My Big Apple Adventure

The theme for VBS this year was A Big Apple Adventure - set in New York City - with Bible study in Battery Park overlooking the Statue of Liberty.  Of course, we live in central Georgia, so we made use of props to get the effect.

Having not been involved with VBS other than as a parent at this church before, I was a little nervous about being a lead teacher.  VBS at Central is no less than a phenomenon.  So being a lead teacher is kind of a big deal.  But we prayed our way through it and before I knew it, we'd made it to Friday afternoon.  I hope I imparted a small bit of God's Word to these kids that they can keep with them.  One thing I know is that they sure taught me plenty.

And here are some of those things...

1.  Second graders take things very literally, and coupling that fact with missing details because they were bouncing around makes for a dangerous combination.  As the Missions Teacher was describing a trip she took to Jerusalem, she used the present tense and said, "We just go get on the church bus, drive to Atlanta, and fly straight to Israel."  Having missed the part at the beginning about it being a trip she'd already taken, one of the students looked at me with the widest eyes I've ever seen and said, "Are our parents going to let us do that!?"

2.  Everything in 2nd grade is a boy versus girl competition.  I mean everything.  Down to who can color a picture the fastest and/or best.  Of course, this leaves me in the awkward role as "judge".

3.  While I think it was a cute touch, the stuffed gorilla at the top of the 3-story Empire State Building in our church foyer was completely lost on kids born in 2003.  I must have explained the basic storyline of King Kong a dozen times to kids who asked, "Why is there a monkey at the top of that building?"  I can hear the conversations now when the kids get home.  "Honey, what did you learn at VBS today?"  "There was a giant gorilla that terrorized the streets of NYC."

4.  Nine times out of ten, I call the Empire State Building "The Eiffel Tower".  But don't you worry, those second graders set me straight.

5.  While a lot of kids these days are ungrateful and feel entitled, there are still good kids in this world as evidenced by the manners and unprompted apologies for accidents that happened in the classroom.

6.  Second graders listen and retain so much better than the four year olds with whom we spend our Sunday mornings.  It was quite rewarding to tell the story, ask questions, and get something besides blank stares and the standard "Jesus" answer in return.  (Not to knock my four year olds...they pretty much rock my socks off too.  But second grade is a whole different ball game.)

7.  A choir of 220 children can bring down the house.  That music was incredible.  And there is simply no way 220 kids could learn all of those lyrics and dance moves in 8 hours time without the involvement of the Holy Spirit.

8.  Pennies can add up quickly.  Our kids raised over $3700 dollars, mostly in change, for the tornado victims in Georgia and Alabama.  Is that just awesome, or what?

This doesn't even scratch the surface, but I can honestly say that spending 5 mornings with those 22 kids was among the most rewarding experiences in my life.  They were just precious and open to the Word of God and so sweet and innocent.

I ended the week exhausted but exhilarated at the same time...if that's even possible.

In 10 words or less, God willing, I'll be doing it again next year. 

 For those of you who prayed with me, I am elated to report that 128 kids professed their faith on Wednesday.  I know there was a party in heaven over each and every one.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  3 John 1:4

Totally Tardy Mom Things

You find yourself laughing at things you know you shouldn't like when you tell your four year old she has to take a nap and she replies, "Who cares? I'll find a spinning wheel and make you touch it."  (Really...that's kind of funny right?  At the very least it's clever.)

Your seven year old boy continues to terrify you about your future grocery bill as he assertively proclaims at the very start of every meal, "I claim leftovers!"

You learn the hard way that teaching your own kids at VBS is not such a brilliant idea.  And that's all I have to say about that.

You aren't at all surprised that your child has found a way to nearly strangle herself with the tie-it-in-a-bow "belt" on her dress.

The near-strangling occurred on the very same day she found a way to rock a headband - totally 80's-workout-video style.

But then again, she has a thing for the 80's hair-band look...(or maybe the stuck-my-finger-in-the-socket look)

After hearing her declare that you "never play play-doh or make cookies", you allow your four year old a go at playdoh while baby sister is napping.  The aftermath reminds you very plainly why there is such a long hiatus between playdoh days...

While your rambunctious four year old sprays the nearby wildlife with a water gun,

your more chillin' older son prefers to sit in the shade of the porch reading his book.

To which you have nothing to say but, "Typical."

Since it had been more than 24 hours since her last head injury, your toddler decided to run smack into the door frame, the wall, and fall off a stack of chairs while you were decorating your room for VBS.  She started the week off with two new bruises and a bloody lip.  The lengths she'll go to in order not to let those rowdy boy toddlers show her up.

Happy Thursday, everyone!



Lest anyone be missing me in the blog world, I wanted to just pop on and say I have been and will continue to be immersed in VBS, which kicks off this morning.  This is my first year teaching at my church here in central Georgia, and I cannot tell you how excited/nervous/ready I am!

