Friday, December 30, 2016

Thanksgiving Too!

Does it seem wrong that I posted Christmas pics before the Thanksgiving ones?  Again, this is real life, where things don't always go in order.  We spent Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's.  It was also a pretty typical Thanksgiving.  Lots of food and family and stories.  These pictures though capture the highlights.

My cousin, Quinn, has created  medieval weapons from duct tape.
So of course, all the boys wanted to play.
What could possible go wrong?

The game they invented was a riot to watch.
Basically, if an opponent touched you with his weapon, you lost the use of whatever body part the weapon touched.
So they played on their knees, with arms behind their backs, etc..

I'd like to think the neighbors were surprised but I'm pretty sure they were not.

And yes, even the little boys who were 3 and 4 wanted in on the game.
Of course, there were no duct tape weapons left for them so we gave them a wooden stick and a wooden toy rifle.
We're wise like that.

Because we believe in gender stereotyping, the girls did something much more refined.
My cousin, Brenna, planned a tea party for the two little girls who were thrilled.

Christmas Photo Dump

Christmas has a way of filling the month of December and this year was no exception.  From presents and parties to programs and time with family, this year was pretty normal.  My pics are in reverse order and a bit lacking as I ended up being sick on Christmas Day and went home early.  (So no photos of the parakeet pillow, the tin cans with no labels, the saran wrap gift game, the beard hats, the gigantic stuffed shark hat, or the rest of my family.)  Guess that is the real life version of sharing Christmas photos, seeing as life is often backwards and full of crummy stuff.

Matching PJ's gift, dinosaurs this year

"Who wants to open presents?"
Kai does!

Envelopes from Grandpa Dave and Grandma Joann...with some money of course.

Perhaps the best gift Conleigh has every gotten. 
Grandma got her pans to make cake doughnuts and then the ingredients for three different recipes.
Add in the sign and the apron and she was already planning how to get Dad to build her a hut to sell her doughnuts out of.

D trying out the old school electronic basketball game that the boys got in their stockings.

Same for Zeke.

The big kids' gift from us this year was a surprise trip to Stuhr Museum's Christmas and an overnight in a hotel with a pool.
We managed to keep it a secret until the very day, leaving Kenson's basketball game and not telling them until they started asking why we weren't home yet.

One of the kids' favorite activities was in the tin shop where they got to pull a tin icicle ornament.

We also stopped in the train depot for cocoa and cookies.

See?  We're backwards.
Getting the tree ready.

One of the best parenting choices I have ever made is to let the kids do the tree all by themselves

I love watching them get out their old ornaments, both the ones we have given them and the ones they have made.
Those ornaments bring up so many memories for them and it's fun to hear them talk.

Here's the caboose.
Because why wouldn't you decorate the Christmas tree with part of a scuba mask in your mouth?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

So This Just Happened

Yep, it's a name badge with my picture.  A name badge makes it pretty official.  I am back to work on a daily basis.  I accepted a position a week or so ago with a nearby school district as a family literacy coordinator.  I have not yet seen all the pieces in motion yet but I will be working four hours a day with adult immigrants and their school aged children, teaching adult who are learning English and helping those adults as they interact with their children.  I took a very part time teaching job in August teaching adult education/adult ELL on Saturday mornings so some parts of this will be similar to that.  This job is unique in that it also involves helping families help their children be successful at school.  I am taking over an existing position so next week I will be shadowing the teacher who is already in place and then will be on my own in January. 

For years, I have prayed and hoped for a part time job that would provide us with a bit more consistent income while allowing me to still be home without all the extras of a classroom all while doing a job I love to do.  I hope this job really is that.  I will work afternoons only, 12-4 and with my commute, I should be home between 4:30 and 5, depending on how long it takes to get the kids picked up.  

