but most times, they just make the food for themselves, Sam, Isaiah, and Laila, and Cody will fix his own food.

~We try to have a family prayer time each night. It doesn't happen every night. Since the kids have different bedtimes based on their ages, we all meet at 7:00(right before Isaiah's and Laila's bedtimes on Rick's and my bed. We have all the Christmas cards we received in a basket. The kids take turns picking a card. We pray for that family and any other requests we can think of. We have already seen God use this to really put the families on our hearts that specifically need prayer. God is using it to show our kids the power of prayer. In the past, we have chosen a country each night that is highlighted in "Voice of the Martyrs" to pray for. We read about the country and the persecution that exists there and pray for them. I have a book called "Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation" that we are going to start using at our prayer time this year.

Something else we have done is listen to the "Bible Experience" on our ipod together and talk about it. I would like to pick that back up. We do not do family devotions like some families do. I find that many of our traditions offer good devotional times for us. I did recently purchase "Family Night Activities" to institute some more intentional times of teaching with the kids. I hope to implement it soon during one of our nights where we have a family meal together.

~I know I have mentioned our new chore system. We are 4 weeks into it which means at the end of this week, everyone will have done every job. We have also made these weeks a grace period of learning. Let me just say, next week, grace is leaving this place, and I don't think it is going to be pretty. I will share the whole plan once we have a couple of weeks going full force with rewards and consequences fully in place. I don't want to recommend any system that I don't have full confidence in. This is a plan Rick and I came up with on our own using lots of different things we have seen and learned over the years.

~Right now, kids' bedtimes are as follows: Isaiah and Laila - 7:30, Sam and Abby - 8:00, Lauren - 8:30, and Cody - 9:00. These times are based on their ages. Cody pretty much regulates himself. I feel like he is ready to determine his own bedtime. We relax on all of these over the weekends and when school is out.

Rick and I both tuck each kid in at night. Some nights I don't want to go back upstairs AGAIN, but I have to remind myself that some day they won't want it. Do it while I can!!

So, there you have it. These are a few examples of "how we roll."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Hair Saga Continues

Do you remember Sam's "used car salesman hair" yesterday? Well, there is more to the story. Sam got in the truck after school yesterday looking like this:
Evidently, his "lounge singer hair" didn't last. I came up with about 10 different names for that kids hair! Anyway, when he got out of the truck, the wind was crazy. It took his slicked back hair and blew it straight up. Now, Sam wears his hair spiked all the time, but this was not. the. same. It was very puffy and all over his head like what you would see on an exotic bird. He didn't realize what it looked like and didn't know that the comments from his classmates were not in reference to the "creepy old guy hair" that he left the house with. Boy was he shocked when he walked into the bathroom later in the day and saw this:
Needless, to say, he is such a good sport about these kinds of things. Actually, he thrives on being humorous. We got a really good laugh in the truck all the way home from school.

Now, for more hair drama, I am trying so hard to make Isaiah's hair work. I cannot even tell you how much time I have spent over the last 2 weeks retwisting it. I am weary and not sure if I can make it happen. I talked to him about it at bedtime last night. He was heartbroken, crying his wee little eyes out. So, we tried again today. I read that one way to help the twists stay in long enough to lock is to lightly rubber band them.

We spent 2 hours this morning redoing his whole head. He was so happy. I just hope it stays!

The Ladies Man
Who knows? I can't figure out why it is not staying, so send me any suggestions you may have. Now that I have written about this so much, it may need to become a weekly update: Isaiah's Dreads!! If I am successful, I promise to share my knowledge and experience with others. If I am not, you will see pictures of him with a very sad face and a very bald head.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clapp Haps

