Friday, June 17, 2016

He's back.

This was a L O N G week.  I don't even remember the last time I said that.  But this was the longest week I've had in quite awhile.  I think there are lots of reasons for that, but the main thing was because Mason was gone.  He went to boys' missions camp this week.  And let me just tell you.  Even though I still had the two girls at home, it was quiet.  It wasn't one of those golden silences either.  It was a deafening silence, and I did. not. like. it. one. bit.  By Wednesday night, I was ready to just go get him myself.  But, of course, I didn't.

Once again I sent him with my handy dandy plastic bag organizational system.  It's so user friendly for almost 11-year old boys.  It might even be embarrassing for said boys, but mine didn't complain.  

When the boys headed out on Monday morning, the moms and I stood around talking for a bit.  One of the moms commented about packing only three towels for her son.  The other mom and I just busted out laughing.  Before I could even say anything, she mentioned that Mason didn't take the first shower last year.  He thought a dip in the pool compensated for a shower.  And, for that reason, I packed Mason only ONE towel and wash cloth.  I mean, why waste space and create even more dirty laundry? The kid didn't take a shower last year, and I was there as a chaperone!  Of course, I didn't know this until the last day we were there.  But anyway.  I obviously had pretty low expectations for this year, especially since I wouldn't be there at all.

After we got home this afternoon, he helped me sort through all of his clothes.  I was prepared for dirty, muddy, yucky, smelly boy clothes.  I was even prepared for Mason to be smelly.  But he wasn't!  I was also pleasantly surprised when his clothes weren't particularly dirty, muddy and yucky.  But they were smelly.  And wet.  That one towel I packed for him was ringing wet and wadded up on top of everything else.

I couldn't help myself.  I asked him if he took a shower.  His response?  Yes, ma'am.  I took a shower EVERY day.  I couldn't help myself.  I was in shock.  And then he said, "We were FORCED to take a shower every day."

Forced?  I don't know what my kid knows about being forced.  He hasn't been forced to do anything his entire life, not even eat his green beans!  At this particular camp, they had two camp staffers assigned to each group of boys.  These camp staffers were with them the entire time, and they stuck to a pretty rigid schedule.  Last year the camp staffers did not bunk with the kids.  The chaperones did, and we were in charge of a lot of the activities.  There was also a lot more free time.  Mason said the camp counselors made sure all of the boys took showers each day.  Since they'd been riding horses and playing in the creek and doing all sorts of other boy things, I'm sure those showers were sorely needed!

Anyway, I was really thankful for this load of wet, smelly laundry this afternoon!

I don't think I've ever been so happy to get my hands on my boy.  Last summer I spent 10 days away from him when Seth and I went on our anniversary trip, but that was different. I was the one away having fun.  This time he left me at home to go have fun.  I know that part of this whole parenting thing is preparing them to fly the next one day, but I've already decided I might struggle with the whole empty nest thing.

He had a great week, and he came home worn slap out.  He gave me a big, long hug and let me hold him an extra long time, which I was thankful for.  He answered all my 100 questions about his week and what he did.  But I haven't seen him this tired in a very long time.

I wasn't the only one who missed Mason.  The girls and I went grocery shopping on Monday after we dropped him off at church.  Ellie just all of a sudden stopped in the middle of the produce aisle and started whining and crying.  Now, that's not unusual.  It happens pretty much on a daily basis.  I turned around rather exasperatedly and asked her, "What now, Ellie?"  Her response?  "I miss Mason.  I'm ready for him to come back now."  I mean, it hadn't even been six hours yet.  Yep, it was a long week!

So what did we do?  Well, we had a field trip on Wednesday.  We went to the Port Allen Locks.  First of all, I do not understand why they call it "locks."  They probably addressed this in the presentation, and I just missed it.  I'm sure I could consult Google.  Or Siri.  But I'm too tired to do that right now.  Let's just say it's a man made waterway that saves ships and barges about 130 miles of travel time on their way to or from New Orleans.  It also helps to prevent and control flooding.  It's operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the water rise or a ship pass through because they were working on the locks.  But we did get to see them haul the big crane in.

In addition to managing the waterway, they are also involved in conservation and egg hatching efforts.

I've also spent a lot of time this week preparing for VBS.  The prayer guides and flyers and registration forms and name tags are all printed.  I started learning the music.  The invitations are ready to go out in the mail.  These 130 invitations represent 177 (probably more!) kids and 119 families.

And, just to make it even more exciting, we also unexpectedly ended up at the pediatrician's office this morning.  We haven't seen Dr. K in over 18 months!  Yes, we are healthy.  You can also say we're a bit behind on our "well visits!"  I just love it that our doctor remembers us.  She even gave me a big hug today when she saw me.  That makes me want to "catch up" on our well visits.  Kind of.  But not really.

