Thursday, April 22, 2010

a little life and a book review :).

Well, I leave my little snippets on facebook and sometimes forget to write more here. It's been an eventful week. S got knocked in the mouth by a baseball requiring a trip to the ER. He lost a tooth there (that was already loose) and another one the next day. 2 more are also loose from the incident. But, he handled it like a trooper. It's interesting how the big events can be handled calmly, but the little cuts and scrapes result in howls like he's dying.

We got back into the groove with the rest of life, PWOC on Tuesday, Mike was still off, so he took the boy's to speech while I went to a volunteer recognition thing and shopping for PWOC. Then we returned to TKD. Man, taking 2 weeks off really affects the body. My soreness returned on Wed. and is still here. I stayed for my first "advanced" class and finally learned my fighting moves. Which K also learned tonight. She was a slave driver making me and the other boy in our group practice them over and over. And while I was working with the advanced class. She continued to practice. I will not be surprised at all to see her making black belt. Today I learned my second kicking combo: a round house spinning back kick. Lot's of fun. Love being the warrior princess. K just wishes it didn't require so much sweat!

Speaking of warrior princess, I'm reading this AMAZING book. It's been out for a few years Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge. My sis-in-law gave it to me awhile ago, and just recently I felt the uncontrollable urge to begin reading it. If you, as a woman, have ever felt, as Stasi writes, "something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone." then I strongly suggest you read this book. It's not a "how to be the Proverbs 31 woman" book, it's a how to see yourself as God sees you. How to begin the journey to becoming the irreplaceable woman of His story that He created you to be. I'm continually plagued by self-doubts and questions. I've made choices and live in a manner that is quite different than others in my family and life have done. I'm stubborn and just rebellious enough that I continue on. While feeling that I'm too...something. But, I must say that this book has turned my eyes to face some of those demons that plague us as women. I haven't thrown off all the questions and insecurities yet, but this book is definitely helping to direct me in the right direction. (And how great is it that one of the chapters is indeed titled warrior princess? -an aspect of ourselves that K & I became more in touch with when we began TKD!) So girls, I suggest you pick up this book, and begin the journey of discovering the You God designed and not the you, the world, the church, and anyone else whose thrown in an opinion says you should be.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Who ever thought we could love yankee territory so much?

It helps when you've got great tour guides! Friday was first spent in a Norman Rockwell painting. We walked through the park, which is a block away and the kids got to play on the playground and we had a family practice. Man, I throw like a girl. Oh wait, that's OK :).

Then we headed out to experience Philly, beginning with a Philly Cheese Steak. The kid's choose Pat's, but I have a sneaky feeling Mike wants to experience a Geno's as well. The kid's of course had hotdogs. J had the large, which turned out to be 3 dogs on a very big bun, but we ended up sharing. As it seems he has a taste for Cheese steak as well. Then Independence hall called our names. Once again I got the little goosebumps of "standing in the presence of the past". Independence Hall called our name from there. We had a great tour guide who told the story well, we also got two book reccomendations from Park Ranger who was working the West Hall, where original copies of the Declaration, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution. Another goosebump moment. The Liberty bell really interested the kids. They got a great talk from the Park Ranger about the creation of the bell and the causes of the cracks. K enjoyed the science history blended in with the history. Now an army family couldn't NOT visit the tomb of the unknown soldier. Unbeknownst to me, this tomb, actually represents about 2000 soldiers buried under the square.
During the tour of Philly, our knowledgable tour guide Elaine, offered $5 to the child who could spell the name of the "Schuylkill" river. My most spelling challanged child, K took the challange, being a phonetic speller, figured it out and won the $5.

Then to top off a full touristy day, we enjoyed a Philly's game. On the way to the game, we were passing the now familiar Schuylkill river. Richard, not having been with us, made a comment about the spelling of the river. K immediately challanged him, "will you give me $5 if I can?" Not expecting a cute 11 year old to be scamming him, he took the challange and is now $5 poorer. So if Keilah is ever in a spelling bee with the word "schuylkill" she'll be sure to win.
How cool to go to a Big League ballpark. Unfortunately the rain didn't hold off until after the game, but we had poncho's to keep us mostly dry. And when we left at the end of the 7th the Philly's had a handy lead and we'd seen several homerun's and great pitching.

