Happy HFCS Day

From our family (Hermione Granger, Maddie; a St. Louis Cardinals Cheerleader, Chloe; the cutest Angel in the country who as of now still hasn’t earned her wings – somebody ring a bell already, Katie; one bouncy Tigger, Millie; and a Mom Who Has Her Act Together, Megan – my costume will be done tomorrow) to yours, we wish you a very happy and frenzied High Fructose Corn Syrup Day.

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Not So Bad

We have a snow globe collection at home. I’m not talking dumb plastic ones with bobbling cartoony figures inside, but nice ones with nice bases and artistically done scenes inside. When we travel we don’t normally get a lot of silly touristy things for the girls or for us – we usually just get one nice snow globe to commemorate the time and place, and the girls have grown accustomed to seeing these whenever we’ve gone anywhere (either with them or apart from them).

So my number one mission this afternoon was to locate the beloved snow globe for Florida. My preference is to find one with the city name on it, not the state, but after seeing scores of silly snow globes with dolphins, seashells, and no reference whatsoever to any part of this interesting state, I was delighted to find one that mostly met the qualifications in a little shop near the airport. We bought it, the lady wrapped it, and we proceeded to the airport.

Once here, I didn’t think twice about it. We checked our bags and waited in line for security, where I learned to my great dismay that snow globes are not on the list of approved substances to carry on-board an airplane. I was asked if I would like to check it, as in, go back through all the lines, and ask the people behind the counter to retrieve my bag so I could put my $9 snow globe in it.

I looked at the man and said, “I doubt there’s more than three ounces of liquid in that snow globe.” He just stared back at me. “Okay,” I said. “Just throw it away.”

Sad.

But the good news is that this is really the only (bad) story I have to tell from our trip (that and the fact that we were given a hybrid car with a “smart” key at one in the morning, and neither of us could figure out how to start the goofy thing; I had to track down a Hertz employee to teach us how to start the car).

But aside from these minor things, it has been very good. We had some great conversations with people (four separate groups) over the three days we were here. We began piecing together the report we need to turn in (we have an interim report due Wednesday and a final report at the end of November), ate at some great places, played in the ocean twice, collected a pretty impressive load of seashells for the girls (at least they will be impressed, and that is, after all, the point), and rested a lot. The purpose of the trip was business, but we were restored through the time as well.

It is a bit strange to consider that the pace of things is going to pick back up tomorrow at the same speed with which we left it on Friday, but such is the nature of life.

Maddie, Chloe, Katie, and Millie, we missed you very much. And we’re excited to come home tonight and be a family again.

Rough Working Conditions

Beach Time

As you can see, we’re just working our tails off today. It’s really a tough job, but hey, we’re glad to to do it so you don’t have to.

Seriously, the toughest part was arriving at the hotel at 1:30 in the morning and then having to wake up at 5:45 so we could be in Miami by 8 for our first meeting of the weekend. That one was our smallest meeting, but it’s all about the conversations, and conversations with two are still meaningful and good (which it was).

Tonight we have a dinner discussion lined up, as well as another one tomorrow night. We’ll also be spending a few hours at one of the largest Christian schools in the area on Monday, as well as formally beginning the writing of our report.

We’re really working. Now excuse me while I go shake sand out of my shoes…

Cabana Boy

Update

There have been several things I’ve intended to post about over the past couple of weeks. I’ll give you the quick version here.

So two weeks ago, the girls and I went to visit Craig‘s youngest sister (hi, Jill!) and her family in Illinois. The girls and I have never been to their place in the whole time we’ve lived here, so that was a situation we intended to remedy. We had a great visit and the girls loved hanging out with their cousins overnight.

On that same trip, we met Caron and her family; I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard as during our conversation that afternoon. Katie asked later when we could go back to play with her new best friend. Super fun.

The girls and I have been to several educational music functions this fall which have all been neat-o. We got to hear jazz musicians last week.

I’ve never really felt like I could officially call St. Louis “home,” but I am really liking living here. I could see it becoming home at some point in the future. I’m not sure what will bring about that transition for me other than maybe being allowed to paint the walls blue, orange, pink, red, green, etc.

