Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Services

The last few weeks have not been kind to our family health-wise. We've passed around one little bug or another for so long that we've almost forgotten what it's like to all be well!

Because we are pretty adamant that sick kids (and adults) should be kept home to prevent spreading sickness, and because we don't want to risk catching something new when we're hardly over the previous illness, it's been quite a challenge getting the whole family to church!

We finally saw a window of opportunity one Sunday a couple of weeks back and planned our course of action. We would not go to Sunday School, and would take all of the kids except Levi into worship with us. Surely our odds of catching something with only 1 kid in a nursery were lower than 3 or 4, right? 

(Actually, wrong - Levi did get a nasty cold from that 90 minutes, thankyouverymuch.)

Greg was there early for music practice, so he stayed for Sunday School, and I came solo with 6 kids in tow. I armed Brooklyn and Daniel with their own little backpacks full of quiet activities. We got there plenty early and the kiddos filed into our usual pew. I smiled and nodded hello to the couple seated in front of us. After the kids were settled Alan and I left to take Levi to the nursery. This left 4 children, ages 12, 5, 4, and 3 seated and waiting.

When Alan and I returned I noticed immediately the couple in front of us had moved to a different part of the sanctuary.  

"Surely they moved to sit next to someone they know," I thought, wanting badly to give them the benefit of the doubt.

But no....they still sat alone.  

And I knew.

They moved to get away from the children seated behind them. My children.

My children who were all seated, smiling, chatting with each other, behaving themselves.

I very much wanted to take it personally. And yet, at the same time, I felt sad for the couple.

Yes, children can be a distraction. They do wiggle. Try as I might, someone usually kicks the pew in front of us at least once. They do whisper some - and everyone knows a kid's whisper is as loud as an adult's talking. 

But children also sing to their Savior - ever so sweetly.  They also make great sermon observations and ask excellent learning questions about what they see and hear. How else are children able to experience worship without...experiencing it?

Even though I was determined not to be judgmental or bitter towards a couple I have never met, I was just a little bit satisfied when we left that service that my children had what was probably their best run ever sitting through a service. I don't think they would have bothered a soul! I wanted to pass by them as we left and say with a sweet smile, "I hope you enjoyed the service today." There is no way I would have actually said it, but I sure thought it. I know. I'm bad.

We missed some more services, and then today we decided to brave it again, this time keeping Levi with us, too. Ohhhh my. I was a little bit nervous. As much as I believe in having kids in worship, I just as much believe in not being an obvious distraction. It's a fine line to walk! And with a 14 month old? Oh my.

So, we repacked our goody bags and chose a pew a little further to the back. This time we chose to leave Tyler with his children's church group. (I'm more for families worshipping together, but that's another post. Sort of.)

There I sat, surrounded by 5 kids, ages 12, 9, 4, 3, and 14 months. And have I mentioned? Greg plays guitar for the first half of the service, so I do that part solo.

We were a song or two in this morning, and things were going pretty well. There was more wiggling than I would have liked, but no shenanigans and everyone was pretty quiet. 

Then I felt, and saw, the man behind me leaning up towards my ear.  I braced myself. I just knew he was going to let me know about the nurseries that were available for my little ones. What would I say? My mind was racing for a tactful answer.

"Are these all your children?"

"Yes, sir. They are," I answered over my shoulder.

He laughed. "Bless your heart."  And he leaned back in his seat. It wasn't a condescending 'bless your heart', or an annoyed one. I could tell from his laugh, from his tone, he was being complementary.

I smiled. "Thank you," I replied with relief. 

After that I wanted even more for us to be on our best behavior. And they were. It wasn't our best run, but no disasters. I did have to slip out with Brooklyn for a potty stop near the end (and took Levi with us). We missed the end of the service, and therefore missed the complements that gentleman and the couple with him paid to Greg about our beautiful family.

A much more pleasant experience. As easy as it is to drop the little ones off (and I have been very thankful for our wonderful nurseries on many occasions!), I still enjoy being together to worship and learn as a family. It's not too much to expect obedient children to sit quietly through a service. Yes, it takes work, and yes, it is a little distracting to Mama and Daddy. But what is gained by us all is worth it. I doubt we'll keep them all with us all the time from now on, but I have a good feeling it will be happening again.

