Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vacation with Friends and Family

This week we went to a little beach house with my in-laws near Ft. Morgan.  Our dear friends, the W's were there with their family.  They reserve their family beach house for Thanksgiving every year.  My friend's family, her mom and dad, and brother and his family all went down in the brother's coach.  We were staying about 3 miles away, so we easily went back and fortha nd even had one of her boys over the spend the night.  J's brother and his wife are very fun and we love spending time with them, too.  They have four little blond-headed girls who are the epitome of cute, sassy, and fun.  Their "least-un" (2 years old) shares my name, so we had to have a picture together.  

When we left, we hugged and I felt that I wished I could live near people who loved me like these friends.  Not that I don't have friends here, but these people know me better than most people here and they love me and are real with me.  They are fun, personable, and frank.  They are one of a kind!  My friend's SIL was there when I broke my foot in 2003, so we have a special bond, as well.  She is a Godly, encouraging person.  She prayed for me when I fell that July 4th and stayed with me until someone else showed up to help me.  I will never forget that!

The kids were sweet, but the ride home was, as usual, a trial.  For a good portion of the trip, I sat with two boys in the middle seat so #2 could sit in the front with Dad and #3 could have the back seat to herself.  Needless to say, as good as the trip is, the homecoming is very good as well.  My sweet, happy doggie (happy because she had her special friend visit her instead of being boarded) was waiting for us.  She is curled up next to me right now.  

Here are some pictures that I wanted to share.....

The ride home:

R and R posing for a picture:
This is a fine-feathered friend that I met on the "bayside" up in a tree.  He let me know he was there and let me take some shots.

We (hubby, FIL, #2, and #4 and I) went catching crabs on the beach late the last night.  It was SO much fun, but I wish I had video.  It was too dark.  The kids were so funny running to catch them and then dancing (to get away from them) when they let them go.  YIKES!  They do pinch, not that I got close enough!
Hubby and #1 doing what they love even though they didn't catch anything except a pelican (long story - don't worry, they got the bait out of its mouth so Mom (I) wouldn't start crying).

My sweetie and me (this is my favorite picture in a LONG time - maybe 20 years).  
This is my beautiful, sweet, unique little girl!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The "burg"

At #4's school, there is a tradition for 4th graders the week before Thanksgiving.  They reenact colonial times complete with costumes, sets, and small short skits.  They have a inn/tavern, a church, a print shop, a schoolhouse, a courtroom, etc.  The kids work very hard learning lines and acting their parts.  The parents and entire school goes through the different scenes and hears the short little skits that they perform.  I have to say that my #4 was the cutest little narrator imaginable.  He can be see dressed up on the right side of my blog, but here are some other pictures.  I had a great time helping out and enjoyed being at the school all day.  It was an exhausting time and the kids were antsy in-between performances, but they did their best.  At one point, I corralled the kids onto the floor and had them doing stretches and deep breathing.  When the student teacher walked up and asked what they were doing, they said, "We are doing our yoga."  Not exactly, but it was an attempt to calm and relax them in-between performances. (I hope no one minds me sharing a few pictures.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Become as a child.....

God loves children, there is not doubt!  Me too!  In Luke 18:17 Jesus says that for us to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become as a child.  There are things I don't like children, though.  In thinking on this, as I teach ESL, I find more and more my students to be the perfect mix of adults and children.  They are children in adult bodies, if you will.  I love that they are new, see things in a fresh way, think in an idealistic way, love to have fun,  and don't mind becoming a little childish in order to learn new things.  They don't always have the "pat" response that I am expecting and often like to shake things up.  Once with two different classes, when they saw the word "throw" and were asked to put the particle with it (that defines what you are going to do - like in, out, away, etc.) they said "throw up."  I found it very funny and we laughed together.  This is something a child would do.  Also, they like to make jokes, even in dark, unusual ways.  For instance, one time, my student made a sentence with hang up (again an excercise on two-part verbs) to say, "My friend hang up himself."  I told him he was into "black comedy".  Of course, first I had to make sure he was kidding - he was!  We laughed together.  We tell them children's stories, we recite phonic poems for children, we use "baby" or "milk" Bible verses.  But it is fun and I love it.  I love that they are independent, thinking adults, but also are children in many ways.  

So, what did Jesus mean?  I think he meant a lot of things, but one thing he might have meant is to be teachable, leadable.  My students are very teachable.  They are sponges looking for the newest "slang", the unknown vocabulary, the cultural things we take for granted.  They love to learn.  And in the right context, kids love to learn too.  Most American adults are too complacent.  They are not looking to learn from those around them.  They think they know it all, that they don't need help.  I find it very refreshing to be around people who are so eager for life and especially learning.  They make my life richer for being in it!  People lately tell me that I light up when I talk about ESL or the students.  I light up because they light up my life a little. They are a very special segment of our society.  I am thankful that God placed this in my heart and life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

