Wednesday, August 31, 2011

North Carolina

One of my favorite places in the country (of the limited places I've been:) is the mountains of North Carolina.  My father retired a couple years ago and purchased a cabin on a creek in Sylva for a second home.  We have been blessed to be able to go to the cabin for vacations for free.  It makes a frugal getaway for our family.  The gas used to drive up and back is the main expense.  Once we're there, we use the full kitchen to cook breakfasts and the majority of our suppers.  I use the crockpot so we can come home to a finished meal.  Alan grills sometimes.  For most lunches, we take a picnic on the road and stop somewhere to eat, either at a location that has a scenic view, or the woods. 

A large portion of our time is spent in an activity that is virtually free - waterfall hunting!  In the cabin is a book that lists 25 easy waterfall hikes with directions to find them.  That book started it all two years ago.  Ever since, we spend at least a couple of our days at the cabin searching for waterfalls or revisiting some of our favorites. 

This year was no exception.  Here are some pics of the beauties we visited:



Our car is filled with a backpack that has some first aid supplies (like bandaids, etc.), bug spray, sunscreen, a towel, and water.  I carry the backpack on our hike.  We also bring our lunches, snacks, paper towels and regular towels, a change of clothes for each person, and a change of shoes.  Everyone wears water shoes or Teva's.  Except Alan and sometimes Easton.  Alan always wears tennis shoes.  

We visited Grandfather Mountain this time. 

Alan and the kids walked across the mile-high swinging bridge.  I did not.  I stayed safely on the rock and prayed for them the entire time.

This was my view from my seat on the rock:

Here are Alan and the kids (can you see them?) on the other side of the bridge.

At homeschool convention this year, there was a booth selling swords.  Alan said, "I can make those".  So he did when we got to North Carolina.  They were made out of PVC pipe and pool noodles.   Cool, huh?  They were good for hours of fun.

I would totally live there!  Now to convince my husband.......Nope, I don't think that's going to happen.


Shari's Birthday

One of the very cool things about having a large space for entertaining built onto our house is actually using it.  A lot.  Why would you have a large space and lots of land and not share it?  Our house gets used almost year round (July and August, not so much) for various events and we love it.  

One of the last people to use the porch before it became too excruciatingly hot this summer was Shari.  Her sweet husband, Jim, planned a surprise 50th birthday party for her.  He was so cute, worried about all the details.  It ended up being really nice! 

Our lookout fell down on the job, so by the time I located my camera to start taking pictures, she was half way across the room and in the middle of hugging people.


Hugging.....


More hugging......


This is her husband, Jim, the instigator:


This is Shari, realizing when she stepped out back that there were a lot more people!



Blowing out her candles:


Opening presents:


A group of Shari's admirers:

Thanks for coming to our "adoption party", Shari!  Hopefully sometime this year we'll be able to have the REAL one!  Glad you were surprised.  We all love you.

Mom's 60th Birthday

My mother, Robyn, turned 60 in May.  For her milestone birthday, we went to dinner at a restaurant an hour away on the water, The Chart House.  It's one of her favorites.  We surprised her by inviting her sisters (she has 6 of them!) and her mother (my Grandmother, of course) to come along. 

Disclaimer: In the last post, I put the captions under the pictures.  I don't like it that way.  I know that the way I'm going to introduce the pics is backward, but I like to read what the pictures are, then see them, so that's what I'm going to do. 

Here's the birthday girl, a.k.a. mom, walking in and seeing all her surprise family members:


My mom and dad (married for 39 years this past month):


My Uncle Johnny and Aunt Bonnie (no, they are not married to each other):


Uncle Gary, Aunt Jan and Aunt Penny (Johnny's wife):


Starting at the head of the table, there's Mark, Wendy, and Grandmother:


My baby sister, Ginger, and her handsome husband, Ryan.  Ginger was glowing becuase she was at the end of her first trimester of pregnancy.  Yay Ginger!


Me and Alan:


Mom with her birthday cake:

It was a nice evening.  The best part was the fact that my mom was genuinely surprised to see her family members.  Don't you love it when a surprise you have planned actually works?  I do!



