Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and a Lesson in Never

***I must preface this post with a gigantic THANK YOU to Mrs. Robyn Farmer.  I finally switched over to the new blogger layout and it made posting an absolute breeze.  How she managed to give birth and post such helpful blogs in the span of three days is a complete mystery to me.  If you want instructions for updating your blog format click here.***
*Also, stay tuned all the way to the end of this post for some big news.*
I guess I better actually start my blog now, 
We kicked off our chilly Easter weekend flying a princess kite.

Thanks for the thoughtful gift Aunt Jaryn!

My favorite sibling duo of all time

The kite

Then Ava sweet talked Dusty and Jaryn into some playground time, despite the cold wind.

Later that afternoon we dyed eggs.

 Jaryn and Ava had similar pensive postures.

Ava showed off her egg-coloring skills for Nan, Josh's grandmother.

Remember last year's egg dying experience on the floor of our Castle?  We are so thankful for the splendid space afforded us at Xanadu.

HLS worked on his egg at the counter so none of us roustabouts would bump his arm.  Yes, seriously.

We had a special visitor in the backyard on Saturday night.

We decided this little rabbit was a scout for the Easter Bunny.

Easter Sunday marked the second-to-last Sunday School lesson to teach with Stacy.  She and her hubby are moving to Turkey at the end of May, more on that later.  I have taken a page out of Scarlet O'hara's book and decided to "think about that tomorra'."  
(I'm also welcoming any ideas my sneaky blurkers may have about creating blemishes on her status as a traveler.  Is there some way to plant faux Weapons of Mass Destruction on your friend so that are banned from leaving the country?)

We made colorful butterflies and talked about the new life Jesus gifted us on Easter.

Darlings, every one of them.  Because the weather was cold and thunderstormy, we hunted eggs indoors.

The kiddos were SO patient and well-behaved as we waited for the eggs to be hidden next door. 

Stacy talked to them about how we had to stay quiet in the baby room, and they were absolutely perfect.

Ready to go find eggs

Eggs were everywhere

Loading up her basket

At this point she started hunting eggs for the younger children.  Many thanks to magical JJ for orchestrating this amazingly A-like Plan B!

A family shot

Dusty and our birthday girl

Turns out we're not the only reason for Jaryn and Dusty to visit Oklahoma.  Thanks for spending the Easter/birthday weekend with us Drew.

Doesn't get much cuter than this

I really hoped to get a front porch shot but the sky was pouring rain.

Family-like friends

No one else wanted to venture outside for pictures with me.  An excuse to use a pink umbrella and be barefoot?  I'm your girl.

While we finished up lunch preparations, Dusty helped Ava with her new Easter activity book.

Easter lunch fajitas, why not?

Everyone helped out in the kitchen to get lunch ready, and it was delicious.

After lunch we celebrated Jaryn's birthday (actually on Easter Sunday), and Mimi's birthday (coming on Wednesday) with cake and candles.  Happy birthday ladies!

Do you remember this logo from Sesame Street?  It preceded Kermit the Frog's news stories.  Kind of random, I know, but it's where my brain went when I decided to do this little news update.

This is a picture of Our Wonderful Church (OWC),  also known as North Haven Church.  Because Rich and Stacy, current youth ministers at OWC, are moving to Turkey for three(ish) years, Josh and the rest of the youth committee have been searching high and low for someone to fill the position.  You can only imagine our shock (read wave of nausea) when Brother Pastor (inside joke there) contacted Josh about taking the position for the summer.  After much prayer, many questions, and some very convincing apple dumplings we have decided to take the youth ministry position.  Since Josh is taking class and working a fancy externship this summer, I will be his trusty sidekick - I'm even taking the youth to camp.  I have been surprised by my excitement about our decision.  Only those of you who have known Josh and me for a while will understand how big a deal this news is, so let me explain a bit.

