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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned in the PRC

As I told you last week, Mike went to China. He landed in Beijing and then travelled by train to Tianjin where he spent the majority of his week. He went back to Beijing early on Friday to try to do some sightseeing before coming home on Saturday only to find that pretty much the entire town was shut down for a parade rehearsal for the 60th anniversary celebration of China’s communist regime.

Mike mentioned a celebratory parade to me and I pictured flags and colors and dancing dragons and all manner of exciting things.

Do you want to know what a celebratory parade looks like in communist China?



Tanks.

Missiles.

Military.

At the point that he took these pictures, they were well into hour 3 of this parade. A parade that would have captured the heart of my 4 year old son… for a few minutes.

I read this evening while doing a little surfing that our own Empire State building in New York City is displaying red and yellow lights in honor of this 60th anniversary of communist rule in China. Like many Americans, this disturbs me.

Why would we want to celebrate a country’s government which stands for everything that we [at least should] stand against?

Tyranny.

Oppression.

Dehumanization.

I read an interesting article on the subject at Investors.com. It’s a really good read. Here’s the link.

"Honor China, Not Its Communism"

I find it interesting that when Mike and I talked on that Monday, he happened to mention that he tried to pull up my blog, this very blog that you are reading, but couldn’t. This little ol’ blog has been blocked by the People’s Republic of China.

Do you understand why?

Their government has filters on its internet service, much like what you would have on your home internet for your children's safety as they surf the internet researching a paper on the Greek goddess Athena. But instead of blocking pr0n, it is blocking sites like this one that talk a little too much about GOD, JESUS and the BIBLE. He could look at his political blogs and whatnot just fine. But not this little ol’ blog whose author loves to talk openly about her faith in Jesus Christ.

I’ve been banned in the PRC.

And I decided that, pretty much, I’m fine with that. It’s just interesting knowledge to have and not something I ever expected to know about my blog.

And never did I expect for us in the United States of America to so overtly celebrate a government that so ruthlessly stifles freedom of speech.

Shame on you, whomever you are, that made this decision for the Empire State building. Shame on you.

By the way, Mike and I have decided that the above title would be a great blog title. So, no stealing it, okay?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fred's Texas Cafe - A WayMoreHomemade Review

I don’t watch a whole lot on Food Network these days, but I do have a few shows that I like to see every now and then. One of them is hosted by this guy with crazy hair and his sunglasses on backwards. The show is “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

Maybe its my upbringing as the daughter of a police officer and being exposed all my life to these types of places, but I have a real soft spot in my heart for the divey hole-in-the-wall looking restaurants that do great food. Not necessarily healthy, but great. And usually pretty cheap.

Which is why police officers love them.

But I digress.

I was watching the show the other day and noticed that they were at a place in Fort Worth called Fred’s Texas CafĂ©.

“Hmmm. I’ve never heard of it. We will have to check it out,” I thought to myself.

Well, on Saturday we got our chance. The kids were spending the night at Nanny’s house and we tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather and went for a walk in the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. We then went for a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen down the street (since it is the closest one to our house – oh the HORROR). We then continued the calorie fest at Fred’s.




Fred’s is located near the cultural district of Fort Worth on Currie Street just south of West 7th, not far from the old Montgomery Ward building. This is an area of town that has been in the midst of some major revitalization over the last 4-5 years. I’m not sure how long Fred’s has been there, but they are perfectly positioned to really keep and gain a lot of business in the coming years.

We drove up and the street was lined with cars on both sides. That’s always a good sign.

A couple of things to note as you arrive. There are two dining areas. To dine at a table inside, you need to sign yourself in on the clipboard just inside the front door. If you would prefer to dine on the patio outside, just walk on through the gate and keep your eyes peeled for a spot. It’s every man for himself out there.



Seriously, we hear that folks are usually pretty friendly and will make room for you. However, we didn’t realize this until we had already been there for a while. We would have loved to have dined outside this beautiful fall evening. There was live music that was tolerable and a festive atmosphere. However, we got the chance at some seats at the bar as some people that Mike knew from his old job in Dallas were leaving, so we took them.

Our seats were at the end of the bar and we ended up being able to see straight into the kitchen. It was fascinating to watch these guys work. The action never stopped. They took out a ball of ground beef and hand shaped each and every burger fresh before putting it on the griddle. And the girls behind the bar made each margarita individually… no margarita machine in sight. Now, that the Way More Homemade way. And that’s the way we like it.



When you order you need to know a few things as well. Most of the menu is burgers and fries. However, they do have specials. I think they were listed on a chalk board, but just know that you can ask about them.

And specifically, you need to know that you can ask about the Rib-eye steak with chipotle butter. It is a 16 ounce steak served with fries and a salad. Mike and I ordered one and split it and it was more than enough for the two of us. We ordered it cooked medium and for my taste, it was over cooked and more like well done. However, it was still tender and the chipotle butter added a nice kick to it. For my man, it was perfect.

