Friday, December 30, 2011

Charming Your Daughter

I read this story in a mailing I got from Dr. Dobson this fall and I thought it was a neat story. It is an excerpt from his book Bringing Up Girls (which I haven't read). As I was sorting though stuff I thought it would be easier to just put it here on my blog rather than trying to keep track of that piece of paper until I read it with each of my kids. I googled the title and found that someone else had the same idea so I just copied and pasted instead of typing it exactly so... sorry if there are any errors.

Charming Your Daughter
By Sarah Kistler

Sweet Sixteen had finally come! I never thought I'd make it. But I did. And it was amazing. My parents threw the birthday party of the century, and I had more people over than I could count. The whole day had been awesome. But as I watched the sun begin to set, I knew the best part was soon to come.

It was late in the evening. Confetti had been swept up, helium balloons had started to sag, and gift wrapping had been folded up neatly and tucked away for my mom's later use. As I sat by my window studying the dusky sky, Dad peeked into my room with a smile.

"Ready to go, Sweetie?" he asked.

Was that a trick question? I wondered as I scrambled to my feet. I'd been waiting for this night for five long years, and it was finally here! I was now officially allowed to date! The plan was for my parents and me to go to my favorite restaurant on the night of my sixteenth birthday and officiate the agreement and discuss rules and such. And now we were finally on the way.

I sat across from my parents in a quiet corner booth. Having just placed our orders, I figured it was time to get on with it. "So. I can go out with any guy I want to right?" I squealed, hardly able to contain my excitement.

Mom and Dad chuckled. Dad answered, "Well, we agreed to that, didn't we?"

"Sweet!" I exclaimed, doing a little victory dance in my seat.

My parents had held me off for years, but now that the time had come, they would let me date any guy I wanted! Of course they knew I had a good relationship with God and wasn't too short on common sense, either.

"Now wait just a second," Mom interrupted with a smile.

"You have to agree to a little something yourself."

I was expecting a lecture of some sort, so I was already prepared. "So what do I have to do now?" I asked, leaning forward on my elbows.

"Just open this," Dad answered, producing a small white box. He gave a mysterious smile.

I hesitated a moment before removing the curly pink ribbon. I slowly opened the lid and saw a beautiful silver bracelet. But not just any bracelet. It was a charm bracelet. And they weren't just any charms. They were gemstones, small but gorgeous. A dozen dainty charms dangled gently.

"Wow" I didn't know what to say. I wasn't expecting this at all.

"Now you have to understand this isn't just any bracelet," Mom informed me.

"I know," I said. "It is so beautiful!" I studied it closer. There were six small charms alternating with six tinier ones. The smaller ones were a deep blue. Sapphires, I guessed. And the other six were each different. One appeared to be just a rock, one was pink, a white one, a red one, green, and... was that a diamond?

"This charm bracelet is symbolic," Dad explained, leaning in closer to study it with me. "It Represents you and your purity. This is what will guide you through your dating relationships. You mother and I can only tell you what's right. We can't make you believe it yourself. Hopefully, this will."

I looked up solemnly. "I'm listening."

"This represents the first time you hold a guy's hand," Mom said, pointing to the gray one. "It's just a piece of polished granite. Seemingly cheap, yes, but it's still a part of your bracelet. This is pink quartz."

Then she gently rubbed the next one between her fingers. "It represents your first kiss."

"This green one is an emerald," Dad continued.  "This is your first boyfriend. The pearl is the first time you say 'I love you' to a man other than me."

I giggled. This was so amazing.

"The ruby stands for your first engagement. And the diamond represents the first time you say 'I do,'" Mom finished.

After letting that all sink in, I cleared my emotion-clogged throat.  "What do the six tiny sapphires stand for?" I asked.

"Those are to remind you how beautiful and valuable you are to us and God," Dad replied.  "Now here's the hitch in all this, the one and only rule you'll ever have to follow when it comes to dating."

Only one rule. Sounded good.  But little did I know...

"Whenever you give one of these actions of love - a kiss, an 'I love you,' a hand to hold - you also have to give the recipient the gem to match."

I must've misunderstood. "I have to give him the gem?"

"You have to give it to him," Mom restated.  I was silent for a moment.  I thought they must be joking.

But they weren't even thinking of cracking a smile.

"But Daddy!" I suddenly shrieked.  "These are insanely expensive!  I can't just give them away!:

He gave a soft, loving chuckle.  "Did you hear what you just said?"  I thought about it.

"Baby, your purity, your heart, they're far more valuable than a few little rocks.  If you can't find it in your heart to give away your charms, I don't think you should be giving away the things they represent."

I could feel my insides melting, ready to gush out my tear ducts.  On the other hand, it made me feel valuable and precious.  But on the other, it made me furious.  It made no sense.  But it would.
A few weeks after that night, I was hanging out with my friends at the beach.  Chad wouldn't swim because I wouldn't swim.  I was more interested in reading than getting caked with sand and he was more interested in sitting with me than swimming with his buddies.  He was sweet.  He was cute.  And he tried to hold my hand.

I was thrilled for a nanosecond when a certain piece of ugly granite flashed through my mind and made me move out of his reach.  I was severely annoyed - annoyed at my parents, annoyed at my bracelet-turned-handcuffs, but most of all, annoyed at myself.  I was letting a little rock dominate my romantic life.

I furiously glared at it during the whole embarrassing walk to the bathhouse.  But then God hit me upside the head with a shocking epiphany.  I couldn't give up a little chunk of granite.  It was a part of my bracelet, which in a sense made it a part of me.  I wouldn't be whole without it.  It wasn't a priceless gem, yet it was still valuable.  It made sense after that.

Kevin came along eventually.  We had fun.  We hung out a lot.  I thought I might love him.  I thought I might tell him so .  I thought of my pearl.

It turned out that I didn't love him as much as I thought I did.

