Thursday, October 29, 2009

Job Description: Mentor

During my quiet time this morning, it dawned on me that I might be in need of a mentor. Way back in the day, when I was young and living in Georgia, I prayed for three years for a mentor.  It wasn't until right before we moved that I realized I already had one in my boss and friend, Tammy.  She taught me about being a woman of God in the real world, especially considering I was fresh out of college when I met her.  It was the first time in my spiritual life that I wasn't living in a bubble.  College was great, people constantly asking me about my relationship with God, evangelism being a central part of my daily life, and of course, having all the time in the world to pursue my passions.  Real life wasn't so generous, even working for a church, and this was before I had kids. 

Fast forward 6 years or so.  Now I have three kids, and three brand new ministries, new church plant, political campaign, and a mom's group.  Managing the laundry, keeping the kids clean and fed, and somehow managing to maintain a relationship with my husband are hard enough, but finding balance in all the other areas of my life is presenting quite the dilemma.  So I'm thinking it's time for a mentor, but where would I find one of those.  Perhaps there is someone already in my life willing to step into role, or maybe I need someone new, someone who might not be connected to everything else.  I don't have the answer, but this morning, I started praying for someone who is spritually more mature and ready to take me on. 

Of course, it's not only the new stuff that I feel I need a little help with, it's the baggage as well.  I realize I haven't found full closure with the camp thing yet either.  Lately, I've been avoiding God, not intentionally, but it's certainly an issue.  It's like I want to spend time with him, but something is causing me to look the other way.  Even though I know that it was time to move on and can easily see the bigger picture (He certainly made it clear enough), I'm still struggling with the emotion of it all.  I'm having a hard time letting go, and I know that there are still some difficult conversations yet to come.  Why is it harder to avoid issues sometimes then face them head on?  It's easier to bury myself in all things new instead of processing the pain, but without fully walking through the valley, I'll never reach the other side, right?  So I've decided to walk down this road.  I just don't want to do it alone.  Shocking, right? 

If you know of anyone up for the job, willing to take on a stubborn, highly independent basket of mush, such as myself, just let me know.  In the meantime, I covet your prayers. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

O's First School Field Trip

Beside the fact that I left the stroller at home and had to report to carrying Madison around all morning, I'd say Owen's first field trip was a raging success.  We all met up at Clark's Ellioak Farm for a day of animals, mazes, hay rides, and pumpkins. 

Blake was in a snit most of the morning, but Owen seemed to heartily enjoy himself, bouncing from animal to animal, engaging with his friends, and deciding every pumpkin in the patch was his absolute favorite. Madison enjoyed being passed from person to person.  Sometimes she reminds me so much of Owen as a baby, so I guess I know what to look forward to. 

We started out at the petting zoo.  Man, have you been to this place?  The goats pratically snap the food out of your hand.  They're like my kids at dinner time, like they've never been fed before.  We also saw sheep, who apparently don't like carrots, a miniature cow, pigs, donkeys, an emu, chickens, horses, and probably some more that I can't remember.

After the over eager animals, we loaded up on the tractor trailor and away we went on our hay ride, which was lacking hay, but whatever.  Regardless, Owen had a blast, sitting up at the front with his classmates, completely ignoring his mom.  I'm guessing it's a glimpse of what is to come.

The hayless tractor dropped us off at the "pumpkin patch," which was really quite a dissappointment.  Basically they had dropped a truckload of small pumpkins onto a field.  Larriland is a far better farm, just saying.  Blake & Owen spent about 2 seconds picking out a pumpkin and then the next five exchanging it one after another.  Finally, with Mommy's help, they narrowed it down.  While I went to put the pumpkins in the car and change Madison's very wet diaper, the boys joined the rest of the class in the Pine Tree Maze.  By the time I got back, there was no finding them in that thing, so I hung out with a couple other moms at the entrance. 

From there we crawled into the car and headed off to BJs.  Yes, it was lunch time, and yes, I must have been delusional to think that this was in any a way a good idea.  I figured I throw the boys in one of those car carts, get them a hot dog and some chips and they'd be good while I picked up some household necessities with my free 60 day membership.  The plan did work...for about 15 minutes.  Of course they decided to break down about two aisles from the checkout lane.  I felt so close to becoming the "walmart mom", it wasn't even funny.  Seriously!  But we made it out alive, got home, and stuck the kids in front of the TV while I unloaded the car.  Why are you judging me?  Like you've never done that.