We also ordered our fries with cheese. They. Were. Yum.



One of their signature dishes is Quail and Eggs which they serve only for their Sunday brunch.

Many people who read this here blog have kids and may be asking, “Is it an okay place to take my kids?” I would say mostly yes. The only issue might be the wait. On the patio with its “seat yourself when you find a spot” policy, the wait time is really uncertain. If you go planning to sit on the patio with your kids, I’d say you might want to get there on the early side of the evening. If you want to sit inside, just know that the number of booths is really limited.

We got there in the 6:45 pm time range and finally ate at about 8:15 between waiting for a spot to sit, ordering, and waiting for our food. This is probably not the place for you if your children tend on the impatient side when it comes to eating at a certain time.

Overall we had an excellent experience, great service and my man can’t wait to go back and try a burger.

Have you been to Fred’s? What was your experience?

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for this "review" if that's what you want to call it. We paid for our dinner out of our own empty pockets.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Preschool Accomplishments/Firsts - Mama Braggin' Monday

I am a funny sort when it comes to kids.

I like kids in general. I have consistently worked in children’s ministry at church in some capacity my entire adult life. But I have not always liked every developmental stage. Even in my own kids.

Or maybe I should say, especially in my own kids.

During most of my adult years, I have worked with teens and pre-teens. I have taught them in children's choir. I have taught 6th grade Sunday School. I have been a sponsor for pre-teen camp numerous times. But in recent years, I have backed off of the teen and pre-teen ministry in favor of working with my own kids ages.

I did not become a baby person until I was done having them. I didn’t “get” them before I had kids and couldn’t enjoy them very much until I knew I wasn’t having any more.

Toddlers really aren’t my thing either. They are so incredibly high maintenance and a lot of work. Again, I think they are cute now, but in the midst of parenting one, it was hard for me to appreciate them.

The preschool stage is different, though. I’ve pretty much always been able to work with preschoolers and enjoy them. And with both my kids, it has been my favorite stage. 3 years old until about 5 years old.

I love this stage with my own kids partly because all the hard work of those early years begins to pay off. After what seems like two solid years of saying, “NO!” and not being able to take my eyes off of them for a single second, I begin to feel like I can breathe a little bit. There are no diapers to change. We can even eat chicken nuggets in the car if we must. That’s when I feel like I have “arrived.”

Another thing that I love is some of the accomplishments and developmental firsts that you see during this stage. Maybe it’s because they are tangible, I’m not sure. But regardless, seeing these things makes me smile.

Needless to say, at 4 years of age, my son is right in the midst of this stage. And he has begun to do some of those things that I just find so completely precious.

His first self portrait:



He drew this within the first week of school in Pre-K this year. I love the all head/no body/super long legs people drawings. I mentioned it to his teacher at parent night and she said that it was completely un-prompted by her, but that he and some of the boys at his table just spontaneously drew the pictures and cut them out. I immediately took it out of his folder, dated it, and pinned it up on the bulletin board.

Writing his name:



I noticed this two Sundays ago during worship service. It was the Sunday that Mike was out of town. During the sermon, I noticed that he had written it on the back of a picture that he had drawn in his Sunday School class. And then I looked down and it appeared that he had actually written his name on his paper during class as it was down in the bottom corner. I immediately took a picture of it and also showed it to Mike via Skype one night while he was gone.

My boy is growing up and I love it.

I plan to share more of his art work soon.

Because it always makes me smile.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 8

This is part 8 of a series of posts chronicling our week while my man and my kids' dad was out of the country for a week. See Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5 , Day 6 and Day 7.

Day 8 – Saturday

Today I am just exhausted. It’s been a long week of little sleep.

I stayed up really late last night. I didn’t realize the affect that having another child in the house would have on me, but I was even more reluctant to go to sleep last night. And once I did go to sleep I think I just didn’t sleep heavily at all.

I remember my phone making a noise at one point. I looked at it this morning and it was a text from Mike at about 2:45 am saying that he was on the plane and that he should be departing on time.

I woke up really early, too, but I stayed in bed trying desperately to go back to sleep. And then came the knock on my door at 7 am.

All the kids were up and already dressed.

And my first thought… “Oh it’s going to be a long day. Where’s my coffee?”

I offered to either make pancakes or go to the donut shop.

I’ll give you one guess as to what they picked.

Yeah.

So we went and had breakfast and headed on to Nathan’s first soccer game.

He played goalie for the first part of the game. When he came off the field he said, “They shot the ball to me one time, but not two times,” with a bit of a sad face. So cute.




He played on the field, mostly just as a runner, the second half. At one point he ran off the field towards me and I said, “Son, you can’t just run off the field. Get back out there.” He looked at me with those big baby blues and said, “Mom, my legs are tiiired.”

