Thursday, April 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Paintballing!

WooHoo...I got No. 1!!  Had I known I would snag the number 1 spot I might have done a better Quick Takes for you!  Probably never, ever going to happen again...

1.  My hubby is famous!  He's been posted on a YouTube video from the paintballing weekend he went on so he asked if I was going to put it up on my blog.  Of course, so here you go (he is Sniper97 and comes in at about the 1:35 second mark)...

My first time posting a video on the blog so we'll see how it works.  Just in case it doesn't, here's one of my favorite pics from the event...

Sniper97 in a shootout!
2.  We were supposed to take a field trip to the St. Louis Arch this past week.  I know, I know...five years of homeschooling and my kids STILL haven't been up in the Arch (which is completely sad, considering we don't live that far away).  I've lived in this area my whole life and I think I've been up in it maybe twice.  Of course, I could always blame my mom for that one since she is claustrophobic and you would never catch her inside the little egg shaped elevators that you ride inside to get to the top of the arch.

Note teeny, tiny windows in top of Arch
Underneath the Arch is a really cool underground (free) Museum of Westward Expansion and a movie theater (movie is not free, but not too expensive either).  Our group was scheduled to see the Lewis and Clark educational film but it's still under construction so our field trip has been delayed.  Also, it was raining the day we were scheduled to go and I didn't want to pay for tickets to the top of the Arch if you couldn't see anything out the windows!  Plus, it wouldn't be fun to get caught up there in a storm, the Arch is designed so it can move and sway a bit in either direction (no, I don't remember how much).  It is enough that you can feel it swaying when you're up there, kind of like being on a boat.

3.  The two older boys had their annual check-ups this week, I think half of the appointment was taken up with all the paperwork the doctor had to fill out for the Boy Scouts physical forms.  Said forms need to be turned in so the boys can go to summer camp in a few weeks (is summer that close already)?!  Firstborn was considering working on his scuba badge when we went go to Florida this year but that was another three or four pages of paperwork!  I decided that if we choose to allow him to work on that badge we'll have to schedule another doctor appointment when the time comes to fill out those papers.  Both boys ended up needing immunization shots so they suckered me into slushies from the gas station down the street.

4.  Toddler Boy has been trying to give up his afternoon nap which is sorely testing his mom's sanity.  I am sort of depending on that block of time in the afternoon to read my blogs get work done in the house and finish up homeschooling for the day.  I don't remember any of my other children giving up their naps at two years old (heck, some of them were still taking naps at four), maybe it's just a phase???   Please, please, please...

Becoming way too dependent on
this little gadget!
5.  Only on numero cinco and I'm running out of things to say (we've obviously had a slow week).  We've mostly just spent the time winding up our homeschooling year.  I love the slower pace of these coming weeks when we start to transition out of our homeschool year and into summer mode.  We don't do any "formal" school work in the summer.  We do lots of reading and shore up the kids math facts with flash cards and math games.  It wasn't until I started doing flash cards with the kids that I realized how much I'd let my own memory slide in the math arena (and I was an accountant by profession)!

6.  Doug is at a late meeting tonight so I'm managing to get my Quick Takes done early so maybe, maybe I can actually get them posted tomorrow.  I can't tell you the number of times I've started a Quick Takes post and then didn't finish it in time to post.  If I wait to do it until Friday it's as good as not done, it seems my Fridays are pretty busy and the weekends even busier with soccer on Saturdays and church on Sundays.  Since I'm finishing this up now if I stay up until midnight I can post high on the list (unless, of course, she's doing a reverse procrastinators list).  In which case I'll be at the bottom, we'll see.  I'm not a big "stay up until midnight" type, I'm more of a morning person, but it is currently 9:30pm so you never know, I might make it this time...