So my parents had been right.  They couldn't make me believe the things they wanted me to believe.  So they let God and my bracelet do the work instead.  Among the four of them, I figured out how valuable I was.  How valuable my purity was.  How not valuable guys were who were just wasting my time and emotions.  If they weren't in it for the whole bracelet, why should they get one part of it?

Nate.  He thought my bracelet was awesome.  So he never tried to hold my hand.  He never tried to kiss me.  But he asked me to marry him.  

I never knew that so many years of torture could amount to so much happiness.  I'd thought it was silly.  I'd thought it was overrated.  But now, I have never been more glad of anything in my life.

As I gave my husband the charm bracelet in its entirety, I wondered why I had found it so hard to hang on to those little rocks when it was so amazing to give them all to the man I truly loved.

But it didn't end there.  Now our daughter wears it.

I never had a bracelet like this nor did I have this talk with my parents but I am VERY thankful that Glenn has all of the charms in my bracelet. He didn't get them all on our wedding day but he does have them all. I hope that, with this story and other discussions we have, my kids will realize how precious they are and how important they are to God.  In posting this here maybe it will be an encouragement or challenge to someone else as well.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Long Would it Take to Pack Your Belongings?

Moving is never far from my consciousness because we have done it so often and especially now since we are moving again (Lord willing, to Lowville, NY where there is a husband wife family doctor team that Glenn will be working with and where the hospital has- praise the Lord!!- agreed to cover housing and the scholarship!!) at the end of March.

Today at lunch I was reading to the kids from George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans (I would highly recommend this series of biographies. We would like to buy the whole set one day.) and we were reading about how George and Mary Müller moved from Teignmouth to Bristol. They decided they were moving and George started visiting everyone in the congregation the next day.  I was struck by the next two sentences: "Two days and many tears later, George Müller had told everyone at Ebenezer Chapel that he was moving to Bristol. It took less than an hour to pack their few belongings, and with sad hearts, on May 25, 1832, the Müllers boarded a stagecoach for Bristol." (emphasis mine)

LESS THAN AN HOUR???? My first thought was, "Oh my. I have too much stuff!" Part of the reason that we are staying home for Christmas this year is that we are moving at the end of March and we need to start packing because this is the most time off that we have before our move and we are all so busy while school is in session and I really don't want to give up school time to pack and have to do school farther into the summer.

Picture from when we packed up to move to this apartment from the previous apartment we lived in in Syracuse. It is encouraging to note we no longer some of the stuff in this picture but we have collected more in the almost 19 months we've lived here.
I think that instead of packing I am going to be spending a lot of time purging over break. That is not easy for a horder like me but having less stuff will free me up to be able to move when God asks me to move, like the Müllers did, and not be overwhelmed by all this stuff when I am living anywhere. My friend Liz moved across the country this fall with her husband and 4 kids in just her 12 passenger van and a pull behind uhaul trailer. She is an inspiration to me. We usually use one of those moving vans and stuff our van full and then have to go back to where we used to live to fill our van one more time. I don't want to do have to go back for more this time which means we need to make some decisions. While making dinner tonight I was listening to the Simple Mom podcast and she had some good ideas and was talking with the author of this article "When Less Really Is More" which inspired me. I really want to do this with my family over the next two weeks so that, though it will definitely take more than an hour to pack up in March, it won't, Lord willing, take as long because we don't have as much stuff.

So... how about you? How long would it take YOU to pack up your belongings?

Sugar Cookies

My favorite cookies to make are sugar cookies. We bought one of those 101 cookie cutters from Winton that has cookie cutters for every season and all the letters and I love making cookies with them for holidays.

I wanted to write the recipe down here so I always know where to look for it (and because my friend Terri had mentioned on facebook that she had lost hers and I would be so sad if I lost mine!)

Rolled Sugar Cookies (from Great Value Sugar years ago)
Combine and mix well:
1C sugar
1C butter or margerine
3T milk
1t vanilla
1 egg
Add and mix well:
3C flour
1 1/2t baking powder
1/2t salt
Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Heat oven to 400F
Roll out 1/8" thick and place 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 5-9 minutes.

We usually decorate them with this frosting recipe from my Better Crocker Cookbook:
Buttercream Frosting
4 1/2C powdered sugar
1/2 C butter or margerine
2 1/4t vanilla
1 1/2-3T milk

NOTE: I always at least double this recipe so we have plenty to give away to neighbors :)

Oh dear. We haven't made these yet this year. I think I know what I am doing this afternoon ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Caroling

Last night a lady from church posted on The City (kind of like facebook for church people at Missio Church) that she was going Christmas caroling at a hospice house in town at 2 today and inviting people to come with her.

The kids and I went over and met up with her and a couple of men from the church to sing at the hospice house (I guess when the Maas family shows up we often more than double the crowd.) I really wanted to go because of 2 things:

1. Christmas caroling is such a big part of my Christmas memories from my childhood. Every Christmas that I can remember (with the exception of one or two years when we had the throw up bug really bad) from my childhood Christmas morning went as follows: get up, read the Christmas story from the Bible, open stockings, eat pop-open cinnamon rolls and drink egg nog, open presents, visit with Grandma and Grandpa Nelson as they made their rounds to all their kids' homes, then get ready to go to the nursing home at noon. I loved going to the nursing home. I never had any personal friends or relatives there as patients (well, except Irene one year I think and that year when I was an adult and Mom was there) but as a kid I rarely knew any of the patients there. It was always such a joy to see friends (non-patients) and to sing along as Pastor Ray strummed on his guitar and see the smiles on the faces of those older people, too many of whom had been forgotten. There was always 20-30 or so people, mostly from what is now Calvary Chapel Seneca Falls, and going and singing with them is probably my favorite childhood Christmas memory. I loved singing carols, walking around and holding or patting peoples' hands as they sat in the dining rooms. I also loved jamming to praise songs in the stair wells as we moved between the floors. ("His Name is Yahweh, the Lord is One... He's the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End, The Lord who reigns forever, Yahweh, Redeemer, Friend" comes to mind). Caleb is the only one who has ever gone caroling at noon at the nursing home (I think) and he was really little (though he says he has a memory of doing it) so I really wanted my kids to experience the joy of singing to people who can't leave where they are.

