Saturday, April 18, 2015

Necessity is the mother of invention

Yesterday morning, my favorite "three boy," who has recently gotten rid of most of his toys and was, I think, honestly just looking for something creative to do, had found some scissors and shredded a little book and some important papers of mine. Some time after we had cleaned up that mess, and I had chastised the boy for touching things that don't belong to him, I found him hiding in his room with a black marker (dry-erase, not permanent, thank goodness) writing all over his body and the floor. Before I could pull all of my hair out, Jeff suggested that Clay probably just needed a good, authorized art project. Since we are lacking in craft supplies, and since I'm not one of those super crafty moms that relishes a good art project anyway, I came up with something that worked within those parameters: "painting" with water in the garage. Clay loved it and spent the rest of the morning happily working on that project and staying out of trouble. They say "necessity is the mother of invention," but I'm just wondering why I couldn't have come up with that plan before so much destruction took place in the house.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Saying good-bye

This past weekend has been marked on the calendar for a while as the time when most of the remaining stuff must go, because we didn't want to leave things for the last minute and because we wanted to return the trailer we've been borrowing for months and months. Whatever we'd been holding on to "for just a little longer," has now been removed, and we are now basically down to six bar stools, five mattresses on the floor, a handful of dishes and our travel bags. And, even though we've been serious about getting rid of stuff for months, there was still so much stuff. Most of the items were easily gotten rid of, without a single thought, except "Why do we still have this?!" But some of them held more of our hearts and required a bit more than just a cursory glance and a casual toss in a bag.

For instance, Clay had somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand stuffed animals, which he has been reluctant to part with. He has a special small friend to travel with (O. California) and a couple of long-time friends (Nemo and Oosh) in his box of things to keep. The rest had to go, so Jeff told Clay it was time to let other boys and girls have a chance to play with these friends. Clay didn't cry or get upset and, true to his nature, actually seemed happy to share them with someone else. But he did kiss and hug each one and then shared a special message with each individual, like, "Have fun!" or "I'll see you later." It was the sweetest little ritual.

When it was time to load up Jeff's over-sized recliner that we've had since Ruth was born, Jeff stretched out in it one last time and delivered a heartfelt speech to it. All the boys then followed suit. It's been a good chair and a good friend, and it will be missed.

There was also another kind of good-bye. In the storage closet upstairs, there was a box of my old journals, some dating back to my high school years, that I have been holding on to all these years. I've moved them countless times and, though I never really go back and read through them, I have felt incapable of getting rid of them. It just seemed like too much history to dispose of, too much of myself to say good-bye to. I have specifically been avoiding cleaning out that closet because I didn't want to have to decide what to do with them. But, yesterday, when I finally went up to tackle the closet, I had a revelation: I know who I am, and I don't need to dwell on who I was.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is value in self-evaluation, in looking back at where we came from and realizing how we need to change or how we've already changed. But, sometimes, we get so caught up in the past that we let it rule our futures. We let the past define us, and then we are afraid to become something new. We carry it with us for years and years, and it becomes a heavy, paralyzing burden. I threw the whole box of journals away, and I'm not sad about that. It's actually a relief to not move that box again. I'm not defined by my past, and I am free to step into the future uninhibited. Are there things from your past that you need to let go of? If so, I would like to encourage you to go ahead and do it. I don't think you'll regret it.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

You know what's better than scowling?

From time to time, someone around here gets knotted up and a scowl appears on that person's face. The other day, Weston was the one bent out of shape, and Jeff asked him why he was scowling. From across the room, and completely out of the blue, Clay responded, "Scallops are better than scowling!" The entire household erupted in laughter, including the scowler. Since then, any time someone puts on a grumpy face, someone else will say, "You know what's better than scowling?" It is then very, very difficult for the grump to maintain his or her grumpiness. If you don't believe me, give it a try the next time you're around someone who can't seem to put on a happy face.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Weekend

Another fun stay at the MCM Elegante in Abilene.

So blessed to spend the weekend with some of our very favorite people!

We enjoyed the beautiful weather and plenty of outside time.

We had two different egg hunts:
a fairly easy one for the little boys and a more challenging one for the big boys.
(The little boys may have had to help the big boys out when they got stuck!)

