Friday, April 27, 2007

Eating HIS Words

I've been reading variations of this story, about the children's author Richard Lynn Stack, for a few days now. I don't know this author or any of his books that I know of. I have no idea the actual context of the conversation everyone is reporting on but I do have some background knowledge about the difficult job these authors face when visiting schools and interacting with hundreds of children they've never met before in one day.

We had an author visit our school a month or two ago (and another coming - I'll write about him later) and I sat in on his talk. He was funny, as many authors are, and he used a story about peeing in his pants as an example of writing from an experience in his own life. You would NEVER tell that story to a group of adults and expect the same reaction as the kids had. The adults laughed, thought it was funny and moved on. The kids were horrified, some did not react at all but looked more embarrassed and others laughed themselves silly either because they'd never heard of such a thing or wanted everyone else to think they'd never heard of such a thing. It was an interesting story to tell, it was from a book he'd written and set the stage for a relationship these children would have with this author for the day that involved humor.

As part of the "deal" in having a visiting author, it is always a pleasure when the author agrees to meet the children, sign their BOOKS and some even agree to have a picture taken with the children. I can say as a former teacher, now a parent, that this really means a lot to the kids, but it's a huge commitment for the author. He/she will meet lots of children in a short amount of time, ask for their name, sign their book, smile for the camera, onto the next. In fact, we still have not received a book by the previous author who was to sign all 300 books the parents purchased AND give 4 talks during the day AND have his picture taken with all the students. It's really asking a bit much, don't you think?

So, I'm envisioning this author, having spent a day with these children, given talks, signed BOOKS, trying to remain the goofy kids author that he presented to everyone and some little girl catches him completely off guard by asking if he'll sign her forehead?? He's not a rockstar or in the movies - he's a children's author! Obviously, from the request, this child is a bit of a clown or just plain odd. So, he replies, "sure if....." what would you say, completely off the cuff, not even knowing what kind of crazy stories this author may have told these kids already?? would you say "jump off a bridge?", "do 10 jumping jacks?" or "if you sign mine, I'll sign yours?" Instead, he said, and I'm sure regrets, "get up on the table and take off all your clothes!" In other words, "NO, I SIGN BOOKS, NOT FOREHEADS!" If he'd said any of these other things OR if he'd signed her forehead, he might be in the same boat without all the media attention.

I agree, what he said was just plain bad and very inappropriate, but I'm totally doubting this guy, who is probably an amazing children's author/speaker/advocate for kids, meant any harm regarding this incident. Chances are, it will never happen again, of course he'll probably never have the chance to speak again around here, nor will he choose to interact with students the way that the kids LOVE when an author visits. It's really a shame. I could be wrong, but I'll give this guy, knowing what he does for a living, the benefit of all this doubt!

(Steven Kellogg is coming to our school - I'm SOOOOOOOOO excited!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Eating My Words

It was a short two evenings ago when T and I were sharing with our Bible Study friends that ever since we had our sewer line fixed back in January, we have all been fairly healthy, other than the stomach flu the girls brought home from school. I do remember that slight feeling of angst when the words slipped from my mouth, wondering if I'd jinxed us! Both Em and Kt have had some allergy issues over the past month and Em, I had noticed, was having some trouble hearing these days. Just a kindergarten thing? or something more??

Fast forward to today, which was shaping up to be one of my busiest days of the year! Last night I finished up calligraphying Kt's teacher's wedding invitations, purchased some craft supplies for the Daisy Girl Scout meeting I was in charge of and went over my busy schedule with T. On my list: water aerobics from 9:30-10:30, Girls Grace Adventure meeting/luncheon 11:00-12:30, tutor 1:00-2:00, Daisies 3:30-5. I had planned on getting some planning done for that meeting in my little free slot, as well as putting together a lasagne for dinner. It was a tight schedule, but I was ready for it!

Then, I had to eat my words! Kt came into our room at 5:30 am wheezing like crazy. After medicating her, we listened to several hours of the dry, hacking asthma cough... none of us got any sleep! We ended up making a doctor's appointment for her and sending Em on to school. Because of our new medical insurance, I arrived early, only to find that the extra 25 minutes I gave us was not nearly enough time to undo the mess that is our insurance! We finally saw the doctor an hour after we arrived, and by that time Kt seemed much better.

While there, I mentioned Em's hearing and the doctor mentioned I should bring her in, so on my way out I made an appoint for her at 2:30. I got Kt home at 11 (when I was supposed to be 25 minutes away at my lunch meeting), we gathered all her school things, fed her and whisked her off to school. I then decided to return home to plan for my Daisy meeting before I needed to make another craft trip since I would not have time in the afternoon to pull anything together... went to tutoring and I'm pretty sure I had a granola bar for lunch. Yup, that sounds right!

