Monday, May 30, 2016

The "Saturday" 7

1. Happy Memorial Day weekend! It's been an absolutely fantastic weekend here in northeast PA. 90˙ all the way and sunny skies... I got in two lakes swims and a kayak voyage; the kids all went off the rope swing, and we had two cookout dinners by the lake. Yay summer!

2. We took the kids camping last night. It's so much work to pack for one night away, but it's so worth it-- you can't buy memories like these! Dan and I told the kids stories about when they were little and we all belted out campfire songs. Yay summer nights.

3. 3.5 days of school left! Yay end of school and yay start of summer! Only 11 weeks of summer vacation though, and I know they will fly by like nothing. LE SIGH.

4. Last Monday was the kids' spring concert and band recital at school. Will plays trumpet and Hal plays the flute. They did great and I'm so proud of them. :)

5. Yesterday was Emily's due date (!!!) but alas, no sign of le bebe. Dan and I and the kids drove halfway to Philly to meet them and Anna for lunch and we made a guessing pool of the baby's birth date and weight. Tomorrow is the big day for both Dan and Tristan... but Hallie doesn't think he will come till June 8. (Poor Emily!) haha.

6. We've been having thunderstorms off and on lately... nothing better than summer thunderstorms, am I right?! Hallie and I like to lay in the hammock on our front porch and read while the storm rolls in. She's an adorable 11 year old reader and I love spending girl time with her!

7. I've been thinking lately about all the mom things I am not. I am not a mom who throws fancy, themed parties. I am not a mom who coordinates her family in matching outfits for Christmas/Easter/the 4th of July (for that matter, I am not a mom who cares what her kids wear most of the time!) I am not a mom who plays fun games on apps with her kids. I don't play tag with them, or chases them around the yard. I don't buy them name-brand stuff or stuff that's "in style". I don't let them drink coffee. I don't have every teaching moment lead back to a bible verse. I don't do so much that I admire in my mom friends, that they do every day for and with their kids. But I do what I do... and that's enough! I do bounce on the trampoline with them. I do read aloud to them. I do listen to their stories and laugh at their jokes. I do lots of outside stuff with them. I let them be kids and don't helicopter over their every move. I do what I am good at, and that's good enough. Moms, we should all drop the guilt and just do what we do.... because none of us can do it all, so all we can do is all we can do. And at the end of the day, if we do what we can do, let's believe that God will fill in the cracks and hopefully we will all raise unique, healthy, wholehearted kids who love God and love people and still want to be around us parents, even when they're grown. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Saturday" 7

1. It's Tuesday... and I thought about writing this up all weekend (and yesterday) but somehow didn't find the time. The kids have 6.5 days of school left. This school year has truly flown by... I rarely think that, but for whatever reason, this year seems to have gone by in a blink! I can't wait for summer. I know i stay that every week but it's true. I love summer!

2. Last Sunday was Emily's baby shower, which my sister-in-law Jen did an amazing job planning and decorating for. The theme was "Baby Abroad" and it was US- and Rwandan- themed ...and so cute! I'm good at many things, but themed parties is NOT one of them. I'm absolutely a last-minute, paper plates and order pizza kinda party planner. Anyway, it was fun to catch up with everyone who came out for her shower! Afterward, several of us had an Office-watching marathon. It had been a long time coming... sometimes you just need a good awkward Michael Scott scene to make you feel better. lol

3. Dan was gone in Virginia all week for craigslist ad training. (Yes, that's a thing, and trust me, you don't even want to know. Gross.) It was also Will's "tech week" (full week rehearsal) for his production of James and the Giant Peach; he also had a field trip to the Camden Aquarium and Hallie's class went to the Franklin Institute. I spent most (all?) evenings running, dropping off, picking up kids for hours.  Ahh the things we do for love. ;)

4. My sister Abby was in town for a quick visit Weds-Sat. She has lived in Jacksonville and Colorado the past two years and needed to spend a few days regrouping and repacking before heading out for work this summer and college in the fall. It was so great to see her and get to spend some time with her!

