Sunday, July 14, 2019

One of Our Most Memorable 24 Hours

I'm not sure how to neatly tuck this 24 hour getaway into a blog post. Since we used our anniversary as the excuse and today is our anniversary, it seems like a good time to try!

Jeremy and I have followed Michael W. Smith since we were kids/teenagers. Michael W. Smith was one of my first cassette tape purchases. Contemporary Christian music was so new to my family that my parents had to read the lyrics page before it was approved. It was his Change Your World album which was not worship music and that made it suspect. That seems so funny to look back on now! In a nostalgic moment in mid June I looked up Michael W. Smith's instagram page and saw that he was going to be in concert on July 1 in DC. I sent it to Jeremy and suggested it would be a fun anniversary date.

Jeremy looked at it more closely. Michael W. Smith was playing the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts with full choir and full orchestra. It was a one time concert titled Honoring Freedom. I needed to change up some scheduling with Janell and figure out who would love to have the children for a night. I did that within a couple hours and then Jeremy had the tickets purchased and hotel booked almost instantly.

I was not involved with the tickets or hotel. Jeremy casually tells me that we are staying at the hotel adjacent to the Kennedy Center for ease of walking and, oh by the way, it's a 5 star hotel called The Watergate. 
When we arrive, valet and bellhop pull you from the car before you can even get your head together. The bellhop says, "Oh! You must be having a night away from the kids." That being said after he opens the back door where there is all kinds of kid evidence strewn on the floor. Clearly our car was the oldest van the poor valet guy would have to drive that night.
The shower was like a whole room. Pretty amazing--I could get used to that!
And there were snacks in the room--which I thought was pretty amazing until I figured out that they cost $9 for each little tin. By then we were laughing and determining not to touch anything.
We ate supper at a Mediterranean restaurant. It was a beautiful afternoon and no one was around. It was actually almost eerily quiet for knowing we were in DC. And then we walked over to the Kennedy Center. 
We arrived early so had plenty of time to look around the building, the gift shop and walk around the balcony overlooking the river and city.
By the time we got into the concert hall I couldn't believe I was there. Everything in DC feels historical and this was no different.
And then Michael W. Smith! He played some really old songs. We knew all of them. Performing here with a choir and orchestra was a dream for him and knowing it was special for the artist made it even more special to be a part of the audience.
Photo from @mwsmithofficial
At the end of intermission people started randomly standing up and looking back and clapping. I had no idea what was going on until I realized the Vice President Mike Pence and his wife had just entered and were waving to the audience. Later, I learned that Secretary of State Pompeo was in attendance also. That was a pretty amazing moment.
The second half of the concert was even better than the first. He played so many of his best worship music. And, of course, Friends for the encore.
Photo credit: @mwsmithofficial
We walked back to the hotel behind the building and along the river. CVS was our romantic snack stop. Ice cream and plastic spoons for the win!
In the morning we had an excellent breakfast buffet and listened to Michael W. Smith music in the car on the way back to pick up the children. (They spent the night with Jeremy's parents and we met them half way.) 

I'm pretty sure this 24 hours will go down as one of our favorite memories together.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

My New Decade

In the past year leading up to this day that I officially turn 40 and start a new decade, I've thought a lot about life and passing of time and how like Solomon says in Ecclesiastes life is like a vapor in the wind. It passes quickly and then is gone and whatever legacy one leaves here is only felt for a short period of time. So I've developed this bittersweet relationship with Time. Bitter in the sense that it is short and passes quickly bringing lots of changes. Sweet because I can enjoy every moment of it. I will live gratefully and joyfully while I watch my children grow and flourish. I will cherish this miracle of marriage that I have with Jeremy as we grew up and grow old together. I will love my family of parents, parents in law, grandparents, brother, sisters, brothers in law, sisters in law, nieces and nephews. I will cherish friendships near and far, old and new. And I will keep growing and learning and pursuing God so that I am the person He created me to be.

