Saturday, January 30, 2016

Jonas Bothers

We are snowed in! And loving it! It's Saturday and I got up extra early to brew fresh coffee and watch the snow fall before sunrise. No exaggeration, that's how excited I am. Of course, we're still enjoying power. If that goes out, as they're predicting, I may be singing a different tune. But so far, the coffee is electrically hot and the crackling fire is for atmospheric purposes only.

Really, really excited about snow! Just wait kids, it only gets better!
 And the only thing marring this perfect winter morning is the coughing. Oh, the coughing. I can hear my kids all over the house. My head aches from all the lung clearing. And my husband is still abed after spending half the night sitting downstairs, hacking himself awake. And this is the recovery!


I was inwardly high-fiving myself  that the whole family made it through Christmas with just two colds. But then I noticed that the boys' weren't getting any better. In fact, Jude's cough kept getting worse. So after toughing it out one week at school, I told Jude I was calling the doctor the next morning and he'd be missing a day of class. Naturally, Jack was not pleased to overhear this information. Suddenly, his ear started to hurt and he felt he needed to miss school the next day too. So I scheduled them both and told Jack that if the doctor said there was nothing wrong with him he'd be in big trouble.


Jager tolerates so much from this girl.

Amazingly, he told me his ear felt better within a few minutes. But the appointment was already made and there was no turning back now! Besides, ya'll know how much I LURV taking all my children to the pediatrician. It's just so fun to show up 15 minutes early, like they asked, and then to end up sitting in the waiting room another 20 minutes beyond our scheduled time, because that's how they roll. We all enjoy watching the credits to "The Little Mermaid," since the front desk always forgets to restart the movie. And those 3 toys with missing pieces available in their play area--what a great diversion!!

I digress. It didn't help that our doctor wasn't available and we had to go with a different one. Actually, it's never a good sign when a pediatrician has two back-to-back appointments open within an hour of calling, in the middle of cold and flu season. Kinda makes you wonder ...

In this case, I think it's because this particular lady doesn't like kids. I don't want to judge the inner workings of her heart or her motivations for becoming a pediatrician, but let's just say her outer expressions weren't convincing me she liked her job. Of course, it doesn't help when we're forced to spend 35 minutes in a dull waiting room, followed by cramming a mama and four anxious little ones into a 8x8 examination room to wait some more. I'll just stop now.

Art is the new thing this winter!

Sooo many handmade books of Star Wars Lego pictures.




Much to Jack's relief, he had an actual ear infection. She decided to put Jude on meds as well, but said both boys were fine to return to school. So that's what we did. Then two days later, Joci climbed up on my lap and started crying and screaming that her ear hurt. It got so out of hand that when a nurse finally called me back, we couldn't even hold a conversation over my poor little girl's tears. There were no openings so they referred us to the nearest urgent care center where my little Princess Elsa met with the sweetest older gentleman doctor who said he was her best patient all month and that she had strep throat. Wonderful.


A few hours later my throat start hurting as well. By the following day, I was huddled under blankets nursing a fever. I stuck it out a few days more, telling myself I was getting better, but when I woke up Sunday morning with one very pink eye, I realized I might be fighting a losing battle. The doctor's office was closed on Monday so that night it was back to urgent care where I was told I had pink eye and an upper respiratory infection. Which sounded terrible, until I Googled the term and found out it just means a common cold. A common cold that included a fever and also knocked me off my feet for a good week.

This 5:00 Joci when she hasn't had a nap.

And this is J├Ąger, quite please his master has the day off.
Jon started suffering from the same ailment that evening and thankfully took a sick day on Tuesday so the both of us could limp through a day of parenting together. So other than these terrible coughs, we were all feeling much improved by the time Snowzilla/Jonas hit on Friday afternoon.

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Annnnddd it's now the following Saturday. A full week since I started writing this post and 8 days since the first snow flakes fell. The kids haven't had school all week. And since the storm just missed Virginia Beach, I've still been working. Couple that with the three books I'm in the middle of reading and now you know why I'm just now getting to wrap up this post!




