Thursday, December 26, 2013

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2013: Costa Maya

Our activity on October 29 was a trip to the Chacchoben Maya ruins.  We were a little concerned when we received our event tickets because our tour start and stop times were outside the times that the cruise ship was scheduled to be in port.  Since we booked the excursion through the Disney cruise lines we chose to let them do the worrying and we'd just do the enjoying.

Upon arrival in Costa Maya, we boarded our tour bus and spent an hour bus ride to the ruins.  The bus was comfortable and seeing parts of Mexico outside the tourist area was interesting.  Our guide was fairly knowledgeable, especially about the plants in the area.
We were impressed with the Chacchoben Ruins.  It was pretty amazing to take a step back in time and see, up close, structures that were built thousands of years ago.  A tropical rain storm in the rain forest seemed like the perfect addition to our adventure.  It dampened our clothes, not our spirits.  We dried quickly and enjoyed the rest of our day.  We even found great souvenirs at the Chacchoben market.  I was especially thrilled with the hand made hammock chairs we bought; one for us and one for Mom and Dad.
The time of human sacrifice is long gone despite what Rob and the kids seem to think.

S11 took along some teeth to bury at the ruins.  He hopes that years from now archeologists will be confused when they find them.

This is a building site that has yet to be restored.

Our return bus trip got us to the pier with very little time to spare.  All the shops were closed and we were one of the last groups to go aboard before the ship sailed again. 

We ordered room service and enjoyed a snack as we dressed for the evening show of Wishes. 

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2013: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

We began our day on Monday, October 28, with an elegant breakfast buffet in The Enchanted Garden restaurant.  The food was very similar to that in Cabanas but we liked the setting better.  Because there were only four of us, we got to sit in a beautiful garden booth.  M9 particularly enjoyed the napkins (hats?).

After breakfast we were taken ashore in shuttle boats.  Our activity today was a trip to Dolphin Discovery, where we paid visit to the turtle farm and had a wonderful dolphin adventure.

A speedy bus ride took us to our Grand Cayman destination.  Our driver was full of information about the Cayman Islands.  His knowledge helped distract us from the traffic around us.  We arrived safely at Dolphin Discovery. We all got the opportunity to hold green sea turtles.  It was quite an experience!

After the turtle farm we crossed the street for our dolphin adventure.  Because we all participated there was no one to take pictures.  The paid photographs would have cost over $300.  We hope our memories of the dolphins will be enough. 

We were all outfitted in life jackets and sent into the dolphin pool where we met our trainer and dolphin.  Taking turns with the others in our group, we were each given the opportunity to interact with the dolphin.  In addition to touching the dolphin and offering him kisses, we got to do a push and ride.  For the push, we held a boogie board and swam out into the pool. The trainer then sent the dolphin to push us through the water by putting it's nose on the bottom of our foot.  The key was to lock your knees and hang on.  It was kind of shocking to feel a dolphin nose on your foot.  The surprise made M9 call for me until the push began and she was so pleased by the feeling of moving swiftly through the water and forgot to be afraid.  After the push we got to ride the dolphin.  We held onto it's flippers while it swam backwards towing us along.  We were mixed about which part of the dolphin experience we liked the best but we all agreed that it was a pretty amazing actitivy to participate in. 
This is how they always serve ketchup on the Disney Fantasy.
We returned to the ship, tired but happy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Buttermilk Scones with Chocolate Milk Drizzle

Today was a snow day so we spent the morning learning "How to Train Your Dragon" and enjoying a warm breakfast treat.  These scones were the perfect addition to a snuggly morning while the world outside the windows turned into a winter wonderland. 

Buttermilk Scones
Serves:  16 scones.

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add butter and mix with your fingertips to a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix just until combined.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and divide into 2 parts. Roll each to 3/4 inch thick rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place slightly separated on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm, split in half with butter and marmalade.

Chocolate Milk Drizzle

1/2 to 1 cup of confectioners sugar
2 T baking cocoa
2-4 T chocolate milk

Mix sugar and cocoa together until lumps are gone and color is uniform. Add chocolate milk one tablespoon at a time until drizzle is thick enough to spoon and drizzle over the warm scones.  You want it thinker than glue but not as thick as frosting. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2013: Day at Sea

Sunday brought a day at sea.  Rob and I woke early and went to the morning worship service onboard.  While it was advertised as an interdenominational religious service it had a clearly an evangelical Christian flavor.  The service was held in The Overlook which is probably the highest public place on the ship which means it has an amazing view.

