Something So Big

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fantastic Fringy Feathers of Thanks

Wynne and I haven't had a whole lot of preschool time lately, so when I stumbled upon Mom Unplugged's blog this morning, I just knew we had to get back to it. What a creative mind she is! I am not very artsy/craftsy, but once in a while I like to pretend that I am. So this week's challenge of doing some sort of project around the theme of "Thanks" was perfect. We are studying the letters "E" and "F", so I emphasized Feathers and Fringe. (fringy feathers, right?)

When I announced that we would be painting the body of the turkey, Wynne was ecstatic. I am not big on messes (Slacker Mom trying to avoid the clean-up), so paint is a real privilege. Wynne knew that the turkey's body would most likely be brown (or as she calls it, "black"). She went to work on the back of a paper plate right away.

While she was painting, I asked Wynne what she was thankful for. Immediate responses were God and "my best friend" followed by six little girls that she loves to play with at various settings in her life (home, church, family gatherings, etc.). She also mentioned her family (with a little prodding), our dog, and her beloved blankie. I cut out feathers and wrote down her responses. Wynne stopped painting once to point out "The water is black, Mom!" (and this time, she was right on--it was black, not brown!) and "I really don't like flies". (Might as well narrow it down from what we're NOT thankful for, right?)
Next step: cutting the "fringe" on the feathers. This is no easy task for a 3-year-old whose mother doesn't let her use scissors very often. I had to remind Wynne that her thumb should stay up. She showed great concentration and remembered to "hold her mouth right".


Next: staple the feathers onto the body. Wynne was quick to point out, "We need to make feet, Mom!"

The final product. Wa-la!

Or should I say, "Gobble-gobble"?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.--Colossians 3:17

Monday, November 23, 2009


Is there any way I can just stay this age but still watch my kids grow up?

So yesterday was my birthday. I love Sundays. The Lord's Day and just a bunch of great people to share it with!

Our friend Dennis Siler from Living Waters Bible Camp came back down our way to share the Good News of Jesus and the Biblical truth of God's creation. His dinosaur show was, once again, fabulous.

Dennis is on fire for Christ, and it shines through his face, voice, gestures, and sincere care for each person.

He invites questions and expresses his own doubts. To leave your job as a mining engineer, give it all up for God, and run a camp ministry that trains hundreds of youth around the know it isn't about the money. Because there's a huge pay-cut there. God uses this scientific, logical mind and combines it with a teddy-bear heart for Him and the results are just unspeakable.
The kids sang at church,

Dennis spoke a bit, Pastor Mark hit it on the head again with his weekly message (What are your motives? What do you want God to do for you?)and we enjoyed a potluck dinner. What could be better than that?
Add on a Packers victory, a beautiful day to play outside with the kids, and a little family celebration. Icing on the cake!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! --1 John 3:1

Monday, November 16, 2009

Water, Whiplash, & Waffles: Wisconsin Dells, of Course!

The look on Cy's face pretty much sums up the anticipation our kids have every year during football season. They know that the first weekend in November generally brings with it Dad's A.D. convention...and this year it was in the Wisconsin Dells!

The convention was at the Chula Vista resort, full of Southwestern flare and big Mayan heads like this one. (This is going to sound so naive, but thank you, resort designers, for making underground walkways to the waterpark from the hotel suites. I was wondering how people walked from the indoor waterpark outside in the cold weather back to their hotel rooms!)

The Holy Grail for my kids.

The big kid loved the waterslides more than anybody, I think! See that orange slide in the background? Mark told me it was the "tame" one and made me ride down it with him. What a LIAR!! That, my friends, was the "toilet bowl". Now mind you, I have been on waterslides before, but this one whipped around and around and I didn't know where to rest my head (or if I was SUPPOSED to rest my head). Ditto the roller coaster. It was really fun except for the mild whiplash.

They just hated it. Can't you tell?

Okay, now THIS slide is more my speed. Fast enough, yet equipped with a soft "pillow" to land on at the end. Wynne must have gone down it about a bazillion times.

She had an awful time, too...

Here's an outside shot of that toilet bowl. Paige said, "Since we went down the toilet bowl, does that make us turds?" (Only she pronounces it 'tehds'. You gotta say it the way she says it.) Truer words were never spoken, my daughter!!

