Thursday, August 30, 2007

Land of Make Believe

What an incredible day today was! We had so much fun!!! Every year Uncle John and Aunt Karin give the kids tickets to The Land of Make Believe in Hope, NJ. I LOVE this gift, because it causes no clutter in my house and gives us a wonderful time as a family!!! We usually always go the Thursday after our staff meetings because we are in the area and go with Andy's parents. For those who do not know about this place it is a small amusement/ water park - and I mean small! It is basically built for families with kids 12 and under. There are a handful of rides - some Matt and Sarah love, like the Tilt-a-Whirl and The Twister, and others that Daniel loves - like the cars and carousel. The water park is also small, but has 3 great tube slides, a lazy river, a pirate ship in a shallow lake of water with mini slides for little ones, and a couple of other great water rides. Matt really likes a ride called "The Sidewinder". It's this huge V shaped slide. You sit in a tube and are pushed off the edge and go straight down 75 feet!!! You feel like you are going to fall out of the tube! I really love it, too! We got to go on it twice! Sarah managed to conquer her fear of tube slides and even went down one by herself! That was a great feat for her! She loved them so much she now can't wait for next year!
It was such a perfect day - the weather was just right, everyone was happy and it wasn't terribly crowded! Daniel was a riot as this was his first experience to actually do anything. He has gone the last two summers - at 6 weeks and 13 months, but this year he LOVED everything about the park. He cried every time we had to take him off rides and ran around in the water like a nut! We didn't attempt any of the tube slides, even though he was technically tall enough for them. We thought we would give him another year - though he is so adventuresome, I'm sure he would have loved them!
I have to say that the best part of today was spending individual time with each kid. After having all three by myself for about a week and a half, I was starting to go a little crazy and didn't care to spend any time with any of them!! But today renewed my heart for them and my desire to have their company. I spent the first hour in the water park with Daniel walking around the pirate ship and doing the mini-slides. Then I spent the next hour helping Sarah with the tube slide fear and then the last hour with Matt doing all the crazy water rides. We all ended our day on the lazy river, pushing each other under the different waterfalls and getting each other soaked! As we were leaving, my ten-year-old son held my hand and walked to the car with me! I will always cherish that time!! I realize more and more as he grows into a young man those days of our hand holding are few and far between and someday soon he will be holding another hand. I can only hope and pray that she will be a wonderful, Godly woman.
Tomorrow will be our first official day to do NOTHING!!!!! Our summer has come to a close and I am so thankful! This has been a hard, exhausting summer. One I am thankful for in the fruit it has produced, but it has taken a toll on our family. We are praying that as we go on our vacation in the next few weeks (we save most of our vacation days for September) that our family will be renewed, refreshed and revitalized for the coming ministry opportunities. We will also be evaluating priorities and schedules and trying to figure out how to make life work in Philly. Please pray as we make various decisions in the next month.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

He's Home!

Daddy made it home!! We were all very excited when we heard the door open around 7:30pm. This was much earlier than last year and I am so thankful! The kids will go to bed and get a decent nights sleep before our staff retreat the next three days.

We had a great time up at PopPop and Grammy's last night and today. The kids played and ran themselves silly and then they watched a movie - Firehouse Dog - very cute! While they watched the movie I had to run to WalMart to buy eggs to make deviled eggs for the picnic today. While I was gone just mearly an hour the grands filled the kids up on sugar!!! Ice Cream and pudding!!! In their defense - they are grandparents and are permitted such frivilous behavior - and Matt and Sarah LOVED it!!! Daniel was already asleep in bed! Poor baby!!! Andy wonders where all the ice cream and pudding was when he was a kid!!!

Today was Bethany EC's Sunday School Picnic at Milford Park. It was a lot of fun! The kids went swimming, played games, ran around - just had a great time. I am exhausted as Daniel decided to play tag all afternoon! He crashed as soon as we hit the road - not even two minutes into the ride. He should sleep well tonight.

Now it is off to do yet more laundry and pack for our staff meetings/retreat. At least Andy is home to handle any kid problems and I can focus on getting us ready to go!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The End Is Near!!!

We are almost done with our week alone - Daddy comes home in two days! I, for one, am very excited. I really do not know how single moms do this day in and day out. It is EXHAUSTING doing everything on your own. Just keeping up with laundry, school, discipline, etc. There just aren't enough hours in the day! I will be glad for Andy's presence, so I can at least get something done!!

