Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Man Cave?!

Our nonsense has reached new heights! ..and I am kinda glad.

Here Cody and Devin hang from the balcony of their Man Cave.

Last week Cody and Austen spent the afternoon cleaning out the tree-house. They decluttered, rearranged, etc. When asked what they were up to. Cody looks me directly in the eye and grunts. We're making a man cave. (and then dares me with his eyes to make a commentary).

Austen proceeds to giggle.
A man cave? I ask. Yes.(then Cody grins) a MAN cave.

Really? (I just can't leave it alone). A man cave, in a tree?

Yup! (still daring me to challenge him..thoughts of men's clubs run through my mind)..and we are taking Rock Band up there and installing black-out curtains!

Aha. (I think selfishly) Maybe I will get my living room back. No more constant drumming and strange noises. No more please turn that down. Oooh.. I think..I might even get to read a book in there! So I respond with a simple Okay.
I picture my living room returning to a look like in this pic. where
we listen to Yo-Yo Classic CD's and read in a nice clean, quiet room. (don't happens sometimes)

It doesn't take long for reality to hit. Here Austen, Devin and Sandy work on their confirmation stoles while Cody's Odyssey team works on the deck with car-parts, clay, bamboo, etc. strewn everywhere.

What is most amazing to me is how quickly word spreads about The Man Cave.

Brian and I went to Austin, you know the city that is almost 2 hours from our house, to see Brian-Scott and Angee's new apartment. While we were there Brian-Scott mentions he is coming home next Saturday and wants to play Rock Band. I say.."Oh..yeah..your brothers moved it out of the living room. They have converted the tree-house into." (Brian-Scott cuts me off) Oh..I know about the Man Cave! See we men (with big grin on his face) We know about man caves.. (Angee proceeded to roll her eyes.)
I don't even know how to respond. Brian and Brian-Scott laugh.

The next day, our neighbor Justin comes over to study for his driving test. He is looking for Austen. Before I can look for Austen, Justin grins, don't worry. He's in the man-cave. We're studying up there!

In this picture Austen and Devin play Rock Band as loud as they want uninterrupted.
Man Cave heaven!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Please!!

We are ready for summer! It is almost the end of May and we are still going through the motions of studying in the mornings and hosting our weekly homeschool co-op. What is up with that?
It's sympathy. I think. For the second year in a row, we have had a child in our house who is stuck on a school schedule. Last year Mohamad and Mason. This year Mason. Poor guys.
It is guilt that keeps us pretending at this time.
Still. We can start summering around here, can't we?
Truth is, there isn't much difference between our summers and the rest of the year. We tend to think in seasons as far as how we spend our days. So..Austen will continue reading. Cody will continue computing and transmissioning (is that a word?) because that is what they want to do.
What will really change? Cody will spend more hours working. Austen will begin working on his gyrocopter. There will be summer camps. Music camp for Austen and soccer camp for Cody. Mason will spend 10 days in Costa Rica.
Most importantly,the guilt will be gone. Everyone will go to bed later because Mason will not have school in the morning. There will be no co-ops to prepare for. Today is the last day!
We will spend a lot more time at the Boys and Girls Club because Austen is lifeguarding . All three boys are in a mentoring program (and applying for a summer work program..we'll see). We'll eat more dinners at a reasonable hour because my work schedule will change.
So how are we preparing for this almost non-change. The change is in the more subtle things.
Food for starters. Devin and Austen are practicing making the "perfect fruit smoothies". Since we tend to live off of fruit smoothies and bagels on summer mornings. (As opposed to muffins and hot-chocolate in the winter..and "fend for yourself " in the Fall and Spring). There will always be a pitcher of tea or lemonade.
We start putting away all our pants. Jeans, sweats, khaki' doesn't matter. Just keep one pair of dress pants because we live in the South and still have to dress up occasionally. We put away our boots and tennis shoes. We replace this milder weather attire with our swimsuits, tank-tops (the guys..I'm just not a tank-top kinda girl), t-shirts, sandals and sunglasses. Gotta have the sunglasses!
We will smell like sunsceen and aloe. We clear a spot on the deck railing for wet towels and swim-sutits. We purchase lots of citronela candles for the porch and deck. We will go to the movies more often. We go to the grocery store and stock up on gatorades, bagel-bites, chex mix, granola bars and fruit galore..things the boys can just munch on between swimming and working.
I am counting down the days.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Faith Statements

I have been thinking about faith statements lately. In particular, the faith statements of my own children. All of our boys have chosen to be confirmed in our local Lutheran church. Confirmation has always been an option for them. I think it is my responsibility to be open for discussion on faith and share my own beliefs. However, I believe that people have differing faith journeys, and I cannot possibly know what their's is to look like. The boys have all chosen to spend a couple years studying their faith within and without the context of the Lutheran church. They choose to say, "Yes, I am reaffirming my baptism, now that I am at an age to make a conscious choice." They then write and read their faith statements to the entire congregation on their confirmation day.

From a very selfish perspective, I like that their faith-statements are almost always the first writing my children do. Yes..we play with writing, but they never really start writing until late middle school when they are writing their faith statements.