We’ve been communicating with Compassion as to how we can continue to support the family Sakulu lived with by supporting another child who lives with them. It kind of feels traitorous, though that is dumb thinking. I had this problem with the movie Return to Me – the new relationship wouldn’t have existed if the wife hadn’t died, which makes the new one bittersweet. I feel sort of like that at this point, like, “Should I be excited about supporting a new child? This wouldn’t have come about if Sakulu hadn’t died. Am I not remaining true to Sakulu?” Twisted thinking.

Our friend Jenny from Colorado came to see us last week. Jenny is like family for us; she lived with us for several months right when Katie was born. We impressed her by taking her to the Delta Dental Health Theatre, complete with giant teeth and puppet show; I also showed her how to drive the wrong way on one-way streets in St. Louis. We also experienced driving over to Illinois in search of 1st Street (which, incidentally, is really still in Missouri). We enjoyed the visit with Jenny very much and hope we can work that out again sooner rather than later.

Maddie and Chloe had their first fall concert with the St. Louis Children’s Choir and we all survived. The choirs have a tradition of singing a song called “We Gather Here Together” at the end of every performance. Before we walked in, Katie was practicing on their behalf and sang, “We Gather Here Forever.” It was quite humorous, if not accurate.

We had a headmaster dinner discussion here in St. Louis on Monday night. In attendance were me, Craig, Nick, and one lone headmaster who arrived 30 minutes late. We had five scheduled and ended up with one. Tonight we have 10 scheduled, so we’re hoping they all come. Still, conversation with one is conversation with one; we felt badly for him, though, as it was rather like an inquisition.

Friday night, Craig and I fly to Florida and leave our girls in capable hands until late Monday night. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t really leave my kids that well. This will be the longest stint we’ve been away from them. I know they will be fine, but I don’t like leaving them. I wish they could come with us.

Maddie had a tooth filling today plus four sealants applied to her teeth. Chloe had two sealants. In two weeks Maddie has to have two teeth pulled because she has permanent teeth doing weird things under her gums. They need to pull the baby teeth out and hope the adult teeth start acting like properly behaved adult teeth. She’s nervous and I don’t blame her. She was a champ today, though, and handled the situation like a pro.

Now then, that about does it. I can start over from scratch here with a report on what goofy thing will inevitably happen to me and Craig as we take a trip this weekend. Something always does…

Clubbing with the Kiddies

Craig received a surprise paycheck this week for a writing job he recently completed. We decided to take part of it and support a local business for dinner. Having no particular place in mind, we drove down a fairly major road looking for something new and interesting.

We found it. There’s a new place not too far from us called The Jive and Wail, a dueling piano bar. It was 6pm when we arrived, so we figured it would be more restaurant than bar, and we were right. But then we learned the two piano guys would come on at 7:30, so we slowed our evening way down to try to stretch the time so we could hear part of the show.

By 7:00, the lights dimmed and the people began streaming in – lots of couples and singles, no kids. Smoke filled the place and the volume steadily increased as inhibitions wore off drink after drink. We wondered if we should leave or not, but decided to stay for at least a few songs. When the two guys came out, one of them said, “Welcome to The Jive and Wail, where it’s Saturday night and the only things you want to do are get drunk and get l**d!”

Nice.

Still, we stayed. It was definitely a lesson in culture. The songs were your typical everyman’s piano songs and the singing was fun because the crowd was half-drunk. Our whole family sang along with everyone else to John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses,” and little by little the folks around us seemed to lose a bit of their non-verbal hostility towards us for bringing in kids to ruin their fun. Craig leaned over part-way through the second song and said, “Now we know how singles can feel in church.”

Indeed.

It was definitely an interesting experience. I can’t say we’ll never do it again, because the opportunity to discuss what we saw with the girls was pretty amazing and much better than we could have by simply telling them about something they’ve no frame of reference for, asking them to affirm certain things and challenge others. It won’t be something we make a consistent habit of, for sure, but for one night, our family bonded in a hip-ish club scene, and we won’t forget it.