It's still a change and in some ways, it has been hard to say yes.  I have worked for the same district for almost 15 years.  Even though I wasn't a full time employee, I have always been involved with the district and the families they serve.  I have worked in the same district as my husband for that entire time as well, often in the same building, and sometimes just a few doors away.  There is just a tinge of sadness there in letting go of those familiar faces and that community of families.  This new job will be different in that I will working with a bit different demographic.  I will be working with a lot of Arabic, Russian, and Kurdish families.  While the district I have worked in is very diverse, our largest population group by far is Latino so this is a new adventure, where I don't necessarily have a lot of background knowledge regarding those groups.  That change is exciting, where I know I will be learning new things about culture and language. 

So Monday is the day.  A new schedule and a new adventure...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sweet Boy

Don't let that sweet grin fool you!
Just today he tried to negotiate a trip in Dad's truck.
Dad said that he couldn't go with him and Kai's first response was "You give me pop." 
That was then followed by "You give me pop and money."
As in "I won't throw a fit about not going if you meet my demands."
Such a conversation is only bested by his random comments about 15 minutes later of
"Me going to pop your head."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Better Late Than Never

Pretty sure I've used that title more than once.  That's life, isn't it?  Halloween pics after the Thanksgiving ones?  Eh, why not?

Our crew was nothing if not eclectic.
Kai was a pilot.  I'm not really sure he knew what he was but the pilot suit was D's or his brother's from when they were little, and this is kind of the last chance for someone to wear it.
Kenson was Captain America.  He made his shield about 85% independently. 
Zeke was a jellyfish.  He actually had lights inside this costume but it was hard to see.
Conleigh was a rock star, mostly because she really wanted to wear make up. Conleigh helped with her microphone but the spray paint kept wanting to blow the paper towel tube over so Mom ended up helping.

We did most of our trick or treating at our local college.
This was outdoor in their nature center, hosted by the education association on campus.

Conleigh did not want a Walmart bag for her candy.
She needed something a little more rock start like.

Local college again...the gym was filled with student athletes.
Each team hosted a station, often one that matched their sport.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Past and Present

Zeke, sporting his turkey hat from kindergarten

A throwback photo, when Zeke had no hat and instead posed with the two bigs in their hats from kindergarten.
Zeke was 2 and had been home just about a month.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day Prayer

Well, it's here.  Despite the thousands of Facebook memes, litany of SNL jokes, and angst of millions, America is voting today.  This election cycle has been a struggle for me.  It is not that I want a perfect candidate.  I have no illusions of grandeur, that I can only vote for a person with whom I agree 100 percent.  I'd just like to feel like there was a choice that involved real leadership.  I hate the way our nation is divided.  I despise that cronyism and materialism are a part of our system.  I hate that political leadership has such a shallow footing, where integrity and principled thought combined with compassion and genuine concern for people seem to be abandoned. 

It is not that I think we all should agree.  On the contrary, our ability to disagree is what makes this a pretty great place to live.  It's just that I wish we were a bit less politic and did a lot less shouting about who is right and who is wrong and a lot more listening and compromising. 

 I honestly don't want that.  Of course, I'd prefer that whomever is elected shares some of my core values.  But America is a big enough place that it's really okay if the new president does not.  America should not be about my agenda or my opportunity.  Instead, my prayer is our new president meets God tonight.  Not because I want God to pull some divine puppetry strings as He puts the new president in his place but because I want our president to literally encounter the King of the World.  Not because I am judging the heart of a person, believing that he or she is not a Christian or is not as good of one as I'd like them to me.  No.  I want our president to experience a divine encounter, something that shakes our new president to his or her core, that leaves no doubt that our president has seen the very face of God and lived to tell about it.  The presence of God as the catalyst for a heart change, the glory of God as a reminder of the depth of this earthly kingdom, the spirit of God as an urging to return to working not for man but for the King of the World, where a president has the heart of a servant...that is really my prayer.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In Need of Accessories

Can I tell you that this kid below cracks me up?  Yesterday, for no apparent reason, he decided he needed to wear winter hats.  All day long.  He probably tried on ten different hats and ten different pairs of gloves throughout the day.
This is the hat that started things off.
Yes, he's wearing it sideways which is part of why I took the picture to start with.
I think he liked wearing it sideways since he could pull the flap down and mutter under his breath, "Turn the light on!"

