June 21, 2007

Another Reason to Home School...

A friend sent me the link to this article about the demands on children. I thought it was pretty good, and it made me feel better about not pressing on with language arts this morning when all 3 of my kids were down on the floor building structures out of their math blocks!

June 14, 2007

Consider It All Joy...

Size matters not...there seems to be no shortage of trials around here.

Our house is on the market. We are now making rent payments to a trustee, as the owner is in chapter 7 bankruptcy and all assets must be liquidated. While we have been told we can likely stay here through the summer at least, there is no way of knowing when we will need to move out of this house. If you've hung with us over the last year, you'll know that yes, we went through this very same thing a year ago! We just moved into this house at the end of May 2006. With 2 more years left in Vegas before our next assignment, who knows what will happen next? Sigh.

Monday I was sick with a stomach virus. Completely down for the count. Rescheduled a workshop I had for that night and spent most of the day in bed.

Arden had diarrhea Tuesday and Wednesday, though it didn't seem to slow him down.

Yesterday afternoon Ted got the stomach bug and was in bed pretty much the rest of the day.

During the night Tobin woke us twice after throwing up on his sheets. I just finished cleaning up another round that landed on the carpet and am doing the third load of laundry resulting from all this. I still have two loads of regular laundry to do as well.

Kenna's thrush is back, and she's been waking up at night. I don't nurse her in the middle of the night, but still, there it is--interrupted sleep. At least she goes back to sleep with a pacifier, but I don't like this trend and am hoping that once we can finally resolve the thrush matter, perhaps she'll sleep 8-9 hours straight like she was doing before.

This morning I wrote the following in my prayer journal and felt led to share here...

Dear Lord...

Please help me not to grow weary of doing good. Perseverance! Mold my character to become like Christ's. I confess I've done a lot of grumbling. I've been asking you to heal us and basically make sure life is rosy. After all, didn't we suffer enough having Ted gone for 6 months?! And how can I do what I need to do--teach the children, keep house, etc.--when I have to keep dealing with these problems?!

But then I have to laugh. You never promised life would be easy, and who says I "deserve" smooth sailing just because we endured a deployment? Why do I automatically jump to a selfish, self-preserving mindset during trials of various sorts, thinking I'll be Christ-like if only I can get past X?! How foolish is that thinking!

That is exactly why I must continue to endure difficulties and--yes--inconveniences: because it's the only way I can have the chance to practice acting like Jesus. It's easy to be godly when I'm feeling great and the children are behaving well. It's not so easy when I'm cleaning up barf in the middle of a night during which I'm awakened 4 times in 4 hours.

When you call me to set aside my plans (sleeping, hobbies, whatever is on my agenda) so I can deal with unexpected (and usually unpleasant) circumstances, do I answer your beck and call joyfully, immediately, knowing you have a reason? "Yes, Lord, I'm here!" (The way I am trying to teach my children to respond to my call? "Yes, Mommy!") Or do I shuffle my feet and groan, "Not now, Lord, I'm too tired. I've been working all day. I just can't deal with one more problem." Or, as Arden is prone to complain nowadays: "But you're making me do ALL the work!" And just as I laugh at Arden--you have NO idea, my son, how little work you do in the grand scheme of this household!--do you chuckle to yourself in heaven, thinking the same? Oh, my daughter, if you only knew how little you are truly suffering for My sake!

Oh, God! Forgive me when I whine. Forgive me for putting my comfort above my character development. Forgive me for the times I drag my feet instead of taking up my cross to follow you. Give me the desire and strength to obey you immediately and joyfully, no matter what the circumstances. I want to model perseverance and godliness, grace under pressure, and an undying love for you that my children can see in all circumstances.

June 12, 2007

Our Grand Canyon Trip

Last week we took a few days to get away and enjoy some of Ted's free leave without using it all up doing errands or cleaning the house. If you've been reading our blog awhile, you may remember our trip to the Polar Express, which I blogged about here (but you have to scroll down to find it--I can't seem to figure out how to link to only one post instead of a whole month's worth). Anyway, our Grand Canyon trip was through the same company, the Grand Canyon Railway.

