Monday, November 30, 2009

The Advent Conspiracy: Focusing on the real reason for the Season.

This Christmas our family is trying something new.

Christmas is a time when we are supposed to reflect on God sending His son to earth as a baby. It's a time to worship God and reflect on the Gospel and what it means to live out that Gospel.

Yet, many times Christmas has become a time where we are super busy doing things, rather than being with family. We are running around trying to make Christmas meaningful by visiting Santa, buying presents and trying to fit everything into our already crammed schedule. We stress ourselves out trying to find that "perfect" present for people, when in all actuality we just want time.

So, this year we are trying something new as a family. It's called the Advent Conspiracy, and the idea behind it is amazing.

Instead of spending a ton of time and money running around, we want to make this Christmas more meaningful for our family. So, we are thinking of creative ways to show people we love them (more meaningful, personal gifts). And, with the extra time and money we are saving we are going to give more to charities and spend time serving with our families.

It's going to be hard, but we know that it's going to be worth it. We just want to discover more of what it means to worship Jesus this Christmas.

Family vacation

Well, Sam is home! It's been amazing to have him here, and I think it has yet to fully sink in that he is home for good. I think it will set in when I start my new job tomorrow and leave the kiddos with Sam.

It was a very frustrating day waiting for Sam to return. He was supposed to fly in around 7pm and we were going to take off for our family trip up north right after that. Yet, Sam kept calling with more delays and his flight ended up coming in around 10:45 that night. And, for some reason the Army had the families waiting at some random air field near LAX out in the cold (okay, so it wasn't really that cold, but temps in the 50's can get a bit brisk when I'm standing outside for an hour and a half).

Here's a picture of Nathaniel waiting for Daddy to arrive (I took Nathaniel with me to get Sam and left Aaron at home so he could sleep--a friend of mine came over to sit with him).
We were super excited when the bus FINALLY showed up with the soldiers. Sam was the first one off of the bus! Nathaniel did not hesitate to give Sam a huge hug. I caught a picture of that too.
After waiting for about an hour and a half for the luggage to show up (yes, more adventures in stupid), we finally got loaded up in the van and headed home. We got a few hours of sleep and were up and traveling by 7am (just in time to hit traffic on the way out of the city).
We drove up to Calistoga in Napa Valley and stayed in a cute little cottage. Somehow I managed to not get any pictures of where we stayed, but trust me, it was beautiful. When we checked into our place (a one bedroom cottage with a living room and a kitchen) I realized that we were going to be super stressed if we tried to fit everything into one day, so we decided to extend our stay by a day. It was a good choice.
On the first day we rented bikes and biked around Calistoga with the kids. We did a good balance of visiting vineyards and seeing other cute little touristy sites. The picture below is of Nathaniel in front of the tasting room at a little place called Lava Vine (so named for the volcanic ash that covers the region due to a volcano erupting some millions of years ago).
It was fun riding the bikes with the kids. Sam and I took turns pulling the 60 pounds of children behind us. It was a beautiful fall day and the scenery was breathtaking.

The town of Calistoga is located above some natural hot mineral springs (it's kind of the big advertisement of the town) and located right outside of town is California's "Old Faithful" Geyser. It goes off about every 20 minutes. It was pretty cool seeing the geyser erupt and to look at the nature around it. It seemed pretty prehistoric. If you look behind us in this picture you can see the geyser erupting.

The next day we went to the Petrified Forest and hiked around. Here is a picture of the boys in front of a petrified tree (it looks like just a fallen stump, but it's actually a tree turned into stone! Pretty cool).

We also went to a few wineries on day two as well. Here is a picture of Nathaniel in the vineyards at Castle de Amorosa.

All in all it was a good trip. It was nice to ease back into life together with a fun vacation. Now, it's back to reality.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thank You.

To Everyone.

Thank you. So many of you have been an incredible support system for my family while Sam has been overseas. There is no way I can even begin to thank each of you by name (because, inevitably, I will leave someone out, and I would hate to leave anyone out), but please know that we are forever thankful for you.

For those of you who helped me out while I was finishing up my M.Div., whether you watched Nathaniel for me during my crazy scheduling, or simply threw up some much needed prayers and listening ears: Thank you!

For those of you who adopted me and my crazy brood into your families for special occasions and weekly meals: Thank you!

For those of you who went out of your way to listen to me when I was having one of those, "OhdearhelpmeGodI'mgoingtokillmychildren!" days: Thank You!

For the many, many people who brought me meals, took my children, cleaned my apartment (scooped my cat poop!) in the weeks after I had Aaron when I wasn't "supposed" to lift anything heavier than him (technically, not even him): Thank You!

For those of you who prayed and prayed that I would find a job in my field after Sam came home: Thank You!

Thanks so much for being there. I cherish your friendships, our talks, the shoulders to lean on, the encouragement that I could do it. My family and I thank you.

Carrie and The Boys

p.s. Sam will be here Sunday evening. I'm picking him up at the airport and we are disappearing for a few days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Discipline and watching the wheels turn.

I have been at my wit's end on finding the right way to discipline Nathaniel.

He is very opinionated and likes to do things his way and doesn't like anyone telling him what he should/should not be doing.

Of course, that does not fly in our house. I'm the parent and that means what I say goes.

I have tried just about everything I can think of to work on getting Nathaniel to listen to instructions (the first time I ask, and without whining, although I'm just taking it step by step for now).

I tried time outs. That didn't work. I found that he was spending nearly an hour in time out a day and his behavior wasn't changing at all (because that is the goal of discipline, to change his behavior and teach him acceptable ways of acting). And much of the "time out" time was spent with me taking him back to time out while he laughed in my face. Ugh!