Last week, as Austen was trying to figure out how to write his own statement, we dug up his brothers' old statements. I was struck with how accurately each boys statements reflect their personalities. So, just for fun, thought I'd post them. Don't worry. Remember, this is the first piece of formal writing for all of them. Not very long.


My name is Brian Bates. When someone first says the word "church" the things that I picture are not necessarily "churchly" things. For example, I know that I can always find Elliott in the Youth Room sleeping when I get here. If for some reason, he is not there, he'll be in the kitchen. The word "church" brings to my mind thoughts of friends, food, the attic and other things I should probably not mention. However, I know there is much more to church than these immediate images.
After this year's first confirmation class, my little brother asked me, "so what is confirmation anyway?" I told him it's about asking lots of questions. Now that I am finally getting confirmed, I realize that there is a lot of truth to what I told him. I have walked out of church many times, with more questions than when I entered. I wonder, what really is a perfect Earth? What is God's plan for me? How do I love my neighbor when they are, well, not always so lovable? confirmation does not mean I know the anser to these questions. It means I am just beginning my Christian journey.
In my baptism, I was brought into God's family. I had no questions. I was just loved. In my first communion, I learned the importance of forgiveness. Now, as I become confirmed, I am learning the importance of becoming an active, accountable member of not just my own spirtual growth, but in helping in the growth of the congregation as well.
So while I would love to spend all my time hanging out in the Youth Room, listening to music and eating candy, or..creating mischief in the loft, I understand that I cannot just take from the church. Now it is time for me to start giving back.


I was asked recently what exactly it means to be confirmed. In a nutshell, I would say confirmation is a reaffirmation of my faith, but that is too vague of a response. a walnut shell, I would say it is getting ready to be an official member of the church.
But what does that mean? As I reflect on the past 2 years I wonder what has changed. Yes, we played with fire. Yes, we tried Pastor Karl's patience. We hid from Ms. Dina (that was fun). We played trivia games. Bet we did do more. We looked in depth at the 10 Commandments and how they apply to our lives both in and out of the church. We dug a little deeper into the Apostle's Creed.
We come to the realization that church is not contained within these walls on Sunday mornings.
I look at the boldness of some of our church leaders. Those that were not afraid to say "Enough". Martin Luther made a stand during a corrupt time in the Catholic Church. Bonhoeffer took a stand during the Holocaust. I think of these examples as I maintain my involvenment in the Darfur Interfaith Coalition.
To be a member of the church is an ongoing process. I plan to continue this process.


When I first started to think about what to say for my confirmation, I stressed out. I told my mom.."I think I'm getting a head-ache." So she asked me to put the papers aside (the ones from Pastor Karl) and just think of images.

This is a list of what came to mind:
Reading the daily devotionals with Devin
Blowing up bottles with toilet bowl cleaner
Foot through the ceiling in the kitchen...and having to repair it later
Ryan and Ace going down the hill in a mop-bucket.
Going down the hill in a broken wheel chair.
Rock fights on the play-ground. We actually haven't had one in a while. Good thing. It kinda hurt.
Church camp-outs.
Trying to climb the church walls.
The Easter Egg hunts. Those are fun. I remember once Ryan put an egg inside an ant pile. Wow that hurt.
Cookies..deffinatley the cookies.

My brother Brian once said that when you speak of church what comes to mind are not necessarily what many consider to be "churchly" things. Now I know what he is talking about.
I am beginning to understand that church is not just about praising God (though that is very important) but about the people in our communities as well. It is about the relationships we build. It is about helping others develop their own relationships with God.
Jesus was known to hang around with some questionable characters. Someone once said, "Be careful when you bring Jesus into your home, he might bring his friends with him!" I think it is important for all of us to remember that. Our relationships should be unconditional.
I was asked in a recent devotional, if the road I was on today was a road where I would encounter God traveling with me.
I thought about this. I try to keep God in my heart in my daily life. I try to walk with God as I study, as I hang out at the Boys an Girls Club, as I hang out with my friends.
In other words, minster to all.
Thank you.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Brian and Angee go to Prom.

Dilemma 1: to put the flower on.

Dilemma 2: Convince Brian he is not James Bond.

Last minute touch ups.

Ready to Go!

Oh..wait, the parents are making us pose for MORE pictures!

..and behind the scenes? Kevin (Angee's younger brother) has a birthday party. Boys playing army, posing for pics as they cut cake, and throwing water-balloons.

Lots of fun!
Weekly menu: (I know..we have had no menu for awhile..everyone has been fending for themselves)
Monday: cheese enchiladas, salad, Ranch-style beans, watermellon
Tuesday: eat at grandpa's retirement from Trinity party (biscuits and finger veggies at home later)
Wednesday: veggie chili and corn-bread, strawberries
Thursday: spinach lasagna, garlic bread, lemony green beans, grapes
Friday: make-your-own chalupas
Saturday: dinner at Holy Cross Church
Sunday: not a clue.
Okay..the co-op kids are recreating Act 1: Scene 1 Julius Ceasar as I type. I hear lots of giggling and talk of leprachauns, something about William Kempe looks like a leprechaun?? Oh..I hear something about leprehauns walking under Brutus's legs..since he is "such a brute"..Think I'll see what's up!