Saturday, July 27, 2013

Playing with Pollys. Or actually Polly and clothes.

Donna is in the blue outfit.  Clockwise from her, is Clara, Sophie, Stella, and Inge.

Sorry for the poor resolution in this picture.  We're currently camera-less, so I took shot with my laptop.

Donna got a little Polly Pocket set for her birthday.  It consists of one doll, with about six or eight outfits.  The five girls who are home right now are all playing together with this one set.  One of them at a time has the doll.  The other ones "create" dolls by putting the outfits together strangely. 

I heard Donna's doll ask Sophie's doll, "Polly, why do you have a shoe for a head?" 

Then a little while later Stella said, "Look at my head.  It's a bow-head." 

They are having more fun figuring out how to build with all the little clothing and accessory pieces, than they are playing with the Polly doll herself. 

Sophie just wanted me to photo her creation.  A perfect example: Polly dress, gloves, shoes, and a purse for a head. 

This is so typical of my family.  I have often exclaimed in exasperation, "Why can't my kids ever play with something the way it was designed?!?"  And yet, ... It's amazing to see their creativity, isn't it?  And yes, I love to see them working/playing/inventing all together, ages 4-13.

"A top lip? Why did you give me a top lip?" AKA, "Happy Birthday, Donna!"

Thank-you Heavenly Father for my family.   And especially for my Donna LouElla, who turns six today. 

Tonight at Donna's birthday "party" our kids did the typical routine of digging out all kinds of their own things to give to the birthday person.  This used to drive me nuts, but I see all the joy they give each other, and so I've come to enjoy watching them open the usually immense haul.

So what if Stella gave two pairs of worn out shoes?  "Shoes?  Stella, why did you give me your old shoes?  And broken flip-flops?  Stella!"

So what if Stella also gave Donna the fox fur that Sophie gave Stella, when Sophie cleaned her room and didn't like that pieces of it were crumbling all over the place?  "Fur?  What will I do with that?"

Does it really matter that Stella also gave Donna the big Teddy Bear that used to be hers.  But that was before she had given it to John at Christmas.   Oops, forgot about that, I guess.  John didn't care, though, so I guess it's all good.

What about Inge who just goes through the house picking up whatever fits in the bag?  Regardless of it's rightful owner.

Clara and Sophie purchased their offerings at the Dollar Store this year.  I suppose that's a step up.  They have a little money burning a hole in their  pockets, you know.  Donna is excited to try her sidewalk chalk and she likes her star shaped sun glasses.  "Do you know who Lady Gaga is, Mom?  She always wears things like this."

I laugh at the kids, but I'm not much better.  I picked up one dollar store item, and one new little thing from the Wal-Mart toy aisle.  (That one just about kills me, since the new stuff is such junk these days.  I just know all these little Polly Pocket outfits will be torn apart in a few weeks.  Or Polly's head with be cracked and no longer stay on.  I feel like I ought to get the kids something "real",  as in something new, just for them.  It's usually nothing much.  But it's so hard to part with our money when the toys are so cheaply made.)

Oh, and I also pulled my usual stunt of forgetting to wrap one of the gifts.  I had found a little skirt on clearance a month or so ago and tucked it up in my closet.  So that ended up wrapped in a bandana.

Some of the kids' gifts are usually wrapped in newspaper, others in reused gift bags.  Some are wrapped in tissue paper, or other paper they find around the house. Coloring book pictures, or drawings.  The kids make little cards to put on all their things.  Some put a separate card on each item, and the messages are very sweet.  "To someone I love, From Inge."  or little hearts and flowers.  or a "portrait" of the birthday child. 

I love to see the thoughtfulness and generosity these little tokens show. 

The crowning moment tonight, though, came when Donna was reading one of Sophie's cards.  She was looking at all the little drawings and sounding out the words. 

Then suddenly she said, "A top lip?"  We all kind of looked at each other.  We weren't sure we heard her right. 

Sophie came closer to see what Donna meant, as Donna repeated the question, "Why did you make me a top lip?"  We all laughed while we waited for Sophie to interpret the apparent misunderstanding.

"It's a heart, Silly!" 

