Aiming Arrows

Musings of a Mommy

Category: Friends

Sweet Boys

I watched as two small boys held hands remaining tethered as they bounced along, backpacks jumping high and low.  Part of my heart being carried away with them.

One boy, mine.  The other, our dear carpool friend.

Innocence and expectation and hope radiated from them as I watched them go.

I squashed my desire to freeze the moment with my camera as I know some snapshots are for my heart alone.

Through slightly misty eyes I clicked my seatbelt and began to pull away.

Then, I saw them stop.  Still holding hands but not moving or talking.  They were mesmerized and captured by the sight.

Three much older boys were preparing the flag and flagpole.  Awe and admiration now radiated from the faces of the two small ones.  Likely, they were dreaming of the day they were responsible for the flag.

When the day comes that they are sending the flag up the flagpole, who will be the subject of the affection?  Only one will be worthy of these precious hearts.

First Soccer Game

Our First Soccer Game

Ever

The sun was shining and the breeze was warm.

Gunnar even kicked the ball.

He kept his eye on the action.

He earned the red star for his defense.

He’s handsome in his uniform.

He did not act goofy on the field.

The thing I loved the most was that he never stopped smiling.

Our sweet boy had a big smile on his face from the moment he put on his uniform, running down the field, eating oranges at half time, and congratulating the other team.  Speaking of congratulations, I think both teams scored about 2 goals.  What a perfect beginning for our family’s involvement in sporting events.

 

Women’s Ministry Leader’s Retreat

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to get away for 24 hours with about thirty other small group leaders from our church.  Our wonderful women’s ministry pastors, Trish & Stacey, inspired us with possibility from Andy Stanley’s book, The Next Generation Leader. 

I threw my camera in my bag at the last minute as I was anticipating some time outside.  From the deck of our lodge, I looked down over the red, orange leaves of this tree.  It seems that most trees are just turning brown instead of their normal fall beauty, so this was a treat to see. 

Very few things get my blood pumping like freezing a few inches of this beauty on my camera.

We stayed at Shepherd of the Ozarks where we had a very large lodge.  I bet it slept 75 people.  Of course, many of those beds were bunk beds.

I started hyperventilating upon sight; my sweet friends Christy and Kristina let me have the first choice.  I picked the middle.  What would you have picked?  

After making my selection, I began scoping out a non-bunk bed option.  Christy and I found this loft which we accessed through the little hole up this straight ladder. 

Here’s a look at our 2 single beds inside our little cubby.  I think Christy and I would have slept more in our coffins bunks, but instead, we talked until 3 AM!   My friends Allison and Ronni also had the privilege of sleeping in a section of the loft (loft as definied by ladder access only) but they were more reasonable about actually resting on the retreat!  This lodge had so many little nooks and crannies.  There was a double bed tucked away with an openning of, literally, 2 ft x 3 ft.  Aronna slept in there and informed us in the morning she heard the scratching of some other living creature in the walls!  Uh.  No thanks.  I like my nook better.

I also met several new friends.  One new friend, JoBeth,  is into photography and told me about back button focusing.  I’ve done a little research and can’t wait to try it out.

Friday night we played  Apples to Apples which is the perfect game for a large group of people.  Apples to Apples is definitely not a “smart people only need apply” type game which I really appreciated!  (Thanks to whoever brought it!)  Even though I came no where close to winning, it was so fun.  Apples to Apples is definitely going on my Wish List.

There is one character from our retreat that I really wish I had a picture of… the donkey-dog!  You know I love animals; this donkey was the sweetest thing!  He’s retired so doesn’t work anymore.  Instead, he just wandered around camp like the camp dog.  Except, as I mentioned,  he is a donkey. 

We ate our meals in a cafeteria which had the feel of a lodge.

Being with a group of wise, sweet, wonderful women with nothing to do but enjoy each other was so refeshing! 

Refreshment turned to concern while we hunted, for close to an hour, for a set of lost keys.  The keys were found where all of us women would expect to eventually find our “missing” keys!  All retreats and vacations are not complete without a memory of this nature!  Don’t you agree?

Happiness returned with the keys, and we all began to head home.  The wheels on the van went…. round and round, round and round; the wheels on the van went round and round… but we went nowhere.  We were actually losing ground.  Ronni insisted that it was not the heavy load in the back impedeing process up the steep hill, but she finally agreed that maybe we should get out.  As we watch the van drive up the hill we could not stop laughing!  You will be glad to know we made it home without further incident inspite of the Out of Gas light being on for several miles!  Yes, I noticed the light, I am a terrible back seat driver!