Summer Pictures

Thanks to my genius future nephew-in-law, Matt, I found the right cord to be able to load pictures onto the computer again!  A whole summer's worth.  This could take some time.  I'll try to hit the highlights.  Aren't you glad?  Let's start all the way back in May......

This is Matt.  Since I just mentioned him, I thought I'd show you what he looks like.  This was taken during a weekend we spent with him and his lovely future wife, Courtney.  My children love him.  We went to Georgia and the men participated in turkey hunting.  Matt won.  Hehe.  More than once.

This is Matt with his earnings and the lovely Courtney.



Cleaning the turkeys.  We marinated them in Italian dressing overnight, then the boys grilled them the next day for supper.  Tasted like chicken!  Yummy.
While in Georgia, we went to Savannah and walked around. 
Martin, a family friend, let us fish in his ponds.  Stay tuned while I post a picture of each child, to be fair.  Easton, of course.

Alana.  Alana loves to fish.  We call her "the fish whisperer" because she usually catches the most.  Know why?  Because she's PATIENT.  Gee,  what a concept.


Jayde at work.  She must always be climbing/perched/upside down/leaning on something.


One of Martin's ponds.  His property is so beautiful!  We are thankful for the opportunity to use it.



Jayde helps Alan clean the fish.  She does very well.  Easton does OK.  Alana - not so much. 


Martin has hundreds of these visitors all year round. 

Well, maybe that was a little long.  How about if I separate each event into it's own post?   


Friday, August 19, 2011

Homecoming

One of our fellow AWAA group members brought home their daughter, and now, after many struggles, is bringing home their son.  Here's the video of dad going to pick him up,
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fdl.dropbox.com%2Fu%2F1074841%2F2120665969057_38445.mp4&h=xAQAXsYKBAQAfyIjMOxh2XW7u4TNozZgROsdsn4IsDCst1g

and here's a page from Jen's blog.  It's their story.  Read it.  A story of God's grace, mercy, and perfect timing. 
http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/08/17/im-not-done-yet#.Tk0WEYpFraU.facebook

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

International Adoption

Great post on International Adoption from a fellow AWAA yahoo group member, Katie:
Check out this link http://myfarawaydaughter.blogspot.com/2011/08/international-adoption-101.html

Busyness

I would say it was just a coincidence, but that would be lying.  Definition of "coincidence" on http://www.dictionary.com/:  "a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance".  Guess what "coincidence" leaves out of the equasion - GOD. 

For the past few days, my oldest daughter has been crying at various points throughout the day.  Finally, this morning, she put a voice to her emotions.  She was feeling overwhelmed.  Okay, let's back up a minute.

At the end of last school year, I was looking for a way to have the kids participate in some sort of class structure to get the electives I may not necessarily be able to teach them as well as someone passionate about their respective class:  i.e.  art, drama, P.E. etc.   I am not the most artsy/craftsy person, definately not a drama person, and, though I love to run and lift weights, not a team sports kind of gal.  Enter Calvary Baptist Academy.  They have what is called a "Friday School", where kids of all ages can participate in those exact classes I was looking for, namely art, drama, P.E., and choir.  You show up on Friday, pay the tuition, and your children get to participate in all the extras you are not good at.  Yay for Friday School!  We signed up.

One of the perks of CBCA (Calvary Baptist Christian Academy) is they have sports teams the junior and senior high school students can participate in that compete against other small Christian schools in our area.  Jayde, my oldest, has inherited her father's natural team sport athletic ability, which has before been seen mostly in our city's recreational soccer league.  She decided, upon hearing about CBCA's sports teams, that she wanted to try volleyball.  Upon going to practice the first couple weeks, she found she has a natural ability for it, made friends, and had fun.  Yay, yay, and yay. 

Those same two weeks were our first two weeks of school for the 2011-2012 school year.  Seventh grade, mind you, is a bit more difficult than sixth.  She is taking classes from teachers other than mom, being strapped with a much harder and longer work load, and this is all weighing on the girl who already has trouble focusing.  She's also a perfectionist.  Couple the two together and you have the makings for a very long school day, all self-inflicted. 

