Last Day of School

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The past month has been a whirlwind. In spite of the fact that I was feeling a bit off (see my post on depression), I had to just chug on, as life just seems to move forward whether we want it to or not. So while I seriously wanted to curl up in a ball with my comfy, cozy blanket and read a book, sleep, or watch netflix until the tv checks to see if I’m still alive, there were mom duties, church duties, and WORK duties. And work this month – ohmygoodness. I had 248 orders in May – that’s 8 orders a day. It was busier that Christmas last year. Or ever, actually. While I sure love the business, it’s been hard to find the time to work as well as parent and recover from the Tea that went awry (again, another post). As of today, my orders are more of less caught up – nothing due out until Friday, though I am trying to get orders out faster than my eta is stated to be. I have 60 orders currently in my queue. I’ve been meeting for VBS (and other church ‘things’) and trying to deal with family struggles.

But in the midst of all this, today was a nice breath of fresh air. After an agonizing decision about whether or not to hold our daughter back or send her into kindergarten (it totally wasn’t a tough decision at all), we decided she’d benefit most from a year of transitional kindergarten (TK), so she’s staying at the same preschool, with the same basic guidelines, leadership, etc. Some of her classmates will be the same. Her teachers will be different, but it will feel familiar. Her two best friends, on the other hand…one is moving to kindergarten. One is doing home-school TK next year – both great choices for those kids! However, today was the last day of school, and that always brings … emotions.

For me, it was sweet. Her teachers were sad to see their kids go. One teacher is getting married (yay!). The kids were SO CUTE in their “patriotic parade” shaking their shaker things (filled with rice or beans or whatever), wearing their red, white, and blue, and marching and waving at the HUGE CROWD (of parents). Their were hugs and gifts, thank yous and photos. Then we were ready to head home. It was pleasant. A nice way to end the school year and start the summer.

last dayFor the parents of my daughter’s friends, the emotions ran a lot higher. There was the realization that the babies weren’t babies any more. That they were headed to real school, leaving their friends, leaving the safety of preschool. After saying goodbye to their teachers, the three girls ran around the corner, stopping at the three yellow poles that mark the end of the corridor, and we all got a bit choked up – the last time these three would run together and play like this. Sure, there will be play dates and visits, but this – THIS EXACT THING – will never happen again.

But that’s silly. This moment (meaning me typing this post outside while my daughter plays in her pool and sandbox) will never happen again. She will always be a little older (as will I), a little different. Things will change, relationships will grow, people will drift apart. While I may feel a brief sadness at the thought of time passing, I look forward to the future, and what joy and promise it holds.

And I do have to say, I am glad of our decision to hold her back another year. Being an adult is hard, and I’m glad our kid has one extra year of being a kid.

Happy Birthday to Me

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I turned 30 this week. We’d all been feeling so sick we just weren’t up for really planning anything, so we weren’t going to do anything big at all. We finally started feeling better by Tuesday, so we decided at the very last minute to invite anyone over who happened to be free. We had a couple close friends from church come over for dinner and wine and had a fantastic evening. Even though my very best friends couldn’t be there, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate turning 30.

Oh, and my husband got me a real phone. I had a lovely flip phone, which was totally fine with me, but was causing a bit of a problem with me being able to use instagram or square for my business. Now with my new fancy phone, I can do all sorts of things – like take selfies (ha, yeah, right.)

VBS 2013 Roundup

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This year my daughter went to three VBS programs. If you don’t know, VBS stands for Vacation Bible School. Now, I didn’t plan on her going to three. I actually planned on her going to one of them (our church). But when her school ended, she was so sad to be saying goodbye to her friends, I thought she’d be happy to go back to her school and see them again. Then came our VBS. By then, my daughter decided she loves VBS and wanted to go to another one, so I drove her down to my best friend’s church a few weeks later. These three programs could not have been more different, though here were – of course – similarities.

Her school’s VBS was HUGE. There was a check-in every morning. And by check in, I mean they have bar codes for the kids who regularly attend church there: codes with allergies, contact info, and all sorts of stuff. We guests had to use our names and get a new sticker tag every day.