And that was our week.  As soon as all of that laundry is done, I'll be packing suitcases again, this time for four of us.  Next week will be the third week in a row that one or most of us are living out of a suitcase.  In the meantime, I'm just so thankful for two days at home with my people.  All of them!  

Friday, June 03, 2016

On this day 20 years ago . . .

. . . I graduated high school!  Pike County High Class of '96!
So the truth is I would've NEVER remembered this date had not several of my classmates posted on our reunion page on Facebook!  But, just for kicks, I climbed up into the attic and pulled my old photo albums and scrapbooks down.
I have LOTS of great memories from my senior year in high school.  It was a fun year.  Among my most favorite memories are Mrs. Crayton's Calculus class, Mrs. Hammond's Creative Writing and English IV classes, the Singers, the two piano four hands Christmas concert my piano teacher and I performed for our community, singing at the lighting of Rich's great tree in Atlanta, finally getting my first car, the cruise to the Bahamas, prom, the senior play, my senior piano recital and, of course, graduation.

Our senior play was Gone With the Breeze.  It was meant to be a spoof of Gone With the Wind.  It was corny as ever, but it was the perfect performance for our class.  I'd been in the One Act plays all four years of high school.  But I was always behind the piano.  That was where I planned to be in my senior play, too, but my best friend convinced me that I should be ON STAGE instead of in the pit.  At this particular time in my life, I was not a fan of being on stage.  At all.  I was even less of a fan of solos and speaking parts.  So not only did she convince me to try out, but she also convinced me to try out for a role that included both a solo and speaking part.  Vicki Rawlins.  My character was a "nobody" that was "discovered" at a pageant in Savannah and deemed "perfect" for the lead role in a new movie.  But Peggy Tempest (played by my best friend!), the real film star, was outraged.  So on and so forth.  The setting was the 70s, the costumes were hilarious and it was just plain fun!

I mean, who doesn't want to be Scarlett O'Hara and wear hoop skirts?

Yes.  Yes, I did.  I'm pretty sure this is the shortest dress I've ever worn in my entire life, and I'm not quite sure why and how I got away with it.  I'm also not quite sure why I'm wearing knee socks.  Did they do that in the 70s?  I very vividly remember picking out those red strappy heels!
Prom was as fun as prom can be in your high school cafeteria.  But we did go out to eat in Atlanta, which was a first for me at the time.  Prom has definitely come a long ways since then!  I loved my dress (I had my heart set on a full sequined dress, and my Mama and her pocketbook indulged me!), I had the best company and it was a good night.

The thing I remember most about my graduation is the cat that came walking towards me in the middle of my speech!  Our graduation was on the football field because that was the only place big enough to accommodate it.  And most people still remember that cat.  You'd think I'd remember my speech, but I don't.  I remember my best friend's speech.  She made the greatest analogy using hands.  It was really neat.  But I can't remember a thing about mine except that cat!
I didn't realize how much of my senior year I held on to.  I journaled each day of the homecoming week festivities, what I did each day of spring break, the cost of various items (a gallon of gas was $1.05, and a Big Mac was $1.99!), movie tickets, class notes, newspaper clippings (in some cases the whole paper!), menus, receipts.  I mean, ridiculous.

So you know what else I saved?  A copy of my meticulously written graduation speech!  And. I. died.

The theme for our graduation was a quote by Thoreau:  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.

Yeah, I don't quite know where that came from.  I'm also quite certain that the majority of us (notice I'm including myself here!) had NO IDEA what it even meant!  There were four graduation speeches that night (Again, I know this only because I still have a copy (or 2 . . . why did I need 2?!) of my graduation program.): reflections, appreciation, achievement and aspirations.

My assigned topic was aspirations.  So listen to this little gem of a speech:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.

For the past 13 years, we, the class of 1996, have been steadfast in constructing our castles.  The foundations we will begin to lay must be strong enough to withstand the trials and temptations and the disappointments and sorrows we may experience.

{I mean, what a BUMMER!  I can't believe people aren't emptying the place!}

They must be stronger still to support our goals and the dreams we have yet to realize.

Success lies in hard work, determination and perseverance.  Follow your dreams and make them happen.  The possibilities for each graduate here today are immeasurable.  Nothing is impossible.  Reach for your highest expectations.  Only you can determine your future.  It will only be what you make of it.

{Laying it on thick!}

We are standing on the brink of many tomorrows and new horizons.  I encourage you to consider each day an adventure full of new surprises and undiscovered treasures.  Only if we seek our treasure wholeheartedly while we find our reward.  Dare to dream.  Challenge yourself to reach out and great your seemingly unreachable treasure.