Today we went to visit one of my closest friends, Donna. We have been friends since our first year of college! 20 years this fall!!! She and I have enjoyed and endured many things throughout our friendship! She knows me so well.....and still loves me! She has six kids ages 10 to 1 year old. For a while there we were having what seemed like a race - she won!!! She had a boy and nine months later I had Matt, then nine months later she had her second son. I then dropped the ball by having Sarah15 months later. Nine months after Sarah she had her first daughter! I, again, dropped the ball and she had two - another girl and a boy. Then I had Daniel and 11 months later she had her last daughter! WHEW!!! Going to her house is always fun with nine kids and two moms!!! Our kids get along really well and enjoy each others company - I hope it lasts a long time!

I was supposed to go to see Andy's parents tonight, but the time this week has flown by and I am so not ready for our staff retreat next week. I need to finish the laundry, pack and leave sometime in the afternoon. It could be a very late night!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fun Day

Well, after an exhausting night, Daniel was up all night fussing, we completed some school and headed off to the Adventure Aquarium in NJ with the Hinsons. The past few weeks I have gone the afternoons have not been very crowded, which is nice when you have a stroller. Today was not the case. You would have thought they were giving away free admission as crowded as it was! We managed to see several of the exhibits, including the hippos - and they were actually moving! In all our visits there, they have always ever sat. It was really fun to see them moving in the water. They kind of bounce along the bottom of the tank floor. They really are amazing creatures! Daniel loved seeing them go! After going through most of the aquarium, we headed outside to see the penguins and then ventured into the Children's Garden. It used to be included in the price of the aquarium, but when the aquarium was renovated they separated. We paid the extra admission and enjoyed the quiet of the gardens! It was so much nicer than the aquarium. They have a great butterfly room, with several different varieties of butterflies. Daniel loved it! He is totally enthralled with butterflies! It was a good day. Now I am tired and I think I will head off to bed early tonight. I have been so busy with school and dinners and what not, I haven't actually been able to deep clean anything! I guess that's a good thing - it means I am sleeping! Only tonight and tomorrow night and then it's off to visit the grandparents! Then Andy will be home! We all can't wait for that!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Interesting Start!

So, being the nice mom that I am (HA!HA!) I thought I would take the kids out to breakfast (McDonald's!). I also needed carrots for dinner tonight. So we stopped off at ShopRite, got in and out and then headed off to McDonald's. Just seconds after starting to drive I heard this weird sound - I thought I had run over something. It was raining pretty hard and thought I missed something sitting in the parking lot. After stopping, I started off again and noticed I had lost my power steering (something very helpful, I found out!) and the battery light had gone on. I called Andy in VA and he determined that the belt had gone. We drove through McDonald's and headed off to the mechanics. I made it there and my constant rescuer, Laurie (she always comes when my car breaks down!), saved us from having to walk home in the pouring rain! The mechanic managed to fix it today and it turns out it was really the tension something or other - what do I know about cars?!?! I enjoy driving it and love it when it words well - curse it when it breaks down! The kids were great and didn't panic or anything - THANKFULLY! Daniel enjoyed the car ride home buckled in a "real" seat! God was so good in his timing as we are planning to go to the Adventure Aquarium in NJ with the Hinsons tomorrow - that would have been BAD! Five kids and two adults stuck on a bridge! I thank God for his goodness!

We had the Darrow's and Hinson's over for dinner tonight. It was so much fun! Three women with eight kids ranging from 12 years to 15 months! 2 girls and 6 boys!!! Needless to say it was LOUD!!! They all get along so well together! I love talking with Laurie and Carisa as we all deal with the same problems - mainly our kids behavior! They really are great kids - but like most parents, we are constantly trying to improve their characters. I love gleaning ideas from both ladies - they are so wise! I am so blessed to have such great friends her in Philly. It sure makes life a little easier here!

By the way, Carisa showed me how to post photos! If you look at the blog titled "Gone!" you'll see a picture of Matt's performance! I hope to get more up in the future!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day One

Andy left this morning for the Teen Missions Trip to Richmond, VA. It's neat for the teens of our neighborhood to go to a mission field and minister to other people as they themselves have been ministered to. Though it is hard for all of us - a week is a long time! - the benefits of this trip to the teens is amazing! Pray for unity and strength among the almost 20 teens and 8 adults this week.