2. The girls have been singing almost non-stop from a Christmas carol book that we keep in our Christmas box and they have been talking about wanting to go Christmas caroling ever since we got the Christmas box out back at the end of November.

Here is what the kids had to say when we got home:
Lydia (7) said: I was scared at first because I didn't know the people but after I sang I liked them and thought they were nice. I was shy at first. Sister Collette was my favorite person there.

Hannah (9): I was a little afraid at first but tried to not show it. After we sang the first two songs I got used to it a little bit. I am glad I went.
Abigail (6): It was fun. At first I was a little scared but not too much.

Caleb (11): Before I went I thought it was going to be a really cool experience. I was shy but once I got to know the people I felt really sad for them. I'm glad I went.

It was neat to see the smiles and to be able to sing to the patients, pray with them and listen to them tell their stories. I had the chance to give one lady a back rub while we talked and I think that she really appreciated it. It doesn't take much. Just a little time and caring.

I'd like to encourage others to go out and share the love of Christ with others this Christmas season. If you want to go caroling I have a pdf of a little Christmas songbook that you could print out and take with you (I brought some of these with me. It was nice to have a cheat sheet!!) just email me or leave a comment with your email address.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Connected

It's Friday again and I get to write for only 5 minutes on something. Today's word is "Connected." If you'd like to join me click the link.


I have a hard time sometimes getting connected and wanting to get connected. It is something that I want to learn how to do better, quicker. Deep relationships are not built over night and that is hard when we move which is happening again soon.

Often we get connected to people through church. In Rochester we got connected quickly through our small group at Northridge Church. I know that is how God provided for us also when we first moved to Syracuse and soon became homeless. People from church, both here and in Rochester, gave us places to sleep. I've also gotten connected through homeschooling yahoo groups, finding out what is going on in the area to get involved.

I resist getting connected. We are built for relationships but I know how hard it is to say good bye and so I fear even saying hello.

I read recently on another blog of a woman who moves often her say that there is always people who cry over her boxes when she moves.


Oh, there is so much more to say but that was my 5 minutes. Maybe I'll continue this more another day... I'm going to go connect with my husband and kids.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Something Good Comes From Technology

There are good things and bad things about social media. Facebook has consumed way too much of my life and it is a time drain but I am thankful for it as well.

One reason that I am thankful for it lately has been because it has given me information about people that I had been close to in the past that I no longer live near that have had problems and given me opportunities to pray for them and for people that they know.

For example, last month three of my friends had babies. They weren't people that I was super close to but I knew them in places where I lived before and have prayed for them over the years. The babies of two of them spent quite a while in the NICU. I wouldn't have known anything about it if it weren't for facebook. Because I'm friends with them on facebook I knew about their babies and the problems that they were having and I was able to pray for them and thank God when they were finally able to bring their babies home. The 3rd mom I got to rejoice with. I have been praying for her baby to come home for a several years, long before the precious little girl was born or even conceived. I have prayed over many emails that I have gotten over the years giving details of the adoption process and I am so excited that they finally have their little girl in their home with them!

Today I am praying again. There are two families that are heavy on my heart and I only know the details through facebook updates.

A friend of mine posted a photo album on Friday of a young pastor's wife that was just diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. Her family was able to get these pictures taken shortly after the diagnosis. Looking at the pictures my heart broke. They are all so young. I am so privileged to have been able to parent my kids to to how old they are now. If I were to die today they would remember me. I am so blessed to have had my mom through all of  my growing up years. Please be praying for Heather and her family. The last update I saw said that they had been able to remove 75% of the tumor and that she was able to be up in a wheelchair and her little boy couldn't understand why she couldn't play with him. God is giving her family opportunities to reach out to other people in the ICU there that they would have never known about and are giving God the glory. Her prognosis is not good but they are praying that God will be glorified through the remained.

Today I saw a post on facebook about Nathan Shoultz. I went to college with him. He was one of the non-flute players that went on the spring break missions trip to Hungary, Austria and Slovakia with Tapestry, the flute choir I was a part of. He's a great guy. He's only 31, with a wife and 4 kids under 7, one of which is only weeks old. Yesterday he had a stroke. He was airlifted to Albany for emergency surgery and they were able to save his life for now but it is unknown whether he will survive or what the long term damages will be. As the blog I linked to says, we need a miracle. Nathan's wife Beth is especially heavy on my heart. I couldn't imagine life without Glenn!

So, tonight I am thankful for Facebook. Without it I would not know about either of these situations and because of facebook many people all around the world are praying for them. 22 of my facebook friends have shared links to the blog I linked to about Nathan. Many are fellow classmates but some of them I don't think have ever met him. My heart is heavy for these two families but I am trusting God to bring glory to His name and bring good through both of these difficult situations. As I was driving the kids to my flute concert tonight we were talking again about how God uses situations that look awful to us to do amazing things and were once again reminded of question 7. I was browsing Nathan's blog and came across a post called Did Jesus Ruin Mary's Life? and he said, "What is God doing anyway?  If I believe my Bible, He’s in complete control and He’s working even the bad stuff and dumb decisions I make into something good (Romans 8:28).  Everything is coming together to bring Glory to God.  So when hard times come (unforeseen bill, failed event, loss of a friend, spat with my wife) why don’t I get off my pity party wagon and join Mary on the “Let’s Be Looking for the Incredible Ways God is Going to Bring Himself Glory” wagon.  Which wagon are you on?"

I don't know how God is going to glorify Himself in either of these situations BUT we have seen Him do amazing things in our lives and we are trusting Him to do it again in these situations.

