Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Special Family Day Gone to Pot--Briefly (Confessions from Jennifer)

Why is it that once you decide that it is going to be a fun family day, then all craziness breaks loose?

We had planned that today would be a light school day--just some reading and creative writing-- so that we would have time to make a gingerbread house, and make special Christmas Nativity picture ornaments for our tree to remind us of the real meaning of Christmas. Why is it then that that happy day can so suddenly go wrong?

In the creative writing exercises, the kids were whiny. Then during the gingerbread house project, Mark came home, and we were all baffled by the frosting. "It's supposed to look like toothpaste," Mark said. "It seems too thick. This will never fit through that nozzle." That spiraled down to a frustrating, chaotic 20 minutes, I admit. We were all crabby, hungry, annoyed, and confused about that stinking frosting, and then with each other. Tears, some raised voices, and the special day wasn't as special for a little bit. "Let's just not talk to each other for a little bit!"

Quietly we fumed, and calmed ourselves down. We put on praise music, had some pancakes for lunch, talked to God quietly, asking his help. Then, one by one, we spoke softly to each other, saying sorry humbly, and hugging. A few more minutes passed. The frosting jelled a bit more. Praise music kept playing. Then we all came together for a family hug, and apology, praying together at the end outloud.

Whew, better now. It's embarrassing to fight in front of people too. My parents are living with us, and they see the good and the bad. We apologized to Dad too.

So, now, the special day has gone much better. Praise music is still playing in the background. Presents are wrapped. Jesus as a baby, and the angels, shepherds, etc. Bible pictures have all been taken and are ready to make into ornaments. The gingerbread house is coming together slowly. But most of all, the family is happy again, and enjoying being together at home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

White Snow, Red Curry

Mmm, this is my second helping of red curry this afternoon. I came home from work, ravenous and snowy. I was going to join the family at our Y, but the car I'm driving doesn't have windshield wipers. I figured the first few roads would be my test to see if it would be safe to drive in the snow without wipers. Um, nope, it wasn't! At my first red light, the windshield filled up with so much snow, it was hard to distinguish when the light turned green. So, I headed home instead. Once moving, the wind blew off most of the snow, but I decided not to chance longer distances. (Yeah, I'll call the repair shop too...)

Ahh, a quiet house to myself, which means not having to share the computer with anyone! (Is that bad?!) So I'm catching up on your blogspots, xanga posts, facebooks, etc.

Last night, my son wanted us to go Christmas shopping before swim team practice. The two of us walked around Target together, as he bought presents with his own hard-earned paper route money. It was so sweet to see him buying presents for his sister, his aunts and uncles, his dad, his new little boy cousin, and others. J even wanted to buy his own wrapping paper and tape- with his money. Scanning the rolls of wrapping paper, he found just the right one, and a good bargain too: green snowman paper. I loved seeing his generosity! "I get it, Mom," he said excitedly once this week. "It IS more fun to give presents!" Ahh, very cool. Thanks, God, for your work in my boy.

How are you guys?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lights in the Mist Around Us

What a cool misty, foggy night out as we drove back from the Y tonight after swim team practice. Wet, cold air wrapped around us as we walked to the van. Then it enveloped our vehicle as we drove. On longer stretches of the road that dipped into valleys, the fog was so thick that I had to slow way down to peer around me on the road, wondering what was ahead. Street lights were blurry, muted yellow in the deep mist.

Sipping a V8 at home now, my kids are readying for bed, the house is quiet. Soft music plays from the computer here, as I write. It's funny how a melancholy song can make you feel melancholy, even when you are not.

I've been thinking since a Sunday School class discussion about how we as Jesus-followers are impacting the world. How are we impacting the world? In what ways are we changing our worlds? Are we bringing in a joy that supersedes circumstance? A peace that is not dependent on what is around me? A sense of purpose that is solid? Do I remember these things? Do I radiate it? Do I radiate Him--who is the source of that joy, sense of purpose and peace that lasts despite circumstances?

Sometimes it is easy for me to instead see the harried life of the instant, the urgent, and not pause and reflect back on what is eternal. Reflect back, and then reflect out the truth. Funny. That sounds a little bit like the mist I was driving in tonight.

Slowing down, pausing to breathe in the cool air, and reflect on what a cool God he is... I want to radiate him out of me more.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Want to Hear Something Sad but Funny?

So, with my family's background of living in war-torn West Africa, and then later my kids seeing their grandparents in that same situation and occasionally fleeing violent political situations, my kids and I have often talked about the fact that anyone could die at any moment. We recognize that there are "bad guys" here too where we live, and that anything could happen. I have always assured my kids, though, of three things:
1.) That God loves us and that is heart can be trusted, no matter what things may happen in life.
2.) That God will never give us anything more than we can handle with his help ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"). And he will give us the strength to go through anything we need to. ("My grace is sufficient for you.")
3.) That God promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. Ever.