A lot has been happening around here.
~Cody is finishing up on his science fair project. We will all be glad when that is done. I have a whole post I will dedicate to it.
~Isaiah's new "hairstyle" as he calls it may just send me over the edge. His twists keep coming out instead of locking. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I am doing all the things I have read and been told. If anyone has any advice that will help me help them lock, I would love you to death!!
Sam's bball season started on Sat.
His team is called the "Dragon Crusaders."
I guess the vote was split so they went with both names.
Rick did not intend to coach, but it looks like he will be assisting.
I love this pic of the 2 of them. Sam is really concentrating on the game plan.
Sam is #6 on the far left. They are doing the Y "pledge."
Sam scored 2 baskets!! Yay, Sam!
I KNOW I took a pic of him shooting one of them, but it is not on my camera.
So, this will have to do, red-faced after the game.
They lost by 4 points, boo, but it was close and exciting!
Final Score 28-24
I love my Camelbak water bottle. It was pricey. I resisted spending the money.
I am so glad I did. I drink way more water from this than I normally would.
I am so hard on water bottles and go through several a year. I think I will actually save money in the long run buying a great one instead of several cheap ones!
Lauren had Renaissance Day last Friday.
Doesn't she look lovely?
You can see her hair braids and her feather in this pic.
Let me just tell you, this is the extent of my hair styling abilities.
Maybe that is why Isaiah's isn't doing so well.
Speaking of hair, Sam decided to fix his hair this morning in a new way.
I think he looks like a used car salesman, but he LOVES it.
So, I sent him off to school like this.
He was very excited and couldn't wait for his friends to see it. I said, "Your teacher may say, 'Where did this creepy little man come from?' and call security on you." He thought that would be great.

God is really showing off lately in our lives. The last 2 weeks have blown me away. I am excited. I am hopeful. I am waiting to see what is next. I really can't believe it has only been 2 weeks. After going for over a year feeling like we are "waiting on God" as He has told us to, it feels like He has now pushed the "fast forward" button on many things we have been praying about. I can't wait to share more when the time is right. For now, we would so appreciate your prayers for wisdom, direction, submission, and obedience on our parts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Should Be

I am sitting in my kitchen pondering all the things I SHOULD BE doing right now.

I just got Laila down for her nap. I have had to go in 2 times because she was playing.

Rick is home sick with a stomach bug and after 24 hours is still running a fever.

Everything in me is begging God to not allow this to spread in our house.

Isaiah has been so sweet and caring with his Daddy. He HAS to be touching him. I guess that is because his love language is touch. At one point, he said to me, "Mom, can you just put your hand on him right here?" In case you haven't figured out, touch is NOT one of my love languages.

The counter is piled high with dishes that I SHOULD BE washing and loading in the dishwasher.

I SHOULD BE getting the food ready to prepare our dinner tonight.

I SHOULD BE baking the cookies that Cody needs for a party at school tomorrow.

I SHOULD BE sorting through the pile of girls' clothes that are too small for Lauren and Abby.

I SHOULD BE cleaning something. There are at least 100 things in our house screaming out to be cleaned right now.

Guess what? I can't do any of those things right now. Nothing in me can muster up the energy to complete ANY of those tasks.

The last week and a half has been one of those WOW times that you know you are not going to forget, but it has drained me emotionally and physically beyond explanation.

God has called me to do some hard things.
-Parenting has been hard. I have had to be the tough guy, not the friend.
-Relationships have been hard. I am going to have to humble myself in a way that is uncomfortable.
-Running our household has been hard. This new chores' plan that I have implemented with the kids is making things better, but there are new challenges to work through.
-Having Rick down for the count is hard. Every day, I wait for him to come home for some help, relief, and support. Because of our schedules over the last week and his sickness, we have not really seen much of each other since last Friday night. That is weighing on me.

The thing that God keeps drawing my attention to is my character in this thing called, "my life." Even today, I read that my life is not about my comfort, but my character. So, I recenter myself and ask God to give me the strength to make the choices that honor and glorify Him and that develop my character as His child.

I know all the things I SHOULD BE doing right now.

I think instead, I will choose to rest for the brief hour that I have before the real chaos begins.

Maybe that is exactly what my character needs right now, a break, to reboot and be ready to reengage my kids and their crazy schedules that will begin at 3:00 and will involve the next 6 hours of my day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overnight Getaway

As always my time away proved to be hugely beneficial to me in so many ways. It provided rest, "alone, quiet time"(which is very hard to come by in my everyday life), time to journal in my kids' journals and mine, time to pray, time to sleep, listen to sermons, time to read my Bible and some other books that I am currently enjoying. I am sharing this experience on my blog so that I will have this record for myself and my kids someday, but also for anyone that might want to try this themselves and have questions about what I do or how they might go about it. I don't presume that this is the only way to do a getaway, but I have found this works really well for me. I have had questions of "now, what exactly do you do when you go away?" Well, let me just tell you.

It is interesting to me to see how God speaks to Rick and me differently. We both came away with some different things that the Lord was speaking to us about. After the events of my week, I could see how God had been preparing my heart to receive His message to me of forgiveness, grace and reconciliation and how I need to actively give those in certain areas of my life. He also really put Isaiah on my heart. God impressed upon me that he needs to feel secure in our family. I feel like this year is going to be critical for him in his ongoing process of bonding and connecting with our family as he wrestles with the tension of the life circumstances he has faced up to this point.