So, I tried spanking. He would get his verbal warning and then a spank if he continued. That didn't work either. He would still laugh in my face and actually started hitting me back. Double ugh!!

I tried a combination of time outs and spankings, but found myself just getting frustrated even more so, and he laughed even more (seriously, does this child not have any nerve endings in his bottom?!).

So, I sat down and thought about what else I could do. I started taking away our night time story time. It worked, but it was too abrupt. It was either all or nothing. So, I made a little chart. Each night Nathaniel gets four books read to him before bed. So, I made a picture chart with four books, three books, etc. and put a post it note on the picture with four books. When Nathaniel doesn't listen I give him his warning and then he loses a book for the evening.

The first night he lost his books within five minutes of having the chart. I think it was because he thought it was fun to move his star. Then he realized what the chart meant.

His behavior has been better. Sometimes all it takes is a warning before he does what he's supposed to or stops throwing a fit.

However, tonight we were at Disneyland and Nathaniel asked me, "Mommy, can we have popcorn?" I told him we could have some when we got home after Aaron went to bed if he listened well. Ten minutes later he was throwing a fit and not listening. I told him that we weren't going to have popcorn when we got home because of his behavior and he hit me on the arm saying, "I want popcorn!" I just ignored him at that point and we moved on.

As we were driving home I heard a sweet little voice from the backseat say, "Mommy, I'm sorry I hit you earlier." I told him, "I know you are honey, I forgive you and I love you."

Then he paused and said, "Can I have some popcorn now?"


Friday, November 13, 2009

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Sam will be home in 10 days or less.

I am excited!

But, I am also very very DONE with this deployment. I compare these next few days to a long car trip. You know, when the car trip starts you aren't necessarily excited about the prospect of being in a car for 14 hours, but there are different things that happen on the way that make it enjoyable. But, the last 30 miles or so you start to get antsy and have that "get me out of this car!" feeling.

That's how I've been feeling all week long. And it doesn't help that Aaron has been a little more whiny than usual.

I keep telling myself that I can do one more week. I've been doing it for 53 weeks already, one more won't kill me.

But I can't promise anyone that I will be smiling this week. It's taking all of my energy and my reliance on God for me to make it through this week with my children in tact!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two ideas of homecoming.

We are getting close to Sam's return home. I still don't know when he will be here (so don't ask, because I'm really not being difficult, I just. Don't. Know.) but I know that it will be SOON.

As my time as a single mom winds down I can feel myself getting more and more antsy. I can't seem to fill the hours up enough and I find that we are spending more time playing at home than we are getting out of the apartment and doing things. Poor Nathaniel has gotten a bit spoiled with all of our outings because we'll be driving home from somewhere and he immediately asks, "Where are we going now?" Then, when I tell him we are going home he says, "I don't want to go home! I want to go somewhere!"

The past week I've been imagining what it will be like when Sam gets home. Time for myself; uninterrupted showers; the ability to complete a thought... It's an amazing daydream of unreality, but perhaps my dreams will come true.

I do know, though, that it is completely different from what Sam is dreaming of when he gets home.

Here is what Sam is expecting (except insert my face instead of perky blonde's face):

Here is what I'm expecting:

I have a feeling that one of us (*cough* Sam *cough*) is going to be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I can now share my big news.

I realize that I have been slightly vague about some things lately. There's been "big news" brewing here in the Grummons' household and it has caused some people to wonder what's been going on.

No, we are not pregnant.

No, we are not moving.

No, Sam is not home, yet (although, soon!).

After my super long vacation/excursion to the Midwest, I set out on the journey of becoming employed. I wasn't sure exactly what that would entail because it was still up in the air as to how long we would be in California still and what our lives would look like when Sam finally got home from his deployment.

Knowing how terrible the job market was/is I knew that I should start looking for a job as soon as possible because I know people who graduated from Talbot before I did who are still not employed. So, I worked out my resume and started looking online for job postings in our area.

Wow. It was slim pickings. It wasn't surprising because most churches are letting their Junior High people go right now as opposed to hiring someone on just for Junior High. But, I saw one job in Westminster that had been posted in July. I wasn't even sure if they were still looking for someone to fill the position, but I decided to send in my resume anyways.

After a series of phone interviews, face-to-face interviews and lots of meetings tonight I was officially offered the position of part-time Junior High Pastor at Bethany Bible Fellowship!

This is an amazing opportunity for me and I feel like God provided this job just for me. The job description was everything I had ever done at Cypress Church and it seemed like a perfect fit from the beginning. There is even the opportunity to substitute teach at the private school attached to the church to help supplement the pay. Plus, Nathaniel can go to preschool there for free and Aaron can get free child care there when he turns 2.

I had mixed emotions about accepting this job. For one, I wasn't even allowing myself to believe that I got the job until the Deacons voted for me and it was official. It was the only job I applied for and I honestly thought that it would take longer for me to find a job. Apparently, I don't have any lessons to learn there! Second, I love Cypress Church. It has been my church home for more than five years. My children were born into their children's program, I have watched my students grow into young men and women and I have made some very good friends. It's going to be very hard for me to leave a lot of that behind.

But, I know that God is calling me to this new church. I would be a fool if I turned down this amazing offer. Plus, we aren't moving so I can still stay in contact with my amazing friends and Nathaniel will stay in the Cubbies program at Cypress so that he doesn't have to go through too many changes at once.

So, that's it. I have a job!! And, they are graciously letting me start in December after Sam has come home. Hooray!! Thanks to all who have been praying for me and my job search.