So next time you see a kid or two or five in your church services, remember that Jesus said to let the little children come unto Him, and try not to get too distracted by their too-loud whispers. They're learning, and their mama is probably trying her very best. And if you offer a kind word on your way out afterword, you just might make their day. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rise and Shine!

I don't know about you, but my facebook feed was recently full of complaints about the end of daylight savings time, particularly the early fall of darkness.

Maybe I'm channeling my inner Ma Ingalls, but I love the cozy feeling of gathering my family in around a warm supper, doors shut tight against the growing coolness of the dark night. 

"Falling back" just seems to work with my internal clock.

Of course, there is that unfortunate fact that children's internal clocks don't reset so easily. And the little ones can't tell time.

I was reminded of that fact this morning when I chose to bypass an alarm and sleep in a little bit due to a rough night with the toddler (what happened to "best baby ever"?!?).

So at a time I would normally be up, showering, reading my Bible or otherwise starting the day, I was covered up in my bed. Sound asleep. I'm not gonna lie: it was great.

Until I became aware of a lot of thumping and bumping against the wall.  About the time I was conscious enough to realize that sound was a step-stool, the overhead light came on in my eyes. 

I bolted upright to discover Daniel grinning at me from the stool.

I soon learned I was not his first client of the day. In fact, I was his last.

Behind him, the living room light shone brightly and a sleepy Brooklyn (who had slept on the couch due to sickness) sat rubbing her eyes and blinking in the bright light.

I jumped from my bed turning off lights in every. single. room from one end of the house to the other, greeted by freshly wakened children from every sector.

And we all began our day together thanks to Daniel's internal clock.

Good morning, glories!

My little son-shine at his birthday party a few weeks ago. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fall is my Favorite

Finally...finally the days are cooler. The hum of our 6 window units has finally fallen silent. Rain has fallen after weeks and weeks of drought, melting the dusty lawn back into itself again. With the arrival of true fall weather, the tension of a never-ending summer has finally dissolved.

Fall is birthday season in our house. It actually starts with one in August, then 2 in September, 2 in October, and 1 in November. The other 2 come along in January and February.

Fall is also reminiscing season. My sweetie and I met in the fall, fell in love in the fall (17 years ago), and were engaged in the fall (16 years ago). Too bad we couldn't wait to be married in the fall; we were married in August, 15 years ago (I wanted June). :) Every year we play our own game of noting the dates that mark the growth in our relationship week by week that first fall. Little mini-anniversaries throughout the whole season.

Fall is a season of anticipation. The hard work of the beginnings of a new school year are well underway, and with the arrival of November we eagerly look ahead for Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. November is such a transition month; even though we've traded our shorts for long pants, it still begins with bare feet and short sleeves. But by month's end we will have coats on their hooks and heaters cheerily warming our rooms.

Today I am thankful for fall. Thankful for relief from the relentless, noisy heat of summer. Thankful for the restfulness of cozy, busy days at home. Thankful for the newness of a new season. Thankful for the remembrances of falling in love with a wonderful man. Thankful for the opportunities and anticipation of new memories and more special days just ahead.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Living the "wildlife"

There was housework, homework, schoolwork, and who knows what other kind of work to be done, but our eyes met over the chaos of lunch, and Greg said, "Let's go to the zoo."

And so we did.

Mimi and Gramps gave us a year-long family zoo membership for Christmas, and it is kind of our unofficial goal to go once a month. 

We were hooked after our first visit in January, went just a a couple of weeks later in February, and have been going crazy to get back since! 

The weather this afternoon was perfect and we all needed the family time out in the real world and fresh air.

Today's visit was full of fun surprises.

The first was this bobcat, which totally ignored us:
He paced around his enclosure, obviously aware of our presence, but careful to keep his back turned.

Until...two female keepers came walking past on the path, carrying on a lively conversation together. As soon as we heard their voices, Mr. Bobcat could, too, and he turned around and watched them with great interested until they had passed out of sight and out of earshot. 

