Wednesday, August 15, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

1. Those sweet Nagels rolled into town this weekend.  It was fun to hear about their touring adventures and remember that Memphis really is a cool city for vacation.  I always have good conversations with this sister, and all those boys together is just good, loud fun! (Ok. And we always have really good desserts too!) She's one of the very few friends whose been on all three continents with me over this past few years of life.  We can talk biryani, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Elvis's Graceland together. Thanks for coming across the country just for us, Nagels!!!

2. Homeschool. Grammar is still rescuing me a lot in the mornings.  This helps a lot. She pulls up at 8am, and Asher literally runs out the door to go to "Grammar School" where he eats oatmeal, plays with puzzles and blows bubbles.  I admit that Silas is completely and loudly envious, and Jude is quietly envious. It's hard to be as fun as Grammar when you're working on division and learning to read.  But they are persevering and we are having fun, learning, and growing in our interactions together.

3. We listened to this little gem in the car together this week. My boys loved it.  And Jude is still quoting the line from Paul Bunyan's tale where "they built a table so long that it took the men a week to pass the salt and pepper." It's in the library for all you locals:)

4. Hubs is working away at the farm again this week. And I admit that I'm missing my best friend. We're busy and he's busy so there's not much time to do more than acknowledge it and push on, but I do miss him and I'm glad.  He came back with poison ivy last weekend and promptly had to go to the doctor to prevent his body from being overtaken. This week, he sent me a picture of himself in overalls and told me he'd driven a tractor. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd post the overalls picture here.  But even I have my blog limits:)

5. The boys started soccer. And swimming. We're taking advantage of our USA time to bump up our sports skills and (more importantly) sportsmanship skills. I don't know why my kids are so competitive.  I have no idea where they got that from. (Confession: Early in marriage, David and I had to stop playing bananagrams for a while b/c I couldn't control my competitive spirit. Yeah. I don't like that about myself.) Today I had to make the kids adjust attitudes and shake hands after a game of match-it. You reap what you sow, friends.  You reap what you sow.

6.  The dishes are waiting for me.  Bedtime is calling. Break's over.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Celebrating 50 years

Here's the photo review of our family vacation to Branson, MO.  Grammar and Pop celebrated 50 years of marriage this July, and to celebrate they took us to Branson.  Which pretty much sums up the way they live.  No fanfare about them, just a very generous, thoughtful care of others.  It was really a precious week together, a time to reconnect and watch the boys grow in friendship with their cousins. We piled into a big lodge in the Ozarks, and ate our meals around a big wood table with benches filled with tiny cousins and not-so-tiny cousins.  I can honestly write that my fear of the teenage years decreased after being around extended family. It was a delight to watch them all interact. 

They rode the wild rides at Silver Dollar City. (Jude just barely made the cut for the famed Time Traveller and took that tilting coaster like a man:) Grammar took them on the Tea Cups, and rode the Elephants. They plunged through the log ride and shot water cannons like pirates.  We spent a day at White Water, played mini-golf, saw Samson at the fantastic Sight & Sound Theatre, rode go-karts, had a family talent show, hikes through the hills, dips in the streams, Grammar & Pop Trivia...and a lot more. 

It was a week full of memories. 

And when we loaded up to leave, our hearts really were full of gratitude.  Not just for a great week together, but for a couple who choose day after day to love one another through hard days and sweet days.  Fifty years of marriage is worth a big celebration. 

Grateful we were a part. 

Here's your picture overload! 

And lest I leave you feeling it was all smiles.... it was mostly smiles....with plenty of melt downs too. 

Below you see Asher, throwing an all out fit on top of a golf hole.  It was a pretty classic toddler moment, full of volume and flailing. It was caused by a stolen purple golf ball. 

Here you see Pop, calling the "Emergency Services" to come and rescue a toddler who was being sucked into a putt putt hole. Uncle Drew was offering hilarious commentary. 

Asher didn't find it as entertaining as the rest of us and, eventually, the purple golf ball was retrieved. 

Families are messy.  They are also so, so beautiful, a true gift from our Creator. Grateful for a family who delights in a long week together, full of fun and smiles, bike rides and loud meals, toddler fits and grumpy kids, basketball with cousins and wet clothes after water rides.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Grammar and Pop.  It meant a lot that you chose to celebrate it with us all! 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

helllloooo, out there

Hubs went to the farm for a couple days this week with my dad for a little agricultural tutorial. He's been saying things about fresh air and starry skies, which means the farm is working its magic on him.  It's almost impossible not to love those Tennessee hills. He also told me he had to take an Advil this morning.  He may have been a little zealous with the weed eater.

This reminded me of the time I spent a summer working on my dad's farm.  He had me throw hay bales with my cousin one week. My body has never hurt like that before or since. I thought that I might die. So we are bridging the distance through empathy and farm love. Until you've burned a field in the mid-summer or pressure washed a combine, you haven't really lived.

I started homeschool on Monday.  After a week of vacation in a house with 18 people, which was actually fabulous. (When an introvert says that, you know it's true.)  Pictures forthcoming, when I can pull my act together.

