Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good thing it's pretty outside...

...cuz it hasn't been all that pretty inside this week. All the kids have had some sort of intense-cough virus, so it's been a whole bunch of hacking around here. I also have been fighting it, and if I could have, I would have had my own sick-day... Unfortunately Pete was too busy working and helping to take care of the kids to take care of me!

The least pretty thing, though, has been my lack of patience and love the last day or so... Last night Miles and I camped in the living room since the pediatrician predicted we'd be in for a couple of rough nights with him. His cough was actually not too bad after all, but neither of us slept longer than 30 minutes at a time, so my outlook today is not all that rosy.

BUT, the good news is that this has been a beautiful week outside, so all I have to do is look out the window to see something glorious!

And here is my favorite bounty of this year's garden (zinnia grown from seeds -- finally blooming!):

Thank you, God, for reminding us of Your beauty and creativity!
October is a beautiful month, coughs or no coughs, and we have much to be thankful for! (Next year I'm going to try and sign up for the no-cough version, though.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here we go again...

Another tiny figure bent on destruction has found his feet.

Nothing under 30 inches high in this house stands a chance!
And while I'm speaking of Miles, here's another little tidbit...

We've recently started singing the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" as part of our getting-started time of the school day, and I taught the kids some motions to do as we sing. In the last week or 2, I've noticed that wherever Miles is when someone starts to sing that song, he whips his head around, gets a big smile, and crawls on over to watch.

I'd like to think I have a theory to explain this, although it probably is not entirely theologically sound: If he has an eternal soul, then he must have been somewhere before he was born here. And if he was in Heaven, then maybe those are the words he heard most often (Rev. 4:8), so when he hears them now, he recognizes them??? I'd love to hear if other parents with little babies do the experiment to verify this theory!

I know it's more likely that Miles just likes the song and enjoys watching us do the funny hand motions... but still, I like the other explanation better.

Friday, October 23, 2009

He sure is

(For the record, though, I checked out the rest of the kids, and it turns out they're all still the perfect sizes for hugs as well!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Images that makes me smile

1.) Pennies in an offering basket

I actually don't have a picture of this -- other than in my mind. Last week in church as I watched a child put some coins in the offering basket as it came by, I thought about the image of pennies in an offering plate. I love this. I know the people who count the money at the end of church might not think it's all that great to find pennies in there, but I would figure there's probably only 2 ways to end up with pennies in the offering: either someone is so young that the pennies have great worth to them, or someone is so poor that the pennies have great worth to them. Either way, if they end up in the offering plate, they represent generosity and faithfulness. I love seeing parents teach children that even what little the kids have can be given back to God.

2.) This one:

Over the years I've gotten rid of (or stashed away so deep I have no idea where they are now) most of the trophies I received when I was younger. But this one I kept because I felt like it represented the culmination of a lot of my work, and even identity at some level -- my valedictorian award. And now I find it like this.... I can only begin to conceive of how many things it's been in my children's imaginations and pretending. It gets dragged around and beat upon... And I guess that's pretty ok. The trophy and what it represents are really not as important as I once thought they were!

3.) And this one:

A moving image I guess. It kind of makes me laugh to think that this is someone's job all day long!
(just kidding -- but don't tell my kids!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The last 3 hours here

