It all started off very normal....
I was helping my children clean their rooms and I mean 'really' clean their rooms, not that hide all our crap under the bed type of room cleaning they do when they really want to go outside and play. 
It was actually going very well without any fussing or fighting.  I had the kids all cleaning their drawers, refolding the  the clean clothes that had just been tossed in without a care.   Again it was all going well, so I left and went to clean and organize their bathroom, which was in serious need of attention.  I opened drawers IN THE BATHROOM to find:  A half-eaten cup of yogurt...I had not bought that type of yogurt in AT LEAST 2 weeks.  I also found granola bar wrappers, empty packages of Doritos (this is what I get for letting them go to the shoppette by themselves....) and all kinds of other garbage, and I mean LITERALLY - GARBAGE. 
As I cleaned I lectured, not yelling, but loud enough for them to hear me in a halfhearted joking and not joking voice I was saying things like:
 "Seriously guys, there is a trash can not even a foot away!!  Throw it in the trash! How can you be so lazy?" 
I'm sure they were off in their rooms rolling their eyes at me.  The grosses thing I found though was their 'tooth care drawer'....
"Why on God's green earth (one of my favorite sayings) are there HAIR BRUSHES mixed with your toothbrushes and floss!?  That is so gross.  Do you really want to brush your teeth with hair pieces?  Yuck, yuck, yuck!" 
I'm sure more eye rolling was going on behind my back.  During all this I was pretty calm and we were even kind of laughing at their nastiness.  Finally I made it to under the sink.  This is where I found all kinds of craziness....a little mini bathtub filled with water, that I spilled, more garbage, some sort of science experiment & some kind of gel substance in a big heap. And then I found a cut up tee shirt stuffed in the back corner.  I looked at the shirt realized it was one I threw out because of stains - not a big deal, but a lecture was brewing in my head.  I called them all over and said : 
"This is not a big deal and no one is going to get in trouble - so who did this?" 
All in unison they said "Not me!" 
I repeated myself, "come on guys, SOMEONE did this it didn't happen all by itself.  No one is going to get in trouble, I'm just going to lecture you about cleaning up after yourself...why would you stick this in the corner of the cabinet and not put it in the garbage, so just tell me who did it, you will not get in trouble." 
They all insisted they did not do it. 
Then they started pointing fingers. 
I gave them a few more chances but at this point it is no longer about the lecture.  Now someone is lying to me.  In our house the biggest offence you can make is lying.  So I said to the:
"Come on guys, I've told you no one is going to get in trouble and this is your very last chance to come clean without punishment.  If you don't come clean I am grounding you all.  You will do NOTHING until I find out who did this. You will not go to Vacation Bible School tomorrow, you won't go to the water park on Thursday and you will clean my house top to bottom with a toothbrush and I'm NOT kidding.  You guys will do nothing."  (I totally thought this would work and I would NOT have to carry through with the threats I just made.)
They all looked at me and then they started turning on each other.  You should have heard the crying and the finger pointing that was going on.
The confession didn't happen.....so I said "I'm giving you 5 minutes together to work this out.  The guilty party needs to come to me with an apology and confession."
I shut the door and let them be together.
5 minutes passed and all I heard was crying and blame.
NO ONE CONFESSED.
They even blamed it on one of Girls friends ("because when they come over they are always hiding in the bathroom!").
Now I'm mad. 
Now I have to follow through.
Damnit.  I totally thought that would work. 
Then I called them in one by one and lectured them and tried to get a confession out of each one.
We talked about lying, we talked about your conscious or the lack of one, we talked about how horrible it was to let your siblings take the blame for something you did. 
All the while my heart is breaking because someone is lying about something so small that they weren't even going to get in trouble for and now it has escalated to where EVERYONE is in trouble.
After speaking to each one individually I sent them to their rooms to think and I stayed in my room to think.
After a little while I called the all downstairs and told them to hit the floor we are doing PT till someone confesses.  (I knew this would work!)  We started with flutter kicks then went to push-ups and then planks. Then my daughter started crying and with tears streaming down her faces said "I did it."
I sent the boys upstairs and started the lecture.
"Girl - why would you lie about something so small and insignificant?  You aren't even in trouble for the shirt now you are in trouble for something even bigger.  You lied to me AND you were willing to let your brothers be punished for your lies.  That breaks my heart and shows me that we have lots to work on - where was your conscious during this? Wasn't your inner voice screaming at you to tell the truth?"   My heart was breaking as tears streamed down her face.  I wanted to hug her because I saw the hurt in her eyes, but I was also mad at her for lieing to me and knew we needed to have this talk, and that is when her tears started gushing out even more and she said, "I didn't really do it mom."
