Sunday, May 30, 2010
I am under the impression, and have been for years, that watermelon is virtually calorie-free. It's like eating water with a tiny bit of sweetness added in, which is obviously good for you because water and fruit are good for you. I've heard of a watermelon diet, so I can only assume that a food that has its very own diet where you eat as much of it as you want has to be like eating nothing at all. Please, as a pregnant woman, I am begging you not to tell me if you have any information that would burst my little watermelon bubble. The backfat that I'm acquiring with this pregnancy is weighing heavily on my mind (and my back) and if I find that watermelon is adding to the problem, I don't know what I'll do.
In between my watermelon eating, I've been blessed with the presence of my brother and his wife during their visit from Texas. It's just great to hang out with them (and my parents) and have fun. We don't really have to do anything spectacular to have a good time, and the kids just love them. As Jack was going to bed tonight, he said, "I have really great aunts. Not the kind like 'ants in the pants,' but the kind that are people." He is very confident of the fact that his Aunt Emily loves to play with him, and will remind her of that fact anytime it looks like her energy might be waning. We've basically eaten lots of food, looked at very cute houses that we will never be able to afford, played at the park, looked at not-as-cute houses that they might be able to afford, and just hung out. I'm just so thankful to have family that I would choose to be friends with even if they weren't family. Pretty awesome.
Oh, and I cannot leave out one HUGE blessing. Another Bond Boy in our family. Yes, the great unveiling revealed, not so suprisingly, that Maddie and I will be completely outnumbered in our family. She was momentarily disappointed, but we have assured her that her status as Princess is secure and she will forever have her own room. (That is, unless the boys refuse to sleep with Baby around, forcing me to locate him in the room with the child who can sleep through a freight train.) I have to admit, I totally expected a boy but was hoping for a girl. The main reason I wanted a girl was simply to be able to buy cute clothes. Is there not someone out there who can design and make simple, cute clothes for boys that I would not have to take out another mortgage on my house to purchase? Is it really that hard? I cannot tell you the frustration of walking into a huge store, sprinting past 1/2 mile of girl clothes while trying not to peek at them with longing in my heart, only to arrive at the two racks of boy clothes and finding three shirts with monster trucks, multiple pairs of tiny athletic pants, hideous muscle shirts covered in pictures of every sport ever played and one tolerable shirt with blue stripes on it. In the scheme of life, not a big deal, but one that seems like it would have a relatively easy solution. So, one of you out there, get right on that, please.
Seriously, though, we're blessed to have another boy headed our way, and I'll do my darndest to dig through all those racks of clothes out there to find the one cute thing he can wear. I was very relieved and thankful to receive a report of a healthy little guy growing and developing just as he should be. It's just indescribably amazing to see five little fingers and five little toes show up on that ultrasound screen, to hear that little heart pounding away, to see him wiggling and moving around in there, and to see the sweet profile of a boy who is already near and dear to his mama's heart. Thank you, Lord, for another miracle.
These are just a few of the blessings I've been showered with over the last couple of days, and only a drop in the bucket when you count all the gifts God has given me over the last 33 years of my life on this earth. But, as I was walking this morning, I was reminded that they are only a shadow. Each good and perfect gift from above is only a reflection or small indication of the one true blessing in our lives. God Himself. God, the Creator, gave us things and blessings for our "sustenance and delight." As Tozer says in The Pursuit of God, "They were made for man's uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come." But, once sin entered the picture, "God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution." So, my overarching struggle in life seems to always come back to how to enjoy God's gifts without idolizing them. So often, if I'm honest with myself, I desire the gifts more than I desire the Giver.
Sadness truly enters the picture when I admit that I'm just not willing to go through what it takes to be poor in spirit. "These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things." I know that I have the kingdom of heaven to gain, but it's just so hard to relinquish this earthly "kingdom" I've created for myself. For the moment, there is no huge question of surrender in my life, but the question of surrender is always present in our lives. Do I truly worship only the One True God?
Abraham did. I've brought him up before in another post, but his story is just so applicable to so many things. He was to the point of idolizing God's gift of Isaac rather than worshiping God alone. So, God brought Abraham to the point of total surrender of his earthly possessions, namely his beloved son. But, once Abraham walked through that terrible trial of surrender, "he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had everything (wife, friends, son, great wealth), but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation...We must in our hearts live through Abraham's harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them." It's this harsh school of renunciation that I'm just not willing to enter, yet something in me does long for the blessedness of possessing nothing but Christ. For I know that, in this surrender, comes freedom. Think of it: Freedom from jealousy, freedom from discontentment, freedom from unsatisfied longings, freedom from fear, for when we possess nothing but Christ, we have nothing to lose.