Tonight, though, as my husband is sick, and feeling miserable, hunched over, walking feebly, racked with chills, and other yuckyness, my kids and I are praying for him and hoping he feels better soon. As I was praying with my daughter M for her to go to bed, she asked "Has anyone ever died from the flu?"

"Well, they have," I answered honestly, "but I don't think Daddy will," hoping to make her feel better.

"Well, it could just be Daddy's time to die," she declared matter of factly, and biblically. "True," I laughed, slightly horrified, "but I don't think he probably will."

Later, out of hearing shot, I ran to my husband and told him the story. He grinned feebly. "She learned that from you, huh?!" he laughed.

Don't worry. We hug a lot and are all very close, my family of four. We're just very realistoc when it comes to death. Strange, huh? Meanwhile (back at the hall of justice), my man is not on death's door that we know of. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

We're off to J's second swim meet just now! He will be competing in the 50 yard freestyle, 50 yard back stroke and 100 yard freestyle against his age group.

Little M is practicing for her kids' Sunday School program. She received the part of the storekeeper which has 17 lines to learn! She is eager to have fun with the "snotty" storekeeper role, kind of the bad guy in the play. Her play is Dec 16th at 7 pm. All are invited!

J's next home meet is Dec. 1 here at our Y. All our welcome. :) There are other semi-local city ones too.
Love to you, my family!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Too Cold for Sandals Now

Well, you will be happy to know that I changed out of my flipflop sandals this week into normal shoes. (Actually they were cute little black, pointy boot things, with side zippers)--But enough of the girl stuff! I sense the gentlemen shaking their heads...

So what's new? Hmmm,
sipping a nice cold cherry pepsi,
looking out my window at the awesome yellow blanket of leaves on the neighbor's yard,
laughing with my son over the Far Side cartoons (They are hilarious!),
studying the Civil war in homeschooling (Know any good Civil war movies that I could show to my kids? That's the hard part.)

I'm sending in my book proposal this week, and I'm really excited about that. I realize it's a long and probably discouraging process. That's okay.

Know any good jokes?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkins Guarding My Front Porch

Driving home from the Y this afternoon, my main plans were to get the piles of clean laundry up off my floor and to make supper before Heather came over for our wives' Bible study later on tonight. Seeing the awesome autumn leaves swirl across the highways, though, suddenly made me want to pull over and walk into a forest to be surrounded by falling leaves. My kids liked that idea, but were slightly disheartened--thinking that we might get pumpkins and carve them instead.

Stopping at the local hardware store, we paid for and chose four medium-sized pumpkins that had good face possibilities. "We have pumpkins!" my kids cheered excitedly to Dad as we got home. "Come decorate your pumpkin!"

We had a blast. It was a little too windy to carve them outdoors (our plastic bags kept blowing away), so we carved them at the kitchen table.We loved it, and talked about what a cool family time it was!

Now the pumpkins stand silent and dark, guarding our front steps. The candles, we'll add later as the wind dies down.

Hours later, Heather and I had a really nice time, learning and praying together as well. Have you ever read "The Power of a Praying Wife"? I recommend it for all marriages.

How are you all? What were you doing on this sunny, windy day?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Dad: A Terrorist or A Spy?!

What? A terrorist or a spy? No. My dad is a missionary, but on his way to Ghana this month, he was detained at our local airport for an hour and a half. Looking at his passport, the officials studied his photo nervously, noting that the photo was cut crooked and didn't have the clear covering over it. "Is this you?" they asked. "Did you put the photo on here yourself?"

"Yes, it's me. No, of course, I didn't put the photo on there myself. This is my passport that I've used for years. See all the places it's been stamped at?" my dad asked, hoping that would alleviate fears.

"Yes, we were going to ask you about that," the officials inquired suspiciously. "Why have you been to so many African countries?"

My dad explained some more about who he is and what he does. They had him roped off in a little square cordoned area for a while, as they emptied his suitcases and searched through every item, meticulously. Eventually another more senior official came over and looked at my dad's passport. "Oh, no, it's fine," he assured the other officials. "That's just the old style of passport," he told them calmly. "He's fine, let him go."

Re-packing his things again, my dad vowed silently that new passports were the first thing he and my mom would work on once back in the states.

