Friday, August 26, 2011

When Fiction Infiltrates

For the past several weeks I've allowed myself to indulge in a "summer fluff" approach to my reading choices. Usually I prefer to sit down with the classics, but every once in a while it's nice to just melt into an easy read and drift away.

I do believe, however, that I've been doing too much drifting.

There are times when the fiction infiltrates and I think it just might be time to step away. Perhaps you're the same way? You just might be. Especially if you've experienced any of the following side effects of literary indulgence:

1. You tend to name your pets after literary figures. We've never actually owned a cat, but we've named several of the neighborhood cats that hang out in our yard. Like Sir Walter (Jane Austen's Persuasion), Charlotte (Bronte, that is), and then the trio of kittens whom we named The Three Musketeers. We especially liked calling for D'Artagnan.

2. Friends ask what you've been up to, and your first instinct is to update them on Dayne and Katy. You stop yourself just in time. Dayne and Katy are not real people.

3. You think nothing of sitting in one spot for the entire day in order to read a book from cover to cover. What about the kids, you ask? Oh, just toss 'em a waffle if they get hungry.

4. Every time you head out the door, you grab a book. There just might be some free time at that red light.

5. You find yourself praying for the characters in your book. Don't laugh. I have at least two whole friends who've confessed to this tendency. We get so wrapped up in the story, so burdened by the hero's struggles, that we just have to take them to the cross. When I was reading Gone With the Wind a few summers ago, I felt very strongly that Scarlett needed Jesus. Everything would be just fine if she could just find Jesus. I stopped myself short of praying for her salvation.

Clearly, I need to get a grip.

Do you ever find yourself lost in a book and ignorant of reality? Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets so engrossed in a story that she throws waffles at her children.

As I patiently await your reply, I'll be curled up with a book, praying for my friends.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

{Home in the Woods}

We finally pulled out our calendars. It was becoming obvious that if we didn't mark out some time for a camping trip, it would never happen. Between Jamie's work schedule and Bethie's time at the gym our days are fairly full. I pointed to a weekend. Nope. Video shoot. I chose another. Nope. Team practice. Finally we pointed to a Sunday through Tuesday slot. It was open. And so was the campground. Perfect.

Sunday afternoon, with two vehicles crammed full of camping gear, we headed up the Gorge to the Wind River. I'm convinced that the Lord went before us and orchestrated a special, memorable trip for our family. We pulled into the Beaver campground where the eager hosts were awaiting our arrival. They had hoped to catch us in order to transfer us from the site we had reserved online to the best site they had along the river.

It was one of the most peaceful, refreshing trips I've had in a long time.

We unpacked and set up camp. I love the process of making a home wherever my family lands, even if it's only for a few days. Site seventeen became a dwelling place for six spirits to be nourished, and I found delight in adding the special touches that made it homey.

The crystal clear river was just a short jaunt down the path. Part of the beauty of our trip was the way my children played together. There was no outside competition, either from other playmates or diverse activities. They had only each other and they had only the river and the woods. Their creativity thrived when those were their only options.

Most of our time was spent following woodsy trails and basking in the sun along the river. The weather was perfect. Not too hot, but just right for wading and splashing.

I watched my boy fish just like his Papa. I watched my husband teach the kids all of the stone throwing contests he used to play as a boy. My girls collected rocks and feathers and driftwood. Peaces of perfection to be carried home and treasured.

The evenings were peaceful as we gathered 'round the fire and told stories, the rhythmic rush of the river lulling us to a state of perfect contentment.

The food was good, because food is always good when you're camping.

The campground was remarkably quiet. Only one or two sites were even in use, and the occupants weren't around during the day. We essentially had the place to ourselves. The camp hosts delighted in having the children around and truly loved hearing their merry voices ring throughout the woods. I could relax. No shushing and hushing. They could just be kids.

Tuesday came all too quickly. We pulled down camp, and I ached as our home in the woods was reduced to boxes and bins. I left the vase of wildflowers until the end, then carried it back to the van.

It would grace our table once again when we arrived at our Vancouver home.

Because home is here, too. It's where six spirits are nourished, where we find comfort in the shelter of one another.

I place my own special piece of driftwood on the nature table.

