Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nathan's shovel

Nathan and Brady clearing top soil from Grandpa's truck.  Notice Nathan's hair.  He has been begging me to spray  paint it ever since Isaac colored his for crazy hair day.

Nathan christened his new birthday shovel this morning by shoveling an entire load of top soil from Grandpa's truck (with Brady's help of course).  Then we raked and groomed the soil, and laid sod.  What a transformation. 

Thanksgiving Point Dinosaurs

Our day started much the same as it has for the last few weeks.  We got up, got dressed, then went out to work in the yard.  I love having a yard for the boys to work and play and live in.  Nathan and Brady helped Grandpa and I prepare a small area so we can lay sod tomorrow.  They are such hard workers.

When we finished with that, Grandma and Grandpa wanted to take Nathan to pick out his very own birthday present.  His wish: a shovel that was just his size.  They tried Target, but only emerged with a Lego (and a Lego for Brady.  Grandparents are suckers for the sad looking eyes of the non-birthday child).  But a shovel was still what he wanted the most, so we went to another store to make sure he got what he was really dreaming of. 

Then we visited the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point.  What  a fun place for little boys.  There were bones, and claws, and petrified poop, and water and sand to play in.  Heaven on earth I would say.

There was a great exhibit called "The Science of Sound" that we played around in before seeing the dinosaurs.  The drums were Nathan's favorite.  He totally got into it.

The boys played in this sand and water exhibit for almost an hour, and would have stayed longer if I would have let them.  They loved making and braking dams and watching the water bury their dinosaurs.  Yummy was unsure about getting wet and dirty at first.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The last day of school, ever

Yesterday John ended his 11 1/2 year long school career rather unceremoniously.

We got up, fed the kids breakfast and carted them off to school.  When it was time to take Nathan to school, we accompanied him to class so that we could deliver some un-birthday chocolate chip cookies and bags of candy, and his class could sing happy birthday to him (he was feeling left out because he has a July birthday, and school is not in session in July).

Nathan and the best kindergarten teacher ever, Mrs. Moran

Then we took Yummy and went to the beach in Winnetka.  It was a little cool, so I enjoyed the warmth of the sun-baked sand on my feet, while John and Will threw rocks into the lake.  We talked of Chicago, how our time here has rocketed by, and how we will miss it.  Terribly, in fact.  When you  move as often as we have, it has a harsh way of making you realize how fleeting time is.  I have learned that I have to enjoy every minute of every day that I have in a certain place, because then its gone.  And we are gone, and in a new place.

Anyway, then we went home.  Yummers napped while John studied for his last final and I packed up the boys' Legos.  When the kiddos came home from school, they played with the neighbors for hours, the girls playing American Girl and the boys hockey in the driveway.  I picked up pizza for dinner because Isaac had missed his orchestra party at lunch time (he forgot about it, boooo), and was heartbroken.

Then John went and took his final.  Two hours later he was home. 

And he was finished.  No more school.  Ever.

John does not love school, but he does love the Lord, and he has done what he felt Heavenly Father wanted him to do.  It has taken a lot of sacrifice and even more hard work.  I am so proud of him.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Make Way for Ducklings (or geese!)

Yummy and I went on a bike ride yesterday morning.  The weather has been absolutely lovely here lately, and we have been enjoying spending some of our last days here outside.  (I can't believe I said that!  Where has the time gone?).

The Canadian geese have returned from their winter vacations, which is both good and bad.  Good: Will loves watching them eat bugs out of the grass while we ride.  Bad: I hate all of the poop that they leave on the bike trail. 

We stopped to for while this morning to watch a bunch of them eating.  They are not afraid of people at all, and will walk right around the bike and trailer.  Again, good for Will, not so good for me.  Yuck.  Will kept saying "I yike it, boods."  Translation:  "I like it, birds."

We saw a bunch of goslings waddling around after their mother.  It reminded me of last year when Nathan, Will and I herded the ducklings in the Trader Joe's parking lot.  It is located on the corner of Lake Avenue and Waukegan road, both very busy roads.  I ended up calling John and getting the number for animal control.  When they didn't help, I just called 911.  John thought I overreacted.  But a policeman did come out and stop traffic on Waukegan so that the mother duck could lead her 11 ducklings across the road and onto the pond and park behind the shopping center. 

Since then, Grandma Anthony sent us the book "Make Way for Ducklings."  It has become one of Nathan's favorites.

In other news. . .

We are trying to eat from our pantry so we don't have to waste anything when we move.  Karen loaned me a book entitled "The Everlasting Meal" which I loved, loved, loved, and it has inspired me to get pretty creative with our meals.  This morning I made a huge batch of granola out of left over grains and nuts I gathered from different cupboards and it turned out delicious!

