Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tale as Old as Time

This weekend we saw Beauty and the Beast. I took Sophia with me, and a group of 20 of us went together. It was really a great time.  The movie was stunningly beautiful. I had planned possibly to take Heidi as well but when I showed her the preview on my phone it didn't hold her attention. I figured if a 2 minute clip didn't hold her attention, surely a movie wouldn't as well. I was glad that I didn't take her because even Sophia was getting pretty restless during the last half an hour.

I will admit that I was less than thrilled when the news came out about a possible agenda promotion in this Disney movie. I have been looking forward to Beauty and the Beast coming out ever since I heard they were making a live action one. I love B&TB, always have, and I believe it was the first movie I ever saw in theaters (came out in 1991, I was 3). I am not going to say that it was "hardly noticeable" - I felt as though it was somewhat obvious though subtle. But here's the thing. Nothing is ever neutral. Disney movies were not neutral when they first came out with B&TB, and they aren't neutral now. Perhaps the more overt promotion of a lifestyle outside of God's commandment makes it easier to address and confront than a more subtle perversion. I don't know. I have read all the arguments back and forth and understand both sides of the issue. Did Sophia notice anything? I doubt it. She was hardly paying attention by the end of the movie anyway. Did I notice? Absolutely. But the movie itself was beautifully done for the most part. The scenery and cinematography were breathtaking. The singing was beautiful. The characters were fun and engaging. I think we are reaching a time in our world where adherence to God's standards are no longer held in any type of esteem. In recent years this was appreciated or at the very least faked (is that better than blatantly ignoring it?) but we have passed that point now.

The challenges to me as a parent are enormous then. My children will not receive training in what God's word teaches outside of my home (except church...) and I should not expect school or other systems to provide this for her. This has always been my role as her parent; I have no choice but to take it seriously and learn God's word not only for my own spiritual growth but for the benefit of my family.

Well the first part of that post took a different direction than I was expecting! But it's my blog. So I'll type what I want. Anyway, it was really hard to leave Heidi that morning. Sophia dressed up in her Belle Princess dress (and wore her lady bug rain boots with it) to go to the theater. Since big sister was dressing up, Heidi decided to wear her Cinderella dress, too, and asked me to do her hair "like Cinderella" (heh... a pony tail will have to do!). When we left out of the door the poor girl was just crying away. I told her she could watch a princess movie and have popcorn with Daddy! She seemed to forget shortly after we left (hopefully)! Sophia and I went to HyVee and picked out some bulk candy (blackberries and raspberries for me, sour patch watermelons for Sophia) and went to the theater to meet our big group. Tickets in hand, we got our popcorn, and sat down in our seats.

After the movie we had some lunch with friends and then it was off to Hobby Lobby because I made a wreath for the sanctuary (Easter/spring) and also need to make a tutu Easter basket for Bethany for Easter this year! Sophia was a great helper, and when we were at Hobby Lobby she asked if she could pick out a flower (a red rose, like in the movie) and then said "I need to get one for Heidi, too!"

Saturday dinner was a pork shoulder that Chris had spent 11 hours smoking and it was delicious. I absolutely loved the flavor, even better than brisket (though he has just about shunned me for saying that). Sophia's chore list is growing and lately she has been helping with the table before and after dinner. On Saturday she decided to help wash dishes, too; Heidi saw her and did not want to miss out on the "fun" so they were both at the sink "helping" with dishes...which soon led to a puddle on the floor. But it was very sweet. They're learning and joyfully helping, and I want to encourage that!
"When your hand can touch your ear, you are ready for Kindergarten! That's what Mr. Dave said!" - Sophia
(Also, she is holding her donut backpack that she picked out for school this fall!)
"Take my family picture, Mom!"
Hammiest smile ever
Beginnings of the tutu Easter basket for Bethany
All dressed up from Beauty and the Beast
Look at my socks!!
I just looked over and her fork was resting in her dinner roll.
My helpers
"Baby Anna's" crib that Papa repaired
Phase 2 of Easter tutu basket
I love eggs!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Problem of Affluence

Affluence is perhaps the most significant disease of the American people. It may seem wrong to refer to it as a disease, but it is the unquenchable master that commands and controls so many of us, even in subtle ways. "First World Problems," perhaps. 

Sophia has shown interest in reading the American Girl doll books together. They may still be a little above her head but she is enjoying reading them and I like that she is bringing them to me to read together. We started with Addy, but I put a pause on that because I would like her to have more understanding before we dive into the issues and attitudes surrounding slavery.  It is immensely important for her to understand, but I would like her to have more critical thinking. Instead, she moved on to the Molly books, which occur during the World War II era. 

In the first book, there is a portion where Molly is not allowed to leave the table until she finishes her vegetable. The particular vegetable escapes me, perhaps turnip?, because it is so frowned upon to not finish food, especially when there was so much sacrifice made for the war effort. The second book builds on this, and the girls in Molly's class create a blanket for soldiers and collect bottle caps to be turned in for scrap metal. I have been explaining to Sophia about soldiers and war, and she understands some of what Molly went through without her Dad because her own Daddy was gone this summer for a couple of months at military training. But I have also been explaining to her how they did without; how they made sacrifices and saved metal and material, and didn't buy a lot of new things. 

And then I thought to myself, "I can't even imagine living like that." Truthfully. I need a new pair of work shoes, so I am going to shop for them. The girls needed some rain boots, and my Nana sent them some. We are planning dinners this week, so we are going to the grocery store and buying everything that we need. The girls don't want to eat their vegetables; we don't require them to eat them all. There is food waste in our house. Our trashcan is full, bursting at the seams, at the end of most weeks.  Can we imagine what it would really be like to make sacrifices for the war effort going on right now? To make our own bread in old coffee cans? To go without canned products, growing our own food in a garden to live by, not just for a hobby. Saving bottle caps, even! 