So, while we are missing Daddy, we are continuing to plug away at school. Obviously, Matt and Sarah had other things on their minds. Matt moved as slow as molasses, finishing his schooling at 8:00 pm. Sarah enjoys her free time and plugged away at all her tasks. She is so funny. If you know Sarah she is as energetic and talkative as they come - but when it comes to school work, she loves workbooks and checking off all her assignments. I totally did not expect that when it came time to teaching her! I thought I would have to be all movement and motion, but she has really surprised me in her learning style. The one thing she hates is math, specifically math facts. If you have any great ideas on how to make this more fun, I would love to hear from you!

My friend Carisa and her boys came over for dinner tonight and are planning to through Thursday. Her husband is also on the trip. If I have people I can cook for, then I don't mind doing it. If it is just the kids and I - I HATE IT! Sarah and Paxton had a great time playing together as did Daniel and Kyler. Daniel loves Kyler and before they came this evening was yelling at the top of his lungs "KY! KY!" I hope they develop a good friendship as the years go by.

This past weekend we enjoyed a trip out to Lancaster, PA to join in the Schultz Family reunion. All of Andy's dad's (John) siblings and their families get together at least once a year. It was great to see everyone (about 40 in all), but the neat thing this year was hearing for the first time John's parent's voices. Martha (John's sister) had a tape of Wilbur and Carrie Schultz singing and talking. I had never heard their voices as they had both passed away when I met Andy. It was also funny because they spoke mostly in PA Dutch. John can still speak Dutch and used to tease Sarah with it - it would drive her crazy as a two year old! We'll have to see what Daniel does with it! I so love Andy's family. They are a great bunch of faithful believers and a lot of fun to be around.

Well, I am off to finish planning school. I am trying to plan through the end of September. With most of our vacation falling in September I know time will be short. I hope then to fall asleep so as to be well rested for the kids. Andy usually takes care of breakfast, which is such a blessing! I usually need the morning to get mentally prepared for my kids. Pray for me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Heaven on Earth

Psalm 19:1 - The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

If there is a place that might resemble a bit of heaven, it has to be Andy's parents house. They live on a farm with lots of ground for the kids to roam around and beauty surrounding you wherever you stand. Lois, my mother-in-law, loves to garden and has the grounds looking gorgeous. It is quiet and peaceful - completely the opposite of Philly. We come here to escape, to relax, and to have our children know what grass and dirt are - and boy, do they familiarize themselves with dirt!!!!

Tonight, we came up to visit with Andy's cousin from Iowa. She and her family are in to join the Schultz family Christmas being held in Lancaster tomorrow. We used to gather toghether on Christmas, but then many of the men in the family became pastors and it started to conflict with church responsibilities. So we moved it to the summer - usually around Labor Day. It was great to see Heidi and Ross and their three kids! Sarah and their daughter, Ellie, hit it off great and enjoyed their "girl" time together. They both have two brothers and each LOVED playing with another girl!

While Heidi and Ross were gathering up their crew to leave, we stood at the front of the house overlooking "the swamp", a reedy, cat-tail inhabited, damp area across the street from the house. The cloud formations were so incredible. Huge, cottonball, puffy clouds! The sun was setting and hitting them just right to show their definition. We just stood their fascinated at God's handiwork! I tried to take some pictures, but I am sure they will not do the actual event justice. A short time later, just before bedtime, Lois called us out again to look at the same clouds. This time lightening was flashing around inside the clouds making them light up! It was so incredible! Daniel was "oohing" and "ahhing" and clapping his hands at the show! We again thanked God for the proclamation of his handiwork! Someone once told me that sunsets were the result of pollution in the air. Since then I have always looked at sunsets as a sort of life lesson. God takes something so awful and uses it to create something beautiful - just like our hearts. He can take them and turn something so full of blackness and create a beautiful life of service for Him.