We left Monday after lunch. Our hope of leaving earlier was shot after Arden managed to dribble fabric paint from Charis's craft kit all over the living room carpet on Sunday afternoon. After attempting to treat it ourselves and using Oxy cleaner, we decided to rent a Rug Doctor and spent a good portion of Monday morning trying to clean the carpet plus pack and do other cleaning before leaving. Unfortunately, the Rug Doctor did not help a whole lot, but the spots did fade somewhat. The location--smack in the middle of the floor, easy to see when you first walk in the front door--does not lend itself well for hiding stains. Sigh.

So anyway, we left on Monday afternoon and drove to Williams, Arizona, arriving in time for a delicious buffet dinner (included in our package deal). Then we headed to the indoor pool, which the kids had been waiting for all day. I sat in the hot tub hoping it would help relieve some lower back pain I had been experiencing all day but had to leave when Kenna woke up and got fussy. I took her back to the hotel room to nurse and put her down for the night while Ted stayed with the big kids a bit. The kids slept great...we parents, not so much.

Tuesday morning we got up bright and early for a buffet breakfast, then watched the "Wild West Shootout" show before boarding our train. The train ride into the canyon was 2 hours and 15 minutes, and we were treated to beautiful scenery, tidbits of information from our attendant, and a serenade by a singing cowboy. By the time we arrived at the canyon, we were all ready for lunch, so we ate at the Bright Angel restaurant after taking a bit of time to enjoy the initial views of the canyon. It was slightly overcast and very windy, even a bit chilly, so we did deal with some complaints from the kids. I unfortunately had not thought to pack jackets, assuming that it would be very hot there. Note to self: be better prepared for inclement weather!

The kids enjoyed watching the squirrels, a chipmunk, and the condors soaring on the wind currents. We joined up with a group for the Ranger walk and listened to "Ranger John" tell us about the canyon. It was fascinating...though I did have to hold my tongue when he talked about the Colorado River forming the canyon over billions and billions of years. Ummm, really? You don't suppose it could have been formed by a worldwide, catastrophic flood instead?! Maybe I should have said something, but between trying to make sure the boys didn't fling themselves over the side of the canyon and corralling them toward the next stop on the walk, I didn't feel comfortable taking my eyes off them to engage in intellectual and theological debate.

After the Ranger walk we took our own walk along one of the trails, about as far as we felt we could before having to head back. I would have loved to go running along that trail! Sometime we'll have to go back when we can spend more time AND when our children can appreciate the wonder that is the Grand Canyon!! It was beautiful, and we only got to see a small portion of it.

By the time we had to board the train again, we were more than ready to rest and get out of the wind. The trip back to the hotel wasn't quite as smooth, as far as the kids went. That is to say, Kenna was NOT in the mood for a nap, though she was exhausted, so I spent a good portion of the trip bouncing her in my arms at the back of our train car. I was pleased, though, that a number of people told us (both on the train ride and the times we ate at the hotel restaurant) that our children were very well behaved. I guess when it's your own kids, you tend to be stressed out and uptight when you're in public with a bunch of strangers and not realize how truly good they can be. I was proud of them overall and thankful that they could be a testimony to so many people.

One more dinner buffet, and then swimming again for Ted and the older kids. Kenna and I stayed in the hotel room for her last feeding and a much-needed early bedtime. Wednesday morning we had our last meal at the buffet, which was somewhat of a relief. I think that at every meal we were actually sitting down at the same time a grand total of 2 1/2 minutes. Between Ted and I getting plates for the little ones, then taking turns getting our own plates, then jumping up to take someone potty or get refills, we figure we got enough exercise to work off those biscuits and gravy!!

On the return trip we stopped at the Hoover Dam and took some time to walk around and see the sights. I had stopped here with the kids in December, but we only did a quick overlook rather than park down below and walk over the bridge, which we got to do this time around. I think the kids were actually more impressed with the dam than the Grand Canyon! It was a hot day, though, so we didn't spent too much time walking around outside. We ate lunch at an overpriced restaurant near the visitors' center, then headed home to unpack and relax.

All in all, it was a fun little trip, made easier by having all the arrangements made for us through the travel package. If you'd like to see more pictures, you can go here to see the web album.