After tutoring, I ran over to school to pick up Em for her doctor visit, ran into the school nurse who upon returning from lunch walked into her office to find Kt sitting there, having nearly fallen asleep at her desk! After going back and forth with her, I ended up taking both girls to the doctor. We waited another 45 minutes for that visit to find out that Em has a double ear infection. I then ran back to school slightly late for Daisies, T came to pick up Kt and bring her home to sleep.

And now? Kt has a temperature of 103 and Em LOVES her Zithromax. Tomorrow is "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" and Kt is very upset that she likely will not make it. I had a successful meeting and nice nap when I got home, oh, and pizza for dinner!

It's worth mentioning that injected into my day of despair was an IM from Jeremy, who wrote a nice blogpost about one of T's posts and wanted to share it with me. It was a reminder to me that God is constantly there, even when we have checked out for the day. Thanks, Jeremy! His conversation also reminded me (as I was complaining!) that I need to be thankful for my problems - like what a pain in the neck insurance is. At least I have medical insurance to be annoyed by! So, that was my day and I've decided against thinking about what tomorrow might bring!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Could It Be God??

Here's a very interesting article on the positive impact growing up in a religious home can be. Here's one of my two favorite quotes:

But as for why religious organizations might provide more of a boost to family life than secular organizations designed to do the same thing, that’s still somewhat of a mystery, said Annette Mahoney, a psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, also not involved in the research. Mahoney wondered: “Is there anything about religion and spirituality that sets it apart?”

Hmmm.... could it be God? Just an educated, somewhat informed guess. They fall short of saying this because they don't ever say exactly what religions they are talking about. OK - here's my second favorite quote:

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, who was not involved in the study, agrees. At least for the most religious parents, “getting their kids into heaven is more important than getting their kids into Harvard,” Wilcox said.

LOL! That one almost made me fall off my chair! You know, I wish that one were completely true. Sometimes, we lose that heavenly perspective where our kids are concerned. It was pretty humbling reading that considering the amount of time this year I've spent fretting about which reading class my daughter is in or which math class she'll get into next year. I need to be more heavenly oriented in my thinking I believe.

In our study on Colossians, we talked today about this very thing. My friend and BS leader mentioned a phrase I'd never really heard before, but it really intrigued me, in relation to putting off our old selves and putting on our new. "We are no longer earthly beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having an earthly experience." I've got to be thinking more like that.

Really, the most disturbing thing in this article was the tiny part about how detrimental it can be to a child growing up in a home where religion is regularly argued over. One might assume that would give a child an "open mind" about religion, but it would appear that just the opposite is accomplished. Food for thought, I guess!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Conversation You Don't Want to Have

Tonight, while T was outside cooking dinner, Kt asked him something, he replied and she said, "What? You think I'm a lesbian?" I cannot even tell you what prompted her question except that it had nothing to do with being a lesbian! I looked up from the cooktop and asked her to repeat herself while T jumped back up to the sliding door to see my reaction. I wisely deferred the question back to him!!

We quickly determined that Kt has an extremely vague idea of what a lesbian is, and I'm not certain that I want to delve into all the intricacies of the idea with a nine year old just yet. What is entirely disturbing to me, however, is how she came to hear this word. Apparently, this word was used on her playground after a boy kicked a ball into another girl's face and Kt's best friend went to this girl's aid. The boy then asked Kt's friend if she was a lesbian because she was helping her friend. And the boy? He's the one that moved into her best friend's house, his dad is a pastor and that's all I'll say.

This boy, according to Katie, got in A LOT of trouble for using this word in such a way. Clearly Kt was not worried that the same would happen at home! That child has a mind like a sponge and today was a great reminder to me that our children are growing up, and they are going to hear and be exposed to many things we might not be ready to discuss but will be wise to. With events such as the shooting at Virginia Tech, the war in Iraq/Afghanistan and Christian friends who throw words even they don't understand around at school we just cannot ignore these issues with our children. I might have sat back and thought about how evil school is until I realize she might just hear all these same things in church on Sunday! She's just growing up. And there's nothing I can do about that!

Global Warming and Toilet Paper?

