Outside my window... The weather this spring has been totally schitzophrenic. One day it's sunny and 80. The next day it's cold and rainy. Makes it very difficult to plan outings or decide what to wear...
::Listening to... My sweet hubby scrubbing the kitchen. Yes, it's true. He has basically taken on all the major housecleaning to help lessen some of the home-load since I am in school 16 hours/week, still do most of the meal planning and cooking, and homeschool the kids. I am a blessed woman.
::Giving thanks for... Increasing confidence in speaking the French language. Many opportunities for fellowship. The fact that there have been three public holidays in as many weeks this month, and that we are now on a vacation week. =)
::Pondering... Last night I went to a friend's house (one of our missionary colleagues, not a French friend) for a ladies' night. In addition to the wonderful time of fellowship, it was also a time for some of the families that are leaving over the summer (sniff, sniff) to start cleaning out and passing along their things. There were heaps of clothes and toys for the taking. On the way home, I was chatting with my neighbor about cleaning things out, minimizing, discerning what is really important to keep and take with you when you are going to be living in Africa, being prepared for the possibility that you might have to walk away from everything, and how to help young children understand this. I realized that one of the things that 10+ years of overseas living and 3 international moves in as many years has taught me is that we need to build our family culture around things that aren't tangible. We need to hold loosely to stuff...we need to hold loosely the never-ending to-do lists [thinking here about all the things I stressed about NOT doing to our house in PNG when we ended up selling it anyhow...so did any of it really matter in the end?] and focus on the things that are lasting - our relationships with each other and with the Lord. Those are the things that will keep our world from crashing to pieces even if we have to walk away and leave our home and stuff behind us yet again. Don't know if I'm making much sense here....but it was a powerful reminder to me of where my priorities need to be.
::Living the Educational Life... We've taken school at a much more relaxed pace because of all the days off this month and that has worked really well. We are making good progress and having good fun. James loves feeling more included in our time together. My goal for our next "term" after our vacation is to start incorporating more French into what I'm doing with the kids. I have lots of ideas...just need to implement them. (Check out some great Charlotte Mason inspired foreign language posts written by other homeschooling expat families here, here, and here.) I hope to get a school-update post up soon.
::Preparing in the Kitchen... I have resisted for much too long planning our lunches. I plan our dinner menus, we have a simple breakfast rotation that works for us, but lunch....sigh. Sometimes I wish God created our bodies not to have to eat at midday. Anyhow...I finally sat down last week and made a 4-week lunch rotation. I didn't plan daily lunches because I never know if we will have leftovers or not...but rather chose 4 simple things to pick from on those days when I don't know what we should have for lunch. So far, so good this week. If the plan works out for us....I'll let you know. =)
::Following These Links... This was excellent - on raising children in Africa. There was a lot of food for thought (on mission statements and knowing yourself) here too.
::Turning Pages... We started using a new devotional resource with the kids this past week and think I may have finally found a child-friendly devotional that I actually like. Most of the others I have stumbled across are either just twaddle or still over the heads of my little ones. The title is Long Story Short by Marty Machowski. Basically it goes through all of the stories of the Old Testament - read from the actual Bible - and gives a brief commentary/related passages to explain how the story points to Jesus. Apparently there is a sequel that goes through the New Testament coming out later this year. It is written in such away that my 6 year old connects with it (and even the 3 year old, kind of), but in the lesson on Genesis 1 we've been doing this week, I've been reminded anew of the greatness of God, even the midst of a familiar story.
::Finding Rhythm... Ah...the ongoing quest. Currently reworking my early morning routine. Bottom line: I need to get up earlier. And stay off the internet more. Sigh.
::Kiddos this week... Have been fun and helpful and enjoyable to be around, in general. As much as I love little babies, I really love that mine are getting older. I especially love that Michelle is old enough to be excited about going to Paris next week (yes, we are going to Paris!) to see the Eiffel Tower and a real Monet painting in a museum. Toddlers just don't do things like that, ya know?
::Praying... For wisdom in evaluating my priorities and using my time well, and senstivity to the Lord's guidance as I go through each day. Praising the Lord that we've finally starting to have opportunties for French fellowship and language practice. Praying that we can find someone who would be willing to help the kiddos likewise....
::Planning the week ahead... next week we are going on vacation. A real one - as in travelling somewhere just because we want to go there and playing tourist for several days and not for work, visiting family, speaking, medical reasons, or errand running. Shoot, we aren't even going to "play tourist" - we're going to be real-honest-to-goodness tourists! In Paris, no less! We travel, yes. But we don't vacation. Hence why this is a big deal. Watch this space for an update....