Well, we've made it through another full week of Ted being gone. Sad that out of the 38 or so days that we've been apart this year, only 5 of them so far count towards that 365-day deployment! We took him to the airport last Sunday morning before church, then went to the second service, which was probably a good distraction for me. I was really wiped out...the night before Ted left wasn't exactly restful, and emotional exhaustion is never a fun thing. I crashed after church, and after my nap, I took the kids to the park, where we enjoyed the last bit of good weather before the thunderstorms rolled in for the week.
Starting Monday, we threw ourselves back into schoolwork, having taken the week off that Ted was home. That was definitely a good thing--we needed to get back into a routine again! Plus, when I looked at the calendar, I realized that we only had two weeks before the older kids go to day camp, but close to 6 weeks of curriculum left. Yikes! I do NOT want to be schooling all summer; while we've done that in the past with great success (Las Vegas summers don't really leave one wanting to be outside a whole lot), the truth is, we all need a break. Besides, we'll be doing the Bible Bee again this year, and that's pretty intense. I plan to have the kids continue with math (or review math, in Arden's case, since he's finished with his book), plus their Sword Study and Bible verse memorization for the Bee, of course. And lots and lots of reading, but that goes without saying in our family!
I was very proud of the kids--they worked hard to catch up, and I was able to make good decisions (I think) about what to skip, what to postpone, and what to work on. It was a great school week!
We had an adventure on Wednesday when a tornado warning cropped up in the evening. I was finishing a phone call with my mother-in-law when suddenly it began hailing. I herded the kids down to the basement--actually, I took candles, matches, a flashlight, the phone, the computer, and Lucan's change of clothes (I was trying to get him in bed) downstairs, while the older kids were all in a flurry to get their blankets and buddies and pillows from their rooms. It took them longer to make their "nests" in the basement than it was actually hailing and storming outside! We had a couple of power surges, but nothing major, and the hail we got around here wasn't enough to do any damage that I can see. A short ways south of us, though, got softball-sized hail! We took opportunity to read some Bible verses and pray during the storm, and we were sure to thank God for His protection afterward.
Thursday evening I attended my first deployed spouses' support group meeting. The email had said there would be "snacks" provided, plus activities for the kids. Since the meeting was from 5:30 - 7:30, right over the dinner hour, I made sure we had an early dinner and packed snacks that the kids are allowed to eat on our diet (dried bananas, apples, and raisins). Good thing, since the "snacks" they provided were pizza, chips, and sodas! I settled the kids in their room, where they were looking forward to seeing Night at the Museum on a big screen.
My part of the meeting went pretty well. The first hour they were collecting feedback from the spouses to send on to higher-ups who are gathering info about how to improve their support programs. The second hour we got to visit. There were maybe 10 moms there. One of them I recognized from our church, and we visited for awhile. Another is in the homeschool group we're part of, but we hadn't met before. So of course I had an instant bond with both of those women! I did talk with a couple of other ladies as well.
Unfortunately...the kids were NOT having a good experience next door. My children were apparently the only ones who were interested in seeing the movie; all the others were running around, turning the lights off and on, talking, yelling, etc. Worst of all, a kid about Tobin's age (but much bigger) grabbed his snack bag out of his hand and proceeded to eat the rest of his dried fruit, then returned the bag with a single raisin inside! I didn't learn about this until after we were in the Suburban driving home. I had wondered what was wrong with Tobin, who came to me immediately after they let the kids into our room, looking very upset, and asking when we would leave. I was pretty upset that there was not more oversight and felt so bad for the kids, especially Tobin. The "volunteers" that they had said would be "doing activities" with the kids were teens who apparently weren't too sure how to handle the mass chaos.
Next time--and there probably will be a next time, because this is one way I can get out of my Christian bubble and, Lord willing, be salt and light--I will ask if my kids can bring their own books and snacks and sit in the back of the room. They all agreed they would much rather do that than be thrown to the sharks, LOL. The daughter of the other homeschooling mom did just that, so I don't see why my kids can't! The meetings mostly seem to be a chance for spouses to get together and gab (or vent!).
So, at least it was a good opportunity for us to talk about being witnesses for Christ no matter how others treat us! And on the way home, we were blessed with the privilege of seeing a bright, full, double rainbow, just perfect timing! I was encouraged that God will not allow us to be "flooded" with more than we can handle, and again, another opportunity to speak with the kids about God's goodness and faithfulness. (All while hearing Lucan's frantic cries of "Rainbow! Rainbow! Rainbow!" I think he has a new obsession...)
Friday morning was another high--the first time we got to Skype with Ted! He was able to call us twice on the phone during the week, once from Kyrgyzstan and once after he arrived at his final destination. Unfortunately, we were out the second time, but it was good to know he had made it safely. I was glad that the kids slept in on Friday, as Ted and I were able to have a good, uninterrupted conversation on Skype first. Then we connected again after the kids were awake, and it was a happy, chaotic shuffle for the most part...Lucan seemed to be melting down over something I can't remember at the moment, but I think he eventually realized that we actually were able to "talk Daddy," which any other time during the week he had been desperate to do.
I spent a few hours that afternoon cooking with Bethany, who came over with Eliana about mid-morning. It wasn't as productive as our first day together, but then again, it wasn't nearly as long as that day, either! It was nice to have company, though, and to have some adult conversation. (Which, now that I think about, I actually got to enjoy two days in a row, LOL! I visited with my friend Stefanie at the last homeschool P.E. session on Thursday, plus the support group that evening!)
For our pizza & movie night, the girls and I watched an episode of Christy while the boys did other things...it was kind of nice to do a shorter movie, as we were able to get the little ones in bed, and then I did what is becoming a favorite tradition with the older three--we cozied up in my bed and read another chapter in our current Harry Potter book! We read through the first book while Ted was in New Jersey, then watched the movie with him when he was home. Now we're about halfway through book two. I love being able to read it WITH the kids and enjoy the humor together, plus discuss things with them as they come up, everything from an unfamiliar British term to the characters' choices to the deeper themes that emerge. It gives us something to look forward to after a long day, though we probably only read it 2-3 times per week, depending on our schedule.
Today found us heading to the library and Kroger, my first grocery run since Ted left, and it was a quick one. I'll have to plan a more thorough shopping trip before long, but I am just not up to it yet--too much to do! It was a fairly uneventful afternoon...I tossed a football with Arden for awhile, set up the wading pool in the backyard for Kenna, then took some time to work on our digital album, yay. Then we dropped Charis off at church for a Route 5:6 game night, and the rest of us headed with a picnic dinner to a quiet park that we discovered when we met my friend Claire and her kids there last year. It was so nice and cool out! I knew we needed to get out and enjoy the good weather while we could! It's supposed to be hot and humid early next week, followed by (surprise!) more rain and thunderstorms.
Whew. That's a rundown of the week. I'll have to post separately about our school update and more personal thoughts and spiritual musings...