Now, I've heard some farfetched ideas about global warming, but this one is just a little out there for me. Sheryl Crow is starting to sound like my father!! He was not worried at all about global warming, just overflowing toilets and his weekly grocery bill. I don't wonder if we're taking this a bit too far when we begin to regulate bathroom trips and sanitation. I'm sorry, but I'm just not following her on this one. I understand it's "just an idea", but I think we better wipe the slate clean so to speak and start over on this one. Remind me: what is the connection between wiping and warming???

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust!

I'm talking about suitcases!! I have NO IDEA what the baggage employees are doing at airlines these days, but either suitcases are just not made to last more than one trip or there is some serious baggage abuse going on behind the scenes. In the past two years, we have thrown away a number of mutilated suitcases and we've never had to do that before. I just used an Eddie Bauer one that my mom gave me for our Savannah trip. Each destination brought shards of suitcase support plastic. Do you think the airline baggage guys would prefer that we all go out and my steel cased suitcases???

Summer Support

T and I are in full swing for this summer. He's super busy, I'm planning food for meetings, the girls are grumbling about cleaning the house - isn't this just the kind of family you'd love to support this summer? (YIKES!) Here's a copy of our support letter. It's probably too long, but I'm not one to be brief. I don't need to tell you that! There are some pictures and stuff to go along with this, but I don't know where they are.... sorry!

Dear Friends, Family, Co-laborers,

Each year, right around this time, Tony sits down and carefully constructs a support letter for one (or two) of his many missionary adventures. For years, I have been the whisper in the background, voice of reason (hehe – OK, maybe not ALL the time!), prayer support, and the organizer of funds, maker of hotel reservations, an administrator of sorts and the point person the homefront. It has honestly been a fun journey, while a little sketchy at times (like the two weeks while he was in Brazil and we had no shower to speak of in our house!), and I would never trade those years for anything else.

This year, things have come together for a different sort of adventure, one that we have been dreaming of in our hearts for several years. God has opened the door for us to go this year as a family on a trip that seems, in many ways, designed just for us! We have the opportunity to embark on a family adventure with a team of leaders and students from our church to Vienna, Austria and Sopron, Hungary to serve the European missionary families working through Christian Associates International. These families will be meeting together for a week long conference and retreat and we have been chosen to serve these families by providing childcare while they are involved in learning and planning together.

I would like to invite each of you along on this one in whatever capacity you feel comfortable. We will need lots of preparation and prayer, patience and wisdom as we attempt to be Godly leaders/parents/servants, and a huge amount of faith as we tackle the daunting task of raising support for our family of four. We are excited and scared all at the same time, so please join us in any or all of these areas in the first Sheng missionary adventure! ~Deanna

CAI's existence is based around impacting Europe via the multiplication of high-impact leaders and churches, and a family from Grace has been working with CAI for the past few years. Our team's main goal will be to assist with different facets of the children's ministry for the kids of CAI workers. This trip has great elements including: blessing Grace's network of families who have invested everything for humanity's sake in Europe; having students spend some time with these innovative and unconventional people; and the opportunity to do ministry in a spiritually hungry post-Christian culture that is Europe. Being that this trip is focused on children, our own kids will also have lots of great opportunities to serve beyond themselves. The 16 of us fly out on August 8 and return on August 18, and our travels include flying in and out of Vienna, Austria; children's ministry during the conference; and a service project day trip with the whole conference back into Vienna. There may also be possible opportunities for our students to travel with CAI middle and high school students to do some service projects with local ministries in Vienna for a longer duration.

We would love for you to be a part of our support team. To start, you can pray for:
- all of our summer teams [Baltimore, NYC, Liverpool and this one] - for their leaders, their students and the logistics.
- for our Hungary team - for unity, for our leadership and for the vision to know that we will prevail.
- passports, airline tickets and logistical details.
- for our Mission Advance weekend, a missions prep weekend for all our summer student teams, June 22-24.
- for Tony and I as both leaders and parents, and the discernment about both roles.
- for K [9] and E [6] and for the contributions they will bring to the CAI kids and our team in general.

We also have to raise a significant amount of money - the total for our family being $7100. If you feel led to support financially, that would also be a huge blessing. There are two ways you can financially support our team. First, you may send a check in the enclosed envelope with the response card. Please make checks payable to Grace Community Church and in the note section please specify, "SPACE Hungary - Shengs". You may also contribute via the Internet, by clicking the "Online Giving!" link at the top of the Grace Church webpage - Click the "eGive" link and after entering the appropriate donor and bank information, fill in the amount for "Short Term Missions" and specify for "SPACE Hungary - Shengs".

