Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Scrapbooking therapy

Four and a half years ago, our church hired a new youth pastor to come up from Los Angeles. Greg and his wife, Claudia, had two little boys, and another baby on the way. Littlest was a newborn, and somehow I knew that we were going to be fast friends even before we met.

We spent three years working together in the church nursery, sharing our thoughts and feelings about mothering and homemaking, church, education and God. We had playdates and parties. I encouraged her to homeschool, and supported her when she decided to stop. I brought soup and sat with her when her fourth baby had nursing issues, and we had coffee dates when life got too complicated for playdates.

Last week I spent a few days scrap-booking photos for Claudia and Greg and their kiddos. They're moving back to the L.A. area in two weeks to be closer to their families.

Some brilliant person at church decided we should send them off with an album of memories. I offered to do the Sunday School pages, plus a few of my own. I wanted to do something to show how much they've meant to us, and that our friendship won't end just because they move.

I also thought it might be therapeutic. And I was right.

We've had to say goodbye to quite a few close friends in the last three years, and this time I wasn't handling it so well. Maybe it was knowing that they're not the only family we'll be saying goodbye to this year. Other very dear friends are expecting to move even further, and the anticipation makes it all the more difficult. Too many goodbyes, in too short a time.

The album gave me something to do with all that grief.

It felt good to look through old photos, and remember the fun we've had together. It felt good to lay out those memories on a page, to frame and savor each one. It felt good to make something beautiful out of something painful.

I believe in making an effort to keep in touch, and I'm not afraid to pile the kids in the car and drive a ways to see friends. But I also know how hard it can be, as kids get older, life gets more committed and complicated, and people make new lives in their new cities. Visits will happen, but they will probably be less frequent than we'd like.

Sometimes it's hard to let go of my own ideas of what the future should hold, even though I know that God is trustworthy and has a plan for each of us.

I'm grateful for the chance to treasure my friendships by savoring the memories we have created thus far, no matter what the future brings.

And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
--Romans 8:28

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our Irish eyes were smilin'...

Yesterday the boys were up at dawn, looking for clues that a leprechaun may have visited in the night. Mama stayed buried in the covers until each boy had found his pot of gold...

Only after they'd had a fair bit of chocolate did I manage to serve up green smoothies and the bread pudding Eldest made the day before...

Then the Irish music and dancing began...

Have I mentioned how very lucky (blessed!) we are to have homeschooling friends who live right across the street? We love our neighborhood -- where March 17 is a homeschool holiday -- but someone got a wee bit nutty with the green hairspray...

After the requisite photo shoot, we were off on our parade to the bakery down the street. (Bakeries love holidays almost as much as homeschoolers do!)

Remember the story of how St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland? I was very tempted to get some Green Snake Bread...

We always get our share of queer looks and curious questions when we take the kids out on a weekday. Every day is Educate the Public Day! (No, I cannot explain why I let Middlest out of the house with his hair looking like that.)

When we got back, we discovered that our naughty neighborhood leprechaun had made a mess in our friends' house, turning over chairs and scattering green crepe paper and cereal everywhere! I think he was looking for Lucky Charms.

This wee one was satisfied with cheerios...

Back at home, I made up a batch of green playdough for the little boys while the big ones practiced their Irish jig.

Then we headed to park day while my Irish stew simmered. My parents were married on St. Patrick's Day, so we like to help them celebrate!  My mother always sets the most beautiful table...

I hope your St. Patty's Day was full of fun, and not too much blarney!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day traditions

 We have always been a wee bit in love with St. Patrick's Day around here, since long before we actually knew much about the Christian saint himself. Who knew he wasn't even Irish?!

Last year we finally learned the true story of the fifth century Bishop to Ireland, but we still kept up with some of our favorite traditions -- like the Leprechaun hunt.

The year before we'd celebrated twice -- once with friends up the mountain, and then at home on the 17th.

And this post takes me waaaay back down memory lane, to when I was pregnant with Littlest, and we spent a rainy St. Patrick's day eating too many sweets with my mom. We went searching for a pot of gold, but instead found the rainbow.

Do you do anything fun to celebrate the man who explained the Trinity with a shamrock, and brought Christ to the Irish?

Monday, March 14, 2011

All aboard!

Sometimes a good field trip is just what we need to wake us up to the glorious days of spring.

This morning we boarded the San Joaquin passenger train with our homeschooling group for a 90-minute ride to a small town two stops to the north.

The carousel was closed for renovation, and the local history museum was closed because it was Monday, but no matter... We had sunshine, friends, and an expansive lawn on which to spread our picnic lunches.


We filled Hanford's Civic Park with happy homeschoolers for most of our three-hour visit. And then we filled our tummies with locally-made ice cream at Superior Dairy.

On the trip back, the train conductor lent out his hat for photo ops...

Home again, home again, jiggedy-jig...

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