Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This is How It Goes

This is how it goes.

We ride scooters with one leg warmer on and our eyes closed.

Or we ride scooters to school dressed in our "handsomes" (and then we remember too late that it was art day and the white dress shirt comes home with orange paint on it).

We do crafts at the counter with a pink mitten on amidst laundry, chips, and a lot of cups.

We style our hair after infamous reality t.v. personalities.

We order free things from the back of cereal boxes like Pocket Translators in 6 languages even though we can't read or write yet and think that cupboard is covered and mine is mind and cliff is clift. Oh, and we write with pen on our faces, too.

We trap poor caterpillars in old cereal boxes and shake them repeatedly to see if they are still alive and exclaim with great consternation that, "It's NEVER going to hatch into a raccoon!" (That was actually Evan, not Annie).

We make funny faces. This one's called "The Moment Before the Sneeze".

We drop Sam off to school (actually, drive by at 8:39 and shove him out of the door before the car stops, confusing him by rolling down the window and alternately calling out, "Bye! I love you!" and "HURRY!" "But I love you!" "Stop dawdling and get in there!" then feeling guilty and not wanting to end on that note so adding, "See you after school!" and so on) and then walk through the park on our way home. We stop at the resting bench where Evan points out that we're sitting in order "from tiniest to mediumist longest."

Then Evan takes our pictures:

And then tries to figure out who made the "bookmarks" on the sidewalk (I say "black marks" but he thinks I'm saying bookmarks, so that's what they are now called).
Then we go home and play with fake teeth, even though the dentist gave us strict instructions to avoid all spit-swapping in our home.
Doesn't this look like a preview of what Evan is going to look like when he is growing into his adult teeth? He's not allowed to ever get that big!

And that's how it goes.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm loving that Samuel is now a bonafide reader...he is gobbling up books like I gobble up chocolate chips and baked goods.

We just finished reading Holes by Louis Sachar. I really love his writing style and how he ties up little details in subtle ways. I really liked reading Holes to my middle school students when I was a teacher.

I decided to do a Holes party and let them watch the movie. We made our plans and gathered our supplies (Sam is a good party-planner!) and then got the movie from the library. I was trying to remember how PG it was from years ago when I last watched it...I looked the review up online and realized I would need to do some editing, so the party ended early (no movie for the kids but Jeremy and I watched it after they went to bed and I took notes of where to skip or mute). If you haven't read Holes, most of what we did at the party will not make sense to you. Maybe the fact that I read a book about a curse and a murder and juvenile delinquents will not make sense to you, either. I'll let you read it and decide for yourself, but I think that the whole point is that there is actually a greater plan at work than what we can actually see, you can retain good character even in the midst of difficult circumstances, and that greater love has no one than this: that a man lay down his life for a friend. But I told you I would let you decide for yourself.
The weather is finally nice again after a couple weeks of rain!

If you haven't read the book, the sign says "Camp Green Lake" (no Girl Scouts) and has a picture of the deadly yellow-spotted lizard.

Making yellow-spotted lizard puppets

The boys wore orange, I wore cowboy boots (I was the Warden) and they dug holes (of course) and looked for interesting things (if they found something, they brought it to me and they might get a minute's rest from their digging). We hid toy lizards in the sand and if they touched one, they came to me and had to eat some raw onion. They are also holding a canteen and sunflower seeds (important in the story) and we played "3 Flies Up" or whatever that game is, but they had to catch tennis shoes instead of a ball.

They liked eating the onion waaay more than I thought they would!

Here's Evan (I mean Zero) hiding behind his Sploosh (peach juice and Sprite served in a jar).

And of course, for dessert, they got to dig holes in some chocolate pudding with Oreo "dirt" on top (and gummy worms rattlenakes hidden inside).

Stanley and Zero

So tonight we will watch Holes together (though I hope that the kids will agree with me that the book is way better). Evan can't wait; he keeps asking me, "When do we get to watch the movie with the scary parts and bad language?" Please don't judge :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Almost a Dropout

Just when you're starting to gasp because you think this post is about something scandalous you never knew about me, rest assured, it's not what you're thinking. But it IS about how I almost dropped out of the Motherhood.

December 21, 2004

I was a brand-new mom who had spent the previous 9 months imagining pushing a stroller in the park with other stroller-pushing moms or having the "knowing" conversations I had seen other young moms having with each other as they talked about childbirth or starting solids. Jeremy and I were in a period of transition, having returned home from Kazakhstan, delivering Samuel in San Diego, and then moving to Phoenix when he was 6 weeks old.

We were struggling--financially, spiritually, emotionally, and I felt pretty isolated and unhappy (disclaimer here: I am going to talk about how I felt like I didn't have any friends, but Mariah and Heather were 2 people who always cared about me while we lived in Phoenix). I had always wanted to go to MOPS or a moms' group like it and I set out to find one. I visited one and was called out of the meeting rather quickly to get my screaming son (who I had a hard time picking out of the room full of babies and then I felt like the nursery worker thought I was an unfit mother and I wondered if it was true myself) and then I tried to keep him quiet during the meeting with Cheerios which he dumped all over the floor and then proceeded to start eating off the floor. I was so mortified and I felt so conspicuous. I'm sure no one was laughing at me, they were probably trying to lighten the situation, but I was so uncomfortable, I never went back.