I don't know of many American Christians who have really attained this poverty of spirit, for we possess so many things that it is harder for us to let go. Those who have arrived at this goal are those who have lost much and had nothing to cling to but Jesus. This whole issue is something that God has been working out in my heart for years, and really is the root of all other issues. It goes back to the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. One simple commandment, but complete obedience to it can be very difficult. So, I will be grateful for the blessings, but continue to cry out to God to bring me to the point where I pursue Him with such fervor, passion, and desperation, that the attainment of His presence and power in my life are worth forsaking all.
Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there withou a rival. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.
--A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Jack, on the other hand, mainly tasted the sweet flavor of .... snacks. His first, and really only, concern before, during, and after each and every game was what snack they were going to have that day. His Papa even resorted to the not-so-ethical tactic of whispering to Jack, "You know, the ball is filled with snacks and when you kick it really hard, all the snacks will come pouring out." He had Jack going for a minute, but it didn't last. Despite his insistence that he was playing really hard and trying his very best to score a goal, the only time Jack got within five feet of the ball was when the coach asked him to throw it or kick it in to start play or when another player would inadvertantly kick it right to Jack. In that instance, he would look down at the ball as if it were the strangest thing he'd ever seen and an object he had absolutely no idea what to do with until another player would run up and kick it away. Then he would frustratedly complain (as play was still going on) that the other guy had just come and taken the ball away from him (you know, just a second before he was going to return to consciousness and kick it or something). It was painful to see Chris, Mr. Aggressive Soccer Guy, watch his oldest son be completely disinterested in playing well or, you know, making contact with the ball. But he did look cute in his uniform, so all was not lost.
Don't be fooled. He was kicking off after the other team scored, when no one else is around him to compete for the ball. But doesn't he look good doing it?
Naturally, Luke couldn't be left out of the fun. Aspiring soccer star that he is, he assembled his own version of "coccer game, kick ball" at home one day.
Now onto the second reason this was a fun month. Our first-born child turned eight years old this month. I feel like I've fallen into a time warp and zoomed to a point in the distant future when my chubby-cheeked baby girl is an all-too-grown-up young lady who only slightly resembles the curly-headed snuggle bunny I once knew. I am so proud to have her as my daughter and very disturbed that I recently found myself in a roller-skating rink celebrating her birthday. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were having a princess tea party? Ugh! Before I know it, it'll be Sweet Sixteen (which should be called Sick Sixteen for parents who will be worried to death with their kids on the road alone). I just can't bear it!
I do have to say that I laughed harder on this night than I have in a very long time. I'm pretty sure most of the people there were wondering what the thirty-something pregnant lady was doing sitting on the wall alone, laughing so hard that tears were running down her face. I know I'm a cruel, heartless person, but something about watching three second grade girls fall flat on their bottoms about every 2.5 seconds and one tired daddy constantly pulling them back up and trying to get all of them around the rink at the same time just tickled my funny bone. We were there an hour and a half, and I don't think all three of them were on their feet at the same time for more than four seconds. Just when I'd think they were getting the hang of it, whomp! Their feet would fly up and their heads would disappear. As I was giggling uncontrollably, I was also praying that we wouldn't end up in the e.r. with a broken bone that night. Figuring they were exhausted and discouraged, I would ask one of them if they were ready to go and they would answer, "No! This is so fun! I'm getting good at it now." WHOMP. Whatever you say.
Just when you thought I couldn't possibly have anything left to say, I do! We've wrapped up the end of the month with school programs, graduations, and parties. Maddie and Jack are both making significant transitions to new schools in August. Jack has graduated 4K with flying colors, completely able to write his full name, read some basic words, and properly open most of the items in his lunch. I'd say he's ready for "big school." I'm just not sure how he's going to make it through more than one day at a time without an hour-long nap. That boy needs his sleep. And his mama needs his sleep, too.
With second grade completed, she will be going to intermediate school, which is between tiny, cute little kid primary school and scary, puberty-stricken middle school. Intermediate school doesn't freak me out so much as knowing the next big step will be to the dreaded phase of life where zits, hormones, and body odor make their appearance. Oh, heaven help me when that day arrives. We already have so many emotional, tear-filled days of self-absorption, and I don't know how I'll handle anymore.