If you are going away for the purpose of seeking God, I would recommend asking some of the prayer warriors in your life to be praying and seeking God for you as well. We have a few of those people who heard from God on our behalf through this weekend and those words are invaluable to us.

Here is a glimpse of my time away:
This bag makes me smile. It is the exact opposite of who I am. Rick got me a PINK outfit for Christmas(black sweats and pullover), and this came free with the purchase. He and I laughed so hard when I opened it up on Christmas morning. I decided it actually was the perfect size for my getaway bag. I would not use it if I thought people were going to see me carrying it. I am not a pink, sequins, VS kind of girl!!
First stop on my way to the hotel, Sweet Tea
I always call the place that I am staying and ask for an early check-in. I want to grab hold of every minute I can to make the most of my time.
My first order of business, a nap!
My 24 hour oasis
The view from the deck
Rick came over after work on Friday to have dinner with me. It was a great time to process all that God has been revealing and also launch ourselves into the weekend. I am not always a fan of hotel restaurant food, but this place was good.
The books I took with me
Top to Bottom:
1. Holy Bible - self explanatory
2. The Help - Wow, this book is really opening my eyes. I am not naive to the place our country was 50 years ago, but I had no idea the full extent of the racism and hate that existed. It grieves me, and I feel the need to be educated for Isaiah's and Laila's sakes.
3. Journal - given to me by a friend for Christmas. I am thinking it will be my "thankfulness journal."
4. One Thousand Gifts - another gift from a friend. It is challenging me big-time. It is taking me a long time to read. I don't fully connect with the style of writing, but I totally need the message. It is not an "easy read" for me. I have to read slowly, think, process, reread, and then pray as I go along through the book. It is the perfect book for this season in my life.
5. Journal - this book has many tear-stained pages in it and this weekend was no exception. It is hard work to keep a journal, but I am so glad I have the journey in writing, the good and bad all intertwined together just as it is in life.
6. The Purpose Driven Life - this book is revolutionizing my life. I resisted reading it when everyone was on the "purpose driven" bandwagon in the Christian community. I have to say that my pride has caused me to miss out. But, then I see how God had this book for me at this time and am so thankful He brought it to my attention after the last year of my life.

Music was also a big part of my time away. God really ministers to me, challenges me and speaks to me through music. I set my ipod to shuffle in the worship playlist and was amazed by what He did. The first song, "Everlasting God" spoke exactly to this last year, "strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord." Waiting on God was a huge theme for us last year. The next song, "Bloom Again." Wow, I feel like that is where I am, ready to bloom again! Next song, "Whatever You're Doing(Something Heavenly)", my theme song for last year. Then when, "Your Grace is Sufficient" came on next, I was reminded of God's grace in my life and challenged to offer it to others.

What trip would be complete without a little chocolate?
Chocolate from Swaziland to be exact!!
Another tip, I would share is to make sure the hotel has a microwave and fridge in the room. I pick up my food before I go there and keep it in the fridge. Then, I do not have to leave the whole time I am there. That keeps me from wasting time going out to get food.
My traditional lunch, Panera!
I came back on Saturday afternoon to be with the kids while Rick had his time away. I had all these grand plans of coming home and continuing my time through the evening. Yeah, that didn't happen. Even after only one night, reentry is hard for me. Going from such extremes really tests my patience.

I got up on Sunday morning and really asked God to speak to me through my time at church. He did just that. As we were driving to church, my theme song for last year, "Whatever You're Doing(Something Heavenly)" by Sanctus Real came on the radio. I realized that I didn't have a song for 2012 yet(yes, I must have a theme song for each year). The first song at church that morning was "Never Once", and I knew immediately that should be my song for 2012. If you haven't heard it, you really should. It is on Matt Redman's album, "10,000 Reasons." The next song, "Grace" reminded me that even though I couldn't see it, the last year of my life has been God showing His grace to me and it is now time for me to give that grace to others. I had tears on Sunday morning at church. That is not unusual for me. The last year has involved a lot of tears, especially at church, but these tears were different. I felt like God had taken my tears of mourning, sadness, and loss and turned them into tears of joy, gratefulness, and hope. It was powerful.