After the service we had breakfast and returned to the staterooms to wake our lazy children.  As they kept reminding us, it was their vacation too and they really like to sleep in.  Once they were awake they were all eager to get topside to the pool and lunch. 
 Rob and I attended a mixology class in the afternoon.  We learned to make six mixed drinks from Jerry the Irish bartender in the Skyline Lounge. 

 The afternoon continued with spa sessions for Halley and Kady and a nap for me.  The show for the evening was Aladdin.  Dinner was formal.  We all enjoyed getting dressed up and stepping out to the Enchanted Garden.

When we returned to the cabins a new friend was waiting for us courtesy of Marissa, our stateroom attendant.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2013: Setting Sail

We decided to make our drive it Florida in one shot.  Having an extra driver meant that we could all take turns and sleep in between. Our plan worked perfectly.  We arrived in Winter Park on Friday before lunch and had the rest of the day to rest, visit and celebrate.  As you can see, from the moment of our arrival, the party was on!
The morning of our cruise dawned with sunshine and high expectations.  We enjoyed a celebratory breakfast with Mom and Dad before they drove us to Port Canaveral.  You can see we were already in the Disney spirit.

With a little creative stuffing and by holding some things on our laps we managed to squeeze eight people and twelve bags into the van for the drive to the ship.
Within minutes of our arrival at Port Canaveral our bags were whisked away and we were moved quickly through the first security check.  Everyone around us was as happy and eager as we were.  Upon entering the terminal, we got our first glimpse of Mickey Mouse.
Disney organization didn't disappoint us at all during the check in process.  The terminal was clean and beautiful.  Lines moved quickly.  There was lots to look at while we waited.  Before our boarding time we all had our Key to the World cards, our pictures were taken and we were able to use the rest rooms take a good look around. Our boarding group was called and we were on our way to the ship.
Upon our entry to the Fantasy a Disney cast member announced our arrival..."Welcome to the Johnson family!"  while others applauded.  We felt truly welcomed.

We made our way immediately to the deck 12 to enjoy the pools, buffet, and most importantly to ride the Aquaduck.  Thanks to good advice and advance research, we knew where to sit for a good view of the ride and those that were excited about riding the water coaster were dressed appropriately.  The sun continued to shine as we slipped further into the wonderful world of Disney and took our first Aquaduck ride.

The Aquaduck didn't disappoint and neither did our first meal on the Fantasy.  Everyone found something to love.  That first few hours flew by as we visited the kid clubs, got everyone registered, settled into our staterooms and then made our way to the meeting point for the required safety drill.

Even the safety drill had a measure of Disney fun.  Immediately afterward we all made our way to deck 11 to bid Orlando farewell and enjoy some more sun.

We returned to our staterooms to dress for the evening show and dinner.  Our luggage had arrived so we took a moment to decorate our stateroom doors.  Our fish extenders were a perfect fit and we were excited to see what gifts they received over the course of the cruise.

After decorating our stateroom doors and unpacking we dressed and made our way to the Walt Disney Theatre for the opening show.  We followed the show with dinner in the Animator's Palate.  We met our servers for the week, Christian from Romania and Daniel from Portugal, and enjoyed a delicious meal.  Crush and Squirt joined us for dinner along with some of their friends.  It was a fun way to spend the evening.  

After dinner, M9 and S11 headed to their kid clubs while the rest of us went to the Buena Vista Theater to see The Lone Ranger.  We met back at the cabins shortly after midnight to enjoy a snack of cookies and milk. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekly Recap: October 7-11, 2013

Another good week.  Co-op, play practice, soccer, martial arts, 4-H, and our regular school week were all accomplished with minimal fuss.  Rob came home on Wednesday.  That's a wonderful high for the week.

High - Math because it was easy.
Low - I don't have one.

High - Daddy coming home.  I still really like my logic.
Low - Latin.

High - Algebra test 100%!
Low - Latin test.

High - Feeling like we are making forward progress.  All of the kids are doing well in their subjects.  K16 also got her ACT scores back this week.  They were fine.  We are both relieved she won't need to take them again.
Low - Still not where I'd like to be in Latin and Biology.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekly Recap: September 30-October 4, 2013

I'm once again operating under the better-late-than-never rule.