Please pray for our Big Apple Adventure and that we can have a positive impact on God's Kingdom through this ministry.

Rest assured, pictures will follow.  I am blessed to be working with Sam as my co-teacher and our sweet neighbor, Lauren, as our youth worker.  And my very own Ben is one of my pupils as we will be teaching rising second graders.


That said, I have about a million things to do before 9am...better get to it!
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. ~Matthew 19:14


Thursday Thirteen - Kids Say

I always loved the show Kids Say the Darndest Things - but, when Bill Cosby brought it back, not the original with Art Linkletter - I'm just not quite that old. 

And I guess because I loved that show back before I had kids, I'm constantly prowling for some of the darndest things my own offspring can spout off.

Believe me when I tell you it's a daily occurrence.

Today's thirteen is a compilation of some of my favorite darndest things.

Without further ado:

1.  (to Sam) At the hospital, I didn't see, how did that man get Abby out of Mommy's belly?
2.  Me: Who wants spaghetti for dinner?
     Abby: Ohhh!! I do! Yay Sketti!
     Ben: (scoffing) Ha! She said 'sketti'...Abby, it's BUH-sketti.
3.  The last time I went to the hospital was when Abby was boring. 
4.   [Regarding his precious baby sister] If she poops, I won't love her anymore.
5.  [To Ben who was laying in crunch position on the floor, watching tv]
     Me: Doing some sit-ups?
     Ben: [looking back quizzically] Not me! I'm doing some lay-downs.

6.  Why can't I wear just underwear to the restaurant?
7.  (exasperated) We talked about Benjamin Franklin, and everyone in my class kept looking at me. 
8.  Mommy, if you were captured by pirates, would you choose to join their crew....or die!?
9.  (singing the song from Snow White) I'm wishing, I'm wishing for the one I love to find me, to find me Tues-day.
10.  Me: Did you go outside today?
       Abby: No, I went outside threeday.
11.  Stop crying, Sarah.  There's nothing wrong with you.
12.  Are you trying to silence me, Mommy?
13.  I want some porn!  (by the way, that means popcorn...to her)

Okay - I'm cheating....here's a bonus:

     Ben: Mommy, do you know what "Warp of War" means?
     Me: No, what does it mean?
     Ben: It means "please" in Spanish.
     Me: I think you mean "Por favor"...

That's that and the end.  Short and sweet - otherwise known as the opposite of me.  (wink, wink)

And all of Jennie's kids said, "Happy Thursday!!!"


Summer, Summer, Summertime Mom Things

All of the other moms at storytime give you dirty looks when you bust out the box of raisins to keep your two year old content and sitting still.  You can't help it if their kids want some and they didn't think to bring their own.  (This is when you quote "Desperate times call for desperate measures".)

Speaking of storytime at the library, after one hour of sitting listening to a story and quietly picking out books, you've discovered that your kids have more energy than ever before from having pent it up all that time, while you, on the other hand, have never been more in need of a nap.

You realize it's a total waste to buy puzzles when you can just set your two year old up at the dishwasher and let her reassemble her own sippy cups.

You wouldn't mind video games so much if while they were being played you and your girls could successfully walk from one side of the house to the other without being verbally accosted for stepping in front of the tv.  Hey fellas, it's our living room too.

You get a chuckle every time one of the kids wants to play "Follow the Leader" because, really, when did we stop playing that?

Every once in a while you capture a snapshot that perfectly represents your kids' personalities.  It might not be frame-worthy, but it's perfectly telling of your seven year old's responsible nature, your four year old's mischievous nature, and your two year old's adventurous nature. 

Your heart overflows when you see your little girl's creativity blossoming.  With a stack of post-it notes, a pair of scissors, and a magna-doodle, she created this masterpiece:

Best investment ever?  $1 squirt bottles from the Dollar General.  They're water guns, watering cans, lasers in an alien war, spray bottles for playing hairstylist, and "window cleaner" dispensers.  The possibilities are endless.

You remember catching your son reading by the light of his closet when he was a wee fellow.  You've since discovered that his baby sister shares his love for reading when you catch her sitting by her slightly-cracked-open bedroom door, well after she's been tucked in, "reading" by the light of the hallway.

Until you had your milk-loving third child, you never understood the emergency that is Running Out of Milk.  Now, you buy two gallons.  Every couple of days.

You had a conflicting excitement and apprehension about your first summer at home with the kids as a stay-at-home mom.  Instead of fighting it, you've learned to embrace it (more so than at first anyway).  Turns out, it's everything you imagined it would be.  And more...

 (Please tell me someone else finds joy in chunky two-year-old wedgies besides me.)

Happy Wednesday, "y'all"!!!