So I gave the “cut-it” motion to the coach and they put someone else in. Nathan gladly took his spot on the bench. He was gassed.

By the way, I totally have to give credit to Mike's dad, "Grumps" as the kids call him, for the pictures above. Mike had my camera with him all week, so that left me with just my phone. Which was fine, but I wanted some good pictures of Nathan's first game.

Mike's mom, "Nanny" came up for the game as well. We went to lunch with her and then headed home for some much needed rest.

The three of us were excited to go to some friends’ house for a barbeque in the evening, but I still needed to make a dessert. I finally just asked the kids what they wanted and they requested brownies.

Great. I can make brownies in my sleep. Which is exactly what I wanted to do.

And I did.

I finally woke up at 5 pm and Nathan woke up shortly thereafter and we were able to get out of the house pretty quickly after that.

I heard from Mike that he was in Chicago while we were trying to get out of the house, so I called him back once we were in the car and on our way. I can't tell to the relief I had to have him back on the same continent as us. Something about those overseas flights just makes me nervous. Not when I do it, but when the one I love is out there in a little tube flying over the Arctic circle... it makes me nervous. But he was within a couple of hours of being home.

We had a wonderful time at our friends’ house. It was the perfect distraction that I needed to keep my mind preoccupied and not dwell on Mike's continued travel. We just hung out with them until about 9 pm when we started making our way back over to our neck of the woods to be ready to pick Mike up at 10:30 (our friends live about an hour away).

As it turns out, there was a hot air balloon festival today and they do fireworks at the end of it. So we stopped at the side of the road and enjoyed the fireworks from the car for several minutes and then continued on our way.

We went straight to the airport and found a parking space and went into the baggage claim area. Within a few minutes we saw a plan pull up at the gate right across the way and at the same time I got a text from Mike, “Just pulled up to gate B29.” I texted back, “Yeah, we see you.”

And within minutes, we actually did.

We did it. We survived.

And I didn’t even get voted off the island.

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 7

Day 7 – Friday

The week is almost over and I am ready.

Sarah asked yesterday if one of her new friends from school could come over and spend the night tonight. Since this Saturday is likely the only Saturday she won’t have a soccer game for the next couple of months, I said sure. I called the girl’s mom and we worked it out.

Her friend, R, came over and we went to Nathan’s first soccer practice.

He did great.





He has a couple of friends from his old class at his daycare on his team.

I talked to Mike on the phone once or twice during soccer practice, but it was already Saturday morning his time and he would be leaving his hotel soon and would not have access to a computer again. I probably would not get to talk to or hear from him again until he was in Chicago on Saturday afternoon.

We got home and picnicked with some homemade pizza on the floor in the tv room and watched a Veggie Tales video that the kids picked out.

Everyone headed to bed at a pretty decent time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 6

Day 6 – Thursday

I can tell the week is really starting to catch up with me. I hate going to bed at night without Mike here so I just stay up watching TV while lying in bed because I’m too tired to sit and concentrate on anything at the computer. Then, I have to wake up early to get it all done to get out the door in time for school.

I got up at 5 am as usual this morning but ended up back in bed to try to catch a few more winks. I was dragging pretty much and I goofed around just enough that Sarah was late to school. Not by more than just a minute or so, but I felt defeated none-the-less.

I was scheduled today to have lunch with Sarah’s class to give her teacher a break. You see, our school is mostly in portable buildings right now and the grammar school kids have no central cafeteria. They have lunch in their rooms, which means that their teachers stay and have lunch with them. So we, as parents, like to come and take over for a few minutes as much as we can to give our sweet teachers a break. The kids in Sarah’s class are all pretty much good kids, but the boys in this year’s class seem like they are likely a hand-full. Oh my! I need to go in with more of a game-face on next time.

Today was the kids’ last day in after school care for the week. That was a mile-stone for me. That let me know that the week is almost over.

Sarah was supposed to have her first soccer practice today. However, there was no soccer practice because, shocker, it rained… again. We just had a short meeting with her coaches and the team and got our jerseys. They are awful. Burnt Orange.

We know her coach from church and we know that they are Longhorn fans. So I gave him the look as he SWORE up and down that he did NOT request that color. The other coach, who is a good Ag, backed him up on it and assured me that the goalie jersey would be maroon. “And we all know,” he said, “that every kid wants to wear that goalie jersey.”

True enough.

We were even a little late to our soccer team meeting so that we could talk to Dad for just a few minutes on Skype. Since this wasn’t a real practice, I didn’t mind having her be a few minutes late so that she could talk to her Dad.

We got home and I had the kids out riding their bikes while I got dinner ready. I looked around the mess that was my kitchen, took a peek in the fridge and then went outside and loaded up the kids and went to Taco Casa.

Yeah. It was that kind of a night.