Overall it was a good week with very few unexpected interruptions.  We even weathered Rob leaving for work in the midst of an unfortunate incident that involved locking the keys in the truck.  Friday evening brought us a house full of cheerleaders getting ready for their homecoming game and enjoying a delicious chicken dinner.  Upon our return from the football game we learned that S11 got a part in the play for which he auditioned.  He'll be a goblin and a second act elf in the upcoming performance of The Hobbit at a local community theater.

High - Algebra.  I really understood it this week.
Low - None.  (As the mother, I would say the low was not completing all the assigned material for the week.  This does not seem to bother H14 as much as it bothers me.)

High - Logic.  I really like the cartoons in Fallacy Detective.
Low - Latin.  It adds more work and I can't use it in daily life.  (As the mother/teacher, I argue that Latin build vocabulary and brain power in general.  Those are always useful in daily life.) 

High - Math
Low - None

High - As I said, this week was mostly on track.  I feel that we are making good forward progress.
Low - We are still struggling to make it all fit in our busy schedule.  I've yet to find a groove for Latin, Biology and History.  We are making progress but fitting it all in feels like a real effort at this point.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Weekly Recap: September 23-27, 2013

This week it felt like we settled into a routine. We got through every subject. We had some extra free time. We began planning for the co-op science and history fair. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes you just need a week of regular and routine to make you feel like you are making progress.

In honor of routine, let's get back to ours. Here are the highs and lows I know you've been waiting for:

Low - Math. It took forever.
High - History. I liked learning about the history of writing. I like how it became something more than just a drawing and scribbling. I like that it actually became something you could communicate through.

Low - School. I especially hate school.
High - Writing. I am creating a new card game.

High - Grammar. I like diagramming. Math too because I love graphing.
Low - I don't have one.

High - Getting it all started. We are even ready to officially begin Latin on Monday. Three cheers for that!
Low - How unhappy S11 is with the work this week. He's not usually a complainer. ch freedom Also, the way H14 has fallen back into bad habits. She asked for some extra responsibility this week to prove that she had matured and was able to manage her work better. She's not ready to manage her own work. Next week we go back to assigning and checking each day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Wonderful World of a Disney Cruise: Fish Extenders and FE Gifts

Back in February Rob took a job that allowed him to work from home most of the time. He travels about one week a month. The rest of the time he enjoys this office space.

Not bad, right?   Lots of light, a great view and his own gym.  

In additon to the office, he got a nice signing bonus. Since he'd gotten so many benefits from the job, he decided that the entire family should enjoy the bonus.  M9 immediately suggested that a Disney cruise wuld be fun for the whole family.  Everyone quickly agreed to her brilliant plan. We've spent the last few months planning that adventure.

Rob and I have taken a cruise before. You pick your date, buy your tickets, get on the boat ship. Not so with a Disney Cruise. There is planning. Not just planning, strategizing, to be done. There are message boards, websites and books devoted to getting the most out of your cruise. There are Facebook groups dedicated to each and every aspect of the Disney Cruise. You can even "meet" your fellow shipmates before you see the ship.

One of the Disney cruise extras that I learned about are fish extenders (aka FE) and FE gifts. The idea here is similar to that of Christmas stockings. You hang these fish extenders on hooks (shaped like fish on some of the Disney ships) outside your cabin door. Other guests on your cruise bring gifts to put in your fish extenders and you bring gifts to put in their fish extenders. Fun, right?! As with all things Disney, the idea is to add to the magic. The trick is not to add to the stress.

Keeping the magic vs. stress balance in mind, I made our fish extenders and some of our FE gifts. I'm pretty pleased with all of it.

Here are the fish extenders.  Since we'll be occupying two cabins I made two, each with three pockets.  One pocket for each family member.

The FE gifts were a little more challenging to plan.  On our cruise there are three FE groups.  Each group has about 25 cabins included in their exchange.  Our group includes 24 other cabins, 70 people total.  That's a lot of gifting.  I would rather spend my vacation budget on dolphin swims and drinks by the pool.  Sorry fellow FE groupies but it's the truth.  However, I do like to make magic so here's what my creative brain, aided by Amazon, Google and Pinterest came up with for our FE gifts.

