Friday, April 29, 2005

School Scare--or Why One Should Only Eat Taquitos

This is a funny story. Oh, the dangers at public schools these days! : )

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday! April certainly is a busy month for our family, birthday-wise, although none of the boys have birthdays then. (Thank goodness! I'd never get cards out AND be able to plan a party!) Dad shared his birthday with a rather important personage--Emperor Hirohito of Japan. He's dead now, but when we lived in Okinawa, his birthday was a national holiday in Japan (is it still? I'll have to look it up). I guess it's like having your birthday on the Fourth of July!

When we were in Okinawa, Dad was off flying a good deal of the time, but I don't really remember it that way at all. He made a real effort to keep connected to Dan and me by making tapes of him reading that we would listen to before bedtime, writing letters and postcards, etc, and we tried to go where he was whenever that was possible. Growing up, he was a wonderful example to me of how my Heavenly Father was, and I'm so thankful for that. Now he's got the coveted title of "Grandapa", and he's filling that role very well too! The boys really miss seeing him so often. They are especially wishing that we could be there today to take Grandpa out to Youngs Dairy to celebrate! Happy Birthday, Dad! (We did send a card, but as usual, I didn't send it out until Wednesday, so it will probably be late!) We love you!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Miscellaneous Updates

1. Bookcases: Four of them are built and they all look beautiful. Two of them have shelves in them. The other two--well, hmmm. Unfortunately, there's been a slight problem. I started putting the shelves in a few nights ago, and they use these L-shaped metal brackets with pegs sticking out the back. The L-shape part is pretty thick, though. On 2 of the bookshelves, the center divider (they're "double bookshelves" so there is a center piece) is just slightly not straight, so the back corner of the shelves all the way down will not fit. Well, actually the shelf fits in just fine, but there isn't an extra 1/4 inch or so to make it fit over the fat part of the shelf holder. VERY frustrating, especially since there are all these screws holding this thing together. Bob is going to have to unscrew at least the ones for the backing, then see if he can shift the center piece over just a bit--and he has to do this with 2 bookshelves. : ( But I have put my homeschooling books on one of the bookcases in the study, and they look so wonderful. I love organizing books, especially when there is enough room to put them all on some kind of order!

2. Canker Sores: I did some more research on the web, and I found out a lot of new information. I guess someone HAS been doing canker sore reasearch! Thise one website had so much information--it has several pages. It confirmed lots of things that I already knew or experienced, mainly about how long they last, patterns of forming, etc., but it also gave some triggers that I had never heard of. One was sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent found in most toothpastes and mouth products. Evidently, people who stopped using products with this in them experienced a significant reduction in canker sore occurance. Now I am very particular about my toothpast, but I think I will be trying this one, so that can tell you how desperate I am! Another trigger was food allergies. I have never really noticed any correlation between my canker sores and what I eat, but the article mentions common triggers include grains, dairy, chocolate (no!), and strawberries. I have certainly never cut out all of those things, and frankly, changing my toothpaste seem to be a much easier starting place! It also mentioned the additive "cinnamonaldehyde", which I have never specifically heard of, but my brother used to say he got canker sores when he chewed Cinnamon Carefree gum. I must confess, I used to scoff this, but now it seem he was most likely right. It made me wonder if that was the additive in there, but I don't think they even make Cinnamon Carefree gum anymore, so it's not worth checking into (it was terrible). The article aslo gave some OTC remedies to relieve the discomfort, ones other than the standard Oragel-type things, which, for me, cause even more canker sores. One was mixing a teaspoon each of Milk of Magnesia and Benadryl Allery liquid, then swishing that around in your mouth 4-6 times a day. I can try that too! They also suggested eating more yogurt with the live acidophilus culture. Very educational website, at least for those of us directly affected by these horrible things!

3. Cell Phones: It looks like Sprint is the big winner, in that it is the only one that gets reception here at our house. Unfortunately, I don't think we know of anyone else, besides our next-door neighbor, who has Sprint. We are still looking into the deals and all that--we got totally distracted by the bookcases (see #1).