All in all, it was a good day.  I can't believe my boy is old enough to even go on his first field trip.  I feel a song coming on..."memories, memories."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Case of the Missing Ipod Touch...Solved

Thankfully, I am writing this in an utterly blissful state.  I have a clean house, spic and span literally, and my Ipod in my hand (well laying beside me actually), but just 20 minutes ago, I was convinced it was gone forever.

Every morning at the Pennington house is a downward spiral into chaos (hence the name of the blog), and yesterday was no different; rushing around attempting to get all three kids ready, bags packed, lunches made, and myself put together enough to make it to the gym.  I thought, as I climbed into the van coffee in hand, that everything and everyone was along for the ride as well, including my brand new Ipod Touch (early Christmas present from my hubby).  Turns out when I reached into my coat pocket to pull out my Ipod, it wasn't there.  Oh well, I must have just left it at home.  Of course, as per usual, I fill my morning schedule will all sorts of stuff, and don't return until after lunch.  I get the kids down for a nap and go in seach for my missing item.  Time passes and I begin to realize this may not be as simple as I thought.  All the "usual suspects" seem to be Ipod-less.   Before I totally freak out, I decide to check with the boys.  However, it's a new toy, and they simply stare blankly at me.  I tried, "have you seen mommy's little computer?"  Blake pipes up, "upstairs."  So I follow him up to my room where he kindly points our the regular computer.  Duh, Hillary.  Time was running out, and I had to get ready for my first EVER campaign kick-off for Steve Whisler.  I had decided that Tuesday would consist of a top to bottom search of the house.  Dang it, I was determined to find it.

The event was awesome, by the way, but I'll post that to the PVRC blog later.  This post is about my beloved iPod.  I know it's retarded, but it's amazing how quickly it became an essential part of my life.  Anyways, this morning, I sprang up out of bed, made my coffee (keeping an ever watchful eye out for the missing object), had my quiet time, where I'm sad to say I actually prayed for God to help me find it, and got to work.  Literally, I worked from 8 am until Neil got home looking in every crack and crevice along the way.  Good news is that I also cleaned as I went.  I thought this would go over better with the hubby.  By the time Neil got home, I'd cleaned every room in the house and had managed to find some missing jewelry, an old checkbook, a lost croc of Blake's, and several random pieces to games we thought were lost causes...but no iPod.  This was not exactly the news I wanted to give Neil, but sadly it's all I could do.  Luckily for me, he was more focused on the cleanliness than the think, shiny, expensive piece of equipment that seemed to have vanished into thin air.

When we got home from Chick-fil-A, Neil joined the search.  We even missed watching NCIS.  He was combing the bedroom and I was down in the basement canvasing Mat's old room, the guest bedroom, and once again, the laundry room (praying I didn't somehow wash it). About 9 pm, Neil comes downstairs and says he's giving up.  Yeah, I'd basically given up myself.  I grabbed my computer and headed up the stairs to blog about my sad, missing iPod Touch.  As I approached the top of the stairs, I saw it, sitting there on the kitchen table, glaring up at me.  To myself I thought, "Please don't tell me that was sitting there the entire time."

"You FOUND IT?!?!  Where was it," as I rushed back down the stairs and through my arms around my mystery solving, dignity saving husband.  "Please don't say you found it somewhere stupid!"

"I found it somewhere stupid," said Neil.

"Where?  Come on, tell me!"

"I don't know, I kind of like this whole missing iPod thing.  I come home to a spotless house."

"Seriously, where did you find it?"

"In my coat pocket hanging in the closet."

WHAT?  How in the world did it end up there?  I haven't worn it recently.  The only thing we could gather is that Blake was playing with it, as Owen's story goes, and he must have put it the pocket before I hung it up this afternoon.  Weird.  Why didn't I think to check there when I was cleaning?  Either way, it's found and I am absolutely exstatic.

