Monday, September 28, 2009

Body surfing

video

I think this was the middle of three videos I took of Code-man body surfing a couple of weekends ago. Toward the end you can hear me wondering if they were going to make him get off the surf or if they would just let him keep going indefinitely. He was very good, much better than the average surfers that day. Later on, he got up on his knees, and I'm sure he would have done great standing, too, if they would have let him.

Little slugger

video

It appears that Bubby is a natural athlete. He is a fast runner, a great jumper, has quite a throwing arm, a strong kick, and well, you can see how good he is at batting. Now if only we could convince him to hold the bat by the other end :-)

Little helper

video

Logo paddling

video

Here's Logo paddling the kayak...and some other people, doing other stuff.

How to catch a tadpole

video

Long overdue, this video was taken during our July trip to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Catching tadpoles in the pools on the rocky shore of Lake Superior is one of our favorite things to do there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rough

There's a golf course fairly close to our house, and as I drove past it today, I realized that there is a patch of corn planted on the golf course! Now that's what I call a hazard. Imagine trying to even find you ball in there, much less trying to drive it out!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prodigal

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, "Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!"
Luke 15:28-30

Have you ever felt like the non-prodigal son? Like you're the one who has always done what you're supposed to do, plugging away, and you're not appreciated? You're the good child, the constant, the taken-for-granted one. I have. Not that I'm necessarily the good child in my family (not by a long shot), but just in life. It doesn't seem fair that the father would throw a party for the son who disrespected him and left the family, squandered his property in wild living and comes crawling back in disgrace. I've always thought the father should make him live as a servant for a while: make good and sure he's learned his lesson. But,

"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
Luke 15:31-32

The implication here is that we good children already have and enjoy God's good gifts. Every day. The prodigals among us, however, are living apart from God, and as such, are as good as dead--who wouldn't celebrate if their lost child returned to them? We should celebrate, too, when our lost brother or sister is found. And God certainly rejoices over us non-prodigals, too. Just because we've never been lost, doesn't mean that God doesn't love us as much. Through the years I've come to the realization that just because the distribution of God's gifts seems unfair, that in no way diminishes the gift I've received. Because guess what, friends? We all have been lost: through sin we've been separated from our heavenly father. Some of us have been more lost than others, but the fact remains that we have all been lost, and have all received God's grace and forgiveness. And I, for one, am extremely thankful that God doesn't give me what I deserve.

This realization has come in handy for me, because, after all, life isn't fair. Not even close. But knowing that I, too, have been given grace beyond fathom, immeasurable, infinite grace, makes that inherent unfairness easier to accept. After all, infinity times 2 or 10 or 1000 is still infinity (love you, Chip :-).

This week, I've taken this realization a step farther, for better or for worse. My life is difficult at times. My husband loves me (again, beyond what I deserve), but his job takes him on the road often: right now, more often than usual, and I end up feeling a lot like a single parent. I'm outnumbered by little people and shouldering the majority of the responsibility for caring for our children and our household, with few breaks, and this is not what I signed on for. I want and need my husband's support and assistance and presence. But every time I start to feel that way, my brain tells me that I shouldn't, because there are others who are in even more difficult situations than me. Like my mom, who spent 6 months at a time, more than once, with her husband, my dad, away and unreachable, as she cared for my brother and me at home. Or women who really are single moms. Or women who are homeless and trying to care for their children. And unfortunately, thinking that way doesn't make me feel one bit better, just guilty.

But this week, I've come to realize that it works both ways. Just because there are others who are in more dire situations than mine does not diminish my feelings in any way. Yup, there are other people who've got it worse than me, but that doesn't make my situation any easier. In short, I've given myself permission to say, yes, this is hard. Yes, this isn't what I signed on for, but I am a strong woman, and I will do what needs to be done, through Christ, who strengthens me. Much better than wallowing in self-pity compounded by guilt.

Let me be clear: I am not writing this to make my husband feel guilty or look bad. He works hard because he loves us, and this is what he needs to do to support us financially. His travel is as much of a sacrifice for him as it is for us, because he wants to be with us just as much as we want him to be here. As much as I fantasize about being able to be the one to "escape" through business trips, I'm sure my husband fantasizes about being able to stay home, as I am privileged to do.