7.  I finally added the BlogLovin button to my blog.  I've been using BlogLovin myself for about a month now but I've waited to add the link because I wasn't sure how I would like it.  I admit I don't have anything to really compare it to because I didn't really use Google to follow any blogs.  I tended to use my favorites file and just click through them every so often (time consuming).  Then when our old computer crashed I had to search some of them back out (aggravating and annoying).  So far I'm really liking using BlogLovin, the only annoying thing is it seems to lock up when I'm in the BlogLovin frame and I go to comment on someone else's blog.  If I want to comment I usually have to open a new tab and go directly to the website.  I'm not sure why this is, maybe I'm doing something wrong?  Not a big deal to me at the moment and I really don't comment much anyway.  I'm a lurker that way, I admit it, I like reading the blogs as opposed to interacting with them.  I'm all anti-social that way, I suppose it's my introversion tendencies coming out.  I'm the same way with Facebook.  I have a love/hate relationship with that social media platform too.  Sigh...

That's all for this week...go check out more Quick Takes with Jen and see pics of her precious new arrival at Conversion Diary!!

My Conversion Story - Part 4

In 2004 our family left the Presbyterian church and started attending a growing charismatic church that was in the same town.  We had been discussing finding a church home closer to where we live for a few years but it was easier to just stay put.  We now had two little ones who had been born and baptized in the Presbyterian faith and as they started to get older we realized we needed to find a church home that we could realistically drive to more than once a week so they could start to attend the youth activities.  The problem was, there were no PCA churches closer than a 45 minute drive from our home.  We were happy with our faith background but knew we needed to be closer to home and our new church fit the bill.  We had friends who attended there so it made the transition easier.  This church was growing rapidly and was in the middle of a building campaign.  As a young mom, it was nice to be able to drop our kids off in nursery or children's church and be able to spend an hour and 1/2 listening to a great band, singing and worshiping, and then hearing an awesome sermon.  The whole service was designed to really give me a break (trust me, as a stay at home mom to two boys under three, that was desperately needed).  I didn't miss my days in the old church nursery too much!  I was able to sit with my husband and focus on God during that time.  God opened our hearts and minds to charismatic concepts that, as Presbyterians, were foreign to us.  I began to realize that God was bigger than the box I had put Him in.  It was God who showed me that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit (things like healings and speaking in tongue) could still be alive in this day and age.  God used this time in Doug and my life to bring healing and renewal, in our individual lives and in our marriage.  It was a time of tremendous spiritual growth.  It was a time of physical growth in our family too...our third son would be born the following year.

Game Boy's dedication, 2005
Our charismatic church did not believe in infant baptism, so Game Boy would be our first baby who would not be baptized in the faith.  Instead, they would perform an infant dedication.  Afterward we threw a pool party at our house and one of our Catholic friends stopped by with his kids to help us celebrate.
Actual picture of Firstborn & Soccer Boy
taken on that day in our pool!
I'll never forget the conversation we had that day in the pool.  He was raised in a Catholic home and basically only had Catholic friends growing up so he was curious about our Protestant faith.  I loved to argue theology so I was more than willing to "show him the light" of how our religion worked (ha,ha...I'm pretty sure God was laughing at me that day)!  He absolutely floored me when he asked if I believed in the virgin birth of Jesus.  I was stunned speechless for a moment...not believe in the virgin birth?  All of the Christian faith hinges on the concept of the virgin birth?!  Why would he think that Protestants didn't believe in that?  Then it dawned on me, Catholics believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary (so, in other words, she remained a virgin after Jesus' birth, Joseph and her never had relations before or afterwards).  Protestants believe that Mary only remained a virgin until sometime after Jesus was born, then their marriage would have been consummated in the common way, like all other marriages.  Because of this and his unfamiliarity with the Protestant viewpoint, he wondered if we believed in the virgin birth at all.  I set him straight on it, but it made me wonder what other misconceptions did Catholics have about Protestants.  I mean, if you could miss something like the virgin birth, which is a pretty basic concept, there had to be other misconceptions too.  My friend went on to explain the Catholic concept of Sacraments and the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church (baptism being one of them).  Sacraments, I vaguely knew something about the term, but I didn't know that there were seven of them.  In fact, I realized I didn't know much about them at all and my friend knew quite a lot and he admitted he was not a theologian by any stretch.  He was sort of surprised I didn't know any of them, in fact, he was surprised the Protestant church didn't practice them (well, we did do some of them, but we didn't call them "sacraments").  Considering how important they were in the Catholic Church, he just assumed we did them also.  The whole conversation made me wonder what I was missing in my knowledge of the Catholic faith.  I thought I knew what they believed, that they did idol worship (come on, look at all the statues they have), and they thought the Pope was perfect and that Mary was always a virgin.  Oh, and they had to go to confession (which I kind of saw as a Catholic "get out of jail free" card).  It seemed most of my Catholic friends saw it that way too, the running joke was they could do whatever they wanted on Friday as long as they confessed it on Sunday.  We had taken the NFP classes, so I knew they were against birth control (and remember, I thought they got that one right).