Time now to go write up a post about the Whisler Campaign Kick-Off.  I can't believe I literally blew off everything, my blogs, twitter, phone calls, email, tv shows...everything, just to find an iPod.  I think I might have a codependency habit.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Couldn't Resist: Thought Of My Dad

From a friend of my dads, William, who is fighting cancer and is ademantly opposed to Obamacare. Just so you know, if my dad were still around, he’d be ademantly opposed as well. I honestly could not imagine what his last weeks/days would have been under this plan. Would some panel of government paid hack doctors have told my stepmom and I to just say goodbye and been done with it? His battle would have looked much different and ended much earlier if the government was in charge of his care. It’s our duty to not only protect ourselves, but to protect our parents and grandparents from being told when and how they should die. My dad, David Foster, died with dignity, surrounded by people who loved him and supported him. His life, his battle continues today in the war on cancer. People still read his blog entries, and in them, they find hope, encouragement, and even humor that inspires them to keep fighting.

Now it’s our turn to fight. The Democrats are preparing a nuclear option that will literally stampede right over our opinions and desires. We need to let them know that the consequence of this action will be the end of their reign of power. Though I would love for that to happen, the end of the reign, not the nuclear option, I’m not willing to stake my kid’s and grandparents quality of life on it. Are you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

At The Center of It All

A little over a month ago, I was still sitting on the fence debating whether or not to dibble dabble in local politics.  Now, not only do I regularly and solely (for now) update the PVRC blog, I am also the Communications Director for the Whisler for County Council campaign.  I know, right?  Crazy!  Some people say that Christian's shouldn't be involved in politics, and to be honest, I think this is what kept me on the fence for so long.  Well that and the fact that 98% of my time was taken up by my roles as mom and camp director.  It's still weird to me how quickly it all changed, almost as if the hole left by camp was immediately in by other things, mostly More than Moms and politics. And I can't take credit for any of it, which is a good thing.  It was too fast and too specific to be any of my doing.  The last time I remember the tiles falling into place like this was when I started camp.  God has made it clear that he is all up in the stuff in my life.  Actually, I can barely keep up.

It hasn't been an easy road though.  When life is on fast forward, it takes me a while to figure out a schedule, a routine that fits our life.  And without structure, life is more like spaghetti junction (shout out to Atlanta) then a well oiled machine.  It's taken me time to figure out how to juggle these different roles.  There are so many of them.  My time with God has been sporatic at best, not because I don't want to, but more because I'm still figuring this all out.  This morning, I drug my butt out of bed at 6:00 am, got a shower, made my coffee, and spent time in the Word.  It felt so good, so refreshing.  I realized that in these new endeavors, time with God is a crucial necessity.  Satan wants me to be distracted, caught up in all the newness and excitement that I forget the why behind it all.  To that I say, "Get thee behind me Satan," at least for today.  Tomorrow will bring with it a whole new set of struggles. Heck, ten minutes from now will bring a whole new set of struggles.  But at least for now, my mind is centered on the prize, focused on the goal, on Him who has given me life, purpose, and direction.  "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 27:4

If you think about it, ask me if each day if I spent time with God.  Man, I miss those days back at Georgia College when I could run into a friend in SAGA (the Cafeteria) and they would ask about my quiet time.  What accountability! And if you happen to be praying and you think of me, could you pray for the different hats I wear, as a wife, a mom, a mom's group organizer, a communications director, a church planter, and a community association VP?  Just pray that at the center of all of that stands the One who created it all.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Team Building and Brainstorming

Thanks to my fantabulous husband, I was able to join most of our children's ministry team (missed you Betsy) at a small conference, put on by Group Publishing, in Nothern VA this weekend (sorry Aunt Marsha, I didn't have my car so I couldn't visit).  It was sad to leave Neil and the boys behind (okay, not so much), but I had to forge ahead and figure out this thing called children's ministry.

