Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We Went Camping

For a family that considers themselves a "camping family," we sure don't camp much.  But we went to the local mountains and got it done.  I can't even take credit for the idea or most of the planning, my friend Julie did that.  We had fun and didn't freeze.  The kids acted so in awe of the forest and every rock, stick, and was a little sad to think that they used to live right in the forest, basically, and now they don't remember.  Sigh.  We gotta get out there and do it more.  Oh, and since we've grown since the last time we camped, we need a new tent!  Luckily, our friends who planned the trip have all the camping gear one could possibly need, yet they prefer to sleep on real sheets and blankets in their SUV, so we got to use their tent.  It was super rugged.  Just kidding.


Our little tent city...sorry fellow campers a few feet away (Southern CA campgrounds pack 'em in tight).  We were a little loud.

Friends from the kids' school.  Love them!

That's about how I felt after the lack of sleep the night before due to worrying about having to get up to go pee and also worrying about the kids having to get up to go pee or worse, not getting up to go pee.

We are training Sam to be a back up photographer, so maybe in the future I will be in more photos.  It's okay if they keep being blurry because I look better that way.

So much joy sitting on a big rock.  Reminds us of our strength and frailty at the same time, I think.

When I was a kid, I loved getting dirty while camping. It's the one time when it's okay, it seems.  Looks like Annie had a great camping trip (she never took off her socks or shoes except to sleep--this dirt came through 2 pairs of socks and tennis shoes!  Success!)

Oh, and by the way, I am completely stinking at my Fall Resolutions.  That's why I am always wearing stretchy pants and being illogical and unloving to my kids.  :)  But for realses, I gotta buckle down!  (I already feel myself making the "it's the holidays" excuse.  Since when did Halloween get rolled up into the "holidays".  This is gonna be hard!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Here's to Hopefully More Than Just Wishful Thinking

It's October 10th!  The perfect day guessed it!  New Year's resolutions, of course!  But I need to think of another name since I don't believe it is a new year according to any known calendar on this day.  There have just been some things pinging around in my head and I am resolved to write them down and commit to them on this very day.

Resolution #1:  Read more.  I am a person who loves books and hardly reads, it seems.  I mean, for the past 9 years I've been plagued with Small-Children-in-the-Home-All-the-Time Syndrome (it's a real thing...symptoms include dirty hair, aversion to fingerprint smudges, turning in circles in the kitchen all day due to constant food requests, Shower Rage (when you go for a quick minute and someone is still yelling from right outside the door--it's another real thing), emotional vomit onto husband the minute he walks through the door, and lack of time for reading or completing a single thought.  Are you familiar with it?)  I have some time to myself now...I pick Annie up from kindergarten at 11:10 so it goes fast, but I have it and it is precious.  And it makes me feel guilty, too, which is kind of strange because haven't I earned it?  Anyway, I just finished reading this gem:

Loved it.  Loved it loved it loved it.  I actually read it outloud to Jeremy on a car ride like we used to do when we were first married.  Aw!  Now I am reading this:

I'll let you know if I love it and if it is logical when I am done. (Ba-doom-crash)  

Resolution #2:  To stop spending little amounts of money here and there.  It adds up.  From now until thanksgiving, I am just going to say no to unnecessary spending.  We have enough, we have more than enough. The only dilemma is that I need a new pair of shoes because some of my old faves broke down on me I'll have to figure that one out.  Also, I hardly fit in any clothes I own right now, so I feel like I should go get something so I am not such a slob...but instead I need to be resolved and resolute to complete resolution #3.  (see below)

Resolution #3:  Losing weight (sad trombone).  I love to bake, I love to eat, this is a hard area for me but really, I need to wear the clothes I own instead of getting new ones.  It's not a horrible situation, but it needs work.  I thought of posting a before picture, but really, I just want to get down to business and get it done without a lot of fuss.  On a fun note, though, I am feeling inspired by my sister.  Last year, she swam from one Hawaiian island to another (epic), and I had this little feeble voice inside of me that was like, "I should do something epic, too."  I was like "5ks and 10ks are so trendy, I am going to do something more interesting."  
So, guys, guess what I came up with? (drumroll) A pull up.  Or a chin up.  I don't really know the difference.  I just know that I want to be able to do one.  One!  Don't you love how epic that sounds! (not)  But I think it is seriously a good goal for me because it means I need to drop some pounds (duh) and gain some muscle...and I don't know if I've ever been able to do one.  I "practice" at the park near my house and it just looks like I'm hanging there being constipated and I'm sure people passing by are like "that poor sad woman" but I don't care (most days) (actually, I've only gone 3 days so I can hardly be even saying this like it's a real thing at this point).  So here I plant my stake in the ground and ask me in like 6 months if I've gotten my chin near that bar and I'll let you know.

Resolution #4:  Memorizing Bible verses.  Best thing I've ever done and I sadly hardly ever do it.  

Resolution #5:  Finally ever being consistent with routines, chores, and allowance with the kids.  I am resolving to be realistic and not expect massive change in this area of weakness for myself and them, but I am going to take some baby steps.  I'll let you know how that goes, too.

I had something else but now I can't remember so I guess I'm off the hook on that one.  Phew!