School VBS

Their program was a purchased program: Kingdom Rock. I stayed for the intro every morning (the skit, offering and song). They had spent a good deal of money on decorations, and they had some really neat handmade ones – duct tape gates, wooden drawbridges, and solo cup lights in the halls. They had some great music, and the skit – while simple – was great for the kids to understand. The first day we went, I found my daughter in the class with the 3 year olds. She was sad she wasn’t with her friends, was shy and nervous. I went into her classroom with her and she clung to me nearly in tears. It took 15 minute to extricate myself, and when I did, I headed straight to the main office to beg them to move her to the 4 year old class (she was only 5 days away from turning 4). The class was full, but the director moved her graciously (probably because I was a sobbing hormonal mess). I walked back with her, pointed out my daughter, and watched her get moved and feel MUCH better about her new class. At the end of the day, my daughter came out of the class saying, “Mom, YOU made a mistake and put me in the wrong class.” Gee, you’re welcome for getting you what you want. Ah well. The rest of the week went great! Some simple but fun crafts, and a lot of good stories. The stories worked really well from this VBS – my daughter could really explain what she learned that day.

Missions Moment Mongolia

I always volunteer with the first grade class since they have the same schedule as the little kids (out at noon), so I can be there at the same time as my daughter, but not in the same class as her. The first grade class makes the kids a book that goes home at the end of the week with all their coloring, stories, verses, etc. We also always do groups: coloring, craft, verse, scrapbook, and me. My group is always weird – one day of music, one day of games, one day disappears (for whatever the special event is), and then 2 days of dress up and me taking pictures of the kids for their book. I always do a Bible dress up and a theme dress up.

Clue Characters

This time I did color dress up – so one kid dressed in green, one on red, one in blue, etc. They had tons of fun, and the pictures were awesome. We also practiced the music, had games in the gym, got to hear stories in the morning, and I did a puppet show right before they left at noon. On Friday, they even got a magic show by one of the guys in our church! My daughter had about the same experience, only toned down to a 4-5 year old age level. We had a great time but were thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week. Our VBS was awesome for crafts and for songs – the hand motions really stuck with the kids. My daughter’s teacher made them a color wordless book, and my daughter was singing the song all week (and still sings it).

Kingdom Rock CastleAnd that brings me to the final VBS – my best friend’s. She goes to an Anglican church about 25 mins from here. This was during the time we had our Chinese students here, so I dropped them off, then drove down to her church (and arrived a bit late). It was great for me since I was stuck away from home for a few hours, so I went to a coffee shop and wrote. It was great to have some peace! Anyway, their VBS was also Kingdom Rock, but they had ordered the program, looked at it, and changed it completely – they kept the theme and that was about it. someone had made a really awesome cardboard castle that was like a fort, so the kids could crawl through it; one of the last days of the week the kids got to color the inside of it, which was super exciting. It was small, so it was way more personal. There were 38 kids total (there were 34 in my first grade class at our church!), so they split them into 4-5 groups and passed them between dress up, crafts, stories, games, lesson, etc. One day they walked to a park, one day they walked to the beach, and the last day they ‘battled’ a bouncy dragon. This VBS did an awesome job with songs – my daughter was singing them every day.

Which brings me to my favorite part of VBS. My daughter loves the songs and sings them all the time everywhere. She teaches them to everyone willing to listen. When we had Air and April here, my daughter came home from my friend’s VBS singing

Don’t build your house on the sandy-land, 
Don’t build it too near the shore, 
Well, it may look kind of nice 
But you’ll have to build it twice, 
Oh, you’ll have to build your house once more. 

You better build your house upon the rock,
Make a good foundation on a solid spot. 
And though the storms may come and go,
The peace of God you will know. 

She INSISTED on teaching the Chinese girls the song, and they ended up singing it with her. Because they were singing along, I figured they should know what they were singing, so I explained the parable about building a good foundation – found in Matt 7:24-27 (among other places). It was great to have a reason to talk about Jesus without the pressure of evangelizing.