Army men in the snow. Every day the snow melts and we find a few more ...




A one-man shovel crew!




These were our roads on Monday--3 days after the start of the storm!



Needless to say, it was a great snow! Certainly the biggest our kids have ever seen. I think we got somewhere around 20", which was a little hard for the kids to play in at first. And a bit too deep for Joci to walk around. But once things settled down and the sun came out she started to appreciate snow a little more. And now she asks to go outside all the time. And when she's inside she likes to wear her snowsuit just for kicks. So while I'm a little sad that we'll likely retire the sarcastic #jocilovessnow hashtag now, it wouldn't be very motherly of me to not cheer on her new delight!



This is her attempting to walk through the snow.

Snow banks almost as tall as she is!

And snow pants all day long.
Jon's work was closed on Monday, so after working half a day myself, I discovered it was impossible to focus while the other 5/6s of my family were having fun and signed off early. Our road didn't get plowed until Tuesday afternoon, but thanks to 4WD in Daddy's car we could be a little more adventurous. We got everyone dressed for outdoors (no small feat), loaded in the car and slowly made our way to the "Farm Park" and the nearest big hill. I think half the town had the same idea as us and since there were no clear parking lots, everyone just parked along the road.


The boys had lots of fun sledding down the hill and even Joci and I got a few runs in before we ladies decided to head over to the playground.


She couldn't fit in the swing with all those extra layers!
My parents had plans to come down for two days while school was closed for in-service early in the week, but with the snow and Jon having off work, they delayed their visit until late Monday night. And each night they closed school again, they extended their stay by another day. So instead of leaving Tuesday night they wound up staying through until this afternoon, which worked out great for Jon and I since we were able to score a date night out of it and grab dinner and a movie. We've been looking forward to "The Finest Hours" coming out but thought we'd have to wait a few more months before we could rent it from the comfort of our couch. Instead, we got to catch it on opening night! (It was very good and I highly recommend seeing it!)

You probably can't tell, but this is a photo of baby sister Jocelyn tramping her big sister Julia in a storage container. She's a brute!

PAW CHOOLS ON YOUR PHONE!

Someone recently posted an article on Facebook about why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12. I didn't read it. I don't want to know.

Speaking got handheld devices, since my kids aren't yet able to text me, they pass me notes the old fashioned way. And it makes me smile.
So it's been an unusual week around here. The roads are finally clear and, although a lot of snow has melted, there is still plenty left to enjoy. Here's hoping school starts back up again tomorrow because, while this unexpected winter break has been fun, mama's ready to get back to her routine!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sweet 2016

I don't know why, but that week between Christmas and New Year's always gets me stirred up and rearin' to go. I tell myself, "Don't bother with new year's goals, they never work." But in reality, I just can't help it. It's not called new year for nothing, and mama needs a plan! I like the term vision-casting--a bit less rigid than goal-setting. But when my husband asked his whole family to come to his birthday dinner prepared to share their goals for 2016, I kept coming up short.


You see, it's a little hard to set goals when your future is so hazy. We'll be getting military orders within the next 5 weeks. So until then, I have no idea where we will be living the second half of 2016. Our "dream sheet" covers practically all the corners of the United States. So should I set a goal to teach my children to snow ski or to teach them to surf? I just don't know.

This is how my vision-casting sesh started out...
But even bigger than the where we'll be living is the how we'll get there. We expect orders in February, have plans to put our house on the market in March, hope to move once school is out in June and in to our new home in July, with a few weeks (give or take, again, depending on the location) to spare before school starts again. In which time we'll need to set up house, learn the area, find a church/doctor/dentist/cardiologist/hairdresser/barber/all those other people that make the world turn, enroll in school, make friends, register for sports, and just plain get adjusted. 

I imagine life will return to some sort of new normal some time in October, you know, right before we roll into birthdays/Thanksgiving/Christmas time, which is immediately followed by New Year's and, ta-da--new goals.

