Friday, October 29, 2010

Nested parentheses

When I first learned about the grammatical use of nested parentheses, I loved the concept. Later, when I had to use them for computer programming, they became a source of great exasperation as I had to hunt through hundreds of lines to find the missing closing parenthesis.

Now, if I had to sum up this stage of our family, I would say that life feels like one long stream of nested parentheses.

I head towards the washing machine to start a load of laundry.
(Wait, I need to take the sheets off the beds.
(But I need to first call Strider to hang up the clothes on the foot of his bed.
(And then deal with Strider's lack of appropriate response.
(And deal with Colsen whining about how he needs me to get him a drink.
(Oh, rescue Miles as he's trying to walk down the stairs
(Move the balls on the stairs to the toybox
(Clear the cups off the toybox in order to open it
(Take cups to kitchen, realize dishwasher needs to be run
(Load dishwasher
(Take Miles out of the kitchen so he won't "help"
(Call Rayna to come play with Miles
(Deal with Rayna's lack of obedience
(Going back into the kitchen, see water spilled on the floor
(Go to get towel to clean up the water... but find the towel drawer empty.... because the LAUNDRY NEEDS TO BE DONE!)))))))))))))))

Or, here's one from last week:

Start to make smoothies
(Locate protein powder. Discover it's almost empty
(Order more protein powder
(Email friend to see if she needs anything now, to combine/minimize shipping costs
(While I'm contacting this friend, remember a group gift we're both working on
(Do research about the planned gift
(Get burning cupcakes out of the oven
(Back in the kitchen, realize the smoothie ingredients are still on the counter.... ))))))))

Most of the time I get so "nested" down that I can't even see the beginning/top of the order to remember what I'd set out to do in the first place.

I see Pete operating this way, too, when he's here. Constant interruptions mean neither of us can manage to finish tasks all the way through... it gets dizzying.

But I guess the good news is we have each other to enjoy in the little nests we make!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A good pair

When Colsen was about the age that Miles is now, and was just starting to speak (using colons right from the outset, incidentally), his first phrase was a question he asked over and over and over: "Ur is it?"

Milo is now slowly adding to his vocabulary, and he currently has one phrase, albeit without any discernible words. It's all in the inflection for him! Whenever he's looking for something, and then finds it, he says "Heeeeeidis!" which is clearly, for those of us well-versed in Milesese, "Here it is!" Here are a couple of very quick clips of this:

So Cole and Milo are good complements for one another: one is fascinated with questioning, the other is enthusiastic about answering. We pray they'll always be a good, balanced pair, in many ways!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Family celebration

Who has a birthday this week???! Yep, Mom does!

So yesterday we all went up to Mom and Dad's house for a "little" celebration. It sounded pretty simple... everyone just bring a little side dish, we'll have pizza and cake.... nice and easy. Then as we were starting to add up how much food we'd really need, we realized "we" are actually a group of 20 people. (And that was without John and Keiko and Sammy!) A simple family celebration is not so little anymore.

So many little pups now! (Bonus points if you can spot the mis-matched parent-baby combo below):
After dinner we all gathered for cake,

... some enthusiastic Happy Birthday singing...
...and VERY enthusiastic clapping...
and then Nonna daintily blew out her candles.
Meanwhile, Sage and I got to have some good bonding time -- she's just so pretty!
Then it was time for.... JEOPARDY!
The game was comprised of questions all about our life in NY, when we got witness Mom's funny quirks, passionate business ventures, mad decorating skills, and odd automobile preferences up close. We've been hounding Mom to start a blog called "Life at 80 Coleman Ave" for her to record some of the craziness of life in that house, so hopefully these questions will prove to be good fodder for that. It certainly made us laugh a lot as we reminisced! (And our in-home Alex Trebec made us laugh, too)

Then, after a rousing, simultaneous game of "How many little people can we get on this couch?" the little kids commanded center stage as they kept threatening to break through the glass top of the coffee table. So, after the adults wisely removed the glass, the game switched to "How many little monkeys can play all at once in a topless table?"
And THAT became the cue that it was time to wrap up and get the monkeys home to bed.

It was a very fun day, celebrating Mom/Nonna. We rejoice in how much she's come through this year in particular, and in how much she continues to teach us all with her joy, grace and passion!

(Miles is standing on the chair behind me as I type this and he's looking at the pictures, singing, "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na!" We all love Nonna!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New blog

Dave Matthews and I have something in common: we both have "So much to say, so much to say, so much to say..." So I'm finding that I need yet another blog to contain all my thoughts. :)

Homeschooling is a big part of my life right now -- both measured in time and in dedicated brain space. So, I've decided to start putting down my ideas, lessons learned, etc., all regarding teaching-my-children-at-home on another site. If anyone is interested in seeing that jumbled part of my mind, the address (based on the name of our school) is:

Basically, it will be the "why's" and some of the "how's" of our homeschooling adventure. I hope to share some of what has worked for us, and maybe some of the things that have not, too!

