What I did this summer

Given that we’re starting school on next week, I suppose this is an appropriate title.   During the week that I wrote my last post, there was also Vacation Bible School (VBS).   

 

This picture doesn’t fully capture the work that was put into transforming our church gymnasium into a high seas adventure—ocean-like wallpaper and all.   The backdrop to the kids’ final performance is a pirate’s ship.    This was a tremendous effort on all parts; this year, we had 60+ volunteers and approximately 200 kids!

The day after VBS ended was our littlest one’s 7th birthday.   It was a quiet, intimate celebration with our immediate family as I had work-related meetings that day, and I think the kids were happy to relax for a change.  We’ve had so many events this summer until I’ve intentionally tried to pare down the daily running around.   With that in mind, going somewhere, even to church, every day, can be draining for the kids, and especially for me.   

 

We’ve also cooked up a storm, or at least, I’ve taken more photos of my cooking.    Here’s my seafood kabobs (shrimp, scallops, peppers, red onion, and mushrooms),

 

 

my four-bean enchiladas,

 

 

and my vegetarian chili with tofu and beans.

 

 

 

I am trying to consider our growing son’s dietary needs as a forethought and not an afterthought, so I’m deliberately incorporating more vegetarian dishes into our regular diet.    He shot up 6 inches and counting in the last 10 months.   Yesterday, I cooked a 13-bean soup, and I’ll experiment for the first time with grilled tofu later this week.   Uh, oh!

What I’ve done this week is finalize the plans for the school year beginning next week, and come to the revelation that there will never be enough hours to fit in every book and make use of all the neat tools that are now available to us.    In fact, Internet Café Devotions contained a wonderful devotion entitled “MommIdentity” on yesterday, and I could readily identify with who I am.   I also recognized the tendency to always look at who others are and what they do well rather than realizing that each of us has places of brilliance amidst an otherwise perhaps hum-drum home education model.    This was the crux of my conversation with Karen on last night—the darker side of homeschooling, where comparisons between children can leave us feeling defeated, inadequate, and insecure.    I appreciated the chance to pray with her as she makes decisions about home education in the midst of a fight with breast cancer; it is amazing how the Lord can speak into you when you think you are speaking into others.

In all this activity, I have yet to do something that is totally self-indulgent, and for right or wrong, I want that time.   My plan is to blow the dust off my scrapbooking tools, and to finally put together the kids’ dance photos of more than 1 year ago.   I might have a window this weekend while our youngest spends the night with her grandparents and 5-yr old cousin.    The house should be quieter 🙂 and I’ll have a day to get pages completed.   That is, unless we have to drive to pick up a new hound dog.    I’ll pick up on that story the next time.   God bless.

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Musings

So much has happened in the last 1-1/2 weeks and I’m having trouble sorting it into a coherent blog post, but I’ll give it a shot.   Maybe chronological order will help.

We ordered our steps to have a very uneventful Independence Day, turning down a couple of invitations to get together for grilling, formal fireworks displays, etc.   I use the word ‘formal’ because our neighbors put on an informal display that would rival most public facilities.   Seriously.   Though this picture is borrowed from Photobucket, our neighborhood sky looked just like this on both Saturday and Sunday night—for hours. 

The one item we did have on the agenda was to visit my in-laws.   Though my husband is often within minutes of their home while at work, we’d somehow missed several opportunities to exchange Father’s Day greetings, summer birthday presents, recital  well wishes, and just a simple hug and “hello.”   Additionally, our niece had been sick with asthma-related complications during the week, forcing them to share hospital duty with my SIL.   So our planned visit kept getting postponed until we found ourselves at their home for July 4th.     

