Wednesday, August 22, 2012

...And So the Days Passed Quickly By

My kids love the book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and one of my favorite lines has always been "...inside it was warm and dry, and so ten days passed quickly by." Weighted words, and never more appropriate than when describing a week at the shore.

Every morning the kids wake up and ask how many more days we still have at the beach.

We are playing in tidal pools, splashing in waves, flying kites, and napping in strollers as the ocean's gentle song plays a hundred yards away.

Life is good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marshmallow Fluff and Overprotection

This morning I found myself staring into three sad faces. We had planned on going to Idlewild, but rescheduled for later in the week when the (always wrong) weatherman predicted rain and chilly temperatures. The faces got even longer when the rain I had told them would come never did, and they spent the morning in the playroom with sun streaming through the windows.

A little before lunch, Chloe listlessly opened up the pantry and saw a half-used jar of marshmallow fluff. She and I had bought it this summer for a recipe we didn't really like, and she's been asking ever since if we could use it to make something else. It is, after all, a jar full of mashed up marshmallows... Why on earth would I not want to use up every last sticky drop? I'm trying to get my lesson plans done before Friday, but in a moment of Spirit-filled parenting (please note- not one ounce of credit can be fairly claimed by yours truly) I pushed my work aside and googled "marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips."

To Chloe's utter delight, my trusty laptop returned a no-bake recipe in three seconds flat, and a late-morning baking project commenced.

The boys returned from the backyard just in time to destroy my kitchen help. Oh goody.

We mixed and rolled and had a lot of fun together.

Despite the mess, I love being in the kitchen with my three musketeers.

An hour in the fridge, and the kids had a delightful dessert after lunch.

On another note, my sister told me about a blog post this morning that I really needed to read about the "danger" of overprotecting our children. Regardless of the path you've chosen to educate your children, I think this is a must-read for parents. Check it out if you have a minute:

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
John 6:63

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday, and we had a lot of fun celebrating her! This year my mom, sister, and I decided to start a new tradition and go out for lunch together for each of our birthdays. Last month they took me to the Springfield Grill, and for mom's birthday we decided to try the classic Pittsburgh Sunday brunch at the Grand Concourse. The three of us met there after church and had a wonderful time!

I purposely didn't eat anything that morning because I wanted to be able to eat as much as I possibly could at the brunch... Now there's a goal to be proud of, eh?

We had a beautiful table looking out across the river at the city. We ate and talked and ate and talked. My brother-in-law had asked my mom earlier how long she thought we'd be gone, and she told him to plan on us being gone the entire afternoon!

This was the view from our table:

After several hours of delicious food, we went home and relaxed, and then reconvened at our house for cake, presents, and general merriment :-)

Another one of Pittsburgh's classics graced our table last night - the inimitable Prandtl's toasted almond torte. Don't even try to copy this one people - go straight to the source on Walnut Street in Shadyside. A special shout-out is due to my little sis, who braved a screaming two-month-old and an unplanned trip through the Liberty Tubes in an effort to bring home this delightful dessert. To thumbs up, Cara. 100% worth it.

We dusted off our family tradition, the Fella Jar (that's a whole different blog post), and feted Mom with praise and accolades on  her big day. She had plenty of help blowing out her candles!

Happy Birthday Mom! Hope your day was as wonderful as you are!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Romans 8:28 and a Horse

Chloe had her very first horseback riding lesson yesterday and it was, ummmm... interesting. The place that I had originally wanted her to take lessons at was booked into the Fall, so I decided instead to take her to another local riding academy. Big mistake.

Chloe was so excited. The American Girl series Felicity is her all-time favorite, and in the series the main character learns to ride a horse. Thus began Chloe's infatuation with all things equestrian, and she asked for horseback riding lessons for her 8th birthday. I had a feeling that this was not going to be a great experience as soon as we walked in. None of the staff acknowledged us beyond telling a young girl that Chloe would be riding "Darlin." I had explained to the owner that Chloe had never been on a horse before- she took one pony ride last year that was literally 25 seconds long- so I was surprised when Darlin turned out to be a pretty big horse. Without so much as a word of instruction, Chloe was told - by the young girl, no less - to climb up the stool and hop up on Darlin.

She was really excited! I was really nervous. I asked a few of the other moms standing around when the "instruction" part of the lesson would occur, and they seemed confused by my question. My anxiety increased. As Darlin and Chloe started running around the ring, I asked a new mom that had just walked up when they started, you know, teaching the girls what to do. She shrugged and then mentioned that her daughter was thrown from the horse last week. In fact, they had gone straight from the barn to the Urgent Care, she added cheerfully.

 I'm sorry, WHAT?

At this point I was looking at my watch, wondering how much longer this was going to go on, when suddenly Charlie and I were attacked by a swarm of biting horse flies. Not kidding. We ran for cover into this inside room, and I proceeded to watch Chloe through the glass as she went around and around and around the ring on Darlin.

She literally must have circled that ring 100 times. I felt so badly for her - I could tell she was getting so tired, and the lady in the center of the ring just kept yelling for her to sit up straighter and keep her horse from getting too close to the others. I felt like I had entered the twilight zone.

When, mercifully, the lesson ended, Chloe was behind a little girl who got taken off her horse and was told to lead the horse back to the barn. As the little girl started walking, the huge horse inadvertently stepped on her foot and didn't move. The little girl started screaming, and the instructor came over, gave the horse a shove, and then said to the little girl in a nasty voice, "Remember, horses canNOT see your feet!" At this point I pretty much grabbed Chloe off Darlin myself. She made it all the way to the car before she started crying.

"It seems like she didn't know I'd never been on a horse before," she managed through sobs. "Why did she keep making me do all those tricks?"

We spent dinner talking about the fact that sometimes experiences we think are going to be wonderful turn out to be awful. It's what we do next that determines our character. Horseback riding is something she really wanted to try - so is she going to quit and never get on a horse again, or is she going to gather up her courage and try again (this time, I assured her, at a better place)? She thought about it and decided that she would definitely try again, and I had the privilege of seeing a crummy experience turn into a teachable moment.

" We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan."

Romans 8:28