Our previous two church positions made waterboarding look like a warm and fuzzy bedtime routine.  We were trampled upon, taken advantage of, lied about, spat upon, and hung out to dry for the whole world to see.  My view of church and Christians was forever changed by our experiences working in churches.  Their environments were so toxic that we both swore off vocational ministry forever, Josh took a quick route to graduate from seminary and headed to a place that would surely be more nurturing and positive - law school.  We took a break from church for a long while, only attending First Mattress Church with Pastor Pillow (just for you Patrick B.).  I honestly don't know that we would ever have gone back, were it not for our Little Bird.  Ava James started waking up on Sunday mornings and saying, "Go church?"  She was 18-months-old.  She had no concept of days of the week or church.  But for an entire month of Sundays our baby daughter's gentle prodding brought us to the realization that God was pulling us back to His people.  We spent a few weeks visiting churches and finally landed at a tiny country church where our good friends were ministering.  We began our gradual healing under the patient and competent guidance of the Millers.  Soon Josh was accepted to OU Law and we moved to Norman.  

The day Josh graduated from Truett Seminary we met Brother Pastor, his gorgeous Sparkly wife, and magical JJ.  Brother Pastor was also graduating from Truett, receiving his Doctorate of Ministry.  He just happened to be the pastor of a church in Norman.  We started attending the church and fell 100% head-over-heels in love with its authentic congregation, theology, and heart for missions.  Simply warming a chair at North Haven is impossible, no matter how terrified you are of church folk.  Eventually we jumped in and have found the waters, indeed, to be just fine.  We are loved.  We are understood.  We are valued.  We are humbled to serve amongst the finest group of Christians ever.

So here we are, where we said we'd never be again.  I am most excited that our careers in vocational ministry will not end on a sour note.  We will be able to think about church work without shuddering and feeling bile bubble in the back of our throats.  Please pray for us and the amazing youth we'll be working with this summer!

(I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that I will NEVER be a size 2, win the lottery, live in Prague, go to culinary school, be a D cup, own a pair of Jimmy Choos, be a cute preggo, or publish a novel...hear that universe?  NEVER!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Killin' It

After a busy Monday through Wednesday of last week, Ava requested a trip to the Oklahoma City Science Museum. I was more than happy to oblige, though it paled in comparison to my previous Smithsonian Museum experience found here.

Both of the museums we frequent have these 'follow the ball around the track' exhibits. I'm not sure what they're called, but Ava is like a little cat when she watches them.

A quick photo op

I'll bet you never knew

the periodic table of elements

could be so much fun. If only they arranged them in a hopscotch pattern in chemistry class.

Growing girl


Give her a balloon of any shape or size and she's happy.

I showed her some of the more pesky spots that we have to make sure to brush.

If our lives ever halfway settle I'd love to get a small aquarium. Ava adores fish. It's the reason she prefers Walmart over Target lately - Walmart still has a tiny aquarium section. Someday she'll understand the great sacrifice I make for her each week when she chooses where we should shop.

We should have worn our cowgirl boots.

Normally the gymnastics exhibit is overrun with bigger and rowdier kiddos who do not follow regulation Bart Conner Cubbie rules and Ava will not set foot on the mat. Luckily only a few tiny children (who could be forgiven their non-compliance due to their age and cute factors, according to Priss) were playing that day and she actually had a fantastic time.

On the first place podium, someone cue the National Anthem.

I L-O-V-E this wall.

Ava and I tried out this little exhibit for the first time. She sat on one side of the table, behind a wall so I couldn't see how she was arranging her blocks. I sat on the other side with an identical set of blocks. Without either of us peeking, she had to describe step-by-step how I could arrange my blocks to look exactly like hers.

Here was my interpretation of her directions:

And her original:
(I got pretty close!)

Her favorite part of the science museum is the huge tree house playground.

Buckets carry messages and soft toys from ground to top, and across to neighboring platforms.

We ended our day at the planetarium. I wasn't sure she'd enjoy the experience, how much could a 4-year-old really 'get' the solar system?

While we were waiting for the planetarium program to begin I kept trying to make conversation with Ava. Because our chairs tilted back for optimum 'sky' viewing, it made for awkward neck angles for conversation. I had already prepared her for what we would be seeing once the show started. Here is my best recollection of our conversation:

Me: Ava, it's going to get really dark in a minute but I'll be right here. You can hold my hand or even sit in my lap if you want to.

