"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Midwest Road Trip

We returned home yesterday from a six day road trip with the kids, the dog and our travel trailer. We set out on Daniel's birthday, our eyes fixed firmly on one goal ~ to sleep outside of Wal-Mart at least once!! Okay, that wasn't really the main goal, but it was the part I was, oddly, most giddy about!

Our first stop was just outside of Omaha where we visited Taylor and (his fiance) Kelsey. We got to see Taylor's house and Kelsey's college, had lunch at Taylor's favorite restaurant, visited with his grandma and other siblings and even got to play on the big slides that we used to take Taylor to when he was younger. But perhaps most importantly, we finally beat Taylor and Kelsey at Spades! =)

After Omaha, we went south to Oklahoma City to visit with my great aunt and cousins. We ate way too much really yummy pizza and then toured the recently completed Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. The memorial was creatively designed and very memorable. The kids enjoyed the reflecting pool and the area where they could leave messages in sidewalk chalk.

From Oklahoma, we drove back to central Kansas and played around in the town of Hutchinson. We visited a space-themed swimming pool and an underground salt mine . . . both were very fun!

Our drive back home was made most memorable (and prayerful!) by some whopping Kansas winds! Let's just say that it isn't fun to haul a big 'boxy' trailer down the highway when there are strong gusts of wind relentlessly blowing at you from the side. Our drive was much slower that day, and we ended up spending an extra night on the road (yeay for "boondocking" at rest areas!)

We arrived home safely, a bit tired, but thankful . . . basking in a contented state of triumph and satisfaction having finally (drumroll please . . .) slept outside of Wal-Mart . . . not just once, but twice! Mission accomplished!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daniel bug!

Our Daniel LOVES gymnastics! If you've ever seen him, that doesn't surprise you ~ he's a muscular little thing and just has that "gymnast look" about him! Then there are his back flips on the trampoline and the issue of him often standing on his hands or his head, or doing cartwheels all the time, or round-offs . . . instead of walking!

He's recently had his first opportunity to be involved in a gymnastics class. Somehow, Levi and Emily both got to do two activities/sports over the summer and he only ended up with one (track & field). So, in an attempt to be fair, we allowed him to choose a second activity. His first choice was to find a math competition . . . September didn't prove to be the best time of year to find one of those! His next request was gymnastics. We found a 'buy one month, get one free' deal at a gym close by and he's been greatly enjoying gymnastics since the beginning of September.

The "problem" is that the beginner class (where they required him to start) was too easy. Fortunately, after a couple of weeks, they moved him up to the Level 2 class. He then began telling me that Level 2 was too easy (and observing him in the class, I'd noticed that too). After his 3rd week in the Level 2 class, his coach pulled me aside and said that he noticed that Daniel is quite a bit ahead of the others in the class. They don't have a level 3 class right now and their competitive boys' team starts with Level 4. The coach had done some testing with Daniel during class and felt like he was already testing at the equivalent of Level 4 and invited him to be part of the competitive team.

This particular coach, who'd been working with and observing Daniel over the past several weeks, happens to be the coach of the boys' (competitive) team. Their first meet of the season is in December and he feels like Daniel has enough individual skills already to put a routine in place. So, now we're in a quandary . . . of the good sort.

I should probably back up. We have really wrestled in our family with how to keep extra-curricular sports in balance. A few months ago, I was reflecting on how far things have come in the past 30(ish) years in regard to children's sports, especially running events. When I was a kid and my sister and I dabbled in distance running, we were clearly the anomaly (there were times when we took 1st and 2nd place in the 12 & under age group of a road race, because we were the only kids in it!).

The opportunities (and the encouragement . . . and the pressure) today for children to be involved in sports is nearly limitless. On one hand, that's a neat thing. On the other hand, that phenomenon seems to have taken on a life of it's own. It's the typical scenario in America (especially suburban America): at some point, nearly everyone with school age children finds that their life revolves around their children's extra-curricular activities and sports.

I've been concerned about the harried pace that families (with just one or two children) often live, because of those commitments. Multiply that by any children above the standard 1.5 and it can really make your life crazy! I know that there are those who would argue that they really enjoy that (lifestyle) and wouldn't have it any other way. And that's okay. But, as I look around, it appears that "typical family life" in America is at the mercy of children's sports . . . which (though I'll be criticized for saying this) I don't think is altogether good.

When can a family sit down and connect with one another over a relaxed meal when sports practices are right at the dinner hour? How can they go to church as a family when many sports leagues schedule games on Sundays now?

