Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Vacation, How I Love You.

I'm officially on vacation. I think my end of the year vacation time is what I look forward to the most - even more than a beach trip - because it means rest and slowing down and soaking in my family. By the time Thanksgiving week gets here, I really need some rest. I may be a tiny bit resentful this year that our school system doesn't take the whole week off because I had to set the alarm and get Ella to school, but I'll get over it. At least I didn't have to get myself ready for work.

It's only Monday and I've already put the kids to bed in the 7 o'clock hour twice, soaked in my tub, and watched a non-animated movie. Those are things that just don't happen regularly. The kids have had fun, too. We took them to a movie, we had a fire on the patio and roasted hot dogs, we already had one Thanksgiving lunch with lots of cousins, we've studied photo albums, and had a movie night. When Ella gets out of school, there will be a tie-dying project (because suddenly she is very into tie-dyed things), some baking, and we'll decorate the house for Christmas - after we eat all the turkey. Mostly, we'll just enjoy being each together.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 NIV
Colossians seems to be all over my life lately - in my head, in the sermon yesterday, as the verse of the day today on Biblegateway - I know it's a reminder to count my blessings, even when I'm tired and overwhelmed as I have been recently. That's what my Thanksgiving vacation is all about, taking a time out to savor the blessings and rest my soul.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend, Off Leash

We had another unplanned Saturday this past weekend, so we took it off leash and dragged the kids on some excellent dog adventures. We did some things we haven't done since we had babies.

Saturday, after an adventure through the dollar store to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child - and it is an adventure to contain the enthusiasm of little children to one shoebox each - we dragged them on a hike through the woods. We decided to follow the creek from our street to the park; the creek borders our neighborhood on the back side, so we basically just trespassed our way to the park, but some of those yards are overgrown like a jungle at the water's edge. We set out, Dave and I like normal people in jeans and tennis shoes, Ella in leggings and an old t-shirt (after she finally relented and changed), Luke in full pirate costume with monkey rainboots, and Georgia, naked as the day she was born. Both children were a bit freaked out at the beginning. You could hear us coming from a mile away, and not just because we walk through the underbrush like a heard of stampeding cattle. Ella was whining and crying real tears, Luke, taking cues from her, was acting scared and whining. I finally stopped Ella and insisted that she use words to tell me what she was worried about.

These were the things:
1. "We're lost." No, turn around, what do you see? "A house." Right, a house in our neighborhood. Look in front of you, what do you see? "The creek." Right, the same creek that runs through the park. We are not lost.

2. "We are going to have to sleep here tonight." No, it's afternoon and we could walk straight past that house to the street right now. We will not have to sleep in the woods.

3. "I'm going to get stuck in the tangles." Do you really think we are going to leave you tangled in a thorn bush in the woods? Nodding. You're right. We'll see you in the morning.

I didn't really say that part. I only thought it.

At any rate, it got really cool when they realized they could see the back side of Grandmother's house from the creek bed. The dog had the most fun of all, running up and down the creek bank, swimming, stomping, splashing, smelling, being a dog without a leash. We finally made it to the park, but we decided to take a turn and play on the playground behind the elementary school. We didn't want to walk all the way around the fence, so we found a loose spot and 4 of the five of us shimmied under it.  We walked home on the street and took late naps to recover from our Really Roper Adventure.

Sunday, we went to see Princesses and Heros on the ice and this year's reaction to Mickey and Minnie skating out was completely priceless. It was worth the whole show. So was the reaction to the fire-breathing dragon, though in a completely different way. Jake handled it, though, when he yelled at the dragon to "Go AWAY!"

When we got home, we decided to play at the football stadium to get some exercise and fresh air. We brought the dog because she loves the football field and the freedom to run and run and run. Dave and Luke played football while Ella and I walked laps. Georgia alternated between keeping up with me and chasing the football - which she was not allowed to touch on account of the number of footballs she has killed in her lifetime. We played until dark, then we fast-tracked them all to bed.