We dream of how this summer will catalyze the lives of our students, our church, and our children - giving them a direction for shaping human history because of the passion that Jesus has placed in their hearts. Thanks for your support and prayers, for supporting SPACE [Students Prepared to Act For Christ's Empire] and being an integral part of mobilizing students for mission. ~Tony

(I have no idea what happened with the font - just bear with me!)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Happy Birthdays!!

Today marks the birthdays of two really special people in my life. First, my sister, who while we haven't always seen eye to eye, we are happy to be sisters! I can honestly say that my sister has made me a better person by expanding my thinking on just about every subject on all ends of the spectrum. Let me explain!

From the time we were little, my sister and I have been polar opposites on almost every single subject. It started in fashion, when she told me in high school that she would wear anything that I wouldn't wear. Since that time, it seems almost like a passion of hers to be different than me, and I can totally respect that. I've learned from her that there is more than one solution, that I'm not always right (that is a difficult one for me!) and being a marine biologist, she has displayed to me the importance of being a protector and good steward of the earth that God created.

As children, I think that S and I spent much of our time jousting over Barbies, friends, snacks, our little brother and oodles of other insignificant things. (OK, our brother was not insignificant!) We fought over having to sit in the middle in our station wagon, who got the good Big Wheel, who got the car.... it seemed never ending, but in the end, there really isn't anything I wouldn't do for my sister, no matter what our differences.

While in second grade, my sister contracted Reye's Syndrome and nearly died at Yale New Haven Hospital. Her speedy and miraculous recovery led to the discovery that she is officially a genius. All that cognitive and developmental testing revealed her intelligence that is often overlooked because of her idealistic and sometimes quirky independent streak! One time, having devised a way to sneak off with a much older friend (and her manager at Dominoes pizza) during college without being discovered to a Redskin's game, her roommate mistakenly presumed her a missing person. The campus and Virginia State police agreed and an APB was put out on her. To this day, we joke around with her that we were convinced we would someday see her face on a milk carton!

Now that we are both moms, things don't seem so black and white to us anymore. We have more in common, we see the world differently and while we've remained true to our individual beliefs, we are much more prone to see things similarly and highly respect each other's differing opinions. My sister is an amazing person, who juggles the demands of motherhood, being an overworked program director/kitchen supervisor/camp counselor at an aquarium, a wife and a devoted friend. She is intimidatingly smart, intensely frugal and an avid researcher of any topic she deems interesting, right now the new car she is going to buy herself.

While we occasionally still enter into jousting together, she never fails to put a smile on my face with her funny stories, her absolutely breathtakingly beautiful children, her simple faith in Christ and her love of the world. Today she is 35, and I'm so glad she's my sister.

Now, for number two - my good college friend, Eli. She probably thinks I've forgotten it's her birthday, but I haven't! If I could choose anyone at all to be my next door neighbor, it would be her. She is by far the one friend in my life that I had the most adventures with, laughed the most with and long to be near. We have grown apart in many ways, mostly distance, but whenever I see her it's like we were back at Gordon together yesterday!!

Her passion for ice hockey (stars), dogs (in large numbers), SCC (I'm still a little miffed she got to meet him and didn't invite me!) and our long lost home of Connecticut bonded us together. She introduced me to three of those four things, and for that I am truly grateful. Well, only for SCC!! LOL Really, though, she was the first person who expanded my boundries and helped me break out of my goodie two shoes mentality. Skipping class to head into Boston was honestly our favorite past time in college, along with crime scene investigation (I've fallen and I can't get up), Wheatables (which we would have bought in bulk if we could have!), mad crushes on men we would never actually meet in person but would happily stalk together and middle of the night trips to LL Bean just because it was the only thing open when we were the only ones awake!

Today, she's the same age as me. I always like it when friends catch up. I'd love to be kidnapping, blindfolding and dragging her out for a night on the town, but I'm afraid that it might scare her adorable little son and I'm not sure I'd make it home in time for work tomorrow, seeing as she lives several hours away from me - boohoo! Eli, when are you finally going to move here??

Happy Birthday, girls! You're both really important to me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Down South

My mom and I had a wonderful visit in Savannah. We spent a considerable amount of time with my niece and nephew, who are the two most adorable little things you'd ever meet! Sky is a spunky, intense, determined, beautiful little toddler. Bren is an easy-going, smiley, carefree and bouncy little baby. We just couldn't get enough of them!!

On this visit, we were sure to hit the Byrd Cookie Company and Moe's Southwest grill. A trip to the beach would have been fun, but we couldn't quite fit that in between wind gusts and sprinkles. My mom and I actually spent most of our time babysitting, and it was such a treat, really! It's always fun to have access to great kids that you don't have to take care of 24/7. Hehe!

