Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Making Lemonade

Here's just a glimpse into the past 24 hours . . . not all of it . . . just small parts of it.  Because a lot can happen in 24 hours.  A lot can happen in less than that.  Or at least around here it sure can.

I needed a quick supper last night because the kids had dental appointments yesterday afternoon.  I also needed something that everyone likes.  So chicken tacos it was.  My go-to chicken is cooked in my crockpot because clean-up is a snap, and I don't have to be here to do anything with it.  When it's done, I can shred it and use it for tacos or enchiladas or potpie or a casserole or BBQ or whatever.  When I pulled my chicken out of the freezer yesterday morning, I saw in the very bottom of the freezer a ziplock bag of chicken stock.  Or so I thought.  I pulled it out, too.  The first thing I noticed is that the bag wasn't labeled.  I always label everything I freeze.  I was also surprised to find it in there, as I thought I'd already used up the last of my homemade chicken stock.  I opened the bag to smell it.  It didn't smell like anything.  It was frozen.  So I thawed it out and smelled it again.  It still didn't smell like anything.  I didn't taste it because I just didn't.  So I poured it in my crockpot, added a little Mexican seasoning and then threw my chicken on top.  When we got home, the chicken was cooked perfectly.  I shredded it up and fixed the kids' tacos.  I made myself a small salad with the chicken on top.  And then I tasted a piece of the chicken.  Had I not known better, I would've thought I'd bitten right into a lemon, rind and all.  I have no idea how that bag of lemon juice got in my freezer or where it came from (well, actually I do), but it definitely wasn't chicken stock.  And, oh my, it was sour!  As in pucker your lips and spit sour.

So what do you do when supper is ruined?  Serve it up anyway.  I don't know why.  I already knew what would happen.  I didn't tell my little secret to anybody.  I was hoping they wouldn't notice.  But I knew better.

Mason (who is the super pickiest eater ever on the face of the planet) took one bite and then promptly drank his entire glass of water.  He was just a spitting and a sputtering.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said, "That stuff the dentist put on my teeth . . . well, it just made my food taste funny.  I have to go get this stuff off my teeth."  At this point, I am dying and trying as hard as I can to keep my composure.  I waited another minute and asked him if he was going to eat it or if I needed to fix something else for him.  He asked for macaroni and cheese.  So I told him to go throw his food away, all three of the tacos on his plate, and I got up to fix the mac and cheese.  I've never allowed him to throw that much food away before or fixed him something else in the middle of a meal.  He was shocked and gave me a very questioning look (I really think he thought I'd lost my mind), but I told him to go ahead and do it.

By this time, Ellie has pushed hers aside, too.  That's nothing unusual.  There's no guarantee she would've eaten it even if it really had been good.  And Hannah Kate?  Well, that girl loves to eat.  She eats pretty much anything and everything.  She loves tacos.  I told her that I'd fix her something else, too, and that she didn't have to eat those tacos.  But she kept eating.  Girlfriend was really trying her best to like those sour chicken tacos.  And she ate two whole tacos before I finally convinced her to give it up and eat a bowl of chili leftover from the other night!  I still never fessed up to my mistake.

As for me, I was just too tired and too aggravated with myself to fix me anything else.  Since I'd had only a salad for lunch, I was hungry.  So I ate it.  But do you know what is not a good idea to do when you have a urinary tract infection (I know . . . this is way too much information)?  You should not eat chicken cooked for six hours in straight up lemon juice because the next morning that acidity has hit your bladder, and you are very well aware of it.  And not in a good way either.

I took Mason to the doctor last Friday with what I thought was strep throat.  The nurse took one look at him and declared he had the flu.  I disagreed with her, but she kindly swabbed him for the flu and for strep.  The pediatrician came in, took one look at him and declared he had the flu.  Are you kidding me?  Because that thought never once entered my mind.  And ten minutes later she came back with the great news that the strep test was negative.  But that flu test was positive.  So tamiflu was our best friend.  Mason did really well throughout the weekend so I sent him to school yesterday for half the day.  Besides still being tired, he seemed back to his usual self.  So this morning I sent him back to school again, and Ellie and I went to Bible study.  After Bible study I pulled my phone out of my purse to call a friend I was going to eat lunch with.  I had several messages from school and texts from Seth (who is not even in this state this week) that Mason had thrown up at school this morning and needed to go home.  That very first call came two hours earlier.  But thankfully Seth called his mom, and she was able to pick Mason up since no one could get in touch with me.  So after a stop by the grocery store to get a bottle of cranberry juice (because I love having nurse friends who can tell me what to do without me having to go to the doctor!) (for the UTI, not the flu), I picked up Mason, and we came home.  He's been okay since, but after a conversation with our pediatrician, tomorrow will be another sick day at home.  Ellie has also had an ear infection during this same time so we are on day 10 of sickness in this house.  And I am ready for it to die quickly!

