Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Stars are Still There

I'm diverting to the present for just this post to capture an immediate blessing. Actually, this morning, at the time I would have been posting this, I was without electricity, or internet.

Last night, far past the time reasonable people make this decision, we decided to go camping. Yes, it was a holiday weekend, and past dinnertime, but we tend toward spontaneity, so we packed up a tent, some elementary provisions (stuff for s'mores of course) and headed out to the foothills.

We decided beforehand that if we couldn't find a camping spot, we'd come home, rent a red-box and watch a movie. By the way, I suggest a back-up plan if you're spontaneous. It keeps you from the inevitable let-down if your plans go awry.

Well, as it turned out, we weren't the only ones with this grand idea, so as the last rays of sun set behind the hills, we found ourselves in the middle of a rather long line at the gate to the park.

It wasn't the first time we set up our tent after dark, as you might guess if you know us ;)

We had some help from neighboring campers, as the ground we were camping on seemed more like cement, at least to our tent stakes. We'd brought our tiny hammer, and as there was a nice breeze, and our stakes wouldn't pound in, the tent nearly blew away! Thanks to these kind and ready folks, in little under an hour, the tent was secured, and we were settling in around a modest campfire inside a fire pit  made with rocks that the girls had gathered with the help of a small flashlight.

The s'mores were fantastic. The company was good. But nothing could rival the light show.

As the girls looked up at the sky, they gasped and I heard, "Oh, they're really there! I thought it was only in the books!"

Even though the city lights obscure them , and we are usually far too busy looking at our television or computer screens at night when they are most easily seen, they are really there.  Indeed, the entire Milky Way is still there. It's been a long time since I saw it. Too long.

The red-box we did not need to rent, whose budget probably ran in the millions, could not have rivaled those beautiful stars!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Go West, Young Man!: Day 25 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

The significant blessing after the birth of our children centered around our moving to California.

All our children were born in Michigan, and when the youngest was four, we moved to the central valley of California. In fact, we drove our big red van all the way from Michigan to California on the 150th anniversary of the gold rush! We deliberately took the path through Truckee and Donner pass so it would feel more authentic.For me it was like coming home, and for my husband and children, it was a new adventure. The move alone was accompanied by many blessings, including finding the right house, and the sale of our old one.

Finding Hickman Charter School  remains one of our finest blessings. In anticipation of the move we'd entered a lottery for entrance into the Hickman Charter School district (sight unseen) and were notified we'd been accepted before we even moved. Little did I know the magnitude of the support system and friendships we'd find there! All of us hold up our experience at Hickman as a standard for professional and personal behavior. Few places have equaled it's excellence.

I cannot imagine the positive influence on my children's development that would have been lost without our dear educators at HCS. I could write a separate post about each of them!

Squeezing a lifetime of blessings into a 30 day post is challenging.

I dare you to try it. I'd love to hear about your blessings!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Am a Housewife: Day 24 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

I was privileged to be able to stay home with my girls as they were growing up. I realize this is a rare privilege, and although we didn't have lots of money, I did have lots of time.

Back then, I had friends who juggled job and home, and some who didn't. I felt guilty sometimes for being able to spend time with my kids when others couldn't. I'm sure guilt is an easily accessible emotion, and we can tap into it whenever we aren't focusing on healthier thoughts. The friends I was using to feel guilt were probably using me to fuel their own.

Anyway, the end result for me has been lots of great memories with my girls. I could never trade them for a 'secure future' or a better wardrobe (although longing for new clothes is one of my besetting sins!)

We read books, we did 'science experiments' (have you ever made goop?-we made it a hundred times) we took walks to the park, and naps that sometimes included the entire household. We went to the library, to the aquarium, we had fish and turtles, and birds, and more fish, and cats, and sea monkeys. Then more naps, more books, dress-up and tea parties. We watched girly movies, played endless marathons of house and Barbies. We went camping and to the beach. We sewed pillows, and painted and drew masterpieces. I cleaned house every Friday, with or without their 'help'. The blessing of those memories is priceless.