So, while I would love to live here in "Heaven on Earth", I know God has us in Philly for the reason of helping others see the beauty of God's love. But I thank God, and Andy's parents, for the place of retreat when times get tough and we need to regroup!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pool Day

When we bought our house almost 11 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long!) it came with a large above ground pool. It takes up a good portion of our backyard. The people we bought the house from offered to take it down, but we figured we could do that if we found that it just didn't work for us. Well, our children are fish! At this point, it will have to collapse in order for it to come down. We also like to have people over, since we are the only staff that have been blessed with this luxury. So today, Andy woke up and decided we should invite any of the staff over that wanted to enjoy the water on a hot day, as this is probably the last day we would be around all at the same time. Well, the Curry's and Hinson boys all took us up on the offer. So from about 3:00pm to 5:30 pm they all swam. Daniel thought this was great - so many people in the pool at once! He is becoming a regular little guppy in his swim tube. He kicks and swims and loves to throw a ball at the hoop we have set up! Give him a ball and he is a happy kid!

I am so thankful to have a pool so that our kids can learn to be good swimmers. God has truly blessed us in so many ways. So many kids around here are not as fortunate. Our local swimming pool shut down around 7 years ago due to too much violence. Our rec center also shut down shortly after that. There is literally nothing for these kids to do unless they have parents that take them to other area rec centers - a task many parents are not up for. The site where our local pool and rec center are located (right at the end of our block) is now sited to be used to build a new Elementary school. I am upset, not for the fact that it will be right next door, but the fact that it is the ONLY green space in this neighborhood and they are tearing it up to build a school. There are so many abandoned buildings/ factories, but Philly doesn't want to buy new land when they can use land they already own. It is extremely frustrating. It is a never ending cycle of poor planning and decisions. We need a new school, but we take the only grassy area kids have to play. I could see if the new school were going to actually help the education crises Philly is facing, but a new building is not going to solve the major problems they are dealing with. It is a constant prayer of mine - how do we end this vicious cycle? Only through prayer and His strength! Keep praying for the kids and families here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I love Philly because....

....there are so many great things to do here! There are the usual things like the Zoo, the Franklin Institute, the Adventure Aquarium, etc. but about six years ago I was going through a kids newspaper and discovered Summer Stage. Summer Stage is a theater program put on by the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center (UDPAC). Kids from the area audition, rehearse and perform in six different plays throughout the summer.

So started our love affair with theater. I asked my friend with a son Matt's age if she wanted to try it and we have been hooked ever since! The tickets were cheap ($4) and the first show we saw was Peter Pan - perfect for four year old boys! With tickets still cheap (now $6.50) This year we attended three of the six: Charlotte's Web (8/1/07), Alexander, Who Is Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Going to Move (8/8/07), and Suessical, Jr. (8/15/07). Today's was the absolute best of the three! I really love Dr. Suess, but the singing and acting in this play was fantastic. When we went to the first one of this season I was a little disappointed. It just wasn't up to their usual standard, but today's restored my faith. We had so much fun! At one point the Cat in the Hat came and stood right next to Matt's seat! He thought this was great! Since we have found the UDPAC, we have seen a number of different plays, including some put on by USA Theaterworks. If you ever have the opportunity to see a play put on by this company, I highly recommend it! They are fantastic!

We came home and finished school after our "field trip". Matt actually finished by 5:00pm!!!! The last several days have been a battle in completing his work in a timely fashion - usually not getting work done until close to bedtime. Hopefully, today was the turn around point for him. We'll see!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Clean House

It is a sad commentary on my house but it is always cleanest when Andy is gone - and not because he is the one making the mess. Because I can't sleep, I usually deep clean everything I have time for, before I crash from exhaustion. So, at the moment my kitchen, downstairs bathroom and dining room look fantastic! Andy knows when I have had a particulary hard time sleeping because his desk has usually been tackled, which is not the case this time. I think I managed to fall asleep around 3:30 am and was awoken by a car horn at 7:00 am (our lovely city!). I feel pretty good, but the lack of sleep really won't hit until tomorrow.

School has gone pretty well today, though they definitely were not into the "whole day" of school thing. Sarah kept thinking she was done until I said "No, we are doing ....". This did not go over well! Matt had a math test today and that ALWAYS makes life easier, as it doesn't take as long as a regular math lesson. I am a mean mom and require that he do ALL the mixed practice in Saxon - usually 30 problems. But his test scores sure proved that it helped! As soon as he figures out that complaining will get him nowhere, he will get done much faster. In the mean time we will continue to develope his character and teach him to do the best that he can in all things - even those things he HATES - like work!

Daniel has decided he likes heights today and tried to climb EVERYTHING taller than him. At one point I caught him on the very top of our Po'ang (IKEA) chair. Fortunately, it was up against a wall and didn't tip. He thought this was great! He is definitely more adventuresome than my first two! He also discovered today that he LOVES raisins! Couldn't get enough of them.