We're praying for these two families. Will you join us?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Change for a Dollar

We watched this video over the weekend and it really moved all of us. We have been challenged at church to reach out to people in our circle of accountability and to just do something for them during the Christmas season and tell them why - because Jesus loves them. This video gives some ideas.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Color

It’s Friday and I'm making my homeschooling littles do this too. Let’s just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Won’t you join me?
    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

The last week or so I have been reading The Narrow Road, an autobiography by Brother Andrew. It has really been challenging to me how much I take for granted, having a zillion Bibles in my language in my home, on my iphone, etc. The first thing that I thought of when I saw the word for today was color was the lack of color that is so evident in pictures in my mind of life behind the iron curtain. The colors of clothing and landscape look so bleak. I am so thankful for color. It is evidence of God's creativity. It is evidence of His great imagination. Colors of flowers, the incredible different colors of fabric that we have available. It is a rare day when you go out in public and see someone with exactly the same shirt as you are wearing and very rare indeed when they are wearing the same outfit because God has made each of us unique in our desires, our preferences, our makeup. I am so thankful for His creativity and I long to become more like Him in His creativity.


Monday, December 05, 2011

RMED Update

Sometimes I just have to laugh and then cry then laugh again in the wonder that God is going to work out something amazing, I just don't know what or when or how.

If you read our blog post about things that we were thankful for you may have noticed that Glenn and I both mentioned about moving to Montour Falls in the spring and the fact that they are going to provide housing and a scholarship for us there.

Figuring out RMED (Rural Medical Education Program) has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. The RMED program was one of the things that attracted us to Upstate. Glenn is really excited about doing both his family practice and surgery rotations with a specific physician in an internship type relationship where he can get more one on one, apprentice type, experience instead of working with a team of medical professionals and only seeing surgery (in particular) from afar.

There are several RMED sites all over New York and many of them have been suggested to us as options by the director of the program who kind of match-makes the students and the attending physicians/ locations. Last spring the two sites that were most highly recommended to us were Batavia (largely because of the furnished 3 bedroom house that was provided) and Watkins Glen. After prayer and discussion I recommended to Glenn that we go to Watkins because we'd been told that the preceptor in Batavia was a grandmother when she went to medical school while the preceptor at Watkins was a dad of 7 that homeschooled their family. I thought that he would have a lot to offer Glenn in giving an example of how to balance being a physician and having a family.

We were pursuing Watkins Glen when we got news that the surgeon that has always been the surgical preceptor for the RMED students died suddenly. That put an axe to the idea of Watkins for a while and Potsdam, Oneonta, Lowville, and Ithaca (and maybe others??) were thrown on the table as possible sites. I was sad because I liked the idea of Watkins Glen. It's pretty down there and it's still only an hour from Waterloo so we could continue our monthly visits to see my grandparents (who celebrated their 66th anniversary last week!!). With many of the new sites that were suggested that would not be as easy.

A while later we received news that there was another surgeon in Watkins Glen that was very excited about the idea of having a student come down and train under him and all of a sudden we were heading to Watkins Glen again. When the kids and I returned from our two week train trip with Glenn's parents we had them at our place for a couple of days and decided to take them down to Watkins Glen for Glenn's day off to check out the RMED site and hike the gorge. Things didn't go exactly as planned that day. We still hiked the gorge but didn't check out the RMED site. Glenn was really busy with his clinical rotations so there really wasn't time to go back and check it out during business hours until the day of his internal medicine shelf. We threw some stuff in the car and drove down to Watkins Glen that day (the office and hospital are actually in Montour Falls) after his exam and Glenn was able to meet the doctor there and see some patients with him. The kids and I wandered the town, checked out the library and the huge waterfall. After office hours were over we were invited over to the doctor's house for dinner and got to meet his wife and all but 2 of his kids. We had a great time visiting and getting to know each other over pizza and Glenn even got to go and see a circumcision of a newborn that had just been delivered the night before. We got to see their love for God, their family and their community and were excited about the prospect of getting to know them more and working with them.

There were a few catches: the local hospital was no longer going to deliver babies after November so Glenn wouldn't have any OB experience during his family practice experience which is something that he does want. When we got home and talked to the head of the RMED program we found out that, at first discussion with the local hospital, they were not interested in providing either housing or the scholarship for Glenn. We talked and prayed and decided that none of those things were deal breakers. In our plan God was going to provide for us through the housing and scholarship but we knew that He doesn't always go with our plan and He has always faithfully provided for us so we decided to trust Him and continue to head towards Montour Falls because we felt that it would be a priceless opportunity to train under this godly doctor even if it resulted in a few thousand dollars more debt. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we had a dinner with the other people doing RMED and found out there that the hospital was going to offer both the housing and the scholarship. We were very surprised and very grateful! We weren't sure what housing was going to look like but we were excited that they were going to provide it. It felt like a hug from God.

Then, last Monday, I got a call from Glenn while he was at the schospital. He said, "Guess where we aren't moving? Montour Falls." Then he asked if I was ok. I laughed. What else can you do? Laugh and then cry a little then laugh again in wonder at what our crazy amazing God is going to do this time. The surgeon is leaving or something like that so, though the family doctor down there really would love for Glenn to come, there is no surgeon to work with so Montour Falls is, once again, no longer an option. My first thought was, "I wonder what God has up His sleeve this time. I am so thankful that He is in control and I can trust Him." I am sad. Again. More so than the first time that Watkins was taken off the table but I know that our good God is in control and that I can trust Him.

Now what? We don't know where we are going. It's kind of late in the game to be looking for RMED sites (it starts the beginning of April) and the only site I have heard mentioned this time is Lowville. I am glad to know that God has a perfect plan and I can trust Him. We have re-started Training Hearts Teaching Minds again and were on week 7 last week which says, "What are the decrees of God?" "The decrees of God are His eternal plan, based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory, He has foreordained everything that happens." It has been neat to go over the devotionals and read the scriptures as a family and talk about again how God is in control and go through our history again. I really need to write a Psalm detailing our history of the awesome things that God has done for us throughout our lives. He has been so faithful to us and I know that He will be again. It's so faith bolstering to go over again the things that He has done. It is no wonder that over and over again throughout the Bible the various writers do just that.

