Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Snow Fun/To Be Sick

Aren't I clever with the double topic post that makes a punny sentence when said altogether.

I have decided that I need to update the blog a lot more often. There is a lot that goes on around here, and I have been slack in my responsibility to update the family and friends (nay, the interested world, ha-ha). So I aim to post something at least twice a week. I will do some retro posts (the big boys' 4th birthday comes to mind...) as well as current ones. Having said that, here is a current one:

Today was a snow day. We got quite a bit of snow (especially for Tennessee) the last couple of days. We ran a few errands yesterday, and discovered that the lane up to our house (which is decently steep) was treacherous and almost unmanageable. Chris had to drive up backwards, and we were spinning our wheels quite a bit for a while. The boys were stressed (as was I), but Chris was absolutely determined to get up that hill. I was envisioning having to lug the kids and groceries up through 6 inches of snow and slush along with leaving our van at the bottom of the hill, and was grateful to have a very competent and confident snow driver for a husband. But that is a side story. The point was that once we did get home all safe and sound (and warm), we decided we wouldn't be journeying anywhere beyond our yard the next day. And we found out later on that church services were cancelled anyway. So we thought some sledding would be in order.

The boys have been begging to play out in the snow every time a flake falls. George especially. But the last couple of days, George had an ever-increasing illness setting in. This morning it seemed about the same, but just as we were getting bundled up to go outside, he got sick and threw up. Poor little guy. So we banned him from the snow play. I decided to go ahead and take Josh and Blake out, as Chris was happy to stay inside with George. George cried just a little bit, but got over it quickly, which indicated to me just how poorly he was feeling. Normally he would have cried buckets and wailed for hours at the thought of not getting to go.

So while he was inside watching a movie of his choice (his first viewing of James and the Giant Peach, he decided), Joshua, Blake, and I were outside loving the sun and snow, as you can see:

Blake after we first got outside.
Josh immediately grabbed a chunk of snow and came at me with it. He started laughing uncontrollably the closer he got, knowing he was going to throw it at me.
Blake quickly shed the gloves and sunglasses and went straight to eating snow.
It shouldn't have surprised me, considering that this next picture was the first time he was ever in the snow (almost exactly a year ago) and you can see what his favorite part about that experience was.
I would have taken him out in the snow the year he before, but I'm not sure he could have appreciated it considering he looked like this:
So while Blake was eating snow, I was busy getting in a workout. I mean, building a snowman. And here it is! Why yes, that IS a real carrot nose, and even more impressive is that it came from our very own garden!
Here's our snow-loving doggy.
Josh worked up an appetite, and thought the carrot nose was a bit too tempting.
There goes the nicely pointed nose.
Then Blake took matters (or carrot, as it were) into his own hands.
Aww, buddy, I'm sorry I tried to eat your nose. I still love ya.
Blake loves ya too.
I can't stand how cute this picture is.
And here is Blake's very first sledding experience, which he of course loved (he is MY son, after all).

Blake was trying to lead me somewhere, but we had more sledding to do, and he wouldn't come willingly. So I carried him, kicking and screaming. I should mention it was past his nap time.
While Blake and I sledded a bit and then I dropped him off with Daddy for his nap, Josh effectively demolished our snowman.
So we did some more sledding. Here we are, getting ready to take off.
How much happier could a boy get?
He even cheerfully dragged the tube back up the hill. Repeatedly.
And poor sick George missed out on all the fun. Isn't that just the cutest misery you ever saw? He did have fun hanging out one-on-one with Daddy, so it wasn't all bad. Maybe next time it snows big here in Tennessee, little buddy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Single Parent

Chris is away on his first business trip since Blake was born, leaving me with all 3 kids for almost a week for the first time in my life (without help).

Things with the kids are pretty much fine, though I am more tired at the end of the day (obviously). This is the second night but only the first full day. I figure tomorrow mid-day will put us at about the halfway point. Bedtime takes a little longer, and I've had to reinstate the SuperYard (sorry Blake!). But overall I feel that it could be worse. It would be nice if the weather wasn't so icky.

Two bad things have happened so far, and they are both completely unrelated to the solo childcare situation.