4. Travel Plans: We are still on the fence as far as driving out to Colorado. Every time I think Bob has definitely decided against it all, he'll backtrack and say something like, "Well, it might be fun and relaxing" or something.

5. Family: Today is "Bring Your Daughter to Work" Day, but the NRO changed it to "Bring Your Child to Work" Day. It's a good thing--now we don't have bring the discrimination lawsuit forward. Just kidding! Only Nathan went though--Luke has a tummy ache today and was sleeping on the couch the whole morning. He's down watching a video right now, so I don't think it's anything too dire. Their friend Amanda was sick Tuesday, so that's probably what this is. I'm not sure if he'll go to track practice tonight though.

So now you are all completely caught up on all of our burning issues! Now you can sleep more peacefully!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Possible Travel Plans

Bob has a possible TDY to Colorado for 2 weeks in the middle of June for some training. We can't decide if we should pursue it or not. On the one hand, I'm always up for a trip and a break in our routine, and it would be great to see old friends there, do some sightseeing, replenish our ragged supply of USAFA t-shirts, etc. On the other hand, it is a 2 1/2 day drive from here. So this afternoon on the way to track practice, I broached it with the boys, to see what they thought.

Me: "Boys, what would you think about driving for 2 1/2 days to get somewhere?"

Luke: "Nah. I wouldn't do it."

Nathan: "My answer would depend on where we were going."

Me: " What if it was Colorado?"

Nathan: "YES! (arm pumping) I would definitely say yes!"

Luke: "I'd still say no . . . especially since I'd die."

Me and Nathan: "What?!"

Luke: "I'm not old enough to drive."

Well, we cleared all that up, but we still haven't decided. Our great friends, Ed and Elizabeth will actually be out there for part of that time too, while their oldest son does the summer scientific seminar at the Academy, so that would be so much fun! But there's still that drive . . . and of course, Bob would have to go to the actual training! : ) If we don't end up going, then I'm hoping to go to the Virginia homeschool convention, which is during that same time. I've never actually been to a homeschool convention, and there are going to be some great speakers at this one. Hard decision!

Occupation Game

My Aunt Claire tagged me to play a game. Here's the scoop on how to play: I have to pick 5 occupations out of the list below and post my answers here. I'm supposed to then tag someone else, but you all know me--I never pass things on. I'm too embarrassed that I would be rejected! : ) I never even forward emails! Okay, here we go...The "questions": If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an inn-keeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be an astronaut...If I could be a world famous blogger...If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...If I could be married to any current famous political figure...

1. If I could be a musician . . . I would be really thrilled. I would love to be able to just sing out a song exactly as I can hear it in my head, so when people say, "Does anyone know that song . . .?" I could confidently answer, "Yes, it goes like this . . . tra la la blah blah" and it would sound just like it! Also, I wish I could sing harmony (my voice is low) just by ear, instead of having to see the notes in a hymnal to know what sound should go there (again, not that what I would sing would curently sound like what should go there to harmonize!). I miss using hymnals to sing with, but our last 2 churches haven't used them.

2. If I could be a scientist . . . well, I am. Or was. In a previous life or something. I mean, I have a degree in biology and in math. But I have only worked as a scientist the summer between my junior and senior years of college, when I won a fellowship from the American Heart Association to work in a lab in Ohio doing research on these minor cholesterol components. It was fascinating, and I really enjoyed it. I love research, doing procedures the same way all the time, all the orderliness and routine. So different from my life now. Sometimes I daydream about working in a lab, discovering some tiny piece of a very complex puzzle. Practically, however, I know if I ever needed to go back to work I'd probably have to go back to school to get a degree in something practical--probably accounting.