The only disappointment about our trip was the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I am so heartbroken for all those who lost a son, daughter, sister, brother, friend, mother, father.... There are hardly words that cover exactly how I feel, so I'm certain they are finding it difficult to think of any. There are so many circumstances surrounding this incident that I do not understand, so many questions I have but I think it's becoming clear that evil penetrated a peaceful, tranquil college campus. I hope and pray for those students who will return to campus, that they can regain some sense of safety and overcome any fears they may have about returning.

Our good friends who work at UMD for Campus Crusade both graduated from VA Tech and are heading there this weekend to help out their counterparts, who lost three students in the shootings. We also know of a Navigator student who was shot in the arm. Please keep this campus in your prayers as those who minister to this student body have found themselves in a position to reach many students with messages of hope and healing. Pray that God would move into the heart of this campus, bringing light into the darkness that overshadows this incident.

I must admit that the world sometimes scares me to death. I look at my little niece and nephew, my own girls and the friends they all have and wonder what will the world have to offer them? How much worse can it get? Will I ever feel like my kids are safe when they are out from under my roof? Really, when I dwell on these things I am just sad and fearful.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever is good, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:7-9

Funny Convos

OK, I have so much fun reading A's conversations, I realized we had a couple today in the car. Here's one I remember (I'm getting so ooooold!)

Em: I just saw a firetruck!
Rest of us in the car: (Ignoring her, because we didn't know we were supposed to respond)
Em: I just saw a FIRETRUCK!!!!!!
Mom: You just saw a what? (laughing under her breath)
Kt: A what??? (smirking)
Kt: You saw what? (being bad)
Em: I saw a firetruck!
Mom: And what do firetrucks do? (being a teacher!)
Em: They water fires.
Kt: Then why do we call them firetrucks. We should call them watertrucks!
Mom: You're right, Kt. Do you know what your mom used to think about firetrucks?
Me: Oh, here we go! (rolling my eyes)
Mom: She thought they were coming to fire our house!
Me: Yup, I thought they set our houses on fire.
Kt: Haha, that is so funny!
Me: Yeah, so funny!

Thanks, mom! Of course, we did have a good laugh about it!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sadness in Savannah

My mom and I are having a lot of fun here, hanging out with S and B. They are both adorable, and we've given my sister and her husband some much needed rest. Right now, they are out car shopping.

I am sick to my stomach over the news out of Blacksburg at Virginia Tech. What a senseless act of violence on a beautiful, peaceful college campus. My brother graduated from Tech in the '90's, so that college holds a very special place in our hearts. To see something so gruesome happen there is heartbreaking. Please keep those students and families in your prayers, as well as hope that it's over. What a terrifying event!

We have the rest of today and most of tomorrow left here before we return to Maryland. I'm hoping all that wind dies down so we can have an uneventful flight! Can't wait to see my family!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy Friday the 13th!

I hope everyone is having an uneventful Friday the 13th. My day has been OK so far, but for the incident at the grocery store, when I remembered half way through checkout that I had left my credit card at home and could only find $6 cash on me... We'll chalk that one up to, well, just plain old stupidity! Nothing bad luck about that.

Tomorrow bright and early my mom and I will board a plane headed for Savannah for a few days. It's been an interesting trip so far. Spring break for my mom has been difficult since my dad died 4 years ago, as they used to head out for every vacation, being teachers, and go to fun and exciting places. My mom has her car packed and has hit the road as I write this, reluctant to stop to eat not due to her wanting to get here but because each little stop along the route we have all traveled more times than we can count is teeming with memories of years past. There's the Montclair stop in NJ that my dad loved, the Pilot in Bordentown where he HAD to get gas no matter how full his tank, the Roy Rogers in Delaware and Maryland that are quickly disappearing... Just so many reminders of what she would rather be doing - going away with my dad, planning their retirement together and visiting their grandchildren.

My mom and I will be heading out tonight to stay at the airport hotel, flying out at the crack of dawn, renting a car and spending four days with my sister, her husband and two children. I'm excited because it's much warmer there! I can't wait to stick my feet in the hot sand, babysit my little niece and nephew and do a little Southern shopping! I will miss not having my own girls down there, but we'll go again this summer.

Pray for us, for safe travels, good moods, rest for my sister and her husband and for my mom's heart, that it would survive another Spring Break without my dad. It's been a long time, and she's amazingly strong, but for anyone who has lost someone they love dearly, you know the memories can all come rushing back and flood all your senses at the most unpredictable times, catching you off guard.