For some reason that just tickled me.  What on earth would someone draw a top lip for?  To represent half a kiss?  Sophie and I really got the giggles talking about the various possibilities of what this strange and new symbol might mean in a greeting card.

Later when Donna asked Stella, "Why did you draw a flower and a heart?"  I couldn't resist answering, "I guess she couldn't figure out how to make a top lip."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Four Oldies on the Way to Town

It's kind of a quiet week around here.  Louisa and Elsie are in Florida for our church body's National Youth Convention.  Matt's at Boot camp, of course.  And Joe was gone overnight with the three littles to look at a van in southern Minnesota. 

But we had Jeremy here to visit for a couple of days, so that was fun.  He brought all his new games and movies to share with the other kids.  It's his sweet big brother thing.

Today the three middles and I took Jeremy back to Thief River.  He had to work at 4:00.  Jeremy, although having attained the ripe old age of 20,  doesn't drive.  He's got his permit.  But he hasn't really lived at home or had a "normal" enough schedule to get much practice time. 

(I might add here that although Jeremy is a pretty good driver, the last time I drove with him, over a year ago, he was in kind of a Dukes of Hazzard stage.  After sliding around a few corners, I told him I was done.  If he wanted to learn to drive, he had to get his dad to go with him.)

He drove to town today.  The other kids asked why I was letting him drive.  I asked him if he felt mature and in control enough to drive safely.  He assured me this was the case. 

I immediately felt sleepy when we got in the car.  I was hesitant to give into it, with Jeremy's record and all.  But man!  it just hit me like a wall.  I couldn't stay awake for anything.

Jeremy had the Classic Rock station going strong.  After one more exhortation for self-control and not clowning around, and a warning that he was on zero tolerance, I dozed off a little bit, listening to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and all the rest.

At one point, Shake it up, Baby came on.  Jeremy clowned just a bit, by wiggling the wheel for the chorus.

I opened my eyes enough to cut him a dirty look out the side of my slitted eyes, and he settled down. 

Then John piped up from the back seat with an altered version of the Beach Boys, "And he'll have fun, fun, fun, til our daddy takes the T-bird away."

Totally cracked me up.

But didn't wake me up. 

I managed to wake up enough when we neared town to navigate Jeremy around the construction south of Hugos.  And it was just in time for one of our all time favorite family songs, Bohemian Rhapsody.  We were all singing it out loudly, Jeremy at 20, Clara at 13, Sophie at 11, and John at 9.  And me.  And we were doing all kinds of harmony.  It was really, really fun. 

"Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro.  Magnifico-o-o-o!"

"He's just a poor boy from a poor family,  Spare him his life from this monstrosity."

"Bismillah!  No! we will not let you go!"

"So you think you can stone me and spit in my e-e-eye?   So you think you can love me and leave me to di-i-ie?"

I love that my kids and I have this shared cultural literacy.  That something as simple as a song on the radio can elicit this joint vocal response from my kids of such a wide range of ages. 

On the way home, I took my new favorite back-road cut-off.  Nothing but fields and gravel.  Just the right spot to turn up the music loudly and belt out another Queen favorite when it came on.

"Weeeeeeee are the champions, my frie-ends, aaa-aaah.  And we'll keep on fighting, till the end."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer jobs, and A Drive with a View

And then the end, my only friend, the end...  Just a little "I rambled on too long, AGAIN,"  joke.  Here's the latest Abrahamson, Northern Minnesota news over at the US Marine Grad Project blog.  I did ramble, but I really had fun writing it.  Didn't get much VBS written, but, ... well, maybe I needed this to clear my brain and refuel.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Link to Updates from Recruit Abrahamson, and an update on the fundraiser

I posted the latest news from San Diego on the fund raising blog.  You'll also find some fun quotes from donors on the, "Notes from friends and family," section. 

The fundraising effort has stagnated a little.  Perhaps the holiday weekend.  Perhaps the initial interest in our cause and the passing it around is over.  Times are hard for everyone.  I totally appreciate all that everyone has done to help us out. 