1) I spilled an entire cup of water on my beloved MacBook. I fear it will never be the same again, but time will tell. I am encouraged by the comments on Facebook by those who have had their laptops survive such a catastrophe.

2) We have a mouse (or mice) either living in or frequenting our pantry. We noticed the other day after the boys' basketball game that the bags of crispy nuts I had made had some little chew holes in them. Then tonight, as I was looking for rice to put my aforementioned addiction, er, computer into (a friend suggested this tip - said it would draw out the water), I discovered that almost EVERY bag of rice, beans, and grains has holes. Not to mention some *other* evidence that left no doubt about the culprit(s). So now I have popcorn, beans, and grains on my kitchen floor and who knows where in the pantry. I'll have to clear off the shelves and dump out the organizational baskets to find it all. Grr. I spent 45 minutes putting most of it into glass storage and labeling it. What a pain! And I'm still not finished, but I need a break to blog out this frustration.

Did I mention I'm tired? And I really need to start on this online Bible study I enrolled in, but now instead of doing it from the comfort of my bed, I'll do it in our freezing spare room (where the "house" computer is). Having gotten all of that off of my chest, let me say that I am super grateful that Chris insisted we get this computer as well as the MacBook. Also, let me say that I realize I am complaining about things that are completely trivial in the light of the Haiti earthquake, the economy, and a myriad of other issues that are infinitely more important. Just so we're clear that I do have a smidgen of perspective here.

So I must drag out the vacuum cleaner and suck up all of the little bits of potential mouse lure (since the glue trap isn't working thus far). And then I might just go to bed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feeling God's Presence

Meet Melanie:

Melanie is my best friend. We have basically grown up together since our early teen years. We stayed close all through college, were roommates after college, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and she attends our family functions as one of our family members. She knows me: good, bad, and ugly. She accepts me and loves unconditionally. She is willing to tell me hard truths and call me out on poor behavior or misplaced attitudes or perceptions.

Melanie was a church-goer her whole life, but truly received Christ's salvation just a few years ago. Since then she has undergone a transformation, and strives each day to bring glory to God and make this world a better place (the latter of which she has always done). Melanie inspires me, prays for me, encourages me, and makes me want to be a better Christian. I miss Melanie fiercely when we are apart. But the Holy Spirit has reminded me more than once that I can rejoice in the knowledge that Melanie and I will spend eternity together, in the presence of our Savior.

Melanie and I were catching up on the phone earlier today, just before we were getting ready to go to our Wednesday night church service. Melanie was telling me about a Bible Study that she is involved in about stewardship. We talked a bit about that right before we hung up. My family and I go to church, and I looked at the sermon notes to find out that the topic is "God's Economy." Coincidence? I think not.

I started thinking about how God has been getting my attention over the last 6 months. Repeated themes, uncanny situations, and even certain Scriptures that I thought I had just randomly read somehow ended up having real-life application soon after I came across them. And tonight, it occurred to me that all of these are instances of feeling God's presence in my life. I know that God is real. I know that God loves me. And I know that he has a plan and a purpose for my life. It is a humbling thing. I have always loved that God has promised to be present when two or more have gathered in His name. But I didn't realize that promise could include a simple phone call between best friends. But it does. It definitely does.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trumped Up Toy

The boys have really been getting into games lately, and one that we've introduced with decent results is Dominoes. The set we have is made of marble (I think?), and the dominoes are heavy. There aren't a ton of them either, which is fine if you're playing the game, but far from adequate if you want to set up cool domino mazes to knock down. As this was something my brothers and I loved to do as kids, I thought it would be fun to find some that were a bit more kid-friendly.

So when I was shopping for Christmas gifts, I couldn't resist getting some that were Mickey Mouse themed since we were going to Disney World as our big "family gift." And I found this:

Too perfect, right? It is so cute! It was only $5, the dominoes are plastic (there are 140 of them!), Micky Mouse themed, and there is even a cool bridge that comes with it. The boys were excited about it too.