(Now the fun stuff!)
On the 4th, Mom, my sisters, my girls and a friend took me out for breakfast to celebrate my birthday. We had a lovely breakfast together chatting and me drinking chai to be conversational in the morning.
After we finished eating Janell and Mom began clearing off the table before they gave me the gift bags sitting behind me. I thought it was pretty dramatic to need so much space cleared and I made a comment to that effect. And then they handed me this bag:
Which lead to 40 little things being laid out on the table in numerical order.
The inspiration for this was my blog and I do love "little things." I chose the name for this blog back in 2008 completely out of thin air and now, 11 years later, the saying "Enjoy the Little Things" can be found quite frequently.

So each of them (Mom and Aliza, Janell, Meghan, Laura) bought 10 gifts and wrapped them without consulting with each other. There was only one duplicate and it was a bracelet from Mercy House. On the card it says "Fabulous Forty. Happy Birthday, World Changer. I'm going to wear that bracelet regularly for a while as a reminder that Forty is fabulous.
Aliza helped Mom chose things for me. She so loved being a part of the surprise. Anna was planning to go fishing with the boys, but wasn't feeling well and so ended up having to come with me and Aliza. She was glad that she came. Her eyes were sparkling and it was her job to hand me the gifts. This is what 40 little things looks like unwrapped.
The 6th:
Last night I had 3 children awake during the 4:00 hour. I was awake for a good long while and was glad that I could sleep in this morning. Jeremy made breakfast and we all just did things we enjoy doing at home. This evening we went to Panera for supper. Anna and Isaiah were sitting across from each other and were the goofiest, squirmiest pair you've ever seen. Isaiah was out of his seat every other second, on the floor, under the table. It was ridiculous. Between the night and supper I had a good chuckle--not much has changed between 30 and 40!
We spent some time browsing in Barnes and Noble after supper which actually showed how much HAS changed between 30 and 40! Superman was with us. Superman was with us at Panera too.
It's been a good day.
(And now it's thundering so the day probably isn't over quite yet!)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Joy Dare::June

6450. Kindof a Michael's shopping spree
6451. Inaugural fire pit s'mores
6452. Aliza says it was the best investment
6453. Sunshine and backyard swimming pool
6454. After swimming sleep
6455. Safe driving when I was really tired
6456. Profitable day
6457. Talking to Chrissy on the way home
6458. Seeing some historical airplanes
6459. Anna spent a couple hours with a friend
6460. Freeze pops and lollipops from our grocery pickup person
6461. Soaking up all the snuggles today
6462. Sunset from the Bay Bridge
6463. Valet parking
6464. Learning a lot
6465. Making an Eastern Shore connection with a customer
6466. Sleeping soundly all night
6467. Talking home school curriculum all day
6468. Aliza telling me all about her day
6469. Starbucks breakfasts
6470. Strength for the day
6471. All the welcome home hugs
6472. Note on my desk
6473. All the things Anna has to tell me
6474. Talking to Grandad
6475. Sunlight through the trees
6476. Evenings outside
6477. Watermelon
6478. Friends
6479. Aliza represented herself so well
6480. The children heard an amazing story
6481. Emotion releasing tears
6482. God-incidence this morning
6483. K-Love fan awards on TV
6484. Isaiah wrote his name for the first time
6485. Jeremy powerwashed the house
6486. Having my family here to celebrate Father's Day for our Dad
6487. Clean deck
6488. A wonderful father of my children to celebrate
6489. Steak and ice cream brownie dessert
6490. Dad save me by sharing his computer
6491. A day with Maria
6492. The girls praying together during the storm
6493. First day of having summer sisters went well
6494. Catching up
6495. Studying with Aliza
6496. A couple hours at the pool
6497. First zinnia bouquet of the season
6498. Children played outside for hours
6499. Josiah loved spending some time with the Sheats boys
6500. Evening light
6501. Aliza is pure joy
6502. Anna makes friends wherever she goes
6503. Isaiah got his Kung Fu Penguin shirt
6504. Word for the day: nostalgic
6505. Our little church
6506. Country drive to get ice cream
6507. Assateague on a whim
6508. All the children had so much fun in the water
6509. Isaiah loved Bible school
6510. Summer magazines
6511. Come home during Bible school tonight
6512. Reading Pete the Cat to Isaiah
6513. "Marriage is never an accomplishment to be proud of but a miracle to give thanks for." Ann Voskamp
6514. A special shirt pillow for Aliza
6515. A fun library program
6516. Dresses for Aliza
6517. Donuts and a movie
6518. Making an appearance
6519. Isaiah sang his Bible School song for the program
6520. Black raspberry ice cream
6521. Church singing
6522. Pool with a mountain view
6523. Deck lights, reading and talking
6524. Being outside all day kind of tired
6525. Aliza stayed up late to read on the deck