3. If I could be a gardener . . . I wish I could be one! My Grandpa was a wonderful one, so I know the genes must be there somewhere! And Amy knows so much about flowers--I wish I had that too. Somehow, though, I just can't end up caring enough to do anything about it, so I let Bob do whatever gardening that gets done (he and the boys planted some tomatoes, beans, etc. in planter boxes on the deck this year), and the boys and I plant bulbs. That's about it. I like to admire other's time and handiwork, I guess. Sometimes I think, when I retire and don't have little pumpkins underfoot all day long . . . I think there's a limit to how many living things I can care for at once, and plants just don't cut it right now. Even houseplants. I'm so pathetic! : )

4. If I could be an inn-keeper . . . I would be a bundle of stress. I could never deal with strangers every day and remain sane. I simply couldn't. I am too introverted, and I need lots of down-time, away from crowds, strangers, even the boys. Sometimes Bob talks about retiring to White Sulphur Springs, the beautiful Officers' Christian Fellowship retreat center in the Allegheny Mountains in PA and working on staff there. I have the same kind of reaction. It's one of my favorite places to visit, but I'd never want to be in charge of all those people, forced to make small talk with them all the time!

5. If I could be a doctor . . . I'd work on discovering a cure for cankersores. That may seem minor to you, but for some reason, they are my particular cross to bear. I've dealt with them ever since I was little, and my dad gets them too, so I guess they are hereditary. For sure they are worse if I am under stress or stay up too late too many nights in a row, but over the last few years they have really gotten bad. They are no longer just on the soft parts of my mouth. I also get them on my actual gums, and the last week or so I've had 3 under my tongue. They become these huge, raging sores, and sometimes 2 will join together to make one "supersore". I have not been able to figure out anything that really helps them or makes them go away quicker. Changing my diet hasn't made a difference either. But I'm sure if I was a doctor, I could do some high-powered research and solve it up!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bookcases, Bookcases, and More Bookcases!

We are a family who loves books, and since we also homeschool, we have a ton of them. When we moved here, we were right at capacity, as far as bookshelves go, but as often happens, I needed more for homeschooling, and then my parents started downsizing. I took home a bunch of books after our visits in Otober and November! So it became obvious to me that we needed new some new bookcases, since all we had were one from my Nana and Papa, an old one from KMart that Bob brought into the marriage, and 2 little ones that Amy and I used as hutches on the back of our desks at college. I found a really nice one at Sams for $158.64--a double bookcase in a Mission style, with a nice stain, one actually that matched perfectly my Nana's bookcase. We talked about for a few weeks, and I started mentally rearranging the books. Last Tuesday when i went to Sams, the model was there, but no boxes underneath! I couldn't find any one to help, so later that evening, we all went back, and I went to the service desk and tried to explain the situation ("I only have the model number for the oak bookcase next to the one I want--there is a model of this mission style one, but no boxes. Can you search and tell me if you have any more?"). Un fortunately, at our Sams, there are some employees who don't speak very good English, so no one ever really understood what we were asking ("If there are no more here, can you at least give us a model number or check at other Sams?"). Nothing happened, and I was so disappointed! The boys and I even went to another furniture store to look at bookcases. That's when I realized what a great deal the Sams' one was! For one the same size, they wanted $419!! I went home determined to track down any of these if they existed anywhere within 50 miles of us! I spent a frustrating afternoon on hold with several different Sams in the VA/MD area, but finally I was rewarded--one in Gaithersburg had 7, and one in Woodbridge had 8! I was so excited!!! Saturday morning, Bob and our friend Ed left early to get to Gaithersburg (about 45 min. away) when the store opened. They piled 6 of the bookcase boxes on their cart (5 for us, 1 for Ed), leaving one. A guy was watching them, and as soon as they walked away, he ran up to examine what this incredible thing was! We laughed when we imagined him talking to his wife--"It must be a great deal! They were flying off the shelves! There's only one left!" So now Bob is busy assembling these, and they really are beautiful. I'd post a link, but Sams.com doesn't have them either. Our plan is to line 3 of them up along the back wall of our study. There will only be about 3 inches on either side of them then, so it will look kind of like built-in bookcases. Then we'll put another one in our family room, and move Nana and Papa's into our living room, where we'll probably put the last new one. I think we should easily have enough bookshelf capacity to get us through the next several years! : )