Here's how Jesus put it, though the words of the owner of the vineyard in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, "Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"
(Matthew 20:13b-15)

Geocache treasure

Code-man and Logo went geocaching yesterday. Look what they found!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Hungry

The church closest to our kids' elementary school has a backpack grocery program. It's meant to bridge the weekend food gap for those families whose children receive free or reduced price school lunches, but basically, anyone who wants it can sign up to get a backpack full of groceries for their child to bring home from school on Fridays. Whenever our principal sends home the form to sign up for the program, many families ask how they can help, so the church forwarded a meal list with needed food items.

Tuna helper is on sale this week, and I didn't have much on our family's grocery list*, so I decided to buy all of the items for two Meal #2s. It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't much: 1 lg box muffin mix, 2 cans tuna, 1 box tuna helper, 1 jar squeeze mayo, 1 sm. box Bisquick, 1 can pears. The items don't even fill the bottom of one paper grocery bag. I cannot imagine being in the situation where Meal #2 would be all the food I have for my family for a weekend. I cannot believe that there are families going to my kids' school, living in our neighborhood, so to speak, who are in this very situation. There is something so wrong with that.

We have so much more than we need, so much more than we deserve. Granted, my hubby works hard to provide for us, we live within our means (after all, my twin mottoes are "why buy new when used will do?" and "why pay full price if you don't have to? And let me give you a hint, you hardly ever have to"), and have built up savings over the years. But for most in our country, the best country in the world, it wouldn't take much to push them into a downward financial spiral. For many, it's already happened.


*Our family's grocery list didn't have much on it this week because we've been eating from our freezer. We've been eating from our freezer because Hubby has been working out of town a lot. In fact, I need to get geared up to start filling the freezer again, but since he's gone again this week, and next week, and the week after, I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to actually cook again, so that I can double or triple the recipes to freeze some.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You lie!

In case you missed it, someone called President Obama a liar in his address to the nation on Wednesday evening. I missed it. We had planned to watch Wipeout, but it was preempted for the president's speech, so the children decided to watch Qubo. The president is much too boring for them. I had to smile when I heard about it, not because I think it was a good idea for a member of congress to call our president a liar, but because it reminded me of my sister in law.

Once upon a time, we were visiting my brother and his family in Colorado. My parents must have been there, too, because the four of us, my brother, his wife, my husband, and me, were out and about on a date without children. There was a restaurant that we wanted to go to. I'm a little vague on the details, but I think that it kind of looked to us like people were waiting for tables, when we could see with our very own eyes that there were several open tables in the outdoor seating area. My sister in law was all set to demand that we be given one of the outside tables if they tried to make us wait. She was so geared up, that at first she didn't quite catch that yes, they were going to seat us right away. I guess you had to be there. Anyway, whenever I hear the phrase "you lie!" I think of my sister in law. Hmmmm...I wonder how she feels about that.

I must admit, when I heard that PO was going to be addressing my children Tuesday during school hours, my first response was, like many, I don't want that man spouting his socialist agenda to my children during school hours. It's not that I don't want my boys to hear him speak, but I want to be there to interpret his words with them. It's kind of like letting them watch a PG film--I need to be there. And I definitely consider PO to be a Parental Guidance kind of show. Not to mention that it appears, at least to me, that there is already a liberal bias present in our public schools. I distinctly remember being in 7th grade and thinking that communism sounded like a great idea, because that's how it was presented to me. And in theory, it is a great idea. In fact, that's how Jesus' followers lived. Everyone used their gifts to provide for the group and everyone shared what they had. In modern practice, we have seen how such a wonderful idea can and will be distorted into something horrible. And it will always fail, because we are humans: we are sinful, imperfect.

PO seems to be a very idealistic man. He appears to love this country and I believe that he believes that he's doing his best to do the right thing for our country. But I don't understand how he can think that socialism is the best way to run our nation. I don't understand how he can't see that all of his lofty plans and schemes will fail because there will always be people who are not willing to work within his systems. Not everyone is honorable. Not everyone is willing to work for the common good. In fact, most people are not willing to work for the common good if it means that they have to sacrifice. And there are always unintended consequences.

I do not, however, have a better solution, other than to let the market self-correct, which is also a great idea, in theory, but there are so many in our nation who fall between the cracks. Who can't afford health care, who live paycheck to paycheck, who sometimes need to decide between buying food or buying gas, who live in their cars. And while we could argue that for a good portion of them, it's their own darn fault, I really don't think it matters who is at fault. The fact is, there are people who are hurting and there are others who have more than they need. How can we ignore the fact that there are people dying in our country, in our world, because they do not have enough? See, I really am a socialist at heart; I'm not against redistribution of wealth, I just don't think that the government should be doing it.