{I might have laughed so hard at this point that I snorted.} 

Isaiah 33:6 says, "The Lord will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."

{I mean, thank goodness!  I was getting worried that my speech was a little too "secular!"}

May Jesus Christ be the center of your foundation.  Your castles will never fall when resting upon Him.  The love of your family and friends will be there to guide and comfort you.  They will fortify your foundation.  Allow your trials to strengthen you for others that may come.  Grow quietly in wisdom and in grace.  Enjoy each day you are blessed with and make it special.  Love laughter and radiate happiness.  A smile increases your face value.

{I feel absolutely certain that I stole that last sentence from somebody else and didn't give credit!  I mean, come one!}

Embrace this moment; it is the beginning of a new day, a new opportunity, a lifetime of dreams.

{Said all high school senior graduation speakers everywhere!}

To the accountants, bankers, carpenters, doctors, electricians, fire fighters, geologists, hair dressers, instrumentalists, journalists, kindergarten teachers, lifeguards, mailmen, nurses, optometrists, pilots, quarterbacks, repairmen, secretaries, therapists, urologists, veterinarians, weathermen, x-ray technicians, youth directors and zoologists assembled here today:

{At that time in my life, I thought I was going to be an accountant.  That's what I'd declared my major to be.  UROLOGISTS???  I mean, what in the world did I know about urology???  Maybe I had that on the brain because my grandfather had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  I don't know.  And I'm quite positive none of us are zoologists!  Wonder just how long it took me to come up with this list anyway?!}

You are the future.  You hold the key to all of your tomorrows - unlock your dreams, lay hold of your treasures and make for yourself a firm foundation.


My dear friends, the graduating class of 1996, I leave you with the words of Joshua 1:9.  "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

{Well, at least it ended on a good note!}

These girls were my dearest friends, and it was such an honor to share that night with them.  My girl there in the middle was honored this week as Teacher of the Year for her school.

Twenty years.  Wow.  It really and truly seems like just yesterday . . .  

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Hello, June

Yes, indeed.  It's June.  And, for me, that means one thing and one thing only.  The beach.  Of the four weeks in the month, I'll be spending two of them at the beach.  I honestly didn't plan it that way on purpose and didn't even realize it until not too long ago.  But I'm not complaining one bit.  I can think of no better way to spend the month of June!

I've always loved the month of June.  As a kid growing up, it was always synonymous with the end of school, lazy days at home, skiing on the lake, homemade ice cream, family vacation and swimming in the pool.  A lot of swimming in the pool.  And even now, years later, not much of that last part has changed.

Can one have too many pool pics?  I think not!

Can one have too many floats in the pool?  I think so.  

When we were swimming last week, I realized that we didn't have any floats or pool toys because they all bit the dust at summer's end last year.  So I picked up a few things when we took care of our weekly errands.  But my mother-in-law had the same idea.  Yet and still, nothing is going to waste.

We spent Memorial Day at the pool, too.  One of the kids' favorite summer treats is watermelon.  I actually noticed today that my watermelon is taking over my garden.  There are lots of blooms so we'll see what happens.  At least it's something they all enjoy.

One fish, two fish.  THREE fish?!  The significant thing about this picture is that Ellie is swimming by herself and in the middle of the pool.  (In the deep end, I might add!)

Last summer was a bummer because she wouldn't get off the steps.  That was such a surprise because she was swimming and even jumping off the diving board the summer before.  I didn't push the issue because I didn't want her to become scared of the water.  But as we got ready for this summer, I told her she would have to take swimming lessons if she didn't get off the steps.  Last week I was successful at getting her off the steps, but I had to be right there with her.  She pretty much wouldn't let go.  I did manage to get her to kicking her feet and paddling around a bit, but she wouldn't do it if I wasn't in the pool with her.  She finally got comfortable enough to "swim" the perimeter of the pool by herself, but she wouldn't let go of the side.

While that was a huge improvement over last year, it was still pretty annoying.  On Monday she didn't want to get off the steps because I wasn't in the pool.  So I did what every loving mother would do.  I picked her up and threw her in.  Yes, I did.  She tried to scream and act like she was unhappy, but she didn't fool me.  She was absolutely fine.  She puttered around a bit.  Awhile later she asked for a popsicle.  I told her she could have one only if she jumped off the side of the pool.  And, of course, she threw a fit.  So I did what every other mother would do in that situation.  I threw her in.  Again.  Yes, I threw her into the pool twice.  And you know what?  Next thing I knew, she was out in the middle of the deep end swimming around all by herself.
Just wait.  I'm going to have her jumping off the diving board again before too long!

Happy swimming and happy summer!