Wednesday, November 30, 2011



...we hiked Walnut Canyon (and Jeremy did his best to disobey all the rules)
...the kids took ice skating lessons (so fun!)

...Evan wanted to take his toy microphone into church and I let him only on the condition that he use it to interview people

...I decided I have a new motto in life: "Don't fight it, find the joy in it." So I've been trying to say yes more often and let go of my agenda a little. A little. One example is letting an afternoon of errands go longer than necessary so that the kids could do one of their favorite things in Flagstaff: climb on the rock wall that separates the parking lot at Target from Michaels. Don't ask me why they love it, I really don't understand, but we do it almost every time!

...we stopped on our way past Little America to partake in 50 cent ice cream cones and climb on the dinosaur.

...I enjoyed a mid-morning snack of cupcake tea and a spaghetti cookie, delivered right to the computer desk.

...I cooked dinner on my grandmother's old waffle iron (with her special recipe that was one of my favorite family traditions at her house) and (I think) my great-grandma's cast iron skillet. I felt so connected to the past!
...these two have become great friends and dressed up like prairie people.

...they didn't have plates on the prairie so they ate lunch in their cabin in front of the fire using muffin tins.

...we enjoyed a warm, pre-snow afternoon at the park.

...we did another of our favorite activities: leaving Annie at home--just kidding, we did "rolling down the hill". I like it as much as them!

...we had fun with my cell phone camera and the sunset. We never got the timing just right, but we did get one picture where Sam looks headless and he thought that was awesome!

...we went and saw the Lollipop Nutcracker--a shorter version of the nutcracker for kids. I shouldn't have told Evan that he would get a lollipop at the end because he asked me for it about every two minutes.

...we discovered our tickets were for the seats right next to my old college roommate (and dear friend) Amanda. I complained that the picture of me would look wrinkly and she suggested that in a few years, I would think it looked great comparatively speaking so I decided to stop complaining about wrinkly pictures because she makes a good point.
...Sam lost his first upper tooth on his first snow day ever (I got the nerve up to pull it out). When many adults mentioned that if he lost the other one, he could sing" All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth", he started really working on the other one that didn't seem very loose, and 3 days later, we pulled that one out, too!

(And he learned all the words to the song by himself and sang it in front of all the residents in a retirement home this weekend! So cute!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Reason for the Name

It's Thanksgiving week (I like how a one-day holiday has turned into a week-long reason to get off of work and school celebration) and I was reflecting on the name of my blog and my affinity for pilgrims.

A little known fact about me that I am very proud of is that I am a Mayflower descendant (and I have papers to prove it!) Most of the time I wear sweats and let my kids eat candy they find on the floor of the grocery store, but I have papers to prove that my ancestors came on the Mayflower, so every Thanksgiving, I stand up a little taller because I am pedigreed...or something.

The papers say that I am a direct descendant on my mom's side to John Alden and Priscilla (Mullen) Alden (I think they are in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Movie so that adds to the celebrity-factor of my lineage, I think). If I remember what my mom taught me, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandmother was the first white baby born in New England (Elizabeth Alden). She lived until she was 94! It looks like John was 21 when he came and Priscilla was only 18...I wonder if they got married on the ship? So, you see, when people ask me what my ethnicity is, I emphatically answer American (though not if I am talking to a Native American because then it could get a little dicey).

Okay, it's not really that big of a deal to have Mayflower papers and to be a descendant of a pilgrim, but I think it's fun to wonder about how my life has been shaped by my heritage and to feel connected to a bigger story than just my own life. I like to imagine (and it is very likely) that they left to escape religious persecution in England, though all that is recorded was that John Alden was a barrel-maker. It's interesting that all I "want" in life is to put down roots and stay forever in one place, but I married a man who would have been one of the first to sign up for passage on that ship so long ago. Maybe he was like John, and maybe Priscilla only went because her father said their family was going...maybe she cried like I would as she watched her beloved homeland become a speck in the distance. But I bet she found strength she didn't know she had and put her heart into making a new home in the New World. That's how I felt when Jeremy and I went to Kazakhstan...and Jeremy often reminds me that even though I was reluctant at first to go, it was the hardest for me to leave.

So I guess I like this idea of being a be a sojourner in a world that is not my home but to be looking ahead to where I really belong. We are studying the book of Genesis in the Bible with our youth group and God takes so many of his people out of their homeland and somewhere new because he wants to do something through them and show his greatness and his plan--Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, even Mary and Joseph and many of the disciples. It kept them looking to God for their security and provision instead of themselves, and helped them see that God transcends their culture and customs and is bigger than they ever thought.

The thing that really inspired me to name this blog "These Pilgrim Days" were the words to one of my favorite songs that is an old hymn redone by Indellible Grace (I'll put it here in writing that I want it sung at my funeral, whenever that is)'s the last verse:

Haste thee on from grace to glory, Armed by faith, and winged by prayer. Heaven’s eternal days before thee, God’s own hand shall guide us there. Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, Hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you, God, for so many blessings in my life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Difference Between the Boy-kind and the Girl-Kind

Here's how the Girl-kind thinks (evidenced by how she talks to herself while playing with the following objects):

"Hello Mommy, Daddy, walk walk walk. Mommy Daddy. Okay, bye, Okay, bye."

"Hello, how you? Baby crying. Oh no! Mommy, Daddy. Mommy, Daddy, Sam, Edit (Evan), Annie, Mommy, Daddy. Baby cryin'." (and then they always seem to be kissing or whispering to each other).

And here's how the Boy-kind thinks (as evidenced by Evan's description of his drawing):
"This is a robot. He's thinking about red. This is another robot. He's thinking about black."