These years in experiences so far with raising teens

The years in-between being young and being old are times to build a career, raise teens, settle down, and find out what you are made of.  If your marriage makes it through the "baby years", then you have the years of raising teens to look forward to.  It is not fun at times.  You lose all sense of control, you have almost no brain cells left (or at least you might feel that way), and the hours of sleep might just be less then when the kids were babies.  It is not that you can't leave them awake and go to bed, but you probably won't sleep much for hormones (your own) and worry about the teens in your life.  I always thought that my kids would be different, that my kids would not be typical teens and would give me little cause to worry.  Even without drugs, alcohol, and sex, there is the tension over homework, messy rooms, chores not done, relationships with siblings, and a various array of everyday "little foxes".  I do thank God that my kids are not into drugs or overly interesting in the opposite sex (at least for now) but it seems that there are a lot of things that could be better.  God is faithful, though, and there are moments where I truly see His love shining through my kids (and even me).  I am grateful for the years I had with my kids homeschooling when there was very little involvement from anyone but me.  They had friends, but it was up to me to drive them or arrange for them to be together.  They had outside experiences, but it was me that arranged them and saw to it that they were where they needed to be.  The choice I made then now affects the way we relate to each other.  My teens are closer to me than if they had been in school.  I am confident of that.  Although I look at them not having "bookoodles" of friends somewhat as a negative, it isn't always.  When I worried aloud to our youth pastor about my teens trying drugs and such, his reply was that they would have to have friends who would introduce them to it.  Although they do have friends, they aren't the focus of their lives.  And their friends are not at school, and mostly not of the "worldly" type.  I thank God that I am such an influence in their lives.  I know it will change as for now they are not driving.  However, they all like being home. They don't have desires to get out and experience the world the way some their age crave experiences like that.  Maybe they are comfortable here.  Maybe too comfortable here, but I am convinced it is not all bad.  

I pray that I am doing SOME things right now, but as for the past, I don't regret homeschooling. I feel that I was doing what God called me to do.  I also feel that when I put them in school, I was again being obedient.  God will meet me and do the rest.  I pray not to lose one of them to the world.  I pray for wisdom.  Praying and doing what I know to do is all God asks.  I am sure we all make mistakes.  I pray that the mistakes I make with my kids will "all come out in the wash".  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Modern Family

I so wish I had a picture to share with you on this one, but sadly, it would have been wrong to share a picture of a complete stranger's family on my blog.  Here is the best I can do for a word picture.  This was the scene in Panera at the table next to us.  Two "young adult" women each with a laptop (visibly related to each other - had to be sisters) with (no doubt) their mom each involved in their own activities.  I saw the sisters completely engrossed in their 'puters with the mom getting up periodically to refill the soup bowls, beverages, etc.  For example, she would buy a quart of soup and divide it between the three of them.  The mom was very touching in her care of these two girls who were clearly accepting the care, but not really acknowledging her.  I felt that this was a family who loved each other, despite their somewhat self-absorbed existence.  It seemed that they could have been in separate places or even in their own home with little or no contact, but they chose to be together at one table, being together nevertheless in a very interesting way!  In all fairness, maybe they were college students who needed to study and this was the place to do it with high-speed Internet - who knows the situation.  I just found the whole scene very indicative of our society today.  In light of that, let me sign off the blog, shut down the computer and at least enjoy the movie with my children (grin)!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Election

Our election tradition is to print out a map, color in the states red and blue as the numbers come in.  We added one little piece of adding up the numbers of the electoral college votes this time.We try to make it a "party" atmosphere, getting the kids to have fun, get involved, and enjoy themselves.   My kids did marvelously in understanding the logistics of the election for president.  I am proud of them for getting involved.  Each of the three younger kids "voted" electronically at their school.  The school votes in and counted were for McCain.  However, we are in a very middle-class conservative area that hasn't been largely hurt by the economy.  

The fun is over, though.  It is 9:10 by my computer clock and the kids are finally all in bed or headed there shortly.  The TV stations are saying they are pretty much sure Obama will be the next president. God is in control!  I feel confident that He will make his purpose known.  He will sustain us and love us and take care of us, no matter who is in the White House.  Maybe for God, this is not such a big thing?!  

Monday, November 3, 2008

This weekend - Friends and Family

This weekend, I was very privileged to be a part of my niece's Christening.  We are not Catholic, but we felt that we wanted to go to support her decision and be a part of her life and especially the lives of her children.  

We had such a great time.  My tiny niece was so beautiful in her gown.  I can't even describe it!  She was so sweet.  TJ, the two-year-old brother, was equally handsome in his little vest and tie.  S. and her husband are charming, handsome and fun!  We had such a great time with them.  I also enjoyed being with her "in-laws" and my parents.  Everyone was happy, full of good food, and getting along marvelously.  

We also were able to attend the church I grew up in as a child.  The pastor that is there now was our pastor in MS in our tiny little church where we attended as very young marrieds.  We had our oldest while he was there.  It was so good to see them and hear him preach.  

Also at church were a couple old (long-time) friends that I enjoy seeing.  One of them is one of my very loyal blog-readers.  She told me how much she enjoys reading it and keeping up with us.  She is probably my "longest" friend.  She and I have been friends since we were about 2 or 3 years old.  (Notice I didn't say "oldest" since she and I are just about the same age.) It was very sweet to see her,chat with her, and give her a hug.  Of course, there were long periods when we didn't have very much contact, but now I can see her when I go "home".  She is the same. Hopefully I am too.  Hopefully we haven't changed very much.  I feel very satisfied that God gave me some very rich experiences this weekend to look back on.  I am so grateful for His kindnesses to us this weekend.

Since we traveled back last night and got home about 8:30, I am still trying to get into the swing of Monday morning.  Three of the kids are off to school (#4 has a rash and will need to see the doctor this morning), the washer and dryer are going strong, the piles and piles of laundry are waiting to be cycled through.  It is a typical Monday for me.  But, the house is pretty quiet and I will be enjoying getting things back in order for a busy week.  Today is my big sigh after a weekend on the road.