Charis's Room

This is BEFORE clean-up...sort of. Actually, believe it or not, we had been working on picking stuff up for about an hour when I thought to take a picture! We worked for the better part of a day. I would send Charis on little "errands" (such as taking books back to the school shelves or play room toys back to their drawers) so that I could dump stuff when she wasn't looking. You wouldn't believe how much TRASH this kid had in her room! She is such a pack-rat! We completely filled our outside garbage container with sacksful of her stuff. The sad thing is, she has so much left that she'll never even miss what we threw out! She did know about some of the things we tossed...I'm not completely a mean mom!

Anyway, here is a good "after" picture, and it was actually taken about a week or so after our clean-up efforts, so you can see that she has done a good job of keeping it clean. We made sure there was a place for everything so that everything can go back in its place when she's finished playing. We've always made the kids clean up before meals and before bedtime, but somehow her room just got completely out of control while Ted was gone. I took two different occasions to help her clean, but we weren't able to do it so thoroughly, and it ended up right back where it started from and actually even worse--you literally could NOT see the carpet except for a path where she had shoved stuff out of the way so I could come tuck her in bed at night without falling over something!! Hopefully we can keep her on track to keep it nice and clean. One motivator is that before too long, she'll be sharing the room with Kenna, and we've told her that it MUST stay clean in order for Kenna to be in there. Since Charis is dying to have her little sister in her room, she's done well proving to us that she can indeed keep it clean!

June 07, 2007

My Belated Mother's Day

Last Saturday I got to celebrate Mother's Day! Since Ted was still in Florida in May, he told me my gift would happen after his return. He conspired with Debi's husband to send us both to a day spa!

I began the day bright and early by meeting Sarah for a 5-mile run at a park I hadn't been to before. There's a great trail there, and as we were finishing, we met some people from our church who are part of a group called the Ridge Runners. Since Sarah will be moving to Texas in just a few weeks, it was a blessing to meet up with some other runners. They meet every Saturday to run together. That may help motivate me quite a bit! I'm going to miss my running partner and our conversations, not to mention the accountability we give each other! We do plan to run a half marathon this year...the one in her area is a week after the one in Las Vegas. Hopefully we can stay committed to training and keep each other accountable from a distance!

After a great run, we went to Starbucks for a Frappachino (or however you spell it). It felt so good to run again! Five miles goes quickly when you're with a friend! Knowing that a year ago I ran my farthest distance ever (8 miles), it makes it a bit easier to get back into the swing of things with running. Now I can tell myself that I've done it before, so I can surely do it again! I look forward to pushing past my previous record as I work my way toward the 1/2 marathon distance of 13.1 miles.

After cleaning up, I met Debi for a nice lunch before we headed to the spa. We first got manicures and pedicures, a complete luxury for me! Many ladies I know get them frequently, and trust me, here in the desert it is definitely a temptation to get maintenance work done on one's feet often. But I just haven't been able to justify it in the budget! After that I got a facial--again, a total luxury. If I were to pick, this would be the one service I could live without. I'd rather have another massage!! I did finish the day with an hour-long massage. Aaaahhh!!! I felt like a puddle when I walked out of there!

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful hubby. It was a sweet and thoughtful idea for him to set up this treat for me. Ted has made it clear how much he admires and values the work I did here at home with the children in his absence. Of course, knowing he loves and supports me certainly helped me through the trying times! Ultimately, though, we give honor and glory to the Lord for bringing us through some very difficult months. If it weren't for HIM, I never would have made it!

June 01, 2007

The Golden Rule

We've been talking a lot lately about the Golden Rule and treating others as you would have them treat you. First, Charis and Tobin read a story in one of their readers that had the Golden Rule in it. Then, Ted brought the kids the "Sheerluck Holmes" Veggie Tale movie that talks about the Golden Rule.

So Tobin just came into the office and informed me that Arden had punched him. He then went on to say, "The Golden Rule says do to others as they do to you, so I hit him!"

Are we teaching our kids well, or what?! Tee hee!

(Please don't worry...I set Tobin straight on what the rule really says!)