On a lighter note, the cherry blossom trees have held their blooms for an amazing amount of time this year!! I'm still seeing trees in full bloom and the Festival is a week over. I guess the lack of rain and the cold weather has helped - the view, not our allergies!! The wind today has swept away some of the blossoms, sometimes making it look like it is snowing. God is amazingly creative!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Turning Over a New Lily Pad

We've gone and done it!! After much thought and careful consideration, our family has joined CA, which is a network of gyms, pools, recreation facilities in our area. We've never joined before because the pricetag of $125/month for our family was just way out of our comfort zone. However, since T got a job in Col., we were able to join at a nice discount, so we're giving it a try.

It's a little different having so many options each day and this summer, while we will miss our former pool greatly!!, we will have the opportunity to choose from many pools and even a small waterpark. I think we will enjoy it, but am a little nervous that we might have given up something for good that was a nice alternative. We all, except for Em, have mixed feelings about giving up our summer pool. The $800 price tag for this summer, though, is quenching all our doubts!

Today I decided to try out a water aerobics class and I loved it! I will definitely go back, as the teacher is phenomenal and the music is sort of fun. When Love Shack came on I thought, "Cute!" When AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long" came on I thought, "Well, this is different!" But is was honestly super fun, an hour long and while I had intended to stay for some laps afterward, I found myself quite worn out. I need to get back in shape!

I'm happy, now, to have joined an indoor pool as swimming is just a very peaceful form of exercise for me. Since I stopped working, stayed home with little kids, it just hasn't been affordable and was way too time-consuming for me. Now I'm really enjoying it - and Em? Well, she has asked us every single day since we got those cards on Monday when we can take her to swim. What a little fish, off to our new lily pads!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Cowboys and Yankees

I guess I won't be headin' to Texas anytime soon! I assumed as much since I've only ever driven through it - dry, barren land that it was. All I remember about Texas are oil rigs, red dirt and brush. Then there are, of course, the Dallas Cowboys, who I spent much of my younger years routing for while my dad was obsessed with them!
You Are 24% Texas

You're as welcome in Texas as a skunk at a lawn party.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Corrective Measures

Happy Easter!!

We had a wonderful weekend with my family here in MD, aside from freezing weather! It's always nice to visit, clean my house (thanks, oh neatnik sister-in-law) and make some awesome food together. We celebrated a holiday that is near and dear to my heart.

We figured we had a little corrective work to do when I asked the girls in front of my family - never a good idea - what Easter is really all about. Em was quick to chime, "The Easter bunny!?" Once corrected, I could see the confusion written on her face. I can say that I'm partly to blame, as I insist in our family on carrying on traditions that were a part of my own upbringing that I felt afforded me some amount of imaginative, magical wonder.

As a child, I was always excited when Easter rolled around. It's a unique holiday in that it always falls on a Sunday, due to it's falling on Passover week, the day after the Jewish sabbath. In our house growing up, the one thing I knew for sure was that my dad had an "in" with the Easter bunny. I was so proud of that!! He typically spent every single Saturday night up at our little Baptist church preparing for Sunday morning. Whether it be Sunday School, his organist job or just general church meetings, he would be up there late into the night. So, how did I know he personally knew the Easter bunny?

As a child, my inquisitive mind was constantly questioning each and every circumstance. I recall needing to see everything for myself, as I am extremely visual as well as curious. There I would wait, Christmas Eve, Easter Eve with my chin on my arm on the windowsill waiting to catch a glimpse of either Santa and the reindeer or the Easter bunny. It was tradition. I'm pretty sure I even continued it after I knew the truth. But for the Easter bunny, I would watch for my dad. I had asked my mom one year when the Easter bunny actually comes. Her reply? "He will come home with your dad." That sealed it - my dad had direct access with my candy, and I had visions of my dad walking home (the church was within sight of my house!) and that big bunny hopping along next to him with my basket!

I had to chuckle when Em answered, because sure it's my fault! Today, we read the Bible together as a family so we would all be clear about Easter, and she was just filling in the blanks. She knew the story well, all while munching on her malted milk eggs!! Very matter-of-factly, she explained to us that Mary didn't find him, just his cloth... still not really grasping the full truth, but knowing enough of the facts that I felt a little better.

Will we ever truly grasp what Christ did on this day? It was the culmination and the beginning, the redemption and the charge, the agony and the glory. For those who witnessed that day, I cannot imagine what was going through their minds. The grief, the anger, the fright, the amazement. To walk with him after he'd risen and not recognize Him? We still do that today. It's just so mindboggling to me. I don't even know in my heart if it's enough to just be thankful for what Christ did for me. I ought to be repentant, in awe, ashamed, bewildered, mortified, astonished all at the same time.