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cell Phones

Big news! We have decided to join the 21st century and get a cell phone! For the record, we have each thought many times over the past few yeaers, "Oh, this would be a situation where it would be really nice to have a cell phone." So it's not like we're complete Luddites. We have held off for a few reasons though. One is that we know that as soon as we get one, we'll never go back to being without one, so we figure we'll just keep saving that money for as long as we can. I mean, it's only been within the last 2 years that we switched to unlimited internet access, and we still just have dial-up! And right now we still have satellite TV, but I don't think that is going to last much longer. I watch it for 40 minutes in the afternoon while I do the Gazelle. Sometimes Bob watches a game or something after the boys go down. I'm just not seeing that as $30 of TV viewing a month! I definitely an in favor of as few "every-month" charges as possible. A second reason we have dallied so long is that the plans and options are just so confusing and overwhelming, so we'd rather just ignore them. That is where you come in. Please give us feedback and things we should be thinking about and looking for in a plan. We already know there are only a very few providers who have service at our house, which is sort of in a little valley, right next to a town that doesn't allow cell phone towers. I think one that works here is Nex-Tel. At least that cuts down on some options! We travel quite a bit, so we would have to have a plan that allows roaming without it being totally expensive. We're not sure if we should just get one phone or go with 2. With Bob's new realtor enterprise starting up, he'll definitely need one. He isn't allowed to have one inside his building, however, so he couldn't use it during the day anyhow, but I think it would be better to have a dedicated number for that. I guess I'm leaning towards 2, but the cheap person in me screams "NO!" Decisions, decisions . . . You all had better keep checking on us too, or otherwise we may lose momentum again and put this off one more time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dan!

My only brother's birthday is today! We sent you a card, Dan, but it will be late. I hope you're not shocked by that! : ) His birthday, his wife's birthday, and their anniversary are all conveniently located in one month so as to minimize the risk that a disorganized sister would forget to get cards, etc. (Thanks! That was thoughtful of you all to work that out like that!) So I bought them all, but unfortunately I smugly sat back and rested, so I never got the boys to sign the card, hence it didn't get mailed until yesterday. Next year . . .

We're three years apart, and several states apart as well right now, but I couldn't have asked for a better brother. Even with such a big age spread, we got along pretty well, and I have great memories of us playing together growing up. We liked to have long, drawn-out stories that we palyed out with Little People, where we would each control certain ones. They could pretty much say whatever the person controlling them wanted, so it was very unscripted, and when it was time to stop, we just left them and picked up the story later. We did similar things with Legos, but there we always started out with some kind of theme, and we each built a house or whatever and then acted out our stories. One common theme was "cliff-dwelling Indians", which came about after a trip to Colorado to visit our grandparents. Another theme was "gypsies", and we would make self-contained houses on one of those little Lego pad things, as if it was a wagon or something. I think we did a space station sort of thing as well. It was fun. Dan and I have similar strengths and interests, and in college we even got to take a class together--advanced calculus. That was fun too. I wish we were closer so we could see him more often and get to know his wonderful new wife better, but we still keep in touch, and we try to get together whenever possible. And we're certainly thinking of him today, and wishing him a very happy birthday! We love you! The boys wish they could have cake and ice cream with you to celebrate! : )

Being Where God Wants You

I've had many, many good conversations since I wrote my "Might-Have-Beens" post. Thanks for all your comments and calls! I think just verbalizing some of the thoughts that had been floating around in my head for awhile helped. I do feel that God must want us here. One of my problems was that I just haven't been able to see why--we aren't having any great impact on our neighbors, or Bob's family, or whatever, so it seemed to me taht we weren't really "needed" here. Last night I was reading Today's Christian magazine (used to be the Christian Reader). Normally I think of this magazine as a lot of fluff, a very quick read, but this latest issue has some good articles in it. One by Phillip Yancey was called, "It's Hard to Be Like Jesus", and it was about why anyone would choose to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less. Before a trip to Burma, he read several biographies of Adoniram Judson(1788-1850), the American missionary to Burma. What a hard life he had--he was unjustly imprisoned and tortured for 2 years. Right after he was released, his wife and baby daughter both died, and he almost suffered a mental breakdown. There wasn't much interest at all in the Burma people to his message, so he just labored alone for 34 years. That's amazing. Because of his faithfulness, there are now more than 1 million Burmese Christians who can trace their roots to him. But I'm sure that he wondered if he was doing the right thing, and I bet he didn't feel a whole lot of peace all the time. Obviously God used him, and he was faithful even when it didn't make sense. As my brother said, I think we as American Christians just think that if we are doing what God wants, then things should work out smoothly, we should see God working positive things, etc., but that is not always the case. And really it comes down to we have to trust that God is sovereign, and we won't end up where He doesn't want us, and also that He is working even when we don't see it. So now I am feeling a lot better about being here, that God has a plan for us here, and we're not missing some huge part of his plan because we didn't try to go somewhere else for this assignment. Thanks for all the encouragement! : )