That night we showered and drove out for supper. We're real dining afficiandos...we like to hit the quaint little spots that are unique to the region. Not!! (Family of seven + One income = Cheapest, most food you can find. So we ate our weight in pizza and chicken at Pizza Ranch.

Then the next morning we found this little gem:

Being the tourist that I am, I just had to take a picture of this classic diner interior.

I think I've only eaten at a Denny's twice in my life now. That is really not enough. The food is delicious and even CY couldn't finish his waffle, it was that big! He even told James Dean about it.

After the girls hit the "Bus Stop",

We drove over to the Tanger Mall outlets. I wish it wasn't so far away, or I'd drive back for some early Christmas shopping--the prices were low enough for even a tightwad like me to appreciate. Mark did get some great jackets for the football coaching staff at Old Navy, and I managed to sneak a few presents out of the Children's Place.

The girls absolutely fell in love with the Disney Store. Yes, we're raising a bunch of little Consumers. But who can resist a princess gown that's 50% off??

Good thing our kids enjoy the fine art of Window Shopping!

This trip comes at the end of football season, and although we'd certainly like to still be playing for the state title this week, the convention is a good time to "get away" from the stress of the season and for Mark to reacquaint himself with the kids. It was a blessed 24 hours!

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.--Matthew 11:28

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cute Things They Say, Take 7

I don't have this first one word-for-word, but it goes something like this:

"Mom...when I get bigger, I'm going to be a baby." --Wynne's version of reverse aging

"When I was a baby in your belly, Mom, how did I get out?" (Aahhh...this one is a little tricky to explain to a 3-year-old. I think I said something about the doctor helping at the hospital.)

"You're my mom...and I'm your Wynnie." (Love love LOVE to hear this one!)

"When you had a wedding, Mom, did Daddy kiss you on the cheek or on the lips?"
"Ah.....the lips, I think."
"No, he didn't! You teasing! Lips yucky!!"
"That's right. You remember that when you're sixteen, honey."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Girls Night Out

It's already been two weeks since the True Beauty: Girls Night Out event at our church, so I better get to posting!
First of all, there is not much to say except that it was wonderful. (But you know me: I am wordy and will write plenty!) I was blessed to have my mom, sister Julie, her girls Claire & Catherine, and my own three older daughters at the event.

Second of all, I am blessed to have such awesome sisters in Christ at LCC. Megan, Amy and Diane shared the vision of this event with me, and we were rolling! Diane took over the fashion show end of it (modesty in clothing) and elements of worship; Amy sold dozens of tickets and secured dozens of door prizes, and Megan designed the tickets and posters. I organized the schedule and secured the keynote speaker. God's gifts were distributed through us, and with His grace we pulled off a pretty special evening. We met and exceeded our goal of selling 100 tickets by 70%!! God is Big and God is Good!!

The fashion show was MC'd by our vivacious friend Robin. She did a great job injecting her own personal sense of humor and a touch of class to the event.

Here are the models, ages 5-8, 9-12,teen, and adult. Thank you to all of the girls and to McCandis, Walkers, Kidz Klozet, and Headz Up for furnishing the clothing, hairstyles, and make-up! All tastefully done with the purpose of showing girls that you don't have to dress like a tramp to be "in fashion"!

Following the fashion show we all moved into the sanctuary for a half an hour of contemporary worship and prayer. Our amazing pastor Mark, the Token Male at the event (as he called himself!) and a very talented 13-year-old Kaitlyn sang a prayer to open the worship.

After a devotion and scripture reading, all of our Sunday School girls sang Barlow Girl's "Enough". It was beautiful.

This little girl wants to be a singer when she grows up--her earnest expression and spot-on pitch may just be a start!

Our keynote speaker was Shelley Hitz. Shelley and I first spoke about the possibility of this event just 3 weeks before we made it happen. God works through Shelley in amazing ways. She is joyful, honest, funny, sad, and real. She gave a paper cup testimony that illustrated how she used to go to people, boys, school, shopping, make-up etc. to be "filled"...meanwhile being cut and shattered by life events...eventually finding that being in Christ is the only way to have a fulfilling (overflowing) Life! She used Powerpoints, statistics, and Biblical truths to share the message of True Beauty. I could go on and on...she was Spirit-filled and FANTASTIC!