Ava: You can talk to me, but look forward. You're going to miss it.

Me: The guy is still seating people, and all the lights are on. It's not starting yet. What has been your favorite part of the museum so far?

Ava: Look forward! I'm trying to find the stars and you keep interrupting me. *squints eyes to try and see the stars that are not there yet*

Me: I will look forward when they start the program. It's still going to be a few minutes. Do you need to potty before it starts?

Ava: Please just stop talking to me. I almost saw the moon but now it's gone.

Obviously she is her father's daughter. Game-faced the entire time, recollecting details learned with exact precision on the way home, remembering how I almost kept her from seeing the faux sunset. I guess I was the one not quite mature enough for the planetarium.

Later we made a quick trip to Ava's favorite grocery store, Homeland on Lindsey. They have the tiny carts that make Ms. Too Big For Her Britches feel even more grown up. Notice what she's purchased, watermelon and a Wonderpets watercolor book.

Ever since Katy sent Ava her Starbucks Barrista in a Box set,

she insists on wearing it when she cooks. Even the hat.

The REpunzel dress helps her achieve a perfect ensemble trifecta.

We picked out this delicious asparagus at the farmers market, and prepared it our very favorite way.

Step 1: Rinse and snap ends
Step 2: Place on a baking sheet in one single layer
Step 3: Brush with a generous coat of olive oil
Step 4: Season with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper
Step 5: Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes

*princess and Starbucks attire optional, but recommended

Although one night HLS looked like this (Law Review Banquet),

this is a more accurate representation of our lives right now.

To relieve stress, and I'll be honest have a little fun ourselves, Ava and I cooked up a Supergreatfun Treasure Hunt.

We spent a large chunk of our afternoon picking up some of HLS's favorite things,

writing rhyming clues to hide with each little prize,

and carefully placing the booty all around the house.

I'm really not sure who had more fun.

She thought of some pretty interesting hiding places.

The big surprise at the end of Daddy's hunt would be The King's Speech. (By the way, if you haven't seen this spectacular flick go now and rent it. Or just go ahead and buy it, trust me. Collin Firth in the coronation uniform alone will justify the purchase.)

Supergreatfun Treasure Hunt challenge extended

Supergreatfun Treasure Hunt challenge accepted, a little Friends humor there.

Deciphering our clever clues

To those of you who are curious, this particular prize was weed killer. I thought HLS might find it therapeutic during finals. You know, he'd be all "Grr, this transactional liquidator is objectionable and fraudulent. Blast this horrendous cite check." He'd want to kill something out of crazy frustration. Just in the nick of time he'd remember my thoughtful purchase and kill the rogue Bermuda in the back flower bed instead of the poor missionary trying to hand him a tract on the front porch. You're welcome little Mormon.

Some gum in the window sill along with another clue

Haha we tricked him. Not that mailbox silly.

The classroom mailbox!

In the end he found his movie, his shoulders relaxed and he was smiling.
Mission accomplished.

Lately I've noticed that sometimes Ava will eat her salad and sometimes she won't. I realized a long time ago that she prefers to use the lettuce like a chip and dip it into her dressing, but some nights she still wouldn't touch it. Tonight I finally figured it out. She likes the purple lettuce. I've recently discovered (read our ghetto Oklahoma grocery stores finally started carrying) small heads of organic Artisan lettuce. Some of the heads are purple, some are green. Tonight she said, "I sure wish we had some of the purple lettuce." Well we did and we will from now on. Duh Mom, of course the purple lettuce tastes better.

In addition to Supergreatfun Treasure hunts, we make sure to have plenty of Andy Griffith saved up on the DVR for our poor stressed HLS.

I also remember to pack extra 'lunch' since his days at the law compound are about eight hours longer than normal.

I even sneak an extra layer of baby spinach onto both of his sandwiches, one from-scratch chicken salad and one turkey and cheese. Gotta' keep him healthy and sharp-minded.

Just a few more weeks to go and I'll be married to a 3L...
a treasure huntin', weed killin', stress hair twirlin', sneaky spinach eatin' lovely 3L.