God started working on me that day, I remembered the way I felt when I came into the charismatic church, how I thought I knew everything there was to know about God and worship and how I was proven wrong.  I began to wonder about what I didn't know about the Catholic faith.  I had to admit, most of the Catholics I knew did not seem to be practicing Christians.  Most of them were cradle Catholics who were nominal Christians at best.  I could honestly think of only three people in my entire life experience who were, what I would have considered, "born again" Catholics.  Who seemed to have an authentic relationship with Jesus and were also authentically Catholic.  It was a rarity and I saw them more as the exception to the rule.  They were Christians in spite of being Catholic and not because of it.

My friend dropped off a book to me later that week, Rome Sweet Home, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.  He said he didn't have all the theological answers to the questions I was asking him but he thought the book would help because it was written by a Presbyterian pastor who converted to the Catholic faith.  That interested me, I had never heard of anyone converting to the Catholic faith, much less a pastor.  The only converts I knew were people who married Catholics and they only did it to be married in the Catholic Church.  Besides, I figured I would be able to read the book so I would understand what Catholics say about what they believe (as opposed to what Protestants say Catholics believe).  Then I could argue with my friend more effectively.  If anything, it would broaden my religious horizons, I loved to read and I was especially interested in theology.  I had nothing but time with three boys under the age of four, haha!  I finished reading it within days, I could not put it down.  Anyone who has ever read it knows what I'm going to I was reading it dawned on me that huh, he actually makes sense...then it becomes, holy ****, this is not good because, he really, really makes sense!  I had no argument with anything he said, none at all.  I tried to get Doug to read it because I really needed some common, Protestant sense because I must have been missing something pretty darn obvious to be thinking that the Catholic Church had this right but Doug is not a big reader and really wanted nothing to do with it.  He said the Catholic Church was wrong, period.  They obviously had to be wrong because of the priest scandal and all the terrible stuff that happened in the past (crusades, Spanish inquisition).  Besides, they believed in purgatory, and that was, well... purgatory!!  In his mind there was no way they could be right and he was not even open to researching it.  I did what was reasonable to not cause friction in my marriage and put it aside.  We were Protestants, and that was that.  God surely wanted us on the same team, and anyway I was busy with the boys and didn't have the time to look into it further.  God had used our friend to plant the seeds but it would be a few years before anything would come of it.

Next installment...the controversy of women's place in the church and how reading the early church fathers led me to attend my first Mass.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Firstborn!!

We have "officially" become the parents of a teenager!!  WooHoo!!
Today - 13 years old
Where has the time gone?!  I can't believe it has been 13 years today when Firstborn came into our life.  He has officially outgrown me now, he's about an inch taller than me.  He has hit quite the growth spurt...we measured at Christmas and he was about an inch shorter.  Being 5'4" and giving birth to mostly boys, I realized that one day I would probably end up being the shortest one in my family.  I'm o.k. with that.  Firstborn and Soccer Boy got to spend the night last weekend at my folk's house and help Grandpa with some outside work.  The rest of the family showed up on Sunday for lunch and ice cream cake (per Firstborn's request).

The gang waiting to be seated

Firstborn has now graduated to the adult menu!
Tonight our family celebrated with cupcakes and dinner out at Smokey Bones.  Then we had a harrowing ride home due to the tornadic weather outside!  Doug and I were amazed at how slow everyone was driving and it felt like it took forever to make it to our driveway.
Cub Scout Pinewood Derby
Homeschool group carnival

On 11th birthday

Winning reading contest at library
For his birthday he received a super teen study bible engraved with his name.  It's all brown leather with camouflage sides, a "cool" teenager gift (I think)!  I haven't been a teenager for 20 years so I'm not really sure.  A long overdue gift, but one I think he'll appreciate more now that he is older.  We were considering getting him one for his baptism, but honestly I think he was too young to use it.  Now he just needs to pick out a bible cover and he'll be set.

