Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like everyone...I have so much to be thankful for today.

- Having a relationship with God
- My family
- My friends
- Good health for most of my loved ones
- Living in America
- Mission trips our family has been able to take this year

And as we loaded up our table with Thanksgiving food, I kept thinking about the hungry people I saw in Honduras who waited patiently in the boiling hot sun for a chance to see a doctor.  Cemented in my mind is the image of a young mom feeding her two small children from a bowl of soup that had belonged to one of the team (we had been eating bowls of soup for lunch, got full, and didn't want to throw the food away when we knew people were hungry.  We offered the waiting families the food and they eagerly took it).

I'm so very thankful for the bounty at my table today, but it's hard to enjoy it without thinking of those who are going to bed hungry tonight.

Or those who are deployed and not with their families. 

Or families who have an newly empty seat at their tables.

This year, my dad is battling cancer and I wish so much that I could be with him for Thanksgiving.  But today, we are miles apart and that is okay because God is enough.
He always is enough.

An excerpt from my devotional today (Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young), said:
"A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems.  Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations.  I am your refuge and strength, an ever present and well-proved help in trouble."

Counting my blessings...and they are MANY.

I hope all of you have a wonderful day remembering all the things you have to be thankful for!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Taking two six year olds to Target

First...before I get to the Target story, I wanted to post an update on my dad.  He is currently being treated for cancer with Provenge, which is a vaccine made from his own blood cells to try to get his body to fight his cancer cells.  He did very well with the first treatment but had a second one on Friday and had a bad reaction.  He has been unable to eat for three days and is very sick.  He ended up back in ER the next day for pain.  Then today, he was back in ER for some other complications with his catheter--and they found an infection.  He had a meeting with his oncologist today and was told that his cancer is in his bladder and is 'advancing.'  Also...last Wednesday, my mom fell and hurt her arm--the same one she broke last year.  The ER doctor said it was broken, but today her surgeon said that it wasn't--just a very bad bruise.  So we are thankful for that. 

I'm posting the Target story because my parents love to hear stories about their grandchildren and I thought this might put a smile on their faces.  They've had a tough week.

The kids didn't have school today because of Veteran's Day.  It was my intention to sneak out to Target this afternoon to pick up a few necessities.

Why do I over-estimate my own abilities to fake the kids out?  WHY?

Of course, I didn't get out of the driveway with less than two kids.  The little ones normally do not get to go to the store, for obvious reasons.

But there they were, chirping happily in the backseat, unable to contain their excitement at their good fortune.

When we arrived, I decided to treat myself to Starbucks.  Coffee isn't for kids, so why would they want any?  Right?

I forgot that Starbucks puts juice boxes at the eye level of small children.  How devious.
Soon, two sets of pleading eyes were looking up at me.
Foolishly, I asked if they would rather have hot chocolate. 
Kate is fashionable enough to carefully weigh the pros and cons--and swiftly decided that she wanted the apple juice to save her shirt from a possible spill.
Jake, on the other hand, has no such worries.  He wanted the hot chocolate.

The person who took our order promised the drink would be made cooler than normal.
The person who made it had no idea of what had been promised and produced a boiling hot drink.

So we put it in our the spot where a child can sit, waiting for it to cool off.
We scooted merrily around the store, picking up our purchases.  The kids talked non-stop and kept deviating off course and toward any bright, shiny item that caught their eye. 
Kate, who loves to talk, informed me that she was very chit-chatty.
I agreed.

We admired the pillows, the candles, the knick-knacks.  And then, I looked down.
To my horror, I saw that the hot chocolate had tipped over and was literally POURING in a stream down the side of the cart and onto the floor.
Could I skulk away without notice?
I rolled the cart forward and realized that with every inch we traveled, there were tell-tale drips on the floor.  The wheel was also coated and leaving behind a nice tire track.

