Monday, May 31, 2010

Vacation - Part 1

We had the blessing of being able to get away as a family last week for some fun in Pigeon Forge, TN. This was the first time we had ever taken a vacation, other than going to my parents, his parents or some other family member. Patrick and I didn't know what to expect so we left without expectations and hoped for the best. All in all, we had a great time!

We left on Monday after we had lunch. I had scheduled a well-visit for Mallory and Evan several months ago that I wanted to keep, so Daddy kept Ethan while I went to the DR with Mal and Evan. Mallory asked all morning when it was time to leave for vacation and I kept having to tell her to have patience! After lunch, Patrick loaded down the car, which was too "loaded down" since we packed pretty efficiently even though I'd never had to pack for a trip without an accessible washer and dryer! We had 3 suitcases filled to the brim and 5 boxes of diapers, food, and other necessities to make it through the week. We didn't bring ANY toys for Mal and Ethan - just Evan. When I had completed my vacation shopping, I was looking for what to buy for the kids to entertain them while in the hotel room. I looked at Leapsters and a few other electronic toys that I just felt were too pricey for the annoyance they would be to us in a small hotel room. So after searching, I found 2 really cute backpacks that lit up when you moved. And since my older two have become VERY interested in Dora, I thought they would like a backpack with a map. Inside the backpack, I put coloring books, crayons, new color wonders, a new toothbrush, a slinky (thanks Kelly) and then anything else they wanted to bring (which they chose their Doggies, of course, flags (Mallory is still obsessed with her flags), and cars). They were a hit! I drew up a map for them both from the house to VACATION and their little imaginations just took over. Success!

I could write a book about each and every day and our experiences of each novelty the children experienced, but for the sake of length and time, I'll tell the remainder of our story thorough pictures. I have a friend on Facebook who said that over the course of her vacation, there were several mobile upload moments but now that she's posting pictures she has nothing clever to say. I feel that way, but here goes nothin'...

On Tuesday morning, we took the kids into Gatlinburg. Since our children are up EARLY, we arrived about 8:30, parked and explored the quaint little shopping area in G-burg called "The Village". For those who don't know, my family and I went to the 'burg a lot growing up and have MANY pictures of us in front of this fountain in the village. It was super cool for me to get a picture of my kids here.

Next, it was off to the Aquarium. We were some of the first people to arrive and practically had the place to ourselves for about an hour when more people started coming in. My kids had a GREAT time (though Mallory kept wanting to go back to the hotel. She LOVED the hotel)

As you notice, they were more interested in the fish than the camera. Didn't they realized we were just trying to make some memories?!?!?

Nice little fishy

"Want to hold it" - Mallory

This picture about sums up my life with Ethan. Fun, exciting, full of life, mischievous, dare I say more?

This was taken by a kind bystander in the shark tunnel. This is actually a very good picture...

We visited the Smokey Mountain Candy Factory after lunch at the Pancake Pantry. The kids selected these suckers, though I don't really think they needed ANY MORE SUGAR but how can you resist a kid in a candy store?

After the Aquarium and a nap (a much NEEDED nap) we took the kids to Calhoun's for dinner. Patrick had been to one in Knoxville and was very excited about going. I don't think I had ever seen him eat so much food...or maybe I have and just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, Evan was able to even enjoy some ribs. Like father like son...

That about sums up our first full day in Pigeon Forge. So, how about I break this post up into a series, huh? Or I'll NEVER get done...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We can do it!

I don't know about you, but there are sometimes I feel like I can't do anything right. My kids disobey, I yell. My house is a wreck though I clean all day. The dishes keep piling up even though I try to minimize my dishes usage. The laundry basket never stays empty though I do at least a dozen loads of laundry a week. I fall into bed exhausted every night wondering what happened to my day. What did I do all day?

Yesterday, though, I felt like I did something.