The bluebonnets and other wildflowers are absolutely spectacular this year!
We couldn't resist taking our obligatory bluebonnet pics
at the front entrance of our neighborhood when we got home.
(If you want to see a bigger version of the collages, you can click on any of them to open a photo viewer that makes the individual pictures easier to see.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Dentistry by the numbers

It's never much fun to go to the dentist. It's less fun when you have a relatively large family, and the majority of them have dental issues. We were in the dentist's office today from 8:30 until 12:00, being seen by 3 hygienists, 2 dental assistants and 2 dentists. As a group, we came away with five cavities, one diagnosis of periodontal disease, one diagnosis of gingivitis, two prescriptions, one plan for another round of surgery, ten follow up appointments, three recommendations of countries offering quality dental care, and several thousand dollars missing from our pocketbook. This is especially frustrating, because we do take dental hygiene seriously and try to implement healthy brushing practices in our home. Obviously, it isn't working. So, we've ordered a water pick and electric toothbrushes, and one of us will soon be wearing a night guard. So many fun times! At least we had the foresight to schedule this appointment at this time, so we can get everything taken care of before we leave on our trip. And, thankfully, our dentists and everyone in their office are wonderful to work with.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Who doesn't love a great festival?!

A few weeks ago, we heard about a Physics and Engineering Festival that would be taking place at A&M. And since 1. We have children interested in science and engineering as hobbies and possible careers, 2. We figured we'd need to be out of the house for potential showings, and 3. We look for any excuse to head to our beloved Aggieland, we made plans to attend. We got up early yesterday morning, and realized right away that we would need sustenance for the day ahead. Some wanted tacos, others wanted donuts, and I became the hero of the morning by discovering The Donut Taco Palace

After quite a hearty breakfast and our allotment of carbs, sugar and calories for the day (or possibly the week), we continued on our way, and made it to A&M around 11:00. The festival, which was a much bigger deal than we were expecting, was in full swing. We had a blast, visiting many (but not near all) of the incredible exhibits, attending a fantastic bubble show, and scoring free tickets to the finale of the festival: a symphony to be held in the evening. 

Eventually, everyone claimed to be hungry again, and we decided to try the new-to-us Grub Burger Bar, since we have already exposed the kids to most of the remaining haunts from back in our college days. This is a restaurant with an identity crisis about just exactly what kind of restaurant it is, which caused confusion in ordering and seating, but the food was absolutely delicious, so we forgave them their their lack of definition in other areas. 

After our late lunch, we decided some down time was in order before the symphony. Clay and Max had naps in the car, while I ran an errand. Then we found a park, where the kids played until it was time to go back to campus. We had already planned to spend the night in Austin, because we were going to be meeting Jeff's parents there today for an early birthday party for Ruth at Main Event, so we had our RTW bags with us, and were therefore able to get out of our dirty park clothes and into something more appropriate for the evening's proposed entertainment. It's so good to be prepared for anything that comes up!

Jeff and I were super excited about taking the kids to the symphony, but we weren't really sure how they would like it, since most of them have never been to an event quite like that before. This particular symphony incorporated not only the orchestra (which the boys are studying about at CC right now), but also an Aggie singing group (The Century Singers), who sang a lovely piece in Latin (which is another subject the kids are currently learning). The first song was the Star Wars theme song, which immediately got their attention and got them excited. Weston turned to me and whispered, "It sounds just exactly like in the movie!" The second half of the performance was the physics part, in which the author and physicist, Brian Greene, narrated a movie based on a children's book he wrote, while the orchestra played the accompanying score. It was amazing! The kids really seemed to love the whole experience and did not get fidgety or fussy at all (though they did find the very long Latin piece a teeny bit tedious). Jeff and I were proud of them and were so glad to get to expose them to this new experience!

It was a truly wonderful day, and we are so glad we decided to go! Perhaps when we return from our travels, we will have an opportunity to go again. We also hear A&M has a pretty neat Chemistry Festival, so perhaps we'll add that one to our bucket list, too. 

Aggies and Longhorns agree that team donuts are super cool!

A&M Physics and Engineering Festival

Shakes at Grub

The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra

arcade games and rock climbing at Main Event

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Here a field trip, there a field trip

Yesterday, Ruth got to tour the capitol building and visit with Texas Supreme Court Justice, Jeff Boyd, with her Challenge B class. I was not able to attend the filed trip, but by all accounts, it was really a great day for the kids, who are preparing for their Mock Trial competition at the end of the semester and are learning so much about official court proceedings.

Today, the boys and I joined a number of other CC families at the new Science Mill in Johnson City, for a wonderful day of hands-on learning. We had an official tour, delved into several different scientific disciplines in the lab, and then spent a significant amount of time just exploring and learning and having a ball. I loved the way the exhibits were set up to be enjoyed by younger kids, "just for fun," as well as older kids, at a deeper level, and I appreciated the overall focus of higher education and career paths displayed by the staff. What an asset to the Hill Country, and what a fantastic way to encourage children to pursue scientific endeavors!