Thursday, November 17, 2011

love at first sight

I got my first iPhone a few months ago. I don't believe in love at first sight, but in this case, it happened. Instantly.

I love my iPhone. I absolutely love it. There is no denying that. Just opening the perfect little Apple box was an experience I took in. Go ahead, laugh. Or mock.

At first it was just a new gadget and I spent lots of time searching for cool apps and playing words with friends, with friends. Friends like Pat Santavenere, who I ended up beating our first 9 games. Not that I was counting or anything.

I am a stay-at-home Mom who home schools, which means on most days I am in my dining room surrounded by books, correcting papers, reading Mystery of History, and chasing my little bandits around the living room. Having a 3 and 4 year old and then also a 10 and 13 year old makes for interesting "conversation gymnastics". One moment I'm explaining to baby girl why biting her brother is not a loving thing to do; the next moment I'm trying to answer a grammar question. Yes, it makes for a random day, every day.

The four walls can feel at times like they are closing in on me. My iPhone is my connection to the outside world.

In just seconds, I am able to virtually leave my four walls and reach into another stay-at-home Mom's four walls, right to her. Texting little things about our day, sharing the antics of one of our children in picture form, or just a little back and forth adult convo via text between friends. In short, it paves a way to connect with someone else and I appreciate that. It can actually bring sanity to some of my crazier days.

When I was smack in the middle of organizing the Run For Your Lives 5K, my iPhone became such a useful tool. I was able to correspond with people quickly through email and texting. Updates could be posted on Facebook immediately. Tweets could be tweeted. Documents I needed while out were available at my fingertips. If someone needed a contact, a few taps of my finger and it was done. Right then, right there.

Being relatively new to the world of smartphones and social media, I am learning that everyone has a different set of etiquette/manners when it comes to how and when we can whip out our iPhone or Droid or Blackberry.

What is considered rude by one person is considered perfectly fine by someone else.

So here are some questions I have been asking myself (and others) and now I want your feedback.

1- If you are meeting with someone - a friend, business partner, family member - anyone really, is it inconsiderate to read and respond to a text message? What about repeated text messages?

2- If you are in a store, going through a drive-through window, or someplace similar, is it inconsiderate to be talking on your phone or bluetooth device?

3- If you are hanging out with friends in a casual atmosphere at your home or watching a movie (key word: casual), is it inconsiderate to read and respond to ongoing text messages?

4- Are there times that you turn your phone off completely?

I still love my iPhone, probably even more than when we first met. But I shouldn't love it more than actual human beings. I confess that sometimes I do. After all, it does what I want and asks nothing of me. I certainly don't want others to feel that I don't value them or their time when they are with me, whether it's in a meeting context or just hanging out having fun.

All of this amazing technology provides far more ways to connect and interact with others. As an extrovert, it's dreamy. But it's also dangerous. After all, like every other good thing, it comes with challenges and temptations.

As a mom, my children are watching me. They are learning. They are taking their cues from what I do every day. My actions are teaching them what I value. This is incredibly important.

So please - help me out by sharing your thoughts!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Run For Their Lives 2011

Check out this video that was shown at Brentwood Church this past Sunday, highlighting the Run For Their Lives 5K on October 29th.

The creators did a fantastic job at showing us the bigger picture and reminding us why we participated in the first place. Keep praying for your girl. :-)

Maryland is featured!!



Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Reason to Run....or Walk

YOU can make a difference in someone's life by participating in our race or making a donation.

Join us on Saturday, October 29th.

Visit www.freedom424maryland.org for all the details....



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

jr. homeschoolers

David is my most eager student this year, begging to do school work.

He's four.

Abbie, wearing my old glasses again (frames busted out) is most eager about being the teacher.



















David loves to practice letters.



















A certain little one feels left out and pouts a bit that it's not her turn.



















She has a great pout face, you gotta admit that!



















But, when it's finally her turn, and she shows Daddy how she can count seven snakes, she's super happy!



















As for me, I'm just happy that David gets to color another yellow sun in his calendar square.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

homeschool: week two

The apple doesn't fall from the tree, does it?

I often wonder why Abbie, loves to do her school work wearing something that I consider part of our dress-up bin. You know, the bin that holds spiderman costumes, star wars outfits, pirate-wear, and even a Hillary Clinton mask! Don't ask....

Yesterday, she grabbed a pair of my old glasses, lenses busted out. And, well, she put them on and wore then the entire day.















I chuckled and walked into the other room, only to see Matt...dressed like this, reading.



















Aaaaaahhhh, just another day in my little world!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Home School: Day 1

Well, it wasn't picture perfect, believe me.

The morning began rough. Everyone woke up late and I barely had enough faith to begin what will be my 10th year of teaching.

It's hard to say goodbye to the summer. Right on the heels of two weeks at the beach and a night at an indoor water park, it's hard to get started with schedules and studies, book reports and science labs. Before even starting, I feel behind.

