Monday, July 25, 2016

Catching Up

Hello Again!

We moved to Idaho and lived there from June 2014 until September 2015. We had some lovely adventures, and met some truly wonderful people.

Shane decided to go back to his job in Albuquerque, and so we spent a lot of time looking for a home we could love. We finally landed back in the East Mountains where we had come from before. And we have a nice little spot on two acres with a neighborhood pool.  The house needs work, but a little house project never hurt anyone...I think!

Homeschooling has been a little choppy the last two years. Because we were in Idaho, we could visit my side of the family very easily. So we went somewhere often, and school got shelved in favor of vacations. Never mind all the moving around, and so we are schooling right through this summer. We'll be back on track in the fall, though.

Lucas(12) became a Boy Scout last year. He loves being with boys his age, his Scoutmaster is a truly gifted individual, and Lucas is not hampered in his success by his disorganized mother. So he is pursuing advancement and merit badges galore!

Julia(10) is enjoying being back in NM with one of her oldest friends. She recently went to Summer Camp and although she was away from us for a week, and sprained her ankle badly on the last day, she wished it could go on forever. She has been crocheting like crazy, with her latest accomplishment being a Yoshi. The kids are really into the game "Yoshi's Wooly World" which is a Nintendo game where everything is made of yarn. Super cute!

Aidan(9) is itching for some new sports horizons. He loves to swim, and ride his bike. He also likes going with Lucas on Scout-related hikes. He will test the limits of his body in every way, and we need to give him safe avenues for this! He also loves to read, and can often be found during chore time on his bed with a book.

Shane and I are focused on the house right now. We are putting in tile, and it's quite a learning process! We are also trying to finalize a plan for the kitchen remodel. I'm anxious for this, as I still have more than half my kitchen in boxes. The kids and I are gardening, and making good use of the pool.

And that's the catch-up for now!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Balloon Critters

We are very lucky to have some grandparents who know just what kids love.
And the kids get spoiled rotten!

Gma June has sent balloons in the past, and they were a huge hit.  However, Mom did not refresh the supply.  And this year, Lucas got more balloons in his birthday package and the kids went crazy with them.  We still have a few limp critters in a box in the bedroom.

Julia is especially patient, although all three of the kids amaze me with their creations.
 I believe all of the above are Julia's except the red dog, which Aidan made.
I could be woefully wrong, in which case I'll edit the post.
 The dog and the red-eyed poodle.  No more eyelash eyes were left.
 Lots of little twists and turns!
And Julia with her collection.  She made the poodle, a green turtle, a white swan, and a yellow giraffe. The giraffe had a tail much, much too long.  So she turned it into a two-headed giraffe in a father-baby combo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lucas Turns 10!

Happy 10th Birthday, Lucas!

Lucas had his birthday just three days after we arrived in our new state.
I was worried about how swell of a birthday I could make for him.
However, Shane had it all under control. 
 Remote control.

 We did our usual presents in the morning, so that the birthday kid can have the day to enjoy them.
 Nerf guns from Aidan, Minecraft toys from Julia...
 A trip to the zoo right by our apartment!
 Phone calls from loved ones.
 Riding the tiger at the zoo... too hot to sit on!
 And Lucas requested a stick figure cake.  That was his costume on halloween, and he's enjoyed them ever since.
 Always a little help with the candles!
 Taking his plane out for a spin.
He's gotten pretty good, which is no surprise for kids these days!
The first kid with two digits... where does the time go?
He is really fun, loves to hang around his parents, which I think we should be soaking up.
Quite the wit, loves jokes, and is interested in everything.
We are really enjoying you today, Son!

One of "those" types...

Sometimes it is rather shocking to see ourselves mirrored in our children.  Sometimes a quality that seems only mildly bad on myself, I find totally unacceptable in my kids.  And so I have to do things like learn and grow in order to improve my example.

And then every once in awhile, you see some quality in your kids that reminds you of yourself and what a relief!  It isn't a bad thing! Yay!  In this case, it isn't a virtue.  Just a trait:

List Making!
Lucas made this list; my organized child.

The point of this list is to determine the pros and cons of different locations around our tiny rental that would make good hiding places.