Pumpkin Patch

Valerie and I took our 4 kiddos to a local Pumpkin Patch on Monday.  We all piled into her van and enjoyed a little time together traveling the winding, country roads.  It was beautiful.  Many of the trees are showing their deep reds and oranges.  I love this time of year.  It’s still so warm, and the air is crisp, and it seems there is an eager anticipation swirling about.  

As we were driving to the pumpkin patch on Monday, I thought about this same trip all 6 of us made two years ago.  Graceanna was only about 6 weeks old.   She was so tiny and so cuddly and already so attached to me.  I remebered her soft skin and fluffy hair and her sweet baby scent.  I revelled in the memories of those tender, fleating newborn days which already seem like a lifetime I ago.  Sometime during my trip into the memories, I realized all 4 kids had been under 3 years old.  My day dream came to a quick  end with the memories of how hard and exhausting that day had been with trying to keep 2 two year olds safe as they ran around like the crazy toddlers they were and all the while trying to meet the babies’ needs.  As tired as we were, this day produced precious memeories.  Here’s a look back at 2 years ago.

Annabeth – about 15 months – October 2008

Max – 2 and 3/4 – October 2008

Gunnar – almost 3 years old – October 2008

And, the winner of the greatest change is…….

Graceanna – about 6 weeks – October 2008

………………………….

Here’s a look at our recent trip – October 11, 2008. 

Graceanna gave me this super sweet glance as we were waiting for the hay ride to start.

Oh Annabeth, I love your little pig tails!

The site of this huge pumpkin farm stopped these city kids in their tracks.

 Valerie’s kids seemed intent on finding the right pumpkin.

Graceanna was intent on getting as dirty as possible.  Oh my goodness.  She was covered in dust, and she already had a shovel full of sand in her hair. 

(By the way, when you have thick hair and tight curls, your hair will not let go of one single grain of sand.  We washed and washed for 30 minutes.  I did this last week also when she had dirt and crushed up dead leaves in her hair last week.  Ridding her hair of these things is not my favorite activity….just in case you were wondering.)

Gunnar enjoyed some dirt ball throwing and tried to pick up a huge pumpkin or two…

Then, he called it quits and took a seat on the big pumpkin.

This was our attempt at a group photo.  Nice.

On the way home I was stabbed with a terrible realization; Max & Gunnar will be kindergarteners next year and no matter if we go to traditional school or school at home, our time will be less free.  This is probably our last time to go with the 6 of us.  Boo Hoo.

(My friend Gretchen took her kids to a different pumpkin patch and captured these wonderful moments.  Oh how I wish I would put in the work to produce something similar, but I don’t see that happening.  Plus, we all know Gretchen has a little something special that just increased work on my part would not create.)

Summer at the Lake

It’s no secret that Gunnar loves his cousins and loves to swim, so summer days at the lake with Carter and Sutton were highlights of Gunnar’s summer.  Oh, and the rest of the family was pretty fun to have around too.

These pictures were taken during the last few moments of Graceanna’s time in her ring.  She wanted to go with the arm floaties so she could swim around more.  She’s a big girl now don’t you know!

Sweet Sutton.
Or, as he’s affectionally called at our house, Sutty.

It’s true.  Gunnar isn’t wearing his life vest.  I like to give him some time without it to help him get stronger at swimming.  When he wears it constantly, he just uses it like those arm floaties which do not allow you to learn to swim correctly.

Photoshoot Lessons

It seems that my first post after an unexpected hiatus should be filled with amazing news and spectacular pictures.  The truth is, things haven’t been particularly news worthy around here unless you consider loads of snot production interesting.  All four of us have been hit hard by the pollen, but we’re so much better now.  I also pulled a muscle in my lower back which frustrated my normal routine for a few days.  Throw in several hard conversations with various friends, some sad news with other friends and you see our month has been pretty full. 

One highlight for me my own private lesson in photography with my dear friend and professional photographer, Gretchen.  She wanted to do this for me because I had helped her with some other things, but I can tell you I got a lot more out of the deal than she did!  So one evening, after Steve got home from work and before her husband who is an eye surgeon (don’t know exactly what he’s called but you get the idea) got called in to work, we headed out. 

 Gretchen picked a location.  I agonized over hair style, clothing choices, and props.  In the end, the dress I chose was a gift from my aunt who purchased it during their trip to Greece.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  And, I loved it for a shoot at this location.