Here is our day in pictures. I didn't include a shot of Jayda squeezing herself in an empty school bin. And I didn't even take a picture of what the living room floor looked like when I was doing school with the big kids. Let's just say, David and Jayda enjoyed playing with every toy.

Every. Toy.

But here's a snippet of our reality.

Right before lunch we all gathered to learn about people that are living in what is called "Garbage City" in Cairo, Egypt. David was so sweet as he prayed, "Lord Jesus - please keep the people living in the trash safe. Especially the Mommies and the Daddies and the babies."



















After lunch, while I did some school work with David, Abbie begged to be Jayda's teacher and happily took her into the kitchen to practice counting and identifying her ABC's.



















David was so eager to start. I guess he feels like a big boy now!



















Abbie worked on her math using Teaching Textbooks, and she did so in cowboy boots!



















Stephen chose to tune his guitar on his break...



















The rain is still beating down, the laundry baskets are full of dirty clothes, and I'm not sure what we are having for dinner. Day one is almost over but there is still so much to do.

It's helpful to remember that "Motherhood is a hallowed place because children aren't commonplace. Co-laboring over the sculpting of souls is a sacred vocation, a humbling privilege." (Ann Voskamp)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Great Combination

I love Shaun Groves' newest CD, "Third World Symphony".

I love Ann Voskamp's book, "A Thousand Gifts" as well as her blog.

Here they are together, talking and worshiping to the song I've been singing for over a month now.

Here's an interview I did with Shaun Groves, via email.

All Is Grace (With Ann Voskamp) from Shaun Groves on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Family Vacation: The Drive Home

Thank God for the ol' Macbook. A special viewing of "Cars" helped the kids with the travel.



















When we hit some DC traffic, some drifted asleep. Even big girls get tired.



















And finally, after a wonderful time away with our family, it is ALWAYS so good to see our home! Although Comcast was out, we had power and there wasn't any flooding or damage to our home.




Family Vacation: Happy with the Wolf


Family Vacation: Last in Line

Our one driving setback occurred on our drive to the Great Wolf Lodge. We tried to stop for lunch several times in Virginia, only to find restaurants and gas stations closed due to power outages. Along the stretch of I-95, driving through North Carolina, we saw many collapsed trees and some huge trees totally uprooted.

The need for gas became critical and after finally learning of a gas station that was open, we settled into our place in line. Last.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Family Vacation: Day 16 "Last Day in South Carolina"


So, here's our last day in S.C.

































































































This last picture has a cool story. We went to the Garden City Pier in hopes of seeing sharks like we did earlier in the first week. A man was fishing near us and caught this baby sand shark. He asked Abbie if she wanted to hold it and explained specifically where to grasp it so it wouldn't bit her. Pretty cool! When he told her to throw it back in, he said, "And watch to see if a big shark eats it." Stephen and I peered over the ledge and as soon as the baby shark hit the water, up popped a 5' shark to eat the baby! So cool!


The Help: A MUST read

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of "The Help" after hearing from my sister Barb how great it was.

WOW - what a novel. After just the first chapter, I was engaged and actually forced myself to read slow so that I could enjoy the experience longer!

When I first saw the previews for the movie, I was a little concerned. I really cared about these characters and the story was such a deep, moving one for me and since the previews looked lighthearted, I was afraid it wouldn't do the book justice.

I have seen the movie twice now (Matt and I saw it on a date in South Carolina!) and in my opinion, while it's not as good as the book (what movies are, really?), I think it did a fairly good job at keeping with the overall tone of the novel. Stellar performances!

There are so few movies I feel I can wholeheartedly recommend these days, but The Help is definitely one of them.

For an excellent review of the book, I can't commend this enough, from Thabiti Anyabwile, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands.

Now stop what you are doing, buy the book or put yourself on the waiting list at your local library and READ IT!

Hurricane Simulation

We kept passing this contraption in the mall and decided to let the kids try it out. Pretty funny video footage, especially of Jayda's array of emotions.

Family Vacation: Day 15 "Acquire"

With the house mostly packed up and ready to go in the morning, it's time for a game of "Acquire".

Can you see that Matt is scheming against his children?



Friday, August 26, 2011

Family Vacation: day 14 "Mall-Fun"

We headed to Coastal Grand Mall so that I could get a new purse, so what does Matt do while I'm looking around?

He grabs a hat and does a Michael Jackson stance with Abbie.

















Since we were hoping to dodge Irene by staying in South Carolina a bit longer, we allowed (sorta shoved) the kids to try out this Hurricane Simulation machine.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Cops and Robbers" - Part 2


So Allyson's passenger side window was bashed in and my purse was taken.

We called the Police and learned that this particular mini golf had several break-ins recently. While we waited for them to arrive, we huddled together and prayed that the robbers would be found and that I'd get my purse back. Even as my children were praying aloud for this, in my heart, I had even less faith than a mustard seed.