I love lemonade.  I really do.  My favorite though is an Arnold Palmer . . . half tea and half lemonade.  That's a summer staple for me.  I decided today that I am officially ready for summer.  Heat, sweat and all.  Bring. it. on.  Because I am ready to make some lemonade.  But I don't care to have any chicken with it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Show and Tell Tuesday: That Time I Went on a Mission Trip and Met My Husband

I thought it would be really fun to link up with momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday.  Today we are sharing our love story and how we met our husband.  Most of you already know our story.  But I don't think I've ever blogged about it in detail so I wanted to do that today, mainly for our children.  One of the verses that Mason and I talk about a lot is Jeremiah 29:11.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

He will often mention this verse in context with something that is going on in his life.  "Mom, it must be God's plan . . ." or "Mom, I know why that happened . . ."  I think sometimes he has a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that I lived as a child and grew up in Georgia.  And yet here I am so very far away from there.  One day, out of the blue, he came downstairs and said, "Hey Mom . . . I know why you came to Louisiana.  It was God's plan so you could meet Daddy."

So here's how a Georgia peach ended up 500 miles away in Cajun Country.

It was Thursday, May 27, 1999.  I departed the airport in Atlanta onboard a Delta flight headed to New Orleans.  I'd never been to New Orleans before.  I'd never been to Louisiana before.  As a matter of fact, the farthest west I'd ever been was Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  I was going to spend ten weeks as a summer missionary for what was then the Atchafalaya Baptist Association.  My partners (whom I still had not met) and I were going to conduct door-to-door surveys to determine the need and location for a new church plant, as well as assist area churches with Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Clubs and youth activities.  Not only had I never been to Louisiana before but I'd never even really thought about that particular state before.  I mean, I knew it was there.  But it was never somewhere I'd wanted to go, and I didn't really know very much about it at all.  When I first arrived in New Orleans, all of the summer missionaries serving that summer in Louisiana and I spent three days at the seminary and in the French Quarter learning all about the culture, the history and the people.  I felt like I was in a foreign land.

On Saturday, May 29, our supervisor picked up my partners and I and took us to our host homes for the summer.  There were originally supposed to be four of us, but one of the guys from North Carolina got sick and was not able come.  Both of my other partners were from Alabama.  I had no idea where we were going.  After an hour of driving, we finally arrived at what was to be my host home for the summer.  Mr. Joey and Mrs. Judy met us outside and introduced themselves.  There was another guy walking around the side of the house, and Mr. Joey called him over and introduced him as his youngest son, Seth.  He was wearing an old, worn out LSU camp pulled low over his eyes with a fishing hook on the bill, a dirty white t-shirt and cut off blue jean shorts (I should mention here that one of the first things I did after we got married was rid him of all the cut off blue jean shorts because no ma'am!).  He shook my hand but didn't even look up.  And then he got in the truck with his buddy, and I didn't see him again for a few days.  I was not impressed.  And that was fine with me because that was the farthest thing from my mind at the time.

Every single time someone asks how Seth and I met, and I tell them we met when I was serving as a summer missionary, they inevitably raise their eyebrows.  But that's not the way it was at all.  I had other plans for my life (or at least I thought I did), and those plans did not involve dating.  I was not in the least bit interested in that because, again, other plans.  That did not involve dating or boys or any of that!

The first few weeks of the summer I did not see Seth very much.  My partners and I were busy.  He was working full-time during the week and then spent the weekends fishing or running around with his buddies.  Occasionally I'd see him on Sundays, but that was it.  And, trust me, he was a guy of few words.  Very few.  My initial impression was that he needed to lighten up and show a little personality.  Or at least have a conversation.