Simple Green

No, no.  It's not about the all-purpose cleaner.

It's about something you can't buy on a shelf (unless you count fertilizers and stuff).

It's something you "grow" to appreciate, especially when your whole state goes for a month with nary a drop of rain coupled with heat indices in the triple digits for as long as you can remember and more of the same in the extended forecast.

It's the kind of green that lasts for only a moment in the two weeks of spring-like weather we get to experience down here in Georgia.  This year, it was at the end of April. 

The kind of green that makes you optimistic for the summer.

Then, the days get hotter, the sun lasts longer, and the grass withers away.  

But with the crunchiness comes a different kind of simple pleasure.

But the best part is how grateful it has made me for a few drops of rain when we finally get them.  And how thankful I am for the Georgia Farm Bureau and their collective prayers for rain and to live in a place where this is not only a tolerable practice, but a preferred one.  And how big the smile was that crossed my face tonight as I walked outside and breathed in the sweet smell of rain as we were blessed with a 15-minute deluge.

Tomorrow, I suspect I'll see a little more green.

And, that, friends, is my simple pleasure.

See a lot more Simple Pleasures at Dayle's Simple Pleasures party.


Peanut Butter in Your Hair Wednesday

You have to be careful what you say every minute of the day or you will be called out on it.  "Mommy, one time, when I was three, you said you know everything, but you just now said, 'I don't know.'"

If you lay down for 0.2 seconds on the floor, on the couch, or pretty much anywhere in the vicinity of your children, your body instantly turns into a jungle gym on which 3 children freely jump, burrow, and bounce.  Consequently, you haven't laid down for more than 0.2 seconds since 2003.

Since you don't and probably won't ever have a dog in the house, the children have adapted by creating their own game during which one kid pretends they are the dog and the other one throws a ball so they can go retrieve it.  With their mouth.  They have even fashioned a harness out of ribbon.  Yeah, that's probably not safe.

You can't remember the last time you went out in public when one of your children wasn't wearing either their shoes on the wrong feet, an article of clothing on backwards, or a smear of an unidentifiable sticky substance across a clean outfit.

You marvel at your wiry 36lb four-year-old carrying your solid 27lb two-year-old on her hip.  That must be along the lines of an ant carrying a peanut or something, right?

Since you started staying at home you've become ever so grateful for library story-time, but that doesn't stop you from feeling the inevitable anxiety that accompanies you before and during as you hope and pray that your two-year-old does not take the opportunity to showcase her log-rolling abilities across the entire room.  (Again.)

It might be uncool (to them), but you are going to rock the matching outfits on your girls for as long as they manufacture matching outfits in their sizes.

Yeah, okay, so TV is bad.  Blah, blah, blah.  You are secretly infatuated the Hub channel that shows Jem, Pound Puppies, and My Little Pony so you can get your flashback-to-the-80's fix with your own children.

You downloaded a bunch of free games on your Kindle "for your kids".

When big brother's away, the little sisters do play [in his room with all of his stuff].

If you can purge the contents of your overly-filled bathroom drawers and cabinets without a call to poison control for your two-year-old, you can pretty much do anything.  (But don't take that to mean she didn't at
least try to eat Rolaids, bubble bath, and deodorant during he purging process.)

While kids may cause you to go gray faster, wrinkle more abundantly, and shed more exasperated tears than you ever dreamed, the gift of a perpetually young heart has not been lost on you.

They don't take attendance at Family Day, do they?

The hardest part about living 800 miles away from your family isn't what you'd think.  It's not about missing my parents or dreading the drive there and back or having to block out large chunks of time to commit to a trip home.  It's the little stuff, like not being able to drop your kids off with Grandmom and Grandpop while you get your hair cut or go to your annual gynecology appointment (let's be honest - who wants to take three kids to that?).  That little bit of selfishness aside, it's also tough being the reason the opportunity to get all of your grandmother's great-grandkids together at her assisted-living facility's Family Day is missed.

We were supposed to be "home" this weekend.  Sam was going to be training folks in New York, and the kids and I were going to crash with my parents' house in Maryland while he got his business on in Long Island (or something that sounds slightly less dirty than that).  But the plans fell through, and here in Georgia we've stayed during a record-breaking heat wave, no less.

Family Day was the reason I got a little teary when Sam told me the news that the trip was off.  I really hated to miss it.  The Masonic home where my grandmother lives spares no expense to make it a day for the children.  And while it might seem a little strange to hire face-painters, a mobile petting zoo, and carnival rides for a bunch of elderly folks, it's actually quite appropriate.  Not only does it let them recreate their own childhoods and remind them of a simpler time and place, they get to watch their grandkids and great-grandkids, and their roommates' grandkids and great-grandkids just absolutely loving life.  And we all know a few old people who just light up when little children are around, don't we?