Using some super cute Mickey shaped cookie cutters, ribbon, and star covered wire we made Christmas ornaments for each cabin. 
For the kids in our group, we made Mickey hand wands for the boys.  Shane says they are butt slappers.  He's probably right.  That's probably what they are and what they will be used for.  At least, they are Mickey hand butt slappers.  For the girls, we made fairy wands.  There is one teen age boy in our FE group.  He'll be getting a duct tape wallet, complete with a Mickey sticker, of course.

I'll try to remember to share pictures of our door magnets when we get back.  That's another bit of Disney magic that I have enjoyed preparing. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly Recap: September 2-6, 2013

We began our school year with a little getaway.  What could be better than Gilgamesh and autobiographies poolside?  In addition to our poolside studies we visited The Topiary Garden and the CMA.  Mostly we swam.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Here We Go: Start of the 2013-14 School Year

Here are the students on the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

M9, S11, H14
Here is the plan for the 2013-14 school year.

M9 - Fourth Grade
Explorer’s Bible Study – Discovery: In the Beginning - Genesis
Spelling Power
Rod & Staff 4 Grammar
Writing Strands 3
Math Mammoth
Story of the World: Ancients
Apologia Biology
Latina Christiana
Great Artists

S11 -Sixth Grade
Explorer’s Bible Study – Discovery: In the Beginning - Genesis
Thinking Toolbox
Fallacy Detective
Analytical Grammar
Writing Strands 5
Mastering the Fundamentals of Mathematics
Lial BCM
Story of the World: The Ancients
Apologia Biology
First Form Latin
Great Artists

H14 - Freshman
Explorer’s Bible Study – Quest: In the Beginning - Genesis
Discovery and Deduction
Teaching the Essay
Building Great Sentences
The Great Courses Algebra 1, & Jacobs Algebra
The History of the Ancient World
Apologia Biology
First Form Latin
Great Artists

Ready. Set. Go!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I have a lot of skills. I'm organized. I'm a great planner. I am able to remain calm under pressure. All these skills set me up to be the perfect multitasker. And for a long time I was. I took great pride in my ability to keep as many balls in the air as I could find. If you needed a job done I was your girl. Not only would I get it done, I'd get it done well and on time. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

For a long time I thought multitasking was an admirable lifestyle. Then I realized by taking on anything and everything I was letting too much go. I was rushing through each moment to get to the next. My attention was so fragmented that nothing I did received my full concentration. Not my family, not my friends, not myself, not God. I was living my life like a constant string of commercials, 30 second bursts of intense effort with very little substance.

I began to realize the value of longevity and selectivity. Rather than saying yes to every little thing I began to say yes only to the things that would bring value and were in line with my values. That began with being present for my family. I limited my computer time. (This area could still do with some more limits.) I began to stop what I was doing and look at my children when they spoke to me. I concentrated on what they were saying rather than on the list that ran on continuous play in my head. I sought them out to do things with me or so I could participate in their activities. I began reading aloud. I sat down with them for meals during the day rather than eating alone.

All these things may sound simple and they are. However, not doing them sends the message that anything and everything is more important than my children. If folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher is more important that what my child is saying or doing there's something off kilter. I don't mean that I can't ever do chores if my children are around. I'm saying that there are times when it is necessary and important to stop and really concentrate on the child at hand. As a born multitasker I didn't even realize the message I was sending and stopping cold turkey was, in my opinion, the best way to get control of the habits I'd developed. Now, I that I understand how important it is to do one thing at a time, I can sometimes talk and work but it's not the norm.

I've also realized that doing one job and finishing it has value and provides a sense of accomplishment. As a multitasker I often had lots of things going on at one time. I'd finish something and move right onto the next thing. There was no time to take pleasure in a job well done because the next job was already underway. My habit of layering responsibilities was robbing me of my joy in celebrating my accomplishments. Over the years, I've learned the importance of taking a moment to recognize and celebrate these achievements. No one else is going to do that for me. It take discipline to slow down and pay attention. This is especially true when other responsibilities are calling. However, even a moment to say to myself, "Wow, the laundry is all done. Nice work!" or "That lesson really went well." is so worthwhile.

There will always be the next big thing. It is important that I am now aware that not every big thing needs to be my big thing.