Even though the weekend is over, I feel like God's work is only beginning. Thank you for everyone who prayed for me. I would ask you to continue. I don't want to miss ANYTHING God has for me or my family in 2012. I think it is going to be a big year!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Truly Wonderful Life

Lauren wrote the following sonnet for school. If you have ever written a sonnet, you know they are not easy, 14 lines, 10 syllables per line, every other line must rhyme with the exception of lines 13 and 14 which also must rhyme. She did very well at meeting most of these guidelines, and she did it all by herself!! Even more than her "writing capabilities," I am proud of the content and seeing how her mind is working these days. Without further ado:

A Truly Wonderful Life
by Lauren Clapp

Beautiful blue skies, glorious grasses,
Houses and family with lots of kids
Food to eat and water to drink in glasses,
Pantries to store food, containers with lids,
Grandparents and grandkids and love to share,
Money and jobs, we need to be thankful
We should always be super, super fair
We have so much, so we should be joyful
Vehicles to drive in and stuff to buy
We get to go to school, while others mourn
We have lots of things, so we should never sigh
Our parents were so very happy we were born,
But when we leave the earth we've had our time,
And have had a life that is very fine

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I have reflected on today and what it stands for, I am reminded that only 50 years ago, this would not be possible:
I have seen this quote several times today, and I just had to share it:
"I have a dream . . . that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sister and brothers."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have been reading "The Help," and it grieves my heart to see where our country once was. It saddens me deeply to know that I am going to have to explain that to Isaiah and Laila as they get older. I know there is still work to be done. I experience the prejudice personally at times for the decisions we have made, but I don't claim by any means to understand the hurt and pain that many African Americans have experienced.

All I can say, is that I don't understand how a person's skin color can change their value. I don't know how anyone can look in these sweet brown eyes and feel hate:
or see this sweet smile and feel disgust:

I know that is not what God has called his people to. As Christians, we should be living examples of love, acceptance, and grace. So, today, I grieve, I pray, and I thank God for these 2 amazing blessings that He has placed in our lives. I ask Him to work in the hearts of others who are blind to the truth.


These two love each other so much!
I will often catch them doing this.
After cutting off some jeans with holes, Lauren and Abby created these new fashion trends
Abby had Viking Day on Friday at school
Can you tell that she is an actress?
Up next: my weekend away!!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Rick and I have set aside this weekend to seek the Lord.

We found a great deal on Groupon for a 2-night stay plus a dinner voucher at a nearby hotel.

I will take the first night away, and he will take the second night.

We will meet in the middle for the dinner.

God has shown himself in a BIG WAY this week.

I am not just talking, "thanks, God, you are so cool."

I am talking, "Oh my goodness, I know God does these kinds of things, but I never imagined He would do them for me. "

I am talking extravagant love straight from Him.

We are both still processing it.

God is also leading in other ways as well.

We began this week with pain and struggle and are seeing God open opportunities and His path in so many possible ways.

I don't think it is a coincidence that God had us plan this weekend when we did.

I feel expectant and hopeful for the first time in over a year.

I deeply desire to seek Him, to know Him, to serve Him.

I pray this weekend will be a HUGE step for both of us in that direction.

We would love your prayers as we seek God for our family and for His direction in our lives!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's Just Me, Isaiah

Isaiah has been wanting "spikey hair." After investigating what that means to him, I have determined that he likes dreadlocks. I saw a friend's son with awesome dreads at church and thought, "I am going to call her for help." Sure enough, she knows what to do and even offered to do it for me. I jumped on that offer!! Isaiah has not had a haircut in months in preparation for this big day.

I learned that we start with twists, that will become dreads. Even kind of knowing how the process should go, I wasn't very confident in my ability to space everything properly and do a good job. I was so grateful that she was willing to lead me through the process. Thanks, Toni!

Separate and twist with locking cream.
It took less than 2 hours for the whole process
A very happy boy
Back View
Isaiah did great!! It was a bit painful around the edges, but he sat very well watching TV and playing games on my phone. We also had some gum to chew on when it hurt.

Laila had a lot of compassion for him because she has sat for many hours having her hair done. She kept wanting to feel it. When it was all over, she said, "I don't want braids anymore." Oh, well, chick, we are not taking them out right now. They still have about 5 weeks left in them.

Now, we just have to maintain them and continue to twist them with locking cream as he has new growth. They will fill out more and be really cute!! He is hoping no one will recognize him when he comes to school today so he can say, "It's just me, Isaiah."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Using What We Have

I am trying to approach my spending differently this year.

I guess it could be considered a sort of resolution.

I didn't make official resolutions this year, because I didn't have the energy to and felt like so many things were so out of my control, why bother?

