Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The arrival of the POD and my shameless idolatry

Last week we arrived at our townhouse with some suitcases and laundry baskets. The children, typically, needed little to involve their interest:
I, on the other hand, was ready to bid the nomadic life goodbye. All this living out of suitcases business has been nice, but seriously, I wanted to see my overstuffed ottoman! My blue cookbook stand! The Museum of Art rowboat piece! And, oh, the books--hundreds of my books! I almost salivated the next morning as the POD backed in.
The day was too hot for moving. The gum on the pavement was beginning to melt, and the ice cream man was making more money than he should have.
But eight hours, four Papa John's pizzas, and six liters of soda later,
it was all here! Our bath towels and bed sheets, the tent and camping chairs, the framed pictures and the world globe--everything was here!
And then, a tinge of guilt: am I shallow to adore these boxes? Didn't I just tell my children about an English girl who left home with one little cherished sugar bowl? Didn't I herald her proper focus and bravery? And aren't I into Thoreau or something? How could it be that I didn't feel like I was home until I had some butcher paper and markers?
I like to think that my idolatry stems from the intangible aspects of my things, like the family memories associated with them. Perhaps the objects create a satisfying, familiar sense of place? Or it could be just plain old, selfish materialism: ship me out to the fourth circle, please! All I can say is that opening up the box with my white kitchen canisters in it felt incredible. I hope to feel the same way when I open the box with my iron in it, wherever it is.

Monday, July 13, 2009

And then Eric mumbled...

Jacob, reading a scripture story: "Korihor went to live with the Zoramites. One day while he was begging, he was trampled to death."

Eric: "At least he didn't have to do a residency."

So that's how Eric's feeling about life lately.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunday centers

I didn't come up with this concept, but I've loved organizing it for my family during the past several weeks. It has been a winner! Every Sunday afternoon around 4 p.m., we meet to split into four teams. There are four centers in different rooms set up with instruction sheets and all the needed supplies. The teams rotate between them at 12-minute intervals, signaled by a bell-ringer (a coveted responsibility). By the time we're done, everyone has spent about an hour of quality, Sunday-appropriate activities as a family. Here are some examples of successful center ideas:

1. The scripture center
Some of the ideas for this center come from Duty to God or Personal Progress goals: you read a scriptural passage, then write something about it. Last week we had each team read a portion of Lehi's Dream in the Book of Mormon and then draw the images of those verses as part of a mural. Other times I've pulled up a conference talk or Mormon Messages video that the team can watch and then talk about. Oh, and we have the quiz game "Seek" (the 1958 original!) at this center in case a team finishes the task quickly.
2. The service center
For the past couple weeks we've been working on preparing these flannel board pieces for my sister, Sandra, and her family. Other fun ideas have been decorating sugar cookies for a neighbor; writing letters to my missionary brother, James; and tying a simple baby quilt.
3. The art center
One Sunday I set out a dozen temple pictures on the table, plus a few pounds of homemade white play dough and some embellishments. Then everyone created temple models. (Eric said that his is a "future European temple" because he wanted to create his own design.)
On Father's Day I glued head-shot photos of my dad and Eric on poster board body cut-outs, and then we pasted pictures and words from magazines on them. Everyone loves the art activities.

4. The journaling center
Sometimes I set out a prompt for journal-writing ("Record 5 fun things you did this week, your favorite memory of a grandparent, and a summer goal.")
We also try to fulfill some Duty to God/Personal Progress goals at this center. One time we all wrote poems (haiku, acrostics, and short ballads) about gospel subjects:

Alma the Younger
overcoming deepest sin
began to teach truth.

The Word of Wisdom is so great.
It puts the right things on my plate.

Lehi's family
Set up wilderness tent-homes:
Sandy, hot, alone.

Earth is
Treasure from
Heavenly Father.

Nephi was tied up.
Chafe! Burn! Sea-sick churn! He stood.
Finally, released.

4. The treat center
Everyone's favorite! One time we took turns (over-)decorating this cake:
Another time I wrote the instructions for popcorn balls in four stages (uh, group four must have been on the back of this instruction sheet), and each team completed a part of the recipe.
And they actually turned out well!
Sunday centers take a bit of preparation, but they have been a highlight of our family activities while we've been in Maryland. This is a tradition that we'll continue for years to come!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Eric's day off...road trip?

Eric had a "short" 10-hour shift on Thursday, and Friday was his day off, so we were able to rendezvous with some Brinton relatives (Uncle Mark and Aunt Jen, their two boys, and Eric's cousin Jed). We laughed that we had lived by these people for years in Salt Lake, but didn't make the time to get together until we were all across the country!
We stayed at the guest home on a Mennonite dairy farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where we bottle-fed a 5-day-old calf, collected fresh eggs, chased the kittens, and rode the toy tractors. The dad in the host family was born and raised on the farm, and now he, his wife, and their two sons run it. If you met them, you would probably want to buy a dairy farm yourself! They are a loving, united family.
The next day we pilgrimaged to West Chester, where we toured the Brinton 1704 House. The first Brinton family to immigrate to America built it, and it is now a well-preserved National Historic Landmark.
When we were on the property, we met a friendly Amish roofer who talked with us about his community and their beliefs. The boys were interested in him and in the horses and buggies that we saw throughout the town. (While scrubbing his chin later, Zachary asked, "When will my beard come?") We'd like to learn more about the Amish people on a future trip to PA.
And of course, what's a road trip without a nice tantrum to tie it all up? Here's Michael pouting underneath the van when we arrived back. Too cute.