This said oldest daughter has been distraught.  Finally, this morning, she broke.  She's feeling overwhelmed with the fact that she can't get her schoolwork finished, practicing for 3-3 1/2 hours a day for volleyball, her schedule has been interrupted, no more guitar and karate until January, because she can't fit them in, etc., etc., etc.  It wasn't pretty.  Dad and Mom decided to do some praying and thinking over the next few hours and come back together and discuss the situation.

We discussed it.  What we came up with is this:  1)Academics this year are more important than sports, 2)We, frankly, don't want to be around a moody, depressed, overwhelmed 12 year old for the next 3 months, 3)We have the power to say she can or cannot participate in something based on how it affects our family dynamic as well as her mental capacity, 4)Ditto on the family dynamic point!  What is the eternal value of driving yourself crazy for at least 3 months doing a sport you are not crazy about?  There is NONE.  If she felt God was calling her to do it or it might be something she wanted to do for a living, that would be different.  But it was neither.  Soooooooo........ we called her in said we are scratching it!  No more.  Done.  Finished.  She is already behind in her workload and it's only been two weeks.  No volleyball games have been played yet, and she will be required to call her coach and let her know what's going on.  But we are pulling her, whether she likes it or not. 

So I was still kind of sad that we made her break her commitment to the team.  Not a good lesson to teach, and we discussed that with her.  Then, I opened my mail.  God is funny sometimes.  Okay, lots of times.

In my big box was Jayde's science textbook.  I forgot that I ordered a book I was interested in reading at the same time.  While I cooked dinner tonight, I began the book (in between stirring, etc.)  It's called Just Too Busy:  Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical, by Joanne Kraft.  Joanne and her husband decided that their family was too busy, and for a whole year, participated in no outside activities other than Sunday morning church and school.  Wow.  What confirmation the Lord sent!  Here are some excerpts:

"A strong family usually has well-worn cushions at the kitchen table." -Bruce Bickel

She met a mother of two small children who had terminal cancer.  This mom said, "Don't pin your hopes on living." "That mother understood how precious every moment is, I thought.  I shared with my girlfriend how I wanted to live like that - with purpose.  I wanted to make my time count.  Life is too short to be wasting even a moment of it."

"Whatever you love most, be it sports, pleasure, business, or God, that is your god." - Billy Graham.

One of her prayers:  "Dear Lord, you created me with the ability to raise my children.  Fill me with the strength to be the parent they need and not just the one they want.  Remind me when things don't always go the way they had hoped that sometimes those are the ways you had hoped.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can walk each day in your strength, especially days I'm not voted the most popular by my kids.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen." 

"Selfishness is Genetic:  I understand this trait was passed down from the very first two people God created.  When we want what we want and put self first, a selfish-seed is planted.  If this seed is not immediately killed with spiritual weedkiller - God's Word - a mighty oak of selfishness can take up residency in the heart."

These are just a very few quotes from the book.  The fact of the matter is that I believe God sent me this book to confirm the decision Alan and I made today for our family.  To let go of some of the "busyness" that plagues us and focus on God and family first.  Whether others agree or not.  Period. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

So, I am trying to get back in the swing of things!  We started school last week and boy, is our schedule going to be hectic until the end of October.  Some activities were cut out from last year, so I thought we would have a slower pace.  But, because of other activities that are being added, it's even more busy.  Priorities, priorities. 

Blogging is one thing I want to get into the habit of sitting down and doing.  It will be worked into the schedule.  Some day, I'd like to be able to show my kids a record of things that our family did during the years they were growing up.  Journaling is great, too, but typing is faster!  My computer is unable to read my picture thingy - what's that called?  The card?  Anyway, I need a special cord to be able to load pictures.  Once I have it, I can share the ones I've been saving for you.

In the meantime, here's a link to a blog post.  Read the poem, then click on the link to "Images of Starving Africa". 
http://www.handfulofquietness.com/?p=4264&cpage=1#comment-1674

I don't know about you, but all my complaints seem silly.  Maybe the American people need to see these images every day.  Maybe our selfish materialistic lives would be brought down a notch.  Maybe not.  I think you have to see it in person to really GET it.