Friday, April 26, 2013

Unusual Visitors

We were surprised to see this in our side yard yesterday…

In case you can’t spot them, it wasn’t just one duck… she had a clutch of ducklings waddling behind.

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Actually, there were TWO big ducks plus all the littles. One of the adults immediately started flying around and quacking at me when I stepped outside. I grabbed a few pictures and then left them to themselves – I could tell they were totally freaked out.

I’m assuming they wandered over from the wooded area that backs up to the street next to ours. I think they’re Black Bellied Whistling Ducks – which are a type of tree duck that nests in hollowed out trees or on the ground. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) Also, both parents share in the duckling-raising duties. Way to be present, Daddy Duck. Sorry for giving you such a fright. Feel free to come back to visit anytime. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mom Failure

Oh my word, I have been on the ball with the kids this week. And by on the ball, I mean failing in every possible way on multiple fronts. I’m not talking about my normal, every day mom failures (voice raising, patience losing, etc). Those are a constant struggle. I’m talking about the ones where you forget things that are going on at your kids' school or activities. If you ask sweet Ben, he will tell you that I am EXCELLING in this department lately.
This brings me to an important point. If you’re going to be a failure, just do it all out. Own it. If you forget something that you were supposed to do or prepare on day 1, don’t tell yourself, “Oh, well, I’ll just make up for it tomorrow.” That kind of thinking is for sissies. Fail big or go home… that’s my motto.
So, without further adieu, a brief recap of the week’s failures thus far:
Monday – “Stuffed Animal Reading Day”
Instructions – Please bring your favorite book and stuffed animal to school for our reading day.

What we did – NOTHING. Totally forgot about the whole “Week of the Young Child” thing at school.
Ben’s take on things when I apologized for Monday’s shortcomings: “That’s Ok, Mom. Mrs. Mancias let me borrow one of her stuffed animals.”
Tuesday– “Scarf or Tie Tuesday”
Instructions – Dress for success by wearing your favorite scarf or tie.
What we did – NADA. Forgot. Again.
Bonus points – It was 90ยบ and Ben went to school wearing long pants and a long sleeve thermal shirt.
Wednesday – “Crazy Sock Day”
Instructions – Wear a pair of your craziest socks because we are CRAZY about reading.
What we did – Ok… I didn’t forget today’s activity. However, the closest thing Ben has to crazy socks is a brown/orange/blue argyle pair that match his Christmas sweater from year before last. So we just changed it from “Crazy Sock Day” to “Distinguished Grandpa Sock Day”.
The grandpa socks seemed to appease Ben because when I picked him up from school he said, “Thanks for reminding me to wear these socks so I didn’t have to feel left out.” Ouch.
What most kids were wearing at school:
What Paw Paw Ben wore to sock day:
Nailed it.
Bonus Points: On top of it being crazy sock day at school, it was also crazy hair night at Awana. Ben has a crew cut. I didn’t have the forethought to buy a can of that spray hair dye.
At drop off Ben says, “I guess my hair is too short for crazy hair day. Too bad… I think we get bonus points if we do things like crazy hair night.”
Double ouch. Let’s move on to…
Thursday– “Fiesta Flair Day”
Instructions – Kick off the San Antonio Fiesta by wearing your fiesta flair. Viva Fiesta!
“What is Fiesta?” you ask. Good luck figuring that out… I’ve lived here nearly 12 years and I still don’t understand it. It’s some sort of San Antonio holiday, similar in some ways to Mardi Gras (parades, carnivals, parties, etc). The kids get a day off of school because at some point in the city's history some people gathered together at the Alamo and threw flowers at each other. You can read all about it here.
Anyway, your guess is as good as mine as to what constitutes Fiesta flair… I asked some friends and these are the tips I got:
1. Dress him up in bright fun colors, wear those colored beads… or get him a sombrero, moustache, bright shirt, black slacks, and a sarape to put over his shirt.
2. I think a guayabera is what boys would wear.
3. Run by the fiesta store on main... They have lots of fiesta flair!
I love these dear friends, but who are they kidding… I couldn’t be trusted to spray Ben’s hair green or send him to school with an ALREADY OWNED stuffed animal. I can’t even PROUNOUNCE Guayaberas, and there was certainly not going to be any “running by the Fiesta Store”- which happens to be downtown - to pick up Sarapes, Sombreros, & Moustaches.
So, this is how Ben when to school.
I sure hope “guayabera” can be loosely translated to mean “blue plaid shirt from your closet.” Oh, and the headwear is a party favor cowboy hat with the sheriff’s star yanked off. I call it the “Faux-brero”.
Anyhoo – that’s how things are going around here. Tomorrow is Spirit Day and Ben is supposed to wear his school t-shirt. There is a 50% chance said shirt is in the dirty clothes basket. I should double check and stick it in there even if it’s not dirty. No sense ruining my track record with some sort of mini success tomorrow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ben’s Baptism

