Welcome to the Scharrer family's real life story! Most of our story is written for, and about, our four kids and the spice they add to our lives. It's our story of happiness, craziness, and sometimes ridiculousness. We've journaled through childbirth, the terrible two's, private school (and our public school experience), an autism diagnosis, medical school, residency, and long-term mission work in Africa.

Now we're following a new adventure, which involves a 45 foot motorcoach, homeschool, and as many ski slopes as we can go down in one year.

For posts from while we were living in Zimbabwe and updates about our future plans in Zimbabwe, please see our mission blog...


31 December 2014

Christmas 2014

After Thanksgiving, I turned the calendar to December and I about had a heart attack!  Between Erik's work Christmas parties, class Christmas plays, class Christmas parties, and Christmas concerts, I was wore out just thinking about it all!  The month went pretty smoothly, thanks to my parents who were able to come and help me, but I couldn't help but think, how will I survive when I have four kids in school??!!!

Christmas Parties with Erik

Klaasen's preschool Christmas concert

Klaasen had been practicing his Christmas concert songs for weeks, but never sang one word of his songs during the concert.  He stood in the front row on stage, hands in his pockets, dancing and swinging to every song.  He was very into the music, not so much into the singing part.  

Maida's 2nd grade Christmas concert

 Maida takes her concerts VERY seriously.  Unlike her brother, she sang every word of the songs, with lots of expression and focus.  She was proud to have Bumpa and Grandma in town for the concert and enjoyed cookies and punch afterward.

Skogen's kindergarten class play

Skogen was a peacock in his kindergarten class Christmas play, "Who is Coming to our House?"
"I chose to be the peacock in the play because it was the most beautiful animal and I wanted to be beautiful for you, mom"
Unfortunately, Skogen decided to be very stubborn that morning and refused to get into his costume.  The boys and I, who had gone to watch, almost had to just leave him to the teachers to deal with and go.  At the last minute, though, he pulled through and did a great job!

Klaasen's preschool class Christmas party

I joined Klaasen's class for their Christmas party.  We decorated Christmas cookies, made beaded candy canes, and played Christmas Bingo!  I enjoy seeing Klaasen interact with his friends and it's great to see him excelling in good behavior in school, too!

Skogen's class Christmas party
I was in charge of planning and putting on Skogen's class party.  I did a snowman theme and then ended with a story and craft about Christ's birth.  I love that our kids attend a Christian school where they are taught about God and celebrate Jesus every day.  It is such a blessing!

Christmas cookie making

We made our traditional Christmas cookie cutouts!  Grammy was here to join in the fun of making them and Aunie Kimmy was here to help decorate!

The Polar Express movie night

Every year I give the kids an early Christmas present.  Inside this present is a pair of pajamas and a ticket to ride the Polar Express.  We drink hot chocolate and watch the movie with popcorn!  It's been a big hit for the past several years, but this year it didn't seem to have much magic.  The kids have lost interest in the movie and although it has a wonderful and touching story of believing, I think we'll try to switch things up next year.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and travels up north
We welcomed lots of visitors into our house on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  I really appreciate our family being understanding of a resident's life and not expecting us to travel away from home.  Through residency, it has been important to me to be with Erik on Christmas, even if we only get to see him for a few hours.  Because of my commitment to this, my family has volunteered to travel to be with us on several holidays over the past four years.  This Christmas, my parents came from northern Minnesota, my sister came from Arizona, and my brother and his family came from Kansas.

After Christmas, we traveled up to my parents' house for a few days.  There we met up with another one of my brothers and his family.  He has three daughters, who are very very special to my kids.  It was fun to be with them for a few days.

I had a really great time crafting with my sister while she was in town.  One night around 11pm, we went to Walmart for some things for a craft we were making.  While we were there, the store caught on fire!!!  Here we are with the smoke rolling down the aisle behind us.  At the time, we laughed at our luck, but after we took this picture and we went home, I was ashamed.  I was ashamed that we would laugh at someone else's misfortune.  I'm thankful that no real damage was done to the store.

Christmas 2014 was busy, but blessed.  My favorite part was receiving cards from friends and family!  I especially loved the picture cards.  We may just leave them hanging in our kitchen all year long!

17 December 2014

Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party

A couple of weeks ago, the kids came home from school and I had big plans for them to pack a couple shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child.  I was so excited about it and was confident that they would be excited, too.  However, their reactions were shocking.