So tonight is another night that Pete is working until very late, and as usual, it's been a little crazy around here. Here are some of the snippets from the last few hours:
  • While talking on the phone with my brother, I look out the window and see Colsen and Rayna are throwing sand/dirt all over each other. Realize I will be giving people showers tonight.
  • Call everyone in for dinner, and ask which leftovers they want to eat. Hear Colsen say, "I want soup because your soup is so good!" But then 10 minutes later, hear him say, "I don't want this soup -- it's gross." In fact, no one is eating their dinner... until I bribe everyone with cinnamon toast.
  • I eat standing up because I'm busy trying to feed Miles, make the cinnamon toast, and entertain everyone with a song -- in which Strider is supposed to be identifying the prepositions, but keeps missing them.
  • Notice that one of the children has caused the toilet to be clogged. I close the bathroom door and tell everyone to not use it.
  • Get annoyed that my feet keep sticking to the kitchen floor. Realize I will be mopping tonight.
  • Start the dishes. Miles keeps trying to "help" -- and when I'm not holding him, he starts screaming.
  • Colsen tells me he wet his pants. Time to start the showers now. Dishes will have to wait.
  • Realize the kids have collectively gone through 8 changes of clothes today. The laundry is mounting.
  • Tell Rayna to stop putting shampoo all over her skin.
  • Tell Colsen to stop screaming incessantly.
  • Get their pj's on, and go down to the dishes.
  • See that someone has used the bathroom I told them not to use. Realize I must plunge in -- literally. Lock the kids upstairs and get the plunger from the garage. As I'm working away at that lovely task, and then taking out the garbage, I wonder how military wives ever survive when their husbands are deployed.
  • Realize we will not be doing the haircuts I wanted to do tonight.
  • Hear from upstairs, "Colsen, why are you getting all wet?" I yell up, "Colsen, ARE you all wet???" Pause. Then he says, "I'm drying off now."
  • Then hear, "Miles is eating the bag from the trash can in the bathroom!"
  • Go up rescue Miles and change Colsen's pj's. Now the change of clothes is 9.
  • Look in Cole's drawer and see 6 sets of pj bottoms and NO pj shirt. What is going on around here?
  • Go look in my room for a shirt. (Side note: I am very blessed to have a husband who is willing to fold laundry when I am out at work. But, bless his heart -- and I mean that in the most Southern of ways -- he never quite likes to fold ALL the items in a load. So right now in my room there are a couple of half-done piles of laundry.)
  • Realize we will not be doing the art project or the science experiment I had hoped to fit in tonight. Announce it is TIME FOR BED.
  • Read books to the kids. Get interrupted by: Strider telling me all about what he just learned concerning Johnny Unitas; Colsen informing me that he is no longer a boy, but is a polar bear named Pola; and having to go stop Miles from eating a still-plugged-in but detached from the CD player cord, before he electrocutes himself.
  • Get everyone in bed -- or so I think. As I'm trying to take a shower later (after mopping the floors), Rayna comes into the bathroom to ask, "Mom? Is that you? Are you taking a shower now?" And after I get out of the shower, Colsen greets me with, "I need to come downstairs with you for a few minutes because I have a cold. [he doesn't] I mean... I have problems. My... arms are burning. I just need to sit with you."

Half the kids are still upstairs thumping around, but the other half are asleep, so that's good enough for now. Thankfully, our hero, Pete just walked in the door, so off I go to him!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Disney highlights

Some of our favorite things about our Disney trip:
  • The rides and shows. My favorite was the Monster's Inc show (how DO they do that live animation??) and the kids seemed to like Buzz Lightyear and Peter Pan the best. Pete says his favorite ride of the trip was the time he rode with me on Splash Mountain -- because of how terrified I got.

  • Finding a paintbrush on Tom Sawyer's Island and earning 8 Fastpass tickets. Strider also loved going through the cave. Here's the group coming back on the raft.

  • Playing golf at Fantasia Gardens. Pete got a hole-in-one, and Colsen and Nonna boogied with a dancing elephant.
  • Eating out at some good restaurants -- like Boma and Rainforest Cafe!
  • A hot air balloon ride for Strider and Poppa -- they went VERY high!

  • Other random highlights include: seeing a live alligator in one of the ponds, getting the NFL network in our hotel suite (Strider and Pete) and getting the Food Network in our hotel suite (me). You know you're on vacation when you get to watch cable TV while in bed!
  • And of course, getting time with some of our favorite people was the best highlight of all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Family Circus does Disney

Our Disney trip was quite good. Very good, really. We are very thankful that both sets of grandparents were able to come with us-- we had a great adult-kid ratio! I can't even imagine doing a trip like this on our own. (My parents took us to Washington, D.C. when we kids were about the same ages as my own kids now... and after that trip we didn't go on another family vacation for 8 years. It was that crazy!) So I'm happy to say that having grandparents along for our family trip was a big blessing -- with 2 kids in strollers, both needing naps, and one nursing still, it would have been too insane otherwise.

But Saturday, our first day at Magic Kingdom, was very crowded (a holiday weekend), and very hot (mid-90's... 10 degrees hotter than usual for this time of year). And if I had been writing a blog title at about 4:00 that afternoon, it would have been something like:

"The Great Restroom Tour of Disney"
"If you're going to Disney on a hot holiday weekend, use the term "vacation" lightly"
"Strider's Vacation at Disney, with 9 people watching"
or even,
"Navigating a stroller through throngs of people who are not all moving in one direction is extremely annoying, and it's all I've been doing all day."