And, I will continue to update this blog as well, because, thankfully, our lives DO involve more than just school, contrary to what our 4th-grader may think sometimes when he's still doing his homework well into the evening hours.... To which I would respond that that is his own fault since he procrastinated during the day.... Well, this is clearly a topic for the other blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Questions Kids Ask

Some questions make me chuckle...

Colsen (as we were driving home from church): I'm tired, so I'm going to go to sleep. Wake me up if you see any bears. Grizzly bears. (short pause) Do you think we'll see any grizzly bears?

Strider: What was the name of the stage band you were in at school? Amy and the Heartbreakers?

Some just seem unanswerable...

Colsen: Do you know why this celery always chokes myself?

Strider: Do you think I will be beheaded someday?

Some are completely out of the blue and I have to work hard to read the ask-ers mind...

Rayna: What size is it?
Me: What size is what??

Rayna: What was her name?
Me: Who in the world are you talking about?

Some are just frustrating...

Me: I made cabbage tonight that has beer and and honey in it, so you'll like it.
Strider: Well.... what kind of beer?

And some are repeated a million times a day and make me want to beat my head against a wall at times....

Colsen: I have to go fix something -- you know why? (Me: Why?) Cuz I need to use my wrench -- you know why? (Me: Why?) Cuz this bolt is really big -- you know why? (Me: Why?) Daddy gave me a big one. And I have to put it on this wood -- you know why? (Me: Serenity now!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Makeover: Exterior Edition

I realized a few weeks ago that Pete had 10 extra minutes in his schedule each week, so I asked him to take on a home project I'd been wanting to do for awhile: painting the shutters (and buying some new ones), and re-doing our front door. He cheerfully obliged, and between this effort and a new roof, thanks to hail damage when that mini-tornado came through our area a few months ago, our house got a facelift!

After several weeks of this...
... well, maybe only 1 hour of work for the rest of us, and several hours of work for Pete (spread out in 10-minute intervals), the project is finally done.

As is Colsen's side-project. He loved going out to "fix things with Daddy" at every opportunity! This was his creation -- it is now called a Cow.

I thought ahead of time that I should take some "BEFORE" shots... and I actually did just that! And then, my plans were thwarted for the umpteenth time, thanks to a computer crash, and all the pictures were lost. (I've had a lot of thwarted plans lately. Maybe I need to go to Hog-Thwarts school. Sorry -- I couldn't resist... I read Harry Potter recently)

Anyway, I went back through my archives and pulled out a couple of pictures of our house the way it used to look.

So here are the BEFORE shots:

....and the AFTER shots:

I thought it was particularly thoughtful of my mums to decide to bloom just in time for the "after" pictures! Just like they do when they show makeovers on TV!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

News station field trip

This past week, Strider had an opportunity to learn about how the news is reported by visiting a local TV station. I've been wanting to take him on a field trip like this for a few years now; since he's such a talker, I've often thought he might enjoy being a talking head professionally -- or at least a sports broadcaster. :)

So, our co-op planned a trip, and off he went! (Sadly, I couldn't go since only kids ages 10 and up were allowed in the station, so I had to stay home with the young 'uns)

Strider took the camera, though, and with the help of some of the other moms, got some good shots. He couldn't wait to tell me allllll about it when he got home. Such enthusiasm and excitement! They got a little tour of the behind-the-scenes work...
...and then watched the live noon broadcast! Strider told me he was so close to the meteorologist's set that he could have made a noise or even "stuck his foot" into the frame and ruined the whole show. :)

After the show, the kids got to take turn learning how to work the weather set... (I just realized as I'm looking at these pictures that he was wearing flip-flops! What kind of mom sends her kid off to a field trip at a professional place in flip-flops? Apparently this non-attentive one. Oh well. I hope the station forgives me.)And whaddyaknow.... the weather really was sunny and in the 70's that day. Great forecasting, kids!

It looks like it was a great trip!

Next time our co-op meets, the kids are supposed to all present news stories of their own now. We'll see them put their new knowledge and skills to work. Should be interesting! Perhaps there is a future broadcaster or reporter in their midst...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We were a church plant

Church of the Redeemer was “planted” 8 years ago as a handful of people meeting in the cafeteria of a high school. Since that time, through the grace of our namesake, this plant has grown and changed in both predictable and extraordinary ways.

There is a fancy word that I can’t remember which indicates when a church plant in our denomination is no longer a supported “plant” but is its own entity. That declaration was made awhile back for our congregation, but I still think of us as a growing plant, with roots growing deeper and deeper. And what makes those roots grow down is the stuff of life, the journeying together, through whatever God sends. It seems it’s the celebrations and, even more so perhaps, the tears that water the life-anchoring roots.