With the last-minute hope that was mostly a joke, I casually asked Sam this morning if he was interested in packing up and heading to Maryland tonight.  Almost as simply and directly he said something along the lines of, "Sure."  

I wasn't expecting that.

He's a good man.

Of course, that launched me into an 8-hour tailspin.

"Should we?  Shouldn't we?"  

I even made a pro/con list.  

  • Love a good surprise!
  • Would have all the great-grandkids together for Family Day & Early Birthday for Grandmo

  • Price of gas
  • Already going in July (re-scheduled business trip)
  • Have to coordinate getting Ben back from other grandparents
  • Have to miss my first summer Bible study meeting on Tuesday morning
  • Miss the copy/laminate deadline for VBS on Sunday
  • Have to line up a substitute for Sunday School on 2 days notice
  • Get to Family Day tomorrow completely and utterly exhausted
Needless to say, the Cons outnumbered the Pros, but that didn't mean they outweighed them.

My heart was begging me to make the decision to go, but my head was telling me it was ridiculous, frivolous, and extravagant.  Even though I'd spent over an hour packing us up (which doesn't seem like a lot, but I've had lots of practice), at the last minute (around 4:00pm) I tearfully decided not to go.  Usually when my heart gives me urges like this, I can't resist.  But something was telling me it was just not the time for us.

Around 6:30pm I was feeling good and sorry for myself - sitting at my computer googling things like "How to be more spontaneous" and "How to make decisions" and "How to hear the Holy Spirit".  Abby & Sarah were bickering like an old married couple, like they do, when Sarah just started wailing for no reason.  She climbed up in my lap, laid her head on me, and that's when I felt her fiery skin on my chest.  Clearly, she was not feeling well.

I took her to the doctor's after-hours (where, after less than 30 seconds in the exam room, she fell off the rolling doctor's stool and got a nice goose-egg right over top her big scar causing her to scream bloody murder).  Her ears were clear (or at least, clear enough to be deemed "not infected"), but her throat looked very red.  The in-office rapid strep test came back negative (but it always does), so we left the doctor behind us with a high fever and a diagnosis of "virus".  By the time we got home, her fever was so bad and poor little girl was so miserable, she laid down on the kitchen rug.

I think you have to understand how Sarah normally operates to understand the gravity of this.

Abby was sweet enough to bring her a pillow, blanket, and baby doll.  Then she sat next to her rubbing her back while she waited for her macaroni and cheese to finish cooking.

 Have I mentioned once or a dozen times that I am just in love with these two precious sisters?

She's resting sweatily in her bed right now with doses of ibuprofen and Tylenol coursing through her veins.

Maybe it's hard being 800 miles away from your family, but I know one thing for sure - There is a Maryland Masonic home full of blue-hairs that are thankful Sarah is not infecting them with whatever feverish-sore-throat funk she's got going on. 

Call it mother's intuition, call it heeding that still, small voice, call it luck.  But now I know why I had that nagging feeling that even though I wanted to head out with all my heart, something just wasn't quite right.

I'll work on the absent-from-family-events-guilt another time.  

Today, I'm vindicated.


Mama Lama Ding Dong

Your two year old has tasted sunscreen, deodorant, and dishwasher detergent - and lived to tell about it.  Either she has an iron stomach, she is an excellent actress and didn't actually eat any of those things, or the list of "Most Toxic Household Items" you committed to memory in that Public Health class in college was completely bogus.

Despite your irrational fear of dentists, you almost looked forward to going to get your cavities filled because it gave you an hour of "me" time.

You have learned that even if you are within 18 inches of your four year old as she applies toothpaste to her toothbrush, it is still entirely possible for her to get it all over your white bathroom rug.

Consequently, you have determined that it was, indeed, a mistake to go with white for the bathroom rugs.

You took your kids to Carrabba's for a weeknight dinner out (and to use that free appetizer coupon), and you went with patterned, dark-colored attire knowing full well that they'd come out drenched in herbed olive oil.  By the way, they won't need moisturizer for months.

You've gotten the two year old version of a wet willy.  This is where they skip the step of licking their finger, and instead lay on your ear and drool straight into it.  It's even less pleasant than the traditional kind.

You impose your frugality on your seven year old and send him inside Dunkin' Donuts to redeem a free donut coupon so you can also redeem one yourself through the drive-thru.  He loved the assignment, couldn't even wait to get out of the store to start eating the thing, and asked if he could do it again another day.  Success!

You are intimately familiar with the scent from Pizza Goldfish that lasts all day long.  You're convinced even the neighbors can smell your toddler from next door after she eats them.

You've learned that when the 4-year-old takes charge of putting the life-vest on her baby sister, it might not be exactly right.

There is no joy quite like witnessing the sweet bond between giggling sisters.

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