Once the kids were in bed, I was sitting here at my computer working and Mike tried to call. We spent a good 20-30 minutes trying to get video and audio all working correctly and I ended up having to completely re-boot my computer. But we finally did get it to work and we had the greatest talk.

As it turns out, it was Friday morning his time and they had already gone back into Beijing with hopes of doing some sight-seeing. However, with the coming of the 60th anniversary of the formation of the communist party there in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) everything was shut down for a parade rehearsal. The Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square and the whole surrounding area. Shut down.

Can you imagine being in Beijing for the first (and possibly only) time and just twiddling your thumbs in your hotel room because there’s nothing to do?

Well, it worked in my favor because I got to just sit and talk to my man without the kidlets muscling in on my time. We laughed and joked and talked about our weeks, politics, church stuff, kid stuff and nothing at all. It was like he was sitting right here with me.

I loved it.

And I feel like it is going to be just enough to get me through until Saturday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 5

This is part 4 of a series of posts chronicling our week while my man and my kids' dad was out of the country last week. See Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4.

Day 5 – Wednesday

As I’m sitting here writing, it is so quiet in the house and I realize how much I miss Mike. The kids are in bed and the only sounds are of crickets quietly chirping amidst the breeze that’s rustling the leaves on the trees outside, a snoring dachshund and the clicks of my keyboard as I gently tap out a record of today’s events. I glance over and my kitchen is an absolute mess because someone hasn’t been here to clean up after me. I look around and there is only one computer, the other laptop that is usually sitting here at the table is missing. I feel alone in spite of the sleeping children who are just yards away in their room tucked into bed.

BSF started today. I really felt like if there was a day that Satan was going to attack and make a bad morning for us that today would be the day. So from the time Mike left, I began asking friends to pray for us this morning. And you know what, we had our smoothest morning yet.

I was going to let Nathan sleep in a little, but I didn’t even have to go and drag him out of bed as I have the last two days for school. By 7:15 he was up and smiling his sweet smile. Then once we got to BSF, we walked up to his classroom and he just walked right in with no problem. I couldn’t have asked for a better morning with him.

I worked in the preschool area today, so we stayed after class for me to listen to lecture with our children’s leaders and Nathan had lunch with some new friends in the other room. The transition was smooth to the other room and everything just went great.

I called our auto insurance guy this morning and found out that we do have towing insurance. Mike worked it out with his dad and he took care of getting my car towed back here to the house. Knowing that I have a little boy who loves all things cars and trucks, I let Nathan stay up instead of taking a nap so that he could see the tow truck once it got to the house. It was likely the highlight of his week.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, but included a nap for Nathan after we picked Sarah up from school.

And all the mommies said…. AMEN!

We made sure and talked to Dad on Skype this evening because Sarah is supposed to have soccer tomorrow evening and Nathan has soccer on Friday evening. Of course all that is a little up in the air with all the rain we’ve had this week, but that’s the plan anyways.

And we all know how well my plans have gone this week.

Regardless, we’re not sure if we’ll really get to talk much for the rest of the week, so we needed to get that conversation in.

And hey, since it’s my day off from work, I actually cooked dinner. I made roast and experimented with some sweet potato fries. Roast was good. Sweet potato fries were so-so. Need to do some more experimenting. Maybe after Daddy’s home.

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 4

This is part 4 of a series of posts chronicling our week while my man and my kids' dad was out of the country last week. See Day 1, Day 2 & Day 3.



Day 4 – Tuesday

Today has been tough. It is one of those “I feel completely overwhelmed by everything” sort of days.

It isn’t just one thing, it’s the whole combination of things.

I found out over the last couple of days about a fee here, and a request for money there, and they are all dollar amounts that seem completely unreasonable. I feel like we are being “nickel and dimed” to death and I hate that it is such a big deal. I hate that I have to be such a hawk about every cent that leaves this house. I hate it.

I also found out today about a school project that has been assigned to Sarah. Now, this one is not nearly on the scale of the project from last year, but it is due next week and I’m looking at the week and thinking, “When on earth am I going to have time to do this?” It’s not that I dislike projects per se, I’m just the kind of person that likes to know everything up front and I asked about projects at the very beginning of the school year and I felt like I was led to believe that there wouldn’t be one. I just want a syllabus. That’s all. I want to know what to expect. It’s hard and stressful for us as parents, at least for parents both working outside of the home, to schedule extra time to help with projects on short notice.

And did I mention that my car doesn’t work? It’s still sitting in the parking lot of my office.

I came home again today at lunch to get the BSF lesson that was dropped off for Mike last night so that I could scan it and email it to him. I drove up and was pushing my button for the garage opener. And pushed it again, and again, and again…. and then it dawned on me. Our power was out. Just what I needed.

Thankfully, by the time I had picked up both kids and got back home, the power was back on and we were able to continue with our day as planned and were able to talk to daddy on Skype in the evening.