After the keynote, Shelley did a break-out session on sexual purity with the teen girls and their moms, while the younger girls and their moms headed back into our fellowship center for a game show called "How Well Do You Know Your Mother/Daughter"? It was kind of difficult being the game show assistant and playing the games with my girls at the same time, but I did learn a few things:
1. Paige knows what my biggest pet peeve about house cleaning is.
2. Shae knows that my hero is Jesus Christ.
3. Ally's hero is her dad. (I kinda already knew that!)
That night, Shelley and her mother and sister stayed at our house. The girls felt like we had a celebrity staying with us! We had a big breakfast the next morning and shared some precious time together chatting about the struggles even young girls are feeling, the pressure to fit in/look pretty/etc. My husband was pretty gracious about having 3 extra women in the house to add more to the E-zone (estrogen!), and Cy was a bit reserved (shy???). It was a lot of fun.

You know, the internet is full of bad stuff -- but it is also a source of blessing. If not for the internet, I would have never discovered Shelley Hitz and we may have never had our Girls Night Out (mother-daughter night). Now thanks to the goodness of God that shines through His people--especially a gal who gave up a day of work to drive 9 hours west to share her message of hope--several young ladies may pause to think before they dress, talk, or act a certain way.

Like I said before, we surpassed our attendance goal by 70%. The message of hope is needed and wanted! We look forward to continuing the message on an annual basis! Praise God!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.—Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Lot Changes in a Week

Last week was full of hope, unseasonably warm, sunny, beautiful. Wynne and I went on a little road trip up north through the Kickapoo hills to pick up a scout tape for Dad. About an hour into the trip, Wynne had to go potty and what better place to stop than an apple orchard?

After a few minutes of browsing and sampling apple cider, we bought a peck of Empires and Cortlands and snapped a few pictures of the beautiful countryside.

I love our "scouting trips". After five years of going 7 and 36, it has been amazing to reach the play-offs for the past six seasons. We never take it for granted. Post-season is electric and special, and I have been lucky to have been a stay-at-home-mom so I can drive all over this corner of the state, taking in the beautiful scenery and having some good Christian radio time, prayer time, and time with my little ones. This year has been no different.
On our three scouting trips this year, I tried to incorporate our "at-home preschool" curriculum into the drive. (Hey, it helps to rationalize all of the inactive-on-her-butt time lately!) Wynne can now point out octagons (stop signs) and letters A, B, C. She's a little rusty on D, E, and F, although I continually point out the E & F on our Chieftain football clothing.

Wynne gets a little more of my undivided attention than the rest of the kids did, I will admit. The chances of us stopping for apples or buying a little treat go way up when you only have one mouth to feed, and having an older, mellower mommy probably helps a little, too!
On our way back from the football tape exchange, we stopped at a Wal-mart and scored this white pumpkin for SEVEN CENTS. I should have bought a whole bunch of 'em!

The week was filled with anticipation for the big game. Level 3. Two games away from State. A home game between two undefeated teams. Every now and then I gave into temptation and hopped on the computer to see what "everybody" was saying about the game. I know, I know-- stupid me-- you shouldn't worry about what anybody else thinks, right?
Wynne took advantage of my distracted state and took a picture of me. (I can see the headlines in parenting circles now: "Slacker Mom surfs the Net while preschooler operates $250 camera"!)

Actually, these aren't bad shots for a 3-year-old. Never mind the hideous subject on the left!

In my defense, it's hard to get a good night's sleep when your husband's getting his team ready for a big game, and you're just as nervous as anybody !!
We made lots of signs all season long, especially for the play-offs. This year I finally got smart and started using permanent marker on the back of vinyl tire banners (thanks Steve & Tandem Tire)! It only took me eleven years to figure this out.

