Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Crazy Cousins

After almost a year since our last visit, this crazy bunch enjoyed a few days of fun, loud, silly, and creative time together.

Thank you, Frontier Air, for ridiculously low-priced flights so that extended family could come for an impromptu visit. Best way to break up the winter doldrums!
The girls made brownies and we enjoyed an early birthday celebration for a little lady who we never get to actually celebrate in person. We were a few weeks early for her birthday, but judging by her smiles I don't think she minded at all.
Temps were mild and kids spent a lot of time outdoors. 

☑ Playing in the woods
Falling Playing in the creek
☑ Riding bikes and scooters and wagons
☑ Playing basketball
☑ Shooting air soft and BB guns
☑ Running the culdesac in super hero costumes
Old, boring toys are suddenly new and fun when there are cousins to play with! Board games and card games, trains and cars, baby dolls and dress up clothes.

At one point, every baby doll and accessory, along with every play kitchen item Annalyse has were all strewn across her room. "Mom, we're playing orphanage and we're in the middle of rescuing a new baby. Can you please close my door and not interrupt us?"

Okay then.
Popcorn and movies. Giggles and sleeping bags. Being a kid started to look kind of appealing again...
We spent one morning playing laser tag and bowling. Teams were Guys vs Girls and it wasn't really even a competition. Their score was more than eight times our score, but somehow I still overheard Annalyse say several times, "Girls rule and boys drool!"
Look at these five handsome men! Wait, where is the sixth guy? That's right, Grady was in Colorado for work and didn't join the fun until Friday evening. My bro-in-law? Champion to spend a few days with all those crazy kids.
We spent another day exploring the White Water Center. Being a weekday and still winter, the place was empty and the kids had the low ropes obstacle course to themselves. 

No major injuries and everyone had fun. Win!
Five little people, all 10 years and younger. Each with very different personalities. And even though it's long periods of time between visits, friendship picks up, laughter continues, and relationships grow.

It's a precious thing.
Thanks Pennsylvania Peeler Family for coming to visit the North Carolina Peeler Family! We're thankful you came.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Full House. Full Heart. (And Full Chore List.)

The other day I was tired. Not go-to-bed tired, but more of a don't-feel-like-doing-much-of-anything tired.

It took my six-year old reminding me that we'd had a lot of guests lately and I was "probably tired from doing the laundry and cleaning so much. And from going to the grocery store so many times. And maybe from vacuuming a lot."

To be precise, our family welcomed seventy-eight people over the course of a week for four different events. For our 3,000 square feet of home, that meant every room had been lived in and turned upside down in some way.
Thankfully my husband is a rock star team mate and we work well together without really even saying much. Its almost like an obvious "I do this and you do that" is said just by looking at all that needs to be done before guests come and after guests leave. (Or maybe it's because we're 16 years into this gig and have learned through trial and error.) (Or maybe it's a combination of both.) (Or maybe he really is a rock star, plain and simple.)

My kids are pretty great, too. They know toys go in bins and boxes and on shelves. They know who vacuums what and when. And, better yet, they know all this gets done before anything else. Bedtime can be extended. Playing can wait. Dessert will be ready later on. Snap to it - chores await!

My mom used to say, "It you have time to get yourself ready for bed by brushing your teeth and washing your face, you have time to get your house ready for bed by doing dishes and putting things away." I admit, sometimes to a fault, I live by that. My sheets aren't pulled back and my pillow isn't fluffed until my house is in order.
Team Peeler. We're a work in progress, for sure, but we're working together. Working together to make our home and our lifestyle one that invites others in. 

Because you know what? People are lonely. People want to belong. People want to talk and laugh and share. And people want to eat a meal that they didn't prepare. At least I do. 

Paper plates or nice dinnerware. Thirteen ingredient recipes or toss-n-dump crock pot. Grilling or take out. Adding leaves and chairs and sitting around the table or spreading out and eating on the couch. None of it matters. Those are details of entertaining and that's different than simply making your space and your time available to others. 
Pretty please can I suggest something? 

Never ever be consumed with appearance. Pinterest is great for special occasion entertaining but isn't necessary for being kind or generous or welcoming.

Never ever think you need a big house or an HGTV house to have people over. Space allows you to do more and invite more but doesn't automatically create relationships or conversations.

Never ever think you need to be a bright and shiny extrovert to open your door to others coming in. I'm not one and my husband isn't one, but we've experienced the joy from serving others in our home and have learned to include an extrovert or two on the invite list to help us out. (Truth: I can smile and talk and laugh and work a room, but when I close the door and say goodbye to the last person I am done. DONE. Silence and alone time will be perfect for the next several hours, thank you very much.)

Never ever think you need to have the gift of hospitality to have others in your home. Hospitality is easier for some than others, but it's something that blesses everyone involved when we choose to exercise it.
So, like I said, the other day I was tired. But I'm not tired now and so when I think back to last week I have to admit I'd do it all over again. God has given our family much; what's the joy in keeping it to ourselves?