Our subject, Graceanna, was less than enthusiastic though.  We kept her busy with crackers, therefore, any really good shot was usually full of cracker mouth.  From that standpoint our session was a bit of a disappointment, but, the real purpose was for me to learn.  And, learn I did! 

The light was perfect, so warm and soft.  I finally have embraced the fact that if I want a “portrait” i.e. something I’d hang on my wall for all time, I have to committ 100% to the right light which is the right time of day.  I’ve known the importance of light and have experimented a lot with it, but I’ve come to a new level of understanding.  Oh!  And, I learned something completely new to me…dynamic lighting!  This is lighting you can’t find in a studio.  I don’t think.  Maybe you can, but wow what God has done with the sun and trees and grass just can’t be beat.

One thing I love about Gretchen’s work is that if it’s not excellent, it doesn’t leave her “shop”.  See how I cut off Graceanna’s hand?  Not good.  See the crackers in her hands and mouth?  Never, ever would have happend in the first place.  Gretchen is committed to excellence.  She is skilled in the traditional “rules” (why am I using so many quote marks?!) of photography and if she breaks one it’s for a good reason.  She has mastered her camera of course.  She also has a determined style.  But, she has something that can’t be taught or learned.  She sees in a way I just don’t.  When she puts her eye to the viewfinder something great happens.  I’m learning and improving but what she has is God-given and remarkable. 

Ok.  I didn’t mean to have a Gretchen commercial.  She’s going to be so embarassed if she reads this.  I just so admire anyone who is so committed to growing and learning and improving and committed to excellence.  And, of course, I love photography.

The next morning, Gretchen came to my house while our kids were at Mother’s Day Out.  We openned PS and from the first mouse click she did things differently than I had taught myself.  The only thing I know about developing film is that each step is precise and if done incorrectly the actual photograph is damaged, and it’s very similar to digitally developing your “film”.

I definitely had new tools and skills to practice but our edit session ended all too soon.  Gretchen was called away on a volunteer assignment for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I love this organization.  NILMDTS is made up of professional photographers who give their time and talent to families whose babies are not expected to live at birth.  So, needless to say, I was eager to send Gretchen to this family in need.  Since then I’m finding it difficult to get this family out of my mind.  I know nothing of them.  I just know that a family in my city is hurting with such terrible loss.  What is boggling my mind is to know how many times these photographer’s services are needed.  One day, I would love to be a good enough photographer to offer myself for this cause.

Easter Eggs & Baskets

We had a little Easter Egg Hunt with the our friends’ children.  Their grandma lives two houses down from us.  Gunnar always wants to see Cade when we notice his car is there.  A couple weekends ago we all had a garage sale at the same time, and the 6 kiddos had so much fun running back and forth between our houses, climbing trees, and taking a snack breaks.  So, it was completely expected they’d want to see each other Easter weekend too.

Cade and Gunnar racing around.  Cade is 6 months older than Gunnar.

Cade’s sister, Anna.  Cade also has a newborn sister, Haley.

Graceanna enjoyed finding treats in their eggs!

 Another of Gunnar’s friends, Jordan.  Jordan is also Cade’s cousin.

Jordan’s brother, Drew.  Drew is about 3 weeks older than Graceanna.

I love making Easter baskets and I remember loving my Easter basket as a child.  Thanks to my mom, my kids had some really cute things in their baskets.  Gunnar got a pair of pants which you can’t see, but he loves them.  He also got a really cool 3D puzzle.  It’s 100 pieces and we’ve all enjoyed it.  Graceamma got a super cute new outfit and a little bunny that wiggles his behind as he rolls across the floor.  Steve and I contributed the chocolate bunnies and the balls.  We also hid 8 eggs in our living room filled with coins and candy, just as mine were filled when I was young.  All my Dad’s old hiding places came right back to me as I stashed our eggs. 

Our Easter weekend was so fun: eggs and treats and baskets and friends.  And, everything was wrapped in what was truly special.  For the first time, Gunnar understood that not only did Jesus die fulling the payment we could not pay, but Jesus also came back to life demonstrating his power over all and that He did indeed make our payment for us.  It is so amazing watching Gunnar learn the things of God as we diligently live the one true God in front of him.

Developmental Things

I’ve read multiple sources each talking about the motor skill development being different in boys and girls with girls tending to develop the fine motor skills several years sooner than boys.  Looking at the crafts K and Gunnar bring home from school have made me suspect this was true in Gunnar’s case.  Last weekend I had a front row seat to see these differences play out.

