Wednesday, March 30, 2016

He is risen indeed!

Every other year we head north to spend Easter with my in-laws and my husband's extended family. It's not short trip. They live about 350 miles north! That's a long trip when you can only stay about 48 hours once you arrive. But it is well worth it. The kids love seeing their grandparents and spending time with their cousins . . . and you can't forget the EGG HUNT!

So this year was a traveling year. Kirby and Joe returned home about 5:30 on Thursday night from a 3-day environmental studies field trip that the 5th grade class at our school goes on every spring, and after a full evening of laundry (you don't want stinky/wet/dirty camp clothes to sit for 4 days before being laundered!) we left first thing on Friday morning. We arrived at my in-laws house Friday afternoon and after unloading our stuff and stretching our legs a bit, it was time to get ready for the Good Friday service at church. Following church, we played games and had dessert at Kirby's older sister's house with her family. Saturday brought our big extended family dinner and egg hunt (since we needed to leave right after church on Sunday to get home at a decent hour, we did our celebrating as a family on Saturday afternoon). I think there were probably 40 people at Kirby's aunts house for dinner. 2 of Kirby's 3 siblings were there with their families as were many of his aunts and uncles and cousins (as well as his cousin's kids). We are quite a group! There was lots of food, much laughter, games to play and all the kids enjoyed the egg hunt immensely (despite the mud and snow). Following the egg hunt the kids kept busy emptying their eggs, eating candy, trading candy and counting their money (eggs don't only hold candy, you know!) while the adults visited and helped facilitate fair trading among young ones before we all packed up to head out. Saturday night brought a walk to stretch our legs and get some fresh air, pizza and visiting with Grandma and Grandpa.

We went to a pancake breakfast at Kirby's sister's church on Sunday morning and then enjoyed Easter worship at their church with a good percentage of his family. We had a quick lunch at his parents house and changed out of our "church clothes" before hitting the road for the long trek home.

Finally, after LOTS of hours in the car, we arrived at our house. Unfortunately, we were locked out! My parents had come to do a project for us (new front and back steps and front sidewalk -- having a cement mason for a father comes in handy more often than you might think!) and so we left the door open for them when we took off on Friday morning. Kirb grabbed just the van keys and we hit the road. Well, my very responsible parents locked up for us when they were done on Friday. The thought that we didn't have a house key with us never crossed our minds until the moment we pulled into the driveway. Thank goodness for cell phones! I called my parents (who were still had Easter company at their house) and my dad buzzed over right away and let us in . . . saving the day (and our VERY FULL bladders) again!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Natural Beauty

I've said it before, and I'll say it again :: I love where we live! This morning as I was walking with the kids to school, we saw the most awe-inspiring site. About 10 feet ahead of us and on the opposite side of the street, I sensed something. As I looked up, I saw a eagle take off from the tree, probably less than 20 feet off the ground. I have never been that close to an eagle in the wild. I've been to my share of raptor shows and seen a few injured eagles in captivity, but never imaged I would be that close to the majesty of an eagle outside. Less than a mile from my house. On a city street. I'd never seen an eagle in a tree that low to the ground. It was amazing! And SO big! The kids, young as they are, even sensed they had witnessed something special. We just stood still on the sidewalk watching him (or her) soar above the houses. The eagle remained surprisingly low in the sky and we had a fabulous view. I hope to never forget the sight of those white tail feathers taking off so close to me. You could tangibly feel the presence of that majestic animal. It was breathtaking!

I couldn't help but be reminded of one of my very favorite hymns ::

Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul
My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul
My Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art

How great Thou art, indeed. I am grateful for the chance to have been able to bear witness to creation in this way this morning! What a fabulous way to start the day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

R & R

Kirby doesn't travel for work too often, but we are just on the heels of him having been gone for 13 days straight. That makes for a long solo parenting stint, so we (and by we, I mean HE) worked it out so that I could join him for a few days in the middle of this trip. I flew from chilly MSP in Minnesota to Phoenix, Arizona (a treat for any Minnesotan by the time late-February rolls around) where we stayed for 1 day before settling in to our rental car for the drive to the Palm Springs area of California. We stayed with a UNW donor in her home (where we have been before -- me once and Kirb a few more times than that). We spent much of our time with her, but had some time alone as well.

We got to experience (again) a walk through the life of Jesus. It is a garden walk with beautiful sculptures depicting important scenes from Jesus' life. The experience was made even more meaningful by the fact that it was Lent. More about the experience can be found here.

The first night of my part of the trip I fell asleep at 7:14 pm (according to my Fitbit) and slept for more than 10 hours. I guess parenting 6 kids without your partner for 6 days through 5 play performances, 2 sporting events, 2 doctor appointment, kindergarten round-up and 3 musical concerts (yup, all that in 6 days) will wear you out. The extra sleep was exactly what I needed to enjoy the rest of my time (and I continued to bank nearly 9 hours of sleep each night for the remainder of my trip. Sleep is one of my favorite love languages!)

We had a wonderful time of rest, relaxation, sunshine, hikes, runs, palm trees, mountains, coffee and reading. I headed back home on Wednesday (after having arrived on Sunday) where I picked up where I had left off with the kiddos until we were ALL home together again a few days later. The kids were all so happy to have their dad back home. He is a very major part of their day to day lives (putting them to bed, praying with them, reading to them, cooking dinner, being their rock), so he was greatly missed. They missed me too, but I wasn't gone as long as he was, so his homecoming was highly anticipated!

I am so thankful for my parents and their willingness to take care of the kids so that I could get away for a few days. I am also thankful for our "village" that helped me out while Kirb was gone and were waiting in the wings in case anything came up, while my parents were staying here, that required a bit of reinforcement (thankfully they managed just fine without needing any reinforcements!).

The sunshine and warmth we banked will help us make it through the last cold stretch of winter until spring is here to stay!

Even though I am not much of a traveller, I had a great time away and enjoyed the time with my favorite person in the world (and away from 6 of my other favorite -- shorter -- people!). Even this non-traveller can benefit from a bit of away-from-home R&R from time to time!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Grateful. So grateful!

I emailed a specialist teacher from our elementary school this morning to tell her about a scheduling conflict that we were going to have beginning today and stretching into the rest of the school year. One of our kiddos has an appointment every Thursday afternoon for the foreseeable future. Thursday afternoon also happens to be the exact time that this specialist at our school meets with this group of kiddos -- which only happens once a week. Meaning, our kiddo would never get to go to that specialist again for the rest of the school year. I got an email back from her pretty quickly thanking me for letting her know about our situation and that she would give it some thought and get back to me. Our elementary school has roughly 450 students. This situation only affected ONE of them! She got back to me within an hour, saying that she talked to the homeroom teachers in the grade and the 3 of them had agreed that our kiddo was important enough that they would switched around the Thursday schedule for the entire grade to accommodate my kid. Can you even believe it? That outcome had never even entered my mind as a possible solution to our situation. I am amazed at the kindness and compassion of these teachers! I was all emotional and teary and called both my mom and Kirb to tell them of the outcome -- one I hadn't even imaged. It is not a perfect place. (This is not a perfect world!) But I sure do love our school. I am so grateful that these adults cared enough about my child to re-arrange the schedules of 3 teachers and 2 homeroom classes so that my child didn't miss out on something. That is pretty amazing! What a great school filled with great, kind, compassionate, caring, flexible teachers. I am grateful . . . and still a bit surprised by the whole thing! What a blessing!