Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Outback Extra Stress

Yes, we're having VBS this week, something I used to look forward to, but not so much this year...come to think of it not so much last year, either. Chalk it up to a bad attitude or sheer laziness, but I just HATE adding something else to my life, even for a week. I'm on over-load without adding a 2-3 hour nightly event.
Evening VBS poses some interesting challenges for families. We arrive at the church at about 5:30, start at 6:00, and usually get home between 8:45 and 9:00. When is supper during that schedule? A frosting slathered graham cracker artfully decorated with chocolate chips is fun and yummy, but does not cut the mustard (so to speak) in the meal department. And the last thing I want to do at 9:00 at night after teaching a hundred or so kids is to prepare supper. So, the plan of the week is to have our big meal of the day at lunch time and to eat a small meal at ten til five or so before we head to the church. But, the kids still need some "unwind time" before hitting the sack when we get home, so even though bed time is officially 8:30 for Haven and 9:00 for Haddon and Avery, nobody is getting to bed before 9:30 at the earliest. By the end of the week everyone is exhausted (okay, I'm already exhausted and it's only Tuesday).
This year's theme is "Outback Express." We are focusing on Australia. I am in the missions room which is my favorite VBS post. Instead of being in charge of my own little group of kiddos, I get to teach the lot of them. I get to prep the kids for a little video, then explain to them what they just watched, ask questions, and pass out candy to the kids who knew the correct answers. For the most part it's really fun. The challenging thing about it is that by the end of each night I've repeated the same things five times, adjusting slightly for age differences. We experienced a first in VBS last night, though. Less than an hour into it, a transformer (or something like that) "blew" outside of the church and WE HAD NO POWER. Translation: no lights, no air-conditioning, no video. Yipes! Everyone had to do quite a bit of thinking on their feet as we made adjustments to accommodate our situation. I got to show my missions video only to my first group. After that I was on my own. The kids were surprisingly gracious and attentive as I tried to describe to group after group what they would have seen in the video had the power not been out. Whew! By the last bunch I was a dithering idiot, but all children had been successfully placated by candy and educated on Australia's need for missionaries. The kids saw our power outage as an adventure as opposed to a challenge, and may actually be disappointed that the electricity is now back on (Thank you, Jesus!). I, however, am seriously relieved...I love video!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sixteen Candles

Yesterday, Hannah turned 16. Usually we don't get to celebrate her birthday as a family. In fact, since the year she turned 12, Hannah has spent her birthday at Falls Creek. This year, however, our group happened to be coming home from camp on her birthday.
Hannah and I celebrated her birthday in style a week and a half ago when I took her to OKC for a spa day and shopping. That trip is a whole blog in and of itself. But last night we had a family celebration. Before leaving for camp, I had Hannah choose a menu for her birthday dinner and only hours after coming home from Creek Week, she was sitting down to manicotti, Cesar salad, and garlic bread. Afterward we had pineapple upside down cake (her favorite) and she opened cards and gifts. The highlight of the evening was when she couldn't get her Kamik box open...I laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks and snapped picture after picture while she insulted me in French (ahhh, the wonders of an honors education).
It doesn't seem possible that my Hannah is 16. Can it possibly be that long ago that we were meeting her for the first time, transfixed by her beauty? I remember the amazement that filled me...this child was her own person, someone completely separate from me, but entrusted to me by God. What was He thinking? I used to cry as I imagined all of the ways that I must be "ruining" her. What an awesome responsibility parenting is, but what a joy! We have come so far from the day she was born, but some things remain the same. The day we brought her home from the hospital, Jason drove 15 miles an hour the whole way while I cried in the backseat next to our very new baby girl. I kept thinking, "I can't believe they just let us take her home...what are they thinking? We don't know anything about babies!" Sixteen years later, I'm still crying and frightened as I sit in the car next to my daughter....but it's because she's driving.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Long Time, No Blog

Checking in, finally, after a long absence from blogging. It's not that I don't have any TIME to blog or that I don't have anything to BLOG about, it's just that there are so many OTHER things that need to be done or that I want to do that blogging has taken a back seat (as has cleaning out the van, folding laundry, etc.). As I am sitting on my couch, trying to type out a semi-coherent paragraph or two, Haven Esther is leaning her forehead against my left elbow and munching on cheese crackers that are in a bowl on my knee. Drool mixed with crumbs rains down on my foot. Yummy. She is so sleepy after her barely there half hour nap that she can't even hold her head up though she insists she wants a snack.
Life is so full and so hectic and so fun and so difficult some days. It seems all I can do is survive it. But, I really, really don't want to just survive. I want to make the most of these days, even the difficult ones. I want to savor them, all too soon they will be gone. One day I will look around and there will be no crises to avert, no popsicle stains on my shorts, no crying babies to be held. One day this house will be quiet and still and clean and I don't want to look back and think, "where did the time go?" I want to use these days to teach my children about God and love and family and strength and kindness and self-control, but most days I'm just too tired, too distracted, too confused about what is urgent and what is important. Striving and thriving seems out of the realm of possibility. (Now Haven is crying because I won't kiss my own cheek! Obviously she needs to lay back down.) Most days I'm ashamed to admit (though I don't think this will come as a surprise to any of you) that I am simply not in a position to teach my children about these things because I am not acting loving or kind or godly. I'm weak and fearful and disorganized and angry. How can I teach my children about things that I don't demonstrate? I want to enjoy this time with my family. I want to play board games and go swimming and garden together and read with them and take them places. But the laundry is taking over my living room and I cannot even find my dining room table under the scrap booking materials.
Still, I'm trying. Or maybe I'm trying to try...At any rate, blogging has been on the back burner, my van is dirty, and if this tower of unfolded, clean laundry falls over somebody may be hurt. But, we will bake a cake together today and read some out of "The Princess Bride." When Haven's mouth hurts I will hold her while the popsicle drool coats us both. And when I look at the leaning tower of laundry, I will not regret the time I have spent today not folding it.
Excuse me while I hold Haven for a bit and sing to her before I lay her back down.