We let Georgia overdo it a bit; she was so stiff that she didn't want to get off the couch for a crouton, so I borrowed some low-dose aspirin from Grandma to fix her up for bedtime. She had to drag herself out of the recliner this morning, but then I had to drag myself out of the bed. I guess we both aren't as young as we used to be.

But it sure did feel good to be off leash all weekend.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Around the House

They've been on a roll lately, especially the man-cub.

Luke: I'm going on a trip.
Dave: Where to?
Luke: Jail.
Dave: What are you going to see there?
Luke: Animals.
Does he mean the zoo? We don't know.

Looking all around, disoriented, "Where are Tigger and Pooh? Did you see me playing with them?" That's what Luke asked me one morning when I woke him up to get ready for school. Then he told me an elaborate story about Tigger and Pooh playing on Pirate Island with him. It must have been very vivid, because he really expected to see them in the bed with him.

"I was sliding with my friends and we crashed and there was fire on my arm." - This was Luke's description of his arm injury at the pumpkin patch. It just about broke my heart. The arm is pretty much healed now with fresh pink patches of skin where the burns were.

One evening at supper, we were discussing the impending removal of various aged, temporary tattoos that I was tired of seeing all over their sweet little bodies. Dave launched into a discussion about how God didn't make us with tattoos and so if we add them to our bodies, we are just changing the way God made us. They both looked at him with wide eyes and nodded in silent agreement. Then Dave left the room and Luke looked at me and said, "So, when Daddy's not here, we can put tattoos on?"

"It's hard not to play while I do my chores." - Finally, Ella's revelation of why we can never leave the house on time on a week day.

Yesterday, Ella and I were talking about Veteran's Day on the way to school and I was explaining that it's a day when we honor people who serve in our military to protect our country. I thought she was going to bombard me with more questions, but she just said, "Like Ethan's dad?" It choked me up a little. Ethan's dad is deployed right now; she kind of gets it.

The ride home from our weekly errands was as loud and chaotic as usual, including the normal requests to eat their Lunchables as soon as we got home even though there was no possible way either of them were hungry after putting away an Uncle Hershel's breakfast at Cracker Barrel. I told them they'd have to wait a while before lunch, and a few minutes later Luke said, "I'm already havin' my wunch." I looked backed there to see him busily biting off his toenails. He's not right.

A few minutes after that, he told me he needed to go see Uncle Jerry and the baby (my cousin's new baby). Then he said, "Mommy, how did the baby get in Aunt Jess's tummy?" He's been fascinated since he realized there was baby growing in there a couple of weeks before she was born. I was formulating my age appropriate response when Ella chimed in, "Her eggs made it!" Right on; she's been listening. May I recommend Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts if you need such a reference for young children?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why do we tithe?

Last week, our preacher asked us to share a tithing testimony at church. Dave told me he would read it if I wrote it, so I did. I decided to share it here because I wrote it like I was writing a blog post, and I've alluded to tithing here before.

When Dave and I started looking for a church, I gave what I could at the churches we visited because that’s what I knew. You’re supposed to put money in the offering plate when it goes around. It wasn’t much, because I was a broke college student back then. I remember having a conversation with him about tithing and if it really means 10% and doing the calculation to figure out how much 10% really was. It was a lot! It was hard to fathom giving that number, for both of us, but we promised each other that we would tithe when we found a church. It was important to me, so he agreed.

When we got married and joined a church, we were paying for law school and we bought a house. There may have been a car payment, too. We had entry level jobs, and we were just like every other young married couple. Money was tight. We went from broke college students, to broke young married people, but we kept our promise and tithed every month. We made our budget so that we tithed once a month, just like we paid all of the bills. There were months when I knew that if I wrote the check to the church, we would have to get very creative to pay the car insurance or the student loan payment. I wrote it anyway, and somehow it always worked out that there was enough money to feed us and pay the bills. There were months that we sat down together with the checkbook in confused amazement that everything was paid because it just didn’t seem possible. Maybe I was bad at keeping the checkbook, but I like to think that God’s math is just different than mine.