So... we still haven't put in our notice with our landlord. We had told him that we would probably be here through the end of March 2012 when we moved in but I am not sure if he remembers that or not. I'm hesitant to put in our notice not knowing what rural location we are moving to. I still do need to start thinking about packing even if I don't know where we're moving (it's hard for me to pack without the view of a future home in place).

I am sure that getting RMED locations aren't usually this confusing. I know that God is teaching us through this things that we would have never learned otherwise. He is good. He is faithful. We can trust Him and on the other side we may or may not be able to look back and say, "Oh, that is what You were doing" and either way it is OK as long as He gets the glory.

Tonight, finishing up week 7, we read from Isaiah 46:9-10, "Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish." I'm glad He's in control!

Like normal (if you've followed our family long), this story is to be continued. We don't know what's on the next page but we know and love and trust the Author who does.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We started a Thanksgiving tradition in recent years. For years we have made hand turkeys (it's fun to see how the kids' hands have grown) and list or draw pictures of what we are thankful. Later on we think over the last year and come up with the number of things that we are thankful for equal to the number of years that we have been alive. We usually jot them down as we travel to and from where ever we have Thanksgiving dinner to give us some fun memory lane time in the car. This year we went to my cousin Crystal's house for dinner on Thanksgiving then we went on to Rochester to spend the night, played with Chris and Miranda's kids in the morning while they worked, then went over to Brad and Karen's house for their Thanksgiving dinner (Karen had to work on Thanksgiving) with their family and a few of their friends.

Anyway, here are our lists for 2011 that we came up with along the way. They are not in any particular order and they are not necessarily the things that we are most thankful for but here they are.

Abigail (she got excited and went on and on but I made her stop at 6 because she is *almost* 6 "2 days to my birthday!!"
1. I met great grandma Maas
2. We got 2 skateboards
3. My friends & family
4. Legos
5. God
6. Train trip

1. My scooter
2. The skate boards
3. The Barbies
4. The train trip
5. My family
6. Our trip to South Carolina
7. Legos

1. School
2. Friends
3. Family
4. Legos
5. A house to live in
6. The color bag that I got for my birthday
7. Went to visit Uncle Russ, Aunt Camy & Malachi
8. We went on a train trip for 2 weeks!
9. I got a whole bunch of beads

1. I has lots and lots and lots of sleepovers
2. Lots of vacations
3. We have Legos
4. My family
5. My friends
6. I got to go to a cool aquarium & cool museums with the Baers
7. We get to see the Files
8. Lots of playdates
9. I'm still homeschooled
10. I could spend a lot of time w/ Grandma & Grandpa Maas
11. I could finally meet great grandma Maas

1. Jesus - salvation He gave on the cross
2. Sonja LeeAnn Maas- for all her love and support and that she is my best friend
3. Caleb Josiah Maas - how he protects his sisters and is a good kid
4. Hannah Elizabeth Maas - she's a good mommy and has a tender heart
5. Lydia Esther and her tender heart and funny ideas
6. Abigail Eve , my silly Cracker who makes me smile and laugh
7. Passed Step 1
8. Passed 2nd year of medical school
9. Passed medicine and peds rotations
10. A place to stay and didn't have to move
11. Good neighbors upstairs
12. Our date at Winter Weekend and being able to go to the Olympic Complex Lake Placid
13. I could fly out to California and G&G Reynolds paid for it.  Spent our 12th anniversary with my wife.  Went to my grandma's 90th birthday party.  A G9 for $125 for an anniversary present for my wife
14. 100 road bike off craigslist
15. A new wardrobe mostly from thrift stores or at thrift store prices
16. Camping trip to Indian lake
17. We could meet the Winklers
18. Lord willing getting a stipend and housing for RMED
19. Legos - good deal on craigslist for them
20. God is in control of my life
21. We could go to Wyoming for Christmas
22. We could go down to Charleston and see Russ and Camy
23. I'm still enjoying medical school
24. Date nights with Sonja
25. I'm getting stronger and I can do pull ups
26. I got to go to the Flash Bus tour in Buffalo
27.  My lemon/lime tree off the side of the road
28. My drafting table,  my bowling alley table, & The Hoosier cheap off craigslist
29. That home schooling is going well for Sonja and the kids
30. That so far my clerkships have allowed me time at home.
31. For all of God's provisions above and beyond our needs and so many of our wants

1. God's grace
2. Glenn's love and support - he's my best friend
3. Glenn is in medical school and doing well
4. Homeschooling is going well with my 6th, 4th, 2nd & 1st grader students.
5. Spent Christmas in Wyoming w/ Glenn's family
6. We didn't have to move this summer
7. Good new neighbors upstairs
8. God's faithful and super-abundant provision
9. My Hoosier that I use to store my homeschool stuff
10. The chance to borrow curriculum both last year and this year from friends
11. Neighborhood Youth Rec Program at SU - free gymnastics, soccer, basketball, zumba & yoga for the kids -free PE
12. Caleb - he's a good big brother
13. Hannah - she's made lot of progress in reading this year and is a good helper
14. Lydia - her creative imagination
15. Abigail - she makes me laugh
16. Our routine with school this year - it's going so much better!
17. Flute choir
18. Homeschooling friends
19. Our trip to South Carolina to visit Russ, Camy & Malachi and see their new house
20. Imagine RIT
21. Train trip west with Steve & Debbie. Got to see so much of our beautiful country pass by out the window and met up with Steph & Brody, Kendra, Doug & Jack (note to future Amtrak travellers: Julie lies)
22. Fine reunion in Iowa. Met many "Fine cousins," went swimming, had cream can dinner, and visited with Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds and Aunt Billie
23. Went to Grandma Maas's 90th birthday party in California, enjoyed many beaches, stayed on a yacht, saw/ met Maas relatives, ate at In-N-Out
24. Wandered Chicago on our layover on the trip home, went to a Lego store and ate deep dish pizza
25. Swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans this summer
26. Monthly visits to Waterloo to see Grandma & Grandpa Nelson
27. Missio Church and pastors that constantly step on my toes and have a passion and vision to reach Syracuse for Christ
28. Northridge Church now has full service videos online
29. Our neighborhood. It's the friendliest place to live. I would never live anywhere else in Syracuse but the westcott neighborhood
30. We didn't buy a house. God really new best on that one!
31. It's looking like we are moving to Montour Falls in the spring for RMED and God is providing housing and a scholarship through them
32. One Thousand Gifts
33. My brain, AKA my iPhone that I don't use as a phone. It has helped me organize my life in many ways.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Drill Time