We'd been in Louisiana four weeks.  Mr. Joey and Mrs. Judy had arranged to take us fishing off the coast of Louisiana for a couple of days.  And Seth was going.  Right as we were walking out the door, the phone rang.  It was my mom.  She was calling to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that she would be having surgery the following week.  She wanted me to continue to stay and have a good time, but she wanted me to know what was going on.  Needless to say, I remember very little about that fishing trip.  It was the very last place I wanted to be, and I don't think I fished a whole lot at all.  I can remember looking forward to going to bed each night because then I didn't have to look at anyone or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was get out of there.  I really wanted to go home, but I didn't know how that could happen or even if that could happen.  That next Sunday at church they had a special business meeting, and the church offered to pay for a plane ticket so I could go home and be with my mom.  I flew out the next day and spent the last week of June in Georgia.

I never really entertained the thought of not returning to Louisiana only because I had made a commitment, and I was going to keep my commitment.  Besides, I had a new perspective on a lot of things, and I did want to go back and finish the work I knew I'd been called to.  Mama's surgery went really well, and there was no reason to not go back.  It was Friday, July 2.  All of the Alabama summer missionaries were gathering back together in New Orleans to spend a few days for the 4th.  Both of my partners went so I was spending the weekend "alone" at my host family's house.  I was totally fine with that and was looking forward to the "down time" for a couple of days.  

The next day, Seth was going to a party at his cousin's camp on False River.  And Mr. Joey insisted I go.  Well, one thing I can tell you for certain is that I DID NOT want to go.  And not only did I not want to go, but I was also certain Seth did not want me to go either.  I mean, we'd hardly spoken three words to each other the whole time I'd been there.  But as this continued to play out, I finally agreed to go.  I did not want to at all, but I was just tired of hearing about it.  So I went.

For the very first time all summer, Seth and I were by ourselves as he drove us to False River.  It was nearly an hour's drive so we had plenty of time to talk.  And he actually talked!  Once we got to False River (which is not a river at all but a lake), we rode in the boat and rode jet skies.  It was a nice enough afternoon, but I was also thankful when it was over.  During those remaining five weeks, I think Seth was around a little bit more.  But, again, my partners and I were busy so our paths didn't cross a whole lot.  By this time, I thought he was nice enough.  But I still never even imagined anything beyond that.

All of the Alabama missionaries left on August 6.  But I wasn't scheduled to leave until August 7.  We had to drive my partners to the seminary in New Orleans, and Seth went with us.  And that was honestly the very first time that I "noticed" him.  I thought it was so strange that he was going with us.  He'd hardly had anything to do with us all summer long.  So after we dropped Karey and Caleb off and were headed back to Baton Rouge, Seth started begging his mom to take the "long" way around through Hammond so he could show me where he went to college.  Really?  Why?  We didn't do that, but she did call Mr. Joey and asked him to meet us at their favorite seafood restaurant for supper.

What I remember about that supper is that it seemed like Seth ordered everything on the menu and then made me taste everything.  I think he talked and smiled more during that meal than he had all summer.  I don't even know how this happened, but Seth and I ended up in his mom's car, and his parents drove back home in his dad's truck.  Again, NO IDEA how this happened.  And then, somehow we ended up at a movie.  All I remember about that movie was that because of the time, there was only one option left, The Blair Witch Project.  And we were a little late so when we walked into the theater, it was full, and we found what were the only two seats left at the very top of the stairs.  The seats were horrible, and the movie was stupid.  But I didn't really care at that point.  And that's all I remember about that.  We drove home and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking.  The next day, August 7, I got on a plane back to Georgia.  Seth's parents took me to the airport, and he went, too.

As I walked away from them and down the hallway to that plane, I had no idea what was going to happen next.  Again, I still had plans.  Seth had asked for my phone number, and I'd given it to him.  But I did not expect him to use it.  I really did not.  And I didn't know how I was going to feel about that.  I didn't know if I wanted him to call or not.  I didn't know how I'd feel if he really didn't call, even though I didn't expect him to.  I was kind of sad, and I might have cried.  But it was over just as quickly as it had started.  More than anything, I just wish it hadn't started.  I wished I could go back and do it all over again and not go to that movie and not stay up nearly all night long talking.

That very night he called.  And the night after that.  And after that.

