Friday, November 30, 2012

Festivities this Fall - "The Little Red Hen" and local fairs

After glancing over literally thousands of pictures in a few minutes late last night, I noticed there were quite a few fun pictures and activities from our Autumn days that were not shared. Though I will not go back and recap everything, I cannot help but mention a few. :)

I have always enjoyed taking my kids to local children's events and programs. At the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a Preschool Program known as Pea Pods is offered for kids and their parents. This Fall, they offered a free preview day for moms and their children. The theme for that day was "The Little Red Hen." At the mid-morning session, the children were able to play in containers of rice, make a craft with seeds, beans and rice, make their very own bread from scratch and have a special storytime with the Little Red Hen herself. It was a little crazy with both Parker and Cooper (this is actually supposed to be for children more around the ages of 4-6, but moms can bring their younger tots. If I had to do it again, I would have loved to had it as one on one time with Parker.)


It was a busy morning with both of the boys, but a fun one at that. Before leaving to head home for lunch, we took a stroll through the backyard play area, where the kids enjoyed sweeping out their house, shoveling the sand and dirt around to their liking, and looking at a picturesque view of their "big backyard."

Local Autumn Festivals, such as "Apple Day" in downtown Excelsior, are always at the top of my Fall Bucket List. This year, we visited several different community street fairs. The boys stretched their hands through gates to pet the soft fur of the alpacas, snacked on local fresh-grown juicy treats,  and patiently waited and watched the crowds and activity as their mama perused several of the local vendors (most of which happened to be vintage favorite!! I will have to share about my finds later!)

One of the highlights of the morning for me was getting to check out the local library sale with the boys. "New" books for $1?! You just can't beat that! Each of the boys were given $1 to spend on a book from the sale. For $1 they could buy 1 hardback book or 2 soft books. After sorting through each of the children's boxes, Parker chose "I'm Mighty!", a fun hardback book about a little tugboat who is small but mighty (it looked like it had never been opened or touched). We literally read that book every day for at least a month after buying it; I would say it was worth the buck! For Cooper, we chose two Berenstain Bears books that were in great condition! I am such a fan of that whole series.

Minnesota photographer, Stan Tekiela, was at one of the vendor booths signing books. Though I did not own any of his publications, I had seen his books around Minnesota in a number of shops and bookstores over the last several years and thought it would be nice to own one. I admire the beautiful pictures and stories that he takes and gathers from the Minnesota wildlife. On a whim, I decided this would be the perfect day to get a book for Parker and Cooper. After sifting through a variety of popular children's titles, I chose "Baby Bear Discovers the World."
 What a cute little story it is!!!
The weather was so beautiful this fall that anytime we were outside enjoying it, the boys and I were happy. It was easy to go to these events. Whether playing at the local park or strolling through community fairs, a good time was had by all. I am already looking forward to next year's Autumn days!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Keeper of Joy and ramblings of our travels home

Today I was going to load my 1,210 pictures from and draft up a post about our fabulous 2 week stay down in Mississippi. Aaahh, it was wonderful getting to visit my home town and so many of my friends and wonderful that the trip was extended at the last minute. ;)

Although I am thrilled to look through the multitude of photos taken over the last 14 day period, my mind is on something else, so I think I will write about that instead. Truly, I can't believe I am sitting here when my eyes are literally being forced to stay open at this point of the evening. It is cold downstairs, but my trusty little space heater is working quite nicely next to me right now. I keep pushing my glasses up onto my nose as if that is going to help keep my eyes open any longer. The tv is on with original intentional plans of propping my feet up on the couch to get lost in some pointless television show, but my fingers are itching to type. Pandora and YouTube are coming on with "Banner of Love" and "Before the Morning" as the tv is muted. I did try to load pics and blog while in MS, but had technical difficulties and was unable to load any pics to mom's computer. I can't write a post without a picture!?! Did I mention that it is cold here in Minnesota? I did just get back from Mississippi; it might take a few months for my body temperature to adjust. Maybe that's why I am wearing one of three robes tonight that I have had for more than a decade and have only worn a handful of times. ;)

On my mind tonight:
Today I was totally convicted by a discussion at our MOPS group early this morning. A mom of 4 girls and Bible study leader, Janna Northrup, came to speak to our group about Carving Out Time for God during the holidays. Much like myself, Janna has a love for words and everyday moments. To hear her speak, is like eating your favorite chocolate over good conversation with your best girlfriends (which we totally did!! Thank you for the Dove treats, Vanessa. I just finished off the last 2 that I snagged at the end of the meeting!!) Janna's words have been with me all day and I can't stop perusing the notes from today's session.
Here are some of the notes I quickly jotted down and smiled over:
  • Have a passion to live intentionally!
  • Invite God into our Everyday Lives
  • Practice Love in your Home
  • Carving out Time each day for quiet time will take determination and discipline. Now is the time to do it; this will teach your children the discipline of turning to God and seeking Him.
  • Make your everyday mundane tasks a spiritual, memorable moment. (ie. vacuuming: sucking up all the yucky of your life, washing dishes: God washing away our sins every day)
  • ...and the one that resonated with me most today...I am the Keeper of Joy in my Home.
Here's why I felt convicted of that last one. Yesterday, I flew back with the boys from Mississippi. The only time (and definately the LAST time) I did not travel with a stroller. Both boys did amazing in the Memphis airport and on the airplane. My focus was 110% on. Their airplane bag was packed and stocked with sweet and fun treats ready for playtime and creative time on the flight. We were complimented on behaviors and order by other passengers during our ride. However, everything turned sour when we got off the plane in Minne. First, Cooper did not want to get off the airplane; he wanted to watch the workers. Secondly, when I finally convinced him it was time to get off the plane to see daddy, he wanted to pull my bag (that was way too heavy for his little self. Fits started happening right and left.) Also, I was traveling with more baggage than usual. I think I have mentioned before that our family spoils us. Well, spoil us this trip they did. Suitcases were loaded down with Christmas gifts and "just because" treats. Admittedly, I was having a harder time managing all of the bags and kids (which is usually not an issue for me.)