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Mr. Independent

I went deep into the blog archives to confirm that the first year I took Aliza to Bible School was in 2008. That makes this year the 11th and final year that I will have a child in the preschool class at this little community Bible School at the Methodist Church. For the most part, parents stay with their children and I've been there with a child for 11 years. So I was already feeling a bit nostalgic with Isaiah on the first night when he joined his class and informed that I didn't need to stay...he was fine. NONE of my other children said that! ALL of them hung on me even dropping them off to the kindergarten class and beyond.

Last night I hung around and sat back and watched while he sang songs, got help with his craft from one of the teenage boys, told his teacher that he was a good listener, and answered questions...
...ate his bear cupcake and then did all kinds of water bottle flipping maneuvers. Honestly, I was very proud of him. I just keep on getting confirmation that he is indeed ready for kindergarten.
Tonight I decided that I would come home for a little while. What a novel idea! I came home for an hour, caught up with Jeremy and then went back when I knew Isaiah would be outside playing and I could chat with the other moms. Isaiah was running up the plastic slides and jumping off the platform like a crazy kid. All of a sudden Isaiah was running to me crying that he had been stung. Sure enough--he was stung through his sock by a wasp. And I was glad that I had come back in time to be there when he was actually still a 4 year old who needed his Mommy. He got ice and all kinds of attention and it wasn't very long until he was saying he was ok and that it only hurt a tiny bit. And it all made my heart ache in the way that it does when the youngest child grows up.

Friday, June 21, 2019


I had my first opportunity to work at a homeschool convention in the BJU Press booth. I arrived in Richmond late Wednesday evening and at 7am Thursday morning all the consultants meet at the booth to start set up. Everything we needed was in these 2 wooden crates.
I had watched all the set up training videos and read the manual. I worked with another gal to run all the electric and set up the distance learning end of the booth.
On each side of the booth (pictured below) there were 2 ordering stations.
 The book displays were in a circle in the middle of the booth.

 We had 7 consultants working. There were also 2 people from Homeworks By Precept which is the marketing company that the consultants work for. It was fun to meet a couple people that I have only known through facebook and email.
 At these big conventions BJU sends a distance learning teacher to meet students and talk to parents. Anna was super jealous that I got to work with one of her teachers, Dr. Jarrell. I always learn new things by talking to the teachers and listening to them answer questions.
 While I was away the children had days with Grandma and Laura and evenings and Saturday with Daddy. They went to a Shorebirds game one evening and had so much fun.
 The Shorebirds won the game and there were fireworks after the game.
 It was Faith and Family night so Christian music was playing during the fireworks. Aliza loved that.
 Also while I was away, Isaiah decided he could not wait to start kindergarten. He started asking when his book would come. Aliza showed him the catalog where he could see pictures of his teachers. He looked at that catalog over and over after I came home. Then we showed him samples of his lessons and he LOVED that. He watched those lessons over and over too.
All I can think is "How can he be so big and so little all at the same time!?"

