Thursday, July 30, 2009

Visual Changes

I'm making a few visual changes to my blog but don't fear, everything is still here. At least, I hope so...Now you've got me all worried...

For those of you bloggers who like to make some changes (most of you are worlds ahead of me anyway) but this guy has some great tips and descriptions with many details.

You know it really kills me that I don't have a picture for this post, oh well, must go get some dinner!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer in the City (and the Country)

Back in June we were able to go to Berkeley Springs, WV to spend a weekend with my dad's cousins and their families. My dad's cousin Chris set everything up at these neat old farmhouses (and one barn) for some 25 humans and three dogs. All five of our family slept in one bedroom at at farmhouse where my parents and my aunt Susie were staying. It was just up a dirt road from the house shown above where another six of the family stayed. This is where we did all of our eating and activities-both of which were well received by everyone in attendance. My kids will not soon forget the artfully placed bowls of peanut M&Ms that were found around seemingly every corner!

One of the highlights of the weekend was definitely a "ghost walk" planned by Chris. Sometime after the sun had completely set and darkness covered the surrounding woods, all 25 of us gathered our torches flashlights and glowing bracelets and set off on a 2 mile roundtrip to the cemetery and back. Some of the group dropped out about halfway but we persevered. No ghosts were spotted although several cries of "CAR!" quickened our hearts and had us heading for the ditch. I hadn't realized the impression that it had made on Mator until a few weeks later, when we were in TN with my family and we were out kind of late. We got back to the house after dark and Mator asked, "Are we going to go on that walk to the church now?" All this traveling is getting her confused!

Another highlight was spending time with second cousins and third cousins and whatever! Fun people! We got to swim in a little pool, have a "Christmas in June" birthday party and swim in the "hot" springs (really only 75 degrees but I suppose that felt good to George Washington!). Doodle was really taken by Cheyanne who was so patient and shared her cool hula hoops with the girls. All the kids loved meeting and playing with Kaia and Merek and were fast friends. Isn't that the neat thing about family? I hadn't seen them in about four years but it was so fun and easy to just hang out together.

Here's the pool that Mator, Doodle and Muffin loved with the view of the mountains:Here are the little elves after celebrating Kaia's 6th birthday with a Christmas themed party(top-bottom: Doodle, Mator, Muffin, Merek, Kaia):The spa at the hot springs- The five of us in one tub along with my parents and Aunt Susie. They heated the spring water to about 102 degrees:Outside the spa were the actual "hot" springs including this one where our first President liked to come and bathe:The springs were channeled through these canals for the public to play in. Here the girls were fishing for minnows and craw-dads.
Now I've gone on and on and will have to write another post about where we went when we left West Virginia (hint: it wasn't home!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Someday, I’ll tell her how hard it was to let go and how her terrified screams broke my heart. But for now I’ll remind her that God is always with us. Someday I’ll express the magnitude of my regret for putting her in that situation. But for now we’ll focus on how brave she was to get back on and keep going. Someday I’ll be able to convey how 20 seconds turned into an eternity as I watched her float down stream out of my reach. But for now I’ll explain how I knew in my heart that the only way for her to be safe was for me to let go. Someday, she’ll understand that even moms make mistakes and the best we can hope for in those situations is that everyone will learn something. I know I did!
Thursday, while in Pigeon Forge, we went tubing. We went with a company called River Rage, mostly because they were the cheapest. When we got there, we were advised that we should take the "lazy river" trip instead of the more intense section of the river. And with the exception of a terrible spot to enter the river (in the middle of the most intense section of that ride) it was a great hour-long float. There were some mini-rapids but mostly it was a float down the river. Mator took turns riding on mine and Andy's lap while Doodle was tied to us and Muffin was pretty independent. We were feeling pretty bold when we finished and were considering doing the more intense section of the river.

There were several factors that contributed to our decision. First, we talked to some ladies who had done that part of the river and they hadn’t even gotten wet. Also, although they highly recommended that we not take that part of the river, the company did not prohibit it. I think what did it for me was the fact that I tend to be a pretty…hmmmm…what’s the opposite of conservative parenting? I’m the one who rolls my eyes (out of sight of the kids) when someone tells me my child is too small (by 1”) to ride a ride. I don’t let my child’s tears get them out of doing something they’re afraid of. When their swim coach gives them a hard time, I don’t speak ill of her, I simply tell them that is her job and it is my job to tell them how great they are doing. I stopped cutting the hotdogs into fingernail sized bites when they were 18 months. I am someone who does NOT want the merry-go-round removed from the playground because someone COULD break their arm on it. What's one broken arm compared to thousands of fun rides? In other words, I don’t want my kids to have irrational fears of this world so I make my decisions that way. This time, we were wrong.