There are vents around the house, and the kids discovered that you can eavesdrop really well through the vents when you are in the basement.  So they don't want a location where all their secrets could be overheard! (That's the oldest trick in the book!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Date

Aidan wanted to go on a date with Mommy!

And I thought that would be great.  We settled on IHOP, so we could get some of our favorite breakfast foods.  Especially since Papa will never darken the door of an ihop himself.  Or a Denny's. Or Applebee's.  Or Sweet Tomatoes.  So we have to go get our "nasty food" fix when he's not around. =)
 I just love it when I take the time to focus on their sweet faces.
Especially when they are so earnestly telling me a story.
 The days can get too busy;
I can be distracted all the time...
So it feels really good to take a time out, and really soak up the wonder of these little people growing up.  It is humbling to see how great they are.  And I see a little bit better why God loves little children so much.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Big Move

Our year to date has been very exciting, and also a bit stressful.

At the end of May, we said goodbye to our home and friends in New Mexico.  Our time there was full of happy experiences like hikes, breakfast burritos, hot air balloons, Dion's Pizza, Wildlife West, Carlsbad Caverns, chickens, learning to ride bikes, everyone's first loose tooth, and a whole host of unforgettable friends of all ages.

But happy as we were, Shane has been needing to explore the scientific research side of his education, and found an opportunity for publishing papers and going to conferences AND at a non-weapons related facility, Idaho National Labs.  Leaving was a wrench for him, since his job in New Mexico was also quite good, and he worked with a uniquely talented group of wonderful people.  In the end, he tossed the dice and here we are: Idaho!

As soon as we touched down in our little two bedroom apartment, we unpacked our meager belongings and explored the parks for a week while Shane started work.  Then we left for Parma convention.  Then we came back for a week.  Then we left for Boise to spend a week with cousins while one sister and her hubby went to Mexico for a romantic getaway.  That was a lot of fun, especially since I got to team up with my sister, Marian, and together we doted on the six rascally cousins.  Now we are back in town again and starting on our second consecutive week at our new home!

School: Back when I made the schedule last year, I didn't know we'd be moving.  So we were slated to finish around the first week of June.  However, with a moving date of May 30, packing and sorting, cleaning and general upheaval, we had to just STOP because no one could concentrate.  Especially me.  So we had five weeks left, and now we are trying to force ourselves to just get through it.  Still hard to concentrate, but on the other hand, we really feel the need for structure in these changing times.

We went to Yellowstone for the afternoon last weekend... so lovely to be able to say that!  Took some pictures, went on a hike and brought back lots of mosquito bites.  Aidan asked me why God ever made those! We had a good time anyway, and I'll try and get my picasa albums up to date with the move and everything.  And that's the news from Lake Woebegone.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Parenting, Real and Raw

Hey there, just wanted to share a link from Ann Voskamp.  She's an authoress and has been wildly successful in encouraging others to be thankful.  It is hard to say just what is so compelling about her work, but I believe it is how real she is and how true her words are.

Today, I found this post that she had written about parenting.  I couldn't believe how perfectly she described my rage when I get my "kid buttons" pushed, clear down to the chewing of the lip.  She did leave out the yelling, I do plenty of that along with all the rest.  But as the tears flowed, I felt there was help, even for me in saving my children from myself.

Here's her article with the photos and italics included:

And here's the plain version:

Why the Battle for Joy is Worth It
Ann Voskamp

Back then I said I’d never be like him.
I slammed doors to punctuate the point and to make sure my dad knew it.
You can be tall and 15 and think you know a lot of things.
And you don’t think about growing old and looking squishy around the middle and telling teenagers to just turn out the lights.
You don’t think about how you can open your mouth and let the sharp side of your tongue tear the innards out of a soul —- and there’s no way you can stuff the whole bloody mess back.
I don’t know how it happened exactly.
Or maybe the truth rightly stated is — I really don’t want to remember.
How we were late, 35 minutes late, and when I got in the van they were all waiting, all seven of them, waiting and squashed close in a mini-van that’s far too mini for lanky Dutch teenagers and late summer heat and one late mother who can flare into this wide-eyed, wild agoraphobia when facing hours of finger food and paper plates and BBQ small talk with absolute strangers.
It got ugly.
A kid hadn’t ironed his shirt.
Over the course of a whole hour and ten minutes of hunting down socks and doing up hair and scouring for one battered Croc — and telling my jangled it’s-time-to-go-nerves a dozen times that all fear is fraud and nowhere on earth is beyond the reach of God — I had told the boy at least five times that he really did have to iron that shirt.
And then, 35 minutes late, he’s in the van looking like he’s rolled with a bunch of wombats to Timbuktu and back.
Maybe I should have shrugged the shoulders?
Maybe I should have said it didn’t matter, let’s just go? But I had asked him – five times. More like 5.8975 times and in this insistent, your-mama-she-means-business-voice.
So, to a van full of the waiting and the hot and the frustrated, I say no ma’am. No ma’am, we are not going like that. Back into the house and you have. to. iron. that. shirt.
And the kid starts wailing. At mock pitch levels. Like I’d just announced an imminent amputation of a necessary limb or the banning of birthdays.
And every nerve ending in this highly sensitive body is already feeling unraveled and gory and I don’t even want to go to this thing and I feel the iron weight of time and kids and expectations all pressing down on the lung and his howl is jet thunder in the frayed veins.
And I turn hard toward the bawling kid.
“Out.” I’m not proud that I can hiss.
Here’s where it’d be convenient to claim I wasn’t thinking straight, that some tightening screw had somewhere loosened and the side of the thing had fractured and fissured in the loud sound.
But it’s been said and I’ve laid up nights, thinking about it, and it’s true and I say it like this:
No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.
When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you. 
I grab the boy’s arm and lean in close to his face. His wracking sobs are hot and hard in my face.
And I’m gnawing. Gnawing on the side of lip, pulling on my mouth like I’m trying to hold something back, like I’m trying to chew through to something better than this – better than him.
How can you have held the child that came from you as an ember of very heaven and then glare blind angry and stomp him right out? Who can look into a child and forget miracle?
Me — the amnesiac mother who forgets holy all the time.
I lean in and over, gnaw like a wild thing, and the kid pulls back and wracks it out like this haunt — like this high and holy haunt.
“When … you… do… that…” His shoulders heave, chocking back all this heart water right undammed. “When… you… chew… your lip like that?” He wipes his face with the back of his arm. “You … look… just… like… Grandpa Morton.”
And there’s no air in my lungs.
I’ve caved, in a moment everything’s caved.
Like him?
It’s like a flashing supernova, the look in a child’s eyes and there’s a flaring mirror and you see you are everything you’d said you’d never become.
You can become everything that once undid you. I’m right tipped, upset and know who I really am and what really spills, and here is why I’ll never stop being a grace beggar, a wild Cross-clinger.
“Please… Don’t… Do… That…” He can’t stop the heaving of his shoulders, his heart.
I’m undone now — undammed.
How can grace get a hold of you when the past won’t let go of you? How do you leave a legacy different than the one you’ve been left? That’s what I’ve got to gnaw through to. How do [you] mangle the ones you love most?
“Sor…ry… Mama… didn’t… mean… to make you… cry.” And he’s the one who can’t stop.
And I kneel down and let go of his arm. And I hold his face. That’s what I should have done, done right at the beginning. What would happen in a world where anger was your flag to reach out and cup a face?
He looks so scared and wrung and thin — every child’s a thin place.  I see God.
And that’s what comes:
If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.
What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?
You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.
The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.
His cheeks in my palms, they’re so white, so wet.
It’s his eyes — if you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord? Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.
Battle for joy or lose your life. Or other’s lose theirs.
And I whisper sorry. I tell the boy I know nothing yet, nothing.
Every ungracious moment means someone doesn’t understand grace.
And the boy crumbles into me and I hold onto him and a forgiveness I’ll never deserve and there’s a grace that can hold us, that can mold us, the way joy can bend you soft at all the joints.
And I murmur it into the thick of his hair, that even now He can still make us like Him.

The boy touches my cheek like a flag waving yes.