I realized later that I attempted to go to 6 rides/shows that day, but 3 times had to leave early to take someone to the bathroom. I became quite expert at finding the illegal ways to both exit and re-enter an attraction. But while a few of us were doing a lot of waiting outside of attractions, some of our group did actually get to do a lot of fun rides, and the day ended on a more positive note.

And by the time Monday came around, the crowds had thinned considerably, and we were ALL able to go to many more attractions. At that point I realized Disney could actually be a fun place!

We actually had many highlights and "favorites" of the trip, and I'll post some of those maybe tomorrow (I'm tired of dealing with Blogger's picture uploading (non)capabilities for the moment), but here are some of the pictures of us actually riding rides and seeing (whole) shows.

Philharmagic (which was one of my favorite things at the park... and was a hit with everyone in our group)

Buzz Lightyear... Pete was our group's high scorer -- he and Strider rode this 4 times in a row on Monday.
Rayna and Grandpa

Colsen and Poppa (poor Poppa had a very jerky ride with this little driver)

Jungle Cruise
Rayna, Grandpa and Gee-Gee on Peter Pan
Pete and Colsen on Dumbo

.... And one of Colsen's favorite rides, the Monorail!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's a Small World After All

We're back from The First Frank Family Trip to the Wonderful Wide World of Disney... and what a trip it was! When I get a little more settled and organized (yeah, right), I'll put a few (or a lot) more pictures and details in this journal, but for now I'll just say it surely is a small world. I love small world stories, and we had a few on this trip such as:

1. When we arrived at our hotel in Florida, the first people we saw were actually people we recognized (from the tournament Strider was in recently)! We knew that was weird... and as the weekend went on and we saw just how many thousands and thousands of people were packed into those few square miles, we realized just how unlikely it really was!

2. And speaking of lots of people packed into a space, those Disney parking lots are HUUUUGE. So we thought it was pretty weird when the parking attendants ended up parking us exactly behind our group's other car -- even when that car had arrived at the park 20 minutes before us, and many, many cars arrived in between us.

3. Driving home today, we left Orlando well before Mom and Dad did, and they detoured to the airport to drop off Pete's parents. We, of course, made more stops on our way home than they did... so approximately 7.5 hours later we actually saw Mom and Dad going into the same exact Chick-Fil-A in South Carolina that we were at -- completely unplanned. Considering all the possible fast-food options on our travel route, we thought that was pretty crazy, too.

And Strider actually thought the Magic Kingdom was a smaller world than he expected it to be. I was surprised to hear this and asked him why. He told me that he had heard someone say they had walked 13 miles there one day, so he was picturing the park to be 13 miles wide and 13 miles long. Now that would be large indeed! We agreed that it is quite big enough as is.

So... more on the full trip later!

(This was us leaving the park one night -- some of us soaking wet from Splash Mountain, some of us soaking wet from sweat, some of us completely worn out, and all of us thankful for a good day!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recent school stuff... and extracurricular artwork

For the kids' presentations at Classical Conversations the last few weeks, we've had fun doing some projects...

One of weeks we made Hoplite shields like ones some of the soldiers in Ancient Greece used...
Here they are presenting the information to their respective classes:

And then the following week we were learning about the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (which ended up being pretty fascinating!) and we made a model of the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria:

This lighthouse was the tallest building of its time -- other than the Pyramids-- 380 feet tall, which is pretty impressive. And there is a great story about Sostrates, the clever builder of it, and how he ultimately tricked the Egyptian ruler who commissioned the project and wanted full credit. (Strider had fun demonstrating that element to his class)

And then this past week we made collages of vertebrates and invertebrates. Rayna had a ball just cutting and gluing away, finding all kinds of creatures.... ...But Strider decided to make his full of only "gross" animals. And he sure found plenty -- which seems like evidence to me that God has a lot of "guy-ness" in him. Here is part of what he came up with:

This week we had no big project planned... but while Strider and Rayna were supposed to be upstairs doing their homework this afternoon, they decided to take it upon themselves to create "artwork" -- body artwork. When they emerged from the room, they were covered in marker ink. Rayna's entire face was scribbled black -- entirely. And their arms and legs were full of all kinds of colors- - even the bottoms of their feet were colored. To my great distress I discovered, after I shoved them into the showers, that these markers were not washable!

