Tuesday, January 18, 2011

After Four Years and 1,479 Posts, It's Time

Time to say goodbye?

Not exactly.  After all, goodbye is so final.

How about this:  I'm moving!!!

That's right.  After four fantastic years of blogging here at Life on Sylvan Drive, the itch to move got hold of me, so this will be my last post here on this site.  My new site is here.  ;-)

If you've been around for long, you already know that I rarely do giveaways--once a year when my blogiversary rolls around, and maybe when a new baby is born--that's it.  However, since this is the anniversary of my very first post {which seems} so long ago, I'm excited to do a giveaway now to thank you, my readers who have truly become friends, for walking down Sylvan Drive with me.

The prize up for grabs is a $20 gift card to Christianbook.com, and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post OR a comment on the first post of my new blog (or leave one on both, and you'll get two chances to win).  Make sure I have an email address for you, so I can send the gift card electronically.  I'll randomly choose a winner on Friday, January 21.

It's been an incredible, life-changing journey these past four years.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you, friends--and goodbye see you around!!  :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jeff's Customers Really Like Him

They must anyway!  They sure give him a lot of stuff!  :)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some things they've given him through the years:
~ garden produce - this is a given; when you live in a gardening community, you're going to be given extra tomatoes and cucumbers and zucchini and whatever else the grower can't use up  :)
~ oranges
~ corn-on-the-cob from a "famous" local stand
~ pumpkin bread
~ tickets to the circus
~ a free ride on Cass Scenic Railroad
~ clothes for the boys
~ clothes for Jeff
~ clothes for me
~ puppies  :)
~ venison
~ bear meat

There are definite advantages to being an old-fashioned, small-town barber!

Saturday, Jeff called from work and announced his latest gift:


My thoughts raced, "Ducks?  DUCKS?  Why would someone give him ducks?  Don't we have enough animals around here?  And where are we going to put them?  We don't have a pond!"

Then he clarified:

Dead ducks.

My thoughts took off again, "Oh, duck meat.  Somebody shot some ducks and cut them up and gave Jeff some of the meat.  He'll bring home some Ziploc baggies of duck meat; and although I don't really know how to cook duck, we'll figure something out.  I can look up some info on the Internet."

I still didn't have it quite right.

This is what those ducks looked like:
Not exactly nice neat baggies of meat.

Jeff was not discouraged.  His little boy tribe gathered around him and watched as their Daddy-Who-Can-Do-Anything did...well...something to the ducks to get some meat to grill for dinner.  The boys thought it was grand.
I, on the other hand, didn't enjoy it quite as much.  I'm not a vegetarian, and I've lived in the country long enough and spent enough time during my growing-up years on my grandparents' farm to know, for example, that the delicious fried chicken Grandma served for dinner was pecking around the barnyard just the day before and the juicy steaks we enjoyed recently came from the steer whose dark brown eyes I gazed into last summer.  It's the cycle of life, and I get that.

But these ducks were so pretty!  In a flash, I turned into one of those kinds of people who doesn't mind eating meat, but would rather buy it wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store, and who doesn't want to think too much about where it came from before that!
If only Jeff's customers weren't quite so generous!  ;-)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm Having a Nightmare about a Summer Vacation

Yesterday's post stirred up all kinds of memories for me, and Emily's comment stirred up even more.  :)  I tell ya, for all the fun and excitement that vacations bring, there's an awful lot of work involved...and some not-so-fun moments.  Now that I've got six months under my belt, it's easy to laugh as I look back on the unglamorous moments from that vacation; but I wasn't laughing so heartily then!  Wanna laugh along with me? Here are some of those moments:

~ Shav pooping in the bathtub four - FOUR - times in a row...I was attending one of the evening sessions with Josiah and David, and Jeff was in the hotel room with Tobin and Shav...the boys were in the tub, Shav pooped, Jeff got the boys out, cleaned the tub, put the boys back in to clean them up, Shav pooped...this happened four times...selfishly I was very glad that I happened to be at the evening session that night!...did I mention it was four times? ;-)

~ injuring my toe...who would have guessed that a little toe could produce so much pain?