The Police Officer arrived, took our statements, asked a bunch of questions and began dusting for fingerprints. Abbie and I decided to look around the perimeter of the parking lot, hoping that maybe they grabbed the cash from my wallet and tossed the rest. In our search, just about 10' from the car, we discovered a utility knife on the ground with glass from the window around it. The Police Officer added it to an evidence bag.

We didn't find my purse in the parking lot, but we did discover some huge tire tracks that appeared like they were from a truck or SUV that peeled wheels out of there.

Phoning Matt, I learned that over $500 had been withdrawn in addition to a few charges at a local Exxon Mobile gas station. I handed my phone to the Police Officer so that Matt could give her the detailed information. As she was speaking to Matt, a family was leaving the golf place and stopped and asked, "What happened...did a golf ball hit your window?"

We explained that we were robbed and both the father and older son in the group remembered seeing a gray Mitsubishi truck, with no hubcaps, peeling wheels out of the parking lot without any headlights on. The direction they went, which was out the Entrance, seemed to fit the way the tire prints were. I got a little hopeful. There was also video surveillance that could possibly show something but the Police Officer would not have access to that until the morning.

Covering her fist with a blanket from the car, Allyson punched out the rest of the glass, and brushed out as much of the mess that she was able to so that we could ride home safely.

When we got back to our beach house, I was pretty emotional. While Matt canceled all of our credit cards, I was particularly worried about my social security card, drivers license and keys. These robbers had everything they needed to steal my identity as well as get into my home and cars! It was a very unsettling feeling.

At around 1:29 a.m., my iPhone rang and to my utter shock, it was the Police Officer! Because of the tip that family provided about the truck, they were able to send out an APB and within a few hours, they found the robbers.

And they had my purse! Aside from the cash, everything was still inside!

Turns out it was three people - two guys and a girl. The girl was afraid when the Police Officer questioned her and she spilled the beans! One of the guys said that he lost his knife! Yes, it was the exact same knife we found in the parking lot. Basically, the girl was the driver and the guys were doing the robbing and they were doing it quite successfully down the Grand Strand corridor, hitting up tourists with obvious out of state license plates.

So, at 1:45 a.m. we were driving back to the mini golf to meet the Police Officer to get my purse back. She pulled out a big plastic bag marked "EVIDENCE" and there was my purse! Aside from reeking of smoke, everything was there, even my bluetooth! Seems their robbing was supporting a drug habit, which explained the odd test tube looking gadget in my purse. That wasn't mine and the Police Officer quickly took it.

All three people were arrested and put in jail and the Officer told us that they would be prosecuted in a high crimes court case.

Wow, what an adventure!

I am still amazed that my purse was found. Even though I prayed, I didn't really believe in my heart it was going to happen. I am so thankful that God is greater than my unbelief!

Family Vacation: day 13 "Cops & Robbers"


I haven't been commenting much on my vacation photographs. I mean, there isn't much of a need. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I was trying to save the commentary and just show the image(s) that stood out on each day.

Today requires an explanation though, trust me.

We awoke to another gorgeous beach day. Matt had a full day with our four ewoks yesterday, while I went to Bulls Island with Allyson, so today was a little personal time for him at the beach.

All alone. No kids. No boogie boards. No sand toys to carry or hands to hold or a need for watchful eyes at the beach. Not today, not for Matt. It was just Matt, a few cold drinks, a can of Pringles, a book, and a bottle of oils for his already darkened body.

We all went to dinner at one of our favorites, Drunken Jacks. Things were going well.

Since it was such a beautiful, clear, night (calm before the storm ?), Allyson and I went to miniature golf with Stephen and Abbie and Matt stayed back with David and Jayda. It was a fun course and we were all golfing pretty well. Stephen got two hole in ones and Abbie was getting a "2" on most of the holes, meeting the par.

Look how happy my big kids are!

















When we finished up the 18th hole, we anxiously waited for Allyson to tally up the score and announce the winner and loser.


















Winner: Tracy...me...woohoo!
Loser: A tie between Allyson and Abbie
2nd Place: Stephen

Just as we were getting ready to walk down to hand in our putters, Abbie looked down (the last hole was up high) and noticed that the passenger side of Allyson's car was broken. Shocked, we immediately all looked and couldn't believe our eyes. I remembered that my purse was in the car, pushed under the seat.

When we got to her car and peered in, trying to avoid the glass everywhere, we could see that my purse was gone! We were robbed at Inlet Adventure golf! All of my credit cards, my health cards, cash, drivers license, social security card and other personal things were in my purse, along with my bluetooth, keys, and let's not forget my Norwex opti-cloth.

Within 30 minutes, Matt discovered that they had withdrawn over $500 from my checking account in addition to over $70 at a local gas station.

.....To be continued.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Roadblock"

Sometimes...when you are walking down a crude path

with mosquitos nipping at every inch of your bare skin,

you hit a roadblock.

This was ours at Bulls Island. Click on the picture twice to get a good view of our roadblock.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Possible

We didn't think it was possible, but it is.

Jayda DOES in fact get tired.

Long days at the beach & pool (-) nap times (=) a tired Jayda.

I LOVE this equation!