We entered the river at a very calm point and decided that until we had a good grasp on what to expect, I would tie Muffin up to me and carry Mator and Andy would tie Doodle up to him. The first set of rapids was fun but Muffin was nervous. The second set of rapids were tough. Muffin bounced out of her tube and I grabbed her life jacket. But as I held her for that split second, I knew that I was holding her down in the rocks and rapids and if I let go, she would simply float the twenty yards down the river to the slow current where we would catch up with her. But there was no time to explain that to her. And as she floated away from me, her terrified screams were heard by all the campers on the side of the river who were watching. They were also heard by a young lady (probably 11 or 12) who was swimming in the river, looking for her dad’s glasses. She grabbed Muffin and pulled her to the side. Andy got to her first and heard the young lady's comforting voice calming Muffin, “Is that your dad? Here he comes. He’ll be right here.”

The adults nearby came down to check on her and noticed that her shoulder was scraped up pretty good. It turned out that it was a group of Boy Scouts that were camping and, naturally, they were prepared. I left Mator with Andy on the side and followed Muffin up to the camp where a U-Haul trailer was filled with medical supplies. They cleaned her up and sprayed a liquid bandage on it. As we climbed back into the rafts, I yelled up to them a final thank you and said, “You were an answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had to pray!” Needless to say, Muffin was not excited about getting back on the river but we were assured that we had gotten through the roughest part. There really was no choice but to continue to the exit of the river because our only other choice was to walk down the road to the business where we had started and we had no idea how far that was.

So we continued down the river and I was beginning to second guess the choice we had made. The next set of rapids surprised me. I reached over to try and steady Muffin and calm her and then hit a rock with my tube. I fell out of the tube and Mator went with me. The next 45 seconds were a blur for me. I grabbed Mator’s life jacket with one hand and the tube with the other. I kept going under but everytime I came back up I could hear Mator and Muffin screaming. When I pulled Mator close to me, the current pushed me over her, forcing her into the rocks below us. So I pushed her away from me, still holding onto her jacket all the while trying to roll over the tube because it was upside down. I saw my sister in law down the river and wondered if I let go of Mator if she would be able to grab her. Finally the river calmed and my brother had floated up next to us. I threw Mator up onto his lap and she quietly shuddered. I pulled myself onto the tube and looked at Mator. I thought that her leg was broken. From her knee down were gashes in her leg and it looked limp. Muffin was just terrified. We made our way to the side and saw that the river exit for another company (River Rat) was right there.

At the same time, Andy and my dad’s tubes had all but completely deflated and were worthless on the river. I took Mator and Muffin out of the river and gave the others our tubes. We walked up to the River Rat (the other company) exit and I was a little nervous to find that they were closed. So we went to a campground next door and they volunteered to call our company for a ride back. By this time I knew that Mator’s leg was not broken and both she and Muffin were in good spirits, happy to be out of the river. As we waited for the ride, we talked to the campground owner who told us, basically, you get what you pay for. Our deflated rafts were one thing, but she said that the other company would never have allowed kids as young as Mator (and probably not even Muffin) to go on that part of the river since a recent rain had really swelled the river. I don’t blame River Rage, ultimately it was our decision. And it was a bad one. But I would recommend paying the extra $5 and going with the other company.

The one funny thing that happened as we were waiting for our ride was Mator. She looked at me and said, “Who was that girl who saved me?” I said, “That was me, honey”. “OHHHH! I wanted that girl to save me!” She was mad because she wanted the girl who had pulled Muffin out of the river to save her too!

Now, having put it all down for the world to see, maybe someday, I'll close my eyes and not see the river rolling in front of me, see my child floating away and hear her screams and feel completely helpless and guilty at the same time.

My 100th Post

In honor of my 100th post, I will be (drum roll please.......) titling this post "My 100th Post". I should probably set up a pay pal button for all the donations that are going to start pouring in. I'll get right on that...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foster Family Vacation-2009

Tennessee style. Sweet tea and southern drawls accepted here. Yes, this year the Fosters took their annual vacation to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This was actually a repeat destination (different house) from our 2002 trip. That year the kids were 8 months (Muffin), 1 year (Jared), 3 (Justine) and 7 (Jill). This year the kids were almost 3 (Mator), almost 4 (Wilson), 5 (Doodle), 6 (Elle), 8 (Muffin), 9 (Jared), 11 (Justine) and celebrating her 15th birthday, Jillian.

My photographer friends will appreciate this amazing feat. This picture was achieved in one shot on the top floor deck of our house. Seriously. When I saw it I knew that it couldn't be any better (short of substituting a few family members for members of the Angelina-Brad Pitt clan) so I didn't even take any more than this one. Wow!And what a week! Our house was huge, 8 bedrooms, 4 floors-and we used every bit of it with the 16 of us. The indoor pool was freezing the first couple days and then they figured out the heater and it was amazing.

I'll try and make a montage of pictures to post because of course, I took about 300 and once I see everyone else's pictures that number will be gigantic. Be prepared. There will be one edited video of Mator that brought my entire family to hysterics of laughter. I hope the video does it justice!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Will Serve You While I'm Waiting...