You might think that camp ministry is quite similar to children's and to some extent it is, but my role it in all is completely different.  At camp, we get to put the cheesiness aside and focus on the fun in life, knowing that Christ will shine through it.  Camp is more of an outreach ministry, where CM is primarily focused on believers.  But as a consultant, I'm enjoying the idea of not being required to have all the answers, to lead the vision, or even to make any decisions.  How great is it that my purpose is to give advice? I'm so good at that, whether people want it or not.  However, it doesn't stop there.  Amy, Clare, and Katy happen to be my some of my closest friends, and this ministry, overall, happens to directly affect my three beautiful children.  So, yeah, I have a little more invested, and I have to be careful how I give the advice considering I'd like to keep my frienships in the end. 

The conference was profitable, a good value for the buck.  Of course, the most important take-away for me, for a deeper bond in the team.  I'm starting to see that we're moving beyond friendship, into the arena of healthy working relationships.  Plus, we found a children's Bible that didn't skew the word of God. Score! And we made a final decision on interim curriculum, which is huge. Not only did we make a decision, but we each understood the why behind the decision.  All in all, we were on the same page.  How often can you say that about any new found team. 

Wouldn't you know, though, that I didn't take a single picture?  I'm really getting frustrated with myself.  I take my camera everywhere and rarely snap a shot.  Seriously!

Much will come of this time together, I just know it.  We have our normal team meeting this coming Tuesday, so you guys can pray for innovative ideas and solid decisions moving forward. 

Wow, I really do have a lot going on lately.  Between More than Moms, the Whisler Campaign (did I tell you guys that I'm going to be doing communications for the entire campaign? well, I'll wait till it's official and then I'll post something), Fusion Church Plant, and the neighborhood association (or and did I mention that I'm also a mom of three kids), I feel absolutely stretched in every which way and, at the same time, completely invigorated.  Sometimes I feel like I'm playing a game of "connect the dots."  I'm not sure what God is doing, but somehow, it's all connected.  Neil said to me the other night, "I can't wait to see where you'll be in 20 years."  I'm excited to look back and go, "Oh, that's what God was doing."  Glad you guys are along for the ride...totally wished I had pics from the conference. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just Another Day

There's nothing really special about today, at least not particularly, but I'm just sitting her watching my kids, thinking "I should blog about this." So I pulled out my phone and went to work.

You see, Owen doesn't take naps anymore, but he does have a "rest time" in his room. When he emerges at 4 pm, I'm never quite sure what he'll look like. Today, he found a black marker and some snow boots, the combination of which sent me into flat out giggle. Side note: It doesn't matter where I hide markers, they always seem to find them. It's absolutely amazing.

Honestly, when he came down the stairs, I thought he was wearing pants.

This is just a better picture, but Owen certainly looks guilty of something.

While Owen's off exploring his artistic abilities, Blake is entering the world of potty training.  Yep, I'm officially losing it.  Good news, I'm one day closer to only having one in diapers.  Bad news, I'm about to be peed on A LOT.  Want to know what's even better? Blake has also entered the land of disobedience and defiance.  I'm not sure if this it the best time to convince him that what I want him to do is really the best thing.  For instance, I just had to go fish him out of the laundry room (literally while typing this). We played a game of cat & mouse until I finally caught him, and promptly punished his failure to respond.  Come to find out, he'd also peed in his underwear.  Oh yeah, we've started putting him in underwear to allow him to get the feel of them. Potty training is so defeating.

You can't see, but he's wearing underwear.  The novelty isn't lost on him. He is a boy.

Madison? What's Madison up to?  She's trying desperately to crawl, but get frustrated when she keeps moving backwards. But it doesn't stop her.  If she wants something, she'll get it. It might take her a while, but eventually she'll roll around enough to get there.

I know I do all my political blogging elsewhere but this is simply hilarous. I had to post it.

Now, I hope this works. Blogger doesn't make it easy to embed video. We'll see!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Say Cheese

It's a struggle getting out of the house with three kids anytime, but when you're actually trying to get somewhere...good luck.  Thankfully, my MIL was there to help.  I'm not sure I would have attempted this on my own.

A few weeks back, I found a coupon for a free portrait package at The Picture People and it just happened to expire on the 4th.  Since Owen's started back to school, it's been a little difficult to find the time to get there.  Well, there was this one time I carved out the entire day and ended up at Arundel Mills where they no longer have The Picture People.  Regardless, I finally found the time. I guess I didn't realize the importance of an appointment.  I tried to call a couple times, but it just rang, so I thought I'd just show up.  They were, however, gracious enough to fit us in.