And I still haven't thought of a name for my resolutions.  It is starting to feel a little fall-y around here, and I was thinking about putting up some fall decor today, so maybe I'll call them my Fall Resolutions.  There, it's done.  Bye!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back to Blogging

After quite a hiatus, I am ready to write on here again.  I've been busy, of course...there's just all of life and summer and people around.  And there's the internal, personal nature of things that just hadn't taken form in words on the page yet.  There's also the overwhelmed feeling I get when I read what's out on Internetland...a lot of opinions and Lists of Things That Are Going to Change My Life and I'll Never Be the Same (but really most of the time are a waste of time or worse, a gimmick to get me somewhere I don't want to be--you know what I'm talking about?).  And yet I continually struggle with where my voice will fall in the great sea of words out on the world wide web.  So I create, and re-create, and question my little blog and the temptation to be something I'm not.  In the end, I come back to wanting to tell a story...the simple story of what God is doing in our lives, even if it's just the mundane abundance of busy blessings this motherhood/home-making thing is turning out to be. (And by home-making, I don't specifically mean the occupation of "housewife", I mean the making of a home).  I want to be purposeful, intentional, honest, and continue posting pictures of the kids for the grandparents.  There it is, and it's not likely to be reposted on the Huffington Post.

But there is a worth to the words I write, and I was greatly encouraged by a short talk I heard from a conference about C.S. Lewis (I'll include the video at the bottom of the page).  It was an encouragement to WRITE, taken from letters a young Lewis wrote to friends.  He said, "Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing.  Ink is the great cure of all human ills."  Maybe our ink isn't the Great Cure of ALL of the ills...but a Word was...and we are imitators of what we have been shown and responsible to communicate the meaning we see in life to others.  Robert Frost said, "A poem begins as a lump in the throat; a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a love-sickness in the midst of this world's mess."  And so I continue with These Pilgrim Days...a fullness of life here and all I want it to be and how it really is and the homesickness for somewhere else where all wrongs will eventually be made right.

Now, to bring you up to speed with our family:  Jeremy applied for PhD programs (in theology) and was well-received and accepted to a few world-class programs.  He applied for scholarships and we held out until the LAST (read: waited and waited and waited) possible scholarship to come from a school in Durham, England.  Right at the end of the school year, we heard no.  Then, we didn't find a buried treasure, win the lottery, or receive an unexpected inheritance from a mysterious benefactor, so we (sadly) had to put the PhD dream on hold and proceed with the demands and pressures of life.  Something that has been in our hearts for some time has been having a hospitality house...a place where people are made to feel welcome and important conversations are had around the dinner table.  We longed to host international students...and right at the moment of greatest discouragement, Jeremy disappeared from our poolside conversation (at a friend's house) and came back with a breathlessly narrated cell-phone video: a house that had just been listed for rent right by Cal State University in Fullerton (that he snuck into through a window in typical Jeremy-fashion).  I could tell from his voice that it was something special.  It would be a risk to commit to it in the hopes that imaginary international students would come to live with us...but it was a great opportunity and close to our hearts.  In a whirlwind of craziness, we committed and then were like, "Ah!  What have we done?!  What if this doesn't work?!" (well, maybe mostly me, in my head).  

At the height of the feeling-like-we-jumped-off-a-cliff phase, I went to a garage sale (might I interject that I had a little too much fun scavenging the neighborhoods for free and cheap furniture to fill the place with?) and the people were like "Help us get rid of our stuff because we are moving overseas" and I felt a little pain in my heart that has been so familiar over the past 2 years...that's what we were supposed to be doing. 

"Where are you moving?"
"England!" (little knife stabbing in my heart)
"Can I ask where?"
"A city called Durham." (knife twisting)
"What for, if you don't mind me asking?" (heart fluttering)
"My husband is going for a PhD." (out-of-body feeling)
"I'm what?"  (couldn't be...this is too uncanny)
"Theology." (once again, the feeling of running to the end of the dock only to watch the ship sail away without us)

Did we miss something?  Were we not faithful enough?  It was hard to come home and re-tell the story to Jeremy who had just felt so sad putting all of his books on the shelves of our new place to collect dust for the time being.  But, in the retelling, we both realized that we were in a different place than that family.  We are rebuilding after being broken down.  We are in need of a fresh start.  We are obviously in need of A LOT of refinement and humbling :)  And so we are satisfied, for now, and hopeful (most days) that God will establish the work of our hands.  

In the meantime (which is really the only time), we are having fun in this big crazy house with really wonderful students to learn from and play with and live life with.  We LOVE our students...we couldn't have hand-picked them better!  We have Mohammed from Iraq, Mohammad from Iran, Adam from Pakistan, and Janyl from Kyrgyzstan.  I'm sure they will appear often in this blog and it will be fun to record our memories here this year as we share them together.  They are a part of our family now, so keep that in mind in your comments, if applicable.  

And lastly, a recap of our lives over the past 6 months (this is the part with the pictures for the grandparents :))...I made a slideshow.  It moves fast, so buckle up!  (P.S. I had a lot of trouble getting it to come out high quality so just watch it on the small screen here and it looks best)

Here's the link to the 11-minute video about C.S. Lewis and writing: