Jan 27, 2015

What I Am For

1/27/2015 — cori

This song always hits straight at my heart.  It's a constant reminder to live a life of grace, not get stuck in the cycle of self-righteousness.  It's a jarring reminder that we are all in need of God's grace and mercy. Who am I to withhold it from anyone?  My job is to love. Not judge.  One of my favorite lines in this song is, Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge the wounded.  Bam! - another hit at my heart.  Again, it got me thinking, I bet people know more about what I don't agree with than what I do.  Ouch.  What does love look like in my life?  Does my heart break for the things that break His heart?  To be honest, I don't know if my heart can handle that - I'd be in a constant state of brokenness, on my knees, in tears.  Maybe that's exactly where I need to be. Do I look at others through the lens of God's love or through my own, warped lens of what I feel is right and wrong?  God help me.

In the spirit of the song, I want to record what I am for.  I am reminded of Jesus saying, "They will know you by your love", I pray that will one day be true in my life.

1.  I AM FOR LOVE - no restrictions on who deserves it; in all honesty, none of us deserve or can earn it, we are given it freely and therefore give it out freely.  It's a beautiful cycle that just spawns more love.  It is the one thing we all so desperately need.  God is love.

2.  I AM FOR PEACE - between siblings, families, friends, strangers, nations, countries.  It means putting selfish ambition aside, compromising and loving.

3.  I AM FOR KINDNESS - as with love, it goes a long way.  Kindness stops arguments.  Kindness means putting the needs of others above yourself.

4.  I AM FOR FORGIVENESS - What a powerful tool.  I am reminded that I was forgiven before I even knew to ask forgiveness, who am I to withhold forgiveness from someone else.  Forgiveness transforms lives.  It kills the root of bitterness that wants to hold on and destroy your joy and life.

5.  I AM FOR RESPECT - of children, of elders, of parents, of the earth, of animals, of other cultures, of other religions.

6.  I AM FOR NON-VIOLENCE - solving problems without violence can and has been done.  It comes at a huge price often times, but that's the price love pays....it lays down it's life for another.

7.  I AM FOR THANKFULNESS - when you live in a constant state of gratitude it "turns your frown upside down" -  I know that's corny, but true.  To quote Madame Blueberry of the Veggie Tales, "A thankful heart is a happy heart."

8.  I AM FOR GIVING - of myself, my time, my money, my food, my stuff....all I have is a gift.  I hold on to it with open hands, ready to give it away when needed.

9.  I AM FOR HEALTH - healthy choices in food, relationships, taking care of your body and a healthy earth free of pollution.  Greed, laziness, selfishness and ignorance lead to many unhealthy choices.

Jan 15, 2015

Celebrating 16

1/15/2015 — cori

This is Gavin being thrilled with the special cake I made him for this milestone birthday.  Normally, the kids tell me exactly what kind of cake they want and I try to comply to the best of my ability.  But this year I didn't give Gavin a choice.  I told him I had something special for him that I had been planning a long time to make.  It was a huge hit. He couldn't stop smiling or looking at it or commenting on it.  118 mini cupcakes all color coded.  I didn't have room to add the atomic number. But that didn't stop him from knowing exactly what it was.  I obviously did not create a key, but this is the periodic table I copied:

It took my Mom, Dad and me 4 1/2 hours to create this.  It was all about teamwork.  Dad ran off on a mission to get plywood big enough to hold all 118 cupcakes.  I baked the cupcakes.  Mom frosted every single one.  I mixed the frosting to the exact color as the chart and wrote all the element names. We rocked the teamwork.  Dad even created an encoded message using the exact placement of candles in certain elements that Gavin had to later decode before he could indulge in the cupcakes. And none of us could eat a cupcake unless we could name the element on it first.  Thankfully we had a hardcopy with all the names written out or Hydrogen, Helium, Carbon and Oxygen would have been the only cupcakes eaten.


I'm so thankful Gavin loves science as much as he does because we have all come to a greater appreciation of it due to him.  The last science birthday party he had was when he turned 7.  We had experiments going in every corner of the house and in the backyard.  Luckily, this time we didn't have to do chemistry experiments.  The only experimenting going on was seeing how many cupcakes we could fill our tummies with.

Gavin is growing into such an intriguing young man.  All of his loves and interests have always been there, they are just now coming out in more noticeable ways.  He still loves all things math related. Matter of fact, the day after his birthday we were lounging in the family room and he comes up to Chuck and me and says, "Mind if I show you some of the stuff I'm learning in Pre-calc?" He excitedly grabs pencil and paper and starts walking us through a problem.  He is just so excited about it and Chuck and I are equally dazed and confused but giddy that our son wants to take the time to explain what he's learning to us.  What's important to him is important to us - even if we only get 30% of what he's saying.

His goal this year is to build his own computer.  I was going to tell you why until it just now dawned on me that I don't know why.  Why build one when you can go to the store and buy one?  I guess some people find that fun.  He's one of them.  He's also excited about finding his first job.   Lastly, he wants to complete his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

His love of learning is contagious; always has been.  This has been his 'thing', his sweet spot.  He is a complete sponge and soaks up information for the pure joy of it.  He doesn't brag, he has a hilarious sense of humor and he is so incredibly considerate and polite (disclaimer: not to his siblings).  I had no idea what to expect for 16, but he has exceeded any of my expectations.  He is fun to be with, likes to hang out with us , still laughs at our jokes (or maybe he's laughing at us, I don't know) and will sit and have deep conversations with me about a multitude of topics.  He is also incredibly quiet, serious and opinionated.  However, he only speaks his mind when asked and even then, he thinks very hard about what he's going to say before he says it.  I admire that in anyone since it's a skill I lack.  He is not bothered by quiet or being alone.  He knows who he is and is extremely comfortable in his own skin.  

I am lucky to be his mom.  What a gift I was given.

Jan 7, 2015

Winter Break

1/07/2015 — cori
The school calendar dictates so much of our year that it's always a treat to have time off.  It is treasured and guarded and always made the most of.  This winter break was no different.

We took your typical family photos.  Our family at it's most normal.

We visited with my brother and his family who came up for
two weeks of fun-filled, very cold, family activities.

We walked through an Antique Store with the girls.  I kept explaining what things 
were to them.  They were in awe of most of it that they had never seen before.
  At the end they said, "So, most of this stuff is from the 1980's and 1990's?"  
I apparently failed to mention the appropriate time period each item was from.
I guess from their perspective, the 1980's/90's are pretty ancient.

Chuck spent an entire day putting together the grown-up version of Legos - IKEA furniture.
It came in 11 boxes!  Chuck definitely wins "Perseverance of the Year" award.  What we do for love!

And voila!  Only 24 hours later, Chloe now has her very own loft bed. A dream come true.

Speaking of dreams....we gave the boys tickets to see their best friends in Texas for Christmas
for a whole week.  That meant they had to take their first ever plane ride without me.  
They did great and even got bumped up to first class.

Here are the besties celebrating on New Year's Eve with white grape juice.

They also got the added bonus of spending time with very dear friends they've 
had since they were 5 and 3.  I love how their friendships pick up right where they left off.

We went tubing down this awesome hill.  Talk about a (cold) thrill ride!
 
We went to Stillwater to go on a super fun cave tour that included a wine tasting.

 
And we closed out the break ice-skating in circles at the Landmark Center in 
downtown St. Paul.  The temps soared into the mid-30's on this cheerful day.

Jan 1, 2015

A Tale About Wire Cutters and a Christmas Tree

1/01/2015 — cori

Once upon a time there was a wife who was a little frustrated with how her husband put lights in the Christmas tree.  It was apparent, upon close inspection, that he was terribly afraid a strong wind was going to come blow all five strands of lights out of the 7 foot, fake Christmas tree.  So he wound and he wound and he wound those suckers around.  He even tied a knot or two just for good measure.

The wife didn't really care how the lights got on the tree when it was happening because she was knee deep in Christmas tree ornaments and making sure the children only used the pretty ones.  So, she was otherwise occupied or she might have noticed her dear, darling husband trying to sabotage her when it was her turn to take the Christmas tree lights off in 3 weeks.

Then comes the day when the wife has the house and the tree all to herself.  She thinks, "Hmmm...today seems like a perfect day to efficiently take down the tree and put everything away before my beloveds all get home."  So she does just that.  Surprisingly, everything that came out of one box does not fit in that same box when re-packing all the Christmas decorations. Lucky for her, the garage is still littered with tons of Amazon boxes to choose from.  Now she can add one more box for her husband to put up in the attic.  She thinks to herself, "This will make him happy."

Suddenly the wife appeared to loose all her energy and excitement about tearing down the Christmas decorations once she got to the blasted impossibly wound tree lights.  Each branch was weighed down and interwoven like a basket.  Up and under, down and around, inside out, outside in.  The forlorn wife took a few huffy breaths.  She wanted to huff and puff and blow that tree down.  Fake pieces of Christmas tree needles were falling all in her hair.  Her arms were very scratchy from the fake tree needles.  She decided to take a break and call her dear husband to vent explain the situation. She might have used a little drama in her voice and maybe even a wee bit of exaggeration.

Her highly supportive husband laughed at her.  He kept laughing.  She kept breathing huffy breaths. She wanted to keep loving him, but it seemed like he was trying to throw her under the bus with Christmas tree lights.  She doesn't like being under the bus.  She likes to be efficient and clean.  The bus is slow, tedious, dirty, hard and scratchy.  Because her husband is Prince Charming and was feeling a tad bit guilty for his earlier shenanigans he told her some everlasting glorious news, "It's fine with me if you want to get the wire cutters out and cut out the lights."

"Oh my dear husband! You really do love me!" the wife said, "You really do understand the task you so heartlessly gave me to do is truly impossible."  And so the wife did.  She took out those blue wire cutters that are very hard to use and she clipped away.  She was not at all resentful towards her husband but still a little ticked off because it took an exorbitant amount of time.  But they continue to live happily ever after and choose to ignore this little hiccup in their relationship.  However, she sometimes continues to say snarky comments to remind him of his folly.

And so, that is the story of how one middle-aged wife took off the lights on their Christmas tree. Next year, the same wife is threatening to just shove the decorated tree up in the attic "as is" so no one will ever again have to live through the experience of clipping off hundreds of lights on a fake tree ever again.

The end.

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