Cookies! (okay, and other things)

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Yesterday I got to meet up with one of my best friends / former roommates / bridesmaids (yes, same person). After a crazy hectic day and  of running around all morning (to prep for a new venture! More info coming soon!), going to the Fiesta Hermosa (Never again!*), I drove up to Westwood to meet up with her.

So first we go to Native Foods. I went there once when we were in college (UCLA, hence Westwood), and I remember it being good food, but odd. My friend was there all the time. Now, being gluten-free, it was like a paradise! So many choices! Good prices! Quality food! YAY! We chatted for a long time (why would you go through the hell of Law School then a big law firm THEN decide to switch careers? I do not understand. Well, I sorta do, if you want a family. I love you friend, even when you confuse me.), had watermelon water, and yummy peanut butter parfait for dessert, then went out walking.

You see, when you visit Westwood, there is always one required stop: Diddy Riese. If you have never been and you live anywhere in the SoCal area, you should make sure to stop by next time you pass UCLA. Their prices are ridiculous. I mean seriously: a dozen cookies for $4. Or an ice cream sandwich (with fresh baked cookies) for less than $2. You cannot beat that.

So my friend and I waited for more than half an hour. You know how at In-n-Out (okay, and other places, I’m sure), the line is so long it sometimes blocks the next driveway and there are signs saying “Please don’t block the driveway” ? – Yeah, Diddy Reise was the same, only it was a standing line. People were all the way past the store, past the next driveway, crowding the sidewalk. It was the place to be.

I got my 2 dozen cookies (because if I waited in line I was bring a serious prize home) for $8 exactly – no tax! –  and we went back to our cars and said goodnight. My husband called and asked if I was on my way home and if I had, indeed, bought them cookies (remember, I’m GF and not supposed to eat them) … I wonder how he knew I’d stop there. Anyway, so I said yes, he kept our daughter up late, and she got to enjoy the glory that is Diddy Reise cookies. (I also maybe ate one of the cookies because MEMORIES, COME ON! It was totally worth the migraine and stomach ache – this time anyway.) There are still more than a dozen cookies left (my husband took some to work) in case you are wondering. And I haven’t had more than one. Just FYI, nosy people. Eesh.

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The only other thing I have to note about our visit was that it was very odd visiting the place I went to college. I didn’t feel much older than a lot of the people I saw walking around, but I could have been 10 years older than some of them. And they were out studying for tests, talking about classes, etc. It was a whole different world. Very odd to be back and visit with things so similar and me so very different.

 

* Okay, so we might go back. Sometime. I had a hard time enjoying myself with the heat, the impossible parking (“YAY we found one! Oh, it’s only an hour. …They’re ALL only an hour. … Are they giving tickets? … Yes they are.”), the 3 year old with her face slammed into people’s rear-ends (I mean really. I picked her up most of the time to avoid it.), and the people groping (yes, fully) each other in public, I was done. I loved the booths and the stuff for sale though!

I also think I have a bit of an issue because now I go to fairs/festivals and think: “I want that for my booth!” “That’s a good display.” “This has good attendance; I could sell lots of things.” “That store is getting no one – why?” I think I have a problem.

Retreat – Ropes Course. Part 1: The course.

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The most thrilling part of the retreat was the ropes course. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it to begin with – I don’t particularly hate heights, but I don’t love them either. I figured if I could find someone else from our church who wanted to go, I’d go with her. On the drive up, I asked the ladies in my car – no, thanks. At lunch, I asked the women around me – are you crazy? In the cabin I asked my roommates – um, maybe when I was younger! By dinner I had about given up, but tried one last time – yeah, I’d love to. … Wait, really? … Yes! WhOO!

We signed up for the 1:15 course – just enough time to eat a quick lunch and run out to the course. There were a bunch of ladies out there – anywhere from their 20s into their 50s. I actually talked to a lady at dinner who was 72(!) and tried the course. I want to be like that when I am that age. How awesome. Anyway, when we got there, we were greeted by this sight:

Ropes course overview

There were 30 ladies at the 1:15 time (another 30 at 3:30). A young guy (college-aged) gestured, “Hey, I need ten of you with me!” No one moved. “Come on! This is the cool group!” So Sarah and I, along with 8 others moved over to the guy, whose name was Stephen, we later found out. The other two groups were directed to other areas of the course.