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Open House

A house in our neighborhood just went up for sale at the end of this past week--the only one for sale in our neighborhood since we bought ours, which was almost a year ago. Bob has been dying to know how the rising home prices of the general D.C. area would affect our area, so when we saw there was to be an open house this afternoon, we immediately wrote that in on our calendar! To make it even better, the house is the same model as ours! It's listed at around $865,000, so obviously prices have increased here since last summer. That's a good thing. We hope they get it! Walking through the house gave us some ideas for what we should do with ours. The man who owns the house now is a kitchen designer, and he remodeled the kitchen, which was really nice. No double oven, though--just a range, which surprised me, although it was a very nice JennAir one. We liked the paint color of the main floor. It was kind of a nice biscuity color, not too dark, but not white or with a yellow undertone either. We'll definitely paint before we try to sell. Their carpet was newer than ours. They also had a lovely bay window on the side of their formal living room. It was very nice, although since we just use that room for a playroom, I guess really it's just the Little People and Lego cowboys who are suffering from that lack. Up stairs, they only had 4 bedrooms, instead of our 5. What would be Caleb's bedroom, over the garage, is just a very small storage room (8x10 maybe). We had a lot of fun figuring out exactly why it was different with another neighbor couple, who also have the same floor plan and were "just looking". In fact, as we were leaving, 3 more neighbor couples came in--a real parade of nosy neighbors! : ) The basement was also laid out a bit differently than ours, but our layout seems much more spacious. This house is on a corner lot, so it has a side-loading garage, which Bob likes, but almost no back yard. What I like best about looking at houses that are for sale is how clean and empty they are. I remember liking that the best about having our Ohio house is showing condition--boxing up all of our extra stuff , including toys. Everything seemed so much bigger, and it was a lot easier to clean. So we should just live like that all the time, right? LOL! I wish! But going through this house today, I thought, "Yes, I would buy this house! I like it!" That floor plan just works well for our family.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

French Toast

Nathan made French toast for us for breakfast this morning. It was very good! Since he can also make pancakes and scrambled eggs, I think we have breakfast covered! Now he'll always be able to make his wife breakfast in bed. He's been looking through a cookbook of mine and picking out recipes to try. It's The Absolute Beginner's Cookbook , by Jackie Eddy and Eleanor Clark. I can't remember when Mom got this book for me--either when I started college, or when I got married, but it's a real basic cookbook that tells all the things that people just assume you know, like how to make mashed potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. It also has a lot of good, plain,and easy recipes, so it's perfect for someone learning how to cook. (James?! : ) ) There are lots of kids' cookbooks out there, but they tend to have a bunch of real "cutesy" recipes. Nathan is already interested in cooking, so it's not like I need to draw him in, and I'd just as soon he learned practical recipes that he'll be able to use throughout his life! I was glad to see this book still in print. Hopefully it, or one like it, will still be out there when the boys all go off to college and out on their own!

