Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogger Vacation

I took one. A long one. But I'm back. I hope ya'll didn't give up on me.

These autumn days are all running into one another. Only 27 more days until I fly out to be with Rob for his graduation from the chaplaincy school. Only 30 until we're all together as a family! Woohoo!

The boys do have a trick-or-treat date set up with a friend of ours who works for a local nursing home. Caleb and Lily's costumes are finished. Gabe's is going to be the most work, but I should be done soon. And Seth...well, he said that wants to be a "blue cat with blue stripes who's a "NINJA MASTAH!" Um...Can we say redirection? If not, we'll figure something out! I do have some blue face paint and I know we have ninja costumes from the boys' dress up box. I may be able to make this work...

We carved our pumpkins two days ago. The experience was a study of the effects of sibling birth order in action. Does anyone else find that as interesting a topic as me? We have a little loop-d-loop in our family, since Lily joined our family last, but she is older than Seth.

Caleb, the oldest, set about making an index of all the possible jack-o-lanterns he could think of. List-maker. (When thinking of a Halloween costume, he also drew out all the possibilities so that he could pick on.) He probably drew about 10 different jack-o-lanterns. I thought, "No way are the rest of the kids going to want to pick one of his ideas." But true to his take-charge leadership skills, he convinced all the other kids that he was actually doing them a favor by designing all the jack-o-lanterns, that there really weren't any other viable options, and he was being gracious enough to allow them to have a choice at all. I kept quiet to see how this would play out. They all sat down together outside to draw their designs.

Gabriel, middle child #1, was happy to go along with Caleb, to make him happy, people-please that he is. However, he added a couple extra features to make it stand out and be unique. Peace-maker. Yet he still wants to make his own mark in the world. (This is the same kid who carved last year's jack-o-lantern face upside down so that it would stand out from everyone else's.)

Lily, middle child #2, picked out a traditional face for her "pumpkin night-light" but didn't want to use Caleb's list. Caleb convinced her that she needed to. She also wanted to add something unique to hers, in that she wanted hers to be a girl and have hair, which of course Caleb did not include in the list of choices. She went to great extents to blaze her own trail, separate from the others. She definitely wants to do her own thing, follow her own ideas, rejecting other good ideas, just because she's not the one who came up with it.

Seth, baby of the family, picked out a face, but he wanted to pander off any of the work, like carrying the pumpkin to the table or scooping out guts. He also wanted me to draw his chosen design. He couldn't help, he said. He was "too little." Yep, he played the baby-of-the-family card and got out of all the work somehow. And somehow, I let him.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Road Trip

The kids and I just returned from a 2100 mile round-trip road trip. We journeyed out from Michigan to Rhode Island to witness their dad graduate as a Naval officer. The trip there was full of excitement and anticipation, and the kids behaved so well. My mom and Rob's mom came out with us--I doubt I would have been able to do this without them--and we drove Rob's jeep to him so that he would have transportation during the next section of his training. So we divided the kids between the two vehicles to ward off conflicts. It worked. On the way home, all seven of us were crammed in the van, and there wasn't a lot of fighting, but OH, THE NOISE. It was quite the challenge to drive through NY City and then down the New Jersey Turnpike with squeally Lily and yelling Seth and giggly Gabe. Caleb was the quietest one...unless he was sitting by Lily, who engaged him in her loud and physical play.

But other than the noise, the kids did great.

Oh, the joy of that very first glimpse of Rob dressed in his summer whites. Hubba hubba. Caleb and Gabe tried to leap out of the moving van. Lily and Seth screamed and laughed. My heart was full and my smile was large.

The first words out of Seth's mouth: "Dad! You're a captain!" (Not quite...) Later he told me, "Daddy wears a pilot's costume!" Seth and Lily clung to Rob the whole time. Seth especially couldn't stop touching him. Lily said, "Can we please bring Daddy and his red jeeper home with us? Pleeeeeeeease?"

We had the best time with him. His graduation was as full of pomp and promenade as you can imagine there would be in a Naval ceremony.

Our time together sped by, and too quickly we had to say good-bye.

Seven more weeks...six and a half now...and we'll be a family together and not apart.

We're so proud of him and the sacrifice he is making to answer God's call.

The sadness of departing Rhode Island (a gorgeous, highly under-recognized destination) mixed with excitement about our next stop: historical Philadelphia.

WE LOVED IT! Standing in the same room that held so many American Greats gave me goose bumps. Being so close to the bell that rang out its announcement of FREEDOM! swelled my heart with thankfulness to the God who gives true freedom and the people who have sacrificed so much so that my children can live in a free country. In the midst of economic unknowns and election-year divisions, still I must stand up and say, "God bless America, land that I love!"