Thursday, June 30, 2011

There is No Way a Single Title Can Encompass it All

So, it would appear that I have been absent from the ol' blog again.  I actually have been enjoying some time computer-free this summer.  I know.  Who would have thought it?  Turns out that thing can be like a ball and chain sometimes.  Also, as I was putting together The Little Man's yearly montage, I got to a place where I realized that I wasn't going to have enough pictures to fill up the music, and in fact, had not taken any pictures of my family between January and May.  Shameful.  I realize that my life was a little out of control during those months, but seriously?  So in an effort to catch up, I have been really working hard at taking pictures again.  Not arranging photo shoots with my kids, just taking pictures of life.  So the good news is: I have lots of pictures of the last two weeks!  However, if I were to keep up with the blog AND be taking pictures, well, that would ruin my reputation at being sub-par.  We can't have that.

Anywho, here are some of the things we've been up to:

Since it's summer, you can't even think we haven't been living it up here:

Can you guess what The Little Man's favorite new thing to do this summer?  He's all over the diving board.  (Can you guess how many pictures I had to take in order to time out perfectly them in mid-air off the diving board and my iPhone's camera's lag time?)

It has been a joyous time for us at the pool.  The best part is that we have been joined by good friends almost each time we go.  I am loving having both kids at a spot where they are not threatening to drown at any given moment.  I am not at all missing the days when I was constantly playing life guard.  It makes reading a book poolside so much more enjoyable.

Also, on the Summer Bucket List this year (and every year) the Zoo!  We can't not go.  Yet, every time we go, I remember why I only go once a year. While it's super fun, it's also a super chore.  Here we are this year:

This year we had two map readers (you know, in case we got lost on our 25th visit):

There's that elephant we were trying to track down:

It was still stinky in the pachyderm house:

There's our favorite bear cubs:

We're so sorry bears...each year the The Little Man's positioning gets a little bit more awkward, doesn't it?

Ahhh, much better:

Don't you take music classes at your zoo?

Surprisingly, we can jump pretty far:

Sadly though, not quite as far as we wanted to.

Honestly, I really do love our zoo.  It's just that it is so stinkin' far away, and I swear, every year, we come on the same day as every school, day camp, day care, etc.  This year we parked a mere 25 min walk away from the zoo entrance.  Then, since we live in the 'burbs, the drive home is always such a nightmare.  It just goes to show how desperate I was to get out of the house when the kids were little since we had memberships there, and visited approximately 3-11 times a year.  Have I mentioned how thankful I am for the stage of life we are at now?  Well, I am.  No more trips to the zoo out of desperation.  Now we go because we actually want to see the animals and learn something new.

We've been tenderly caring for our garden:

Baby squash:

Aren't carrots cute brand new?

I see some spicy stews and chile's coming in the fall/winter:

And just like children, this sweet little garden has grown so fast, I can barely keep up with it.

I can hardly wait to dig into it's yummy bounty later this summer.

Also, on the Summer Bucket List, spending their Summer Chore Money!

Guess where The Girl wanted to go?

Yes, we visited American Girl.  Her girl, Charlotte, needed to get her ears pierced.  And she needed to have her picture taken with Kanani.  (By the way, I am still super bummed that American Girl hasn't set it up so you pick up Kanani in Hawaii.  Hello, American Girl!  I sense a huge money maker!)

The Little Man, however, did not want anything to do with American Girl (thank goodness).  No, he had bigger things on his mind:

Recently, the mall in our area got a Lego store.  For some reason, buying your Lego set at the Lego store, while being much more expensive, it also much more cool.

He is now the proud owner of two Star Wars space ships, Hogwarts Castle, Hagrid's Hut, Freeing Doby, and the Quidditch set.

Now don't think that he is Mr Money Bags (or that I am for that matter), don't forget that we had a birthday party thrown in the mix.  The Little Man has been beyond thrilled to spend gift cards and birthday money on his prized Lego collection.

Speaking of birthday parties, I guess I should share those pics too, while I am at it.

We hit the local bounce house.  Score for me because I didn't do anything but show up with cupcakes, ice cream, and kids.  Score for the kids because they got to act like wild animals without getting into any trouble.

Even though it was indeed his birthday we were celebrating, I still love that shirt.  He wears it all the time, and it is so him!

Wild animals, I tell you.