We live pretty modestly compared to American standards.

We have actually revamped our budget to streamline and be the best stewards we can of what God has given us.

The thing I have noticed over the last week when I look around my house, is that we don't use all that we have.

I want to change that this year.

If nothing else, it will help me to think before I buy.

Why do I need to buy the newest scent of hand soap when I already have 3 bottles of hand soap under my sink?

Why do I need to buy more shampoo for the kids when I have a box full of hotel-sized shampoos, conditioners, lotion, etc.? They would like having their very own anyway.

I just want to see how much clutter I can get rid of as a result and how much money I can save.

This is the first time we have lived in the same house for so long, 8 years. I haven't had the "moving decluttering" opportunity for a while.

I hope to look back over this year and see how I have become more disciplined to use what I have. I think it will be a good lesson for my kids, too!

I am writing out my grocery list differently. I am leaving things off that I would normally put on it.

I am digging through my drawers and cabinets. If I can't use it, I am throwing it away or giving it away. If I can use it, I am not buying.

I am curious to see what I learn through this process!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


~This last week was painful for all of us getting back into our schedule.

~Cody is working on his Science Fair Project(I only have to do this 5 more times. I think I can! I think I can!) Even though I don't do our kids' schoolwork for them, it is still stressful for me.

~We are back to homework, bedtimes, chores, early mornings, etc.

~Speaking of chores, I would say our first week on the new chore system went smoothly. We are calling this first few weeks our learning/grace weeks. We are learning as we go and giving grace in the mistakes and forgetfulness.

~I spent 6 hours one day this week shopping. We literally left the house at 7:30 to take the kids to school, shopped for 3 hours, came home to drop off groceries and eat lunch, take Isaiah to school, shop for 3 more hours, drop the food off at home, and then pick everyone up from school. It was exhausting. Oh, and I woke up at 4:00 that morning unable to go back to sleep. I had not done any major grocery shopping since before Christmas. I also had Christmas gifts to return. Then, there were the science fair project supplies to pick up.

~I am in a "not sleeping well" cycle. I go through these pretty regularly. Thus the 4:00 in the morning waking up. I will say, I am getting a lot of Bible reading done. I am going through "The Purpose Driven Life" and finding it to be very encouraging, challenging, and purposeful(yeah, I said it.). Seriously, it really is speaking to me in so many ways that I need it to right now. I resisted it when it first came out because so many people were talking about it. I am glad I was challenged by a friend to do it.

~I made 3 dozen chocolate chip muffins for breakfast one morning. They only lasted for 2 mornings. Rick and I only ate 3 of them. I remember when I could feed them for a whole week on that many muffins. These kids are getting bigger and eating more!!

~Rick and I took Sam out for his bday date for the month. He chose the new McDonalds. Please remind me to just get the smoothie next time. I have decided I only like McDonalds for the drinks, sweet tea, smoothies, peppermint hot chocolate, Frappes. He had fun. That is what matters.
Isn't he just precious?!?!
Thrilled with his toy!
Hiding out in the lame playground.
A picture Isaiah drew of me.
Wow, I look rough. That must have been the morning I got up at 4:00.
~The TV in our basement was dying. It was 13 years old. Rick found this TV on Craigslist for $50. The kids are in heaven playing video games and watching movies on it. They actually want to spend time in the basement now. Now that is what I call a deal!!
Life. Welcome to My World.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year's Day

Well, it is Jan. 7th. I am a bit behind. This should pretty much catch me up on our holiday festivities.

We FINALLY put away our Christmas decorations today. It feels so good to be done. Once Christmas is over, I am pretty much ready the next day. Rick prefers to wait a bit. Since he helps and actually leads the process, I wait.

We slept in on New Year's Day. Sleeping in and naps are glorious, really. That has been the hardest thing about this last week. Waking up early every morning. I truly despise it.

Here are the activities of our day:
We had big breakfast
This was one of Sam's favorite Christmas gifts. It was also the least expensive.
He literally plays for hours doing battles.
My girls, cuddling
Lego building. He was so excited to take a picture of his creation.
It is right side up, he is upside down.
The Cowboys played that night.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be our last night of concessions for this season
because "our boys" lost.
Don't you just love our "turf" tablecloth?
Rick's favorite cookies
This is a new addition to our concession stand from Julie.
A Cowboys sandwich/waffle maker
How fabulous is that?
There was a lot of sadness around here since the Cowboys lost. It was fun starting this new tradition of watching games and having concessions this year. I am sure we will continue it.