Friday, April 15, 2005

"Might Have Beens"

A few weeks ago I read a devotional in My Utmost For His Highest that has really been on my mind lately. First, a little background. It's been almost one year since we came out here to D.C. to househunt. That was a very stressful time, but we ended up writing a contract for the house we are now in. Before that, back in late September, 2003, we were trying to figure out where we should go for our next assignment, and we had 2 options. One was to go to Huntsville, AL, and the other was to come here to the NRO. Since our good friends are here, we decided to push for the NRO assignment, but it was certainly never what you might call "smooth sailing". It took forever to get the clearances, so our report date kept getting pushed farther and farther back. This kept pushing our househunting back too, so by the time we came out here, we were in the thick of the season, with all that stress and competition. After we ratified our contract and went back to Ohio, we had a lot of stress with our house back there. We tried to sell it FSBO. We had a couple who wanted to buy it, but it turned out they really were more interesting in just renting. They weren't very easy to work with, and after lots of stalling on their side just to sign the lease, we kind of panicked and told them we were putting it back on the market. They were furious, so there was lots of horrible stress there. We did sell the house quickly after that, but since things were so bad with the first couple, I never felt any peace about it, and in fact, it still make my stomach clench up to think about. "A lack of peace" is pretty much a good way to describe this whole last year.

So anyway, back to the devotional. Here is what has been bothering me so much:

The unfathonable sadness of the "might have been"! God never opens doors
that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there
are doors which we have shut, doors which need never have been shut,
imaginations which need never have been sullied. "

I just keep thinking, what if we really closed a lot of doors because we weren't hearing God's leading? What if we are now in the totally wrong place? What if we should actually have gone to Alabama? What if we kept on making wrong decisions, and now we have so totally diverged from where we should have been? It's bothered me a lot before I read that devotional, which I guess just put it all into words. I am married to someone who likes to rehash things over and over and over, so we have certainly talked about the whole scenario multiple times, and I don't know if that's been really healthy. It tends to make me less and less sure about our decisions. And I still don't know what we would have done differently--I can rationalize all our decisions very cogently. I just still don't feel peaceful about it all. Now that Bob is looking to the future (after he retires), he always wants to talk about it, but I am so leary of making more mistakes or having such a bad experience, that I really am not interested in planning or even really talking about it at all. It's so easy to blithly say, "We'll go where the Lord leads us!"--but what if there is no clear leading, just like for this last move. Decisions have to be made, but what do you pick? And then you pick something and close another door . . .

Eagle Eyes, Part II

I haven't written much lately because we have not been doing anything remotely exciting or worthy of writing about. Yesterday, we had to run some errands (how's that for exciting?!), and we ended up at WalMart. While we were checking out at one of the self-check aisles, Luke found a $20 bill! It was all folded up, but it was sort of in the check out lane next to ours. The lady who was there in that lane when we first started checking out had already left by the time I realized what had happened. I can't imagine that it had been there for very long, since Luke said it wasn't really hidden. I was at a loss as to what to do. (Nathan's suggestion: give Luke and him each $10!) I don't think anyone was really looking around for it or noticed it had fallen, and getting through check-out is always kind of chaotic for us, as I try to keep Jonathan sitting down, and scan the items with all my "helpers". There are a lot of poorer people who shop at this WalMart, a lot of immigrants, especially, and I hope this didn't fall out of one of their pockets. I probably should have just turned it in, but I really don't think that it would have been "held" for someone to identify it. Call me a cynic, but I don't think so! I ended up telling Luke (and Nathan too, since Luke is always very generous with the money he finds)maybe I'd give them a few dollars from it, and we'd give the rest to charity or something. The only thing they spend money on is buying birthday and Christmas presents for each other from the Dollar Store, so it's not like they need tons of money for that! And I don't want to really focus them so much on money anyhow. Luke is already so "on the alert" for any spare coin or anything. Really, searching for money is the only thing (the boys would say) good about running errands! LOL!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Socialization Woes