A couple months back I was reading birth stories on other blogs and realized I haven't done any birth stories posts.  I figured it would be nice to do them in order but I haven't gotten Firstborn's done yet.  Again, going to need to scan some pics into the computer since I didn't get a digital camera until the Christmas before Soccer Boy turned two.

Happy Birthday to the one who introduced Doug and I to the wonderful world of parenting!!  (And our parents to the wonderful world of grandparenting, since he was the first on both sides)!!  We are so thankful that God chose us to be your parents.  We are blessed indeed.

22 months old

3 months??  (Didn't date picture)

In Florida - 16 months

Florida - 16 months
Mom 4 mo preggo w/ Soccer Boy

One year old at the zoo

Halloween 2001 - 18 months
Mom 6 months preggo with Soccer Boy

10 years old
6 years old

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Civil War Era Field Trip

In keeping with my promise I am throwing together a quick post from our field trip yesterday to Eversgerd Fort...

The trip was sponsored by our homeschool group.  There were probably around 50 of us there, give or take.  It was originally set up for last month but one of the two snowstorms that went through in March had it rescheduled.  This time the weather really cooperated with us, it was a gorgeous sunny day with temps in the 70s.  It was a bit cool when we started the tour at 10:00am but a few hours later we were all taking off our jackets and soaking up as much sun as we could.

 The fort was started in 1984 by a man who wanted to create a place where people could see what it would have been like to live in the Civil War time era.  The log cabins are original cabins from the past that were purchased or donated by the people who grew up and lived in them.  They would then take them apart, transport them to the fort and then reassemble the logs in the exact order to recreate the cabin.  Fascinating! I didn't take a picture of it, but the boards were marked so they knew how to reassemble them.

They also had a room full of miniature recreations of the local churches and buildings.  So you could see what the town looked like 100 plus years ago.  Our tour guide mentioned that the local school contained both boys and girls only up until 5th grade.  After that the boys and girls would go to separate schools.

The kids really liked the jail, which was an actual jail that had been used in a nearby town.

The Paddy Wagon!

Firstborn with a sharpening wheel
Game Boy in front of the Livery
This isn't the greatest shot of Game Boy and Toddler Boy but it shows some of the cabins in the background.
I was trying to get them to stand up but
it just wasn't working!
We roasted hot dogs and listened to music provided by the owners of the fort...

And at the end there was a lesson on how many men it actually took to fire a cannon.

Princess, Soccer Boy and friends on the wall
All in all, it was a good day.  There was so much to look at and see that it deserves a return trip.  I was parenting solo on this field trip so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked.  A Civil War fort is a fun and somewhat dangerous place for a two year old who wants to walk everywhere!  Our family hasn't gone on many field trips this school year as in past years.  I'm not sure why that is, one of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to go and do hands on learning and there are tons of experiences to be had in the local area.  Now that the weather is much nicer and we're finishing up our curriculum I may try to work a few more things in before the end of this school year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What Have We Been Up To??!!

It's a sad day month when I can't even throw together a 7 Quick Takes on Friday.  What can I non-virtual (read "real life") has been busy with four birthdays and Easter.  I've had zero time to document anything but have lots of pictures downloaded to the computer.  So, for anyone out there who cares, here is what we've been up to at our house....

Starting with Soccer Boy and his Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet.  This was technically at the very end of February but I'm counting it because that's when the craziness started at our house.  Plus, I realized I didn't do a post about it, so there you go.

Soccer Boy receiving his Arrow of Light Award
Soccer Boy's cross over to Boy Scouts
Receiving neckerchief from Firstborn

This is our first year doing Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts (well, we did do Cub Scouts with Firstborn when he was at Tiger level).  I've got to say, the boys really love their Scout Troop.  Bonus for us, it's chartered by our Christian homeschool group, so it's a great group of young men and the leaders are awesome.  I like the time they get to spend with the guys, "iron sharpens iron".  I was a bit worried when we first joined because I knew how time intensive it could be but the Scouts have turned out to be a good fit for our family.  Plus I'm very proud of Soccer Boy because he worked really hard to earn his Arrow of Light, so Congratulations to Soccer Boy!!