We’ve celebrated as our members have married each other, and we danced at their receptions. We’ve ridden the roller-coaster of the adoption process with families, and cried and cheered when their children came home. Tears of joy have been shed when members were healed – coming through brain surgery, pancreatic cancer and other scary things.

And we’ve cried tears of grief together when we lost precious little Zeke, just a couple days shy of his first birthday.

This past weekend we mourned together again at the memorial service for one of the leaders and beloved fathers of our congregation. In the past month, as Kofi suddenly was diagnosed with the cancer that ended his life here on earth, our church put down some long, strong roots. Or maybe we were able to feel the ones that already existed better.

How beautiful it was to see how so many jumped forward to be at the side of the family suffering. There was no shortage of friends willing to spend hours at the man’s bedside, even in the middle of the night. Throughout Kofi’s time at the hospice facility, his friends surrounded him and stayed by him day and night. Other friends cared for the children of the family, coordinated and prepared meals for weeks, helped with paperwork, plans, and hard decisions. A few women coordinated the volunteers for preparing food to serve 500 at the memorial service reception. I could go on and on… The church was truly a family.

In this day and age, when people are reluctant to commit to anything or anyone, and people move around and jump to new situations so frequently, it seems to be a rare thing to have a community so willing to serve and love each other selflessly.

Even without a physical building to call our own, this “church-in-a-box” has grown from a small plant to something stronger and thicker– a shrub? a cactus? a tree? that has weathered many climates and storms, and has beauty and strength given by our Redeemer. And I am thankful to be a part of this rare and precious phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The keys to happiness

Colsen apparently subscribes to the "the bigger the man's key ring, the bigger the man" school of thought.

He has, in a very short span of time, collected many, many keys for his own key ring -- and a bottle opener to boot, because who knows when you might need to open a bottle? Every morning now when he gets dressed, he only selects shorts that have beltloops, because he insists he has to hang his keys from a beltloop.

He found his first great key supplier to be never-throw-anything-away-Daddy. And once that source was tapped out, he started hitting up the neighbors. Ever patient Mr. Wayne, next door, happily contributed some old keys (to his old car which had just died) to Cole's ring.

He couldn't wait to show me his new additions. "Look, Mom! I have Cadillac keys! Now you need to buy me a Cadillac!"

Not happenin', Son. Nice try, though.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meeting Sage

(My friend Alison customized this cute little shirt for me to give her today -- Sage's first personalized item! Since hand-me-downs are likely in this little one's future, I figured she need a few of her own things, too.

trider, Rayna and I got to see our new little niece/cousin this afternoon! She is so sweet. We arrived just at the right time because she had plenty to tell us all about. It's been quite an interesting couple of days for her.

Mommy and baby (she doesn't look like she gave birth just yesterday, does she?!):
We're happy to have this new little girl in our family.

And 10/11 is a birthday of beautiful girls it seems! Last night we had a few friends over for a little birthday celebration for sweet Kai who turned 10 yesterday. Then the kids all went roller skating... It was a good day for celebrating!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A life-in-abundance kind of day

Our friend Greg Varner pointed out that it is “Abundant Life Day” today (10/10), based on John 10:10. For us this celebration must have started early. Last night I was reflecting on the day we had had yesterday, and all I could think of as a summary was that it was a life-in-abundance kind of day.

Yesterday was packed full of cheers, of tears, and of community. It was a day in which we lived deeper and fuller.

Starting off the morning, Pete went out and ran in a 5K race. Since the course was all in our neighborhood, and the runners came right past our street, the kids and I were pretty much able to just roll out of bed and go out to watch – and that’s pretty much exactly what we did!

I got so flustered when Pete ran by that I forgot to get a good picture! So here are some of the back of his head.

He ended up placing 13th! Yay Daddy!!

Then the kids and I were off to our neighborhood Fall Festival – a highlight every year. Once again the giant slide was a big attraction…

as was the bouncy house (including the outside of it)
and painting pumpkins.

I didn’t get many pictures of Strider because this year he went off with his friends for the morning, doing all the “bigger kid” things – rock climbing, bungee-trampolining, boxing-thing, etc.

But I did get pictures of him an hour later, because we went for his Taekwondo testing. And he was promoted to a “high white belt!” Yay Strider!!

And this is where the pictures of the day end, but for us the most meaningful part was still to come.

We attended the memorial service (and for Pete, the burial as well) of a good friend and beloved man from our church. What an inspiring and amazing service it was! For the second time this year, a memorial service has been a life-changing experience for me. Celebrating Kofi’s abundant life challenged us all to more passionately follow, and celebrate Christ. What a blessing it was to be in that building, sad as it was, but so full of hope and thankfulness. (Thank you Aunt Amy for babysitting Cole and Milo all afternoon.)

The stuff of this life can be so good and sweet… but the stuff that points us to the next life is (to borrow a Homer Price word) eversomuchmoreso. How thankful we are to be living this precious gift of Abundant Life our Lord has given us.