Farm and Family, Musings

Danger, Will Robinson!

I’ll be honest with you. This week, I was kind of in a panic about my post. I had one written out, but it just wasn’t clicking. Then I saw this video suggested on my Facebook news-feed.

Dear Mom,

Thanks  for letting me do most of these things. I don’t think you ever let me drive a car, but I remember when my best friend and I accidentally became pirates with those CD copies, and you didn’t freak out. Thanks for letting dad teach me how to make fire. I wouldn’t be the one and only Fire-Breathing-Pigeon if you hadn’t let your baby strike that first match. I bet you’re pretty glad I never got very good at making throwing spears with my hand-me-down Swiss Army knife. I’m sure it was kind of annoying to find things I had “fixed”.

I realized a while back when I was babysitting, that play like this is nerve wracking. I hadn’t ever been on this side of it before. Play is really a scary thing. It’s so worth it though. When we made see-saws with a brick and a board and then jumped on them, it was the coolest thing ever. Hey look! Physics! Now when I see kids doing the same thing, I’m thinking “Is the board going to snap? What if it slips and they hit their head on the brick?”

I know it feels like yesterday that I was the one of those kids with wide eyes, taking their own lives into their hands. I had a marvelous time. You know that I learn things best by doing them, and you knew that you couldn’t teach me some things. Basic physics, cause and effect, problem solving, simple engineering and mechanics. Playing dangerously and hours of playing Gizmos and Gadgets are the basis of all my understanding of physics and a big part of my love of science.

So Mom, thanks for putting up with me. You taught me more that way than you ever could have with a book. Thanks for learning to be brave. I have a feeling you are going to need to keep being brave for a long time yet. I love you Mom. I hope I can be you when I grow up.

Farm and Family

Beginning Blogging

I frequently see homeschooling moms using the blogosphere in writing assignments. I think writing is fantastic, and blogging is a great way to share what you write and get better. On the other hand, I don’t think blogging should be a school thing. If it is made into one then it becomes a chore. Writing a blog should be encouraged, but not forced. Talk to the child and ask if they want to start a blog. If not, leave it there. If you want them to try writing, have them write a short essay about a topic they like.  If they end up liking writing then maybe your could revisit the idea of a blog.

But let’s say your child is wanting to start a blog. How do you help them get started? Well first you will need to get them set up on a blogging site. The two main ones are WordPress and Blogger. I started out with Blogger and now use WordPress. Both are good, both have different strengths.

For a beginning blogger I would suggest using Google Blogger. It is simple. It is customizable, but not overwhelmingly so. There are more privacy settings. You can make it a public blog, an invite only blog, or a blog that only “authors” have access to. For someone who is relatively good with computers  I would suggest WordPress. Both are great and easy to use, but WordPress can be overwhelming.

Once you have a website set up, just let them write. As often as they want, whatever they want (within reason). I have imported almost every single blog post I’ve ever written to AndieBelle (I lost a few when my website crashed a few years ago and I moved over here). Every so often I go back and read my old posts. There are pages of bad poetry, vague recipes, run on sentences, spelling and grammar worse than what I have now, and content gaps that stretched for the better part of a year. It may not be the best content, but it is what got me started. If you pay attention, I actually still write about the same things, the quality is just usually better now.

Now all you have to do is hand them the reins and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget to comment on their posts and share it with everyone. Comments from adults are the most encouraging to a kid.

Actions in Activities, Camp, Musings, Pictures

That Will Suffice

Sunday they had a Summer Missions ice-cream social at church. I didn’t get to share anything, we started going to this church right after camp, but there were several people who spoke about their time at one camp or another.

There was a lot of the normal “what was the highlight of your time there?”, but there was also a good bit of “what did you learn?”. You may remember my five part series, “Re-assimilating“, about my first time as a counselor at Camp NeKaMo. It was really cool to hear all that God did this Summer.

This got me thinking, what did I learn? I mean, I wrote about what happened and about the adjustment of going from camper to counselor, but what did I learn this Summer, not just at camp, but when we got home and got our sleeping bags hung up?

Even before my two weeks as a counselor began, I was feeling overwhelmed. My lifeguard training is a more obvious example of what I was learning in subtle ways the whole time. I am not sufficient on my own.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can’t do anything on my own.

Everyday, up early to go to Bible Study, full steam ahead all day long, and then try to get to sleep before midnight. It was exhausting. By the end of week one I was so tired I couldn’t think straight (and I have enough trouble with that anyway 😉 ). But, it was so rewarding to pour love into those girls and I feel so blessed to have gotten to be a part of their lives. I had to lean on the Lord. I’m not very confident in my teaching abilities, and I have a hard time praying out loud in front of people.  It was a really stretching 2 weeks.

After camp was over I was trying to find a job. I was pretty much broke and there were no babysitting calls. I never did find one, not even at McDonalds or Taco Bell. Quiz came around. We were talking about goals for the season. I really want to go to Nationals this year. It’s my very last year as a quizzer and I’d like to go out with a bang. I started praying that God would get me to Nationals. I didn’t know how He was going to do it, but the best way I could think of was to give me a job.