Then we moved on to the shark hat which was appropriate since we were making Play-Doh sea creatures.

After nap, we swapped things out for the frog hat.
No need for pants when you've got a frog hat.

And this is how we went to pick up Zeke from school.
I told him I had to grab my purse and we'd be ready to go.
He ran off, yelled, "Me too!" and this is what I found.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Grown Up Girlie

My mom is making a big move and with it has come a lot of cleaning.  That has included a lot of dusty memories making their way out of storage including my prom dresses and several of the dresses I sewed for 4-H.  My mom also has a few of her items like that as well so Conleigh took full advantage of them being out to do some trying on.
I sewed this pink lace dress for 4-H my junior year of high school.  

I think this hot pink jacket and sleeveless dress were my freshman year project for 4-H.

This was my senior year prom dress.
I loved this dress and still do.
It is off the shoulder with a very short, flowing chiffon train.
Looking at it 20 years later, I think it's actually kept its wearability pretty well.

Fuschia velvet with lace cap sleeves, sewed by either my grandma or my mom, for my mom.
It pretty much fit Conleigh.
I think Grandma is going to make some alterations so it could really be worn.

This is my mom's pink lace formal from high school.
I think my mom was shocked to see how close it was to actually fitting Conleigh.
Again, with some alternations from Grandma, Conleigh could have a great dress.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Most Important Things

What to do with sassy kids who are struggling with bad attitudes?  It's just hard to be a kid sometimes.  Just like adults, anger and disappointment spill out into our words and attitudes, causing us to be negative and grouchy.

I thought we'd address that today by having my kids create a list of things that were really important to them while I made a list of of things that were really important to me.  I was going to create a list that showed my kids the characteristics I was hoping they would have as adults.  I wanted use my kids' lists as a conversation point, with the specific idea of losing some of those important things in connection to those bad attitudes.

I wrote my list and my daughter wrote hers.  Then we talked and I smiled at what I found.  The first item is a project she is working on.  The second is her lego sets.  The rest are all people.

People.  People matter most to her.  I smiled and told her what my original plan had been.  I told her I was proud of her for choosing people over things.  I shared my list with her, telling her about who I want her to become.  And then we picked plan B.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hola, Baby!

Kai is currently obsessed with babies and the word "Hola!"  The babies part is pretty natural.  He often will say "Oooh look!  A baby!"  However, he took it to a new level the other day thanks to his older siblings who often say "hola" as they greet one another or D and I.  

D took Kai to Walmart with him where Kai spotted a baby in a shopping cart.  He shouted a cheery greeting of "Hola, baby!"  Cute little bug, right?  Made even better by the fact that the baby was Hispanic and his mom was nearby.  D said she just looked at him and said, "He speaks Spanish?"

I'm sure D's response of "Nope, just knows how to say 'hola, baby!'" was equally perplexing.

Upon hearing their dad tell that story, my big kids all made it their mission to teach Kai a bit more Spanish.  So now his favorite way of telling me hi or getting my attention involves the phrase, "Hola, Mamacita!"

Yep, we're bilingual.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Gospel of Patriotism?

Maybe it was just the weekend.  Or maybe I'm just grouchy.  I don't know.  But the last week or so has left me biting my tongue and feeling that awkward feeling of wishing for the ability to give voice to my words without entering into a futile battle because Facebook conversations rarely leave room for quality discourse or changed hearts.  That statement in and of itself is part of the problem with Facebook.  We take to Facebook to share our opinions and once we encounter someone who doesn't agree with us, we use the distance of the Internet to engage in a pointless conversation.  The Internet creates this mist-like fog that separates us from our friends and acquaintances, where we literally and figuratively argue with a wall.  What that means is that one person issues an opinion, the other responds, the original poster issues a response, and so on until both parties are tired of the debate and move on.  No one has heard a word that the other has said and really the only time someone chooses to analyze what's being said is when another person jumps into offer support thus creating an analysis of agreement rather than a thoughtful analysis of all the content in the conversation.

