I’m Really Skilled in the Art of Procrastination

In preparation for a 3-week co-op elective I’m going to teach for middle schoolers, I have purchased or borrowed a good pile of books on digital photography. But while those books are impressively stacked on the side table, hardly a one has been even half-way finished in the months since I volunteered to take on the class. The minute I start reading about ISO and white balance, I start to wonder how photography holds such interest for me, but learning about it in a book puts me to sleep. Then I’m faced with a perplexing question: how on earth do I take THAT LEVEL OF ENTHUSIASM AND EXPERTISE and present it to adolescents in an engaging way, so they can actually learn something about this art?

Right now, with only a week left before my first class, I only feel equipped to say something like, “uh, just put your subject next to a window. Make sure your subject doesn’t move. Focus on subject and hold down the button. Click.”

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And voila, you get a nice picture like the one above (one that I didn’t even take myself, by the way). The picture of the markers was taken by Mike because he was fixing my computer on Friday and had to test uploading a picture to Google+, and make no mistake, I tried to use that skillful photography as leverage to get him to teach the class for me. He just looked at me weird.

By the way, I’m not only cramming about photography in order to teach it to middle schoolers, I’m also learning an entirely different way of storing/uploading/downloading/etc/etc/etc the photos we will take. I don’t deserve your prayers because of my procrastination, but I need them!

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty in the Mess and/or the Detour

Getting away for a couple of days is my favorite. NOT A SECRET. As much as I love my people, I’m glad to give them the precious gift of time away from me. We all need a break from Mom, let’s face it. And Mom needs a break from being Mom.

Though I haven’t taken as many as I’d like because we have bills to pay and such, I love planning short getaways. But mostly, I love having the freedom to not make any of the decisions. That is the best. Having someone else make the decisions for me and fully trusting that it will be perfect (or perfectly imperfect) is the best, indeed.

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In March, the women’s ministry at our church planned the best getaway to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Every detail was prayerfully planned for us, and it was such a wonderful weekend.

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God had many things to go over with me during the weekend. We watched the DVD series from Beth Moore called The Making of a More Honest Me. It was all about dealing with our “messes.” Being honest with God about one of my specific messes was tough, but the timing was right and my heart was softened about it.

A couple weeks later, I’m still processing what I learned about Jacob’s wrestling match with the Lord and his relationship with Esau (the text from Genesis 32 that the DVD series was based on). If you like Beth Moore, I highly recommend this for a ladies retreat or a short Bible Study series.
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One rather unexpected blessing from the retreat came in the form of colorful feathers. On Saturday afternoon, we played an Amazing Race kind of game that none of us knew had been meticulously planned. It was so much fun. We divided up into groups, ran to our cars with the first clue in hand, and raced to multiple destinations around town using our phones, then tried to locate the person standing near a helium balloon with the next clue. It was a rather ambitious activity with 10 cars (I think?) and 50+ women, but it was pulled-off with success (and much, much laughter along the way).

We lost the race by a long shot, but my group was still the most hilarious and fun to be with (because I am biased). I was with four women that I rarely get to spend time with. This was the perfect way to get to re-acquainted. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it would depend on how you look at it), we asked Google for help in solving one of the harder clues, and our GPS led us to a recreation center that was a bit out of the way. But instead of allowing that detour to frustrate us, we started to do a U-turn in an empty parking lot and looked up at the porch of the building. A peacock. Like we see that everyday!

I believe that was the very first time any of us has seen a peacock sitting around (and then roaming around, but that was after I jumped out of the car and started following it around with my phone held out in front of me). Other than at the zoo, I mean.

And, while I love the peacocks at the zoo just as much as anyone, this was way more special. It just added one more special memory to dozens of other moments I’ll remember from this retreat.

History

Max used to tell me that he was part British; therefore, his British accent was effortless. He was somewhat confused about his birth family heritage (although on his birth father’s side, his great-great-grandfather was knighted in England, he was not British in origin), and he misunderstood how accents work, but a 10-year-old boy can come to his own conclusions about life and has it all figured out just the same.

By the way, I’ve never mentioned this part of his story before, but this is pretty cool history, huh? We learned about him when Max was born. Last year, Max researched and wrote a report about him. Just one more cool thing about his open adoption.

Anyway. He had a chance to show off his British accent this weekend when he played in a comic relief role as King Arthur, Monty Python style.

It was a role of a lifetime! :)

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He had SO much fun. This was for “Showcase,” which is a dance recital that includes skits in between the dance numbers. The show was called History. History! History? and was written by our director. Max had several roles in the 2-Act Showcase and had four costume changes – a southern chef, a waiter, King Arthur, and a narrator (who was a figment of someone’s imagination). He had a long paragraph with complex wording, just to be dismissed as “boring,” which he didn’t appreciate.

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But it got a laugh, to which he was delighted.

I’m so proud of him – he put his heart into it and had the best time making friends and getting to be apart of something really awesome. There were 128 homeschool students (ages 9-18) in the production. It’s well-done and run by MANY volunteers and professionals behind the scenes – just something fun for the community and a way to give kids a chance to share their talents and honor God with them.