Friday, August 30, 2013

From Conservative Christian to Extravagant Christian

con·ser·va·tive adjective \kən-ˈsər-və-tiv\
1: preservative
2a : of or relating to a philosophy of conservatism b capitalized : of or constituting a political party professing the principles of conservatism: as (1) : of or constituting a party of the United Kingdom advocating support of established institutions (2) : progressive conservative
3a : tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions : traditional b : marked by moderation or caution : marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners
4: of, relating to, or practicing Conservative Judaism

ex·trav·a·gant adjective \ik-ˈstra-vi-gənt\
1a obsolete : strange, curious b archaic : wandering
2a : exceeding the limits of reason or necessity b : lacking in moderation, balance, and restraint c : extremely or excessively elaborate 3a : spending much more than necessary b : profuse, lavish
4: extremely or unreasonably high in price

For quite awhile I've been frustrated with the Christian community and the battles they choose to fight.  I remember as a teen ager hearing a speaker say that if we get busy doing all the things the Bible tells us to do we don't have time to worry about the don'ts.  Those things that are prohibited to us will fall by the wayside. 
What would happen if as a community Christians began to live the top two and that's all?  Just in case you need a reminder of the top two you can find them in Matthew 22:36-40.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

That's it.  Love God.  Love others.  What kind of craziness would it be if I began to just do these?  If I merely did, said, thought, acted in love?  How extravagant!

Of course, I can immediately forget about loving and get into theological discussions of what  loving means and who is my neighbor and how can I love yet still take a stand on the issues I hold near and dear to my heart.  That would be the sensible thing.  I can't possibly follow the simple instructions I am given.  There must be more to it than that.  I must make more of it than that because loving is truly too difficult for me to manage.  I'm much better at judging, rationalizing and justifying.  I've got the skills for that.  Loving, not so much. 

Today, I'm going to begin (or perhaps I'm really continuing) to do something extravagant.  I am going to spend my day loving God and loving others.  That's all.  It's going to be difficult.  I'm going to fail, repeatedly.  That's fine.  I can keep trying because the truth is that where Christ is concerned I am not conservative.  I am extravagant.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pray Continually

In words, this verse has the same number as the shortest verse in the Bible.  I would argue, that for our day to day lives, it packs a bigger punch.  It's found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  I would also say that a person could spend a life trying to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and live beautifully.  For today,  I just want to talk about the center of this life lesson sandwich.

In my not so distant past the instruction to pray continually called to mind images of holy people (nuns, priests, prophets). Always uncomfortably dressed.  Always angst ridden. Praying 24/7. Praying with eyes closed, mouths moving, deep in concentration. Praying with all they had, all the time.

At some point it occurred to me that this isn't what the verse had in mind.  I'm sure for some, those called to a life of prayer specifically, my picture may be accurate.  To the rest of us, those called to a life of continual prayer the picture looks much different.

Let's think of Christ's life for a moment.  First, he was always in communication with God because (duh!) He was God.  Second, as a Jewish man, he had the habit of prayer.  Finally, there were times when Jesus took extra time and effort to step up that communication.  This is the example I finally realized that I am to follow.

My first point about Jesus begin God is evident to me.  If you aren't with me on that point you probably aren't interested in what I have to say. As I thought about that oneness that Christ has, father & son, I realized that part of what the pray continually means in my life is that I also am to be in constant communication.  Prayer isn't just at a certain time, in a certain position, within a certain building.  Prayer is the consistent and continuous dwelling with God that God desires.  Prayer is living life in such a way that all the great gifts God sends your way are recognized and you immediately say thanks.  Prayer is sharing all those sticky moments, fleeting concerns, feelings of wonder or joy, as they happen.  Jesus was able to do that because he was/is truly one with God.  We are able to do that because through Christ and the Holy Spirit we are one with God.

Secondly, for  Jesus, since he was a young child, prayer was habit.  As a Jew prayer was part of the lifestyle.  Three times a day.  Every day.  With added prayer on the Sabbath.  If you want to read more about Jewish prayer this is a good place to start.  I believe Christians threw the baby out with the bathwater on this point.  In our desire to demonstrate our freedom through grace we forgot that there are things necessary, not for our salvation, but for our life.  If we want to have life and have it more abundantly we must spend time with God.  The difference between this point and my first is that God is always available to us.  We, being limited, are not always available to God in a deep and meaningful way.  It's the difference between running errands with a friend and sitting down for a cup of coffee.  In order to maintain a friendship busy times and being times are both important.  God is the same.  God desires all of us, busy and being.  God wants us to desire all of God.  Developing the habit of prayer, pulling up a chair and being with God, is an essential part of praying continually.