~ sitting on the floor of the tiny bathroom at 10:00 PM with Tobin in my arms and the light turned off...Shav was having *somewhat* of a difficult time going to sleep the first night in the hotel, and so was Tobin, imagine that!...Tobin's every noise made it worse for Shav, and since I was alone with the four boys (since it was Jeff's turn to go to a session), I decided the easiest thing was to take Tobin into the bathroom where Shav couldn't hear him...I sang in a whisper to Tobin as I cuddled with him in the bathroom, until I was sure Shav was soundly asleep...not the most comfortable environment for cuddling, but at least it worked!

~ putting Shav down for an afternoon nap in the playpen we took with us, then putting Tobin on the floor between the wall and a bed...he had a pillow and a blanket...then I laid down on the floor with another pillow and blanket to block his escape so he couldn't go over and "visit" Shav...laying down on the floor makes my back hurt almost instantly, but it was a small price to pay for giving Shav the ability to go to sleep...sleep is golden, in such situations...Tobin never did go to sleep there, but later after Shav was snoozing, I let Tobin wander around the room and play quietly (which he did a really good job of)...he finally fell asleep standing up!

~ I've already mentioned the difficult afternoon we had on Friday of that week:  trying to enjoy the Creation Museum while dealing with missed naps, an unruly toddler, terrible heat, and sour attitudes...sleep was such a relief that afternoon...doesn't David look like a little angel here?  :)

~ after those calm-producing naps, we went out for dinner; but while there, Jeff started feeling really poorly...he actually got horribly sick, and spent most of the night making trips to the bathroom...we were planning to take another day of vacation and come back through Ohio, but we ended up heading home a day early because he was so miserable and we just couldn't wait to be home...we weren't sure how to get home however, because of his frequent need for a bathroom  :)...the thought of towing an outhouse suddenly became appealing!...but in the end, God granted sweet relief to Jeff so that we could make it home without too many stops  :)

~ we did have to make one unplanned stop on the way home...Tobin threw up, adding to the "adventure" of it all...we stopped at a rest area and did our best to get him and his carseat cleaned up before hitting the road again for home

~ the mess in our car was horrendous...there was stuff everywhere, and my neatly-packed suitcases with which we started our journey somehow vomited their contents all over everything...add to that the germs and smell from the sickness, and it was pretty nasty...Tobin's throw-up was just the "icing on the cake!"

By this time, we were sort of throwing our hands up in the air, laughing at how ridiculous it all was, and wondering what else was going to happen.  No wonder home was so attractive to us when we finally arrived! When we got home, got everybody into the house, bathed and put the kids in bed, and emptied the car, we decided that we didn't want any more vacations any time soon!!!  :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Summer Vacation

In the almost four years that I've been doing this blog, I've learned a few things about myself.  For one thing, I've discovered that I rarely do a good job of posting pictures and writing about the vacations that we've had. You'd think that such exciting events that are really a highlight of the year would warrant considerable blog space; but for some reason, I never seem to get around to doing thorough posts on them.  I'm sure that's caused by the fact that when I come back from vacation, life is extra busy for a while as we unpack, catch up on laundry, and get back into the swing of regular life, so it makes sense that I wouldn't immediately devote much time to posting about the vacation.  But shouldn't I get around to it sometime??  :)

So, in an effort to correct that tendency, I'm sitting here on a cold winter's night, working on this post that I started half a year ago, relishing the sight of these pictures of knobby little boy knees sticking out from shorts, remembering how easy it was to dress the family back in the summer, feeling the sticky weight of July heat that made popsicles so appealing, being astonished by how young all the boys looked just six months ago, and hearing again the laughter that comes from time away, especially with friends!

Because so much time has passed, I'll give a few basic facts about our vacation again.  We, along with two other families, traveled to Tennessee to the Defending the Faith conference held there.  We stayed at Wilderness at the Smokies, the hotel directly connected to the conference center, and we had an absolute blast there.  We definitely took advantage of the fact that our stay at the hotel included free admission to the waterparks.  :)  After the conference, we headed to northern Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum before returning to Virginia.  That's the condensed version.