When Patrick opened the fridge last night, poured himself some milk and said "why is the milk warm?", it clicked in my head that a lot of our refrigerated goods were warm yesterday though it didn't strike me until he said something. I felt the butter, it was soft. Oh no, the fridge is broke. So, we went through dinner and our bedtime routine, the whole time wondering what could possibly be wrong. When the kids went to bed, I turned towards the handy, dandy internet to search for an answer to the problem.

Google: Refrigerator is warm

Results, a million.

Wow. Browsing the headlines, I clicked "Refigerator is warm, Freezer too cold". I checked my freezer and there was frost. OK, that's probably a good link. After reading, and troubleshooting, I realized that our condenser coils were very dirty and the coils in the freezer were froze up. Patrick and I removed everything from the freezer and as I vacuumed and defrosted the coils, Patrick cleaned our now-warm refrigerator. All the while I was praising God for the refrigerator in the garage or I we would have lost a lot of food. After 2 hours of cleaning, unscrewing, re-screwing, blow drying the coils, and cleaning again, we were done. And all I had to do was wake up the next morning hoping for a cold fridge.

And guess what? We had a cold fridge.

This morning I fixed our lettuce spinner that I broke yesterday.

I felt like this:

I felt accomplished. Like I had done something. Like I had saved money from calling a repairman. Like I didn't throw $25 down the drain for breaking a salad spinner. Now, don't get me wrong, I would have rather vegged on the couch watching the Biggest Loser (who made the top 3, by the way?). But there was other things that needed to be done.

I'm tired today. Very tired. I don't feel like I can do it today - breaking up fights, turning whining into asking nicely, explaining kindly why I will enforce discipline, listening to Dora one.more.time., wiping tears and runny noses, changing poopy diapers, being spit up on, washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping my floors. I'm very weary of it all today. But, it can be done. Now the question is, what kind of heart will I have when I do these things? Joyful, right?

I can't do it.

Or can I?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


OK, so it's been a week since I've blogged (sigh). I can't seem to keep up.

BUT, we do have lots of fun stuff happening over the next few weeks. Patrick will be on vacation next week and we're taking the kids on our first family vacation - Gatlinburg! We have season passes to Dollywood now! We'll hit D-wood for 2 days, the aquarium and other happening places that Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg have to offer. This will be our first extended hotel stay, too. It should be an adventure!

So, for those of you who have experience in hotel stays with your kiddos, is there anything you recommend that I bring? We'll have a 1-bedroom suite with a microwave, full-sized fridge and sink. We'll have breakfast provided in the mornings. Is there any good travel toys you recommend? We're looking forward to the adventure!

The week after we get back, VBS starts. YEA! I'm teaching the 4-year-olds this year and I'm very excited about the Egypt theme as we're delving into the life of Joseph. My neighbor is going to help out with Evan until Daddy gets home; I have to be at church by 5pm and VBS doesn't end until 9. I think Evan will be much happier at home with Daddy. Then after that, summer is in full swing! I'm excited about the coming weeks!

Monday, May 10, 2010

All things through Christ are beautiful

I've been busy. I've learned that this is the story of my life. It's my normal. But, I'm busy with people. Little people. Little people who can bring me both great joy and great frustration. Little people who God has given me for just a short time to care for and direct to Him. As I was encouraged by my pastor on Sunday, my goal is to go about my career as a full-time without grumbling or questioning (I'm going to add complaining in there too). I want to choose to live as Jesus did - a man who saw equality with God as not something to be grasped but made himself nothing (willingly and without complaint) and humbled himself. Oh, if only I could do this! But I am a sinner. I cannot be humble without Jesus. BUT, according to Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. May he strengthen me!