As a necessary bit of stage setting, getting our families together can be, well, interesting, for lack of a better word.  For the last 10 or more years, the generational torch has been passed from my MIL to my SIL and to us, having purchased larger homes and wanting her to be able to rest and enjoy.   (My MIL, however, still provides the meal at my SIL’s home as the latter does not cook  🙂 ).     My MIL and SIL “roll” very differently than my husband and I, so coordinating can be a bit taxing.  As you know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I’m a planner; my in-laws are very last minute.   I should also mention that my MIL always has even more irons in the fire than I do.   The result of this is that, whatever time we set, her dishes (as well as her presence) are always later than what we’ve planned.    By the time we sit down to eat, we are probably both rattled over the food temp and taste, and the fellowship (the next source of stress is the time as she and my FIL don’t drive as well at night, so she’s rushing to enjoy all the festivities before the sun sets).    This day was different.    Ours was a very impromptu “we’re coming over for a little bit, don’t cook anything special” type of visit at their home—no need to worry about trying to return home safely after hours.   She did cook something special—a delicious fish soup inspired by the Islands.   I enjoyed it enough to later try my own modified recipe.    We had a great time, and it was lovely to enjoy each other’s company without a lot of fuss and finery.

Dance season is now over.    Our son competed, as a soloist and with his team, and I don’t think we could have asked for better results given the circumstances.     Our son placed 3rd out of 12 soloists, which is amazing for a number of reasons.   First, I think this particular sponsor caters more to girls (and specifically, young girls who can move like adult women).    Secondly, our son has danced as a junior (ages 9-11) for the last school year as he just turned 12 a few weeks ago.    Because of a rule change, he was placed in the teens category (ages 12-14), which meant he was dancing against dancers with far more experience and talent.    I kept waiting to hear his name as they announced 12th place, 11th place, and so on—not to say that we were shooting for last place, but for the reasons I listed above, we all knew what he was up against.   Also, in the defense of the sponsors, at Nationals, each competitor is the one of the best dancers at his or her respective school.    The team also put in an amazing performance, and landed 5th out of 9th with a platinum level (excellence) recognition.    For a team that has secured last place for the last two years, this was tremendous.   Now we await the tryout results for next dance season, but between you and me, I found out that we have two kids competing next year—our son and the oldest.   (Shhh!  She doesn’t yet know!)     I’m just working on my beans and rice recipes—we’ll need that grocery money for more ’pique, pas de bourrée!’

A few shots of our oldest while away at fashion camp:

 

 

 

 

 

So where are we now?    Books are coming in, which is always exciting.    I read the Sonlight catalogs where parents talk about “box day”—the day that those books, etc. arrive, and I think there’s something to what they say; there is a sense of exhilaration as that plan begins to take shape and unfold.    I’ve already begun reading through these two before I get into them with our son.   I’m excited, probably more excited than he is, to learn more about the movement of the Gospel.

There are many books on my list, but I am also learning to buy in stages.   I have a couple of purchases to make this week in order to get started, and then we’ll add as money becomes available and need arises.   As one example, I would normally buy Sonlight’s instructor guides and then buy the books used as we go.   However, the truth is that I’ve never used the instructor’s guides as they are meant to be used.   So, cutting where I can, I’ve just bought books and I’ll wing it from there.  That’s right, kids—be afraid.  Be very afraid.

There is much more on my mind, but this week of VBS means that the hubby and I get to spend time alone while the kids enjoy the evenings at church.   One of those nights, though, will be spent at mid-week Bible study, and another will be a hand-in-hand trip to Toys R’ Us to shop for our youngest daughter’s 7th birthday on Saturday.    Being a wife, mother, and wearer of numerous hats in balancing all the many wants and needs of a household requires a special grace from the Lord.   BUT, that sounds like another post.   God bless you.

Shots from our Vacation Bible School 2009

Our kids said that this year at VBS was the best ever!    The theme was “Crocodile Dock,” but as Louisiana is a close neighbor, we had a Cajun twist (even though Louisiana is more notorious for alligators).    I thought the efforts to transform our family life center into a real, live Louisiana swamp were tremendous and I wanted to share.