"I don't want to spend money on other people.  I would rather just buy more presents for us and put them under our tree."  Skogen told me after I suggested packing a shoe box.  Maida stomped her foot and rolled her eyes.  She crossed her arms  and gave me a pouty face.  When I asked her to change her attitude, she made a comment about not having any interest in helping others.  After a short discussion, they both ended up sitting in their rooms for a while to think about what they had said and how they really felt.  It was obvious to me, though, that my children were not ready and not prepared to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  They had no idea how to put others before themselves or why they should.  I sat and cried because I knew this was a reflection of myself and evidence of a family that has not served enough.  Well, our shoe boxes got packed and they were packed with joyful hearts!  It was a learning experience that didn't stop with shoe boxes. I immediately started praying for opportunities.  That night, a friend of ours posted her plans for a "shoe cutting party."  I had no idea what this meant, but it caught my attention.  Prayers were immediately answered as I literally spent hours on Sole Hope's website that night and at midnight, bought a "kit" to host our own shoe cutting party.

So last weekend, we had 30 people over from our church family that were here for our first shoe cutting party!  They all brought their old jeans and some milk cartons.  We turned these jeans and milk cartons into roughly assembled shoes that will be sent to Uganda to be sewed.  There are areas of Uganda where children, who have no shoes, are seriously infected with jiggers.  Jiggers are small sand fleas that enter bare feet and burrow into the skin.  When they are left untreated, the jiggers cause lots of pain, lay eggs, multiply, and lead to infections, paralysis, amputation, and sometimes death.  Sole Hope is an organization that travels into the areas of Uganda where they have bad jigger problems.  Sole Hope holds foot washing clinics for the people in these villages.  They wash the feet of the people, remove the jiggers and egg sacks, teach the people how to remove their own jiggers, and then give them shoes to wear.  The hope is that they will continue to keep their feet clean, jigger free, with regular jigger removal and the wearing of shoes.  The twenty pairs of shoes we made will be put on the feet of twenty toddlers in Uganda!  Not only that, but at our party, we had someeone announce that an anonymous donation of $200 was made to sponsor our twenty pairs of shoes to Uganda (it is about $10 per shoe to get to Uganda and pay the shoe makers to make them).  I was speechless and humbled.  God is so good and works in ways that we can't even imagine.

This shoe cutting party was just a small step in God's plan for our family's service.  The party was not just a success because we made shoes and raised money for twenty kids to be saved from jiggers, but it was a success because my children felt like they were doing something for someone else.  They understood what they were doing and they enjoyed doing it.  If you are interested in hosting a shoe cutting party, head to www.solehope.org.  There is a lot of information there, along with kits that you can buy that will walk you step-by-step through hosting a shoe cutting party of your own.

Here are the highlights of our shoe cutting party (click on the pictures to make them bigger!).....

We made and sent an invite for our cutting party on our church Facegroup page.

We received our kit from Sole Hope, which included everything we needed to host the party (a sample of what we'd be making, videos to show the guests before and after the party, donation envelopes, bookmarks to hand out, and an instruction booklet).

After our guests arrived, we piled in the living room to watch the video.  After a prayer and quick introduction, we split up into stations that I already had ready prepared around the house.

The first station was the Tracing Station.  This was a great station for the kids to participate at!  Here the patterns were traced on inside of the denim from our old jeans!  The traced patterns were then passed to the Cutting Station.

We made our Cutting Station an "adult only" station.  This is a very important step in the shoe making process, so we wanted them cut correctly.  Our cutters worked the whole time and did an awesome job cutting hundreds of pieces out!

We also had a Plastic Station.  This was a "dads only" station since dads have strong hands to cut plastic. The milk cartons that the guests brought were cut into half moon shapes to be used for the heel beds of the shoes.

The last station was a Quality Control station.  This was also a great station for the little kids to help with!  This is where all the cut out pieces went.  Here the pieces were matched up and then sorted into piles of shoes.  Each pair of shoes was pinned together with a large safety pin.

We worked for an hour and a half and got twenty pairs of shoes done.  Our goal was ten, so we doubled it!  We ordered in tacos and had chips and salsa for dinner.

I copied this picture from Sole Hope's website.  This is a picture of some Ugandan children with shoes on like the ones we assembled.

 We should have taken a group picture at the beginning, but didn't think about it until the end (when eight people had already left). 

We have plans to host at least two other cutting parties!  It was such a fun way to serve!

09 December 2014

When I was younger, I always wanted 11 kids.  11 just seemed like a good number and besides, I already had 22 great names picked out (firsts with middles) that sounded really good with "Scharrer" for a last name.  That's right!  When I was in 4th grade, I decided that I would marry Erik Scharrer.  Our families went way back and even though I really wasn't boy crazy at all, I decided to start writing about my future spouse in my prayer journal every night.  Luckily God answers prayers in many ways, "yes," and, "no," being two of the most popular.  "Yes," I married my childhood crush, but, "no," we did not (or will not) have 11 kids.  Thankfully, the later is good news because lately I have been feeling like I am not doing a good enough job with the ones have been given.