And then we got a computer.

Nothing has ever been quite the same since.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bundle 4 of 4: Day 23 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

Bundle 4 came in a hurry. More like a cannonball.

We nestled her among the nest of other females, and again, secretly I was glad to have another girl! I was right. It is my lot in life to raise girls! 
If only this frame was big enough to capture all her friends!

Twenty two months after the third girl it was almost like having twins.  However, our fourth daughter is definitely her own person and is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't take much lying down.  She has opinions, and she will give them to you in whatever dramatic character catches her fancy at the moment.Capturing her in a blog post is most challenging!

Always the social butterfly, she makes friends easily and lives by the motto that you can never have too many friends. She has a creative flair for putting an outfit together (and accessorizing) for next to nothing. Her purse collection is taking over her room as I write.

She can be seen in front of the mirror either doing her own hair or someone else's (usually mine) much of the time. When she's not in front of the mirror, she's probably on facebook or watching some sappy show about people giving away houses and stuff. For all her outward strength, she's a sucker for that sort of thing. The sound of her singing through the house is a common delight.

She has too many interests to pick just one, but someday, she might just change your world. Goodness knows she has enough determination!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bundle 3 of 4: Day 22 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

Bundle number 3 came bouncing into the girls party we were already having and never has there been a more even-tempered child! I imagine (with some pride) that this was what I was like as a child.

At over 8 pounds, this daughter came hearty and ready for fun. By this time, the early parenting jitters were long gone and we passed many days in pure enjoyment. Okay, there was another pile of laundry to wash...another one to diaper, but looking back, I remember it being pure fun! I began to think that raising girls was my lot in life. I was up for it, that's for sure. When number three came I was again secretly happy to have another daughter! As for my husband, he was raised with one brother and four sisters, so he was very comfortable being surrounded by girls. There was a lot of pink, and there were many 'tea parties'.

Over the past few years, her drawing and photography masterpieces have rather silently appeared all over the house.

Sample of her photography
My third daughter will be hard pressed to ever make an enemy. We have relied on her peacemaking skills many times. She has a knack for seeing both sides with compassion. She exudes grace, but has enough humility to be the first to argue that. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bundle 2 of 4: Day 21 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

After the euphoria of baby number one settled into a pleasant lull, I lost two pregnancies due to miscarriage.

I remember thinking of the prayer on the Mount of Olives (one of many times) and had to reiterate to God and myself that I might have to be okay with just one child. He had other plans, however, and soon bundle 2 arrived, breech and thankfully just under 6 pounds. I held her, tears streaming down and felt as if I had died and gone to heaven, I was so happy!

Another daughter was just what I secretly wanted, even though I thought it might be a boy. Hubby got a job with FeEx two weeks after she was born, and things settled into a routine.

Bundle 2 is and always will be a bit of a mystery. Part poet and part scholar, she is always thinking, but you're never quite sure about what. She is an excellent intuitive cook and acted in theater all four years in high school. She also took French, which I suspect was to appear even more mysterious to unsuspecting family and friends.

We share a love of books, writing and learning, and I'm busting my buttons that she'll be attending Denver State next year. I'm also a bit jealous. More blessings.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bundle Number 1 of 4: Day 20 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

The next of the blessings came weighing just over 7 pounds.

Our firstborn daughter was and is a true bundle of joy. Since early childhood, it has been her personal goal to bring cheer and goodness to others.

She began designing at three. She cut intricate shapes out of newspaper and hung them all over the house. She called them 'prefalips', a word she made up which means beautiful, decorative things that you make yourself, as far as I know.

Today she is a designer, marketer, and volunteers at church in the children's and women's department thinking up and implementing fun and creative things to do.
Here's a sample of her work!

I was ecstatic to be a mother. Little did I know that you must learn as you go along!  My precious firstborn has taken the brunt of my 'education' and borne it well. My life would be devoid of much of its cheer without her sunny personality.