Finally, no one is able to handle all the world throws at them on their own.  No one.  There are not enough friends, neighbors or family members in the world to help you through every situation that will come your way.  They will help but they are not enough.  Without prayer we will never have enough of God to handle the world around us.  Sometimes the daily and habitual praying is not enough.  Some times require more.  It is so important that we prepare for those times.  Usually we get a warning or we can see or feel those times coming.  The moment we become aware on crisis, spiritual, mental, or physical, we need to begin praying, not on the fly or casually, but earnestly.  Jesus prayed proactively. He didn't wait until he was being arrested to fall to his knees.  He prayed in preparation.  Too often we save the prayer for a moment of panic.  If we pray proactively we can avoid the panic all together.  We may not avoid the crisis but our feelings and actions during challenging times will certainly be impacted by prayer.

So I challenge you, and myself, to pray continually.  Be open and available to God. Constantly in communication like a human i-phone.  Ready to send or receive a call, text, tweet, or instagram at any moment.  Be habitual in your prayer, daily, three time a day, whatever that means for you.  Make prayer a habit.  Finally, be proactive.  Pay attention to the things happening in your world and pray in a way that keeps God in front of crisis.

Hear my prayer, O Lord.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Patience: Not Just A Virtue

Yesterday went better than expected.  Anytime I try to make a change I expect opposition.  Especially if the change is for the betterment of myself or my family.  And that brings me to the second thing I know.  I know patience is a necessity. 

First, I want to be sure that we are operating from the same view of patience.  Here is the Miriam Webster definition of PATIENT:

1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint

2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain

3: not hasty or impetuous

4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity

5a : able or willing to bear —used with of  

Patience is not something we pull out for special occasions. We don't get to shrug it on or off. Patience is an integral part of the person we are to be.  Patience is for the long haul.  Patience is a tool we are to use all day, every day.  It is the practice of doing what needs to be done without pitching a fit.  Even if we don't enjoy the job. Patience is the habit of planning well, taking our time, being steady, and thinking before we act. 

Being patient impacts our interactions with others.  It involves behaving in a way that is calming for those around us.  Patience is not superior or snotty.  It is supportive, able, and willing to bear.  It does not complain.  You can't be whiny and patient at the same time.  You can't be dissatisfied and patient.  Patient is pro-active with others.  It leads by doing.  

The other thing that I want to be sure I say about patience is that does not have anything to do with being a doormat, catch-all, or pushover.  Patience is not void of wisdom or boundaries.  Patience does not foolishly create pains, trials, or difficulty.  Patience is steadfast despite those things.  

The practice of patience works perfectly with my slow and steady plan.  My objective here is to do the things that need to be done without complaint or drama.  My desire is to be the same person when provoked as I am when pleased. My plan is to be thoughtful in all that I do.  To make decisions with deliberation.  My hope is that my steadfast behavior will make a difference to my family.  

Monday, August 26, 2013


We kicked off this school year with a field trip.  Ten years ago, Rob and I enjoyed seeing the outdoor drama Tecumseh!  Since that time Rob has wanted to take the family to see the show.  This year was the year and when I began looking at the opportunities for fun learning provided by Tecumseh! I knew it was a perfect first day of school.  It's even more perfect because the kids didn't even realize it was the first day.

In addition to seeing the play, we enjoyed a living history tour where we got to hear some of the more personal stories of pioneers and Indians. 

Macey took a role in the tour by playing the part of an Indian chief being asked to sign a treaty.

We were all given the opportunity to dance an Indian dance.

We also got to take a look backstage learning the dangerous and gory details of the production. 

We now know three different ways to look like you are bleeding to death.  Only one requires special props.  Good information to have in your head.

After the tours, we all enjoyed a buffet dinner including fried chicken, ham, potatoes, salad, corn and lots of chocolate pudding. 

This fun afternoon was the perfect lead in to a thrilling performance.  The amphitheater where Tecumseh! is performed is huge.  It seats 1500-1800 people and the stage holds 40+ actors, horses, cannon, canoes and lots of action.  We all found this event to be really worth the trip.

Slow and Steady

This morning I made French press coffee.  If you like coffee this might mean something to you.  If you just drink coffee it might not.  To me, French press coffee is personal and hands on.  It's something you savor not just something you drink.  The flavor is richer.  The temperature is just right in the mug and in my mouth.  French press coffee deserves a moment to itself. 