I am so thankful for one couple of friends in particular today. I go to an aerobics/exercise class with my friend, Keal, on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I’m able. Tonight I was just planning on picking up some dinner for the kids and making them sit through it while I exercised. However, her sweet husband offered to take our kids along with theirs to McD’s for dinner while we exercised. It was the biggest blessing to have those 50 minutes with nobody needing anything from me.

Thank you, Mark. You have no idea how therapeutic that was for me.

We have our routines and disruptions in those routines are expected, but I can only handle so many disruptions at a time. For now, Mike being out of town is the only disruption I can handle well. The rest of these things that I’ve listed just added to my stress level today in ways that nearly made me crack. Normally I would be able to talk to Mike through all of this and maybe even come to some resolution on at least one thing. But with him not here, I feel like there are all these balls in the air with nowhere to go.

It's almost enough to make a girl lose. it.

But tomorrow is a new day, right? His mercies are new every morning. And tomorrow morning is Bible study.

Now that's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 3

Day 3 – Monday

My day started at 4 am today. Yes, you read that right. 4 am.

Nathan was awoken by yet another rain storm moving through the area. He thought he had heard thunder, but I don’t recall hearing any. Nonetheless, there was that knock on my door at 4 am. I took him into our bathroom to go potty and he wanted to lay down with me on our bed. I allowed it for a few minutes, but quickly determined that I was not going to get back to sleep and would need to be up in a short while anyways. I didn’t want to wake him once I did get up, so I took him back to his bed and he went right back to sleep.

I, on the other hand, did not.

I finally went ahead and got up at 5 and started my routine. Sarah was up by 10 ‘till 7. But Nathan. Poor Nathan. He just couldn’t get going. “Mom, I just need more sleep,” he said at one point as I was putting his clothes on him finally at 7:20.

“I know, son. So do I.”

Okay, so I am just going to say, “Blah blah blah,” about the morning routine and suffice it to say, the kids got to school on time. Feeling a real sense of victory, I celebrated this fact by treating myself to a tall mocha and a blueberry muffin from Starbucks.

Oh Starbucks, I’ve missed you these last six months.

Since it was still, you guessed it, raining, I let the dogs stay inside when I left home this morning. I was leaving my office to go home to let the dogs out and you know what, it helps in the leaving of the office process when the car actually starts.

Mine, however, did not.

I got a ride home from my father in law to get Mike’s car so that I could have transportation to get the kids and get home later in the day. I find myself so thankful that I had left the dogs inside this morning when I was tempted to make them go out. Otherwise, I’d have had no reason to go out to my car or go home and wouldn’t have known that it wasn’t going to start until it was time to already be at the school to pick the kids up.

So I leave the office and start picking kids up from after-school care while it is still raining (this is 3 straight days of solid rain, which is unusual for us). I’ve picked up Nathan and we are getting out of the car to pick up Sarah and my phone rings. I could tell it was Mike so I answered and told him I’d talk to him later. And we picked up Sarah, we still needed to go to the grocery store to get everything to make my “not-so-way more homemade” creamy tortilla soup for dinner.

What was he thinking calling me between 5 & 6 pm on a Monday??? I work until 5 on Mondays and Thursday s and between 5 & 6 pm on those days, it’s a mad rush to get to each place to pick up the kids and get home at any kind of reasonable time.

What was he thinking? He wasn’t and after a couple of more times trying to call me, he admitted it once we actually got on Skype after we were home. It was Tuesday morning where he was and the thought of where we were in our day just didn’t occur to him.

But the kids and I got to talk to him via Skype/video phone and they really got a kick out of that.



Dinner and bedtime were pretty smooth. Another day down in the record books.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 2 (& Mama Braggin' Monday - Lord's Supper)

Day 2 - Sunday

We slept in a little on Sunday morning. But then, the big event of the morning was talking to Daddy. He had landed in Beijing (yes, that's in China) and had not slept a wink on the 13 hour flight. He sounded exhausted. But he was there and was about to settle in for bed and would take a train to Tianjin the following morning.

We found out once we got to worship service at church that we were celebrating the Lord’s Supper that day. This was Sarah’s first Lord’s Supper to participate fully in. Wonderful worship service with both of them. I hated that Mike couldn’t be there for that first with Sarah and I hated that I couldn’t spend more time talking with her during the Lord’s Supper, but I needed to focus on Nathan most of the time.








And no worship service is complete without the stress of getting a quarter for the 4 year old to give for the offering, finding an offering envelope, dropping said quarter, picking it up, trying to get the envelope open and the quarter inside... all with the usher standing right there waiting while smiling and nodding with a knowing look.

After church, the kids wanted to go to a local Mexican food place that has really been a favorite in our house. However, I think we have discovered that it is no longer our favorite. They have opened up a bar next door and it seems that most of their efforts have been put there rather than having good food and service in the restaurant portion. It’s too bad, really. We have enjoyed having a nice little locally owned place to go.