One thing that homeschooling parents are always asked about is socialization. People are very concerned that because our kids aren't in school, they must therefore be locked up in their closets all day, seeing and interacting with no one else! Of course, that is ridiculous, and for our family, the boys are involved in AWANA, the track club, our homeschool co-op, our Bible study group, and church. We also have several neighbor kids that they enjoy playing with. One is a little boy named Kevin, who is the same age as Nathan, and who has one younger sister who is about 4. Whenever Nathan, Luke, and Kevin play together, Luke inevitably ends up coming home crying that they won't let him play with them. Usually they are playing some sort of sports-related game, and they won't throw him the ball or give him a turn or whatever. I have told Luke many times that crying is NOT the way to get people to play more with you, but the fact remains that Kevin thinks of Luke as a "baby" because he is younger, and so he likes to kind of pick on him. Nathan feels honored or something to be chosen as fun to play with, so he doesn't stick up for Luke (a big problem in and of itself), but he does always appear at home a few minutes after Luke comes crying, since he knows I'll be wanting to talk to him and it's not good. Now Nathan and Luke have a really good relationship, and they enjoy playing together and are certainly at a similar level in their play. But really all the boys play well together, regardless of age, because well, they have to. There's often not anyone else around. They know that sometimes you just have to adjust how you are playing to accomodate the younger sibling. It is so sweet to watch Nathan play with Jonathan by helping him build something out of Duplos or set up the Little People. Luke and Caleb have started playing together a lot since Nathan chooses to read more often than Luke would like! And Caleb and Jonathan play together while Nathan and Luke are doing their schoolwork. I really have a problem with the mindset that you can only play and have fun with someone if they are the exact same age as you are, but it seems to me that is exactly what is coming out of the traditional school setting, where everyone is caged up with people their same age all day long, all year long. No one learns to adjust their level of play to make it fun for everyone, and people end up learning that it's okay to pick on younger kids. Most of the families we socialize with on a regular basis are big, homschooling families like ours, so this hasn't been a problem there. But I'm just not sure how to deal with it here on our street. For sure I'll keep on working with Nathan to not just follow, but to do what he knows is right. Maybe I'll mention it to Kevin's mother too--I'll tell her I'm worried about his socialization.

Friday, April 08, 2005

How Do You like YOUR Chili?

Caleb (3) has some allergies--milk, peanuts, and tree nuts. But he's so laid back and easy-going, they really don't seem to bother him at all. We do have to think of creative substitutions sometimes, though. Today for lunch, we had chili. Everyone else had cheese and sour cream on theirs. Caleb's condiment of choice is Thousand Island dressing. Apparently it adds just the right amount of "zip", because he always gobbles up chili with that on it! He puts it on tacos too. He uses plain mayonnaise for dip, to substitute for french onion dip. For casseroles, I always leave out some chicken, rice, etc. and blend it all together for him with . . . yes! Thousand Island dressing AND mayonnaise! LOL! His future wife is going to wonder about his crazy tastes! Maybe by then he will have completely outgrown these allergies.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

High School Memories

We spent this evening at a high school track meet. Some of the coaches in the boys' track club coach at Broad Run High School, and they invited everyone in the club to the meet tonight, which was just a small one with only 2 schools. Since that meant it would be fairly short, and also since it was free, we decided to go. I was actually really excited about going. I love track meets! You can't help but be excited with all the races going on! It was really a lot of fun. The boys did great, and we stayed until the bitter end (the mens 4x400 relay, for those of you who don't have the event order memorized). Now Nathan is really inspired. There was one girl who ran the mile and 2 mile, and she was definitely in a class of her own. She absolutely blew everyone else away, even guys, since they ran the 2 mile together. We were sitting by her mom, who said that she was third in the state in cross-country this year. This led to a big conversation with Nathan about how God gives people talents, but you know she had to run a whole lot to be as good as she was. Also, during a relay, one guy fell during the handoff, but he popped right back up and kept running. A lesson in not giving up. There were 2 very slow girls that ran both the mile and the 2 mile races, and they came in dead last, having been lapped by almost everyone (lapped twice in the 2 mile!). But they finished--an excellent picture of endurance. What a great sport!

