Sunday, October 9, 2016

Jeffrey's Sixth Birthday Party

Jeffrey settled upon an Octonauts theme for his birthday party.  Of course I turned to Pinterest to help me with ideas. 

For colors I was lucky enough to find the colors used for the show blue (R5 G89 B135) and orange (R253 G122 B31) and the font ROSEWOOD STD (which is upper case only).  We went with Orange, Bermuda Blue, and Fresh Lime for our paper goods.  I actually had some orange stuff still in my party bag from Jeffrey's second birthday party.

For food we did sea snails (pigs in a blanket), blowholes (mini donuts), baby carrots, octojelly (layered blue and green jello), fish biscuits (goldfish), seaweed (sour punch straws), peanut butter and jelly(fish) sandwiches and driftwood (pretzel sticks). 

Drinks were salt free ocean water (water), Barrot's Bubbles (soda) and Peso's Punch (capri suns).  For dessert we had pink frosted cupcakes a la Professor Inkling.
Emma (the littlest, cutest, niece-y) put together some cute snacks marshmallows and pretzel rods dipped in blue candy melts with a goldfish added, the marshmallows were also dipped in crushed graham cracker.  Those were really popular and I wish I had had her make more. 

To add atmosphere we used a role of blue tablecloth to cover things up, streamers and these adorable jellyfish made from shower caps (8 for $1 at Dollar Tree!); Jason was wondering if it was enough and one guest commented "I've been transported under the sea".  I printed out pictures from Octonauts and hung them up around the house, including signs for the head (bathroom).

For activities I had out some ocean themed books and sensory bins.  Bin #1 was blue water beads with our In The Water Toob, Bin #2 was green aquarium gravel with seashells, Bin #3 was green and blue flat glass gems with ocean animals.  All our ride on toys were out, a little slide and the kids loved playing in our dirt pit.

Favor bags were plain paper bags that had explore, rescue or protect written on them.  Inside we tried to have a favor from each member of the crew, but it didn't quite work out.  We had plastic syringes (Peso), Pufferfish punchballs (Inkling), gold coins (Kwazii), coloring page (Barnacles), sea creature expanding sponges (Dashi - we were going to do stamps or stickers but couldn't find ones we liked), magnifying glass (Shellington) and goldfish (Tunip).  We were going to do mini notebooks for Tweak's Octopad but ended up not finding them at the right price.  I bought everything locally at Boswells or Dollar Tree.  At the last minute I spotted the whale baby bathtub in the garage and piled all the favor bags into it.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, I know our family was happy but tired when all the guests trickled out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I think God just loves to make me a liar (or The story of how I met my husband)

I met my husband at a Model United Nations conference when I was in college.  We were seated near to each other in committee (I was India, he was Iran and Indonesia sat between us) that first night and I thought he was really cute.  The next morning I got there early so I could try and sit with him, he came in and put his stuff down so I casually put my stuff near his.  He then came by and picked his stuff up and moved to a different seat.  I remember thinking something along the lines of "crap" and "how am I going to make picking up my stuff look casual".  I think we ended up sitting next to each other and over the course of the day got to know the other.  Our big discussion was on who had the worst life.  He thought his girlfriend was going to break up with him, I might've said something similar but added that my dad had just had surgery on his knee to lengthen his leg.  I think I won.  We decided to go to dinner, don't remember if we invited anyone else, but it turned out to be just us.  At dinner we talked some more about a wide range of topics and somehow the conversation turned to faith.  As Jason outlined his views I thought "I could never marry a man like this."  We were just too far apart, I was a Christian and Jason was not.  I was disappointed but still very attracted to him.

The last night of the conference we hung out together and took a walk.  We ended up on a pier watching the airplanes at SFO.  I remember wanting to kiss him so bad and at the same time thinking that he would think I was a horrible person because I would be cheating on my boyfriend.  Strangely I never thought about him making a move and him cheating on his girlfriend.  Eventually we ended up kissing, it was getting cold so we headed back to the hotel.  We were both sharing a room so we ended up making out in the lobby.  (The crazy things you do when you are young and shameless.)  He was leaving super early in the morning, like 4 or 5am, he walked me back to my room and we exchanged addresses.  (This is obviously pre-cellphone.)  I remember watching him walk away and the thought that flashed through my head was "I should've slept with him".  THAT was a crazy thought, I had never thought or felt that way towards any of the boys I had dated.  It sorted rocked me to my core.  The idea that this was the love of my life, that I would've at least known this type of love before being alone for the rest of my life.  The rational side of my brain tried to kick in "what if I had gotten pregnant", but the other side, the crazy side was insisting that either I would find him again or I could tell my child the story of my great love affair and one night stand.  Like I said, crazy.

I woke up a few hours later and went through the rest of my day; that night I talked to my boyfriend on the phone.  The next thing I knew it was morning, I had fallen asleep on the phone talking to my boyfriend!  Oh great, I started to fret hoping I hadn't called him the wrong name or said something.  My boyfriend called back later and I apologized for falling asleep on the phone, then he announced that this wasn't working out and he wanted to break up.  I was fine with that.  (Funny side note, he called a few days later to say he missed me and he wanted to get back together.  I told him I'd already met someone else.)