Basically, what I thought about homeschooling moms is true.  They have a lot of patience and perseverance. A lot.

I admit that I'm having fun and so far we're loving it.

But we haven't really worked on anything hard yet. And my very sweet MIL came to get Asher for "Grammar School" for the past 2 days. So I'll have to get back to you on my real opinion.

Just wanted to say hello. Those pictures are coming soon!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Family Reunion

Last week, before the entrance of Scarlett, we had a family cook out at my grandmother's house. I got to hug all kids of people I've been looking forward to seeing while my kids frolicked through the amazingly green countryside, chasing puppies and playing with the water hose. My Aunt Julie knows how to throw a party.  And my Uncle Jerry and cousins very obediently, and happily, manned an all-day chicken roast over a sweltering fire in the middle of a Tennessee summer.  True love right there, ya'll.

Also, I know I'm biased, but my cousins have some cute babies.

One of my cousins has been in the service for a long time now. And I live overseas. That basically means we never see each other. All the stars aligned though, and my sweet Aunt Julie arranged the cook out around his upcoming deployment and my travel schedule.  This was the first hug I've had from that cuz in probably 9 years...and we've both added several kids since those days. It's hard to believe that we really were kids together, running around that same patch of grass without any thought for where life would take us. 

These sweet ladies are my grandmother's neighbors and friends.  And they've known me since I was a babe.  They're not on "the internet" and definitely don't hear from me often, but oh how I treasure their prayers.  These are the kind of quiet, kind lives that make me choke back tears when I think of the legacy they have in their little corner of the world.

And of course, there was some post-reunion tractor driving with my dad and bro.  Because little boys and tractors just belong together!

I can't fail to mention the insane slide that my aunt rented.  It is miraculous that no one was seriously injured.  I could hardly watch them slide down it without panic. But the kids loved it, and it turned a very hot July picnic into some super kid-fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Scarlett Skye

I love babies.  And I really love tiny nieces.  

My sister had her fourth girl this week.  She is beautiful.  

My heart is full of aunty-happiness that we were actually in town for her birth, and that we got to spend some super fun cousin time at the pool while momma was in the hospital. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

thoughts on re-entry

There is an actual term for the experience of re-entering your native culture after living abroad for period of time.

Reverse Culture Shock

And every time I walk through an American grocery store or walk through the aisles of a super center, I am acutely aware that I have not lived in America for a really long time. Even the music at church just made our jaws drop. The South is a stout culture and it shows itself in all kinds of ways.

Here are a few things that are blaring in florescent for us these days:

1.  Everything's a little bigger here.  

I am driving my mom's sleek and huge SUV around town. And I have not had to re-park it once.  The parking spaces are massive. MAaaaasive. The roads are huge. There's just space everywhere.

Someone's kid got within a foot of me in a swimming pool the other day, and the parent corrected him for "getting in my space." David and I were cracking up. Spaniards practically lay on top of us at the beach in the summer. And honestly, if you make a big deal of it, you're kind of being a jerk.

People are bigger too. They're just bigger. And then we eat all the delicious food, and we totally understand why.

2. Americans like stuff. 

Consumerism is real, ya'll. This is a soul enemy. Certainly we deal with this also in Europe but I would venture to say that the added space of America actually makes the beast fiercer.  There's only so much you can crowd inside a piso in Spain.

We pulled up to Wal-mart for the first time upon our arrival. In the parking lot, Silas asked, "Mom, what's this store for?" He meant, do we buy our bread here, shop for a few toys, get clothes?  What kind of thing do they sell? I told him that it's a store that's designed to make us want things we don't need. We then practiced closing our eyes and saying "God has given me everything I need." In the store, when we felt the gimmies, we were supposed to close our eyes and repeat those words.  We had barely walked through the front entrance, when Jude told me I needed to close my eyes and practice.

And I did.

Sometimes when you step back you can see things more clearly.  And after a pause in culture, let me say that if you occasionally feel that you're swimming in a society that almost worships consumption and are.  Close your eyes in stores every now and again. It helps.

3. Southerners are nicer than I remembered. 

Wow.  People are just friendly around here.  Smily and friendly. Helpful and courteous. Don't worry, we've seen other styles too. But overall, wow. Some mommas down here have been teaching manners really well.

Alright, that's all the time I have for reflection today! I'm sure there'll be more soon:)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Williamsburg, VA

We had some meetings near Williamsburg last week, so on Saturday we stopped in for a little lesson in American history.  The kids were pretty worn out from a full week, and I won't deny we had to have some attitude adjustments throughout the day.  The most successful one involved root beer.  It was worth it though.  Jude is studying an American History unit this semester so the trip was just in time to start it off right.

We read this little gem leading up to the trip, and everyone (including the parents) learned a thing or two about the start of our nation.  I definitely recommend it.

 We started off with the Children's Tour of the Governor's House, and followed it up with a few of the trade shops.  The book bindery was my favorite, and the boys loved the blacksmith.  By lunch time, after the Drums and Fifes came through the Duke of Glochester Street, we were ready to head to the airport.

Here are a few pics from the day.