--Thankful for our country's security, and laughing sympathetically at my poor dad's adventures, I'm glad he's home safe. Yes, he's a black belt in karate. Yes, he's had amazing adventures and been held at gunpoint several times before... but he's still my dad. I'm proud of him, and I love him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Quiet Music, Quiet House

Sleepy. Tired. Good junior high retreat this weekend. Came home Sun.evening, left to race to the airport for a quick pick up, home. Sleep. Work this morning.

Quiet music. Quiet house. Recuperating. Life's good.

Beautiful rust-colored fall leaves; damp, cold rainy day makes scarves and turtlenecks cozy. Red blanket spread invitingly across my couch by my daughter. "Doesn't it look nice, Mom?" she beams proudly. I hug her, hug my son, and hang out with my man.

Quiet music. Quiet house. Recuperating. Life's good.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Our New Little Nephew From South Korea

We met our Korean little nephew on Wednesday! A whole group of excited extended family met at our house from around the state. Then piling into several vehicles, most of us raced down to the airport. My daughter's excitement to meet her new cousin Jack was overwhelming to her, and her small cardboard cup of chai tea that Grandpa had bought for her kept splashing small drops onto Grandpa's upholstery. (Aiye!)

At the airport, we parked and waited at the bottom of the glass doors, watching each pair of feet descend. Trying to guess who was family by their shoes and pant legs coming into view by the escalator is very interesting, but the minutes scraped slowly by. My daughter held a "It's a Boy!" mylar balloon. My son had had two balloons also but passed them on to me as his excitement grew too much. Squatting down on the floor, he stared pensively up at the escalators behind the security glass.

Then suddenly, yells, cries of delight, hugs, tears, and little Jack was here. My sister in law, brother in law, and two nieces looked exhausted and jet lagged, but happy. And hanging from a shoulder-carrier on my sister in law, was our adorable, chubby, little 9 month old nephew. Thick round jowels, his mouth slack and open in his deep sleep; long dark hair soft under our hands. He was dressed in a blue hoody sweatpants outfit. My sister in law started to cry happily. "I didn't cry a lot earlier," she laughed. "I'm not sure why I'm crying now."

Later in the car ride back to our house to hang out with more family for the day, my nephew woke up. Not recognizing our English, he liked hearing his own Korean name. So, striving to pronounce it right, I said his name over and over to him, watching him smile in recognition and delight.

I got to hold him later. His thick, round thighs and legs were wonderful! "You can't really see his knee caps," laughed my son proudly. John seems to be able to make Jack laugh. That Thursday morning, we four adults woke up to the sound of children giggling and laughing. Walking groggily into the living room, I saw the four older kids crowded around our littlest Korean family member. Pretending to sneeze, John and the other kids were sending Jack into gales of laughter. We watched quietly, eager to capture this moment in our memories....

Monday, October 1, 2007

This is my brother and sister as we rock-climbed for the day at a nearby cliff over the river. It was a beautiful fall day. Soon my green sweater peeled off to the short sleeved shirt underneath.

I think of my brother now, a week after he's gone. I miss him already. I wish he lived closer to all of us. It is a rare thing to capture him smiling on camera these last few years. That picture we're sure is worth a million points!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bacon in Heaven?

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Mom, I bet they'll have bacon in heaven!" said my daughter confidently and happily.

"And I bet they won't even need to kill pigs to get it!" she continued. "Cuz we like pigs, even if they are dirty, right? They're nice."
--Heaven ponderings from my eight year old. :)

Also today, we located and colored in the two countries of South Korea and Ghana on our individual world maps. Looking up their flags, we drew them in and colored them as well. Why Ghana and South Korea? Because their grandpa (my dad) is flying to Ghana tomorrow for a conference, and South Korea because their aunt, uncle and cousins are there, getting our new little cousin Jack!! We are so excited to meet this new adoptee.

What are you doing this warm, sunny week? :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thanksgiving was Tuesday

It's a cool, misty morning. I sit, hearing the soft hum of airplanes overhead and passing cars far away on the freeway. My kids are playing quietly, enjoying some down time after a busy week with relatives. It has been a great week though, enjoying my brother here from out of state. My sister, my parents from Africa and I embrace these rare and special times with all of us together. On Tuesday night, we celebrated Thanksgiving! Yes, laugh with us, but we were feasting on turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pies, squash, mashed potatoes and gravy! Mmmm, mm. I can't remember the last time we had Thanksgiving together, so we took advantage of making it now. (My pumpkin and pecan pies turned out great, by the way.)

Thanks all of you guys, too, for the hugs, prayers and care you gave us as we grieved our miscarriage last Tuesday. We are doing better, distracted by the joy of family in town. The little velcro sandals still sit on top of our t.v., along with a diaper and a tiny pair of grey socks that my sister in law sent, and a hand-drawn grieving note from my niece. We are looking forward to using them someday.