I was lying on my bed one night after a long day of babysitting and running errands when I realized something. It was only a couple weeks after I started praying to go to Nationals that I got my steady childcare jobs. As I was trying to fall asleep, it struck me. God gave me a job. It was so amazing to see God answer a prayer in such an obvious way, and so quickly. It really gives me chills. God is so powerful. He listens to us. He loves us.

Me and my Squishy! This picture doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the post, but I love it. Josh is living proof that God does amazing things. 🙂

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do.

Musings

This Side

From this side of the keyboard, it’s pretty exciting. I know it may be tough to fathom from that side, but it’s true. I never know when I’m going to have a random stranger comment or a sudden spike in views.

Most of the time I get on after being away for the day and I find nothing has changed. I don’t have any views or comments. I’m still waiting for someone to link back to one of my posts. It’d be really cool if that happened some day, as long as it was for a good reason. You know, one of those hard hitting, knitty gritty deep posts that people go nuts over. Maybe one day.

Sometimes I come back and I’m greeted with a comment. This always gets me just a little bit ecstatic. That notification, in a sea of notifications, get’s me more excited than any of the others. A comment or message on Facebook, meh, probably not for me since the family shares a Facebook page. An email, probably just a promotional or a message from the library telling me I owe them money. But a comment on my blog? You pretty much just made my day.

Likes and follows are tricky. Most of the time they are just from random people I never hear from again. I’m never really even sure if they actually read my stuff or if they are just fishing. Most of the time it’s just fishing. And then every once in a while, there’s a follow that gets me excited.

There are a few things I’m trying to work on with my writing. I’m trying to step away from the “newsy” type posts and towards the topical posts. You may have noticed this if you have been reading for a while. It kind of just started developing at first. I would be writing, and then I would go off on a tangent. This kept happening. I would be telling you a story and I’d end up with a moral! What? This had always been more of a “letter to grandma” type blog, telling about what’s going on in the family. My blog has been slowly evolving from a friends and family newsletter to a collection of topical posts. It doesn’t really matter if you know me personally now. This may sound cold, but to me it’s a good thing.

I’ve been making mental notes on blogs I consider successful. One of my very favorites is Cynthia Jeub‘s blog. She has really inspired me to share more from my heart. I don’t need to hide who I really am, this is my territory. My domain 😉 . When I first started reading her blog I thought it would have more stories of life with 15 siblings and I was kind of disappointed when I found out it wasn’t. She actually doesn’t mention them all that often. But I like what I found instead much better. Cynthia is humble about her struggles.

One of the things I’ve realized in trying to improve my blog. My posts are way too long. If I am browsing a website and I see that an article is really long, I’m probably just going to skip it unless it looks really intriguing. So I’m working on that. I’m going to have to keep telling myself that it’s ok to be in-exhaustive on a subject. You can always come back later and go deeper. It’s better to be concise and still have their attention by the end of the post, than to fill them in on all the details and be boring.

I hope I never stop writing. It is my getaway. My escape. It let’s me create my own world, or see the real world in a different light.

So, there you have it. The view from the keyboard.

Camp, Musings, Pictures

Re-assimilating; Notes From a First Year Counselor, Part Three: Brand Spanking New

Previous Posts:

Part One: Poisoned by Sol

Part Two: Return of the Ninjas (One of the lovely ladies from camp had a longer clip of Ninja Guard! View Here)

The hardest part about being the newbie on staff is the staff. Everyone already knows each other and has relationships, and here you are. Brand spanking new. I just realized where that term came from! DSCF0375 When babies were born they used to spank them to get them crying, which in turn opens up their airways and kick-starts breathing. While I don’t particularly agree with this practice (doesn’t sound very helpful to me, but what do I know?), this is a great metaphor for how it felt. A small shock after the arduous journey, but still enough to wake you up with a start. DSCF0278

As a camper it’s not hard to know the names of most of the staff, especially the “top dogs”. You look up to them and remember what they say. But as staff you may not remember every camper’s name. There are a lot more of them than you. Coming from being a camper to being on staff was really different. Even with CILT there really is no way to fully prepare. It was really hard for me to get used to being, not necessarily peer level, but working together with these ladies who you look up to as role models. You feel like you know them, but they really don’t know you at all.DSCF0353

It’s like going from standing on the deck of the pool to diving in. Looking down you can see everyone clearly, in fact you are watching them. They are doing their own thing down in the water; aware of your presence as part of the group on deck, but not really you individually. When you jump in you are suddenly no longer part of the group on deck, you are down in the water. The others have been swimming longer, so they already have their routines, but you are just getting started. Are you going to do laps, or are you just going to splash around? You may swim up and start chatting with a group, but you are coming in half way through the conversation.DSCF0251

Some of the staff remembered me from my years as a camper, even though those years were few. There were times when I was having trouble keeping a kind, happy face. Talking with them always helped. Hearing about when they were in the same spot of being the baby. Listening to things that were happening in their lives, things that they remember about me, things that they observed me do with the girls. I’m not sure if any of them really know how much it means to me. I’m often forgotten, it seems. Sometimes I feel like a stalker or a spy. I’ll remember something someone said, and they have no idea who I am. I think this will come in handy someday. It’s very useful at camp. DSCF0236

You have a short amount of time to learn and mesh. Remembering about a girl can make or break the relationship. Not just her name, but specific events, things you share. Like, I remember sitting in a canoe for an hour talking with my counselor. I remember walks up from the pond and who said what. I remember walking to the nurses cabin for a late night headache and what we talked about, and even in the dark the facial expressions. From the position of staff it’s easy to get the mindset of the campers being a  mass. You have to remember that they are individuals, created in the likeness of God and equal with you where it really matters. From the position of a camper it means the world to me if you remember me. I look up to as a role model of what it means to be a woman of God, an expert fire builder, the glue gun guru, or just a really awesome person.