Then I opened the box. The dominoes that I thought were standard sized are, in fact, tiny. Then I discovered that the pictures for said miniscule plastic red rectangles are not actually on them to begin with. Observe, if you will:

I added the Scotch Tape dispenser for a size reference.

They did included a sheet of tiny stickers for lucky parents to adhere themselves. See?

Ok, thought I, not that big of a deal. They are pretty cute. It will take a little time, but for $5 what did I expect?

I expected the stickers to actually stick. But this was not the case. There was no stickiness to these whatsoever. The glue had dried or something and they were just brittle. But, being that Chris had already decided that we should not take it back to the store for a refund, and also because I refuse to let this silly game get the better of me, I decided to use some of my abundant supply of scrapbooking adhesive and stick them on anyway. Take that, greedy corporate Disney marketers! Here's a peek at my process (again, the Scotch Tape was just for size reference):

It took a while, but I didn't really mind as I did it while we watched the season premiere of Chuck. Then I came to the end of the stickers. But I still had a pile of un-decorated dominoes. What the? I read the instruction sheet, and sure enough, there are only 100 stickers for 140 dominoes. I figure that they just don't want to swallow the cost to either include another 100-count sticker page or to create a separate page with just 40. So why not just pretend it was done this way on purpose?

At any rate, the dominoes are ready to play with. I did forget to mention that the aforementioned cool bridge was broken in two places.

Ah, yes, there it is. See how part of Mickey's head is missing? Fresh out of the box like that. I guess you get what you pay for. But we are going to play with this thing and have lots of fun, by golly!

If you're reading this, I hope you enjoyed my complaint.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Retro Post - 30 Days of Thanks: A Compilation

I meant to post this in the first part of December, but somehow I either forgot or got too distracted to do it. I figured it would be a good way to start off 2010 - to once again reflect on so many things that I am thankful for. I borrowed an idea from a few Facebook friends and decided to post a status about what I was thankful for every day for 30 days leading up to Thanksgiving. It was a great exercise in intentional gratitude, and I thought it would be nice to have it on the blog for posterity (and for those who may not have seen it yet). So here is the list of some of the things I am thankful for, big and small.

30 Days of Thanks - Facebook Statuses

is planning to give thanks through status updates for the next 30 days (today through Thanksgiving) - thanks for the passing on the idea Heather. Anyone else want to join in?
Day 1: I am thankful for Fall leaves. The colors are breathtaking, you can get exercise by raking them, and the kids have a blast jumping in them!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 2: I am thankful for humor. Chris and I watched Ice Age 3 last night, and laughed all the way through. It was great! It's nice to have a good laugh.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 3: I am thankful for coffee (even if it IS half-caf). I love the smell of it, the taste of it, hot or iced...I love making it at home and going out to coffee shops. Many good conversations have been had, good books read, and thoughts pondered while sipping a cup of joe.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 5: I am thankful that God doesn't care what I wear or how my hair looks when I go to church. I am thankful that my children are not yet familiar with the worldly/popular culture idea of beauty. And I am super thankful that my husband loves me as I am, and would love me even if I never lost another pound (though I'd like to lose MANY!).

30 Days of Thanks, Day 6: I am thankful for living out in the country. I am a burbs girl at heart, but there are so many things that I have enjoyed about country living (and it is just AWESOME for the boys). For example, not 10 minutes ago, George pointed out 3 beautiful white-tailed deer just up the hill past our property, and we could see them all from our front door! It was a neat moment. God is definitely changing my mind about living rurally (is that even a word?).

