It has been a busy month. A VERY busy month. So busy, in fact, that somewhere along the way an incident occurred that never should have.... and it went undetected for too long. I wish I had a picture of what I will describe, but you will be glad that I don't, really. I'll start at the beginning, so just bear with me.
The month began with a bang. After ending August hoping for a little peace to arrive, instead we got hurricane Irene. Schools were closed, trees were down, power was out.... all that good stuff. So, for us summer vacation lasted a week longer than planned, which really was fine.
I spent a lot of the extra time focused on spreading the word about Discovery Toys, hosting wonderful toy parties, getting details finalized to begin our homeschooling year, collecting necessary items for my older two kids to be in their uncle's wedding soon, and prepping for our Revolutionary War homeschool trip. All the while I was excitedly awaiting the arrival of my niece, who was due September 7th. Adding to this excitement was the privilege of being with my sister during her labor and delivery. So much to get ready for!
Finally the power was restored to the area and the first day of Kindergarten came on September 7th (but no baby). Then the first day of Homeschool Academy on September 8th (but no baby). Our homeschool work at home began, and after a BUSY week plus a last minute sleep-over with my sister and nephew... the baby came. She, like all of my own babies, had the good sense to wait until her Mamma and Auntie were down-right exhausted before she decided to arrive. So, September 10th at 7 p.m. we drove 30 minutes to the hospital. In honor of her daddy who is serving in Iraq currently, my niece waited until September 11th, Patriot Day, to allow us to meet her for the first time. It was LOVE at first sight when I laid eyes on that beautiful child. What a miracle life is. The next 3 days were an exhausting blur as we adjusted to being awoken every 3 minutes, but on Tuesday at 5 p.m. my sister, my niece, and I headed home. It was heart-breaking to watch my sister and niece head to my mom's house, knowing I'd not kiss my precious niece again for at least a week. But, I had to march on. There was a Revolutionary War to be explored, and I am the primary packer-of-the-bags for my tribe.
I was not able to put much gusto into the packing at first, due to my complete lack of energy.
However, by Sunday morning I had pulled it together and we were on the road at 7 a.m.. We found ourselves happily standing on the grounds of the Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey by 2 p.m. that day, ready to explore and learn. We spent the next 7 days touring New England via Newport, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts. We were focused on trying to get a real-life feel for what it was like to be alive during the late 1700's, and what the true spirit of the American people was during such an important time in the foundation of our nation. We walked along the Freedom Trail, climbed around on the USS Constitution, visited the home of Paul Revere, listened to a history lesson while sitting in Faneuil Hall, and explored graveyards dating back to the 1600's. We walked through the rooms of the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and explored Peacefield (The Old House) which belonged to John and Abigail Adams later in their lives. We tried to soak in all we could about these brave men and women who set in motion the beginnings of an incredible nation. We couldn't resist a quick stop in the Public Gardens to see the ducks, swans, and the wonderful statues honoring the classic children's book Make Way For Ducklings. We stood under a willow tree, in the rain, and read the book in front of the pond while ducks swam and quacked just a couple of feet from us. It was magical.
We returned home exhausted, rather amazed at how we fit so much into 7 days with 3 small children in tow, and so proud of how much the two older children learned and could discuss with us. Also, we gained a fairly large selection of children's books about the Revolutionary War that we are itching to dive into during our school-time! Please know that in the midst of all this learning and excitement, we also experienced real life. You know what I mean, if you have kids you've been in our shoes. We dealt with melt-downs (in a rotation, the children seemed to have set up a system of 'shifts' among themselves), a million potty-stops along the entire East Coast, terrible food, difficult driving, traffic jams that moved 3 miles in 2 hours with whining kids in the back seat of the car who had to go potty, etc. Then there were the other little irritations like hopping onto the wrong trains as we tried to get back from the city, pee-pee accidents that occurred an hour from the hotel with no clean clothes on hand to remedy the situation and public transportation as our only way back, and a fair amount of impatience on our part due to the struggles each new wonderful situation presented to us. I can make it all look so pretty if I leave out the details... but I know you'd rather hear the truth.
Oh... wait.... you were waiting to hear about the awful incident.... are you sure you still want to know? Okay. Well then..., let's back up to my arrival home after 3 days away at the hospital, before we left on our fabulous trip. Let's establish that my husband was the driver of our mini-van at that time, as he was the caretaker of our crew during my time away at the hospital.
I'm going to be very real here.
I will plainly state that it was his fault.
Despite his denials, it had to be.
As we were cleaning out the car to make it ready for our trip, my husband was inspecting the windshield. He noticed something odd-looking in the far front-corner on the drivers side.
He leaned in. He looked closer.
I was in the passenger seat, attending to the side of the vehicle that would be my domain for the coming week. I paused, noticing that something was not right in his countenance.
"What in the..... is that.... what IS that?" I heard him say. "Hand me something, like a pen, or something long..." I heard him say next. I dug around. I found a plastic knife still sealed cleanly in its plastic in the glove box. I handed it over, and waited. He dug around, he poked, he prodded, and soon he produced something that I still shiver over the thought of.
There, in the front corner of MY VAN, was a DRIED UP, nasty little tree frog that had somehow wedged itself too tightly into the corner between the dash-board and the wind-shield. It had expired, right there. What I need to know is... HOW did it stay there for so long and get dried up like that? EWWW!!!!!
I know you are wondering how I concluded that it was my husbands' fault.
I'll admit, I have no evidence. But it is easier to blame him.
I decided that while I was away at the hospital, he must have left the window cracked open over-night. The frog climbed in. Then, our van sits in the direct sunlight in our driveway, and is exceptionally hot on the dash-board at any given day-light moment. So, there you have it--- it dried up in there while I was away.
It has nothing to do with how little time I spend cleaning the van.
Or the mess the kids make in there that makes it impossible to see the floor, and seems to attract a cheerful parade of flies that tail behind us in traffic, speeding through red lights just to keep up with us. I plead innocent.
All kidding aside, it really did cause me to think about my life, and the lives of others around me. Have you ever had a moment where something insignificant really grabs your attention and calls out for you to look deeper?
I recall the many conversations I've had with the precious women that have crossed my path during all of the places the military has sent us to live. So many of them have expressed feelings of failure, feelings of inadequacy, troubled marriages, troubled children.... so many different types of pain and suffering. These women have opened up their hearts and have been real with me. I have admired them for their brave honesty, been comforted by the truth they shared with me, and I've grown stronger within myself because of the wisdom they have imparted to me through their struggles.
Each of these ladies I mention are beautiful women. Looking at them from the outside anyone would assume they had it all together. Perfect marriages, perfect kids, perfect homes, perfect lives..... it could be nearly intimidating. Yet, they were willing to break down the walls and be honest. And, it changed me.
My heart LONGS for a world where we can all just be honest. Where we can be REAL. Where we don't walk around with masks on, hoping no-one sees the Phantom that is truly behind the mask. Where we break down the walls, knowing that we risk being disliked by some, but also remembering that we deserve to be truly liked for who we REALLY are. We are people who have hurts, struggles, issues... not a single one of us goes through life without making mistakes. Why do we pretend that we escape all of the pain? What do we gain by denying the truth and making others feel less-worthy because they cannot avoid seeing their own faults, but cannot see through our facade to our reality?
I wish we could all just say the truth.
My life contains dead frogs. Here are a few of them.
I'm grumpy more often than I like.
I can be selfish.
I don't like to admit when I am wrong.
I can be bossy (......from what I'm told =P ).
I could go on forever, as I am truly a sinful human who is in need of forgiveness on a daily basis. I am so thankful that I know how and where to seek that beautiful grace.
And, I really want you all to know that I am not perfect. I know you aren't either. And I like you for it.
How about you? Do you have any dead frogs that you want to share?
I truly believe that within our honesty about ourselves, within the "being REAL" with each other, there is richness, beauty, blessing, and peace.
Thanks for spending a little time with me, friends!