I was a freshman mentor that year in college so I had to return to the dorm a week earlier than everyone else for training and meetings.  And that next weekend I did the craziest thing I've ever done in my whole entire life.  I got in my car and drove all the way back to Louisiana to see Seth.  I told no one except one of my best friends at college.  That probably wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.  And, looking back, I still can not believe I did that!  But I did.  This picture was taken that weekend, the very first picture of Seth and I together (and what do you do after a 10 week mission trip . . . get a bad haircut!).
That weekend we talked and talked and talked and looked at pictures and watched old home videos.  We also went on our first real date, although I guess maybe that silly movie was our first date (and my mission trip was totally over by that time, by the way!).  And on the long drive back to Georgia, I knew that what I thought I had planned for my life was turned completely upside down.

Seth called me every night.  And then he came to Georgia on Labor Day weekend and met my parents.  During the next couple of months, it was more of the same.  Lots of phone calls.  Lots of letters.  Very few visits because we were both in college.  That Thanksgiving Seth was in a wedding and invited me to spend it with him and his family.  So I did.  This is a picture of us at the wedding.  We have very few pictures of us together when we were dating because we were never actually together in the same place very often.
And it was that weekend that we had "the talk."  I told him that if he picked me, that was it.  It was a forever thing, and there were no do-overs.  

He came to Georgia for Christmas.  I knew he was going to ask my parents for my hand in marriage, but I didn't know when he was planning to propose.  I didn't even know whether or not he had a ring.  We'd looked at rings at Thanksgiving, but I really didn't know if he'd gotten one or not.  Even though I knew he'd talked to my parents, I was not expecting him to propose while we were in Georgia.  We were going to spend the week after Christmas in Louisiana so I thought it might be then or it might not be then.  But Seth can't keep a secret for long.  He proposed to me in my living room at almost midnight on December 23.  So we'd basically known each other for seven months and dated (very long distance) not quite four of those months before getting engaged.

And on July 29, 2000, we were married.
And now, nearly 15 years later, I still can't believe it!  I love our story!  But there's still more to be written, and I can't wait to see what it is!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day in Louisiana. Or not.

Wake up.  School.  Bible study.  Homework.  Church.  Dance.  Eat.  Brush your teeth.  Go to sleep.  Repeat.  Lately that's what I feel like.  Stuck on repeat.  That's not really a bad thing.  It's just life lately . . . regular, normal life . . . and just not a whole lot to "write home about."  Or a lot to blog about (that anyone would be interested in reading).  But while it's all regular and normal, life around here is hardly ever boring.

Last weekend I noticed that the heating unit for mine and Seth's bedroom and bathroom wasn't working like it was supposed to.  So I texted my heating and air guy, and he came over at 6:45am on Monday morning.  You access the attic above our bedroom by going through a small door in Mason's closet.  So when the guys arrived, they went straight upstairs and into the attic.  I heard a lot of banging around, and about five minutes later, they were coming back downstairs.  Problem resolved.  The problem?  Ladybugs.  "Millions" of dead ladybugs and an old, large wasp nest had fallen through the exhaust pipe (or whatever it's called) and eventually blocked the pipe so any gas fumes couldn't escape.  Oh, and there were a couple of dirt-dobber nests, too, hence all the banging.  The unit contains a built-in safety feature that causes it to essentially shut down if the pipe gets blocked.  If the pipe is blocked and fumes can't escape, they would instead come back into the house.  So I'm thankful for said safety feature.  And I'm just a little aggravated that I paid a service call for them to essentially sweep a bunch of ladybugs out of the way.  I mean, I could've done that myself.  But most of all, I was thankful that it was a quick, easy, inexpensive fix and nothing major.  Problem solved.  Next.

Monday evening the girls were playing upstairs while Mason and I were downstairs doing homework.  All of a sudden the upstairs smoke detectors started going BEZERK.  That's nothing new.  We have five smoke detectors in the house, two downstairs and three upstairs.  They are all wired together so when one goes off or isn't working properly, they all go off.  It's the most annoying thing ever because you just can't figure out what's going on and which one really needs attention and you end up replacing batteries in all of them and they still beep and chirp.  We've been up in the middle of the night before dealing with the silly things.  And you can't just take the battery out.  You have to completely disconnect the thing from the wires in the ceiling.  For the longest time we just took them all down.  And then a few months ago, Seth filed a complaint with the manufacturer, and they sent us two brand new detectors free of charge.  We were hopeful that would solve the problem.  