I tried a Moms' Group at my church and I just felt...invisible. Except for the one time when I asked if I should give Samuel aspirin for teething pain (and I meant "pain medicine that is safe for babies because it says so on the label" but it just came out "aspirin" because I was nervous and said it wrong). The other mom acted shocked and backed away from me saying, "No! Never!" but didn't offer an alternative. I kept looking at the clock and wishing it was time to leave. And, there was also the time that they had a Spa Day and someone was giving haircuts. I almost started to cry because we were struggling so much financially that we didn't have money for haircuts and I thought, "Could this be a chance to get a FREE haircut? How lucky I am!" and I went to stand in line at the haircut station. A leader of the group casually walked by and laughed and said, "Honey, you can't just STAND there and get a free haircut. We had a drawing for that WEEKS ago!" Again, I looked at the clock and wished I really were invisible.

If I couldn't be successful in making "mommy-friends," I probably couldn't be successful as a mom, period. I'm sure it wasn't as bad as it seemed, but to someone who felt so discouraged, everything felt like a criticism.
I just put this one in for comic relief. Wonder what those moms would have thought of THIS?

When we had moved to Phoenix, we had been excited about "the rest of our lives" before us. We were grown up now, parents, and Jeremy was starting seminary. I went and bought a dish full of smooth, flat stones that I would write on to document the good things God did for us so we could be reminded and tell our children someday. I wrote "Samuel born 12-21-04" and "Jeremy starts seminary March 2005" and then left the stones sitting on the table, ready for more great steps into our future.

Throughout that hard season of our lives, when I thought that my baby was the only one who understood me, that I would have to leave my God or my husband, that things were never going to get better, I would look at those blank stones and feel angry at what God hadn't done and how he had seemed to have forgotten us. All those unfulfilled promises and reminders of my loneliness...I wanted to throw them one by one out the window. During that time, Mariah gave me a book, Hind's Feet on High Places, to read. In it, the main character, Much Afraid, is asked by the Great Shepherd to go with him up a high mountain. Though she has crooked legs and is often discouraged, she goes...and it's not easy. Each time she encounters a difficulty along the way, the Shepherd asks her to pick up a stone to carry. Near the end of the story, she is in despair and wants to throw the stones out of the cave where she has taken shelter from the rain. I could relate.

Jeremy and I had the opportunity to get out of our situation in Phoenix and eventually ended up in Flagstaff, slowly rebuilding our trust and closeness and beginning to feel like we might actually fit in. I still was reticent to attend MOPS because of my difficult experiences in the past, but because it was at the church Jeremy was working at, I decided to give it one more try. It wasn't necessarily easy at first, but I began to make friends and grow in my confidence as a mother and leader. By the second year in MOPS and the birth of my second child, I finally felt like I had found my place.

This May at my last MOPS meeting as a leader, I looked out over the room of faces that I had grown to love over the past few years of serving and leading them. There were so many friends, so many lives I had gotten to be a part of, so many hearts that were intertwined with mine.

I thought about the end of Hind's Feet on High Places, and how the Great Shepherd had lead Much Afraid faithfully to the top of the mountain and asked her for the stones she had carried. As she pulled out each one, each reminder of the pain she had endured, he turned them into jewels for her crown. The ladies at MOPS are like that for me...the jewels in my crown. When I think about how I have been able to relate to them as I led them, it was out of all the most painful parts of my early motherhood. God had really withheld no good thing from me, and had ended up showering me with rich blessings.

I'm not leaving MOPS for good, in fact, I am moving on to a different leadership position called a Field Leader. I will be serving all of the ladies in Arizona and New Mexico along with a team of 9 other ladies. I got to go to MOPS convention this summer to be trained and grow in the vision of MOPS International. (And I got to hear Sara Groves live at the convention...can I write that on one of my stones?) It's a little intimidating once again to be starting something new after being so comfortable and satisfied in my previous MOPS roles, but I don't think the Great Shepherd wants me to stay comfortable, does he?
My new team at Convention in Nashville, TN.

Other MOPS leaders from AZ and NM

Our silly centerpiece...MOPS Worst Case Scenario Survival Game

My friends from Flagstaff--Beth, Sarah, Gina, and Misti

And in true Flagstaff style, they ignored the rules and smuggled very strong-smelling breadsticks into the Mandisa concert.

A special treat--running into an old friend from when we lived in KZ (well she lived in Madrid...long story)

One of my favorite parts of convention was getting to spend time with some of the ladies
I met in the UK last fall!

I even got to go line dancing with them--so fun!

Hot, muggy, flavorful downtown Nashville (with my friend, Sandy)

A surprise, intimate, amazing mini-concert with Plumb

And last but not least, the inspiring Sara Groves.