The topic that's left me frustrated, saddened, and a bit disheartened? In Nebraska, where people bleed and die Husker football, we recently had three Husker players kneel during the National Anthem.  I know it's been somewhat of a national conversation since Colin Kaepernick took a knee.  When three of our own players made the same choice, that brought it close to home.  Suddenly the issue of race and patriotism walked itself into our front yard.

My initial reaction when Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel was not necessarily that of approval.  I thought in my head and said to my husband that it didn't seem like the right avenue for such a protest, that perhaps there were better, more effective ways to communicate the same message, in a way that might cause people to listen rather than argue.  I let it go at that.

Then, Saturday evening, three Husker players kneeled and Husker Nation lost their minds.  I've seen friends make known their own opinions via their Facebook pages.  I've seen the comments left on news articles, some of which were comments left by friends.  And I've walked away shaking my head because of the meanness, name calling, and overall attitude by both my friends and people whom I do not know.  The people I do not know cause my heart to break a bit but truly what really does a number on my heart is to see my Christian friends join right in.  It's not that I expect my Christian friends to be perfect.  It's more that it is hard to watch Christians choose patriotism over the gospel of grace and love.

In general, the irony of the disapproval is not lost on me.  People are quick to point out how these players are really just entertainers, contrasting them with real heroes like military personal.  That line of thinking is certainly one I think most of us would agree with.  However, what makes someone a hero?  Heroes are made because they choose the hard way instead of the easy way, because they found a way to do the right thing in the middle of doing their everyday, ordinary life.  Of course, a football field is not a battle field, and one would be remiss to think that playing football is just as difficult as being a soldier.  Of course, those football players could have chosen to enlist instead of play ball.   They didn't, and they are living in the place where God has them in this moment, and in this moment, they are doing something that is not popular.   The easy road would be to be a football player who only cares about his own ego and his own success.  The easy road would be to ignore the hard conversations that are happening in our country right now.  They are not choosing that.  They are choosing the hard, trying to make a difference within their spheres of influence.

Similarly, it strikes me as ironic when people hold up the freedoms we have in this country as hard fought by our military while in the same breath denouncing someone's right to exercise that freedom.  If we want to one of our country's greatest strengths to be the voice of its people, then we cannot tack on the caveat of people having that right but only as long as they do it in a way that we find acceptable.   It also seems like there is a component of supporting the person's right to protest but only if it's a cause we can get behind.  If an evangelical player kneeled for the National Anthem in protest of our nations' same sex marriage laws, what would be the response?  If a Catholic player kneeled for the National Anthem in protest of our nation's abortion policies, would we be as outraged?  Or we would applaud that person's bravery and willingness to stand up for what he believed to be right?  Is part of the issue that we do not believe in the merit of the protest because our perspective on race issues is so different from those protesting?

I have also been frustrated over the meanness and hate that seems to pervade the conversations.  Calling people idiots, ungrateful, disgraceful, losers, and spoiled brats is mean.  Using racial slurs, threatening to lynch someone, or threatening physical violence is hateful.  It is okay to share an articulate response to why you disagree with someone's protest.  It is not okay to offer up a 3-5 word comment that insults someone and only serves to incite similar comments.  To be quite honest, that's passive aggressiveness.  I do not understand why the topic of civility is even an issue nor do I understand why people continue to think such conversations about civility do not apply to them.  I wish I were just talking about people whom I don't know, people who have left random comments on news article but I'm not.