No matter how bad this winter is I think we truly have no reason to complain because this fall has been so nice! We were hanging out outside again this afternoon in our shirtsleeves (I was wearing a sweatshirt - the kids just had on t-shirts). Yesterday morning we had a 2 hour delay before starting our school day because the weather was so nice out and the forecast said that it was going to start raining at noon. I figure if public schools can have a 2 hour delay for bad conditions we ought to have a 2 hour delay for nice ones. I figure it is one of the many perks of homeschooling :)

This afternoon as we were outside the kids started chatting with a lady that was walking a dog past our house. Dogs and little children are always fascinated when they walk past our house because our front yard looks like so much fun with all the kids scattered around. The lady asked the kids if they had had a half day of school today. Hannah told her no and the lady was kind of puzzled. She asked where the kids went to school and Hannah told her that she was homeschooled. That always makes me nervous. Any other homeschool mom would probably understand that nervous feeling I get in my gut wondering what the reaction will be to that information. How many questions am I going to be drilled with? What other homeschooled kids has this person been in contact with so is their response going to be extremely negative or positive? I suppose most people who are told that we homeschool are pretty unfazed by the information but some people get very upset. I always have this fear in my heart that I am going to be attacked because I homeschool. (I know, I shouldn't be a people-pleaser. Homeschooling is what God has called me to do for His purposes and I shouldn't worry what people think but I do not like being attacked.)

Thankfully this lady has had pleasant experiences with homeschooled kids before, some relative of hers homeschooled their children who are now young adults and they are wonderful kids. I got asked a few of the normal questions: "Do you get together with other homeschool moms and do things?" "Do you go to the conferences and stuff?" (she mentioned LEAH so I'm assuming her relative had gone to the LEAH conference before) and "Do you homeschool all of these kids?" (the answer to that one was "No, that little boy lives upstairs and did have a half day today because he goes to Ed Smith. I only homeschool my 4.") It was actually a pleasant conversation and she mentioned many benefits of homeschooling that a kid that went to regular school doesn't have. I'm thankful for conversations that go like that, where I am not attacked and questioned to no end. As the lady was walking away she said, "You know, one thing I always hear that people worry about with homeschooled kids is that they are socialized. I think that your kids are doing just fine. They socialize very well." Well - at least they've got one thing right. ;)

I got props from the little girl who lives upstairs too. She was sitting with Hannah while Hannah was working on her grammar for today, waiting for her to get done so that she could play and she started asking me questions about homeschooling. Kids ask different questions than adults do. I can't remember what she asked but she seemed intrigued with the idea and told me that I was doing a good job teaching my kids.

So, I got props from a random stranger and the 10 year old girl from upstairs. I guess it did my people pleasing heart good. The real question though is: Am I glorifying God in how I am homeschooling? I really don't know the answer to that one. I never know if I am doing enough, teaching the right things, requiring enough, preparing them for the right things. I do know that I am being more faithful to my calling this year but I am growing weary and am really looking forward to break soon for Thanksgiving. This year, more than ever before, I am feeling the brunt of the full time job I have educating my kids and the other full time job I have in doing everything else I am responsible for around here. I am so thankful for our God who gives me all that I need for life and godliness. I know that I am needing to spend more time with Him so that I can know Him more so that I will become more like Him and represent Him well everywhere I go.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Whirlwind Week

Well, I tried to blog this last night but after typing for a while lost it all... oops! So here goes again.

On Friday night after supper while we were waiting for Glenn to call for his pickup from the schospital where he was on call (he finally called around 8) the kids were wondering what their after supper chores were. That was kind of odd because we change chores on Sundays and usually, by Friday, they know what their responsibilities are for each part of the day... not this week though. When Caleb figured out his after supper job was wipe the counters and put food away he realized that he hadn't done that all week long. We wondered why then realized we hadn't really been home to do after supper chores all week because....

Monday was Halloween. After picking Glenn up from the schospital at about 6 the kids threw on their costumes and we took them up and down our block and the next one to the south. Caleb dressed as a Star Wars guy, Hannah was a doctor in Glenn's old lab coat, Lydia was a nurse, and Abigail was Ariel from Little Mermaid. They had fun and got some good candy (it's no wonder people drive their kids to our neighborhood to trick or treat!). We were back home by about 7:30 after visiting with our neighbors up and down the street and ate dinner on the porch and started giving out the candy we'd bought to trick or treaters. I think that the kids often have more fun giving out candy than getting it. We only had about 65 trick or treaters this year because we were gone during peak time. I'm sure it would have been closer to 300 had we been home all night.

Tuesday was a normal school day (after we got over the candy excitement and graphing the candy that they had gotten trick or treating - our annual day after Halloween tradition). After supper I took the kids with me to flute rehearsal because Glenn had a review session. They went to bed when we got home so they didn't get their after supper chores done that day either.

Wednesday Glenn was on call so we decided to get some school work done in the morning then head to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge for a field trip on our way to Waterloo to visit my grandparents. The lady that was working there gave us a bit of an education on what birds we might be seeing that were there as a stop off in their migration as we went on the wildlife drive. We were able to look through a telescope to watch some of the birds in the shallow pool near the visitor center so that was fun. Besides the normal Canada geese and wood ducks we were also able to see some Northern shovelers and a heron. After the wilderness drive we went to Grandma and Grandpa's where we visited with them for a while, did a bit of yard work with them then ate dinner with them and AmyJo, Kyle, Zach and his friend. We always love our monthly visits to Waterloo and I am so thankful that we only live about an hour from there! After dinner we went up to Paul and Amy's so the boys could have a nerf gun war and the girls could have a tea party. We got a call that Glenn was done and ready to be picked up at 8:15 and when we hadn't even left yet so, we left at about 8:30 (after getting our booster seats back) and didn't get home until almost 10.