I picked out a flower craft for us to do.  I was just in the mood for flowers since we are experiencing some warm sunny days.  Gunnar was not impressed when he heard it was going to be a flower craft, “I don’t like flowers.”  I’ve never heard him say that before.  I didn’t pick the craft because our friend is a girl.  I just wanted to do flowers.  I had no idea he would protest.

K was immediately excited about the flowers and she quickly began coloring her petals.  Soon Gunnar joined the fun presumably ignoring the fact that we were making flowers.

The first thing I noticed which pertains to motor skills is that K was able to color the tiny petals with no problem.  G had marker all over his hands and the counter.

Next, I noticed that K’s was pastel colors and G’s was almost exclusively dark colors.  K also picked a pink background for her flowers while G picked white.

K & G were both excited to add the glitter glue to our flowers giving them a bit of sparkle.  The glitter glue is a bit difficult to manage I must say, but K seemed to do fine.  She followed my instructions to just put a line down the middle of each petal.  G couldn’t control how hard to squeeze the tube, so he has very nice round blobs of glitter.

And, the final thing I noticed was that Gunnar decided to make it a race to see who could complete the craft first.  All the while, K is intently coloring and glittering her flowers.

Gunnar declared himself the winner since he completed the craft with 2 flowers and K was still finishing her 5 flowers. 🙂

Oh.  One more thing that I found interesting.  Gunnar wanted his 2 flowers in a straight line right next to each other but K wanted hers to be spread around. 

I find the differences in people so interesting!  I just love to watch G and his friends interact.  Their individual strengths, preferences, physical development, and personality are continually showing up, and I love it!

PS – I realize most of the things I listed are not related to motor skills or even boy vs girl differences.

Crafts with Lucy

Yesterday we had so much fun with our friend Lucy.  We played outside, ate lunch, and made some crafts.  Sometimes things can go awry during playdates (or even just by ourselves) but today was not one of those days!  Everyone ate well, everyone was kind, and it seemed we all enjoyed each other’s company.  Yay!

Our first craft was to make a dinosaur.  A Stegosauris to be exact.  Gunnar told us all that a stegosauris is a herbivore which means they eat plants.  Ok, so he knows a little about dinosaurs…   Then, I asked Gunnar if he knew if dinosaurs lived before or after Jesus was born.  I thought we might discuss it some, but his answer left no room for follow up.  He said, “They lived before Jesus in the Jurasic Period.”  Ok then. 

Lucy picked pink for her dinsosaur with brother Gus looking on wishing his Momma and I would loosen up and let him get after it with the big kids.  Gunnar picked green and his sister did get a good handful of paint.

When Allison saw the clothes pins, we were both excited and said, “Oh yes!  Those are for those bumpy, spiky, er things on their backs!”  Gunnar said, “It’s for their plates.”  It’s nice being schooled in all things dinosaur by a pre-schooler.  Miss Allison told Gunnar he was really smart.  He said it was because he had a big brain in his head.  You kind of had to be there for that one, but to Gunnar’s Momma there’s not much cuter that listening to him talk – about anything really.

Our next craft was putting some buds on the tree I had drawn for them using q-tips and water color.  We talked about the buds that show up on the trees in Spring. 

Of course, neither of these crafts were my own idea.  I found them at No Time for Flash Cards.  As I do just about every craft I make with G.

The Power of Daddy’s Words

Steve and I went to college with Charlie who is now a pastor at one of our church’s location.  It’s been so fun to read Charlie’s blog posts which range from his running commentary about tv shows to thought provoking topics.  A lot of his posts are about parenting, which I love!  I’m including a link to one particular post because I think it’s one of those rare nuggetts of wisdom that we get from someone who is already walking the road we are just beginning.  I hope you enjoy!

“So it turns out that I don’t have enough time in a weekend to do my paying job (pastor), playing the role of mom and to do my non-paying job (blog-writer).  For some pre-thought on my role as “mom” for the weekend, check this out. 

We had a blast this weekend.  We had a sleepover upstairs.  The three of us piled up matresses, blankets, beanbags, etc.  We watched movies and fell asleep.  (I woke up at 3:30 and decided that I wasn’t really sleeping and went downstairs.)  We also played the “Gimme That Fish” McDonalds commercial on Youtube no fewer than 25 times over the weekend.  We played with friends, won two basketball games, had a great weekend of church services.  It was great.

However, there was one moment that still sticks out it my head that I just can’t shake.  Maylee and I were taking Lauren to soccer practice and as we were pulling in she asked if we were going to stay and watch.  She said in such a way that made it pretty clear that she didn’t want us to stay.  So I’m trying to get out of her…” 

to finish the story please click on this link.