With his familiar friends gone, Mr. Bobcat settled back in to ignore us some more. 

The whole scenario was unmistakable and oh-so-fascinating!

Now that it is spring time, an exhibit we've been waiting on since January is finally open, and it was even better than we had imagined!

It's called the Wild Bird Walkabout, and is filled with parakeets. You enter three sets of double doors (to prevent escapees) into the screened enclosure full of the brightly colored birds. For a buck you can buy a popsicle stick coated in hot glue and dipped in birdseed. Then you go a-huntin'!

You'll notice there are no pictures of Brooklyn feeding the birdies. Almost first thing, one landed on her hand and kind of freaked her out. She wasn't interested in trying again after that! Maybe next time. :)
There we were, in a zoo full of animals, and everything came to a halt when Tyler found a ladybug.
He asked if he could keep it.

I said no.

We were happy to find the giraffes outside today:

Fun, fun, day! The gift that keeps on giving. :)

(For those of you keeping up at home, yes, this is a new seating arrangement. Effective as of the zoo parking lot today. )

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Outtakes

It was raining. And cold.

We were right on time. Not late, not early.

So we did pictures in our living room when we got home.

Ever tried getting six kids to look in the same direction? Much less look pleasant?

We finally got a good one. But here are all the ones it took to get there.

You're welcome. :)
Everyone was feeling great....

....except one.

Not sure what's going on with all the hands...

Brooklyn spies something... it.

Admire it. (And Levi is finally not crying)

That not-crying didn't last long.

Maybe a kiss will help!

That's better....

Almost there....

...aaaand cue The Sneeze

We're losing Brooklyn

Add Mom


Not working...

Good enough!
Happy Easter from 7/8 of our crew!
(somebody had to be the photographer of all this mess!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Last Day o' March

Preschool Letter O today.  We read a cute little owl story then made these cut and paste owls.

"Cut and paste"...why do we say that? Does anybody still use paste anymore? 

That was fun stuff...that little stick of gooey gluey. I never understood why it was better than the squeeze bottle. I bet paste has been replaced by glue sticks hasn't it? Paste was probably the precursor to the gluestick.

"Next on Modern Marvels.."

Mercy. Rambly much?

Gave two haircuts today. Getting everybody all spiffied up for Easter. Plus they just needed them. Going to be working on getting those boys on a rotation so I can do one haircut a week, every week, instead of 3 or 4 back-to-back.

It looks like a two-by-four. It's really a paint stick. :)
We got lots of outside time again today. The whole day seemed slower paced. I'm not sure why, and I'm sure I didn't get as much done as my to-do list says I should, but the day was indeed slower paced and peaceful, and for that I am thankful.  

I dropped Dale off at karate for my first time this evening - it's always been Daddy before. While he was karateing I bought groceries - at warp speed! - and went back to pick him up. There was time to spare when I got there so I was able to go inside and watch him do his thing for a few minutes. Just between you and me? I wish we had him in the same aggressive taekwondo program he was in 3 years ago. He's good at it! I hate that he's having to start all over again.

When we got home Daddy had the littles bathed. We shooed them back in the house, as they came out to greet us in various stages of dress and undress. 

Once in pjs we gathered around for our Easter week devotion. It occurred to me rather suddenly on the way home from karate that I hadn't prepared, so I had Dale check pinterest on my phone and felt a little better. 

Even so, we ended up not doing any special craft or activity, and I really didn't even have an application or "point" to the evening's reading, which was all disappointing. Ah well...onward, yes? Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully I'll prepare a little better!
Had lots of fun with this happy little boy today. What is this face?! Lol.

Speaking of preparing....tomorrow is a silly little day called April Fool's....and I know my little fools will be expecting some Tom foolery and shenanigans. Pinterest, here I come.  Nothing like the last minute, is there? ;)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday, Monday

After a week of sick kids, I gave in to the exhaustion and gave up on getting up to an alarm for a week. Then we spent a weekend traveling. 

So today was the day that I was gonna get back to it. 