Thursday, after feeding the kids, I had the opportunity to go on a bit of a date with Glenn while our friend and her son came over to play with the kids. We actually went to a meeting about RMED but it took place a Phoebe's (a restaurant I've always wanted to try but SO thankful we got to do it with someone else paying!) It was a delicious meal and we learned quite a bit about what is expected and got news that Montour Falls is offering us housing and a stipend which was an unexpected blessing from God.

So anyway, our week was busy and that is why the kids didn't know what their after supper jobs were (except Lydia who, a few days, had to do supper dishes the next morning). Our weekend was fun too. Yesterday morning the kids had Neighborhood Youth Rec at SU and did gymnastics and zumba as well as played some soccer and basketball. I am very grateful for that program. After NYRP the kids and I went to Syracuse Stage's Open House. We were able to watch some short scenes from plays and hear some songs performed by SU students then watched New Kid, their traveling Children's Tour. After New Kid we were able to go on a back stage tour of the theater. It was neat to check out the craft, scene, prop, and costume shops and other rooms back stage. We were really excited to be able to check out various things that they were making getting ready for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (which opens the day after Thanksgiving and runs through New Years that we, hopefully, will be able to go to!) including the white witch's gown, the stone table, the sleigh, the beaver's stove, Mr Tumnus's fireplace, and various masks and other props. We had gone to the open house last year and had a lot of fun and were so glad we could go again this year! After the open house we considered going to the zoo to catch the last of squish the squash but were too tired so we went home. This afternoon we were able to go out and rake a bit and enjoy this beautiful fall weather then we came in for popcorn and a movie. We watched several episodes of Paddington Bear that we had borrowed from the library. I don't know when I've laughed so much. He is so funny!

So much to be thankful for during this busy week. Thankful also that we occasionally have boring weeks that aren't so much of a whirlwind!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Confessions of a Hoarder

I confess, I am a hoarder. I know, I really shouldn't be after 16ish moves in 12 years and a season of homelessness, but I am. This week I threw out two things that I have held on to for probably way too long - or at least Glenn thinks so ;)

The first thing was my pair of EMS flip flops. I got them off the clearance rack *several* years ago at EMS. They had been returned by someone I am guessing and they only cost about $2 but they were nice flip flops I have never found their equal and therefore I have kept them for a long time even though I started feeling rocks through them and the cover of the top has worn off. (I know that there was a melted place on the front of them that I got from the heater at Grandma Hansen's house if that is any indication of how old they are.) I can't remember which October was the first October that they were supposed to be thrown away (October 15 is when we put our summer stuff up until 4/15 when we get them out again) but this October they finally made it to the trash because the part between the toes on one side finally snapped when I was at flute rehearsal a few weeks back. I almost cried. I probably would have if I had been home, not out in public. So long my favorite flip flops ever. May I someday find your equal.

The second thing was my pillow. I have had my pillow for a long time. I got it from the reject pillow pile that they were getting rid of from the cabins. We housekeepers were allowed to take a pillow from the pile back when I was an SIC at WOL FCG. I actually squabbled with one of my housekeeper girls over it. (A fact I am embarrassed about now...) It was a great pillow. Again, I have never been able to find it's equal and so I've just kept using it. It started it's decline (really, Sonja? Started??) last summer when we boiled all of our pillows to get rid of a pest. Boiling water does not do nice things for just about any piece of material that you put in it and my pillow was no exception. I have not been sleeping well for a while and finally decided this week that my pillow had to go. (It may have been something about a fact that I read in some magazine lately about old pillows containing all kinds of mites and dead skin cells. It said something about 1/4 of a pillow's weight may be made up of them - GROSS! Glenn joked that my pillow was probably closer to 90%). Anyway, so long pillow. You served me well, long past the first time you were tossed aside.

I close this confession with a poem that I wrote about my flip flops last November when we were making poems for school:

My EMS Flip Flops

Worn, like they've been well loved
Comfy, as though made for me
Silent, as they traverse the earth
Fresh like earth and air.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Paid Cash at Wegmans Tonight

I paid cash at Wegmans tonight. That does not make me feel comfortable. I like swiping my Wegmans card then swiping my debit card and knowing that the money is there to pay out of our checking account. That would still have been true today but I decided (after seeing that we only had $88 left in our food budget for the month of October when I put in my receipts last weekend) that I needed to go cash envelope on our food budget. (Food budget is one aspect of our budget that can change and that I can control in our budget and I have been over spending the last several months which does not do well for our budget.) I rounded up $88 in cash and stuck it in an envelope. Tonight it took a lot of will power but I did it. I reached for the cash instead of the card. My milk dates are until 11/1 so we may make it until the end of the month with that $88 (though I doubt the 4 gallons I bought will last us that long!). I am so thankful that God abundantly provides for us and that He is going to stretch that $88 because I am trusting Him to. I long to be obedient in this area, to be a good steward of what He has entrusted to us. We long to live within our means now, when our means are very limited, so that we can live below our means when we start getting a pay check in a couple of years and begin to give more and pay off our debt. It's a faith and contentment issue that He's working on in me and He is going to prove Himself faithful!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Week 3 in Pics

Week 3 of school didn't go exactly as planned but it was a good week. My camera pretty much stayed in it's home this week so my week in pics doesn't have as many pics as some other weeks. The kickball pic was one that my friend posted online and most of the others are from my phone so the quality isn't the greatest.