So, that's our month in a nutshell. We're ending it with a bang, though. First, a late-night visit to the emergency room (which must constitute a post of its own), the verdict on the sex of Bond Baby #4, and a visit from Crazy Uncle Matt and Loveable Aunt Emmy. I know you're hungry for more, but I wouldn't want us to be gluttonous. Tune in soon for a great big helping of blog dessert.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I do foresee lots of money spent on watermelon this summer. It's always one of my favorite summertime foods, but it's tricky. They're usually expensive and you never know if you're going to get a good one. So, I usually only buy a couple each summer, being the stingy girl that I am. However, pregnancy sounds like the perfect excuse to splurge on that juicy red fruit that I'm craving so much. Oh, dear. All this watermelon talk has me wanting more already.
While craving and eating watermelon, our summer plans have been brewing in my head. Since Chris is a teacher, we like to be total bums in the summer, and we usually can. Library trips (which have now become a headache - long story), afternoons at the pool, special outings to places like Spring Valley Beach, playdates with friends, bowling on $1.50 days, free movies. Endless fun and laziness. Today, though, he kept talking about all this stuff he has to do...like work. He really rained on my parade. So, tomorrow, my list-making, anal self will have to create my Summer 2010 calendar and see just how he's going to fit in all this work he's talking about in the midst of all the fun plans I've already started making. The nerve of him, really.
Speaking of summertime bummers, Chris will be gone for two entire weeks this summer, for...you guessed it. Work. I mean, what's all this stuff I've always heard about teachers having the summer off? So, as I was surviving my last few days of single parenting, all I could think was that it was a only a tiny taste of those two weeks looming ahead of me. We did all survive the last few days with Daddy away, but it was a close call for Jack. By Tuesday afternoon, he was hanging onto his life by the skin of his teeth. Please put him on your prayer list now for those two weeks this summer. I guess you could also pray for Maddie and Luke, that they don't get caught in the crossfire. In the midst of raging tempers, there was at least one flying object yesterday, but I wouldn't want to name names and embarrass anyone by mentioning who threw it.
Thankfully, Jack is still around, because tomorrow night he will be walking in his graduation ceremony. Does anyone else find a K-4 graduation ceremony to be a little bit silly? I mean, he gets through one year of preschool and gets a whole ceremony for it? That kind of sets their expectations a little high. Does anyone explain to them that they will have to work, toil, and strive for thirteen more years before they are honored in such a way again? It just doesn't seem quite right. But, he is very excited, and says he is going to look extremely handsome. In fact, he says he will look so handsome and will be wearing such a clever disguise that he doesn't even think we'll know who he is. I'm going to be looking for the boy who can't stop talking. I think that'll tip me off.
I think that covers it all. Watermelon, the fact that my husband has to actually work for a living, and Jack's pomp and cirmcumstance. Yep. That's all the important stuff from my very exciting life. I'll be sure to keep you all posted on how much watermelon I decide to eat. And there's no extra charge for entertaining you with this suspenseful topic while boring summer reruns are on tv. It's my pleasure.
Monday, May 17, 2010
I briefly mentioned homeschooling in my last silly post, and I wanted to get my thoughts and feelings on this topic out there for all you people who are losing sleep over what my thoughts and feelings on homeschooling are. (It looks like I'm the only one actually losing sleep here!) I really do feel caught between two worlds many times, not fully belonging to either one. It may sound a little dramatic (maybe because it is a little dramatic), but it's true. As a result of my last eleven years as a part of Community Bible Study, I am friends with many moms who homeschool their children. Yet, I am also friends, through church and many other places, with lots of moms who send their kids to public school. While my children do attend school, I totally get and completely admire families who school at home.
There are many reasons that parents decide on one path for their family or the other. The more I am around homeschoolers, the more I seem to agree with the way they're raising their children. My primary goal is not for my children to grow up to be well-educated adults with "successful" careers. My daily prayer for them is that they would be men and women who love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength, which would lead them to love their neighbors as themselves in real, practical ways. If I were ever to homeschool, it would either be out of necessity (like if we had moved to a little bitty island) or because God called me to spend more time in intense spiritual training with my children. I truly feel like they're in great schools with teachers who instruct them more creatively and much more effectively than I could - as far as a secular education. My one pull to homeschool would just be to spend more time with them in God's Word and training them in righteousness. I see the Godly children that many of my homeschooling CBS friends are raising and I am amazed and excited by that. I am also inspired in many ways be these Godly moms and the time and effort they are pouring into their families.