I had a great Mother's Day weekend. The last 2 mother's day have been hard and this Mother's Day was just perfect. My parents came up to watch the kids while Patrick took me to An Evening at The Cove in Asheville, NC to see Andrew Peterson in concert on Saturday night. If you've never been to the Cove, GO! If you've never seen Andrew, GO! If you've never listened to Andrew's music, LISTEN! It was a wonderful evening with my love. On Sunday, we went to church and then had a great dinner prepared by Patrick and my Dad (steak and shrimp!!!). Mom and I tried to see a sneak peak of Letters to Juliet, but it was canceled at the last minute(go figure!). We were a bit disappointed, but we were able to indulge in a half-price Frappuccino at Starbucks and relieve Dad and Patrick the responsibility of entertaining 3 kids while preparing dinner. Mom and I received big hugs from our men when we walked in the door. I had an early birthday celebration with my folks with cake and gifts. It was a great day.

My 32nd birthday is tomorrow. There isn't anything too special planned and that's OK. I've had a lot of "special" lately.

Life is good. Challenging, yes. But good. And beautiful.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Great Debate

There have oftentimes been situations I have walked into with my children that has caused me to either become highly exasperated with them or caused them to be extremely disobedient to me. I have learned to analyze situations I have the opportunity to participate in, trying to accurately predict how my children or I will react and prepare all of us to minimize the negative reactions within either myself or them.

For instance, I try NOT to take all three babies children to the grocery store. This "field trip" usually is an all-morning to all-day experience, from making the lists to organizing the coupons to going to the store to putting away the groceries to cleaning up the huge mess the kids made while making the lists/organizing the coupons. And when we're in the grocery store, oh my. I just won't go there now...but let's just say it's highly exasperating.

So, I've started to think that I should not even enter into situations that cause me to escalate my sinful nature of impatience with the kids (leading to great exasperation...) or give my kids opportunity to disobey (when I KNOW that I'll be giving them a great opportunity to disobey). Now, I know that the children, born into sin, will always be tempted to disobey and will give into that temptation more often than not, but if I KNOW there is something that will be a great test of obedience, I've been declining the opportunity.

All this to say that my friend was going to take her kids to Boone Dam to play near the lake and have a picnic. I, at first, invited myself along, thinking that would be a fun adventure for me and the kids. Yea! It was a great idea! But as I thought about it, though, I foresaw a great opportunity for my kids to disobey and me not being able to aptly enforce obedience. This is what I thought about:

1. My kids would LOVE to run around the hills and open space of the public park property around the lake!
2. But, my kids would want to go INTO the lake and with an infant, I could not properly monitor them
3. When I would tell them NOT to get into the lake, I could say great floods of tears and a great fit of temper from my eldest boy
4. I could see my kids not wanting to eat lunch because of their great desire to get into the lake and disobey me.
5. I could see my kids choosing to disobey anyway in an environment that could threaten their life and for me to not react quickly to that possibility potentially leading to something much worse than "mere" disobedience.

Oh, there is more to the list, but I'll just stop there. I chose to renig my self-invitation and not go to the lake. Now, I was debating within myself whether or not I should not go in the chance my kids would disobey. Hey, they might have loved it, obeyed and had a wonderful time! But, I just didn't want to put myself or them in a situation of great testing. So, we didn't go. And we ended up having a pleasant afternoon and lunch with Daddy (which was another "opportunity for disobedience" that ended up being OK).

So, the great debate leads me to a question: do you assess opportunities that you have with your kids and choose NOT to do them because of how you or your kids will react to the opportunity? It's hard because sometimes I'm choosing to forgo fellowship with a friend or a fun chance for the kids in order to maintain a spirit of righteousness. Now, I know I can't always shelter them, which I don't, but I am starting to assess certain situations where I know I can't handle the sinful reaction of my kids, if it happens (specifically if the situation can lead to something life-threatening). I believe that I did the right thing of not going to the lake. But I wonder how far I should go with my assessing nature.

It's heart breaking to me whenever I look at the sweet faces of my children and know that the state of their hearts are filled with sin. They need Jesus, just like I do, and more than anything, I want to show them Jesus. With all I am and with all I do, I want to God to be glorified and I want my children to desire the same thing. I know that one of the greatest testimonies for them is watching me (and Patrick) in life-action. What life-actions are you willing NOT to take for the sake of righteousness?