We Have a Laptop Down

Quickly I'll note that we had a great weekend celebrating my mom's 60th birthday. It was a fun surprise for her. I'll provide pictures and more later.

I'm doing this quickly because I'm at the library since our computer is down at home. That kind of seems like the way of things lately--for every step forward there's two or three back.


The Real War

"Increasingly Christians today seem to be getting caught up in the preoccupation with Satan and the demonic. This has caused them to forget that there is a three-front war going on--not just with the devil, which is very real, but also with the word and the flesh. Many Christians have become so obsessed with Satan that they are being overrun on the other two fronts--the world and the flesh."
- Thomas Ice and Robert Dean Jr., A Holy Rebellion: Strategy for Spiritual Warfare



Kicking and Screaming

This morning I actually had to pick Anders up and put him on the bus. He was crying and saying he didn't want to go. He did it once before, but once the bus came he got on with no problem. That wasn't the case today. I had to pick him up and carry him over to the steps of the bus because he wouldn't go. The bus driver said there must be something in the air. I guess it's the first Monday of the school season for them. He was looking out the window with big, teary eyes and a pouty face as the bus drove away. I didn't want to have to do it that way. I wanted to be able to talk him through his fears (he said school was too hard--that's why he didn't want to go). But there wasn't time for that--we couldn't hold the bus up for the rest of the route. It wasn't easy to put him on the bus like that; it was harder to watch his face as the bus pulled away. I guess when the bus comes home we'll do some talking and I'll apologize for having to send him off that way--and hopefully he'll apologize, too.

It made me wonder how many times I have gone through life kicking and screaming--even in recent years. Maybe even today. I know I've fought what's best for me way too many times in my life. For some reason I have this tendency to resist what's good for me. It's true that sometimes what's best for us isn't easy, but it's also true that hardships DO make us better (now, when someone is going through tough times don't say things like "this will work out for the best" or "it'll build character", just offer compassion, not platitudes). We do need to go through tough times to help us grow and to remind us that God is there. Sometimes I need others to drag me kicking and screaming because I'm not able to do it myself; sometimes situations just propel me onward. Most of the time I need to suck it up and step forward myself. I can't do that, though, if I get too focused on what I'm afraid of or what's going to be hard. I have to keep reminding myself what's good for me--and often that's doing something that doesn't come easily for me.


School's in Session

On Thursday night Anders' school had a spaghetti supper & open house. We all went so Anders could show us around. We also had to set up a time slot for a conference with his teacher this fall. Anders is enjoying it. The picture is when he got back home from his first day of school. His highlight of each day is getting to sit next to his new friend Thomas on the bus (who lives just around the corner from us). He liked showing off his classroom and the school. We even got to meet a few of his new friends.

His class is fairly diverse. Someone said that there are over 70 languages spoken in the school. I'm not sure it's actually that high. But during the open house they were doing a survey of where everyone was born. Plenty of states and just as many companies were represented.

Nils was in his heyday. He loved the school. He was enthralled with everything in Anders' classroom. He sat for quite a while in the Spanish classroom just reading a book. It's going to be a hard wait until its his time.

On a side note: this weekend we took in our first team handball game. The boys' uncle Wilder was playing in a scrimmage at a YWCA in Midtown. They had games against Air Force and a couple of teams from Winnipeg. It was fun to watch. It'd be fun to try sometime (if it wasn't with others who were in good shape). He had recently made the USA Senior Men’s National Team. So that's exciting.


Kayaks, Waterfalls and Campfires

We took a small part of Labor Day weekend to get away and enjoy some time together as a family. We hadn't planned on going away (we don't usually like to fight crowds), but we decided it would be good for us to do a short trip, and we had some friends who were letting us camp where we didn't have to worry about finding a spot. We left Saturday morning (still had to put up with a few lines of traffic through some "road construction"--even though there wasn't any work being done). I managed to forget the tent (I'm learning that if I don't plan the day ahead I usually forget something), which was okay because we've been needing a slightly larger tent and ended up finding one at a good price.

We pitched our tent deep in the woods at Covenant Park Bible Camp about 20 miles southwest of Duluth. A friend of ours manages the camp. It was a beautiful night for camping. we left the rain fly off so we could see the stars and the full moon (but slept in the tent because of the mosquitoes).

We did a little kayaking at the camp.

We took a trip over to Amnicon Falls State Park in Wisconsin. It was a short hike there, but enjoyable. And not too crowded.

As we drove through Superior on our way back to the camp, we saw some big ships in Lake Superior, so we though it would be fun to let the boys see them. Canal Park in Duluth was absolutely packed, so we went over the bridge and found a place with access to the lake. We hadn't brought any swim wear with since its usually quite cold along the North Shore. The water was still very cold, but the day was warm enough that it felt refreshing.

We were home late on Sunday night after a tiring drive back. Frustrated with some of the travel incidents (we're still working through this obedience/good attitude/no tantrum behavior with the boys), but we were refreshed as well. Beth is working today, and we're getting laundry done and things put away. The labor never ends.