It was, again, another rainy day. So we decided to use this recipe and make cookie play dough. I was working so hard to let the kids help, so I put Sarah in front of the computer reading off the ingredient list with amounts. And you know what? The difference between ¾ cup of flour and 2 ¾ cups of flour is pretty big. Fixable, but bit. Unfortunately, I planned poorly and the dough needed to refrigerate for at least two hours. So we didn’t really get to do a whole lot with it.

It was still a nice afternoon in spite of the rain. And it was perfect for a nice long Sunday afternoon nap… in a tee-pee.

Let me explain.

On Saturday, Sarah was playing in her “play-hut” style princess castle thing and did not want Nathan in playing with her. So I finally pulled out the tee-pee that my mom made for some of my nephews several years ago that my sister passed down to us. It has needed some sewing repair that I just haven’t gotten to which is why I hadn’t pulled it out before. But this week, with dad gone, and rain with no end in sight… it seemed like the perfect time to me. And he enjoyed it so much that he asked and I agreed to set it up on his bed so that he could take a nap in it. It was the cutest thing and I hate that I didn’t get a picture of it.

I am sure that you have learned that, in life and parenting, some fights are not worth fighting. Well, that is the conclusion I have come to when it comes to Nathan and Mission Friends. Mission Friends is the preschool Sunday night activity at our church that is centered on teaching kids about missions locally and around the world. It's a great program and he has a good time when he goes, but he is off and on about whether or not he wants to go. Tonight he did not and I didn’t have it in me to make him. As I said to Mike, there are so many things that are not negotiable. School, after-school care, and coming up this week, BSF. I hate for there to be another when there is no need. So, he didn’t go. Sarah when on to her thing, G.A.’s, and we went home and played with cookie play dough.

But not before Mike called while we were still at the church. It was Monday morning in Beijing and he was getting ready for his day and a train ride to Tianjin, which is like the 3rd largest city in China. The kids had talked to him that morning, so I took this time just for myself to hear his voice. He had rested pretty well overnight and sounded much better than he had earlier in the day.

As the day ended, it ended poorly for me with a killer headache. It was to the point where I couldn’t even sing to Nathan at bedtime. They went to bed, and then I did.

The end.

~~~~

So, nobody even tried to guess where he was headed based on the picture in yesterday's post. I think that most of you already knew, but I gave you the answer in today's post anyways - China. So, now the question is:

Where in China was the picture in yesterday's post taken?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Survivor: The Week Without Dad - Day 1

My man was out of town last week. Why? For WORK! Yes, for work, praise be to GOD! A real-life project with a real-life pay-check coming after it's finished.

You wanna know where he went? Here's a picture and I'll let you guess...



Friends that really know me and know where he went... give other people a chance to guess please.

Now, I didn't say anything here on the blog about it because, well, you never know what kind of weird-o might be reading and I didn't really want to advertise being at home alone with two kids. But he's back now, all safe and sound, so all is well in the WayMoreHomemade household once again.

I don't know how interesting it's going to be for all of you, but I decided that this week I would chronicle mine and the kids' week last week without dad around. Thought you might want a peek at how a family survives without a parent & spouse around that they are normally very dependent on.

After having a family night of watching the movie "The Incredibles," he left on Saturday very early in the morning. Like his flight left at 6:30 am, so he was gone from the house by 5:00 am.

And this is how that first day went...

~~~~

Day 1 - Saturday

We had a really good day on this rainy Saturday. I’d had plans for a while about how I thought this day would go, but those plans got quickly changed with all the rainy weather we had.

Our school’s family picnic was supposed to have been on Saturday. But, with wise discernment, the administration was keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast and cancelled the picnic on Friday. Plan “A” down the drain.

Then I began hearing about how great, fun and kid friendly Zest Fest was. So, I began to think the kids and I would go wander around for a while. Until I found out about the $10 per person admission. Um, no. There goes plan “B.”

So THEN, the kids and I decided that we would do some running around in the morning and then that they would each be allowed to invite a friend over for the afternoon as a reward for good behavior and good grades over the last couple of weeks. We went to the library and checked out some books and a movie. Nathan, of course, wanted airplane books. Sarah got a couple of American Girl books and we also checked out “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.” Then on we went to the grocery store and then to the airport to pick up daddy’s car so that we didn’t have to pay for parking all week long.

All along we were trying to get in touch with some friends to come and play after lunch. We called, and called and called some more. And finally we found one friend that was available to come over to play with Sarah. Nathan just had to defer his friend coming over until another time.

They watched The Incredibles (again), played “Indians” (inspired by the current American Girl novel that Sarah is reading) in the play room, and later, while having pizza for dinner, we watched Herbie as we picnicked on the TV room floor.