Buried By Life

Attack of the Killer Leaves

Certain things have been sacrificed this semester so that I could tackle this project for GWN. The first thing was full-time homeschooling. This wasn’t necessarily a bad sacrifice – we’re not discontent with the decision to have the girls go to school two days/week – but I am discontent with the lack of flexibility I have over their education in general right now. I think we could all desperately use a fall break, but we don’t get one this year because their school isn’t taking one.

Here’s an even harder one for me to admit: I hired a gal to come and clean my house this week because I haven’t been able to do it along with everything else. She did a GREAT job and I’m feeling better just sitting here in all this cleanness; my pride, however, took a significant hit when I made the contact for her to come (this doesn’t mean I didn’t ask her to come back in two weeks).

I miss my children. I’m not sure where they went, but I think they were temporarily abducted by aliens and returned to us with attitudes that would make 1972 sit up straight and take notes. I’m not responding well to this and feel like I’m failing them in every sense.

All of these things are combining to turn me into something I never wanted to be: missing in action within my own life. I usually never want time to speed up, but I find myself pining toward December like never before. When December gets here, all of this first phase will be over with and out of my hands. The school year for the girls will be completely paid for and I will be able to enjoy Millie on those two days each week the other three are in school instead of parking her in front of the longest animated babysitter I can find for the morning.

I do still want to pursue writing for the new project if/when the new project gets decided on, but if that were to mean another 30 hour/week draw on my time, I’m going to have to say “no thanks.” It’s been a good experiment. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing, but I’ve not enjoyed the consequences being paid by five other people besides me.

I will miss the cleaning lady, though. I’ve never been good at that. I just now have a really good excuse.

The Child Formerly Known as Millie, Age 3

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Among other big life events that have happened recently, I never mentioned that my baby is now 4-years-old. How in the world did that happen? She wore a big-girl jumper today and had her hair pulled back in a ponytail (for about an hour – that’s as long as she can stand to keep the hair bands in place) and I swear she looked about 6.

It’s going fast and for this moment in time I’m really feeling it. Time, time, go away, come again another day. Let my little family stay. I want to see them grow and play.

Break

I had a dream last night. In my dream, I was trying to organize a live discussion on biblical worldview and education in Florida at a McDonald’s with a play place. The only people to show up were me, Millie, and the publisher of WORLD Magazine, Nick Eicher.

I kept apologizing to Nick for dragging him all the way to Florida to hold a meeting at McDonald’s to which nobody came. Then I woke up and realized I need a break from the project (which, by the way, right now needs input from parents who have chosen public schooling for their kids; if that’s you, would you go give your thoughts?).

I’m taking the girls to visit one of Craig’s sisters this afternoon and we will finally meet the elusive Caron tomorrow afternoon (Caron, I want to hear you sing; my friend, Lou, says you have an amazing voice). I’m taking a deep breath while preparing to say this: I WILL NOT be taking my computer, despite the fact that it has been permanently attached to both palms for the past two months. My hands might bleed a little, but I think the lesser burden they will carry will be worth it.

For the record, I AM trying to organize biblical worldview discussions in Florida (Boca Raton and Miami), but they WILL NOT be held at any form of McDonald’s (playplace or not), I will not make the publisher of WORLD Magazine come to them, and Millie will be replaced with Craig. This will all take place between October 26-29. Consider yourself invited. Your meal will be provided; transportation will not be.

Over the Hill?

We embraced our mid-30’s last Wednesday (I know, I’m 33, so technically not mid-30’s, but indulge me). We went to see Over the Rhine at Blueberry Hill. The concert began at 9 with an opening act and OtR coming on at 10.

Clay and Renae were there and had scored some seats at a table in which we managed to steal relief every so often from standing (thanks, Johnsons!), but when 11 o’clock came, we were toast. Though we were enjoying the concert, we left early.

We did it. We embraced the fact that we are not in the stage of life that can run the club scene at 11 and live to tell about it the next day; we left and didn’t regret it. I’m making up for it by listening to The Trumpet Child playing on the OtR site. It is now officially on my wishlist.