This one has special significance for me (call me silly or sentimental or whatever) because one of the senior moms and I tried to hold this up at the end of our last regular season game at Belmont. The weather was monsoon-like (wind and rain blowing at you horizontally; at least six inches of standing water on the field/sidelines), but I was determined to hold up this sign and show everyone how proud we were of our team. We had just won the conference championship outright (undefeated) for the first time in 33 years and by golly, this sign was going up!! (Shortly after, I ended up lying in the mud with my friend Jodi--another beloved coach's wife--after a big bear hug!!) It's still in our yard and I don't care what Mark says, I'm not taking it down till Christmas. At the very least!

Finally the day of the game arrived. Finally!! A generous local family hosted a big breakfast for us at their convention center, the Holiday Gardens. (You can see all of the wacky haircuts the boys had given themselves for the play-off run.)
Thanks to Sharon and family for your generosity and support! It really meant a lot to us.

Saturday morning previewed another beautiful, unseasonably warm day. Highs reached into the 70s, I think! We didn't even need our sweatshirts! After the delicious breakfast the kids and I went up to the field to help Daddy get ready for the game. First we stopped to take a shot of the field as it looks when you're driving up East Street. Imagine this place four hours later brimming with HUNDREDS of people. Cars maxed out of the school parking lots and parked along the highway all the way to the firehouse! It was incredible.

I wasn't the only one to make signs. Our program is blessed with ardent supporters who make huge plywood signs that line the fences, painted windows, and heartfelt notes of encouragement.

These are just a sampling. There are dozens more. Every home game was that much more special...and I don't think you can buy this kind of feeling of togetherness and support in a bigger town!

As athletic director, Mark has lots of extra work to do to prepare for higher-level playoff games such as this one. God blessed us with great weather so we could put some of the radio and TV stations outside for this game. Our pressbox is just too small and rickety to take that much excitement!

I coaxed Mark into pausing a few minutes for a picture with the kids. I LOVE this picture!!

Am I not the luckiest woman in the world?

After a few more pictures, chalk drawings, and a bit of touch football...

we went home and got the little red wagon ready for the game. The wagon comes out when the littlest ones come to the game, with its magic hidden compartment (large enough to hold one box of crackers and four pom pons) and cup holders. A must-have for any coaching family!

Soon it was time for the game. DeSoto has the same school colors as us and brought their dark jerseys and darn near as many fans as we had there. Wish I had an aerial shot of the field. It was hopping.

A few things were confirmed to me on Saturday afternoon:
1. After several years, I still can't draw a Chieftain arrow.
2. Seeing your husband and children on the sidelines together is a God-given blessing.
3. That little feeling inside my gut that says "a 7-point lead is never safe, even going into the fourth quarter" is probably right.
4. Four boys over 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighing an average of 250 pounds will probably give a quarterback and receivers some extra time.
5. Beating a team in rushing is great, but passing/receiving will produce quick scores.
6. Getting an interception to count for you CAN change the complexion of the game.
7. Hugging and crying is a good thing. Especially when shared with your family and close friends.
8. Going 11 and 1 is nothing to be ashamed of.
So we went from hope and happiness to sorrow and despair. The season is over, and the locker room pictures and slogans will have to come down for another year.

As you can tell from the length of this post, my husband's football program means a lot to me. It means a lot to a great many people. Lest you think I am idolizing high school athletics or jocks, please understand that: yes, I am in mourning, but yes, I still have it in perspective. And so do the boys. Take for example, two of our seniors, leading running backs and outstanding defensive players--who walked over to hug their cousin who is dying of lung cancer. There she was, in her wheelchair with her oxygen tank right next to her, just a few feet outside of the end zone. Hugs and tears, applause all around the family circle. Win or lose, we all know what is really important here. This football program, this thing we do--it is a microcosm on how we approach life. Do we play with gusto and put in the long, boring hours ahead of time to achieve the highest potential possible? Do we work hard even when no one is looking, and does our positive character show through in times of adversity? I would like to think so.

Thank God for God and his unchanging love! All is not lost, and no accomplishment means anything without Him, anyway. If we give Him the glory, it is all worthwhile, the wins and the losses. For His power is made perfect in our weakness. And we have to remember that we are playing a sport and living in a community that thousands of children around the world can not even dream of because of their circumstances. It's up to us to learn something from this, to take advantage of our opportunities, and to give back in some way. And so the season never ends!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.--Hebrews 13:8