We got suited up with the harnesses and helmets (they were adjustable!) and got a quick training course. Then we scaled a tree to start on the bridge. Sarah and I stood there lamenting the fact that we didn’t have any friends from our church to watch us (and take pictures!) when one of our friends showed up! I handed her my camera and she started snapping. Soon after a few more friends came. They told us we were more interesting than the arts and crafts and other things going on around the camp (yeah, because we were terrified.)

the bridge

As we were waiting in line looking up, we were all thinking, “Pssh, that bridge looks so easy!” Yeah, we got up there and it was a foot step DOWN, plus there was a gap between the tree and the bridge. NOT EASY. SCARY. But it was nothing compared to what was going to come after. NOTHING.

About this time I looked over at the rest of the course. Those other 20 women who were too scared to go in the first group? – yeah, they got the scarier parts of the course immediately. “Hi, welcome to Ropes. Climb up this tree and jump off the platform. Don’t worry, the harness will catch you. Okay, go!” I was so very thankful to have started with the actual course and work my way up!

So I made it past the bridge, which was, in fact, quite easy – just not as easy as I’d expected. The next past was a slide swing thing. It was super fun – run and jump in, then pull yourself across the rest of the way.

wood & ropeNext came the rope/wood/rope/wood/rope. It didn’t look so bad from the ground (mistake 2!). Once I got up there, I realized the wood was hanging by the top, and the bottom was swinging free. So the choice was either to stretch between the ropes or hang on to a swinging piece of wood for dear life. I chose the wood – Sara chose the rope. (Sara was ahead of me, by the way.)

Next was the hardest part of the entire course. They called it a Tarzan swing. You needed to grab the rope and swing yourself to the platform, then do it again. We watched several ladies go before us and they fell cleanly into one of two categories: 1) brave and swung across easily, and 2) terrified and tried to walk across (it didn’t work – the cord above was at an angle). So we figured it must be easy if you gave it your all (mistake 3). Sara went first since she was ahead of me. She was a bit nervous for this one. I remember she turned to me and said, “Aren’t you scared?” I smiled at her and said, “Oh, yes, terrified. But talking about it makes it worse!” She laughed. I then put my hand on her shoulder and reminded her “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I went right after her, clutched onto the rope, and swung with all my might – slamming my leg onto the platform as my hands slid down the rope. OUCH. I managed to catch my feet on the platform and pull myself up (barely), but it was HARD. Then I had to do it again. Luckily the second swing was a shorter distance. Oh, that part was awful.

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After that my leg was hurting (I’ll post the picture of my bruise later), but I still had 2 more obstacles (well, plus getting down!). Unfortunately, I don’t have good pictures of these. (Not of me on them anyway.)

end of course

Next was the hanging ropes – they were like jump ropes. You needed to stand on one, then swing to the next. That was my very favorite part! I loved it; it was like standing on a swing at a park – only 20 feet in the air.

Next came the net. As we were waiting, Stephen said, “So we have a kind of competition going on. Instead of just climbing across, we’re seeing how far you can jump. I asked what the furthest square jump was and he wasn’t sure – 6 or 7? I said I was aiming for maybe 3. I got 5! It was fun.

Finally we needed to walk across a tightrope holding our yellow straps above our heads. We needed to make it to the center tree in order to be lowered down. I kept looking down at the ground and moving slowly and Sarah yelled, “Don’t look down, just walk! Its easier!” I yelled back, “I’m looking down because this view is amazing. I cannot believe we are walking up this high.” Being lowered down was kind of scary because I wasn’t in any sort of control – I just needed to trust the girl who was lowering me. But it was fine.

There were two more sections of the course, but this post is long enough already. I would like to add I was super impressed with Stephen (again, just a college aged student). He pushed those of us who were a bit braver, and for the ladies who were a bit scared, he allowed them a chance to try to recover themselves before going in to help them at just the right moment. I was very impressed with his maturity and guiding hand.