Monday, December 28, 2009

Chutes and Ladders

Am I the only one who loved Chutes and Ladders growing up? It's a board game in which you you land on squares with ladders that advance you upward , or red slides that cause you to regress. I loved it because it had such a simple message: If you make good choices, you'll succeed. If you don't, you will have bad consequences. As it turns out, real life is not that simple. Two months ago I felt like I had landed on that square with the long red chute and the broken cookie jar at the end of it. So many events collided in my life to make me feel like I had been sent back to the beginning of the game. And I was sure I would never be able to catch up. This Christmas holiday I feel like I've landed on many positive "ladder" squares, and regained my joy and perspective. Great times of worship at church and meaningful insights from Scripture have brought me a greater understanding of the important things in life. Times with friends over breakfast and making gingerbread houses have been fun and brought me joy. Having the kids home has filled my heart with love and laughter. Sharing these great times and more with my great husband has made me fall in love again. Slowly, I'm climbing those little ladders and feeling like I'm in the game again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho, and He, He, He

I'm over the moon having the kids home. I have such great kids. We've had friends over for huge breakfasts, played Taboo, played Hand and Foot, made two million trips to Trader Joe's and just lazed around like slugs. Remember that obsessed with technology thing? Here they are playing 3 games of Scrabble--two each--with each other. There's a lot of laughter and moans, like when Matt got 102 for his triple-word points, double-letter points word. Who needs an inexpensive board game when you can spend hundreds of dollars on portable devices to access the Internet?

And a bit of trivia...Did you know that younger high school students use two thumbs when working a graphing calculator instead of an index finger?

I hope your holiday is going well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

From Our House to Yours, Happy Holidays

My teaching partner, KW, and I invited all our students to my house to decorate gingerbread houses. The house was full of laughing, talking, eating, and having fun. I enjoyed being with my students in a casual atmosphere, hearing their stories and seeing them relate with each other. Their personalities shown through as they busied themselves on their task. One of my students who sort of marches to a different drummer, poured the whole bag of frosting on the house to make it look like the aftermath of a blizzard. I must remember to keep him away from explosives.

I have a student who excels at everything he does, and his house was no exception.

His sister didn't even start a house. It's impossible to fail at making a gingerbread house, but I'm wondering if her perfectionism kept her from the attempt. It's hard to follow greatness.

Although they had fun together in traditional ways, much of their relating was over technology. They texted each other, compared phone apps, shared pictures and played games together on their phones.

KW had everything cleaned up before the last kid was out the door. Of course. Doing anything with her makes it so much more fun.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Thoughts

Our family is sort of obsessed with the Internet. We can be happy anywhere, as long as there's Internet. We all want to marry Google, and Kelly and I are somewhat bitter that our work doesn't let us use Google Chrome. So, when we started the very useful Christmas where we are only buying presents for each other that the other people could have justified buying for themselves, naturally we couldn't just keep it simple. We had to start our list on Google Wave. We have had no less than 15 emails in the last week setting it up. According to its website "Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more." We have all kinds of rules and directions. We've set up a "wave" for each person, and forbidden that person to look at their wave because it tells what items were purchased. We have a group wave where we add items. Matt said it well: "We are absolutely ridiculous." No other family could make this simple thing as complicated as we have, but it's been great fun for me. I love seeing the kids' emails pop into my inbox, and I love learning new technology.

All this lack of shopping gives me more time to concentrate on the spiritual aspects of the season. I have been particularly touched by a passage in Luke where Mary rejoices when she finds out she's pregnant. She could have said "Bummer", but she had faith the God knew what he was doing. During what is a difficult time for me, I am finding comfort praying the same truths she prayed: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name." Throughout my whole life, the only thing I could really count on was God's love and care for me. He's always been there in a very real way, comforting me through the hard times, and bringing me through. When I look back I can see His hand on my life. It's just hard to see when I am in it. That's where faith comes in. I know the adversity is rubbing off my rough edges, and making me a more unselfish person. I know I'll get to the other side and rejoice again. I trust Him because He's always been faithful.

Egg-stra Fun

When I opened the refrigerator after work today, I found someone had made pictures on the hard-boiled eggs that I had made this morning. They were so cute. My husband is so funny. Both had little faces. The one with the nerdy face said "Death to omelettes. Save me Mr. Wiz..." The face with the cute glasses said "Celebrate Veganism. Let freedom hatch."