I sent Jason a letter and a postcard or maybe two postcards, hoping that I would get a letter back in return.  My mom called a few days later saying I had a letter, it was from Jason!  I begged her to open it and read it to me, then I thought better of that and demanded that she send it to me.  Opening my mailbox a few days later I found the letter my mom had forwarded AND another letter from Jason!  I was so excited, I think I might've told everyone on the third floor about my letters.

We traded letters back and forth over the summer and eventually I made plans to go visit him and his family for Thanksgiving.  So many of my friends were against our relationship, in fact my Bible Study leader and my roommate held an intervention the night before I flew out trying to convince me not to go.  On the plane I pondered and thought.  I was confused about why God had put this person in my life if He didn't intend him for me.  I didn't understand why there was all this pressure from my friends to break off the relationship when I felt that God obviously wanted us to be together.  Was this a test?  Of whom?  A test of my relationship with God, with my friends, with Jason, with my family?  As the plane began to land I grew nervous, what were we going to do when we saw each other again.  Did we hug?  Should I hold out my hand for him to shake?  Did he expect me to kiss him?  What if I didn't recognize him?  What if he was disappointed in how I looked?  I tried to calm myself down, telling myself that whatever happened would just happen naturally.

We hugged.  I remember being engulfed, of feeling overpowered, a feeling of strength and contentment.  I felt like it lasted forever, both fierce and a gentle togetherness.  Did we kiss?  I don't remember; the hug was so overwhelming and the shock of it's rightness, of it's homecoming just all took some time to process.  We slept in separate rooms in non-sexy pj's.  We got to know each other, became comfortable with our bodies being together.  (No, no, no, not like that!  Just in a general sense of seeing each other, what we looked like.  Holding hands, sitting close and yes, kissing.)

My visit was great.  I got to see so much of Jason and how he lived his life.  How hard he worked, how dedicated he was to his studies, how much he loved his family.  One of the things that really just cemented my feelings for him was watching him read to his two littlest nieces, both of them cuddled up with him, him making different voices for the characters and taking his time with the story, the love and care he had for them.  I knew he would be a great father.

By the time summer rolled around I knew without a doubt that God wanted me to marry Jason.  For summer break I moved in with Jason, I was firmly convinced that by the time school started again, I'd have a ring on my finger.  It didn't happen.  It took me leaving for Jason to realize how much he needed me.  He called his Dad and asked if they could talk in person, that he had something important to talk about.  His Dad said "So, you gonna marry her or what?"  (To this day I tease Jason that he was the only one who didn't know we were getting married.)

Growing up you make plans for your life; I thought I'd graduate college and teach before getting married, probably to a fellow teacher, in my late twenties or early thirties and that we'd have kids shortly thereafter.  Not in a million years would I have thought I'd be married by 21 and not be a high school English teacher.  However, I know God prepared me for these things.  I knew my husband would be nice, smart and want children.  I asked God for a faithful man who hadn't slept with a whole bunch of women.  I hoped he'd be good looking and have blue eyes. 

I know my life is turning out how He planned; not how I planned, not how my friends wanted, not what my family expected.  Maybe I was put here on Earth for Jason, to lead him gently through the years to faith in Christ Jesus.  Jason hasn't made a declaration of faith in God yet, but his old beliefs have fallen away and he sees God's providence, sees Him working in our lives; until that day comes it is my fervent hope and prayer that Jason accepts Jesus as his Savior.

So, remember Jason and I's first date when I thought "I could never marry a man like that"; God just loves to make me a liar.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

State Resources Books - The Boxcar Children

We love books at our house and I love to seek out books both new and old to share with my children.  We are fortunate to be able to travel, mostly to see family and friends.  To get ready for a trip I hit the library for some non-fiction books to learn about the area and pull out any resources I might already have.  Once our oldest kiddo was ready for some longer stories I looked for books that featured the place we were going.  All our travel is within the United States and I thought it would be easy to pick up a few fiction books that featured a specific locale, turns out it's not as easy as I would've thought. 

So, I'm making my own list!  I've started my list with The Boxcar Children created by Gertrude Chandler Warner. 

Now, this is just my list so I might've missed a book that featured a location, especially since I didn't actually read all of these books; the list is organized by state and at the end are Washington D.C. and regions that span more than one state.  I have typically not included books about "the beach" or "in a wild west town".

State Resources Books - The Boxcar Children

Alaska: Special #12
Arizona: #52
California: #51 (San Francisco), #57
Florida: #41 (Key West),  #66 (Everglades NP), Special #20
Hawaii: #64
Illinois: Special #10 (Chicago)
Iowa: #101
Kansas: #105
Louisiana: Special #19
Michigan: Special #9
Missouri: #20 (Hannibal)
Montana: #139
New Jersey: #131
New York: #38 (New York City), Special #8 (Niagara Falls),  Special #13
North Carolina: #77
Oregon: #132
Pennsylvania: #123 (Philadelphia)
South Carolina: #54 (Charleston)
Texas: #58 (The Alamo)
Vermont: #90
Virginia: #63
Washington: #111 (Seattle)
West Virginia: #59
Wisconsin:  #98
Wyoming: #61 (Yellowstone)

Washington D.C. - Special #2
Navajo Reservation-  #37
New England - #39, Special #3
The Rockies - #71
South Sea Islands (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida) -  #6