Now I'll expand on that...  :)

I loved the architecture and design of the hotel--very neat and attractive and appealing to the eye.  When we first walked in our room, I thought, "Oh, this is great!  They did a great job decorating this!"  By the end of our time, I was still enthused about the decorations, but less so about the size of the room.  Six people in that room for a few days felt very cramped, and it also got pretty smelly.  Really, all it takes to smell up a hotel room is one poopy diaper; and you can be sure there was more than just one during our time there!  :) 

One of the highlights of staying in a hotel for our boys is the chance to watch TV, so we turned it on some for them while we were there, but we didn't want them to veg in front of it the whole time.  Tobin discovered that a chair pulled up to the sink and a plastic cup provided great entertainment.  :)

We had a little refrigerator in our room, and we had taken some food with us so that we wouldn't have the expense of eating out for every meal.  Granola bars, nectarines, plums, chips, etc. - basically, just munchy stuff, but stuff that we could fill our tummies with nevertheless.  After doing that for a little while though, we decided one evening to go out for a "real" dinner, and we ended up at Bass Pro Shops.  It happened to be Shav's birthday, so he celebrated turning one by going to Bass Pro Shops.  :)

I can't remember what we ate, but I do remember that it tasted SO GOOD.  After having lived on munchies for a while, that hot meal seemed incredibly delicious.  :)  I remember that it took a while for the food to come, but there was plenty to look at while we were waiting.  David looks enthralled...  :)
No wonder!  This was the view!  Lots of interesting things to look at, for sure.  :)
Family times are a treasure.  :)

I'm sure if I woke up Josiah and David right now and asked them what they liked best about our vacation, they would say, "The waterpark!"  But close behind that on their list of favorite things from our vacation would be their encounter with this man.
Buddy Davis, the one and only!  :)  My boys knew of him from videos we'd borrowed from the library, but to be able to see him in person and shake his hand and participate in the kid's classes he led and listen to him perform his music and buy one of his CDs (Josiah saved up money to take along on the trip, and with that money he bought a Buddy Davis CD) and, yes, take this picture with him - well, that was terribly exciting for my boys!  During the days we were there, we happened to run into Buddy several times in the hallways of the hotel and conference center; and each time, I could feel the shiver of excitement run through Josiah and David.  Each time, Buddy was unfailingly warm and gracious.  His kindness was definitely a highlight of the trip for Josiah and David!

Of all the speakers that we heard at the conference, a few stand out even to this day in my memory.  Ken Ham, of course, is very articulate; and I enjoyed his presentations very much.  I also enjoyed the lessons given by Voddie Baucham...
Wow!  What a speaker!  I had never seen or heard him in real life before, so I didn't really know what I was in for; but I found my attention captivated as soon as he began to speak.  And the best part?  We didn't simply enjoy his lessons and feel encouraged; we were challenged by them.  That's what we were there for--to learn, to grow, to be challenged--and Voddie did not disappoint.  Excellent, excellent, excellent!

I didn't take a picture of either of these men, but two others were particularly noteworthy in my mind.  One was Dr. Jason Lisle and the absolutely amazing facts about space that he shared.  Without a doubt, "the heavens declare the glory of God," as Psalm 19 tells us!  The other was John Elliott, a musician who led in worship at various times during the concert.  The first time we heard him, he taught the audience a song he wrote, "Yet I Will Rejoice."  I loved it immediately, had to buy the CD it was on so I could bring it home with me, and have listened to it innumerable times since then.  Besides the beauty of the music and the power of the words, it is also so meaningful to me because of all the memories of the conference that are tied up in it for me.  All I have to do is hear the beginning of that song, and I'm swept back in time to that conference and the glorious bliss of standing in that huge hall and singing that song with so many others.  Incredible!