Our friend, Sudesh, when he heard that our chance of attending Matt's Marine Corps graduation was looking slim, offered to spearhead this fund drive.  At first, we hemmed and hawed.  Although Sudesh has assured me that in Hindu traditions, begging is a noble profession, since it ties the members of the community together, Joe and I did not grow up within such cultural norms.  For me, it does not feel noble.  It feels kind of like Joe and I, 1) are too disorganized to handle our affairs efficiently, which is true; and 2) expect others who likely struggle with their own living expenses and to give their own kids a few extra things, to give to us also.  Which is not true.

We eventually said yes because, as Sudesh encouraged us, it gives those who are able to help, and who want to help, a way to do it.  It lets people know there is a need.  He wrote recently, "Please understand that I am doing this for a very selfish reason. It feels great to be part of your family. We show our love by these efforts and I feel very grateful that Joe and you have given us this unique opportunity to serve you and your family. You are giving us great pleasure by letting us be part of a fun experience. I suspect most of your friends and family are getting this pleasure too."

We don't at all consider it selfish, Sudesh.  We're very appreciative of your concern for us, and of all your efforts, and the efforts of those others involved.  We in no way expect others to come to our rescue, or to give unwillingly.  Really, really, we don't want anyone feeling any obligation to give.

Please continue to circulate the website for the U.S. Marine Grad Project.  Maybe there's somebody out there just waiting to help someone like us.  If enough moneys are raised, we hope to continue this effort to help other needy families in the future.  It would make a good family project to keep this going into the future, with proceeds from some sort of sale or other effort each year going toward helping a local family of a recruit get to San Diego for graduation. 

Regardless of what happens with the fund raiser, we know that God is good.  God knows what is best, and what He will eventually allow to be.  We know He has our best interests at heart. 

I'm currently working on our church's VBS curriculum.  As background for the lessons I'm preparing, I've reread the stories of the life of Joseph in Genesis (chapters 37, and 39-50).

Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob.  This obvious favoritism garnered his brothers' hatred and jealousy.  Eventually, they threw him in a pit, and when the Midianite traders happened by, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. 

But God was with Joseph.  God gave him a good master in Potiphar, and allowed Joseph to rise to prominence among Potiphar's servants.  But this, too led to more hardship, since it attracted the wrong kind of attentions from Potiphar's wife.  Joseph fled from her with these well-known words, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"  But she, in her frustration, falsely accused him to Potiphar.  And so Joseph ended up in prison. 

Here again, God caused Joseph to rise to prominence among the prisoners and jailers.  He gave Joseph the gift of interpreting dreams, which after a long wait led to the attention of the Pharaoh. 

Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of saving food for the land from the good years, in order to combat the famine in the following years of drought.  Through this, Joseph's brothers came to buy grain in Egypt, and eventually the family was reunited.  Many people's lives were spared during lean years.  And God used the family's generations in Egypt to further His will in Canaan, the land that He was preparing for them.  Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended ill toward me, but God intended good." 

God's hand is apparent in all this history.

Financial hardship is nothing nearly as troublesome as all the things Joseph went through.  I know God will provide for us what we need.  I don't know yet whether He has it in His plans to allow our family to travel together to Matt's Marine Corps Recruit Training Graduation.  That remains to be seen.

But I do know that He will work through all the blessings of this fund raiser to work His will.  I need not depend upon myself to solve all these things.  I need not worry or doubt.  I need not depend upon this effort to be the end-all of my well-being or that of my family.  We have eternal salvation through faith in Jesus.  Matt has this same gift.  Under that umbrella, everything is good.

My friend, Lisa, shared this quote from Jeremiah with me a few years back and it's become one of my favorite.  The later verses are so full of comfort and hope.  And the first verses serve as a reminded of what happens when I focus my trust on things other than God.

Jeremiah 17:5-8
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit."

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tired Recruits

The latest post on the "other blog."  As one mom said, the recruits in this photo look so tired, she wanted to give them all a hug.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Thanks to all who serve

This is the latest of my blog posts on the US Marine Grad Project website.  This article honors the wartime service of Joe's Grandpa, Stanley Kindler.  Grandpa is a big inspiration behind Matt's lifelong interest in the Marine Corps.