So, here we were at gate G14 (or one of the G's) and my youngest son is about as pitiful as one little two year old could get...wanting to pull mama's bag but falling down (with the bag) from the weight of it. [insert fit of extra loud wailing on the floor right in front of the loading area where the gate agent stood waiting to board more than 150 people...since we were, of course, the last people off of the arriving flight.] At this point, I was not really that bothered by the sad scenerio. It wasn't until after Cooper squirmed off of my hips--while still screaming of course--and I had to carry him like a quarterback running with the precious ball across the field all the while dragging a couple of other players with him in the other hand, that I started to sweat a little. I actually had an airport employee come up to me and offer to flag down a cart to help me get to baggage claim. YES, Thank you. I patiently waited until a cart arrived, all the while thanking the girl for suggesting the service, then promptly loaded both boys and our luggage (the diaper bag, 2 carry-on suitcases, my purse, and a Christmas bag with short wooden handles) onto the airport vehicle. We had almost gotten into position and in go-mode when this rather large woman and her husband walk up and proceed to bless me out in front of more than 200 travelers and airport employees (the woman that is, not her highly embarrassed husband). Mouths dropped. The Caribou Coffee employees awkwardly stopped making coffee to watch the scenerio. This particular lady considered herself a handicap because of her size  and was quite upset that I was using the service to transport my children and our bags. I have to say I took the high road on this one. I am not sure if I was so shocked over the whole situation or if I just felt so sorry for her and what an unhappy person she was, but whichever it was, I simply let her have the cart. While she impatiently stood waiting for me to de-board myself, the kids and our bags from the cart, her husband with his head down, came and quietly thanked me and apologized. Not even a thank you from her. A few seconds later when she passed us by on the moving walkway, I couldn't help but notice she was sitting in the middle row (her husband on the back seat) chatting on her cell phone completely unaware of my crying child reaching for the passing cart that he was going to get to ride on but removed from because she was in a hurry and had a right to be on the carts and we did not. (P.S. For those of you wondering, those carts are not only for handicapped individuals but also "families in need of assistance.") Anyway, it was a long and not-so-fun trek to baggage claim, but make it we did!

Exhausted as I was, I think I did ok throughout the whole traveling process. Ok, that is, until I got home. I was done. I was spent. (Have I mentioned that the boys did not sleep well during the two weeks we were down South?) I did not want to think or do or anything. Clay was so excited to come pick his family up and get us home for a delicious grand supper that he had planned for us. Let's just keep it simple and say we had different ideas of what the boys and my needs were at that time (it did not involve a grand, late evening supper and me bathing the kids while dear hubby happily cleaned in the kitchen after the delicious and filling meal he had prepared). I had Heartnotes to prepare for the following MOPS day and wanted nothing more than to run downstairs--by myself--and crank out the session newsletter and go. to. bed. Our house was not so joyous during the late night hours just before the kids were in the bed. I was tired. I was past the point of tired. I needed alone time. Badly. I needed to sit down. I needed quiet...just for a few minutes even. That did not happen. at all. Therefore, a joyful atmosphere was forfeited for a bad attitude and frustration directed towards my husband for not giving me what I wanted and needed at the time.

"I am the Keeper of Joy in my Home"...well, not last night between the hours of 6pm-8pm. Guilty as charged.

Ever had days like that? I am beyond thankful for forgiveness and for God's unfailing love and forgiveness for me every single day. I am thankful for a loving husband who cares about his family and wants nothing more than to be with us and be a part of everything that we do. How lucky am I?! I am thankful for my awesomely incredible kids who truly did amazing during our travel time...with the exception of the arrival time in the MSP airport. I am thankful for my precious MOPS group and the friendships that have formed quickly this fall. I am thankful that my Heartnotes got done last night and were just how I wanted them to be. I am thankful for the 45 minutes that I got to sit and hear Janna speak her God-breathed words of wisdom to the moms in the room. I am thankful that I planned ahead and prepared meals in advance for the supper that I delivered tonight to a new mom (cause otherwise, she would have gotten a pizza delivered to her doorstep!). I am thankful for my family and friends who love me for who I am!!! I could go on and on and on, but I just looked at the time and gasped...I am going to hurt in the morning. I think we will be heading to the gym. The sweet tea and Thanksgiving leftovers are starting to take a toll on my body. ;)

One last picture...a picture of the Wave Pool Women (my MOPS table). Such inspiring women...I feel blessed to know each of you.

*Colossians 3:17*

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkins and Pony Rides at Emma Krumbees

As I was perusing through my photo gallery the other night, I found more pictures from our trip out to Emma Krumbees a couple of weekends ago that I wanted to share. Seeing the boys' happy, smiling faces in these pictures reminded me of their happy, smiling faces that day.

...and that makes me smile.