But...I didn't. And I don't regret it one bit. Early rising is highly overrated. ;)

This is the little face I woke up to this morning. 
 Actually, that's not true. I woke up to Greg's face, and then he brought me this one from his crib. But this one is cuter.

Up early or not, today was definitely a little out of routine, as it was a catch-up day from the weekend, and Dale had a dentist appointment early on.

Even amongst the unpacking and laundry, we managed to set aside some time for a preschool lesson. We are up to letter 'N' now, and it being spring and all, I decided "Nests" would be a good thing to cover.
First we looked at a few bird books, looking at pictures of some common birds and their nests.
We also read the poem What Robin Told, by George Cooper. It was perfect!

How do robins build their nests?

Robin Redbreast told me
First a wisp of yellow hay
In a pretty round they lay;
Then some shreds of downy floss,
Feather, too, and bits of moss,
Woven with a sweet, sweet song,
This way, that way, and across;
That's what Robin told me.

Where do robins hide their nests?
Robin Redbreast told me
Up among the leaves so deep,
Where the sunbeams rarely creep,
Long before the winds are cold,
Long before the leaves are gold,
Bright-eyed stars will peep and see
Baby robins--one, two, three;
That's what Robin told me.

Then, we had a fun color-mixing lesson. Green + Red = Brown!

We used our brown to paint paper plate halves.

 While our paper plates dried we went for a walk collecting things for our nests....
...then came back and glued them on. I love how they turned out!

This afternoon I went to check on Dale and see how he was recovering from his dental visit. I was surprised to see Brooklyn all snuggled up with him. It seemed out of character for both of them, and oh-so-sweet!

 This evening was our second night of the last week of Jesus Easter devotions. We read about Jesus cursing the fig tree, and then clearing the temple of the money-changers and animal sales.

I printed a picture from the internet and then cut it into five parts. Each kid colored a different part while I read, and then they put them together like a puzzle. Turned out great! I gave them each a penny to glue on, too. No real significance there, it was just fun. to bed for me. Overrated or not, I have an alarm to (attempt to) wake up to tomorrow!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday Weekend

Busy traveling weekend! 

Mama and Levi got to spend Friday night at Mimi and Gramps's house! 

The rest of the gang stayed behind for the fire station field trip....

 (if I wasn't so tired lazy in a hurry to be done with this post there would be a cutie patootie picture here of the kids on a fire truck. But Greg took that pic with his phone and getting it from there to here is more than I care to tackle at this hour. Just imagine the cuteness!) 

....then came on to Mimi and Gramps' for a Saturday night stay.

We woke up at Mimi and Gramps' house Sunday morning, hurrying and scurrying (after a leisurely breakfast, of course!) and got us and all our stuff out the door in time to be on time to Nana and PawPaw's church where Daddy was preaching.

Daniel didn't know much about the preaching, but he thoroughly enjoyed the toy basket in the nursery:

After a yummy lunch and wonderful singing service, we headed straight back home in time for potty stops and to load back up and go to our own church for evening service, where we observed the Lord's Supper. At the beginning of the service a group of 4-6 year olds went down to the front for a special children's lesson on the Lord's Supper. Tyler, of course, was part of this crew. The lesson was very interactive, and everyone enjoyed hearing the candid comments from the children relayed for the rest of us. Tyler even piped up a time or two, including making sure the pastor knew that our grape jelly looked just like the bottle of grape juice the pastor was holding up. :)

After the kiddos were all pajamaed up at home, we gathered around for a bedtime devotion. A few years ago we did a countdown to Easter by following the last week of Jesus with a Bible reading and nightly activity. We all loved that and decided to do it again this year. 

So, it being Palm Sunday, we read all about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We started with an Easter egg full of leaves. 

The olders were well aware that it was Palm Sunday and quickly guessed at the significance of the leaves. 

After we read the passage, everyone from Daniel to Daddy got a leaf to cut into palm fronds, and we hung them all together on our bulletin board. 

After some good discussion on how we can welcome Jesus into our own lives daily as Lord and King, just like the Jews welcomed him that day, we said our prayers and went to bed!