So.

Be careful.

They are watching.

They are learning.

They want your affirmation.

Actions in Activities, Camp, Farm and Family, Pictures

Add New Post

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s really weird. I love that button. I know it must not seem like it from time to time when I abandon my blog for weeks on end. I love getting to start from scratch. A blank field, a keyboard and an idea.

2012 was the shortest year I’ve ever experienced. How could we fit so much in just 366 days? Ah! It must have been that one extra day! I’ve always thought it was neat how leap year coincides with the Olympics and the presidential election.

On February 2nd Joshua David was born.  10 lbs 4oz of boy. He spent a week in the NICU for an unidentified infection. Not only was this our first C-section, it was our first experience in NICU. That week was the longest 7 days of the year, and yet, it feels like a blur. No fanfare. No applause.

In June Meg, Claire and I went to NeKaMo Camp. I went for both weeks, working on my CILT. While it is sad for my years as a camper to be over, I really do feel like it is time. Looking around, I saw girls that had been Challengers my first year were now Explorers. My baby sister was in her last year as a Challenger and my even babier sister was a first year Challenger! I am so looking forward to being a counselor next year, I’m already collecting ideas!  My first year of CILT was the first time I had been away from home for more than a week and I got really homesick. I was thankful to get to go home for the weekend. This year I had so much to do it didn’t feel like more than a few days. I didn’t go home for the weekend, so I only got to see my family during check in for Meg and Claire. Even then I only had a few minutes because I had to go with Rufus and Raven on a nature hike.

The day I remember the best is the very last day. After the excitement of graduations was over. We were on staff. Part of the mysterious club of grown-ups with bird names. We were Ginger, Snow, Raven, Sparrow and Pigeon. We got up early that morning and went to the Staff Bible Study. This mystical thing that our counselors get up crazy early for. It was a cool, misty, early summer morning. The five of us walked to the dining hall and sat at our table; Cabin 12.  Other counselors and staff came in and sat around us, just like it was a normal day. Like we belonged there. I felt like a babe among giants. There was Robin, Ducky, Rikki, Tweety, Grackle, everyone was there. Tross spoke in a tone of voice I had rarely heard before. Like she was talking to adults, not a camp of girls.

After the meeting was over, we started working on CILT Guard. Nearly all the past CILTs, now joined by the 5 of us, came together for the biggest Color Guard I’ve ever seen. Sparrow and Raven were part of an amazing Rifle Guard. It’s really hard to explain the feeling, other than a small fish in a big pond. Or maybe a small Pigeon in a big sky. No fanfare. No applause.

On July 25th I turned 18 years old. Every so often he tells me about right after I was born, usually when he wants me to look him in the eye or when I already am, we’re easily distracted like that. He held me in his arms 18 years ago and said “Hi. Your name is Annie. I’m your Daddy and I love you.” and I looked him in the eye. No fanfare. No applause.

October was a big month. My baby cousin PB was born just a few days after Meg’s birthday. Like Josh he spent some time in the NICU. Shortly after that my Great-Grand-Father died. We drove down to South-East Alabama for the funeral. It was good to get to see Oma and all the relatives, except for the reason. We got to go down to Panama City Beach while we were down there, something we haven’t gotten to do in a few years. It was raining, so we didn’t get to swim. I had never seen the beach in the rain before. It is so unlike anything I can describe. Such a lonely, roaring peace. There was no one in sight. The ice cold rain poured steadily. The surf was balmy. The constant roar of white caps. The gentle patter of the raindrops on the sand. Peace in the midst of such an emotional trip. Once we got done on the beach, we were soaking wet, and some of us were in regular clothes. We went over to a Walgreen’s and changed clothes, some of us into real clothes, some into our dry swim suits. On the trip back we home stopped for ice cream at Peach Park. No fanfare. No applause.

Who would be surprised that November was a big month. In the flurry of political hype, it’s good to remember a few things. These are real people. Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, just like He did for mine, and hopefully for yours. This is all going to burn. No matter who wins what and who is in what office. Jesus Christ is Lord of all. That means all kings, all rulers, all presidents, all offices. Everything. And in the end, that is all that matters. I voted for the first time. No fanfare. No applause.

This was PB’s and Josh’s first Christmas. We are SO blessed to have these precious boys with us, especially after their bumpy starts.DSCF8674 No fanfare. No applause.

Forget New Years Resolutions. Add New Post. No fanfare. No applause.