Next would be Princess' 5th birthday, which I managed to do a 7 Quick Takes post on (which I realized was a month ago, hence this catch-up post).  I did have to include a picture of her birthday present, since I didn't include it in the other post...

Princess was thrilled with her dollhouse...

Toddler Boy liked it too and sneaked in
to play with it while Princess was away!
Toddler Boy and Game Boy have birthdays right next to each other (I was actually scheduled to be induced on Game Boy's birthday, but Toddler Boy came a day early).  I guess he wanted his own birthday!  However, we tend to celebrate it on the same day just because Toddler Boy is so young he doesn't know the difference.  Here's the pics:

Playing laser tag with Game Boy
(Pictures don't turn out as well in arena)

Ready to eat!!

The whole gang (Dad taking picture)

Ice Cream Cake for Game Boy

Make a wish before it melts!!

Then there was the March madness snowstorms that hit the Midwest.  We missed my nieces' confirmation on Palm Sunday due to the 9 INCHES of snow we got that day!!  Hard to believe that these were taken near the end of March.  Lots of snow pics...

Princess enjoying the white weather

Game Boy

Soccer Boy's snowman named "Bob"

We celebrated my birthday near the end of the month.  My folks came for a surprise visit and watched the kids so Doug and I could go out to eat.  We had pumpkin pie (my favorite) to celebrate.  Oddly, I have no pictures from my birthday, save this link:

Keurig Mini Plus Coffee Maker...I'm in heaven!!

So after hearing all you folks in the blogsphere talk about how much you adore and can't live without this little contraption I thought I'd splurge on myself (read there was a sale at Kohl's and I had a 30% off coupon).  I have to admit I haven't gotten this thing down quite yet.  I love how fast it brews the coffee but it makes it way too strong for my taste.  I do tend to drink just a little coffee with my sugar and cream so that might be the issue.  I tried brewing two cups on one k-cup to try and weaken it but the second cup is also pretty potent.  I haven't had time to tinker with it and get it figured out and I honestly don't drink a lot of coffee but I'm sure it will come in handy when I have people over...which doesn't happen nearly enough around here but entertaining more is on my bucket list.

Finally, last but definitely not least, there was Easter!!  I would have made it into it's own post if it wasn't so late in the game.  Actually kind of embarrassing how late I am getting these pictures posted.  I'm taking the better late than never attitude.  Christmas and Easter are my favorite holidays of the year and now that I'm Catholic it also means that it is the end of Lent (Alleluia, alleluia)!!  I actually had a good Lenten season, I tried giving up chocolate again (I gave up chocolate my first Lent and totally crashed and burned...but it could be I took on a bit too much considering Toddler Boy was born the weekend after Ash Wednesday and I was coming into the church that Easter too...I had a lot on my plate that year).  This year I worked on simplifying my life and settling down to hear the Holy Spirit more in my prayer life.  Lent went so well that I feel a bit odd eating meat on Fridays and chocolate.  I'm enjoying the new peacefulness in my life and don't want to go back to how it was before Lent.  Which is nice and I'm thinking that is what Lent is suppose to be about.  (Another post that didn't quite get done, maybe next year).  Anyway, here are the fun photos of the weekend...

The Easter Bunny comes for a visit

Lots of egg dyeing going on at our house

The bunny helpers (aka egg hiders)
How quickly they graduate from hunters to hiders!
Toddler Boy on the prowl for Easter eggs

A yellow one!

The hunting group (with cousin too)

Toddler Boy is still looking for eggs every time he goes outside at Grandma's house.  I'm still trying to get all of the Easter candy out of my house!

So, there you have it, our month wrapped up in one blog post.  I promise to be more prompt in the future.  In fact, we went on a field trip today and I already have the pictures downloaded and just begging for the next post.  Plus, Firstborn's birthday is this week and we celebrated last weekend so I have those pics too!  Maybe I'll try to do that post on his actual birthday (there's an original idea)!!

Happy Belated Easter everyone!!