When I angle it just so, it looks like an "L" for Lawson. It fits. And it's home.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Spice of Life: Choosing Variety in Curriculum

I find comfort in routine. The unexpected tends to really throw me off, so I avoid it at all cost. This means that I usually order the same burger at Red Robin (hello, guacamole and bacon deliciousness), the same Blizzard at Dairy Queen (Oreo with vanilla, thank you very much) and the same drink at Starbucks (tall mocha, half a shot, please don’t laugh).

This means that I always know what I’m getting, and I know I won’t be disappointed.

Join me over at The Homeschool Classroom to continue reading . . .
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mummies, Panda Cake and Patrick Henry

My Little Miss Avery Kate loves to read. She has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of taking part in the summer reading program through our local library. Each time we log her reading minutes online, she has an opportunity to share a brief review of books read. I found her most recent summaries to be rather entertaining:

Mummies Made in Egypt
by Aliki

"They take a dead person and then they put it onto a table and then they cut the person that's dead on their belly, two cuts, and then they put some sort of cloth in them. And then they leave it and it dries up."

(I like her distinction here. They cut the person that's dead. Not some other person.)

Panda Cake

by Rosalie Seidler

"A mother panda was going to make a cake. And then she asked her boys to go to take some food so she could make some cake. And then the baby pandas, they left and then the recipe was apples, bamboo shoots, honey, eggs, cherries, sunflower seeds and then that's all. But the younger cub went off to the fair! Without spending any of mama's money to buy the food! And the other baby panda spent mama's money on the fair. He got no cake."

(I'm not sure which is a worse fate. Two cuts in the belly . . . or no cake?)

Now, lest you think I have two children named Little Miss Avery Kate, I will confirm that this sweet book-loving girl is indeed the same child who often puts up quite a fuss at bedtime. Yes, there are times when she crawls cheerfully into bed with a stack of books at her side. Alas, these nights are few and far between.

The other night was definite proof that this mama needs to be in earnest prayer.

Miss Kate's eyes narrowed, revealing a pair of steely beads. Arms folded tightly across her chest, hair framing her red face like a wild mane, she stomped her foot and shouted, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

My pixie got no books that night.
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Cousins Camp! Day 5

In which I am hoodwinked into taking ALL of the cousins to the park. So my sister can go shopping.

I couldn't resist. The truth is I offered to take the kids so my sister could get some groceries and grab the goodies for tonight.

The grand finale of Cousins Camp was a quick play time at the park in the early afternoon followed by a late afternoon rest (in our own homes) so we could gear up for the last hurrah: a hot dog roast and movie night at Papa and Noni's.

It took quite some time to make our way to the park. This was largely due to the fact that Miss Kate insisted on roller skating. The whole way. Those skates are really noisy.

There were also a number of scooters to reckon with. But we made it there and back again unscathed, and the kids had no problem filling the time with all sorts of activities.

Then we went to our respective homes and rested. I didn't even have to tell the kids to do it. They voluntarily sequestered themselves. I guess we really needed it.

We gathered again in the early evening. The weather was amazing. The dogs were roasted to perfection, with Papa tending the fire and coaxing the most ideal glow from the coals.

Chins dribbled with watermelon as we laughed over yesterday's deception and reveled in the beauty of being together.

The roast was followed by a movie in Papa and Noni's basement. We had all agreed earlier in the week that The Apple Dumpling Gang would be a fun choice.

We settled down, dimmed the lights and snuggled on pillows. Partway through the movie Noni surprised the kids once again. No, she did not alter her appearance. She simply whispered to Papa, who pushed pause, and said it was time for dessert. But not just any old dessert. Apple dumplings.

The kids rolled their own dough and added the filling.

After they had baked to perfection, we added a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm. Deliciousness.

Finally, the credits rolled, and "The End" followed a goofy Don Knotts and Tim Conway across the screen -- a rather appropriate symbol for the last day of Cousins Camp.

We had a great week. And we'll definitely do it again next summer. But for now, we're all completely wiped out. We've bribed the children to sleep in, and don't plan to wake up until sometime next week.

So the biggest question now is this: Who is the most exhausted?

The cousins?

Or their mothers?

