Friday, February 27, 2009

Crowding out

Ooh, I've been a bad blogger lately. We've been semi-busy, but no busier than usual. I think the main culprit is Facebook. I'm not busy, but I'm occupied. I've had a great time reconnecting with lots of old friends, but it's also very distracting.

Jeff and I are off to Memphis this weekend. We have a brief respite between the end of Saturday basketball games and the onset of Saturday soccer (and maybe volleyball) games, so we seized it. It's supposed to be chilly down there, too, but we're pushing on. We should enjoy the time alone no matter what, and heaven knows we need it. Hopefully I'll have lots to say (and some time in which to say it) when we get back!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Whirlwind

Been some busy days. I've been reading a ton. In the past 2 weeks, I've read Francine Rivers's Lineage of Grace series (very cool), Atonement Child (also good), and Redeeming Love (amazing! I finished that one yesterday and am still missing the characters). I read three books by Barbara (I think) somebody. I also read Singing with the Top Down, which was fantastic, and finally finished The Power of a Praying Woman. I now have a stack of work-related books waiting for me.

Nathan finished up his basketball season today. They lost the conference championship. It was a huge disappointment. They played a fantastic game on Saturday and beat a team they probably shouldn't have...only to pretty much roll over today and lose to a team they should have beat. Oh, well. Goodbye basketball, hello volleyball.

This weekend Jeff and I went out to watch a high school friend of my brother in a band. This was a huge gift from my husband to me, because the man hates the bar scene and only knew two other people who were there. A social butterfly, he isn't, so he mostly sat and tried not to look too miserable until I was ready to leave.

I wasn't feeling too well on Sunday after our night out, but I managed to drag myself and the three boys to church, and I'm always so glad to be there. I really love my church. I love that I love my church and that it is so relevant to me. Now that basketball is over, I can finally go back to my Wednesday small group...except that I can't this week because I'm going to see a movie with Jeff. What I really want to do is go to church, but I'm trying to put him in front of me for once.

Oh, and after a terrible Friday at work (OK, terrible is too strong, but it was definitely rough), my two biggest problem children were very good today. Yea God! I could definitely use the break!

Oh, and most exciting of all, Jeff and I are taking a trip to Memphis this weekend. Just the two of us. I can't wait!! A trip. Away. Together. Without kids. Ahhhhh.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Journaling...

Daniel is still sick with the flu. He' s been sick since Tuesday...flat on his back miserable sick. He ate something for the first time since Tues. today. I've been off work since Tuesday afternoon, and Daniel even asked me to stay home today. You know my 16-year old son is sick when he wants his mom around!

Had my first bike ride of 2009 today! It felt great to get out. Temp was around 50. I wore a windbreaker over a fleece sweatshirt and now I'm a little sweaty. On the way back I wore one of those earbands because the cool air was making my ears hurt (I have wimpy ears). My legs are definitely sore, though, because I worked out today and focused on legs after the elliptical machine and then rode my bike. Whew!

Hero worship

Once again, we have a reminder that our idols have feet of clay. The Michael Phelps/bong picture "scandal" has unleashed all kinds of articles bemoaning the lack of good role models for our children. This is so true, but only because we are looking in the wrong places. The story reminded me of a passage I read not too long ago.

"God wasn't at all pleased; but he let them do it their way, worship every new god that came down the pike—and live with the consequences, consequences described by the prophet Amos:

Did you bring me offerings of animals and grains
those forty wilderness years, O Israel?
Hardly. You were too busy building shrines
to war gods, to sex goddesses,
Worshiping them with all your might.
That's why I put you in exile in Babylon. (Acts 7:42-43)...

..."And you continue, so bullheaded! Calluses on your hearts, flaps on your ears! Deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit, you're just like your ancestors...You had God's Law handed to you by angels—gift-wrapped!—and you squandered it!" (Acts 7:51-53)

These days, I think maybe we could substitute "athletes" for "war gods" and "movie stars" for "sex goddesses". And make no mistake, our family watches more than its share of athletic events and movies. My husband is a huge sports fan.

We can respect the skill these people exhibit, but we are destined to be disappointed if we are looking to people to be our heros or idols...people make mistakes, people are "only human". Only God and Jesus are perfect. Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness in the times that we fail. He is the One to Whom we should look as our role model.

And yet...why is it so much easier to yell, clap, and cheer at a sporting event or concert than at church? For me, anyway. Because, I think, many of us spend much more time focusing on what we can see before us than we do thinking about the things of God which we take on faith.

I wish Michael Phelps the best, and I thank him for the reminder that, while we can admire Phelps's swimming, he's only a man who swims well. Rather than being disillusioned by his problems, I hope that the children who look up to him turn their eyes instead to Jesus as our example of a true hero.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Being a blessing

Our local paper featured an article (and I apologize in advance for the poor formatting...not sure why they couldn't have clear paragraphs) about the 365 Club on Facebook. Basically, the group is about committing one random act of kindness a day.