The kid's seem to be nearing the end of their touring limit, but I think they may have one more trip out to the Franklin Institute and perhaps a stop at the "rocky steps". Daddy wants a picture with the moose on the fountain out front.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caught up...for now.

We arrived into Gettysburg Sunday afternoon and explored the town a bit. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed, but we were still able to walk the town and see a few places. While window shopping J noted that civilwar era women wore too much clothing and ladies of today don’t wear enough. I guess somewhere there is a happy balance to be found. It was really cool to walk the streets and see signs saying “civil war building”. To know that building stood during the most tumultuous time of US history, is just amazing. We moved on to enjoy the national cemetery. We spent a few hours walking through the cemetery looking at the monuments, more than once did I feel that I could sit down and weep. Little did I know, that feeling would not leave me for awhile. I love the quote my friend sent me “standing in the presence of the past”. That perfectly describes the feeling I had for the day and a half we spent in Gettysburg. Monday we woke up and had plans to return to some of the stores that were closed and perhaps some other areas as well as return to the battlefield. First though, we headed to the battlefield. We first went to see the video narrated by Morgan Freeman regarding the civil war and causes. I appreciated that the focus was not just on condemning the south for slavery, but noted that the North didn’t want slavery ended either. Also, it noted that the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the CSA. Slavery remained legal in Union states, a fact I hadn’t learned until recently. From there we saw the Cyclorama a 42 x 300 foot oil painting depicting the 3rd day of Battle. An amazing piece of artwork. We went to the gift shop and purchased our audio tour, completely forgetting to peruse the Museum, I guess we’ll get that on the next trip.

The Audio tour said it should take 2-2 ½ hours, yet we managed to turn it into a 5 hour tour. We drove the entire park stopping to get our bearings on the battlefield. My civil war history classes from school did not do justice to the immensity of this battle, neither the size of the battlefield or the size of the armies engaged in the fight. I think all American’s should be required to visit this battlefield. It was amazing how your perspective changes as you move around the field. Seeing things from new angles, seeing the battle from the opposing sides, just in terms of the battle, not political or social motivations from fighting. I think most powerful for me, was seeing actual civil war photos of dead soldiers, then standing on the same ground and seeing a virtually unchanged landscape. Mike and I talked about it after, and the number of things that, if not for a few minutes, could have turned a completely different way and very easily could have been won by the confederacy. It made me think that God truly had a purpose for this country and desired that it remain one country, even as it needed to work through some very difficult issues. What would these men think of our country today? Would they be willing to pay the same price if they could see us now?

While we deeply desire to return to Gettysburg soon, we needed the next day off to enjoy some light fun, so off to Hershey, PA. And what can help raise spirits better than chocolate? Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t very excited about this portion of our trip. I mean, I like chocolate, but I wasn’t interested in the amusement park, and really didn’t care about Mr. Hershey and his story. In my world, this attitude usually means I’m in for a surprise. And was I ever, we had a very good time. We enjoyed the free Chocolate world “factory” tour, twice. Enjoyed the free samples and even enjoyed the mandatory gift shop at the end of the ride. We started learning a bit about Mr. Hershey and I must say, my curiosity was increasing regarding this man. We headed to the Hershey story museum to satisfy this curiosity and to hopefully learn a bit more about the actual chocolate making process. It never ceases to amaze me, how at some point in our history, someone thinks, hmmmmm I think that pod with the immensely nasty tasting seeds inside would probably be much better if I fermented them, dried them, roasted them, crushed them, and mixed them with some sugar and maybe even milk. I mean really! But, I’m glad they did. And Mr. Hershey turned out to be and immensely interesting man in his own right. I’m glad we took the time to visit his town.