Me, "What?!? Why would you confess if you didn't do it?"
Her,  through tears and sobbing she said, "Because I love my brothers and I just didn't want to see them get in more trouble so I am going to take the blame."
Me, "so you didn't do it?" 
Her, "No, but you can punish me."
I called the boys  back downstairs told them what she did thinking a confession was coming from one of the boys, but still I got nothing.  We talked about how her love for them was so strong that she was willing to take the blame for something she didn't do.
It was at this moment I saw something in their eyes.
We went back to PT.
During the PT they started banding together and were all taking through the flutter kicks saying "Mom, maybe someone else did it, maybe it was one of Girl's friends."
After more PT and tears Boy 3 said though his tears, "I did it."
Even though I found this hard to believe and I thought he was the less likely of them all (the cutting in a straight line was too good to be him) I sent the other two upstairs and started in with the same lecture....and the same thing happened....he didn't really do it either. 
I called all the kids back downstairs.
I sent the Boy 3 upstairs to get the shirt. 
With all of them standing in front of me I really looked at that shirt and was wondering what I was going to do.  I didn't want to punish them. 
I wanted this to be over.
I wanted them to go to Vacation Bible School tomorrow, I wanted them to go to the waterpark. 
What on earth was I going to do??  (Hubby wasn't home to talk with this about..)
 Why are they lying to me?
As all these things were racing though my head it hit me.....
OH MY GOSH....am I wrong?  Look at this shirt.  The top half has bleach stains on it - It smells of cleaning supplies.  My house keeper hides her sponges under the sink because I told her too because if Hubby finds sponges he throws them away.  What if SHE DID THIS.....
I gave the kids hugs and kisses and told them I love them no matter what and sent them to bed. 
Then I sent my housekeeper a text with a picture of the shirt.
I waited and waited for her to respond.  She never did.
I went to bed with a heavy heart.
The next morning I check my text - still nothing.
I woke the kids up and told them to get dressed for Vacation Bible School. 
They were surprised and said to me, "but you said we couldn't go to VBS." (See, honest kids....)
 I told them I was sending them because it was apparent that one of them needed to find God, even though at this moment I was still struggling with what to do.    I was really begining to think that my children were telling me the truth the entire time.  My heart was broken that I didn't believe them and I was really hoping my housekeeper would confirm that my children were being honest.  I WANT to believe my children,  and it really isn't like any of them to lie to me.  (Seriously, they typically tell the truth because they know the truth is much better in the long run.  Lying is never good and the punishment in this house is much worse for lying than any other crime.)
Finally the text came through - I was at the commissary on the coffee isle when I saw it.  It was Rosie, our housekeeper and she responded.  My heart sank as I read her word: "yes Ms. Trish, that is my cleaning shirt, I found it in the trash so I didn't think you would mind."
I was flooded with so much emotion that tears started flowing down my face -RIGHT THERE IN THE COMMISSARY.
I felt so much guilt. 
I felt so much relief.
I didn't believe my children.
I was mean.
I broke their hearts.
I didn't believe my children.
How am I going to ask for their forgiveness?
I beat myself up for the rest of that commissary trip (I'm finally coming to grips with it 2 days later).
That is when I headed over to soda isle, and bought IBC Root Beers, then I headed to the ice cream isle and bought 5 different gallons of ice cream.
When I saw my children after VBS, I called them over and said I needed a group hug. 
They all came; no questions ask and hugged me while we were hugging one of them said "You found out who did, didn't you?"
With tears in my eyes I said "yes'.  As I kissed each one of them on the head I said "I am so sorry I didn't believe you, I'm so sorry. It was Ms. Rosie."
All three of my children hugged me tighter and said "It's ok mom, we love you. You are the best mom ever!"  (And this is before they knew what was for lunch!)
They forgave me so easily.
For them it was over with just those few little words.
Then Girl looked at me and said, "you know what I learned today Mom?"
Me, "What?"
Girl, "That praying works."
Me, "Really, why do you say that?"
Girl, "Well, today at VBS they told us we had to pick one thing to pray about and I prayed that would find out who cut the shirt and you did! So praying works!"  As she said this she beamed!
That is when the boys chimed in and said, "Hey, that is what I prayed about too!"
Tears streamed down my face and I apologized again and said "yes, honey praying does work."
And then I told the them what they were having for lunch.
They couldn't believe they were getting an ENTIRE GALLON of ice cream to themselves and to head to the fridge and pick out the flavor they wanted.....
And they did, without fighting and they once again told me I was the BEST MOM EVER.
I'm not sure what I did to deserve such amazing kids.
Things I learn today:

Family bond.  Even if I don't see it every day, my kids have an amazing bond and when the time comes to stick together they do.  I found out later they all believed each other and they were certain someone else came into our house and cut up the shirt.

Children are very forgiving - I need to take notes on forgiveness from my children.  I'm amazed at how easily they forgave me.  I need to be quick to forgive.

Unconditional love -I have always known I have unconditional love for my kids, but today I learn that they have unconditional love for me.

And from the mouths of my babies:  praying works.
Aimee
8/1/2013 05:58:52 am

Yah!!! Ice Cream! Praying works!!!

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Erin
8/1/2013 06:50:27 am

I have been in the same situation before. It hurts. While we try and teach our children all about life, they teach us what life is all about. You have awesome kids, thanks to an awesome mom.

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Karen
8/1/2013 07:47:42 am

Loved this, Trish. Thanks for your honesty :) I am living proof that prayer works, I'll tell you when I get home!

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Trish
8/1/2013 08:04:19 am

Oh Karen! I can't wait to hear. As you know you have most of Yongsan praying for you. :o)

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Roxanne
8/1/2013 08:06:44 am

Welcome to normal! Praying does work my Southern Belle friend! Cause without you, I never would've learned the bazillion different inflections and meanings for "Bless your Heart!"

Your heart is huge, don't be too hard on yourself and those kids are rock stars, like their parents!

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Kathie
8/1/2013 09:13:56 am

Beautiful!!!!

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Cyndi
8/1/2013 11:52:50 am

You made me cry this morning!!! AND I LOVED IT!!!!

Thank you for this!! I LOVE knowing that I am NOT the only one!! AND you ARE an AMAZING MOM!!!

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Jamie
8/1/2013 12:15:01 pm

You just made me cry! I love this!

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Donna
8/1/2013 12:15:18 pm

Um, you made me cry. You do have awesome kids, you are a fantastic mom who had a bad day. You have to be fantastic to have such awesome kids. And yes, praying does work.

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Teresa
8/1/2013 01:44:06 pm

I was the teacher for the "praying works" VBS class. You have no idea how much I am rejoicing right now because they GOT IT! You have some awesome kids

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Sophie
8/1/2013 08:22:30 pm

I fell in love with this story right at the beginning when you (thought you!) were trying to get them to tell you the truth. I could see how important it was to you (and them), and really admired how adamant you were about instilling principles in your children and fostering trust and honest between your family. As I kept reading, I became more in awe of you and your kids. I hope I can be that dedicated to teaching my kids right from wrong, nurturing a close relationship, and being such a good role model to my children when I become a mother.

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LeAnn
8/2/2013 07:10:26 am

Oh man, girl! I have tears streaming down my face. Do not beat yourself up. You are a terrific mom, a terrific person and a terrific friend. That's enough terrifics to cover you.

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Amy
8/2/2013 07:13:24 am

aww....what a great post! I was reading this like a mystery novel....I was dying to find out whodunit!!

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this story needs to be published.
8/4/2013 08:06:19 am

There's a saying that you can see the quality of the parents/parenting by looking at the children and this story proves how well you've raised your children.

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Trish
8/4/2013 08:11:17 am

Thank you for you kind words. :o)
And to think I almost didn't share this.

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Connie
8/4/2013 08:23:00 am

I loved reading this! Makes me miss y'all even more than usual.

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Erin
8/4/2013 08:45:28 am

To repeat what Teresa said I am full of joy because they got it. I have gotten to spend some time with them this week, they are awesome kids with an awesome mom.

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Lara
8/4/2013 08:46:15 am

That is too awesome for words, Trish. I think we've all had "mommy guilt" moments like that...I've even accused my kids of stuff that I realized later that I had done, myself, and my aging brain just forgot about completely, but your story had such a beautiful ending! Great kids! And amazing mom! XOXOXO to all of you!

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Laura J
8/4/2013 08:47:26 am

love this post trish! hugs to you, my friend!

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Cara
8/4/2013 09:17:54 am

Bless you for sharing this! Only good moms can admit when they're wrong, so even though you falsly accused them, you came through and taught them another valuable lesson when you came clean and apologized so honestly. You sure are teaching these kids some incredible lessons and their reaction in the end shows what love and trust you have in your family. I agree with the other posters who said that this should be published in a magazine!

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Marci
8/4/2013 10:11:53 am

Tears . . . and such an amazing sense of 'OhmyGodI'mnottheonlyone!!'. Raising these awesome kids is an awesome responsibility, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. Knowing I have sisters in this task who are as dedicated to getting it 'right' as I am makes this quest a whole lot easier and a whole lot more fun!

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Camille
8/4/2013 11:32:16 am

Love it:)

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Kristin
8/4/2013 11:48:21 am

Tears...I love it when God works like that! Awesome story...thanks for sharing.

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8/4/2013 01:48:17 pm

love it!!! thanks for sharing.

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Michelle C.
8/9/2013 12:28:32 am

Love this!!!

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Julia
8/14/2013 03:09:30 pm

I just came across your blog and read this. You made me cry! My babies are still young, but I'm SURE that I will find myself in this situation one of these days... Hopefully, when I'm feeling the guilt and beating myself up and probably crying too, I'll remember that I'm not alone. ;-) We all have moments of mom-craziness. Blessings to you and your sweet children!

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Jessica
8/14/2013 08:02:20 pm

Trish, I absolutely love your family!!! You're an awesome mom and you have amazing (and really messy) kids. remember finding toothpaste on the ceiling?!?! I laughed so hard!! I really miss you!! What are tickets to Korea going for these days?!?!

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Meghan
8/14/2013 08:03:11 pm

What a great story, thanks for sharing. You made me cry.

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Simona
8/14/2013 08:03:41 pm

That's awesome Trish. Thanks for sharing.

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MIL
8/20/2013 07:22:21 am

What great kids....and...what a great Mom!

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