Anyway, I ran upstairs to see what was going on.  This time was much different than all the other times.  The alarm wouldn't go off, and it was even a different sounding alarm.  There was nothing upstairs that would get me tall enough to take the detectors down so I had to come back downstairs and get one of the barstools and go back upstairs.  I figured out that it was the one in the playroom so I disconnected it and took it down.  And then I realized the one in Mason's room was alarming, too.  So I took it down.  At this point, both of the alarms are still going off even though the wires are disconnected, and I can't get the battery compartment open.  That's when I noticed that it wasn't the smoke alarm indicator that was lit.  It was the carbon monoxide/gas light that was lit.

Somehow I was finally able to pry the battery compartments open and yank the batteries out.  And thank goodness for that because I was about to beat them with a hammer.  No joke.  And then I called my father-in-law.  Because this stuff always happens when Seth is not here.  Always.  So we talked for a few minutes.  He reminded me how much trouble we'd had with the things . . . and that just that morning that heating unit had been serviced and was fine (even though there was that nagging thought in the back of my head, "what if the exhaust is really blocked and gas is coming into Mason's room) . . . and then he proceeded to give me a lesson on what would happen and how it would happen if indeed it really were happening . . . and that it was probably just another faulty detector.  He advised me to just throw them outside on the back porch and be done with it.  So that's what I did.  

Until it was time for the kids to go to bed.  And I just couldn't take it anymore.  Against my better judgment, I got the detectors, put the batteries back in and took them upstairs to reinstall them.  Ellie was screaming the whole time and had her fingers stuck in her ears.  I was pleasantly surprised when the detectors were finally connected, and they were quiet.  No alarms.  No blinking lights.  I knew I was risking a middle-of-the-night alarm, but I didn't care.  I'd rather be scared out of my sleep than deal with the nagging thought that there was something dangerous in the house that I couldn't see.  And four days later, those detectors haven't alarmed again.  The barstool stayed upstairs all week just in case, but we brought it back down today.

The check engine light in my Tahoe has been on for a few weeks.  We knew what the problem was so my father-in-law got my truck yesterday and replaced said part.  When he returned it to me, the light was off.  And, of course, as soon as I got in it to go to the grocery story, the light came back on again.  So we're still dealing with that.

So here we are on Friday again.  And do you know what tomorrow is?  Your answer to that question depends on whether or not you live in the state of Louisiana.  

All of my not-in-Louisiana friends were posting cute little pictures on Facebook today of their children's Valentine's treats and school parties and attire.  Valentine's Day is my second least favorite "holiday."  But during the past several years, we've enjoyed some fun family Valentine's traditions.  And the kids have parties at school.  Now that Mason is in 4th grade, the party scene has changed a lot.  They essentially have a day-o-play-and-movies instead of parties.  And I'm totally fine with this.  Hannah Kate's teacher, on the other hand, is still in first-year-hyper-excited-teacher mode.  So I had no idea what to expect, especially after the over-the-top Christmas party she had.  I'd already planned Hannah Kate's treats to her classmates (thank you, Pinterest), and I'd also decided what I'd sign up to bring for the party.  I kept waiting for the Valentine's flyer from the teacher.  But it never came.  Because this is Louisiana.  And it's Mardi Gras weekend.  

Earlier in the week, the kids came home with the colorful, full-page Mardi Gras flyer announcing the school parade and king cake.  The kids were even encouraged to dress in their favorite Mardi Gras costume.  What?!?  Yeah, let me just go pull that out of my closet.  And here's where I also have to confess that I've never been to a Mardi Gras parade.  Never.  I've never been to a Mardi Gras ball.  But I don't think you can just GO to one.  I think it's like some sort of exclusive club or invite or something.  I really don't know what a krewe is (or why it's spelled that way . . . although I'm sure it has something to do with the French).  And I can not pronounce laissez bon temp rouler.  I do know that it means, "Let the good times roll."  My husband has always told me that I would not like a Mardi Gras parade, and he's probably right (although I don't think he's ever been to any of the major parades either).  But I've always kind of wanted to go to one in New Orleans just for the experience.  There are so many parades, and I really don't know the difference between all of them.  But a friend of mine went to one last night that I'd never heard of before (which means nothing because, again, I don't even know what a krewe is!).  It was the Krewe of Muses parade.  It's an all-female krewe that rolls through uptown New Orleans, and they throw beautiful, decorated shoes.  Now that's my kind of throw.  (And just a side note here . . . I recently found out that the people who are part of these krewes and ride the floats . . . they pay anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 just to do so!)  As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about Mardi Gras is two days off of school next week.  And the Lenten menus that begin at all the restaurants next week.