Then, the kids got their big surprise of the day, we arrived at our hotel for the next two nights. We booked a caboose. Yes, 2 nights in an actual, refurbished, train caboose. The kids loved it. They were thrilled by the accommodations, even if it meant no swimming pool. We had decided to make a stop in Strasburg, because Mike has wanted us to go to Sight and Sound Theatre ever since he went there 2 years ago on a UMT conference. So with that to occupy our afternoon, we spent the morning visiting shops around Lancaster. It turned out to be a very fun relaxed day. Mom got a new purse, Dad got a new belt, we tasted a ton of yummy Amish jams, jellies, and salsa’s and generally went wherever we felt like. (I love it when everyone is willing to stop for me to go into antique shops!).

After a quick stop into a local ice cream parlor for a snack we headed to Sight and Sound to see Joseph. I am lacking in words to describe the theatre or the production. I spent several years around theatre, including a year interning at one of the top theatres in the US. This show was every bit of Broadway quality, with the BIG difference being that its sole purpose was to bring Glory to God. I love theatre, but I’ve come to dislike going to shows because they are just, so full of the world. This was so different; I was lifted up and encouraged. I was thoroughly entertained but we were also directed to God. Tomorrow, we’ll head to Philly, after visiting the birthplace of one of our favorite American legends, Daniel Boone.

I’m really looking forward to visiting with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin and getting to move farther back in history to the founding of our nation. Yeah to family fieldtrips!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lovely Easter weekend & my kids really dislike Scarlet O'hara.

We had a great trip home for the 4 day Easter weekend. It meant spending about 1 full day of it in a car (22 hours total) but it was worth it! We got to see our Godchildren and the boy's got to see their godmother and we watched a great baseball game with my dad and brother all on the first day. Saturday was much slower, the kids and I relaxed at Mom's house while Mike went on a search for anti-malaria meds (he left his at home) and a rain storm came through, delaying the boy's fishing trip into the afternoon. But, they had a good one and caught catfish, bass, and bluegill. S was THRILLED. Mom, K, and I hit the stores to shop for Easter stockings (as I kept calling the baskets) and whatever else struck our fancy. I was on a mission to hit the Land's End department at Sears and Hobby Lobby plus Target and Whole foods made the list. We got home to start cooking dinner (requiring 3 trips into Kroger because I forgot the list=2 trips, and 1 item didn't make the list) only to discover the boy's were fed at the fishing hole :). It's all good, the leftover's came home with us. And we began watching Gone with the Wind, which Mike had never seen.

Easter day we went to church with Mom. It's always nice attending services at the church I grew up in. Then we had what Mike labeled "the best family meal ever" at my mom's. We headed from there to visit at Mike's brother's house. We enjoyed getting to see some family, although no one wanted desert! Then it was off for another fishing trip, this time to my Aunt and Uncle's farm. They are living our dream and we love every chance to visit out there, especially when we actually get to visit with them. Extra Bonus, my cousin was there with her family and I got to play with their 8 month old son, who is absolutely adorable. The boys fished until they couldn't see and then we went home to finish Gone with the Wind. My children declared it the worst movie ever. Scarlet was a brat, mean and selfish. Ashley was a coward and cheat, and Rhett walked out on his wife. Overall the children couldn't understand why we would have them watch it. I tried to explain the cultural significance, but they didn't care. They didn't like how the people treated each other. And from that point of view I have to say they are right :).

We squeezed in a visit to my Gama Monday morning before we had to hit the road. It was quick, but we promised to come spend more time on our next visit and K found a book that my mom had given Gama for her to fill out about her life. K was quite disappointed to discover that it was still blank, and took the book saying she was going to call Gama to get the answers. I just love that my daughter loves family history this much.

So a whirlwind trip before the 10 12 hour trip home. Now, if we could only figure our how to make the driving shorter. Mike had one good trick, he made us leave really early Friday morning, so that we slept a few hours of it away (of course I always sleep the majority of it anyways)