While I haven't managed one a day--at least one act that is truly random rather than a kindness to someone I know--I have been much more aware of treating friends and family as well as strangers with more kindness and consideration. And in two instances, I was able to commit "guerilla kindness".
  • I sneakily paid for the soda of a lady behind me in line. She didn't hear as I whispered to the clerk, and as I hurried out the door I heard the clerk tell her, "It's taken care of." I giggled the whole way home.
  • Yesterday, I stopped at the Bread Co. for lunch on my way home to take Daniel to the doctor (influenza, as it turns out). As I was reading at my table, some people at a table near me were having some sort of meeting. An older couple came in with their young son (a big 4 or maybe 5). They weren't too organized...Dad telling him to sit one place, Mom telling him somewhere different. As they sat at the meeting they wanted the little boy to just sit there. He had nothing to do. I was probably there another 5 minutes after they came in, and the dad was constantly redirecting the little boy. I couldn't really focus on what I was reading, so I headed to the car. I keep lots of junk in my car just because it never gets taken into the house. I found a book and a kids' magazine and was a little torn. Should I take them in for the boy or would the parents take offense. I ended up taking them in. The couple and their son were nowhere to be found. I asked a woman in their group if they were coming back, and she said they were. I handed her the books and asked her to give them to him. She gave me a huge smile and thanked me. I hope that the parents weren't offended, but I felt good that maybe the afternoon would be a little easier for all of them.
In both instances, I was struck by how good I felt. Not a proud good, like I did something good. A happy good, like I was able to be a part of something good. A very nice feeling.

Sarum (book review)

Sarum: The Novel of England Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was suggested to me after I reviewed Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both of which are set in the fictional (I think) English town of Kingsbridge. Like the Follett books, Sarum is also set in an English cathedral town, Salisbury, but that's where the similarities end.



Sarum sweeps across the history of England, from the island's physical break from the continent through WWII. Five main families are followed throughout the novel, and as names and circumstances change incrementally, some physical and personality traits carry across thousands of years. This book is full of history, but it isn't a "history book". It has snapshots of how historical events affected certain people in one locality.



It puts a very personal face on history. I could see using certain pieces of the book as a supplement to a World History class. At the same time, because such a long time frame is covered, it wasdifficult to keep track of who the characters were or to have a connection with them.



Sarum was interesting, but it was the longest thousand page book I've ever read. It seemed to take forever. I liked it, but I could put it down.


View all my reviews.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The zoo in winter

Jacob went to a birthday party at the zoo on Saturday morning. Normally, being a warm-weather person, I don't get to the zoo unless it's a nice day. Additionally, we were supposed to be there by 9:50...which means I had to get up earlier than I usually do on a Saturday. Of course, I had forgotten to buy the present before Saturday, so Jacob and I hit Target on our way out of town...and THEN had to fill up the gas tank. I was batting a thousand by 8:45 in the morning. Geez.



It could only get better, though, right? One would think so, but then one would be wrong. Jacob had forgotten his blanket. This blanket goes everywhere with him. We have dragged it all over Six Flags and the western United States. Since he's going to be going to kindergarten next year, I'm already dreading the initial transition to not being able to take his blanket with him. (He is, too.) He's done better lately with forgetting his blanket for short trips, but he sure didn't on Saturday! He cried and yelled about the blanket for the entire drive. 45 minutes of screaming 5-year old. Pure joy. By the time we made it to the zoo, I was ready for a beer...and I don't even like beer!!



After everyone showed up, they had us walk across the zoo and go behind one of the fences (aren't we special? :D) to the Educational Outpost. It's a building that they use for birthday parties and scout groups. One of the first things we saw there was Phil the Gorilla.



Phil the Gorilla

I can remember seeing Phil in one of the buildings when we visited the zoo as kids, but I haven't seen him in ages. No beer can in his hand, though. Does anybody else remember seeing him with a beer can?



The ranger in charge of the party talked to the kids about the kinds of things the rangers have to do to take care of the animals, in particular cleaning the cages. The kids were put into teams for an overly involved relay race. I think I would have been confused! Here are the kids while the ranger explains the details...


Explaining the relay

The next picture shows Jacob putting on the rubber gloves to clean the cage. (I'm seeing great possibilities at home...maybe a house-cleaning birthday party is on the horizon. Think of the relays! "Sort the dirty laundry!! Scrub the toilet!! Clean the windows!!"...I'm guessing no one would show up, though. :( lol).



Getting gloved up to "clean" the cage

After the relay the kids got to make blow guns to shoot tranquilizer "darts" at the big animals (aka adults in the room). They were supposed to color the paper for the tube. Jacob colored a dot that was a little smaller than a dime. He is not one for coloring! He did enjoy the shooting, though.



Next on the agenda was the chance to learn about and pet a few animals. The kids got to see a hedgehog, a dove of some type (the bird world's foster parent, it'll sit on any eggs of the right size, leaving endangered species free to get right back to business), and a lop-eared rabbit (gigantic, but very cute).


Hedgehog

Petting a dove

Lop-eared rabbit

Instead of birthday cake, the kids got to eat tiger cupcakes. They were very cute.


Tiger cupcake

Once the presents were opened and the gift bags passed out, Jacob and I decided that, since we were already there, we might as well check out some of the animals. You hate to waste a nice, sunny day...plus, Jeff was off buying a TV, and I knew he'd feel bad if I started cleaning for the Super Bowl party without him! (Yeah, right) We saw tigers, some bears, the penguins of course (and, though their house smelled stinky as ever, it felt almost warm in comparison to the outside!), a jaguar, zebras, a camel (nasty), and the sea lions.


Gorilla statue

Jacob liked the animals, but his favorite part was playing in the snow! In one of the pictures, you have a great view of his missing tooth. He was grabbing snow and throwing it at the side of one of the buildings. In at least one of the pictures it looks like he was crying, but he was cracking up. And don't worry...no buildings were harmed in the taking of these pictures. :-)



Snow!

Jacob



Throwing snowballs at the zoo