I'm beginning to think it really can be possible for my husband to be answering me honestly when I ask him what he's thinking about and he says, "Nothing."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pics from CA, Broken Stereotypes, and a Cool Story

Here's a glimpse into some of the fun we had on our recent trip to CA (and some of my random thoughts, of course)...

As per CA stereotype #1, the weather was perfect and gorgeous like it always seems to be (except for when we're trying to have a garage sale).
One of my kids even got nekked in the public fountain...not sure whether that's culturally acceptable in the OC, but we did it anyway. (Well, actually at least for a while she was wearing her brother's hand-me-down, stained, saggy training underwear)
Here she is trying to hand said underwear to older brother

I think we ate outside on the patio for every meal, so nice!
Our friend, Dottie, came to visit and admire my kids, which is a nice change from everyone always seeming to admire my sister's Vizla (dog) and overlook my human children when we are in Southern CA (always happens in Sedona, too).
We went to my hometown Heritage Days Parade. Because of CA stereotype #2 (you have to arrive at least 2 hours early for any event), I tried to convince everyone to go at like 8 am to Save Seats! Sam and I ended up going an hour early and there were like 3 empty lawn chairs set up on the entire block...we had plenty of room to choose from.

CA Stereotype #3--Un-practical, Semi-ridiculous Fashion
Here, I'll zoom in so you can really see...and mind you, it was HOT (almost 90 degrees) that day!
(I guess being in CA brings the paparazzi out in all of us).

CA Stereotype #4--Everything in CA is better-produced than smalltown USA-- more polished, professional, entertainment-y. Yeah, this parade broke that stereotype...Flagstaff's 4th of July Parade blew this one out of the water. So long, huge gaps, no candy, mediocre announcers, etc. We made our kids endure till the very end so we could see our high school band march by, and when it did, we were kind of underwhelmed.
El Dorado Alumni might recognize Wild Bill in front of the band in this picture...he's still doin' his thing!

The best part of the day was hanging out with old Band-Os, Amy and Tricia. We have 5 boys and 2 girls between us...time flies!

We went to a "festible" at the park afterward, and again, I think I like our small-town festibles just as much if not more. Here are Sam and his friend, Andrew standing inside the cowboy's lasso. I couldn't dislodge grumpy Annie from my lap for a better photo. (Annie may have been grumpy because I had just walked off and left her in the busy crowd of people).
Oh, but our festibles don't ever have the massive Titanic slide, so that was pretty cool, except that (true to CA stereotypes) it cost like a million dollars to slide down it twice.
Also true to stereotypes (this one just in general), Grandma said yes to all requests to eat snacks and go on over-priced slides. Thanks, Grandma!
Here's a stereotype that I know isn't true, but I still enjoy seeing it broken..."People in CA are snobby". My parent's neighbors are some of the nicest people I've ever met! They give me hand-me-downs, share toys with us when we come, and even invite my kids to their kids' birthday parties! While we were there, Sam and Evan were invited to the next-door neighbor Connor's reptile birthday party. A Reptile Guy came and did a really fun and interesting presentation (big-city folk have moved beyond clowns and bounce houses for birthday parties).
In this picture, Evan (the littlest kid there) is eagerly volunteering to hold something I thought for sure he would shy away from.

This would have completely embarrassed me as a teenager...the entire birthday party (adults included--and I swear one of the moms is a Real Housewife of Orange County) come out into the front yard to throw water balloons and my dad is hanging out in the back of my van with an old holey jazz band t-shirt of mine on, making faces as he tries to fix something in my car. At least he wasn't wearing his mad-scientist robe over his Donald Duck sweatshirt this time.
Evan is usually one of the littlest kids and yet he has such a cool personality that older kids like hanging out with him and even let him lead the games sometimes.

CA Stereotype #6ish--Everyone in Southern CA cares more about appearances than reality. My friend Carlee broke that stereotype because even though I think she is super stylish and a trend setter and has this amazing line of animal hoodies for kids ( and her husband is a model and actor (mostly extra-work for commercials) and aspiring rockstar, she is so real and unapologetic about life raising 3 boys and the messes and the stresses of running all their businesses out of their home, etc. Here are all 5! of our boys completely destroying her clean tablecloth and she doesn't seem to mind. She even fed a Nutella-covered pretzel to a squirrel that stopped in to visit us.

Here's her hubby in a commercial, just for the fun of it...he sits down on the couch wearing a green shirt about 6 seconds in...

And I couldn't resist putting up this video that her husband made with his band, the Pseudo Rebels.

This little stinker is a girl but she's fearless!

And one of my favorite things I did on this trip was visit with my friend Masha. I met her in Kazakhstan when she was 18 and now she is married and lives in the OC and has a brand new baby girl. She has grown so much and is thankful for her life in CA but still struggles with feeling like an outsider and missing her grandmother (the only real family she had most of her life) back in Kazakhstan. She told me a cool story about how she came to find someone trustworthy to care for her ailing grandmother while she is here in America--when I was in KZ in 2003, I visited Dubai and bought a beautiful silk dress. I wore it out to dinner back in KZ and got black car oil all over it when getting out of a taxi. I took it to a dry cleaner and they asked me if I knew someone who could teach English to their daughter. I gave them Masha's name and she ended up becoming a tutor and then friend of the daughter of the dry-cleaner. The daughter ended up becoming a Christian through Masha (who was learning about the Bible through Jeremy and I and our team), and now works for a ministry in Shymkent and cares for Masha's grandma, a woman who needs Christ's love so much in her life right now!
Seeing Masha was a good reminder that even though people can appear one way in Southern California, there's a lot more beneath the surface than what you necessarily see. And, Masha would agree that despite America's problems and the temptation to be materialistic, America truly is a land of opportunity and freedom. That's one stereotype I hope continues.