I have to admit that I am surprised. They didn’t really get on my nerves - which they usually do on days like this. They weren’t whiny about the rain - which they're kids, so that's not out of the realm of possibility either. We generally just had a good day hanging out together and doing a whole lot of not much.

Bed-time came and Sarah was really missing her Daddy because he usually does the bed-time routine with them. Nathan surprisingly handled the change of routine okay, but Sarah got upset. We talked about it some and when she asked me if I missed him also, I said yes, of course I did.

"But," I said, "do you know what makes it o-kay for me? He is gone because he has to go for this project. Him being gone means that he has work to do and that he'll get paid for it. That also reinforces for me that he is exactly where he needs to be... where God wants him. So if he has to be gone for a week to be doing what God wants him to do, I'm okay with that and we'll make it just fine."

So as I tucked her in, I asked if she wanted to read for a little bit to help her settle in. She said yes and immediately reached for her Bible.

We agreed that there was nothing better or more reassuring that she could read than her Bible and I told her that just as I prayed over her, I believed the Holy Spirit would calm her spirit.

And He did.

Amen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three Year Old Theology (re-run)

I am kind of out of pocket this week. Come by next week for a whole series about what's been going on this past week. It might be interesting.... or not.

So in the mean-time, I am re-running an old post for you. I loved this post from a little over a year ago.

Enjoy.

******

"Three Year Old Theology"
originally posted August 28, 2008

You know, every once in a while I hear something and it touches me. But I’m not really sure how it is going to flesh out. How rubber meets the road.

Then, something happens in real life and I have an “AH-HA” moment.

That happened today.

Nathan had his 3 year old check-up today.

Yes, I know… he turned 3 like 3 months ago. But it was a busy summer. You know how it goes. By the time I made the appointment, I had to schedule it for a month away. Then had to reschedule when he was at Nanny’s house and the Dr.’s office was super busy with back to school check-ups and everything. So here we are, nearly 3 months later. Whatever… we finally got it done.

So as we were in the appointment, the doctor is asking him all kinds of questions. What did he have for breakfast? Cheerios. (Good answer son. Don’t tell her about the Ding-dongs.) Does he like vegetables? Yes. Then he asks if we can go home. In just a minute.

So then she asks him about his big sister.

How is your big sister? How’s Sarah?

I have a big sister.

Yes, I know.

And I have a big dad.

A big dad. Yes, you do.

And I have mommy.

Yes.

And she has me.

And she has me… yes, my son, I have you.

And that brought back to mind the message of Inheritance from this weekend at Living Proof Live. Point number 3 was “I am an heir of God. He is my portion… and I am His.” The last part of that statement is the hard one to grasp. I am His portion. I am His inheritance. His treasured possession.

Nathan’s sweet statement kind of brought this home for me.

A parent’s love for their child is unlike any other. Just as there is no love like that between husband and wife. And the love between friends, sisters, Siestas… well, that’s in a class all its own.

What is blowing my mind right now is that God’s love for me is the embodiment of all these types of love. He sees us as His bride. He sees us as His children. He calls us His friends.

But as I looked at Nathan after he said that today, I thought to myself, “Yes, you are my inheritance. I get it.” That’s what it’s about. The LOVE that God has for me and how he looks on me in anticipation of what I will one day become. The same way I look upon my own children.

He is my portion… and I AM HIS!!!

And we also have a BIG DAD!

Hallelujah!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peek-a-boo at bedtime

The other day (o-kay, more like a month ago), I read a post over at Antique Mommy about a game that she and Antique Daddy play with their son. It's just a simple game of chase that got made up one day and has become something special to just their family.

It got me to thinking about our own family games. Games that, much like the Antique family, we have just made up and will always be unique to our little family. Games that I hope my children remember when they are grown and gone. Moments in time that I pray they can look back upon and remember as a happy moment in their childhood when mom and dad just played along with them.

One game in particular is our version of hide and seek / peek-a-boo at bed time every night. It seems that my little man can hardly shut his eyes if he and I don’t play this little game.

Ever since Sarah was a baby, bedtime has been dad’s domain. This started as a special time for him to spend with them (and give me a break) since he was gone all day and I was home. And now, even though we are both working outside of the house, it has just somehow kind of continued.

But, once the lights are out and everyone is all snuggled in bed, I appear and children disappear.

I walk into Nathan’s room after Mike has tucked him into bed and said prayers and I see him as he frantically pulls the quilt up over his head.

“Where did Nathan go?” I ask as I walk around the room. “He was here just a minute ago. Is he in the toy box? No. Is he under the bed? No. Well, I was going to tell him goodnight, but I guess I’ll just sit down here on his bed.”

As I sit I lean so that I’m resting lightly on top of him.

“Wow, this bed is kind of lumpy.”

He wiggles around.

“And this bed is kind of wiggly.”

He giggles.