I'll let you decide.
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cousins Camp! Day 4

In which we are refreshed . . . and surprised. Thrice.

Krista and I decided that we would sleep in a bit and start camp a little later this morning. It was a good plan. We were chipper and refreshed, and ready for some mini-golf at the Steakburger in good ol' Hazel Dell.

What we didn't know is that we were in for a surprise. Or three. (Thankfully, these unexpected events did not involve dog poop or insect bites.)

The first surprise was that Drew had secretly invited a friend and his older brother to meet us. They just "happened" to show up. Such a coincidence! Drew was pretty pleased to pull one over on mom. They had a great time.

The second surprise was that Daddy decided to join us. Apparently Aidan had casually said this morning, "You should come with us, Daddy!" So Daddy did.

My heart did a little flip-flop when I saw my tall, dark and handsome guy suddenly saunter through the geraniums and swing his little Miss Kate up in a hug. She was thrilled and immediately claimed Daddy for her exclusive golfing partner.

We had all arrived, so the kids formed little groups and began golfing. Krista and I took up the rear as little Clara wielded a putter with as much cuteness as can be. We didn't get much golfing in, but it sure was fun to watch.

As the kids made their way through the various obstacles, we noticed an older couple at the hole behind us. My sister quietly ached for the woman who was obviously wearing a wig. Cancer, perhaps? Poor thing.

I, however, noticed the twinkle in her eye and the intentional limp in her step.

It was our mother.

Hidden under large straw hats and sunglasses, our parents masqueraded as "old folks" for as long as they could. The kids kept on playing, but one by one they began to glance at the frail couple, then glance away. They glanced back, glanced away, and hesitated. Finally they got up the nerve to say, "Papa?"

They were rewarded with big smiles, for it was indeed Papa and Noni. Fresh from a vacation, they were eager to dole out lots of hugs to the grandkids.

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

We wrapped up the game and decided to grab an ice cream cone before we left. The kids were delighted with their chocolate-vanilla swirls, and we reminisced about the youth group events that used to take place at that very restaurant. (Youth events, by the way, that had my heart doing that very same flip-flop over that very same man.)

It was soon time to part ways and shout, "See you tomorrow!" Mini-golf had been a blast, and the added surprises made it priceless. I think the kids all agree that it was the best day yet.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cousins Camp! Day 3

In which The Cousins (and their mothers) become cranky.

Day three, and our stamina is being tested. Turns out that agreeing to meet for an adventure and pack a lunch at a specific time each day is a bit draining. Fun, but draining. The kids (and their mothers) are still very excited about Cousins Camp. They're just getting sleepy. And cranky.

That said, we had a lovely little walk along the Lacamas Lake Heritage trail this afternoon. In lieu of a traditional post, I will offer here a list of observations.

1. Hiking during the heat of the day is not ideal. Especially when wearing black capris.

2. Stepping in dog poop is not at all glamorous. It's gross. Mothers aren't supposed to do things like that. But sometimes they do.

3. Little boys enjoy dragging their feet as they walk. It makes a lot of dust. It's very annoying. Especially when the mothers must apologize to the bikers who pass by, coughing and choking in disgust.

4. Sunburned shoulders will likely chafe when a five-year-old demands to be carried piggy-back style on her mama's back.

5. This unpleasant sensation is rivaled only by the discomfort that comes when the child begins to slip down her mama's back, bringing mama's hair and aforementioned black capris . . . southward. (It is at this point that mama ignores her maternal instinct and opts for modesty instead. She drops that child.)

6. It takes a substantial amount of time to alert eight children that a biker or jogger is coming up from behind and that everyone must move to the right. Immediately. No, to the right!

7. When a child offers to take a picture of the mothers, she will likely not care or notice that one mother's eyes are closed and the other mother's mouth is open.

8. The mothers will get a better picture if they snap it themselves.

9. Another unpleasant sensation is that of being eaten alive. Beware of vicious bugs or plants that thrive on ankle flesh.

10. Two miles seems like a very long distance when one must deal with items one through nine. A very long distance.

I wonder if the kids would be terribly disappointed if we suggested a lengthy napping session for tomorrow's event instead of miniature golf. Think they'll go for it?
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