So, we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle. Our kids have participated in a variety of things over the years (soccer, swim team, t-ball, track & field, dance, etc). We were both involved in sports growing up and know the value of physical training, commitment, teamwork, etc . . . but we still find ourselves in a quandary. We don't want to limit what God can do with the unique giftings that he's placed in our kids, but we also are desperately cautious about sacrificing family life on the altar of children's sports.

It's a tough decision.

A few months ago, we (re-)read Eric Liddel's biography and were SO very impressed with him (he's the "Chariot's of Fire guy", who didn't compete in his best Olympic event, because the qualifying heat was held on a Sunday). He struggled with becoming involved in competitive sports, his family really struggled with it and yet he recognized that God was the one who had made him fast! (and he couldn't find peace about just walking away from that). He was one of the rare few who managed to excel (really excel!) at a sport and yet keep it in a balanced perspective. I realize that it's not impossible to do that . . . it just seems about as likely as sticking your hand into a bee hive and not getting stung -- it's possible, but it really takes some concentrated focus and effort.

So, here we sit, recognizing that it's entirely possible that God has given Daniel a special talent in this area (it remains to be seen just how much of one) . . . we don't want to hinder that, but we want to proceed with great caution. We're very proud of him and we are thinking we're going to let him go for it ~ and in a few months, re-evaluate (to see how it's fitting into the big picture goals we have for our family). We realize that most of you reading this will think we're making a mountain out of a molehill even being concerned about this, but it feels (to us) like we're taking a plunge into potentially deep waters. We'd sure appreciate your prayers on that one!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Levi . . . and fancy cars!

We recently enjoyed a special outing with our 9 1/2 year old, Levi (celebrating his half-birthday, finally!).

His latest passion is fast, fancy (expensive!) cars. When we go to the library, he comes home with a huge stack of books about every type of car he can find a book on. When we give him 'independent learning time' (when he can learn about anything he wants), guess what he chooses? . . . yep! He's memorized more details about cars than I could ever hold in my little brain!

So, armed with a few of his car books, we set out to see if we could get up close and personal with some of his favorites . . . drink in that 'new car smell', touch the smooth leather seats and see our reflection in the freshly polished chrome.

His most beloved car (apart from the Bugatti Vayron) is the Lamborghini. Unfortunately there wasn't anyone at the dealership (I guess the market for $250K cars isn't what it used to be!). We were, however, able to see some VERY fun cars in the Porsche showroom and at the Ferrari/Bentley dealership.

We finished out our time with lunch and some leisurely fun at Chuck-E-Cheese . . . playing virtual racing games, sinking submarines, shooting hoops and pitching baseballs (that boy throws fast ~ but mom can still beat him shooting hoops!). Great fun, great kid!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sneak peak photos

We went and did a 'family photo shoot' at a local park today . . . I took these with my camera, we won't get the other pictures back for a few weeks, stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Would you still love me even if I had mud all over my face?

"Mom, do you love me?" . . . our sweet little Anna (4) asks me this a few times a week! It's always the same routine, she snuggles up close to me (completely convinced of the answer already), plants that adorable impish pout on her little four year old face, looks at me with those big, innocent, blue eyes and asks "Mom, do you love me?"

I tell her "YES, of course I do!" She follows it up with some silly sort of question like "would you still love me even if I had mud all over my face?"

I reassure her that I will love her no matter what and there isn't anything she can do to change that. I snuggle with her for a few more moments (tell her what a 'silly goose' she is) and then she runs off, contentedly, to play.

I always walk away thinking, "isn't that what we're all wondering?"

Deep down. "Will they still love me even if I'm marred in some way?", "even if I'm not perfect?", "even if they knew . . . (fill in the blank)?", "even if I have mud all over my face?" (because, the truth is, sometimes we do!)

. . . and even deeper down, when we dare to let the question creep into our souls, "Will God still love me?"

If you aren't aware of it yet, let me be the first to tell you ~ His answer is as certain as the one I give that sweet little silly goose . . . YES, YES, YES!

There isn't anything we have done or can do to make our face any less precious to Him!

Crawl up on His lap and believe it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Emily's first 5K

. . . and my first one in about 8 years!

Emily and I ran the Race for the Cure this morning (with my sister and my niece). I'm not sure which Emily enjoyed more ~ the race itself or the chance to ride the light rail! (with LOTS of other people dressed in pink!) . . . I'm pretty sure it wasn't having to get up at 5:00 in the morning!

89 perm rods later . . .

Emily has curls! So, it's kind of an 80's thing, but we decided to go for it and see how a spiral perm would work on Emily's long golden locks (apart from drying them out and damaging them at such a young age! =/ . . . )

So far, she loves it.