When we discussed what kind of cake he wanted this year, he was very firm on wanting a "homemade cake from scratch".  When I wanted to know why, O WHY, we couldn't use a box mix, he just said he wanted to make sure his sister could eat his cake (since she has peanut allergies most store bought cakes and even boxed cake mixes are off limits to her).  How sweet is that?  I could not say no, even though my baking skills are less than stellar.  We made a whole week of it, though.  We tried a couple of different recipes and then decided which we liked best for the big day.  A delicious red velvet won.

Oh, it was such a sacrifice.

Then, he decided that he would like his cupcakes to be Harry Potter themed.

Excuse me?

I'm barely putting together a homemade, from scratch, cupcake.  Now he wants them decorated too?

So, I found these frosting pen like things.  It made it more like drawing than frosting.  Still, they were not very cute.  I ordered a Harry Potter cake topper just so I could seal the deal.  Surely with him on the top, all the crazy decorating I did would make sense, right?

Well, maybe:

All I have to say is that sitting next to his cousin's professionally decorated Sponge Bob cake, mine looked a little, well, different.

The Little Man took one look at his cupcakes on the cupcake stand and just said "Whoa!  Look at how cool my Harry Potter cupcakes are!  Thank you so much, mommy!"

It was a proud moment for me.

I love that kid.

Then there was present time.  Both he and his cousin got to sit on their Royal Throne and tear up some serious gifts: 

A good time was had by all.  Especially by the mommies who did not clean up, frantically try to write down which gift came from whom, or try to throw together goody bags.

Perfection I tell you.

Other things taking up our time: The Girl got cast into a local play.  She is very excited and exclaimed "I knew it! I knew I could sing, do different voices, and memorize lines!  I knew it!"  This was her very first audition ever, and is our first stab at the whole drama thing.

Well, I mean stage drama.  Cause the everyday drama?  it still runs thick around here.

I got an iced tea maker.  Never thought being able to make iced tea on demand could make me so happy. 

We are working on trying a new recipe every week.  So far my favorites have been a Raspberry Crumble, Salted Carmel Brownies (which are similar to these), and a French Dip that is so good and so easy that it makes me happy to just think about it.

And various cleaning and organizing projects that have made me feel like I really can start and finish a project, that I am organized, and pretty much like I can take on the world.  It just feels so good to get stuff done.

Up next:  I might try to blog AND take pictures.


We'll see.

Who knows.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rav-Chesed (Abounding in Love)

Was I five days late with my last Scripture Memory verse?  I don't know.  I am just trying to keep it even.  I might do better if next month I just go back to starting things on time.  The first and fifteenth of every month.  NO EXCUSES!

This week I picked a verse that has already spoken to my heart this year.  However, after doing another Bible study this summer, I now have a new fondness for it. 

In Knowing God by Name by Mary A. Kassian, I am studying all the different names of God.  In knowing each name, understanding what they mean, and seeing them used in scripture, I am feeling like I am getting to know my Lord all over again.  Many of the names given to God are given to reflect a character trait of His, thus, giving me a deeper understanding of who He is.

One of the days this past week, I studied the name Rav-Chesed which means abounding in love.  As I worked through some different verses that spoke specifically of God's love for us, I studied two different words used for love, Ahab and Chesed.  Ahab means "to desire, to breathe after, to be inclined toward, to delight in."  It can be understood as having a warm personal attachment and affection towards another.  This is a kind of love that I can understand.  My head and heart get it.  I have been the giver and receiver of Ahab.  It's the kind of love we see in Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” 

Chesed is a different kind of love.  The kind of love that is a bit harder for both my head and heart to grasp.  A love that I don't know if I am capable of giving on my own. 

"Chesed speaks of a love that is firmly rooted in God's character.  In involves loyalty, steadfastness, and covenant commitment as well as kindness tenderness and mercy.  Chesed is the type of love that accepts moral obligation for the welfare of the person loved.  It's a love that doesn't depend on the response or behavior of the receiver, but rather on the steadfast character and commitment of the giver.  Ahab has to do with feelings, whereas chesed implies a mind-set and mode of interaction rooted in deep values." -Knowing God by Name (emphasis mine)

She goes on to state that, "God's love is deeper and more steadfast than that of a mother for her children (Is 49:15, 66:13).  It is so strong that it makes Him stay committed even when His loved ones are not.  It is so deep that it causes Him to feel affection even when they do not."