“And this bed is kind of giggly.”

I reach over and begin to feel around on the quilt that is covering him up.

“What is going on with this bed and with this quilt? It’s lumpy and wiggly and giggly.”

At this point he is laughing hysterically as I tickle him under the quilt. And then I pull the quilt down so I can see his sweet laughing face.

“There he is!”

And usually we sing a song as he settles back down to go to sleep.

Until the next night. When we’ll do it all again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mama Braggin' Monday: Baptism

Sarah was baptized yesterday.

She made her decision to follow Christ on August 5th, 2009 during Vacation Bible School. We have talked about it off an on for several years. She would ask questions and we would answer them, always with no pressure. We always told her that God would tell her when the time was right for her to make the decision.

He finally did just that during a special time between the 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders and our children's pastor during VBS. I was not present, but Sarah stood up to say she was ready to make that decision.

Her daddy both led her through those steps and baptized her. What a joy! Especially knowing that he only made his relationship with Christ a personal one after we were married.

She was SO ready. From the day of her decision she was ready to be baptized immediately. She wanted for it to happen that very Sunday. Unfortunately, there are the logistics of the worship service to take into account and that was not going to be possible. But within a couple of weeks, we went in and let her talk to our senior pastor and scheduled the date so that friends and family could join us to celebrate.

We love you, Sarah, and are so encouraged by your enthusiasm for your Lord.




You can hear Nathan in the background at the beginning saying, "Hi Daddy," and at the end saying something like, "Why is her hair all wet?" Unfortunately, you cannot see him in the video, but he was standing up on the steps right next to the baptistry so that he could see all the action up close. A friend of mine took a precious picture with him in it. I'll try to post it if I can get a copy of it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

BBA Challenge #12: English Muffins

I am ruined. Absolutely ruined. Between homemade bagels and now homemade english muffins, I may never visit the "baked goods" or "bakery" aisles at the grocery story ever again.

Except that I work about 30 hours a week outside of my home, have a husband and two young children to care for and taxi around to school, church, soccer, piano and various other activities; leaving time for a grand total of about one baking project per week.

Oh well. All that other stuff may not taste as good, but it is so much more important. But you already knew that.

In all seriousness, I had so much fun the day I made these English muffins. The beginning part of it was pretty ordinary with the typical mixture of flour, liquid and yeast (with some other stuff thrown in, I'm sure). But then after the first fermentation, I rolled pieces into balls and let them proof on a sheet pan.




Then came the fun part. The griddle. Oh yes. The griddle.



Let them get really brown on one side, then flip 'em over.






I don't know if you can fully grasp it from the pictures, but these English muffins were the tallest things I have ever seen.




And if you didn't know, the best way to open an English muffin (or biscuit) is not with a knife. It's best to use some device, like a fork, to poke holes in the sides and then pull it appart.

I have this tool that was originally purchased through Pampered Chef as a tool to hold vegetables (like onions) still while slicing. I have never used it for said purpose, but it works great for opening English muffins.


Just poke it most of the way through the center of the English muffin all the way around the muffin, then pull it apart.


My English muffins did not have the big holes in them that I am used to seeing from store bought ones. Mr. Reinhart says that can be accomplished by timing putting them on the griddle "on the rise." I'll have to work on that timing, obviously.



None-the-less, they were delicious.

Uses:

For several days I had an English muffin to take with me to work to toast and eat for breakfast with some strawberry preserves and cream cheese. Oh, yes... it was yummy.

Then, one night, we had brinner and made fried eggs on top of a slice of cheese and half of an English muffin all topped with roasted and diced Hatch Green chile. "Yum" does not even begin to describe it.

Overall Impressions:

This recipe was not complicated and was, in fact, fun. It was difficult flipping the muffins over without denting the sides.

Will I make English muffins again? Yes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You know you have a boy when...

I am reminded periodically by circumstances and conversations that I have, in fact, a little boy. And that he is 100%, grade A, B-O-Y. And it is in those times I also become acutely aware, once again, of how different those little boys are from little girls.

We were recently visiting with some long-time friends that we had not seen in a long time. We spent the afternoon with them and their two daughters swimming, grilling burgers and just hanging out; enjoying their new pool, or the “Disney World we built in our own back yard,” as my friend describes it.

As the sun set, we lit the fire pit and all gathered around it. In an effort to give the kids something to think about and do other than getting too close to the pool or the fire, I started a story and had each child tell the next part of it from their perspective.

Imagine the scene for a moment. Each of the three girls is telling part of a story about a nice monster who loves to dress up, have tea parties and put on toe nail polish. Then comes my son. In his step of the story, “the monster got in the fire and he burned up and his head cracked open.”

Yeah. No sweet little girl that I know of would come up with that. Certainly my daughter wouldn’t have, and neither of the other two girls we were with that night would have either. Just my 100% B-O-Y.