Yummy and I followed John out to his truck this morning so that Yummers could hear him rev the engine.  He stands on the front porch and says "again, Dad, again" and John revs the engine over and over for him.  (Nathan and Brady used to do the same thing when we lived in Dallas).  Only this morning as John started his truck, it made a very sick sound, followed by billows of gray smoke.  Hmmmm.  I think maybe it wants to stay in Chicago.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A true Memorial Day

For a while now I have been feeling the need to instill a great deal of patriotism in my children.  After all, the Pledge of Allegiance is generally ignored in schools (not in Texas, but not everyone can live in Texas now, can they?), patriotic songs that include any mention of Deity are banned from school, and my kids don't even know all of the words to our National Anthem. 

I want them to feel how I feel about living in such a great country.  I still stand and sing during our National Anthem, very loudly, in fact.  Even if no one around me is singing.  And more often than not, I cry.

I still stand and cheer loudly at a parade when any member of the armed forces goes by.  And I even cry.  I feel so proud, and so much gratitude toward them. 

A huge part of this may be due to the fact that when I was young, we loaded up the camper and drove across the country, and stopped at every single Civil War or Revolutionary War battle ground, cemetery or memorial.  Some of those places had a lasting impact on me.  Some were so painfully boring as a child, I have forced them into the background of my distant past. 

So this Memorial Day, I decided that we needed to go see one of our country's great patriotic sites:  Springfield, Illinois.  Not a battle site, I know.  But it was the home to one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and they have a great museum dedicated to him, and to his fight to give freedom to all during the Civil War.

We drove down on Sunday after church, and stayed the night with our wonderful friends Mike and Charlotte, in Mahommet.  We love visiting them and catching up on each other's lives.  And our kids love getting to play together. Charlotte's sister Julie was also there, and it was so great to see her again.  I am so grateful for their friendship and hospitality.

Some of the kids in Abe Lincoln's kitchen in Springfield.

The crew, minus Yummers, at Abraham Lincoln's home

With the Lincoln Family at the Museum

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Isaac's Orchestra Concert

What a charmer.

I am so proud of the progress Isaac has made this year on his violin.  He has been so committed to practicing, and has really improved.  He played wonderfully at his concert.

Praise. . .

This morning I buckled Yummers into his little bike trailer and went for a ride on the forest preserve trail near our home.  It was gloriously beautiful.  While I pedaled, my mind thought in circles. 

And I was reminded once again of how blessed I am.  How blessed we are as a family.  We live in such a lovely corner of the world.  Chicago has been a fun and vibrant place for our family to live.  I would have never imagined myself living here, in such a big city, so far from everything that is familiar to me, but I have loved it.  Not every minute of it, but most minutes.  And Heavenly Father really planted us in the perfect location.  We have a great ward, perfect school, wonderful neighbors, a yard (not an apartment, remember?), and a beautiful neighborhood near the forest preserve.

I could smell the lilacs in full bloom, the Russian Olive trees and the dirt, and then I would pass some smell that I couldn't quite recognize, and wonder what kind of flower it was.  My brother Garrett would know.  He is a plant genius, and so kind and tender and generous.  What a blessing to have such a brother.

Then I would think about the rest of my family and extended family, which has truly extended in the last couple of years.  Blessed is the only word I could think of.  We are not close in proximity to any of them, but they are such a huge part of our lives.  Parents and in-laws who come to help out at a moments notice, and who love my children regardless of their imperfections. 

Then the words of a song came to my mind.

Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the King of creation.
Oh, my soul, praise Him for He is thy health and salvation.
Join the great throng, psaltery organ and song
Sounding in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord! Over all things He gloriously reigneth.
Borne as on eagle wings safely His saints He sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen how all thou needest hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy way and defend thee.
Surely His goodness and mercy shall ever attend thee.
Ponder anew, what the Almighty can do,
Who, with His love, doth befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath breath, join with Abraham's seed to adore Him!
Let the "amen" sound all our praises again,
Now as we worship before Him.

Let me give some background on this song.  Clear back in January, we were sitting in Sacrament Meeting and the organ began to play the opening song.  It was "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty".  Before then, I had never really paid any attention to the words, but this particular time while we sang, the Spirit was so overpowering.  By the end, I had tears in my eyes, as did many in the congregation.  I felt impressed at that time that I needed to memorize the words to that hymn.  So over the next few weeks, I listened to it repeatedly, until I had all the words down.

Then Isaac got very sick and we found ourselves spending days and then weeks in the hospital.  One night as I was driving home, after a particularly bad day for Isaac, the words of that hymn came into my mind.  I was reminded, once again, of how complete and perfect God's plan is.  He truly watches over us "as on eagle wings" and had provided every needful thing.  We had competent doctors and nurses, and wonderful modern medicine to help Isaac get well.  And when that failed, as it was failing then, we had prayer to call down miracles from heaven.  And, if the answer to our pleas should be "no," then we had the promise of resurrection, and that our family had been sealed by the priesthood and was eternal. 

The words of that hymn are now etched into my heart. 

Then, as I pedalled, I thought about how we are mere weeks away from moving our family again to. . . who knows where.  I find great confidence in the fact that because we were inspired to come here, Heavenly Father has it all worked out somehow.  And even though the road that lies ahead may still be bumpy and long, He will eventually gently set us down right where we are supposed to be, and it will all make perfect sense. 

And I felt so blessed.