I don't know about you, but I know that I find it very difficult to love another when I know that they will not be returning the same sentiment.  In fact, I will err on the side of caution, and actually with- hold love from a person, until I know that it's "safe" to love them (meaning they will return my love).  As ugly as this sounds, I might as well get brutally honest here, my heart is incapable of loving and staying committed to loving a person, completely unguarded, unless I feel as though there is some sort of love or affection being returned.  Yet, this is exactly the kind of love that the God of the universe has for me. 


So as I re-read Isaiah 54:10, it had a fresh, new, powerful meaning.

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (Is 54:10 NIV)

"The capacity of God is infinite, so it stands to reason that His love is also infinite...God's love is more than enough...In His infinite wisdom He knows you completely.  He loves you tenderly.  He loves you faithfully."-Knowing God by Name

Doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Get-Away in Pictures

This past weekend we used The Little Man's birthday as an excuse to take the fam on a little get-away.  So we headed up to the mountains and did some hiking, swimming, eating, miniature golf playing, and exploring.  It was a much needed and much enjoyed little get-away that felt so good to our hearts after The Hubs' illness this past winter.

Here we are at the trail head of The Hubs' favorite hike.  I didn't think that the kids were big enough to handle the terrain (truth be told, The Little Man did have to be carried for some of the hike), but they did wonderful.  The Girl was like a hiking rock star and never complained. 

(I've done this hike a number of times in my life and some of those times I was The Girl's age.  I won't say one way or the other, but she may have handled the hike better than I did at that age.)

Once we got about a third of the way into the hike, we realized that the stream that flows next to the trail was very full and flowed out over the trail.  For a while we were hiking up river, jumping rock to rock, and trying to stay as dry as we could.

The stream before it jumped it's banks:

Proof that I was there: (You can also see how big and fast that "little stream" was)

 At the top, a nice gentleman took our pic as a family.  You can't tell here, but The Hubs is in rare form here.  Let's just say, I've worked out with this man A LOT in our almost 12 years together, and never EVER have I seen him sweat like he did on this hike.  It was a bit rough hiking down wind from him on the way back.

Here's the tippy top of the falls:

We actually hiked behind the falls and cooled The Hubs off (too bad we didn't bring soap with us!)

In honor of The Little Man's birthday:

After cleaning up a little bit and hitting the hotel swimming pool, we went out on the town.  OK, so we just went to the little main street area and did some walking.  And actually, we did have an objective: Food, but we were a bit disappointed in the offerings.  However, a little miniature golf course caught our eyes.


It was here that a champion was born.  I'm not going to get into what the score card says because it really doesn't matter.  What does matter, though, is that when it counts, can one rise to the occasion?

Well, yes.  I think she can:

The Hubs wanted to leave our free game behind.  I was appalled.  I mean seriously.  Don't people get plaques when they get holes in one?  Personalized license plates?  Something?  Well, I may or may not be getting the little ticket that says I won a free game as well as that priceless pic above in a frame.

And hanging it next to my bed.

The next day was all about soaking in some hot springs.  The kids had never been to a hot springs pool before, so imagine their surprise when they jumped in and found out it was a balmy, wonderful, 92 degrees.  They could not stop talking about it.  They kept saying over and over, "Isn't it so warm in here?"  and "Are you warm? 'Cause I'm warm!"

Awww, they play together so nicely, huh? 

(Actually, that was right before she dunked him because he couldn't read her mind.)

Some diving board action.  It's so much easier to go crazy on the diving board when you know you won't have the shock of ice cold water hitting your back (or belly):


(The Hubs is THRILLED I posted that pic!)

 It also happened to be the first time The Little Man had ridden a water slide (that wasn't for babies):

And even though he's six, there comes a point in which all the fun? well it flat wears you out.

But he woke up just in time to wear his Birthday Balloon Crown while we chowed down on some serious pizza.

And if you think that hat is obnoxious, you should have seen some of the other kids' behavior in the restaurant.

I'll just say, "Wow!"

Can't wait to try to get away again!

The Girl's half birthday is coming up.

I think we should celebrate!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Boy...He's Big

Today is the day.  The day that my boy has been waiting a whole year for.  Today, he turns six. 

Every year we spend his birthday so happy.  So excited that it's finally here.  The next day we wake up and all The Little Man can talk about is how he can hardly wait for his next birthday.  And it begins all over again. The wait.  The anticipation.  The planning of the birthday parties.  He's got his parties all planned up until he's 10. 