I rolled the cart forward again...uncertain.  What should I do?
I had one crummy kleenex in my purse.  It didn't sop up much.
Certainly not enough soppage to hide our trail of guilt.
By then, we were getting some stares from other patrons.  Ack.
"Hide me!"  Or let me disappear into the floor.
It's pretty much impossible to hide a huge hot chocolate spill on white tile.
And there we were, standing near it with brown liquid still dripping from our cart.
It's also nearly impossible not to draw attention to yourself when two six year olds are asking loud questions like, "What it my fault?"  "What are we going to do?" "Mommy, der's still a big mess on da floor."

Finally, a Target employee happened nearby and I went over and told her that we were the obnoxious people who had left a bit of spillage.
She graciously went to get the necessary items to clean it.  I eventually was given some paper towel to clean our cart, and the incident came to an end.
As we were exiting the area, the employee kindly said, "You can go back to Starbucks and tell them you spilled your drink.  They will give you a new one."

Well...that is really nice of Starbucks, but I had a sneaking feeling that if Jake entered the minivan with a full cup of hot chocolate, I would be cleaning another spill when I got home.

He drank what was left in his cup without complaint...and all was right with his world.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Day is Tomorrow

I try not to get too political on this blog but I have decided to share my impressions and photos from a political rally I attended a few days ago.

It's probably not too difficult to figure out that I do not support Obama's policies.  I am pro-life and a big advocate for Israel, want better jobs for the poor (and everyone), and do not support 'redistribution of wealth.'

A friend called me the other day to see if I wanted to accompany her to a Romney/Ryan rally in New Hampshire.  Truth be told, I had already decided not to go because it started at 8:30AM, with gates opening at 6:30AM, and the rally was several hours away.  That was just waaaay too early for this girl to get out of bed.  However, my friend had the idea to go up the night before, split the cost of a hotel room, and take a few of our girls.  How could I say no?

We crawled out of bed at 5AM.  I don't do that for just anyone, ya'll.

When we arrived, there was a looong line of people who had obviously gotten up earlier than we had.
It was cold and we all stood there shivering but full of excitement to see the crowd was so large.  New England isn't exactly a bastion of Republican turnout.

Once we got in...we saw the Romney plane and lined up for a photo.

And then we played and the crowd got bigger.  And bigger...  And it helped to keep all of us warm as we stood there looking out over the tarmac.

I digress a minute to say that I wasn't a Romney fan at the beginning of his race.  It wasn't a matter of dislike, I just didn't think he was charismatic enough to go up against Obama.  As the race has gone on, I have come to respect him.  But after being at the rally, I am very impressed.  He was humble, genuine, and there is a kindness that emanates from his eyes.

Back to the rally....

We scored a spot about 15-20 feet from the podium!!  I couldn't believe it!

After an hour and a half or so, the Romney/Ryan bus pulled up to loud cheering from the crowd.  Out stepped Bobby Jindal, John Thune, Kelly Ayotte, and Marcia Blackburn.  Woohoo...BONUS!
I really wish I was taller so I could have gotten up above the crown for a better picture. I was in the middle, so behind me and to the left of me, the crowd was just as large.

Flag waving Patriots

Marcia Blackburn was the first to address the crowd.  She is a senator from TN and was warmly welcomed.

 Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana gave a great speech

 I don't know who this was.  

 John Thune, from South Dakota - another great speech

Kelly Ayotte, senator from New Hampshire introduced Mitt Romney.

Chloe stood on the metal fence--craning for a better view of Mitt.

Lo, and behold...ANN ROMNEY was there, too!  Double Bonus!!  She is truly a sweet, gracious woman.  She thanked the crowd for coming and said she knew that most late autumn Saturday mornings in New England were spent raking leaves, and she knew we all had important things to do that we set aside to come out and support Mitt.

I totally love this picture because it clearly shows the genuine love between these two.

Ann bragged on Mitt a bit and he lowered his head, seemingly embarrassed by the praise.