Saturday, June 15, 2019

WWII Exhibit

A friend of mine told me that our little local airport was going to host an exhibit of two aircraft used in WWII. It took some thinking for me to decide if I would take the children given the nonresistant, peace theology that I hold, but in the end, I decided to go. History is history, Josiah was interested and how many chances are there to tour an aircraft from the mid 1900s?
I convinced Jeremy to join us. I just had the feeling that at some point one of the children was going to get scared and I wouldn't be enough for everyone. I think it may have been Aliza that finally convinced him that everything is so much more fun when he comes along.
Our tour guide told us that this cockpit was the original inspiration for the Star Wars ship.
Climbing up the ladder was no problem, but when Anna realized she had to go down the ladder it was a completely different story. This was why Jeremy came along! Everyone had gone down and Anna declared she wasn't doing it. When she realized that I was going down and she really didn't have a choice, she did get herself down the ladder.
This first aircraft was a bomber. There was a hatch on the bottom of the plane where the bombs were dropped. There were empty cases, like in the picture below, lined up inside the plane.
The second plane was a plane used for shooting.

This tunnel is how the soldiers moved between gun posts. I don't like this picture of Josiah! After leaving this plane, I put my arm around his soldier. I said, you know this plane was really used in WWII? And it dropped real bombs and shot real bullets? Do you understand that those bombs and bullets were pointed at real people? And those people died? Yes. He understands.
This panel had signatures on it. Most were very faded. I'm assuming they are signatures of soldiers who flew in this plane.
After the tours of these planes, I took the children to the terminal of our little airport. They have not flown in a plane yet so I showed them the ticket counter. It was busy for our 2 gate airport. A person happened to be checking luggage which helped them understand my explanations. I showed them the gates and then from the baggage area we could see the runway. No planes were coming or going but they at least got a bit of the idea. It was a good little summer field trip!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Speaking Up

I don't know what is happening, but in the last week or so I have been speaking up in places where I would not have before. I'm going to blame it on having growing up children and a new decade of life coming. Here's a couple examples:

Orthodontist office: Aliza is still in treatment and we are ready to start Josiah's treatment. I inquire about the down payment and am told that the office has just started new payment options. A Gold, Platinum and Family Plan. The Gold Plan saves us a little money. The Platinum Plan costs more than the quote and the Family Plan covers up to 4 family members, includes lifetime warranties and would save us several thousand dollars over the course of 4 Gold Plans. The problem is that we have already paid for one child's treatment. We have 3 children to go and would have had 4 (which the family plan covers) had Aliza been included. So I asked if what we already paid for Aliza could be applied to the Family Plan since we do have 4 children. I have not received an answer since the question had not be asked or considered as it was the first couple days of releasing the new plan.

Library: There was a time when I would not go to the library alone because I didn't trust the children to cross the street carefully at a busy intersection. Those days have passed. I take the children alone, but I'm still very vigilant as we cross that intersection. Last week we went to the library and I was surprised to see that the traffic light was replaced by stop signs and the cross walk signals had been removed. I understand that all cars stop at a 4 way stop and should yield to pedestrians but this new set up did not feel safer than the old one with cross walk signals. I approached the children's librarian and told her that I missed the cross walk signals. That a lot of children cross that intersection and with the summer reading program starting soon even more children will be using that intersection cross walk. She wrote down my complaint and before I left told me that it would be posted on an internal forum where the Director would see it.

Pediatric Dentist: I take the children to a large resident pediatric dental office. I make the same appointment for all 4 of them and we are in and out of there in an hour and I only make a trip to the dentist twice a year instead of up to 8 times a year if they had separate appointments. Isaiah was a dream this time. He did not make a peep and totally cooperated. His dentist asked him if his Mom helps him brush his teeth. Isaiah said no and I got the lecture about helping my kid brush their teeth. The dentist asked Isaiah what he likes to drink and he said milk. The dentist told me that Isaiah should only have milk to drink with meals and he went on to say that I shouldn't give Isaiah anything to eat between meals because it introduces sugar to the teeth and increases the risk of cavities. I get that. But that isn't reality in practical parenting. So I asked that young dentist if he had children. He said no. With a smile and a laugh I wished him the best of luck in following his own advice when he has children.

As long as it stay respectful and in good humor this trend may continue! Now I need to call that orthodontist office back to see if they reached a decision on family plans.