All that said, why would I not be schooling my children in the home? For the same basic reason that many of my friends do: God's plan for our family. I have struggled over the past year, especially with the St. Martin decision, concerning what I should be doing as far as my children's schooling. I have been surrounded by awesome women who are raising mighty warriors for Christ through homeshooling, and I have found myself completely agreeing with their reasoning. (But, of course, there are those who are doing the same things while their kids go to public school.) Yet, I did not feel a peace about that being God's calling on my life, for which He would equip me. But it didn't make sense to me, because so many times I feel so out of place with public school parents (not my personal friends, but a general group of people I have interaction with but don't really know). The priorities of our family seem so different than theirs, and my worldview is radically different many times. Was I just being selfish by shipping my kids off?
I found myself feeling like I didn't totally belong to either group of friends. There was always a sense of guilt and spiritual inferiority around my homeschooling friends (totally self-imposed) and a sense of just being out of my element and having different views around public school parents. But one day before we went to St. Martin to check things out, God just gave me a peace about the guilt of not homeshooling. It was as if He whispered to me, "There is no reason to feel guilty about something I haven't asked you to do. I didn't create you for this at this time, and that's okay." I've had to remind myself of that moment quite a few times since then, when I can feel the guilt or doubt creeping back in, but for the most part, I've just let it go.
Still, the worries of sending my children into an environment that did not always agree with what we were teaching them and the concerns of them being around people who do not worship God above all else were a little unsettling at times. Recently, I was at a big meeting for parents of upcoming third graders. They were discussing the huge emphasis they put on reading at that grade level, and a certain series of books kept being mentioned as books the kids chose to read. I won't name any names, but they're a popular series of novels that we have already agreed our children will not be allowed to read. My mom alarm went off, and I questioned my presence at that meeting and my childrens' presence in that school. Once again, gently, I heard that still small voice, "You tell your children that we're different and we will not be reading things that do not honor God. Period. They're in the world, but not of the world." Therefore, I will spend the time they are at home, and when we are coming and going, to train them in the way they should go.
So, for now, this is where God has our family. I definitely do not know what the future holds, but I want all my friends to know, no matter where your children learn and who their teachers are, that I admire and respect you for following God's plan for your family. I totally see both sides of the issue and love that God has a specific plan, purpose, and calling for each individual and family that belongs to Him. I give Him my insecurities about this issue, and I'm thankful that, in the body of Christ, we can pray for and support one another as we each seek Christ in our lives and our homes. He is shaping each one of us and each of our children to be the vessels He wants us to be in order to do the job He has assigned for us. Praise Him for His infinite wisdom and His unfathomable ways. And thank you all for being my friends in Christ and giving me the opportunity to learn so much from you about raising Christ-centered children .
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Please do not let the fact that Chris took the child sometimes known as the "high maintenance Bond" camping for most of that time detract from the very impressive parenting I displayed while they were gone. But feel free to give me extra points for accomplishing all this a mere 24 hours after I incurred (self-diagnosed) second degree burns on the palms of both my hands (ignoring the fact that it happened while I was cooking frozen pizzas for three children who were causing such a ruckus that I was distracted and grabbed a metal pizza stone rack fresh out of the oven with no potholders).
Now that we have the back story: Last week was Maddie's birthday, and I, being the kind parent I am, allowed her to invite four giggly girls to spend the night. Now, she really wanted to invite MANY more, but I'm not that great of a mom. Please. Half of them were disqualified from the sleepover the night before for reasons involving puking, which is never good. So, rather than leave them in the dust, we did a repeat sleepover this week. That's right. Two sleepovers in eight days. (Nevermind that it's also only two sleepovers in the last 365 days.) Since Chris had taken Jack camping, I was doing it solo with a very active 2-year-old in tow. Naturally, since I had just experienced a great deal of pain and injury cooking the gourmet meal the night before, we went out to eat. Of course, with Luke, going out to eat actually poses a much greater danger than just eating at home. I did have back-up from Nana, but we all know I did most of the work. (Insert sarcasm.) They all ate like champs and we were not escorted out of the restaurant at any point - or even given any dirty looks that I'm aware of - so we count that as a success.
Nana did ditch us after that, so I bravely decided to take the four of them (but Luke counts as two) to the park and then to watch fireworks on the town mall. They all played for nearly an hour with no serious injuries, which, if you know one of these kids (who happens to be red-headed), is a serious achievement. When it was almost time for the fireworks to begin, we all walked calmly through several intersections and streets, using all of our safety skills we learned form our moms, and arrived at the perfect spot to see the fireworks. There was a game of tag, some dog-petting, hide-and-seek, and some dancing while we waited patiently for the display to begin. The fireworks were great, and the walk back to the car was perfect.