I wish I was kidding.

The kid LOVES his birthday.  I recently found a shirt that says, "Everyday is my birthday!".  Everyone that knows him laughs when they see him in it.  They know it fits him.  If he could have it any way he wanted it, it would be his birthday every day. 

This year we spent the whole weekend celebrating him (and our family) with a little getaway (I'll bore you with those pictures and posts later).  It was so fun to see him so excited and so happy all weekend long.  I wish we could have frozen the weekend for like two or fifteen more weeks.

Baby Boy,
You've grown so much this past year.  I can barely recognize you anymore!  You've lost teeth, you've grown out of three sets of clothing, and oh! all the things you've learned!  This past year has been especially special for me as your mom.  This has been the last year that you stayed home with me before officially starting school.  Yea, I know you were in Jr K, but once you start Kindergarten, it's different.  You'll see.  While I have loved having you all to myself all year, I can't wait for you to see what this next year has in store for you. 

Thank you for being such a great friend, brother, and son.  You have the most amazing heart!  You care so tenderly for those close to you.  You love fighting bad guys, playing Star Wars,  being super heros, and blasting stuff with your lasers and guns, but at the same time, you must have your closet doors closed every night before the lights go out.  I love every bit and piece about you, and I can hardly wait to see you grow another year!
Here's your video for your sixth birthday:


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bliss Equals...

  • Already hitting the pool three times this Summer Break
  • Being in flip-flops every day
  • Realizing the last time I got into "real" clothing and did my hair and make-up was a week ago
  • Evenings warm enough for the kids to play outdoors until bedtime
  • Large chunks of time available for us to read chapter upon chapter of Harry Potter
  • Our cute veggie garden which almost wasn't
  • Deciding at 7:30pm maybe I should start dinner, and not caring how late it is because we have no where to be
  • No homework
  • iAllowance.  (Seriously, it's rocking my socks off...and the kids' socks too since they now can earn and spend (or not spend) their money whenever they want.)
  • The smell of sunscreen
  • And when I don't have sunscreen, this takes care of the hankering wonderfully
  • Hearing and seeing my husband return to work with NO health side effects.  PRAISE YOU, LORD!
  • The Fro Yo behind our house.  (OK, this could get to be a problem if we don't refrain ourselves.)
  • Garage Sale-ing
  • Even though it's earlier than I would like to be awake, my quiet time in the morning.  He is so worth it.
  • Everything Summer Break: The kids home, the swim suits and swim towels, mini-trips, eating on the deck, long days, no schedules, etc., so on and so forth, and on and on.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Territory

Eeeks!  It seems as though I am super tardy in posting my newest memory verse.  I actually have been thinking about it quite a bit.  So, it's not like I forgot.  There were a couple of verses that I had been pondering, each one speaking to my heart right where it's at.  The thing is, my heart hasn't been in the same place day after day. 

I am in some new uncharted areas in life.  Exploring new ideas and options each day.  My feelings are all over the board, and I can be excited, scared, overwhelmed, and completely full of passion all in a span of five minutes.

Yes, I am sure it's like heaven on earth living with me right now.

Finally, this morning, I decided that Joshua 1:9 was my verse.  I have returned to it several times this past week.  I love the context of what is happening, and am feeling a connection.

Joshua has just become the leader of God's people after Moses's death.  He still has to lead God's people into the Promise Land.  I don't know, but that sounds like some pretty big shoes to fill.  Maybe he was a little scared or unsure?  Maybe he felt a bit overwhelmed or unsure he was up for the task?  It doesn't really say how Joshua is feeling about his new role as leader of the Israelites, but I do know that God tells him three times to be "strong and courageous".   God is also pretty specific that he shouldn't worry because He will be with him in all he does, and also lays out how important it is that Joshua relies on Him for strength and guidance.  I am just guessing, but that probably isn't something God would do if Joshua were all, "Ya, I got it, God, you can count on me.  I've totally got it under control".

Maybe Joshua did, but God just knew better?

Anyway in verse nine, God says "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9 NIV).

As I traverse new territory, and figure out what the stirrings God has given my heart are all about, I will meditate upon this verse.  No matter which way I turn, no matter what new path I decide to take, I have no reason to be afraid or discouraged because The Lord is with me.