Hannah Kate finally came home on Wednesday with a half page black-and-white memo noting that parents could send Valentine treats to school for the class if they wanted to.  And that's it.  I mean, it's like Valentine's Day doesn't even exist this year.  

Mardi Gras colors are green, gold and purple.  The kids' uniform shirts are purple so that's what they wore today because that's about as Mardi Gras as we get around here.  And I sent them with beads to throw during the parade.  I also sent both of them with Valentine goodies for their classmates.  And do you know what they came home with? 
 I sent beads for them to throw.  I did not intend for them to return home with beads.  And that little mask would be Hannah Kate's art project at school today.  They didn't even do any Valentine's Day crafts!

Mason had one Valentine.  One.  Unless, of course, he ate all the rest of them.  Which is entirely possible.  Hannah Kate had maybe five.  I know Valentine's Day and I have a love-hate relationship.  But really.  I kind of feel sorry for Valentine's Day this year.  Or at least Valentine's Day in Louisiana.  

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

100 Daisies of School

This week marked the 100th day of school.  That meant a couple of things:

A project.  Hannah Kate had to make a poster of 100 items.  The only stipulation was no edible items.  And, of course, she wanted to use pasta and beans.  But we had to come up with another idea.  She's been making tons of flowers with an American Girl craft kit she was given.  She was storing the flowers in a ziplock bag.  They were so cute that I'd always wanted to do something with them but didn't know what.  Those flowers and a page out of her Pinkalicious book inspired her poster.  She did the whole entire thing by herself.  And, of course, you know I she had to come up with a catchy saying to match.  I'll admit I originally thought of it, but I didn't exactly tell her.  I asked her what we were celebrating and then what kind of flowers were on her poster, and she quickly put the two things together.  You can't tell in the picture, but many of the flowers are 3D.
She had to turn her poster in on Monday so I had her and Mason stand with it to mark their 100th day of 1st grade and 4th grade.
Dress up.  I really thought kindergarten was the only grade that celebrated the 100th day of school.  But, alas, 1st grade decided to do it this year.  And they had to dress like they were 100 years old.  Oh joy.  This was Tuesday.  So I spent Monday night digging through several bags of clothes in the attic trying to find something for her to wear.  Her hair has finally gotten long enough (barely) for a bun.  It was good practice for dance pictures coming up in a few weeks.  And the glasses and the nude panty hose (that were actually her dance tights from last year's recital).  And that was it.  
The 100th day of school also means that we have less than 100 days left this school year, and we are over halfway done.  I was ready for school to be over with yesterday, but I have to honestly say that we're having a great year.  

Mason continues to maintain all As and Bs even without the support of private therapy.  He made a 96 on his reading test last week, and it was definitely NOT an easy test, especially for him.  I continue to be thankful everyday for his tremendous progress and growth these past couple of years.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about all of those private therapy sessions, all the time we invested getting to and from.  Every last single bit of it was worth it, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat if I had to.  But I'm sure we won't have to.

And Hannah Kate, well, school is effortless to her.  She enjoys it, and she's very well respected in her class.  She absolutely loves to read.  I'm finding it difficult to keep enough books for her.  During Christmas break, she read a chapter book every two days.  Now that school has started back, she typically reads one a week.  She reminds me so much of me.

We still spend pretty much the entire weekday evening working on homework and studying.  But I long ago accepted that's how it's going to be for us for probably the entirety of Mason's educational career.  It's not enjoyable, and some days it's not even tolerable, but we just take it one day at a time.  And to think those days have already added up to 100 this school year!  