Over the years, we got better jobs and with every adjustment to our income, we have recalculated the monthly tithe amount to make sure it’s still ten percent. Money gets spent so easily and life is so expensive, that if we didn’t do it that way, we probably wouldn’t tithe – at least not the actual 10%. We made it a priority when we had nothing but hand-me down furniture and debt, and we still make it a priority today when we are beginning to teach our children to tithe, because we believe we are commanded by God to give our resources and our time to serve the church. In the old testament, God commanded the nation of Israel to tithe grain, produce, and livestock to provide for the Levite priests as they served in the tabernacle. He commanded that the people leave a corner of their fields untouched during the harvest to provide for the poor. The commands were very practical then, and they still are today. We also believe that God will provide for us, even when we give sacrificially, because He has proven it over and over again, and because the Bible says so.

We tithe because it is our duty and our honor to serve the Lord.
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Lawn Mower Racing

We crashed a neighborhood block party again this year to eat and race lawn mowers. Knowing his mower is too slow to win, Dave brought a distraction. 

They didn't finish dead last, but only because one mower broke down on the track. 
They may have been fourth, but Wuke Boper was waving like the Queen Mum in a parade and won over the crowd. 
The third place winner gave them his trophy. 
I guess this means we'll have to crash again next year to return it. I hope the neighbors don't mind when we continue to answer the question, "Which street do you live on?" With, "Oh, we don't live here."

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Halloween 2013 Report

What? It's only 2 days late.

We started our Halloween early - 6:30 a.m. early. I took the day off to work at the fall festival at church, so I got to take Luke to school for his fall party. We did couples' costumes this year, and Luke was my partner. That means, I woke him up Thursday morning dressed in full costume, to which he responded, "It's Halloween day!"
We took Ella to school, and she wore her pumpkin outfit for the Halloween Vocabulary Parade because masks weren't allowed and a gorilla suit just isn't complete without the mask. She chose the word "smiley" to describe her pumpkin.

After we dropped her off at school, we amused the patrons at Jack's while we had breakfast dressed as pirates. Luke got his first candy of the day at 8 a.m. from one of the ladies behind the counter. After that we paraded through the grocery store because I needed eggs to make cupcakes for the fall festival. I thought it best to take him with me, else I would just look crazy traipsing through Lucky's dressed as a pirate. 

Then we met up with Aunt Becca and Jake at preschool so that we could put a cape on the Caped Crusader.

I spent a few hours making cupcakes and putting my house back together because life is a whirlwind and that's what my house looked like. Then I headed to the church in the afternoon and found myself moved almost to tears by the amount of work that had been done in preparation for our fall festival. Eight other ladies and myself were in charge of organizing the thing and seeing it come to fruition was amazing. We asked for lights in the back parking lot and were told it would be taken care of. I expected a temporary solution but I found that a group of men had been there for days replacing all of the old outside lights with ones that actually worked. The area will be lit every year now. Those same men were busy setting up the booths and tables and popping popcorn. Inside, a group of ladies had already stuffed sacks for supper and were cooking hot dogs. They had sorted the prizes and divided them up for each booth. Things were under control; there wasn't much for me to do except answer questions and carry things. 

When the kids got there after school and nap (for the little ones), we took them trick or treating on Main Street. 

The gorilla costumes were a hit again this year, but with the baby gorilla, they seemed less scary and more...sweet. I'm not sure that's what either of the gorillas were going for, having listened to their plans to jump out of bushes to scare people, but I also think they didn't care because it was 80 degrees and way too hot to be wearing gorilla suits. 

After trick or treating, Dave was on kid duty while I worked at the fall festival. They played there for a while, then Dave and Aunt Becca took them to trick or treat the neighborhood and give out candy at Grandma and Pop the Pop's house. They were done with the crowd at the festival, and I couldn't blame them. It was quite a crowd. Once I finished at church, I met them at Grandma's house and just sat for a while. We finally rounded them up and took the home to scrub them and put them to bed. They were disgusting, sweaty, sticky, exhausted messes. 

The next morning, they were clean, exhausted messes and that is what I call the Halloween Hangover. Too much candy, not enough sleep - Halloween Hangover. But, it was fun.