The track meet also brought back so many memories of high school for me. I actually got a little nervous as they prepared to run the 400m and the 300m hurdles. Whenever I'm around high school students, though, I'm always so relieved that I am out of high school and not dealing with all those pressures anymore! I could see the awkward kids trying to fit in, the awkward boy/girl flirting, everyone trying to look cool around their parents. So glad to be done with all that! After the meet was over, we ate dinner (very late!) at Subway, and there they were playing some kind of "all 80's all the time" type station, because there were all these songs I haven't heard since high school. Weird. "Red, red wine . . . " or how about "Ooh baby, do you know what that's worth? You make heaven a place on earth . . . They say in heaven, love comes first; you make heaven a place on earth." Cheesy! The whole time we were there, I kept racking my brain for the artists' names as song after song that I recognised was played, but I generally drew blanks. I think that's a good sign--my brain isn't wasting precious space on one-hit wonders from the 80's. Still, it's irking me. UB40? Debbie Gibson? I could google, but I'm not going to. . .

Monday, April 04, 2005

Track and Field

I signed the boys up to be a part of the Loudoun Track and Field Club, and their first practice was tonight. Now I ran track in high school, and Bob ran cross-country, so you might not think it was odd that we would want the boys to get a good running start in running (ha ha). But that's not why I signed them up. Nathan would have liked soccer just as well, but that whole atmosphere really intimidates me! And I know there are kids out there who have been playing since they were 4, so I am a little worried that the boys would not look so good in comparison. A big advantage with track is that Nathan and Luke are in the same age bracket (very important since Luke hates new things, but at least here he is with Nathan all the time). Also, the whole club practices together, so no shuttling kids around to 2 different practices and games all the time. What a stressor--one I don't want. The coach seems very nice, and his philosophy is very low-key. No yelling, no intimidation, no put-downs. Everyone is very encouraging, and they focus on the improvements that each child makes, compared with himself. That's my kind of sport for the elementary years! The 3 main coaches all coach track at various local high schools too, and obviously they are focused on competing there, but they have a great attitude towards little kids. I think it will be a good experience for Nathan and Luke, and they are getting some good exercise.

Today they ran some laps, did some sprint drills along with skipping and whatnot, and they also got to throw the javelin (well, the kid version--it looks like a big Nerf dart with a rubber tip). Nathan was very excited about this! Both boys were able to keep up, although they are both definitely on the small side. I always forget how small my kids actually are because I just don't see them in big crowds of kids their own ages all that much, and, for some reason, most of our friends' kids are small too. But here they were certainly smaller than average! It didn't seem to affect them, and with no real emphasis on "winning" and coming in first, they didn't care that they sometimes lagged behind. I think their strength will be distance running! They had more stamina than other kids.

Off topic, but today was a red-letter day for the boys, money-wise. At the post office, they found $2.00 in the parking lot. I'm sure you can imagine the excitement! Then Luke "Eagle Eye" found a penny under the counter there. At the track practice, I found $1.00 just lying in the dirt. Wow--bring it on! We're paying down the house! : ) I'm sure the boys will never forget this day, though. Luke was sad that we were coming straight home from track practice (at 7:30 pm!) because he wanted to go to Walmart or some place to look for more money!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy Birthday, Melinda!

Today is my sister-in-law's birthday! This is her first birthday as an "official" member of our family, since they were engaged but not yet married on this date last year. She and my brother have just moved to Dallas, so I am hoping that Dan has some wonderfully fantastic celebration up his sleeve there. Dan? We did send a card, but, as with so many things we do, I'm afraid it might be late. But I want her to know that we are thinking of her today on her special day, and hoping it is a great one for her!

The boys really love their Aunt Melinda, and Caleb frequently asks when she and Uncle Dan are coming back to visit. Once in the commissary, Caleb saw another woman who looked vaguely like Melinda (young, blond hair, same height, etc.). He was thrilled, and called out, "Aunt Melinda, Aunt Melinda!" Her name obviously wasn't Melinda, since she didn't even turn around or notice, and I had to explain (again) that Aunt Melinda was not going to be showing up as a part of our daily routine, since she lived far away! We're hoping we can get down to Texas to visit them and see their new house sometime. Nathan has always wanted to visit Texas, and he was so happy when they moved there!

Happy birthday, Melinda! We love you!