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


I would love to tell you that I spent the month of January taking a long winter's nap.  But I didn't take a long winter's nap or a short winter's nap.  "Nap" is not even in my vocabulary right now.  But if I could, I sure would!

It really is hard to believe that January is now over.  It's February.  As much as I really wanted to hibernate and take naps and read a book or two or three or four (because I really think that's what Januarys should be for!), we spent the month doing ordinary things.  But I really have found the EXTRAordinary in the ordinary day-to-day stuff.  I'll be honest.  Some days (many days even) I want to crawl back under the covers and let somebody else deal with it all.  But not really.  Because I don't want to miss a thing!  I already know how quickly the years fly by, even if the days are long sometimes.

I found myself often times just staring at them.  Staring.  I am absolutely fascinated, absolutely captivated by these three littles that fill my life with so much laughter and fun and frustration and tears and joy and everything else you can think of.
January was just a really fun family time.  We finally got to see the much anticipated Paddington movie.  I don't typically look forward to kiddie movies.  I'd much rather see a big people movie.  But I was really looking forward to this one.  I mostly couldn't wait to see Ellie's reaction to the movie that she'd been watching the trailer to day after day.  She even prayed for Pad Bear!  The movie begins in the jungle of Peru, and while it isn't scary, the bears look so very real.  Ellie immediately scrambled out of her seat and into my lap and buried her head as far down in my lap as she could.  I finally convinced her to look up after the jungle scene was over.  Sometimes she watched, and sometimes she didn't.  I think she was just mostly indifferent.  But when the movie was over, she promptly asked to watch it again.
January was a big month for Ellie.  She slept in her crib for the very last time.  We left her in there as long as we possibly could.  But she recently began crawling in and out of it.  She didn't do this during the middle of the night or anything, but we knew it wasn't safe for her to be doing so.  And so we took the crib apart for what is probably the last time.  I've not really thought about that a whole lot, but it was bittersweet to say the least.
I picked up Ellie's new bed after Bible study one day.  Since Seth was out of town that week, I waited until he got back at the end of the week to haul it inside.  That was also the same day the mattress was going to be delivered.  When I got everything unpacked, the bed rails were brown, and the bed was eggshell.  The furniture store gave me the wrong bed rails.  To make a long story short, we were not able to get the correct bed rails until the following week so we ended up having to set the mattress on the floor, and that's how Ellie slept for a few nights.  So her first night in her big girl bed was really her first night on her mattress.
She loves to bury herself underneath all the covers.  That's mostly how she sleeps, but sometimes I find her without the covers.
And this was the first night she got to sleep in her fully assembled big girl bed.  She absolutely loves it!
The kids spent two of their January Saturdays doing a missions project with the kids' ministry at our church.  Earlier in the month we had the opportunity to visit the child we decorated cookies with when he was in the hospital recovering from serious burns all over his body.  He was at his new home this time.  We took him some gifts and ate pizza with him.  It was so wonderful to see him smiling and talking and walking.

Last Saturday we volunteered in the dining room at a homeless shelter.  We assembled lunch bags for the homeless.  They were given a ham sandwich, a bag of chips, a breakfast bar and some sort of packaged sweet.  The shelter depends solely on donations for the lunch bags and hot meals they prepare.  And most of the staff are not paid staff but homeless people who just work there.  On this particular day, they didn't have any drinks, only the food we packaged in individual bags.  The chips had been divided out into ziplock bags.  Hannah Kate was putting a bag of chips in each lunch sack.  She showed me one of the bags in which most all of the chips were smashed.  It looked like the bottom of the bag.  She asked me if she should use it.  I told her to go ahead and use it.  In my mind I was thinking that the homeless person who got that bag really wouldn't care that the chips were crushed but would just want the food to eat.  

But as the morning wore on, I really felt conviction about that thought.  In my giving, am I giving out of my leftovers?  Or my abundance?  Because there's a difference.  And why should my giving be any less than the very best I can give, even to someone who has no place to lay her head and no promise of a next meal?  Doesn't she deserve my best, too?  I left the chips as they were.  But I must say that was a humbling experience, especially as I can home to my organic vegetables and grass fed meat that I paid a lot for at Whole Foods.  My refrigerator is full of that kind of stuff.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing.  I'm just saying I need to reevaluate what and how I give sometimes.    

January . . . it was a good month!  It was a great start to a new year.