Which brings me back to "you lie!" It is not my job to judge. Thank God, it's not my job to judge. It is my job to show Christ to the world, and the way I do that is to love. When someone needs help, I am called to help them, regardless of why they have found themselves in the position to need help. We all need help. We all fall short of God's plans for us. I choose to believe the best of everyone I meet, because God sees the best in each of us.

I know! That baby needs a haircut! We recently received a bunch of packing peanuts--I saved them and put them in a larger box for Bubby to play with. He is just too cute for words, sometimes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supper tomorrow

OK, so what am I supposed to do with this? Hubby's out of town, and I actually made supper tonight. I know! That's so out of character for me, but for some reason after school isn't as frantic this year as it was last year--at least, not yet. Anyway, Code-man asked what we were having for dinner, and I told him, and he went, "uuhh." I'm not really sure how to spell that whiney oh-man-I-wish-it-was-a-different-answer sound. However it's spelled, it's very disheartening for a mommy to hear. Then he asked what we were having for dinner tomorrow. I told him I didn't know, but that it would be something from the freezer. Did he have any preference? "Can we have cereal?" he asked me.

I told you once before that it was a source of extreme mommy-guilt for me that I have, in the past, served cereal to my children for dinner three nights in a row because my husband was out of town and I didn't have the time or energy to cook. But what do I do when they're asking for it?

By the way, after asking for seconds of the casserole I prepared for supper tonight, Code-man said, "I like this. We should have it more often. Why don't we have this more often?"

I can see the future...

Five years from now, I'll be the only one left in the canoe. All of my boys will be strung out behind me in their kayaks. Oh, maybe I'll be able to get Hubby to take pity on me and tow me instead of the other way around, but it's going to be awfully lonely in there. On the other hand, I will have plenty of room to spread out.
We went boating on the St. Croix River this weekend. We had various combinations of people in each boat at different times, but for most of the time ended up with Hubby and Logo trying to paddle the canoe (mostly Hubby because Logo was tired) into a headwind, while I held a screaming, and then finally, sleeping, Bubby, and Cody was being towed (also paddling, but sometimes resting, and usually just as I had to put down my paddle and the wind hit us again) in the kayak. Just as an aside, when Logo was Bubby's age, he had no problem sleeping in the front/bottom of the canoe, but Bubby will not. He screams for quite a while if I try to put him down, and I know that most of you have never tried to paddle a canoe while holding a sleeping kid--not easy. I kept thinking, "This is supposed to be fun?" But it really was fun, and it didn't kill us, so I guess it made us stronger.

Here's a picture of Bubby and Hubby--doesn't Bubby look all grown up sitting in the middle seat all by himself? We discovered that our Tonka loader works great as a snack receptacle.Here are Code-man and Logo in the kayak. Logo did some kayak paddling this trip, and he did a good job, for his first time (and for being only 6 years old).We stopped for lunch just past this turn-y railroad bridge (it doesn't turn anymore, but it does railroad). We had been there for, oh, about 2 minutes before we heard a train approaching. Logo spent some time playing with this frog. I don't understand that kid. Butterflies scare him, but he has absolutely no problem pursuing and capturing frogs and other slimy and/or creepy things.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here is a picture of Code-man and Logo on their first day of school. If you don't know which way our house faces, you can't even tell that it was taken at the end of the school day instead of the beginning. Whew! Tragedy averted. I'm not sure about Logo's teacher. She sent home a form letter, telling us how his first day of school went (which I was very happy about, since Logo immediately forgets everything he did in school the minute he gets on the school bus to come home). There are five complete sentences in the note, and it includes 22 exclamation points. This seems a bit excessive to me, but perhaps she was merely expressing her enthusiasm for a new school year. Yes, she is one of those teachers who is just so happy to be a teacher...not an all bad thing.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The First Day of School

I am such a loser mom, forgetting to take pictures of my children on their first day of school! Don't worry--the camera is now hanging on the door knob, where I will hopefully see it and remember to take pictures this afternoon. That's a long time from now, though...

In the meantime here are some cute non-first-day-of-school pictures:

Bubby wearing his "diaper hat"

Pack 168's newest Tiger Cub

Luke, Code-man, Bubby, Ua, and Logo (MC)

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