Thanks to our friend, Jason Lynch, for taking these pictures and sharing them with me.

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And thanks for another story part added to his story.

New Development

I don’t know what happens to a boy’s brain during the 12th year of life, but I have all kinds of questions.

Exhibit A

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He looked down at his knee and asked me if I knew he had a hole in his jeans. And I’m pretty much 100% sure that it was the very first time he noticed.

What in the what is happening?

Oh Lord, please continue to give me a sense of humor about these things!

 

A Perfect 10 for 4 Sweet Girls

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These four fabulous friends are in the same gymnastics class. I am good friends with their moms, too, so it’s lots of fun. We talk and laugh and catch up as we watch them bounce around together from the trampoline to the bars to the beams to the floor. Our older kids (or younger ones) do school or play on the iPod. Amazingly, Max finishes his math in record time when we’re at the gym. He does not want to be the last one sitting before his friend, J, is allowed to play on his. Every Tuesday morning brings a fun and different setting for homeschooling, gives me a social outlet with my girlfriends, and allows Mini to have time with her friends doing a sport she loves. A Win/Win/Win.

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I don’t know if gymnastics will be what Mini will do for the long-term, but at this point, she is pumped about it in every way. It’s the only day of the week that she will let me come near her with a hairbrush and a ponytail holder, so that should tell you something. She is having the best time.

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When we arrive, the team is ending their morning practice (which started at 6:30, then continues after school for another four hours totaling 32 hours each week). Those girls are amazing and fun to watch and I admire their dedication. I can’t even imagine that kind of schedule and time back and forth in the car, but they do what they do with a lot of enthusiasm. And there are posters of Olympians on the walls that call this gym their home. There’s something to be said for that.

Who knows, we may have Olympic dreams budding right here. If I were a judge, I’d give them all a perfect 10 and a gold medal for cuteness.

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The Last of the Last of the Last

I hope these are the last snow pictures of the winter, but aren’t they cute? I just adore my kids.Snow2014

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And I really adored them after I had a few quiet moments to myself while Mike took them sledding yesterday. During that time, I took deep breaths and closed my eyes and dreamed of being at the beach this summer. Then my thoughts bounced back to reality of how there’s three more months of homeschooling this year, and I got busy catching up on my planning.

But first, I needed to sharpen pencils. And since I was so productive at that task, I took a picture.

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That photo actually gives me a lot of joy. I think maybe it’s the lighting, thanks to the snow, the variety of pencils that represent more to me personally because MY kids use THOSE (am I hormonal??), and the feeling of being on-top-of-things for a change. I planned for the week and not much further than that, but sitting down with purpose and pencils got my head back in the game.

This winter has lasted three million months longer than it should have, but one last hurrah of snowy weather, sledding (with Daddy home!), rosy cheeks, and good lighting in the kitchen does make me pretty happy.

But I’d be a lot happier if I knew with certainty that it was the last, for sure.

I’m Okay With Some Butter On That

It’s been quiet here on the blog because of several reasons. I’ve had one of those “and then” kind of months, where I felt about 90 years old and complained about one physical ailment after another. Who is tired of that kind of blogging? I AM, that’s who. So I refrained from lamenting here on the blog, but believe me, Mike could’ve used a shared sounding board.

I’ll go ahead and catch you up. I was sick with a terrible cold, felt better for a week, and then came down with it again and probably had a sinus infection, too. I missed church and youth group twice in one month and I hate that, but in my stubbornness, didn’t go to the doctor. Then I scratched my eye (because, of course). And then I pulled a muscle in my back while pretending to be Paula Deen at our jr. high mystery dinner. The End.

The mystery dinner was lots of fun, in spite of the fact that I felt ninety years old and was so annoyed at my own self for lifting a heavy lemonade jug (you know, one of those big orange ones). I had cooked all day for the dinner and I’m guessing I had bad form and posture. I was IN CHARACTER. :)

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This is pre-Granny-threw-her-back-out. By the way, our jr. high teens had NO idea who Paula Deen was, and they simply thought I was a grandma who had an obsession with butter. I had so much fun pretending to be Paula, and Mike was Sergei the Russian Hockey Player. He was a suspect (the crime was someone had stolen my butter. GASP!) and his accent was hilarious!

Other suspects were Dorothy (and Toto), King Arthur, a skater dude, a head coach, a French chef, and Rosie the Riveter (who was the perp. GASP!). We asked friends at church to help us out for the evening, and they really got into it.

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I only wished I asked them to help me lift that lemonade.

As soon as I got home, I took Advil and slept with an ice pack all night. Mike said I was in pain all night long (he didn’t get much sleep and had that same expression in the morning as in the above picture). But I went to church (mostly because I love talking to the teens the day after an event. It’s the best time to connect with them). Anyway, I was sore all day but by Monday night/Tuesday I was feeling back to myself. Thank you, Lord.

I’m now ready for the craziness that the month of March has in store. According to our packed calendar and yet another round of freezing cold weather, it will live up to its lion-like tendencies. But as long as things eventually calm down, there are no pulled muscles or scratched eyeballs, and there’s enough butter to go around, I think I’ll be fine.