At first glance, affluence seems great. How wonderful that so many citizens of a country do not truly understand "want." I am not denying there is poverty in America, but it is not like that of third world countries. My children have never had empty bellies, and in fact have rejected so much food that many would be desperate for. I mentioned earlier needing new shoes for work? I do not need new shoes for work; it's just that my favorite pair it getting really worn and not really looking business casual anymore. But I have plenty of shoes. I have some pairs of shoes that I wear less than 5 times a year! 

I think it is easy to see why Christ says in Matthew 19:24 (and Mark and Luke), "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." We have learned to be reliant on self.  My affluent life has taught me that I do not need God to provide for my needs, because I can go to the store and get my daily bread. While I would certainly never verbalize words like that, it is evidenced by my actions. "Thank you God for this food," we say, but, do we understand what it means to be thankful, truly thankful, for food?  We remember God when we are looking for a new job, or considering a new move, or feeling desperately tired, but do we remember God always? He is always meeting every need, and we have had our needs taken care of for so long that we are taking it for granted. 

This idea has been weighing on me even more so, because I just finished reading Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. A short synopsis: the book is a fiction work about persecution in the Christian church in China. One part in particular struck me (actually, a lot of parts) is when the main character is in prison but his friend manages to obtain some fruit for his family for Christmas. The man in prison stops to thank God for the fruit, honestly, earnestly. And the main character wonders to himself if he ever really thanked God for fruit. Do we? We tend to take all of our blessings for granted. 

It is so easy to get caught up in this world of "what next." I like this TV, but I would like a bigger/better/clearer one.  The kitchen is working well, but I want better floors, better appliances, better dishes.  My child is clothed, but is she wearing the latest fashion? What will people think of when they see her, am I judged as a parent if she is not in the newest clothes?  Even things that on the outside seem to be good: I want a new Bible, I need to buy this new one to read about God... But I have 20 Bibles at home already! And they aren't all open! That is my biggest problem. Not that I don't have the latest edition, but that my current ones aren't read to pieces. 

Affluence can lead you to focus on the unimportant. When you are always fed, you crave food that is more expensive but not necessary. When you are always clothed, you begin to look for better brands, more expensive tastes, a "statement," more than you need to cover your back. When you always have shelter, you look for bigger and better shelter. 

I do not think these longings are out of line. We are longing for better because we were created for better. We were created for paradise with our God. The problem is that we are chasing the created instead of the creator. We are chasing what does not satisfy our thirst, and when we obtain we long for bigger and better because nothing satisfies those desires except the creator, the giver of all things. Once we are satisfied in Christ, then we are truly satisfied. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

7 Months!

7 months is not particularly known for being a "milestone" month, but for my girls a lot seems to happen around this time.

First, right after she turned 6 months old, on 2/23/17 she started rocking on her knees back and forth and then on 3/3/17 she took her first "crawl step" where she nudged her knee forward. She has been progressively been getting better and better at crawling where she now can go pretty well on her hands and knees and get to where she wants to go within a room. Sometimes she will sit up, lay down, inch closer, and sit back up instead of crawling, but she's figuring it out.

On 2/26/17 she experienced her first illness, a cold, which was accompanied by her first fever. I tried not to panic but we went in to the doctor. Initially, before the fever started, I was worried she may be having allergies. The weather had warmed up and the sun had been out/snow melted, and she started to get a dry, hacking cough with clear mucous from the nose. A couple of days later it turned green. I'm sure the doctor thought I was crazy bringing my THIRD child in for a simple head cold... but you can never be too cautious with babies, right?

So, as if crawling wasn't enough, she's also been pulling herself up. I found a "Zany Zoo" (activity cube) toy on the Facebook marketplace for her for $15 which seemed like a great price. I didn't realize how "hot" these are right now but apparently people are crazy for them (according to Andrew C. who said people were always looking for them when he was looking at Target). Bethany likes it, but prefers to play it WITH somebody. She loves having myself or her sisters sitting there playing along with her. And so far, the older girls are just as entertained by it as she is!  She first learned to pull herself up using the activity cube. Then, later that same evening I set her down in the crib for a minute so that I could change into my own pajamas and when I turned around (after just a few seconds) she was standing up on the edge of the crib! Yikes! She's definitely a mover.

I think she is pretty close to getting her teeth. She has been gnawing on just about everything with pretty great intensity lately. And both of her older sisters got their first teeth during their seventh month. I'm sure it's just a matter of time! Along those lines, she bit me pretty good while she was nursing this month. I kind of yelped and it scared her, making her give me some big puppy dog eyes and crying for a few minutes. But, she didn't bite again (at least not yet)!

She really is such a happy, happy baby. Her bright red hair is continuing to come in red, and she has a smile and laugh that really light up her whole face. It's so contagious. Her sisters really make her happy too. If she is grumpy and one of them enters the room, she almost immediately starts smiling, They love to sing to her, too, and it's so sweet to see them try to comfort her.

The cutest thing happened a couple of mornings ago. I picked her up out of her crib and gave her a kiss on the forehead, and she leaned back and made a smooching sound and puckered her lips. Yay for giving back kisses! I love that.

This month tends to be a big one. She's learning to pick up food already and bring it to her mouth; she is so close to self-feeding and is really eager to be there too. She does do really well with baby food though. Lately I've made a lot of purees with Spinach (peach apple spinach, pear peach spinach, etc.) and she has really devoured those. Hard to believe she's already here! It'll be summer before we know it (though yesterday was just the first day of spring) and at that first birthday!

PIZZA (crust)
"I bit Mommy!"
Those legs though.
Watching Arsenal
So proud I can pull myself up!
Favorite toy
Pooping face (Mean mommy! Taking a picture!)