5. The girls and I went on a mother-daughter camping weekend at Mt. Gilead Fri-Sun. It was so much fun! We had lots of adventure doing archery, riflery, a ropes course, art projects and meeting new friends. From my point of view, it was just great to show up at meals and be fed, haha!

6. A friend and I were finally able to meet up last week to go for a hike and picnic with our kids. We have been friends for 5 years at least, through church and homeschooling and life, and now with our kids getting older, and life getting busier, we've been having a much harder time connecting and finding time to hang out! Thankfully we were able to carve out an afternoon to just play together, and it was great. Those friendships that just seem to effortlessly pick up where you left off are truly a gift!

7. I hung my camping hammock on the front porch yesterday and Tristan and Olivia and I laid in it together while I drilled them on their times tables and math facts. The sun was out and it was warm... finally it seems that we are headed in the right direction in that department!!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Saturday 7

I should probably just rename this little feature "The Weekly 7" because I am clearly not any good at consistently posting on a Saturday! -___-

1. Mother's Day was last Sunday and Dan and the kids surprised me with a day at the beach. We drove the hour and a half to Ocean City, NJ and stayed in a hotel (after spending the afternoon/evening at my sister's graduation party in Philly.) I got to wake up early and sneak out for a solo early morning beach walk which was, as most moms can imagine, pretty darn fabulous. We got breakfast in a great little place overlooking the beach / boardwalk, rented bikes for an hour, got dole whips and walked on the boardwalk, and generally enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and blue sky beauty day. Of course at least one kids had to fall in the water while climbing on the pilings, but that's entirely expectable.

2. My Aunt Lyn comes up from NJ every couple months to visit her sister Anne and the rest of the extended family in our area, and she has started inviting most of us over to my Aunt Anne's house for chinese takeout one night. It's become a really fun, impromptu time to see family and hear what everyone is up to (last time my cousin and uncle in Japan and cousin in Colorado skype'd in to say hi to everyone) and of course, stuff our faces with deliciously unhealthy chinese food. My Aunt Anne has (in the words of Will) "a very very very dark green thumb" and her land is covered in plants and flowers and gardens and it's fun to see what project she is up to next!

3. I got the new modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice "Eligible" from the library on Thursday and finished it in 4 days. It was good, but not as good as I'd been hoping. I could've used a lot more Liz-Darcy interaction to be honest. :) I'm also in the middle of reading the second Three Pines mystery by Louise Penny (I love her name!) I've heard the third book is the best so if I'm not in love with the series by the time I read that one, I'll call it quits. I think there are 12 books in the series at this point.

4. Hallie and I tried a yoga class together Thursday night. It was so much fun but also much more challenging than I'd expected! Although I consider myself to be in relatively decent shape and I'm pretty athletic, I don't have a lot of core strength or natural ability to balance and my ankles are on the weak side (prone to rolling and spraining). All that to say that yes, although I did fall over at one point, I felt like it was simultaneously peaceful and relaxing yet challenging, so I think we'll go back again. I was impressed at well Hallie did! I guess that's what having 11-year-old flexibility will do for you. :)

5. Friday night one of our good friends and neighbors Liz hosted a concert in her home. Annalise Emerick was enroute to a show in NJ and agreed to stop here and do a house concert for a bunch of Liz's neighbors and firends. It was a fun evening and I loved Annalise's music and voice. I'm so thankful to have such a great community that introduces me to culture and music and ideas that I wouldn't have otherwise known about!

6. Greek Festival! Saturday was the last day of our local greek church's food festival. When we lived in St. Louis, every year Dan and I would go to the Greek festivals and pig out on gyros and baklava and spanakopita.. it was amazing. This was the first year I was aware of the one here (thanks, Facebook!) so we took the kids for lunch on Saturday. They were sold out of baklava (SO SAD) but otherwise had everything we love. Nothing like eating great food at makeshift tables in a church basement right?? Mmm so yummy.

