Friday, June 26, 2015

Staying home

For the last year we have been actively looking for a new house to buy.  As our kids are getting bigger, this house -- which Pete bought before I even saw it, which we thought was just our "temporary house" until we decided whether or not Pete would be staying at Wingate, which was to be our "growing" house, the one we lived in until we moved to our real home -- has been feeling more and more tight.  The closets are all packed to the brim, the garage is too full for cars anymore, etc., etc.  And so we felt the time was finally right to move to our next home.

We looked and looked.... and found nothing that met even most of our criteria.

Then, just a couple weeks ago we started communication with a woman who wanted to sell a house just around the corner from us, and it had a lot of what we were looking for!  So we came very, very close to buying that house last week.

But at the last minute we didn't feel peace about it -- Pete especially -- and so we ended up calling it off.

And, for some odd reason, as I looked around our own house, it suddenly didn't look so bad to me anymore.

It's funny how God confirms things to us sometimes.... I feel like maybe He's been showing us some of the extra bonuses that come with living in our house lately.

For instance:

-- Strider's football team, which draws students from all over Charlotte, suddenly announced that their practices this summer are right here in our neighborhood!  So instead of us having to drive him to practices 4 times a week, he can just ride his longboard!

-- Colsen's and Miles' soccer teams have had practices and games in our neighborhood the last couple of years, and now even the summer camp was here as well.  Again -- no daily driving necessary!

 --The backyard continues to be a wealth of fun.  Just today the kids have done the following:

    * climbed trees
    * "mountain-biked" all over the yard
    * mined for gems in the rocks (and found some!)
    * examined a squirrel skull they extricated from a dead squirrel body (gross!)
    * jumped on the trampoline
    * played soccer
    * swung from ropes
    * fixed the swingset so their younger cousins could play on it.  (Who says chivalry is dead?)

-- As the boys have gotten more and more into fishing ("obsession" might be an accurate word for what all of them have right now), it has been wonderful having a pond right across the street.  As we were looking for new houses, the boys would always pipe up, "Make sure it has a pond near it!".... which limited our options considerably.

-- Our next-door neighbors continue to be the best gift to us. They know we've been tight on space, so they've even offered to let Strider come over and live with them the next couple of years.  :)  (We probably won't take them on it... well, maybe once in awhile....)

So, for now, we're planning to just stay home.   We're attempting to do a few construction projects to make the space more useable and functional for us, but I'll probably still feel like I'm tripping over stuff all year.

But, as my friend is quick to remind me, even if we moved, we'd be bringing all of our stuff with us -- and ourselves -- so a new house probably wouldn't end up being quite the balm to my soul that I think it would be.

Now I have the summer, which I had reserved for packing and unpacking boxes, to make this house even more of a home!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day Camping Trip

This weekend all of these dads took all of these kids camping in Montreat.... along with the kids' moms (not pictured) to make sure no one ate more than 36 s'mores at a time, or fell in the fire.*

Activities for the weekend included a hike down the mountain to go play in the stream and playground, and.... well, a lot of sitting around at each other's campsites.  James kept pulling out more sugary treats from his cooler every half-hour or so, so that kept everyone happy.

The 6 little boys ran around all weekend with very large, sharp knives and/or pointy, hot sticks right out of the fire.  They also enjoyed building their own fires, shooting guns at Strider, and playing in the creek that ran right past the campsites.

The little girls enjoyed watching the boys almost die, going with them to the creek, and getting them to push them on the hammock.

Everyone else just hung out:

The tent setups were quite impressive --and diverse.  I went on a little "Homearama" tour of the 5 campsites -- or, I guess "tentarama" -- and found the following:

Pete put up a very nice, large and simple tent.  Inside were basic sleeping bags all lined up.  This is camping, right?

 The Clarks' setup was similar -- with the addition of some battery-operated fans and a crib for the youngest camping member, Elise.

Meanwhile, James' tent and Dan's tent, which were eerily similar, took it to the next level, "glamping." These behemoth tents had cots, full-sized beds, cribs, "garages," multiple sleeping rooms, ceiling fans, and all kinds of appliances.