"Skogen, when you feel evil in you or around you, you can just say the name of Jesus and it will go away.  When you are mad or scared or naughty.  Just say, 'Jesus.'  You can even whisper it or say it in your head.  Say it over and over and over to make the evil go away from you."  My precious Maida gave Skogen a pep talk on the way to school this morning.  He had had a rough morning (which seems as though rough mornings have become a bit of a habit of his lately) and I was losing my sanity just trying to get them to school.  Usually my kids are sleepily getting on the bus at 6:45 each morning, but some mornings (when mom sleeps through her first couple alarms), I give them a, "special treat," and drive them to school.

They have to be at school by 7:45 and you can expect that I roll in, still wearing my pajamas, hair undone, teeth not brushed yet, and still slightly groggy from sleep.  I am amazed and downright jealous of the mothers coming into school, showered, dressed, make-uped, and made-up for the day.  Their children are perfectly dressed, right down to the shoes and bows, and I'm sure she's freshly pressed their uniforms before school that morning.  They walk into school without tantrums or meltdowns and the mother never forgets her son's snow boots or her daughter's show-and-tell.  These moms, they seems to have it all together.  I have no idea what part of the motherhood manual I'm missing, but I just can't seem to pull it off, and I'm getting my butt kicked in the process of trying.  Right after Maida's pep talk to Skogen in the car, we jumped out and headed into the school.  Not only was I in my pajamas, but I was still sporting the same pajamas from the day before.

Skogen and Maida have lockers down the same hallway.  I always stand at Skogen's locker and get him all set for the day and then I stop by Maida's locker, where the social butterfly is usually still lingering.  Today was different, though.  As I was encouraging Skogen not to kick another hole in a school wall and to remember to wipe his face when he ate lunch, I glanced down the hall at Maida.  Our eyes locked and I saw her mouth form, "MOM!!!!" accompanied with a very devastated look in her eyes.  I quickly gave Skogen a knuckle bump and hair ruffle as he grabbed me around the waist for a big squeeze and then I approached the disaster waiting for me at the other end of the hall.

"Mom, LOOK!!!!  I forgot to take off my pajama shirt and put my uniform shirt on!"  Maida stood hiding, half-in/half-out of her locker, as she quickly opened the zipper of her jacket a few inches to reveal the top of her pajama shirt.  Her face was pale, her eyes filled with tears, and she was looking at me [the dumb mother who actually let her child unknowingly leave the house in a pajama shirt instead of her uniform, the mother who hadn't showered since the day before, and didn't even think twice about entering the school in the same pajamas for a second day in a row] for an answer.  Flooded with emotions, and not knowing whether to laugh or cry, I zipped her jacket back up, and held her close as I apologized.  We decided to talk to her teacher and together come up with a plan.  Unfortunately, it was just 24 hours before that, that she and I were standing in front of her teacher, coming up with a plan for the shoes that we had forgotten.  Luckily, Maida's teacher is very understanding and a plan was made.  Then I hung my head and ashamedly walked through the hall, weaving my way through the sea of amazing, perfect mothers. On my way to the car, I distracted myself from the stares of others, as I prayed a day of blessings on my children.

This evening before bed, right after the kids accused me of playing a joke on them by sending them empty lunch boxes (luckily I had also signed them up for school lunch today), Maida declared that she had made something to share with our family.  She wanted us to gather together and listen to her read a writing she had spent the last few hours working on.  She hoped we would take it seriously.  Wearing her red western hat with the big red carnation on the side that we purchased at the thrift store over Halloween, she cleared her throat and read,
"This is the Scharrer Speech:
S - Serious schedule
C - Covering to protect
H - Helping
A - Always nice
R - (fast) Runners
R - Regretting sin
E - Eager to learn
R - Really educated"
Maida also shared with us that she hoped we can take these things she has written and apply them to our lives.  She told us that we can work together as a family and help each other through, even if it's tough like today was.  Sometimes I really wonder who is parenting who here, and what I would do without this little girl!

Just moments ago, I kissed her soft sweet cheeks as she slept under the glow of her pink flower nightlight.  Luckily as I kissed her, I remembered her yelling immediately after waking this morning, "THIS DUMB ELF ON THE SHELF!  HE HASN'T MOVED IN FOUR DAYS!"  ....I guarantee I won't be winning, "Mother Of The Year," anytime soon and I probably won't ever be that perfect, has-it-all-together mother.  I can, however, at least try be better than the mother I was the day before - and on days when I feel like I just can't handle the insanity that comes with my blessings in the form of four sassy, little, oh-so-incredibly-cute human beings, you might find me whispering softly under my breath, "Jesus. Jesus."

We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.”
~Anais Nin