Once we got back to the house, bath time ensued. I got the wiggly one bathed, and the big girls completed their baths in a total of 2 1/2 minutes between all three of them. I decided to pretend like they actually used soap and got clean. At least I know they left plenty of dirt in the bathroom, so there couldn't have been that much left on them. Being the anal-retentive clean freak that I am, I then commenced to clean the entire bathroom while cookies were baking in the oven. (For your information, Break n' Bakes count as homemade cookies at our house.) After a yummy dessert, the kids crashed in the living room and watched Star Wars while I completed my part-time job as an anthroamphibian consultant for Ribbits Galore. Once they had fallen asleep, I tried to catch up on my reading through the Bible in one year, which I have decided would really be better done in two years (why rush things?).
Obviously, my sense of humor was at its peak when I went to bed, because I decided to set my alarm for 7:20. As if I would ever need an alarm at 7:20. I actually woke up in a pretty grumpy mood since it wasn't one of the four kids in my house that woke me up at 6:15. It was Woody. You know Woody. He's a woodpecker. That's right. For the first time in the five years I've lived in my vinyl and brick house, a very noisy woodpecker decided to make his inaugural visit to me on the one day of the week that I don't have to get up at 6am. I was more than a little perturbed. And it wasn't long until another early riser helped to wake the other three kids up and I had a bedroom full of them.
Resigning myself to my early morning fate, I turned off my alarm clock (so that it wouldn't wake me up 45 minutes later), and we headed to the kitchen for a breakfast of biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Of course, these were completely homemade as well. And since I was still feeling supermomish, we decided to do a little painting project while breakfast was in the oven. You have to understand that my children love to paint as much as any others, but I only let them do it about twice a year - and never when the 2-year-old is anywhere near the scene. So, for me, this was huge. The girls did a great job painting, and Luke even created a little masterpiece of his own before making his way to cartoonland. Needless to say, the only one who ended up with paint on themselves was the one who said, at least 27 times, "Be careful. Don't get paint on your pajamas."
At this point, I expected everything to turn disastrous at any second. Things had just gone too well. It almost happened when Maddie came into the kitchen at 8:37 and said, "You didn't wash my soccer uniform, did you?" Many moms would just let the kid pull the dirty, sweaty uniform from the bottom of the stinky laundry basket and put it on right then and there, but not "freakishly clean mom". I quickly assessed the situation and decided we had just enough time to wash and dry it before we had to leave at 9:30. After that, the morning went fairly seemlessly, including cleaning the entire kitchen, making myself presentable, and getting to the soccer fields on time with four children, two backpacks and sleeping bags, one diaper bag, and three water bottles in tow.
Just for good measure, after the sleepover was officially completed, I welcomed home our stinky, STINKY boys, gave Jack a bath, headed to Dog Daze for the last few minutes of the festival (where the children were delighted by the swing ride and their icy treats), made it to Starbucks for two frappucinos just before Happy Hour ended, and picked up some fertilizer for the flowers in our decently landscaped lawn. And who could call herself a supermom without ending the day with a delicious and nutritious homemade (okay, this one really was) meal of grilled porkchops, grilled, freshly shucked corn on the cob, maple roasted sweet potatoes, and spinach and fruit salad? I can honestly say that no part of our meal came out of a box or the freezer.
Just so you know, I do not document these past two days to toot my own horn. I only document it so that, in twenty years, my children can look back and say, "Wow. Remember that one weekend where mom really got it right?" Now all of you real supermoms out there can patronize me and pretend like I did something really special, even though most of you do it everyday. And I can look at the next several days when I really will be a single mom (with Jack, a.k.a. High Maintenance Bond around) with the hope that I can not only survive, but do it with an ounce of success. We'll just see how that goes...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Our daredevil friend, "Mr. Outdoors," thought it would be oh so fun to scale the bridge (I mean, what fun is it to just walk on a bridge?), so, naturally, Chris had to match his daring.
Next came the terrifying bridge dangling. Thankfully, he hung on and didn't plummet the whole three feet into the 12 inches of rushing water.
Lukey had a great time, what with all the freedom to run and be wild. That's all he needs to have a good day.
All the "kids" ended up with their toes in the cold Cahaba.
And here's the rest of our fun-loving group. The tamer members of the group are included in this photo.
Of course, things couldn't stay tame for long.It was such a fun day and the kids just got to be kids...climbing, running, playing, and getting dirty. I can be such a non-fun mom that they miss out on all that stuff most of the time. We should do more of that, as long as no one gets more than two feet off the ground and we have lots of antibacterial wipes.