Don't I have a cool brother?! Last night, my sister, brother and I walked around a cool big lake in the city, seeing the sunset reflecting off the sailboats and the water. Later, the half moon shown over the velvet black lake, the city skyline shimmering in the moving water. We ended the walk, with a late night at Perkins. Bottomless pots of tea and pie until after midnight.

What have you been up to this week?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Empty Little Shoes for Now

Well dear Family,

Now we know why people so often wait until 8 weeks... Since the due date calculator said that we were at 5 weeks, we hoped we were close enough to the safety range to share the news with everyone.

The baby miscarried Tuesday night. For almost three hours, I had heavy cramping, pain, contractions and bleeding. We cried. It is amazing how excited we were about this new little one, laughing over his development from the fetal development chart. "His or her heart is beating! The lungs and brain are forming, and this week—his nostrils and eye lenses are forming. Plus he has little arms and legs buds starting! The baby is as big as my pinky fingernail." The kids and I had exclaimed over each new feature. Mark had wrapped his arms around me protectively, and we had thought over names.

Later, during the miscarriage, Morgan was asleep, but John was upstairs when Brian called, and heard the symptoms. He confirmed what we were afraid of and hoping against: it most likely is a miscarriage. Very common at this stage. 1 in 5 pregnancies end this way. It's not for sure, but probably.

Yet it hurts. We miss this little one already, and are sad to not meet him or her soon. We had already dreamed about him, bought cute little shoes at a garage sale for him, made jokes about his or her personality, etc. laughing at the soon to form clubbed hands.

God is still good. Yet it is necessary to grieve, and to cry, and to reminisce.

Thank you for all of your wonderful excited emails! We were so thrilled to have you share our excitement. Each email was fun for us to read and to smile with. Please don't feel odd talking about this miscarriage with us. You are welcome to talk to us.

We are going to try again for another baby. And, yes, we would love to borrow some of that baby equipment soon.

We love you all.

-Jennifer, Mark, John and Morgan

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mountaineers, Sutter's Mill, and Weird Science!

We've been enjoying our first week back in homeschooling. I now have a 7th grader and a 3rd grader, which is crazy to me. I am so excited about this new year of history! We scarfed down "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," reading several chapters aloud a day. Partway through, we learned about steam-powered engines that were being built around that time period, and peered at old black and white photos of some of the first railway cars and steamboats. In the background, a funny polka-inspired steamboat favorite sang "Polly Wolly Doodle all the day," as we tried to imagine Mark Twain strolling the banks of the Mississippi, watching the steamboats unload, and gathering fodder for his books. It moved us to some creative writing too...

Today we read exciting stories of mountaineers racing away from grizzlies and then becoming guides for the onslaught of covered wagons as people started migrating west for gold, land, and adventure. Tomorrow, Sutter's Mill will be discovered again, and we will start reading "Dear Levi," (Yep, Amy, almost) about a young man who heads out west, writing letters home of what he sees.

For a creepy science project, though, I surprisingly had my kids screeching and running out of the room today. "Noooo, Mom, no!" they yelled. "Mom, I'm NOT going to watch," my son insisted, slightly insolently. My daughter ran to the couch too, and covered her face with the pillow.

Well, fine. They are very lucky that the tiny lancing needle for the blood gathering was broken. I had been so excited to try this cool Science lab where you figure out your blood type with this kit! I had laid out all the cool lab pieces that came with the kit: needle lance in small green plastic safety sheath, water dropper, cute little postcard with spots for five or six little blood samples--with chemicals that looked suspiciously like the paint by water books we had when we were little.

But, alas, the needle wouldn't work. It stayed stubbornly in its little green container, refusing to give me the little click needed to prick my finger. Sooo, after trying several times, I finally gave the "good news" to the kids. They were sheepishly thankful, but then seemed slightly regretful at the letdown, I think. :)

I'm going to call that lab and get a new blood testing kit.... Don't YOU think that would be a cool science project?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On a Rainy Day

Hello, I have just come home from work. I sit, sipping a pepsi on a wet rainy day. Kids' laughter echoes softly from downtairs, and faint refrains from "An Adventures in Odyssey" cd are barely audible.

This is my third blog engine. I have a xanga and a facebook to talk with my students, so I was hesitant to start a new blog, leary of forgetting more usernames or passwords, but the sheer number of you who have blogspots have swayed me. Cindy, Jody, Amy, Elizabeth, I'm here and am glad to get to see your blogs more fequently.

Now... off to figure out this blogspot thing.... Hmmm... (And advice?)