(All of these unrelated pics of my kids rock climbing? Courtesy of a friend who invited us to join her kids for a day of climbing. Her invitation. Her generosity. Her thoughtfulness. See that? Inviting people into your life reciprocates!)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

God's Gifts

Dirt. Stones. Pine cones. Leaves. Sticks. Acorns.

My kids wouldn't know how to live life without these inexpensive and found-nearly-everywhere commodities.
Sure, water boots and shovels add to the fun, but they're certainly not required.

Every vine is a swing. Every hole is a bunker. Every log is the base for a fort. And every rock is a lookout. Though I'm not sure what they're bunkering from or looking out for.
My older boys run ahead with air soft guns; my younger two follow behind with sticks that still suffice as guns or bows and arrows. And I smile at how innocent it is and how simple it is, and then I whisper a prayer that it really does stay innocent and simple and that we emerge from the woods unscathed.

Because three of my kids are boys.
There are a hundred and one things I wish were different about my home; but there are a hundred and one things I love about my home. Baking up to the woods and the creek and the lake are top reasons for never moving.

And, it's the end of January and we're walking around the woods in t-shirts for crying out loud. That is reason number one to say settled here in NC.
"Hey you guys, come here a minute," I say. They stop walking and run back to me. "What's your favorite thing about homeschooling?"

Unanimous: not sitting in a desk and getting to play outside.

Sometimes I need their reminders that they really do like the path we're on.
We walk and explore for nearly two hours. We observe heron, deer and coon tracks, and a just-out-of-hibernation copperhead.

My boys take turns flipping it and taunting it trying to get a reaction. No such luck. It was simply confused about being poked and made no effort to slither away from us.
My washing machine is no stranger to mud. My dryer is familiar with the feeling and the tune of tumbling pebbles from loose pockets. My hand vac knows its only job is to suck up dirt on my entry rugs. My half-bath sink understands that a black ring will settle on the bottom because creek grime is heavy and thick. My hand towels realize that dingy smear marks are a sign of rushed attempts to hand wash.
All of this?

A gift.

God's gift of fresh air. Of active bodies. Of interesting critters. Of unique sounds and sights everywhere.

But mostly, God's gift of time to enjoy this.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Micah David: Nine Years Old

Oh that's right! Micah had a birthday. 

Over a month ago.

Oops. 

But he's the middle child so things like this are supposed to happen.
As usual, all things sports, balls, and strategy topped his gift list. He did ask for tickets to the Super Bowl and while we love him, we don't love him enough for that. Or maybe we just didn't want to set the standard for future birthdays.

Lucky guy had Grandpa and Grandma here on his birthday - the benefit of having your day on the heels of Christmas, I guess.
For birthdays, our kids get to choose breakfast, dinner, and a special "thing" to do as a family. Micah began his day with cinnamon rolls an bacon, spent his afternoon shooting guns, and chose Olive Garden for dinner. Simple requests that were easy to fulfill and that meant something to the birthday boy.

And for birthday dessert? Miraculously he stepped away from his beloved pumpkin pie and opted for brownie sundaes. Whatever floats your boat when it's your birthday!

A week after his birthday he had several friends join him for laser tag, pizza, and more brownie sundaes. When we closed the door to his last guest leaving, he was struck with the reality that celebrating nine was officially over. "Mom, maybe I can have a half birthday party this summer, you think?" No. Uh-uh. Nope. Remember, we love you, but not that much.
Micah David, Happy Nine Years!

Your potential is through the roof. Your personality is magnetic. Your humor is contagious. Your kindness is tender. Your mind is creative.

But.

But none of that is enough. It's part of who you are and part of how God wired you, but you need him. You need his truth. You need his wisdom.

Again and again I'll keep on praying, "How can Micah keep his way pure? By guarding himself according to your word. I pray that with his whole heart he will seek you; let him not wander from your commandments. Help him to store up your word in his heart, that he might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:9-11)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Playing + Learning + Outside = Fun

It doesn't take much. It really doesn't.
God's great big world and fresh air and imagination.

Build some freedom into your day for time to play outside and you've got a recipe for happiness.

Add a friend or two, and the fun likely increases.

Add some gentle, guided learning experiences and sometimes the joy of outside play shadows any real awareness that learning is happening.

Movement and creativity. Nature and imagination. These are the best ways to learn. And, this being said from Ms. Read-a-Book-a-Week-if-You-Can.
Sometimes it's a walk in the woods. Sometimes it's friends with a ball in wide open grass. Sometimes it's animals. Sometimes it's gardens and fountains. Sometimes it's a creek and rocks. Sometimes it's a swing in the breeze.

But all of the time it's with God's creation stamp on it.
Frustrated with winter? Feeling in a rut? Wishing you had down time?

Go outside.
It's doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to involve much. But it will do a body (and mind) will thank you.
I promise.