I'm hoping these words are slightly better than a rant, that they are a part of heartfelt and intentional dialogue not just throwing words into the air to prove who is most right.  Patriotism is so much more than an anthem or a flag.  For us as Americans, patriotism has to be about the ideals of our Constitution which include the right of people to protest and criticize even if it's done in a way in which we don't agree.  If patriotism is watered down into simply an action we do in regards to a flag or a song, then we are like hundreds of other nations that were or are ruled by corrupt governments, tyrants, and dictators.

I'll leave you with the press conference held yesterday by Michael Rose-Ivey, one of the three Husker football players who chose to kneel.  If you watch it and still see him as spoiled, disrespectful, or an idiot, I'm at a loss.  He is a man struggling to find a way to make a difference.  Listen to what he is saying. Listen not so you can argue your position but so you can understand his perspective.  You may not agree with the action he chose but to vilify him is a position I refuse to take.

Monday, September 19, 2016

World Kids and How to Get Girls to Move

Thanks, Aunt Sheree for the subscription to World Kids.  We got our first one today and pulled the map insert out right away.  Then we spent a good 20-30 minutes finding the places from the stories on the map.

And hearing Kenson tell us that he knows how to get girls to move out of the way.  Which made me raise my eyebrows since no mom really wants her son telling them that he knows how to get girls to move out of the way.

According to him, you just say "I have to fart."  And then they move.  At least the girls at school.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

More Birthday Bashes

We have five birthdays within the span of 40 days in our family.  We celebrated each one a bit on the day, just within our family, but we waited until Labor Day weekend to celebrate with Grandmas and such.
Kai is now 3.
Along with Paw Patrol and doing puzzles, he loves diggers and cement trucks.

Yes, there is a glint in his eyes and yes, it's normally there.

Ready to blow

And all done!

Zeke's chilling in the recliner with Grandma 2, waiting for things to begin.

Opening presents

Two boys of a similar age pondering a Nerf gun-it was a good conversation, I'm sure.

Mom and Kai selfie

My aunt and cousins love to torment my husband with their gift giving.
He's gotten a head in a box and a fake dead bird.
This year, there was some mention of a bat.
He always proceeds with caution, even if it's just a box of chocolates.

An ocean of felt for the ocean lover


Monday, August 15, 2016

First Day

This picture just about sums it all up.
Kenson is too cool.
Conleigh is posing.
Zeke has an excited smile.
And Kai...well he's being a complete ham and stealing the big kids' thunder.

As for the actual first day, Zeke had an amazing first day.  He had so much to tell me.  He saw a garter snake on the field and played soccer and basketball with Cole and Camden and some other people whose names he didn't know.  He grabbed my hand as we walked to the van and told me how he should have brought his lunch from home because they had cooked carrots for lunch.  (He hates cooked carrots.)  Then he was on to telling me that he already knew what he wanted for lunch tomorrow and that we needed to run to Walmart to get it.  When I pressed him more on this, telling him that I had things for lunch, he was quite insistent that we go to Walmart.  He couldn't tell me the name of what he wanted so I made my best guess.  "Lunchables?  Did you see lots of people eating Luncheables?"  Yep, that was it.  (I don't think I have every bought my children Luncheables but my kids constantly beg for them.  I ought to break down and buy them that as a treat when I head to the store on Thursday.)   He then proceeded to tell me how the only thing bad about the day was that it was a short day and that he wished it had been a full day instead of early dismissal.  He used his scissors and his glue and his teacher read like 10 books but he didn't remember any of them.  He was such a chatterbox.

As for his hands, that was the second thing on his list.  Lots of people asked and he chose to ignore them.  I asked him how he thought that would work since they might ask tomorrow but he changed the subject.  "Well except for this one boy.  I told him that a shark bit off my hands and he said 'really?'"

As to the big kids, they were a lot less chatty.  Surprise, surprise.  I did manage to find out what they did at recess and what they ate for lunch.

Picture option number 44