So, I spent a long, long time scrubbing and scrubbing at Rayna's face... make-up remover, mineral oil, rubbing alcohol... and still can't get it all off. (I also spent a long, long time yelling) And I'm not even going to be able to attempt much on their limbs... I had so, so many things I needed to do today and this was not one of them.

Strider kept insisting I needed to take a picture because his whole purpose in doing this artwork was to send it in to "Guinness Book of World Records" to try and get the "Most colored skin record." I was so irate I couldn't even bring myself to get the camera, so he will have to do without that record to his name. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to get some shots of the remaining effect (not for Guinness -- but maybe for his wedding slide show)... but probably not. I'm still too mad.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More recent quotes

Cole: Is Disney World where we go when we die??
(Maybe we're building our upcoming trip up a little too much...)

Me: You saw little baby Addie, Rayna? How was she?
Rayna: She was sturdy and well-built.
(Apparently borrowing a line the Virginia Lee Burton book, "The Little House.")
Strider: Don't you think we should build something together at Lowe's?
(Evidence that clearly he is watching far too many commercials in between football games)

Pete: Rayna is like our little Zorro.
(After opening his checkbook to find "Rayna" scrawled across one of the pages. We can always tell where she's been!)

Rayna: I love you, Mom.
Me: I love you, too.
Rayna: I love you SO much.
Me: That's nice, Sweetie.
Rayna: That's GREAT, Mom!
Me: Yeah, it is.
Rayna: It's REALLY great!

And, then as she walks upstairs, "It's a beautiful day! And I'm going to get dressed."

(It was actually a rather gray and dismal morning weather-wise, but with Rayna's outlook, I think every day really IS beautiful!)

And, finally,

Colsen: Hey, Mom, can I play with stickers?
And when I looked up to answer him, this is what I saw:

Friday, October 2, 2009


I love knowing I'm on a journey, the path laid out ahead and behind. (With kids named Strider and Miles, maybe that's obvious. Actually, though, Pete picked out those names... I guess he likes the concept of the journey, too!)

With the beginning of Fall, the beginning of October, and reading about the meaning behind the Old Testament festivals this month, I've been thinking about the Journey even more than usual lately. If we were observing the Old Testament holidays, we would have just celebrated the time of the New Year and Day of Atonement, and now at least some of us would have journeyed this week to Jerusalem for the Festival of Booths -- which looks rather like a big camping trip.

All these new beginnings, new seasons, new habits seem like new bends in the road, and as we journey on there are new things to be realized and reminded of with each step. Here are some of the things I have been reminded of lately in my Journey:

**When I compare my journey to someone else's, the result is never good. I had read about a family who had a life that looked so appealing to me. Their lifestyle sounded so peaceful and purposeful and focused and collaborative and loving... When I compare that to my loud, distracted, clamouring, complaining and argumentative household, I get very discouraged. I even spent a few days recently trying to shape us into a calmer, happier, more peaceful family... but it didn't work. As Mom reminded me, the personalities of my family are just not the same as the ones in the family I was looking at. I'm not sure how much nurture vs. nature I should be reading into that, but either way, it's a fact! So... the point is I need to stop comparing. When will I ever learn this??

**Preparation only goes so far. One of the reasons I was convinced our family was not the peaceful, loving family I wanted to be was my own laziness and distraction. I resolved to do much more focused planning, get up earlier, enforce a better schedule and focus. And I even followed through for a couple days... but still I could not accomplish what I wanted to! Just when we would get everyone seated for a meaningful discussion, or a powerful story time, someone would suddenly wet their pants, a neighbor would drop by for something, or someone would spill something on the rug. Life Interrupted seems to be our permanent motto... and I can't find any other way than to resort to my Post-It note agenda.

**A trip takes some serious planning! While I am not on a camping trip this week, I am looking ahead to a big family journey -- to Disney World. As I'm discovering, this kind of trip takes a lot of time to read about, research, etc! I wish I could just sit down and figure it all out, but instead I feel like my method has been "Planning a Disney trip in 198 two-minute time blocks." Needless to say, I feel a little scattered about all this, but I hope it will all work out and be fun anyway!

Well, I have other lessons and things I've been thinking about.... but after 6 interruptions (including being shot in the head with a nerf gun bullet) during the time I've been writing this, I think it's just time to end this post. The good news is the Journey is not over and each step brings us further along, hopefully with increasing wisdom and joy. Proverbs 4:18!