Finally, we had the "most spoiled child" campsite.  Mom and Dad brought their favorite child, (aka dog Gracie) with them, and also brought her her own separate tent (the blue one below).  It's even a North Face.  Only the best for the Golden Retriever!

Pete said yesterday that it was his favorite way to spend Father's Day... waking up in a beautiful spot, sitting and watching the stream, being with his kids and large family.

I'm thankful for all these dads who bless me and our family!  (just missing John in California  :(  )

*I actually was the only family member to not stay overnight -- just went for the day on Saturday -- because I had to take Strider from the campground to Asheville to meet the team of people he was going on a mission trip with.
(If that doesn't really make sense, then.... maybe I also just wanted to enjoy sleeping in my house with total quiet.) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Big Pete, Little Pete

Miles thought it was so funny to play this video of Pete in fast-forward:

Hendersonville getaway

Pete had a work trip up at the Highland Lake Inn for 5 days last week, so I tagged along for the last half.  It was such a beautiful place to be... Even though he was working (and distracted by thinking about work even when he wasn't working) most of the time, I still enjoyed time to just walk and rest and read and pray, having my soul restored.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Do they have an answer for everything??

All of my kids are pretty good arguers, but it appears that the youngest and the oldest are truly attorneys-at-heart.  They want to debate E V E R Y T H I N G.

Some of the recent arguments I've had....

Strider: I think I should do some gambling when we go on the Cherokee mission trip (at the Indian reservation).
Me:  NO.
Strider:  But, MOM, we learned at our training session today that the whole Cherokee nation splits all of the income they get from the casinos, like communism.  So I would actually be helping all the people!

Strider:  Mom, you gotta let me stay up later.
Me:  You stay up plenty late already.
Strider:  But MOM, I don't like to sleep over a period of 2 days!  So I should just go to bed at 1 am.

Miles: Mom, who is stronger -- me or you?
Me:  Me.
Miles:  How do you know?
Me:  Because I can pick you up, but you can't pick me up.
Miles:  MOM!!  That's because you're heavy and I'm light!  ANYWAY, I can pick myself up:  I can jump!

Me:  Miles, buckle your seatbelt.
Miles:  No, I want to be a martyr.
Me;  What??
Miles:  You know, I want to die so I can see Jesus!
(Strider proceeded to fill him in on the difference between suicide and martyrdom.)

These boys are out-flanking me!  I'm hoping sweet Rayna will take good care of me when I'm drooling in my wheelchair, having used up all my brain cells arguing the boys.... which could be as early as next week.

(Even as I am posting this, Strider is now mounting an argument about why he should be allowed to have a Monster drink on the morning he takes the ACT exam...  It never stops.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Operation Surprise = successful

Some of the first words out of Strider's mouth when he was but days old were:

 "I want to have a surprise party someday!"

So, 15 years later, I tried to comply.

A few weeks ago I invited some of his school friends to join us for Strider's birthday, but since Strider didn't know about it, as we were trying to surprise him, he kept pestering me for weeks about what kinds of things he wanted to do on his birthday.  We told him yes, he could go golfing with Pete, but then pretty much all of his other 345 requests had to be denied.  He was pretty convinced I was very mean by the time the big day finally rolled around.

We told him we were going out to dinner as a family in the city, which made him exasperated for some reason.

But THEN when we got to Fuel Pizza, he was suddenly bumped into by some shady character.... oh wait, it's his bud Henry!
And THEN, wait a second, look who else is here!!

NOW he was happy.

Even though he wouldn't smile for this picture;

Afterwards we surprised him again by telling him the whole gang was going to the Charlotte Knights game!

They had a good time at the game -- even got a few game balls, and a nice hug from the mascot.

And -- funny enough -- they ran into cousin Branson at the game.  Small world!  (Or big family?)

So, all in all, despite a few close calls, Strider was SURPRISED and LOVED IT.... and now thinks I'm a pretty cool mom and not so mean after all.  :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

If anyone is looking for me this summer....

.... you can find me circling around the inside of my house closing one open door after another, disconsolately muttering something about not air conditioning the outside.


That's all I've been doing the last couple weeks.