Crowd response to Ann was VERY enthusiastic.
When Mitt stepped up to the microphone, he suddenly was overcome with emotion as he thanked the crowd for turning out on a cold, early morning in New Hampshire.  I was very moved to see how kind his eyes he seemed to really connect with everyone as he promised to create more jobs for those hurting in the current economy.  I got the distinct impression that he is running for this office for one thing...not to be powerful...not to be successful...not to be adored, but rather because he feels in his core that he can help his beloved America.  He could retire and spend the rest of his life leisurely enjoying what he has worked for.  But instead, he wants to serve a nation that needs his help.  He is trading his freedom for a life lived in the shadow of body guards and swat teams (they were on the roof of the airport building behind us).  It was also clear that the responsibility of the Office weighs on him and he takes it very seriously.  He struck me as a humble man, who was truly moved that he might be trusted with this important job.  Absent was the arrogance that is sometimes seen in candidates. 

"Don't vote for Revenge.  Vote for LOVE OF COUNTRY!" he announced, which brought a HUGE ROAR from the crowd.
"America is about to come roaring back!"  brought another enthusiastic, cheering response.

After a brief speech, they left the stage to start shaking hands with people.  I thought they might just shake a few hands and leave, but no...they stayed for a long time, making their way from one end of the fence to the other.  The crowd was holding up three fingers to indicate, "Three more days."

The crowd continued to follow them and take pictures.

Ann graciously spoke to supporters and shook hands.

At that point, I thought we were probably done and could start for home, since we weren't that close to either of them, and I couldn't get very good pictures.  But then my girls decided they wanted to try to shake Mitt's hand and headed into the crowd.  
I couldn't let them go alone, so I started in after them as they wiggled and squirmed their way to the fence.
I'm so glad I did.

Because we got this close!  He was signing autographs, which kind of astonished me.   I did not use a telephoto lens for this shot...we were about 3-5 feet away from him.

I tried to get a shot of him signing this but couldn't get far enough back to get the book into the frame.

He started to move away from us so I was able to get some shots of what he was signing.  He patiently signed one book after another.  There was an air about of caring and patience, not one of manic, "OK--let's get a few books signed for a photo-op and then get on to the next event."  I wish I could more adequately describe this man.  His body language was steady, unhurried, calm, kind, and reassuring.  I felt I could trust him.  That he wasn't trying to impress me, but was just being himself and letting me decide if I was okay with that.

My girls REALLY wanted to shake his hand but were pretty shy about sticking their hands out.  He signed autographs for what seemed like forever (which astonished me all the more) and then just as he looked like he would start shaking hands again, the Secret Service came and took him off to an interview.  

Molly said later, "When we got that close to him, I was shaking with excitement."
I was surprised and delighted that my girls were so engaged in the process.

The girls wanted to follow him to the other end of the fence area to watch the interview, so off we went.  We got up to the fence again--but were pretty far away from the action.  The girls decided we needed to be closer.   
Slave drivers, those two. 

We got a bit closer.  While I lingered to get a few shots, the girls disappeared. 

And then turned up in my next shot!

I turned around to see if the crowds had thinned behind me.
Again...wish I could have been taller to get a better shot of how many were there.
I realize it's not as BLUE as Massachusetts or New York but still...

And then it was time for Mitt to board the plane and go to the next rally.
Good-bye, sir.  Thank you for your willingness to serve this country.
I hope you will be given the job.

The crowd cheers and waves good-bye

On our way out to the car, we stopped for a photo-op with Mr. Ovide who is running for governor in New Hampshire.

Molly and Chloe snagged this sign which they planted in our front yard the minute we arrived home.

Much to my amusement, there was an "Occupy Wall Street" rally on site as we walked out to the car.
They managed to attract a huge crowd of FOUR to attend.
I couldn't resist calling out to them as I walked by, "NICE TURNOUT!"  
To which the person in the green coat gave me the stink eye.  haha 

All in all...I'm very glad I made the effort to attend the rally. 
It was definitely worth getting up at 5AM.