I ought to take some corrective measures in my own life today. I ought to live like Christ did something amazing for me and for each person that I meet every day of my life. I don't know why it's so hard, I don't know why I get so distracted, I don't know why the Easter bunnies and their candy are sometimes more enticing to me - but I'll admit I am shamefully unfocused much of the time. It's time to grasp the grace and mercy that has been extended to me from the only person worthy to do that - I am ever so thankful, and everything else....

Nothing But the Blood

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

For my pardon this I see
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
For my cleansing this I plea
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Nothing can for sin atone
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
Naught of good that I have done
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is all my hope and peace
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
This is all my righteousness
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

~Robert Lowry

Friday, April 06, 2007

Capris and Cold - CRAZY!

I am wearing capris today, even though it's only in the 40's. I just can't wait for winter to be over! I guess I went a little overboard, though, because now SNOW is in our forecast? What??? I'm so over snow, and now we're getting it, with cherry blossoms and all. How totally depressing... gotta go put some socks on. My legs are cold!

Just Call Me In Control

You Are Balanced - Realist - Powerful

You feel your life is controlled both externally and internally.
You have a good sense of what you can control and what you should let go.
Depending on the situation, you sometimes try to exert more control.
Other times, you accept things for what they are and go with the flow.

You are a realist when it comes to luck.
You don't attribute everything to luck, but you do know some things are random.
You don't beat yourself up when bad things happen to you...
But you do your best to try to make your own luck.

When it comes to who's in charge, it's you.
Life is a kingdom, and you're the grand ruler.
You don't care much about what others think.
But they better care what you think!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Teacher Gift

After reading this, I'm thinking I might send in some clothespins for Em's Kindergarten teacher!

Pre-Easter Preparations

Today we've been relaxing and cleaning.... relaxing and cleaning.... birthday partying.... relaxing and cleaning.... gymnastics.... relaxing and cleaning.. My fam is heading our way tonight. I have some time, but it's running out. While I was in Connecticut, I overheard a conversation at the movie theater on Sunday. It ended with, "Happy Passover!" It sounded kind of funny, but not really. I've been in Passover mindset ever since.

Tonight is a Maundy Thursday service at our church that we're missing. I would have liked to go, but we're a bit bogged down right now. Terrible excuse, I'm feeling a bit like Martha right now! For real, to think about what Christ went through thousands of years ago for me - well, it's really just overwhelming. I think we'll do our own family thing tonight to talk about it.

Back to cleaning, relaxing but no more fun!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Beach

Having grown up near the beach and spent four years of college near it, I can honestly say that the one thing I miss most in Maryland is being minutes away from it. There's nothing like a walk on the beach after a long day of work or with your friends or even a romantic evening strolling along.... I try to make a trip there each time I come home and the girls love it as well. Yesterday, since the sun broke and it was slightly warmer we decided to head down there.

Before we left, Kt made a big "Spring Break Beach Scavenger Hunt" checklist. The girls had some high hopes, both asking if I'd brought along their bathing suits! I reminded them that it was still like winter around here (at least to us!) and that the beach would be too cold for that. My warning were unheeded, however, and "towels", "beach umbrellas" and "hermit crabs" remained on the list!

When we arrived, the lot was nearly empty, but the beach itself was bussling with the beach hopefuls. I've been there! Some had worn shorts in anticipation of the next beach season, others wisely brought along their winter jackets worn oddly with flip flops! The girls quickly found most of their beach items - seagulls, sand, shells, rocks and swings - and then hit the swings, reveling in how easy their quest was without the usual beach bums.

As I stood there with them, a car load of teenagers pulled up, music blaring, slushees in hand, even a blow up globe (I guess there weren't any beach balls yet) who ran up to the swings. Just watching them reminded me of growing up around that area, scrounging up pennies for a snack at the beach and just relaxing after school. Then a school bus pulled up, loaded with short and t-shirt clad boys on some kind of sports team. They all ran out yelling, "It's high tide!" After a quick snack, off they went on a beach run. That is the only way anyone could have enjoyed the beach in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday!