30 Days of Thanks, Day 7: I am thankful for my parents. They have been an unending fountain of support, unconditional love, generosity, faithfulness, forgiveness, grace and so much more to me and my family. I had a wonderful childhood with tons of great memories. They are amazing grandparents to my children. I thank God for their presence in my life. And best of all, they are coming TODAY!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 8: I am thankful for the sunshine. Chris keeps telling me how he would love to live in Washington State again, but I just don't think I'd like the lack of sunshine. Sunshine gives us Vitamin D, warms us up, and provides so much beauty (especially here, now, with all of the Fall colors and all of the trees). Today is a sunny day!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 9: I am thankful for my good health. It is not perfect, but when I think of all I CAN do, I am humbled and grateful. I hope never to take feeling good for granted. When you get headaches a lot, it is really nice to have days when they are completely absent.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 10: I am thankful for my children. God has blessed us with sweet, funny, thoughtful, beautiful little boys. They light up our lives, teach us lessons, and amaze us every day. They are such blessings.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 11: I am extremely thankful for nights where I get uninterrupted sleep. Last night was such a night. Woo-hoo!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 12: I am thankful for being blessed with a string of awesome churches to attend and the church families therein. Our current church streams the services live, which is super nice for when people are sick. I am also thankful for living in a country where we have the freedom to worship God.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 13: I am very thankful for Chris' job. It allows him to work from home instead of having to go to an office all day every day. Having been apart for 5 months, it is that much sweeter that we get to spend more time with him than before. We are cherishing this phase, as there is a chance he will be doing a lot of travel in the future. But for now, this is what we need and we are very blessed.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 14: I am thankful for my whole family of in-laws. They have embraced me and loved me from the get-go. They are a lot of fun to be around, and they have truly blessed my life. I am also thankful that Facebook has allowed me to connect with many of them much more frequently, as we are all spread out over the country. I love you guys!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 15: I am so grateful to the men and women who serve/d our country so selflessly and sacrificially to protect our freedoms. I am thankful for the families who support them, miss them, and care for them. Happy Veteran's Day!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 16: I am thankful for the internet. I love paying bills online, staying in touch with family and friends, researching various things, shopping without having to go anywhere (and saving money doing it!), and so much more!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 17: I am thankful for moments of inspiration and/or motivation. It feels good to seize those moments.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 18: I am thankful for the budding independence of my older children. Even though it saddens me that they are growing up so fast, it sure is nice that they can get dressed by themselves, go to the bathroom alone, feed themselves, and do certain creative activities without my involvement. I am so proud and amazed by my awesome kids. ♥

30 Days of Thanks, Day 19: I am thankful for the wonderful farm we get our milk and eggs from. It is a gorgeous drive, the farm itself is beautiful, colorful, and full of life, and the products are superb!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 20: I am thankful for water and electricity. Having been without both since moving, I realize how much those simple but crucial things are easily overlooked on a day-to-day basis. I love not having to lug buckets somewhere to collect water, or scrub my laundry in the stream. Electric kitchen appliances alone are so helpful. So many reasons to be thankful for these basic necessities.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 21: I am thankful for the gift that is my husband. I love sharing life with him. I love that God has blessed our marriage in so many ways. I love having him as a helpful, considerate, loyal, loving partner. I am eternally grateful beyond words to be married to my incredible man.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 22: I am thankful for eBay and craigslist. It is nice having ways to bring in a little extra money without having to revise the resume, prep for interviews, go into an office, or figure out childcare. On the flip side, it is also great to use those places for getting great deals too!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 23: I am thankful that we will be in Indiana tonight and that we will get to spend time with family for an early Thanksgiving celebration. I am thankful that we get to take part in a traditional Thanksgiving feast, the likes of which many people never seen. We are abundantly blessed.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 24: I am thankful for the sweet, innocent, simple prayers of my little boys. They melt my heart (and I'm sure God enjoys them too).

30 Days of Thanks, Day 25: I am thankful for getting to spend time with my best friend. Now that I am short on friends to hang out with from moving, it makes the time with her that much sweeter. I love you, Melanie!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 26: I am thankful we were able to attend ECC and see so many friends. I miss you all, and it was wonderful to be able to say Hi!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 27: I am thankful for the time we got to spend in Indiana, but I am also thankful to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. I am also thankful that the sugar overload is done for a while. Time to detox!

30 Days of Thanks, Day 28: I am thankful that I don't have to cook a huge Thanksgiving meal, and that I was already able to enjoy one.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 29: I am thankful for my chiropractor.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 30: 30 days of intentional thanksgiving is a great reminder that I have something to be thankful for every single day. I am most thankful for a great big God who provides every reason to be thankful. His grace, mercy, love, and provision are more than enough. Happy Thanksgiving!