Before we went, I was not at all sure how our two little guys would handle long days of meetings so Jeff and I set our expectations low, as far as how many of the sessions we would actually be able to attend, and hoped for the best!  As it turned out, we were abundantly blessed by the help given us by the families we traveled with and the many willing hands that would reach out for a squirmy Tobin to entertain or the handles of a stroller that needed pushing so Shav could fall asleep.  Those two families have lavished us with helpful service so many times, so I shouldn't have been surprised...but I was.  :)  I was grateful for sessions where I could actually sit up front, open a notebook to take notes, and pay attention to the speaker--what luxury!  :)

There were other times, however, when it was just easier to park myself in the back of the huge room with Tobin and Shav, so that they (particularly Tobin) would have room to move around and so that I wouldn't have to worry too much if they made a little noise.  We had plenty of company in the back of the room; LOTS of other parents were there with their young children, too.  :)

As I look at these pictures six months after the fact, I don't even remember what Tobin was doing in some of them.  But I do remember how much stress it released to allow him this room to move, and I do think he's completely adorable!  :)

After the conference was over, we (along with many other conference participants) headed north to the Creation Museum.  This beautiful sunset sky made the journey achingly gorgeous for a time.

At the Creation Museum...  The topic of creationism is a HUGE one, and I won't even touch on it tonight.  But I will say this:  we thought the museum was very well done and extremely attractive.  Definitely not some dinky little museum with a few bones in it.  I'd like to go back someday...when there's not quite as many people there.  ;-)  (It was very crowded the day we were there, because of the conference participants who did like us and visited it after the conference.)

Friends make anything more fun!  :)

In the interest of keepin' it real, I'll say that the day we visited the museum was a really terrible day for us as a family.  Attitudes were horrible, obedience was nowhere to be found, fatigue was at an all-time high, we were just hanging on by a thread!  We ended up not spending as much time at the museum as we had originally planned because what we REALLY needed was some rest time back at the hotel.  It seemed like on this day, all the excitement of the trip caught up with us, and we just crashed.  Plus, it was about a hundred million degrees outside, and our walk through the lovely grounds around the museum was about as relaxing as a stroll on the surface of the sun.  ;-)

Back in the hotel, Tobin, David, and Jeff (and maybe Josiah?) quickly fell asleep; and things were much better after some rest.  But during that time of quiet, I had the pleasure of watching Shav, and I smile just remembering this.  There was a full-length mirror on the door of the closet, and he had the best time seeing himself in that mirror.  You could tell he was simply enthralled by that little boy he kept seeing--the boy who would wave back at him and smile at him and scoot towards him.  It was precious.  :)

We wanted to get a group shot of the three families together, but this was the best we could do.  Not the greatest pictures (I can hardly find my David--I think he was behind Joelle?), but so special to me because of the memories associated with them and the people in them.  These friends are treasures!

A few other memories float through my head...

When we were standing in line at the Creation Museum, someone who knew us from when we lived in San Diego recognized us and spoke to us.  That was definitely a fun reconnection for us!

Driving through Virginia and Tennessee and Kentucky, we saw so much beauty!  We saw so many open spaces, we saw rivers, we saw butterflies, we saw hills and valleys, we saw trees like a green shag carpet.  Sometimes it's good to just get in the car and drive so our eyes can be opened to the overwhelming beauty in the world around us.

Road trips are always appreciated by me, especially because they give me time to talk with Jeff.  That's probably the best part of driving in a car for long distances!  :)  On our vacation, another thing I did to pass the time in the car was reading aloud a Laura & Mary book (On the Banks of Plum Creek, maybe?).  As we made the final, long journey home, I read quite a few chapters and kept everyone's mind diverted from how many hours we'd been in the car.  It was really pleasant.  It was also really emotional for me!  I'm apparently an emotionally unstable person because I've discovered that I CANNOT read those books without crying!  I would be reading along and get to some dramatic part and start to really feel what Ma must have felt...and then my throat would seize up and my eyes would start to water and I'd have to put the book over my face until I could compose myself enough to go on.  Josiah and David are used to this, but even still they can't help but roll their eyes slightly as they ask, "Are you going to cry again?"  :)

Even though that vacation was so much fun and so memorable, it was inexpressibly good to be home again.  I remember just sitting and looking around at everything.  I remember feeling so grateful to be back.  I remember Josiah saying that he liked sleeping in his own bed again.  :)  I remember being glad to sleep in my own bed again, too!!

Ah, vacations!  I'm so grateful that six months ago, we got to have such a wonderful one!