On Tuesday we played kickball with some friends.
 On Tuesday night we lended our kids to some friends so that Glenn and I could go on a much needed date. We went to Outback because we had a coupon for a free steak then wandered around Ollies and talked.  On Wednesday morning when I went to pick up the kids it was decided that I would stay and watch the 8 kids because none of their baby sitters were answering the phone and the mom had to go and be there for a baby to be born (she's a doula). It was a fun day off from school with kids ages 4,5,6,7,8,9,10, and 11. There was a lot of Lego playing, some Wii playing and
 I introduced them to my favorite fall game: Catch the Leaf
And they played with the tree swing
 On Thursday after playing a bit of catch up on schoolwork that we'd missed the day before we headed to Waterloo for our monthly visit. We stopped in to see Phoebe and Jonah first before heading over to visit with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Amy and Kyle. We then got to go to part of Ehren's volleyball game which was a lot of fun. We got to see Aunt Ruth, Uncle Jerry and Ali while we were there.
Hannah sharing her school notebook with Grandma
 On Friday Glenn took his Internal Medicine Shelf in the morning while we did school work then we headed down to Montour Falls for Glenn to meet the doctor that he will probably be working with for RMED (Rural Medical Education Program). Glenn got to see a few patients with the doctor while the kids and I checked out the local library (a first stop for all homeschooling families) and the Shequaga Falls which are at the head of "the T" downtown. They are really pretty and only about 10 feet shorter than Niagara Falls. After the work day was over we were invited over for dinner at their home. They ordered pizza and we got the chance to meet his wife, 5 of their 7 kids, and their 3 dogs. Caleb got to go out and shoot guns with their 15 year old son and the girls enjoyed playing with their 10 year old daughter and her new puppy. After dinner Glenn got to go and observe the circumcision of a newborn at the hospital. We had an enjoyable evening and ended up sitting around and talking until after 10 when we headed back for the almost 2 hour drive to our beds.
The kids at Shequaga Falls in Montour Falls, NY
I'm thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling affords (like the chance to visit grandparents on a weekday once a month, the ability to help out a friend with childcare and the chance to go and check out where we might be living as a family during school hours) and for the fun week that we had.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week of Fall Fun

Last weekend started on Saturday morning when the kids and I went to the St James Festival where I was playing with a small group from the CNY Flute Choir.

A small group from the CNY Flute Choir
After playing we got paid in food so we sat with Sul-Young, Sara, and John as we ate our Korean food (and they shared with my hungry kids)
After leaving the festival we headed across the street to check out Betts Library then we went to Webster Pond where you can, for a donation, get cups of corn to feed the ducks and geese.
Caleb making friends

They ate corn right out of our hands

Sunday after church we walked over to the Westcott Cultural Festival which takes place just about a block from our house. It was fun wandering and looking at the booths, making crafts in the library parking lot, visiting with neighborhood friends and generally avoiding the used book sale going on at the library ;)
 This clown made us balloon animals

The girls made stuff out of clay - H made a tea set, A made a couch for her Pollies

L is not excited about how her cup is turning out

McGruff, a robot dog, was there telling kids to scream if they saw their parents texting or talking on the phone while driving

There were races for kids (love this pic with our upstairs neighbor coaching her little brother on the far left)

Hannah came in first followed closely by Lydia in this heat
 On Tuesday we went to Owen Orchards for a field trip with friends from the Waterloo area. (It felt almost like a family reunion. I love all the other mommies that were there and miss sharing life with them! Many of them I either grew up with or went to Tuesday morning Bible study with, or both.) The field trip started in the barn with an education on how honey bees help orchards
Worker bees on the left, queen bee on the right and my drone in the middle

checking out the bee hive
Then we took a wagon ride out to pick apples.
our wagon ride out to the orchard

Learning how to properly pick apples and how their neat apple picking baskets work

Abigail's first apple

L&A munching apples on the way back with Jonah

The sky looks ominous but thankfully it didn't rain while we were there!

The sun actually even came out for a bit

After our picnic lunch Caleb decided to try out the stocks

ain't it the truth

 After apple picking we went on another field trip with people from around Syracuse to Side Hill School, a one room school house near Skaneateles.

 This week we have also had the chance to walk our neighbor's puppy Iggy at lunch time. It was a fun but reminded me why I don't want a puppy - they are crazy!
Iggy on our porch steps with 3 of his fans
 To wrap up the week we made globe cakes this afternoon for Friday Funday. H&A worked on the Western Hemisphere and C&L worked on the Eastern.
The Western Hemisphere girls decided to start with water

The Easterners decided to start with land

Showing off the finished product

Western Hemisphere Ws and Eastern Hemisphere Es
That was our week in pics. I love fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Week in Pictures

Kids filling out their "passport applications"

Caleb studying his old passport

Hannah making an orange globe

no wonder map makers have such a hard time making a flat map of the world!

Lydia found a cricket in our Backyard Habitat

Caleb collected most of the worms in our science experiment

Funny bumper sticker we saw at the zoo

Momma Tiger and her triplets

The new baby Patas Monkey and the momma

the Pre-Hensile Skink
I am taking a break from my daily writing about our train trip to post pics from our week of school. This year we are using My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures and I think that we have done more fun stuff this week in school than we have in most months in previous years. We are really enjoying it! I decided I would take a picture or two every day to show what we did, both to share with Glenn as well as to post here for us to remember later. To finish off the week we decided to take a trip to the zoo to hopefully see the baby tigers. So many of the animals were out and active today! We were greeted upon arrival by the siamang monkeys out in the outside exhibit vocalizing very loudly which was really fun to see and hear. The penguins were full of energy, the momma and triplet baby tigers were out and active (so fun to watch!!), one of the red pandas was actually out, the spectacle bears were doing their loop, a lynx was walking around, one of the otters was swimming at the fish, the baby Patas monkey at not quite a month old is already starting to think that he should be independent of his mama. We love the zoo. We need to go there more often (oh, and I actually figured out how to get there today!! The zoo is in a strange part of town and I can never figure out how to get there but I discovered a great route today so I no longer have the "I'm not sure how to get there" excuse - yay!)

I'm thankful for a great first full week of school. I am so grateful for the chance to homeschool.