After swinging and burying their legs in sand, the girls and I left. I was an ice cube - but a salt-water one, they were not going easily. There is something about the beach that draws us in. It really calls our name. For me, it's years of memories and a longing to be close to those. For the girls, it must be the fun and carefree time with no responsibilities. For all of us, it's the novelty of something we just don't have at home. We love it, and if we had it our way, we'd take it back to Maryland with us!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


The girls and I had a very interesting morning. After watching the utility company put in a new pole, we picked up lunch for mom and took it over to her school. Em notified us that she was supposed to be on the lookout for her kindergarten teacher, who is spending her Spring Break in Connecticut as well. We have no idea where, but she's here! LOL

After leaving, the girls had an itch to go somewhere else, so we took a little detour to my old elementary school, which happens to be across the street from my author friend. We first tried to go to her house, but she wasn't home. Kt took it all in - wow, we know where an author lives, what kind of car she drives, that she has pretty flowers in front of her house. Em just wanted to crawl through the mail shoot!! I decided to let her check out the mail shoot once I knew our intended victim was nowhere to be found. I mean, an author of children's books is all about kids exploring, right? Em was quite intrigued that the mailshoot gave her eyes passage to a set of stairs. I wonder where she thinks those stairs lead?? We'll have to find out some other day!

Across the way stood my old elementary school. Everything about that school screams grand and old! It just so happens that they are having a book fair, so I took the opportunity to visit. We walked around the front of the school and up the hill to the side entrance. The whole time, the girl's were asking me how I knew we had to go in the side and not the front door. Had they not heard me say that I went to school there for 7 years? Sure, they still didn't believe me though!

When we walked in it was obvious that the book fair was in the gymnasium. I always loved our gym, with it's rubber floor and grand stage. When we walked in I was even more wowed by the book fair - I've never seen one quite so large! They had changed out our old yellow padded walls for royal blue, but the ropes and cargo net were still the same! The stage was packed with gymnastics equipment and still the same old doors.

When we left after purchasing a couple books, Em spotted a stairwell. The girl's school doesn't have any stairs at all, so she was amazed. I then spotted a huge framed photo collage dating back to the good old days - it's a wonder it's still hanging! I didn't see many students that I knew, but that is no surprise. I did see my old school secretary, Mrs. Lucas, and my principal, Mr. Previs. It's kind of sad to return knowing they aren't there anymore.

On our way out, I couldn't help but take a little detour. I'm sure it didn't go unnoticed by the teachers passing through the hall, but I just couldn't resist. I ran the girls by the school cafeteria, which is the size of the gym, and down the front stairs out the front door. All the old cubbies have been replaced by noisy lockers, all the ivory doors painted blues and purples. It's actually kind of scary looking! They also have put rainbow tile on the hallway floors. YIKES!

We exited out the front door, which walks out next to a brand new playground, the likes of which I could have never dreamed as a child. It's amazing. We will never see anything like that back at home, I can assure you. It was flanked by a triple high slide on one end and a climbing wall far across the other. I'm not even sure what lies in the middle. I told the girls it was very different when I went there, but still three times the size of the girl's school playground. That is not including the side school playground, three kickball fields and the blacktop next to the gymnasium that is now cluttered with portable classrooms. I guess with all that space they can have the biggest book fair on the block.

I never realized as a kid how little I appreciated where I grew up!

Night Owl

This is why I had to run outside in my pajamas this morning at 9am to move my car for the utility guys that have decided that today is the day to move the utility pole that has never been touched in the 35 years our family has been in this house. Oh, and I'm still in my PJ's!
You Are a Night Person

For you, there's nothing worse than having to get up and moving early.
In fact, you probably don't hit your peak until well after the sun has set.
So if your struggling to make it on a normal schedule, realize it's not your fault.
You just weren't meant to do anything during the day!

Thanks, Deana!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's Official

Em believes that teachers know everything! I can still remember when Kt placed all her chips on whatever my parent's said because they were teachers. Of course, my girls have never applied the "teacher" title to me!

This morning Em and I were eating breakfast together and I noticed a Robin Redbreast outside the window. He was just sitting in the same spot for our entire breakfast. Em kept a close eye on him and finally said to me, "I wonder why he is just sitting there?" I replied, "Maybe he is waiting to see if this is a good place to build his nest after coming home for spring. Maybe he wants to know if this is a safe place for his baby birds." I then rambled on about some interesting Robin facts, including that there eggs were blue. She looked impressed, interested, engaged.

After a few more minutes, she looked outside again and he was still there. As if everything I knew about Robins was a farce, she said, "Maybe we should just ask mom. She's a teacher!" What did my mom say? "He's waiting for a worm to pop out of the ground." Unlikely, but that's the one we're sticking with. I mean, it is more exciting AND now we can sit in the kitchen all day watching for worms!