A pretty new song by John Waller has been a theme song for our family these last few months. A part of it it goes like this:

I’m waiting. I’m waiting on you Lord and I am peaceful.

I’m waiting on you Lord, though it’s not easy

But faithfully, I will wait. Yes I will wait.

I will serve You while I’m waiting; I will worship while I’m waiting.

When June 30 passed, so did our window of opportunity to travel overseas next year with the Department of Defense. They can still hire through August but for us, we need to know earlier to make plans for our house, Andy’s leave of absence from LHS, pack, etc. So we wait. The beginning of this story is here.

So is it disappointing? Not to me. There is a relief in knowing where we will be for the next year and being able to make plans accordingly. There is no question to us whether the Lord has laid these plans upon our hearts so I am at peace that it will happen in His time. I’m even a little bit excited to find out what plans He has for us here that He wanted us to stay (at least) another year!

We have to acknowledge that there haven't been many times in our adult lives where we've had a desire for something and had to wait for it. At least not something that we believed was worthy and of the Lord. At one point, we were ready for a second child and we had to wait 5 months for that to happen. That seemed like forever but I knew even then that God has a purpose to His timing. I've learned that so many times in my life. In some of those cases, the hurting or sadness of having to wait was still there but numbed by a knowledge both in my heart and head that God is Sovereign. So, this exercise of waiting another year is nothing but good for us and as we look ahead to this coming year I know these words will continue to be in my head...

"I will serve you while I'm waiting, I will worship while I'm waiting..."

And just because I find it difficult to post without a picture:

I took this in Cosby, TN while on a hike through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was looking back into the old growth forest where some of the trees are hundreds of years old. I guess that is a lesson in waiting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Typical Summer Day

Here is a typical shot around our house. Muffin and Doodle are doing nails in the bathroom. They have really gotten along well this summer, very few fights or tears between them. That makes the thought of sending them back to school soon even harder. Doodle will be in kindergarten and Muffin in third grade. Doodle is ready to go today. Muffin constantly asks to be home-schooled. We are actually considering a form of that for her next year. FCA calls it a co-op and for elementary students it basically means that she is either there for the AM or PM. Then is home schooled on the missed subjects. The seems like an ideal scenario for her since it requires her to do some large group adapting but also maximize her strengths by moving at her own pace. We’ve already registered Doodle for Kindergarten full time and I feel sure that it is the right decision for her. We’ll have to decide soon for Muffin. Until then, I plan to enjoy the rest of our days of summer!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sailing Camp - Buckeye Lake Yacht Club

I'm about to go on a blogging spree. I wrote a few entries over vacation and will schedule their posting over the next few days so check back often! Here's a quick one about Muffin...
Muffin has had a very busy summer. In addition to swim team and softball, she also had a week of sailing camp at Buckeye Lake. It was an ideal situation for her to learn the basics of sailing and gain some confidence on the water with a bunch of friends. In addition to her cousin Annabelle, my cousin’s two kids (Ian and Olivia) came in for the week. Also, Annabelle’s friends (Michael, Mattie, Katie and Susannah) who are Muffin’s friends too made it lots of fun for her.

I grew up at Buckeye Lake (well, not literally but I spent A LOT of time there) and had many years of sailing camp-some fun, some not. It is a very long day (9-4) and being an introvert, it was exhausting for me. Plus I usually didn’t know anyone very well and it always seemed like everyone else knew each other. Really, all kinds of camps were a pain for me. I was always anxious to get back home. So I was really hopeful that things would work out for Muffin because she is a lot like me. The weather was great except for one day and having so many friends there seemed to make the difference because on Thursday when I told her, “Don’t worry, we still have one more day!” She replied, “What?!! It is only ONE week?”

Here she is getting an Opti ready to sail. She is putting in the centerboard.

Here she is sailing with one of the instructors. It was a very windy day so she ended up being one of only a few to take the tiller. Most of the other kids just went out with their instructor at the tiller.

Here she is with my cousin's daughter, Olivia. She even stayed at our house for a few nights during the week and the girls had a ball together.

Some days, while Muffin was out on the lake, the rest of us would hang out at the Yacht Club pool. Here is Mator making herself at home with someone's sun glasses!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Muffin is Baptized

Way back in June, Muffin was baptized at our church. At our church, baptism is an outward symbol of faithfulness (Matthew 28:19- "Go and make disciples...baptizing them..") and a testimony to others about your faith. Muffin has asked for about a year and a half to do this but her new confession of faith made it the right time.

Most of Andy's and my family were able to join us for part or all of the service and the celebratory lunch at Pizza Cottage. We are so blessed that Muffin felt a pull to do this and our family was able to join us. Andy's mom had given us some adorable fabric and Muffin really wanted to be able to wear them on the day of the baptism so I was able to make her a top and the other two dresses. Aren't they cute? So easy too!