And this is how it ended up. Complete with play food my girls wouldn't stop feeding me.
Basically, I plan on giving myself all the grace to do what must be done the first half of the year, so that I can have all the freedom to do what must be done the second half of the year.

Photo Credit: http://www.gracelaced.com/store/learn-to-love-what-must-be-done
I think this will be my non-one-word theme for 2016.
Sooooo my goals? I tried. I really tried. But they ended up sounding a lot more like prayers than goals. Like, "Lord, help the house to sell super fast so I don't have to keep it clean for longer than a week." Or, "God, I'll live anywhere, but please, please could we just have a yard that's bigger than the living room?" Or, "Jesus, lead us to the right church, that all six of us love, where we can grow and thrive and serve and love and build community." Because if there's only one thing I've learned over my 10 years as a military spouse, a house is one thing, but relationships are everything.

We had a realtor come to the house this week and say how great the front looked ... and then we had to show her the half-painted back. Painting the house is not a goal, it is a must-do!

New paint, new fixtures, and all those other fun little changes we're making to get the house ready to put on the market, that I'm wishing we had done ages ago...
Needless to say, it's so out of my hands right now. All I can do is rest in Jesus and trust His perfect work. And that sounds very much like an excellent goal for 2016. Enter, my one word:

ABIDE

I'm a huge fan of She Reads Truth, as I've mentioned before. And this year's Fruit of the Spirit study was so, so good for my soul. With each new fruit we studied, I was reminded over and over again that these are fruits of the Spirit, not of my own efforts.  And they are borne when we abide.

John 15:4-5 says, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." I like the way The Message puts it: "But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you..." A good reminder that no matter where we end up this year, my home is in Jesus. He is all I need. My priority isn't to try harder, work more, or set additional goals. Because while goals are good, they are meaningless unless I'm abiding in Him and his word is abiding in me.

Abiding in Him—resting, dwelling, remaining in Him— is the only source of our strength, our goodness, our fruit. Let’s press into the True Vine together today. Let’s be about the business of abiding in Jesus, and trust His Spirit to be about the business of bearing fruit in our lives. (Source: http://shereadstruth.com/2015/05/22/the-true-vine/.) 

So I got all theological and dug out Strong's Concordance for a deeper study. Abide comes from the Greek word meno which means to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy) continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, tarry for.


I love that they used the term expectancy. You guys know that anticipation is my favorite state of being! And that while I grumble and moan about this stage of not knowing I secretly love the excitement that's building as each new day gets us closer to the moment we get THE CALL. But no matter where we go on this earthmy only task is to stay in Jesus.

I'm also still pursuing last year's goals, like take more walks!

New Year's fun--Daddy playing with Christmas toys!

Melissa and Doug Suspend game (it takes it to a whole new level when you're playing with Jumping Jack.)

Mama's got to get her quiet time in somehow...

Apparently Princess Elsa has a thing for eggs.



They thought these sumo things were cool before, but then they figured out that the "ties" are the equivalent of underwear and that makes it so much more hilarious.


This was right before they asked if I'd deliver them some beverages.




And when I think of the opposite of abiding, I think of striving--fighting, resisting, departing, trying to do things my way and forcing the outcome into my (not so) perfect little mold. I am EXCITED for this new year. I am READY for the next adventure. But I also don't want to step one little toe outside God's will for our family. A yard, a guest room for anticipated visitors, a good school district, perhaps a window over the kitchen sink--these are nice things. But if they're not part of God's plans, then I want none of it. I surrender.

So let's not stop with ONE WORD this year. How about a whole theme song? How about one sung by Owl City?



We sing In Christ Alone in church every once in a while and, basically, it brings me to tears.


What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

So there you have it, my big goals for the year are simply to cease striving, to stand in the love of Christ, to remain in his word--to ABIDE. Now that we've got that all sorted out, back to dreaming of all the geographic locations where that abiding just may take place this year!
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