Wouldn't you know that the minute it was their turn to strike a pose, the boys suddenly decided to catch stage fright? Madison, on the other hand, loved the camera.  She ate it up.  After about twenty minutes and 30 different shots, we were done and off to wait for our results.  Now I have to be honest, I bribed my kids.  I bought a couple chocolate dipper at H Mart and dangled them behind the camera to coax out a smile.  Shameless I know, but it was totally worth it.

Of course I had to snap a few pics of Owen and Blake enjoying their special treat.  Though a few of the professional pictures turned out good, sometimes I think the candids are just all around better.  But I got my free package and a couple sheets for the fam.  I'm sure my MIL enjoyed the whole experience as well.  All in all, I'd say it was a fun outing with lasting results (aka the pics).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Date with Mommy

Owen is certainly a growing boy. It used to be that I would choose to take the baby with me if I had to run out somewhere quickly, but now, it’s actually easier to take Owen. He’s a big boy, doesn’t need a stroller and can get in and out of the car “all by himself.” Sometimes the independence stage can be like pulling teeth, but lately, it’s been quite freeing for me as well.

Yesterday, I picked up Owen from school and we went down to Columbia Mall to see my eye doctor. Where were the other kiddos you ask? Thanks to my fabulous Mother-in-law, I’ve basically had a free pass all week long. So they were at home with her. Thanks Cathy. I told O if he was a good boy and behaved at the doctor then I’d take him for a special treat. Little did he know that the treat also entailed a fun lunch with Mommy’s friend, a quick and painless haircut, and a new stuffed friend.

Of course behaving at a doctor’s office is completely relative. Given the attention span of a 4 year old and the amount of time we had to wait, I give major props to him for not breaking anything. In all actuality, he did pretty well, mostly staying seated and almost not touching anything. Seriously, I can’t even keep Neil was playing with things in a doctor’s office. Once I got the all clear (from a previous viral infection in my eye), I grabbed my contacts and we were off to meet Anne for a late lunch. Okay, Owen got an apple pie and a diet coke. I know, worst mom ever, letting my kid drink soda, but it’s only on “special” occasions. I, on the other hand, was just as bad eating a Gyro wrap with fries and a sweet tea.

Then we went over to Master Cuts to see about getting Owen’s unruly hair cut. At first I was thinking I’d have to take him to Cartoon Cuts where they specialize in children and charge a fortune to do so. But I thought I’d try the cheaper option (by 50%) first and see what happened. The ladies there were great, and Owen did a stupendous job. Highly recommend the cheaper option. Bonus: I could see his face again, and what a cute face it is. Of course I did have to bribe him with Build-A-Bear. I know, I’m scoring big of the parenting factor, aren’t I?

Actually I had a coupon for Build-A-Bear, $5 off $10, which if you get the cheapest bear and no accessories, it only costs you about $5 for the whole experience and a new best friend. I did give Owen a choice of a bear, puppy, or bunny. “I already have a bear and a bunny, I want a puppy.” No problem. Now, O has a stuffed Koala at home named Charlie. We got him sometime last year with a similar deal. It’s amazing how much more they understand in such a short amount of time. Charlie wasn’t nearly as fun to make as the new puppy, only this time, Owen was more keenly aware of the millions of overpriced accessories available. I broke down and let him get a soccer outfit. More points lost.

When it came time to name his pup, he kept spelling out non-words. “L-W-E-N,” Owen said. “That’s not a name, or even a word. What name would you like you’re puppy to have?” “A-E-O.” “Still not a word, Owen. Try again.” This went on for a few minutes until finally Owen actually spelled a word that was also a name, “L-E-O.” And Leo was his name-o. It was fun because now he knows how to spell another name, other than his own. He even read it on the birth certificate. This time I get points. What a great experience for him, an apple pie, a haircut, and a new friend.

Lesson learned? I could totally go for the whole live-in nanny thing. Seriously! This week has been amazing. I’ve been blessed with individual, non-stressful time with each of my children. It’s amazing how my patience levels rise when I’m not completely surrounded by children all day long…and when I don’t have to change as many diapers.