7. My van got a big crack in the windshield so we had to get it replaced. I have no idea how it happened. I drove the van around 10pm on Weds night to meet Dan (who had forgotten his boots on his way to a search warrant and was only wearing flip-flops! ha) and then when I got in it Thurs morning at 6:30 to meet my friend to walk, there was the crack. I didn't notice anything at all the night before! So weird. Anyway, thank God for good insurance and nice guys who fix busted windshields. :)

That's it for now... See you in a few days, at this rate... ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. Jen Hatmaker. Oh my goodness. I want to say I love that lady SO much but I feel like that's weird since I've never actually met or spoken to her. She was amazing-- totally worth the long drive.

I met up with an adoption friend from Baltimore (they've adopted 3 kids from Ethiopia and 1 from Korea) ... and I'd actually never her met in real life. We met for chinese before the event and hit it off immediately. (It's amazing how adoption makes instant friendships!)

Anyway, Jen. I'd read her book For the Love earlier this year (last year?) and just fell in love with her love for Jesus and her funny, easy style of writing. She was no less amazing in person.

At the Q&A session at the end of the night, one lady last asked Jen for her advice on teenagers. She started laughing and was like... why do people think I'm an expert on raising teenagers, I know nothing. But then she talked about how she has distilled her rules for raising teens down to three things: BE KIND, BE YOU and LOVE JESUS.

Be kind: she talked about how there are so many teens that are struggling and how huge it can be if our teens can just reach outside their comfort zone and be kind to those that are marginalized by social groups and societal norms. Be you: everyone has their "thing". We should tell our teens that they were made who they are and the way they are on purpose, by God, and he loves how he made them! So they should be good at what they're good at, and not care about what others are think. And love Jesus. This one really struck me (as someone who considers herself a recovering "good little christian girl")... she talked about how we as parents should want a love for Jesus to stick with our kids far more than we want our rules to stick with them. Because one day they will fly the nest, and a deep-rooted love for Jesus will carry them further and keep them on the path far better than our rules ever could. She said something along the lines of, "You guys, we have to want more for our daughters than to raise them to not say the f-word and have a pretty good sense of dressing modestly. We just can't let that be our goal! We have to want them to love Jesus more than anything, because that is what will guide their lives, long after we are gone." This resounded with me so profoundly that I will probably always refer back to it through my kids' teen years. It's just so true. (Also I feel slightly vindicated in my preference in kind over right of last week ;))

2. My sisters Anna and Emily graduate today from Eastern University, Anna with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing, and Emily with her Masters in International Development. I am so, so proud of them and their hard work, particularly as secondary education was never particularly encouraged or seen as a goal to aim for in our home growing up (especially for us girls). I've been a witness to how hard Anna has worked over the past years, tirelessly studying, working, pushing, prioritizing, making tough decisions, and never ever giving up. In similar form, Emily completed her degree while living, married, in Rwanda, while working full time and (now) 37 weeks pregnant. I could not be prouder of the example they have set for our younger sisters and for my kids and for everyone who needs to know that yes, hard work and personal commitment and unbending determination really does pay off. Congrats, girls. I love you and am so unbelievably proud of you and the good light that your lives shine.

3. While I'm at my sisters' graduations today, Olivia is at Andrew and Jen's, playing with her cousins.  She told me yesterday, "I'm pretty sure I'm Aurora and Brielle's favorite cousin. Also Eva's." She looovvvess being the "big cousin" (understandably as she is the baby of the family and never the biggest of anything) and will singehandledly entertain her younger cousins for hours.

4. Graduations are so long. We've been here for a full 90 minutes and they just started calling names. And they have 100's of graduates. There must be a better idea somewhere to make these things less torturous... Right?!

5, I hate to be "that person" but the weather lately has just been awful. Cold and rainy for literally weeks. They say this summer is going to be hotter than usual and I hope it is. I will not complain EVEN ONE TIME.

6. Dan and the kids had a Mother's Day surprise for me tomorrow... and then Dan wanted my input on planning details so he told me, but I still have to act like I'm surprised when the kids tell me tomorrow/tonight because they are VERY excited about it. Haha. I'll report back next week. ;)

7. In between the graduations today I'm meeting a friend for lunch. She's a mentor and fellow adoptive mom and we share a lot of life similarities. I'm excited for the chance to catch up with her and fill my "you got this!" tank.