This past summer was a huge time of growth for Ben’s faith. In July, he aged out of the children’s wing and started coming with us to “big church” (as he calls it). His routine is to stand on a chair or in the aisle during praise & worship so that he can read the words on the screen and sing along – it’s so awesome to watch him! Then he settles in with the children’s bulletin (which has word puzzles and scripture lessons in it) while Max or Randy are delivering the message. I’ve wondered if I should ask him to put his colors down and listen, but he apparently can do two things at once because he usually has a few great questions or comments for us after each service. The messages seemed to be really stirring things in his heart and encouraging him.

At the end of the summer, I was baptized, and Ben’s attention was captured by the whole experience. A few nights later, at bedtime, he told his Daddy that he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. Bri and I sat with him and talked and then prayed together. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit moved in my sweet boy’s heart and that he feels called to know and walk with Jesus!

Since then, Ben’s asked about being baptized a few times and we honestly just haven’t gotten around to making it happen. God is good and He knows Ben’s heart better than we do, so on Good Friday he took away any and all road blocks. We were in church for the Easter service and Randy was speaking about baptism. Brian was sitting in between me and Ben when Ben whispered something to him and he whispered back. Then, because we’re so well-behaved in church, this happened.

Me: What did Ben say?

Bri: He wants to be baptized.

Me: What did YOU say?

Bri: I said that was really good,
 and we would talk about it.

Me: There are a ton of ministers outside today to talk with people that want to be baptized.
We should just do it.

Brian: OK.

And that was that. Brian took Ben outside to meet with one of the ministers and I went down to the children’s wing to pick up Grace & Noah.

While we were waiting, Ben told me that he was jittery on the inside. He was all smiles and so excited. I am grateful that I happened to have the camera with us (I’d just taken pics of the kids in their Easter clothes) so we were able to capture the whole thing.

All smiles! Love him!

I wish I could have heard what he was saying. (We were mostly trying to keep Noah & Grace from going for a swim.)

I was able to get a brief video. It’s a little jumpy since I only had one free hand. (Again, other hand was restraining Noah).

Congratulations, Ben!

One of the elders who baptized Ben encouraged us to go home and have him talk about or write down what he thought and how he felt. He had a Bible and a journal in his Easter basket, so I wrote a scripture and a couple questions for him on the first page.

This was the scripture I asked him to look up:

1 Peter 3: 18-22 Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought him back to life. By means of the spirit, Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison. Long ago they did not obey. God was patient while Noah was building the ark. He waited, but only a few people went into the ark. A total of eight were saved by means of water. The water of the flood is a picture of the baptism that now saves you also. The baptism I’m talking about has nothing to do with removing dirt from your body. Instead, it promises God that you will keep a clear sense of what is right and wrong. Jesus Christ has saved you by rising from the dead. He has gone into heaven. He is at God’s right hand. Angels, authorities and powers are under his control.

I asked him to write two things that he learned from reading that and he wrote:

1. Christ died for our sins, and

2. He was risen by the Holy Spirit.

I also asked him to write about what he felt like when he was baptized and he wrote:

“When I was baptized, it felt like the Holy Spirit was rushing through me like a whirlwind! It felt good.”

I am SOOO glad that we were given the idea to have Ben record his own thoughts… I hope it helps him to remember the experience as he grows.

Thank you, Jesus, for our Ben. Thank you for loving him even more than we do, which is so hard to understand, but so awesome at the same time!

Congratulations, Benji! We are so proud of you!