President Address to Students

Next week President Obama is going to deliver an address to students across the country. I just found out about this on the news today. I'm slightly astonished, but not overly surprised, to hear that there is a bit of outrage about this. From what I've heard, it sounds like a speech that most students should be hearing from their parents and educators anyway.

“The goal of the speech and the lesson plans is to challenge students to work hard in school, to not drop out and to meet short-term goals like behaving in class, doing their homework and goals that parents and teachers alike can agree are noble,” spokesman Tommy Vietor told FOXNews.com yesterday. “This isn’t a policy speech. This is a speech designed to encourage kids to stay in school.”

If the President sticks to those goals, then it seems to be a laudable speech to make to students at the beginning of the school year. The questions that teachers have been given for follow up are questions that students should be asking after reading any book or hearing any speech or given any facts for the most part. Questions like "What's being asked of me?" or "What does this mean?"

Those who are up in arms fear that the President is going to try to indoctrinate their kids with socialism, at least from what I've read and heard. My question is why do we have so much fear over views that may be different than ours? If we're afraid of what the President might say to them, then why do we let our children have exposure to anything out there--other people, the news, books, etc.? I mentioned this earlier when talking about Anders going to Kindergarten, but if we as parents are doing our job, what fear do we have? Do we not trust our children to listen and make their own good decisions? Do we not discuss with our children the things they are learning?

I don't agree with everything the President does--I don't agree with everything any politician does. We used to watch space shuttle launches on television when I was in school. I didn't grow up to be an astronaut or work for NASA. I think there's a little too much insecurity on the susceptibility of students to be influenced by anything that comes their way. Politics has become too much of an arena for us to be fear-mongers instead of an arena for discussion and learning from each other. I don't think it's healthy for children to be given the example that they should run from problems or things they disagree with, but rather given examples of healthy ways to discuss opposing views. Instead of running or hiding, let's start getting more involved as parents.

Good Report

Beth: "Anders, did you like Kindergarten?"
Anders: "I didn't like it; I loved it."

Off to Kindergarten

Anders started off to school today--first day of Kindergarten. He was ready. He didn't even balk when the bus pulled up--he just climbed right on board. It looked like he even found someone to share a seat.

Nils was ready for it, too. He headed out with his backpack and a smile on his face. He knows he's going to "Pappa's School" this year (we call it Pappa's School of Hard Knocks--I guess that would be P-SOHK). He was disappointed that he didn't get to ride a bus to his school today and that his school was just the old desk in the corner of his bedroom. But he did get a field trip--to the grocery store.

Everyone had been asking us how we'll handle sending our first-born off to school. It really wasn't too big of a deal (though it may have been if we had given ourselves time to reflect on it this morning--especially about how time is flying by so quickly). The only tears shed were from Nils. And that was more about the fact that he had to stay home rather than Anders leaving. I think it's going to be hardest on him, not having his big brother around in the mornings. At least for a while. I think it's also going to make my job harder only having Nils around now, since he'll be more in demand of my attention. He was talking nonstop the whole time in the car this morning as we were going to get groceries and run errands.

Anders is ready for school, though. I know some people understandably have a hard time sending their kids off to school. Some don't even do it, opting to home school, simply because they're afraid of their kids getting tainted. And that is a concern of ours--the things Anders will pick up from the older kids on the bus (thankfully it's only K-3rd grade).

But as Pastor Efrem pointed out last Sunday, if we're investing in our children as parents and being good stewards with them, we have nothing to fear. Efrem said, "Why does peer pressure always have to be negative--that we're afraid of what the world is going to do to our kids? No. The world needs to be afraid of what our kids are going to do to them. That's positive peer pressure."

I guess that's an added benefit of being a stay-at-home parent as well (the pay sucks, but there are some benefits): I get to train my children up in the way they should go so that I don't have to worry about them when they're off on their own. There are still plenty of lessons to learn, but he'll do fine. He'll succeed. And he'll have us there to cheer him on the whole way.


Good Nights

Tonight was one of those near-perfect end-of-summer nights that you don't want to end. The boys and I went down to the park after supper (it was Beth's night to go to the prayer class at church). We met our next door neighbor on the way so he got his 2-year old and the neighbor girl and his dog and came down. After a while five other families had joined us--all ones we know and enjoy being with. I had meant to get Anders to be early for his first day of school, but we were all having too much fun (plus, one of the other girls is in his class and she was still there--can I bow to peer pressure if the peers are five years old?). It seems like we spent many times at the park all alone this summer. I guess everyone is embracing these opportunities while they're here. I'm glad they are.

Darkness has set in a lot earlier, but there's a full moon rising right now and the weather is beautiful. I may just have to get out the tent for this weekend (if I can stand to put up with holiday weekend crowds). I love nights like these.


Almost Ready

Today we went into school to meet Anders' teacher, see his classroom and take in his school supplies. The other grades started today in our district; Kindergarten starts on Thursday. There's at least one girl in his class he knows already--a friend from the neighborhood who will probably ride his bus as well. He's "half excited, half nervous." Which is to be expected, I think. At least, I'm feeling a bit the same way.