Andy should be home within the next couple of hours. The kids will be excited, though he has a meeting tonight so we won't see him long. This was good practice as he will be going on the Teen Missions trip next week. Andy's desk may get tackled next week!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The above title is very appropriate for two reasons. The first reason has to do with a major block party that one of our team members and a group from Florida put on yesterday. It was HUGE!! There were a ton of people enjoying the gorgeous day! There was (I believe) a 30 ft. water slide, a small water slide, different carnival games, and several different Christian rap artisits. They also had a "Singing Bee" in which Matthew participated in, along with his good friend and two other girls. They had to sing a song along with the music and when the music was turned off they had to continue singing the lyrics. Matthew sang "Gone!" by TobyMac and he won!!! He was amazing! Andy and I are always in awe at what he does, like performing in public, as he and I would never have dreamed of doing such activities at 10! He is very courageous and even though he was nervous, he went ahead and did his best! As soon as I figure out how to post a picture I'll put one up of his performance. The other reason this title is appropriate is because Andy is gone. He and another team member took about 20 of the pre-teen/ teen boys camping up at his parents' house. Andy usually likes to do several of these during the month of August, but time is limiting him to one trip this year. It is always fun to get the guys out of their element and really focus on them in a more peaceful setting. It is funny to hear their reactions about the country. My favorite one is that it is not safe because there are no police around! Tonight is also suppose to be an awesome meteor shower - something these guys have never witnessed. Though I really hate it when Andy is gone (I don't sleep well), I know that these guys will reap the benefits of this trip and hopefully it will draw them into a closer relationship with God.

Now it's off to finish preparing for school for the week. It is our first official full week of school, adding in history, science and writing. Pray that this week would go smoothly and good attitudes would be found in everyone - including the teacher!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I have to say that I love Friday! Especially rainy, cloudy Fridays, which today has been. I feel calmer, more relaxed and at ease with everything going on in life. My main reasons for loving Fridays are:

1. Ministry is done for the week and Andy is home for three nights in a row!
2. Homeschooling is done for the week!
3. I can finally focus on my house which has been in steady decline since last Sunday.

We now have two weeks of schooling completed. I always find these first few weeks the most difficult because other kids are not in school and major ministry opportunities are still going strong (groups doing VBS, camping trips, Kids' Club, etc.). So, why do we start so early? Because we usually take vacation in September and again in May while ministry is shut down. If we don't start now, we would never get our required days in until the end of June and life is too chaotic to do school in June! So I endure the kids complaining about how unfair I am being and we get into our routine and learn, learn, learn! I really like our schedule this year and am hoping it will continue to work. My only real challenge is Daniel, who at two, wants to do anything but sit down! But we are working with him and teaching him how to play independently for short periods of time.

Well, it's off to do some laundry and clean some bathrooms! YEAH!!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Beginning

So, I have wanted to do this for quite some time, and a good friend has been encouraging me to "just do it!". I am highly computer illiterate and not a great writer by any stretch of the imagination! But I did want to start a journal about the different events that occur in our lives as we strive to serve God here in the inner-city. So for all of you reading this, please forgive me ahead of time, for any mistakes in spelling, grammar, or content. I hope that this will help you see into our lives and help you to pray more effectivley for us and the ministry God has called us to.

Tonight was the Reading Rocks party! Reading Rocks is a summer reading program we hold for kids ages 5-12. The kids can earn points for reading different books and answering comprehension questions. Our big point winner earned herself 495 points!!! We had 51 kids register and earn at least 30 points to qualify for the party. With the help of several churches and friends/family we were able to purchase each child a backpack full of school supplies and one uniform to start off the school year. It was so much fun to see the kids faces as they looked at their new bookbags and supplies. I think it made them a little excited to start school! Matt and Sarah earned points and were able to participate in the party. Even though they are homeschooled they love to pick out their new backpacks! As MK's they don't get to participate in many of the gift giving events, God has blessed them with very loving and generous grandparents, and we try to emphasize the need of the kids in the area. They are understanding for the most part, especially as they get older. But they love this event because they earn their supplies just like everyone else.

Well, hopefully I'll figure out how to insert pictures and make this a more interesting blog to read. I'm going to have to have a tutoring session on blogging - Blogging 101!