There are many tutorials on how to make the best pot of French press coffee so I won't bore you with another.  I will say that, in my opinion, the key to a good pot of  French press coffee has to do with the pace.  French press is not instant.  Slow and steady is the pace of a French press.  It requires numerous steps.  It requires attention to detail.  It requires waiting.  There is not rushing or panic or hurry.  Making a pot of French press is not something you do in a distracted, hap hazard manner.  My prayer today is that I can find order, comfort and joy in the rest of my life as I do in my French press coffee.

I know it's in there.  The steady pace, the sure results, the order and the outcome.  Those are all a part of life.  They just aren't the part that are given the most attention.  Those aren't the parts that our society considers to be valuable.  Those parts are considered drudgery, boring, mundane.  Those are the parts we try to avoid and in our avoidance we create the stress and chaos we pretend we don't enjoy.  It's safe to sa there is a certain amount of satisfaction in complaining about house work or being snowed under with errands or undone jobs or too many commitments.  It's affirming to have a friend or spouse tell you that you take on too much or you are amazing for doing all you do.  The drama of stress and panic is much more exciting than a cleanly swept floor or an orderly day.  That drama is so enticing that we've become addicted to it.  If we aren't stressing we don't feel alive.  We don't feel purposeful.  We don't feel engaged.

One of my plans this season (and hopefully, in an habitual manner for the rest of my life) is to do things with intention and purpose.  Slow and steady.  First this, then this, with the end result being a life filled to the brim with peace.    As with all things, this won't start with me.  This transformation will start with prayer.  In Psalm 26:3 the Bible tells us;  You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  So there is my prayer;  Lord, give my your peace.  Keep my mind steadfast as I trust in you.

The other part of my plan is to approach the important activites in my day as I do making a pot of coffee.  I know the steps I need to take.  When I skip what needs to be done the results turn out muddled and bitter.  No one is happy, least of all me.  Too often I'm lazy or undisciplined thinking that it's a quicker or easier way to the results I desire.  I know better but I don't always do better.

There are three big areas where I plan to change my approach: waking my children, household chores and putting my children to bed.   I feel that changing these areas will make the biggest impact.  Over the next few months we will see.  Slow and steady.

At my house we don't have French press coffee on a daily basis.  My husband prefers his coffee by the gallon.  There is no savoring involved.  The first cup is just a means to the next.   Sometimes life requires this of  us.  Sometimes things must be done in a timely manner or at a moments notice.  Sometimes one activity leads into the next.  I'm aware that life can move quickly and that, to a certain degree, we must keep pace.  I am anticipating by promoting a steadfast peace in my home the times of hurry will result in fewer times of panic or chaos.   I am anticipating that we will learn in deeper ways to trust God, to trust each other and to trust ourselves.  Slow and steady.

Beginning With What You Know

This morning marks the beginning of a new season for this household.  I am settled in with the first pot of French press coffee that I've made in years. It's as wonderful as I remember. I am trying to find a sweet spot for the coming months and to stay in it.  In order to find that sweet spot I am slowing down and thinking hard about what works and what doesn't.  I have 24 years of experience as a wife and almost 17 as a mother.  I know a lot about a lot. So, this morning I am going to begin with what I know.

I know slow and steady is the best way to move forward.

I know patience is a necessity.

I know prayer precedes everything.

I know one job at a time is enough.

I know many hands make light work.

I know stress and panic do not bring good results.

I know praise will enrich any effort.

I know procrastination is a form of rebellion.

I know how important it is to have clear goals in mind.

I know that celebration is more than just the icing on the cake.  It's the purpose of the cake.

I know I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. 

I know a lot of other stuff too.  As a result, I'll probably be adding to this list.  My goal here is to give myself some writing prompts.  For too long I've been checking in sporadically and updating at random.  My original intention with the blog was to write regularly.  And, here I go.  Like I said, it's a new season.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day Senior Year

You are absolutely right. This is not a picture of Kady on the first day of  her senior year.  This is a picture of her first day of kindergarten.  I am feeling a lot little nostalgic.  I love seeing how much she still looks the same just teen size.  It makes me feel as if the entire world isn't changing too quickly for my liking.
 This is Kady on her first day of her senior year. 

Please notice the Disney princess backpack.  This lets me know that she is still totally a little girl.  I don't care what the outer packaging might indicate.