Weekly Wrap-Up #4: June 27 to July 3

It's almost 11:00 at night, so what am I doing starting a blog post at this hour...especially when I'm exhausted and would much prefer to be in dreamland? Well, consider the date: It's July 3, which means my neighbors - like so many others around my city - feel the need to shoot off hundreds of rounds of fireworks in the streets tonight. They've been booming and popping for at least two hours straight now, and every time I think a lull means they're done, they seem to find another round somewhere. Never mind that it's actually illegal in my state to own anything more than sparklers and snakes; these kinds of personal fireworks shows are so prevalent at this time of year that police officers say it's impossible to enforce the law. Dare I ask, "Why even have it on the books then?" Sigh.

The good news is that the girls are sleeping through it all. And, frankly, that's nothing short of a miracle considering the difficult time they've both had with either going to sleep or staying there over the past couple of weeks. They'll be up late for the official fireworks show we'll attend tomorrow night - which I don't mind at all and actually enjoy a great deal - so it's even more important than usual that they sleep well tonight. And I will eventually get there myself - either when all the revelers finally run out of ammo or I fall into a stupor despite it all.

On the bright side, this does give me the opportunity to write my Weekly Wrap-Up, which I was too busy during the day to even begin tackling. And it was an eventful week, with several things worth mentioning.

For starters, I mentioned last week that I was going to have a "new, stretching experience" last Sunday. Namely, I'd been asked by one of our interim worship leaders at church to take the lead on one of last Sunday's songs, "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" - which meant I sang the first verse as a solo and then continued on melody throughout.

When Scott asked me at rehearsal, I hesitated at first - I typically sing harmony on everything and had not ever led a song before. But I agreed, for two reasons. First, for several months now I've felt the Lord prompting me to be willing to step out vocally if asked. Second, I've determined to do everything I can to help make our transition between Chad and Aaron as smooth as possible.

That's meant subbing for folks and, thus, being on team the last three weeks in a row - as well as next week, Aaron's first official Sunday - in addition to being willing to do the greeting and pray for our offering one Sunday...and saying yes to Scott despite my nervousness. And I'm really glad I did. Several people have told me I did a good job. And it's actually not at all a burden for me to do extra with or for the team because serving there is one of my joys. Plus, I think God used me having done that last week in particular to illustrate Pastor Bradley's sermon in a neat way - because I stepped out in faith to do something that was a bit beyond my comfort zone. And besides all that...it was fun!

We had a surprise on Monday morning when two young boys knocked on our door and asked, "Do any kids live here?" Turns out they - Talon and Drake - had come to stay for a while with their grandma, a relatively new next-door neighbor. Of course, she'd heard and seen Rachel and Abigail playing often in the backyard since she moved in and knew they are close in age to her grandsons. When they came over, we were just getting ready to start school for the day, but I invited them to come back in the afternoon, and they did. They came again for a while on Thursday, and then Talon came over on Friday evening when Jeff was out playing with the girls.

This is a new experience for me as a mom since we've never before had kids the girls' ages in the neighborhood. And I'm trying to strike a balance. On the one hand, it's a neat opportunity for the girls, and they seem to enjoy the boys for the most part. So I want to be welcoming and warm. But, on the other hand, I'm not willing for the boys to be here all the time, and - because I'd never met either their grandma or them before Monday - I am still feeling out the boys' appropriateness as playmates. So far, so good. Drake is admittedly a bit demanding and selfish, but he was willing to cooperate when I spoke with him about his attitude, and Talon has actually been quite pleasant. Both boys' "energy" is quite different than even what my very energetic girls have, of course. But the girls are having fun, the boys are behaving well enough, and they haven't been "living" here. So we'll see if they're still around for a bit next week.

Speaking of school, we once again accomplished bookwork each day! And we reached a big academic milestone, too, with the girls both gaining unquestionable mastery of three-digit addition that involves re-grouping and carrying.

You may recall that they'd begun learning to re-group and carry several weeks ago, and they understood the concept quite quickly with two-digit numbers. I let them keep using our manipulative blocks because I knew the three-digit addition was coming right up and - though it's, of course, the same concept as with two-digits - I (correctly) guessed it would at first "scare" the girls to try with "big numbers."

So we've taken our time. But I could tell last week that the blocks were becoming superfluous so I had the girls each do a couple of two-digit problems without them. And, much to their surprise (but not mine), it was easy...and even fun!

This week I said, "Okay, let's try it with three-digits." Predictably, each was nervous at first. But after just two successfully-completed problems, they grinned and again announced, "This is fun!" And by the end of the week - during which I gave them daily practice without a block to be seen - each girl told me she was a "10" on a scale of one to five in terms of understanding what to do. So chalk up another victory for Math U See!

Of course, we couldn't neglect to take a field trip - this week, to the Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley on Thursday for bowling with our good friends, the Janssens. All the kids bowled using the neat Kids Bowl Free program. And the adults - Renee and Scott Janssen and I - had no intention of sitting on the sidelines. We used bumpers so the kids didn't get discouraged with gutter balls so Abigail bowled in the 80s both times, and Rachel scored in the 90s. I was particularly pleased with myself because I actually got two consecutive strikes in the first game - a feat I'm sure I've never accomplished in bowling before!

In terms of writing this week, I:
  • submitted my next Celebrate Kids column on Tuesday; it'll appear in our email newsletter on the sixth;

I also worked on a special homeschool-related writing/organizational project most of the week, which I'm nearly ready to unveil. So watch for a post about that coming up in the next few days.

Well, the bottle rockets seem to have finally died out, so I think I can safely attempt to get some shut-eye. I have a 7:30 call-time for worship team tomorrow, and then after church we'll head to Jeff's parents' for our traditional celebration of the holiday. This year in particular I feel a strong calling to remember, reflect upon, and appreciate the freedoms the Lord has granted to those of us in this country - important to do always...but sometimes more than usual.

Worship Music Photo Credit: bemky (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bemky/2949335509/)
Flag Photo Credit: jcolman (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcolman/542295496/)

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