We tried really hard to have a calm, cool and collected weekend so that we'd be ready to do the *Houston Project this week.
On Friday afternoon I ventured to the pool with my two darling angels. It was my first time to take them totally alone without any friends meeting me there. I kept one hand on Annabeth in her float and the other outreached to my little guppy who swam back and forth from me to the steps the whole time. He tends to run away from me in the kiddie area, so I found that staying away from it works better when Annabeth is with us. We ended up leaving after an hour because Jackson didn't want to obey. It always stinks when you have to do something like that, especially when you yourself weren't done having fun. We aren't doing so well with following directions right now and are having to work hard on it.
Friday night we did nothing. Curtis and I hadn't had one night at home together all week, so it was nice.
On Saturday morning we went to Keegan's birthday party at an awesome McDonald's in Spring (Gleannloch Farms area). It was the neatest McDonald's I've ever been in. Last year at Keegan's birthday party I was so miserable with morning sickness and I remember Jackson having a meltdown about not getting to open presents with Keegan. We had to leave early over it. This year, as a three-year-old, he handled the presents just fine. He did talk about his birthday over and over though. Hey...whatever works.
I thought I was going to have something very crazy to blog about but it ended up being fine. Which is preferable! Jackson was at the very top of the three-level playland when he began yelling down at me, "Mommy! Come up here!" I love him so much, but I was not about to climb up there. I noticed that he was doing the I-have-to-potty-dance and hitting the front of his britches with his hands. I immediately started sweating and saying, "Come down right now! Go down the slide and come down!" Did he obey? Yeah right. I think he was freaked out that there wasn't a quick exit. Curtis was in the bathroom changing Annabeth (bonus points for Hubs), so I was left to deal on my own. Basically, I nearly had a panic attack while I envisioned my child soiling the entire play place at my friend's kid's birthday party and being humiliated in front of her friends and family. Luckily, Curtis came back in time and took one for Team Jones. He climbed up there to retrieve our son who, when faced with the potty, suddenly didn't need to go. Seriously? I don't know what all that was about.
Later that afternoon I left Annabeth with Curtis and took Jacks to the pool again. We really needed a little mommy/son date. Somehow our Galveston trip had disturbed our connection. The two of us had a great time swimming. An energetic little boy is not so fun at restaurants but lots of fun at the pool. By the way, I keep hearing mommies talk about how fun the library is, but that honestly sounds like torture to me. Maybe that works with a different kind of kid, but I cannot imagine my Tasmanian angel doing well in there. If you have a very busy and loud three-year-old boy and he can calmly enjoy the library and you think I should try it, let me know.
Curtis spoke to some youth who were in town for the Houston Project from late afternoon until that night, so I got the kids to bed and just vegged. Annabeth had a really hard time going down, which makes me think the whole teething process is starting for her.
On Sunday morning we worked in the preschool department at church. We were with two-year-olds this time. They were not as much work at the 18-month-olds we had last time. (I think that is a really hard age to parent, in case I haven't ever said that before.) We were cracking up because the kids were all over Curtis. We thought maybe they don't have male volunteers in there very often. Just like last time, I wasn't real sure how to play with the little girls at first. What cracks me up is that they all wanted to play with the baby dolls and they held them like they were real. I don't think I ever did that! I had an ET doll that I dragged around by the arm and my Nanny had to sew it back on for me multiple times.
We left when the kids' regular teachers arrived after the first service. They were two beautiful, senior saints. All the children ran up to them and gave them hugs. Curtis was like chopped liver at that point. It was precious to see how the children loved those sweet ladies. Pastor Gregg talked briefly about retirement in his sermon and he said that retirement is a break from daily responsibility and stress, but it is not a break from purpose. He mentioned that our church benefits from countless hours of service from retirees, and I hope that will be me when I'm in my senior years.
After church we drove out to Kelly Village, which is the housing development where we will be serving this week. We got to meet the other volunteers from our church and get the site ready for VBS, women's and youth ministry activities. We also hosted a block party with mimes, bounce houses, snow cones, pizza, games, face painting, and crafts. We were able to let the neighbors know that we would be there in the evenings this week.
Curtis and I were assigned to work the bounce house for little kids. That worked out well since we had Jackson with us and he could just stay in that thing the whole time. Annabeth and I sat in a tiny bit of shade from the bounce house and I tried to keep her happy. She wasn't digging the heat. Another volunteer brought me a cup of snow cone ice without the syrup and I decided to try to spoon it in her mouth. Forget about having everything 100% perfect for her first experience with a spoon and solids. There wasn't a cute highchair, there was no regular camera, much less a video camera. There was just a mama with a red faced, crying, sweaty baby who was desperate to cool her off. Well, she didn't hate it; she actually did pretty well. She spit out about half of each spoonful, but I know she got the rest down. She was quick to let me know when she'd had enough of a big plastic spoon shoved in her mouth, but it definitely helped her cool off.
We left there between 4 and 5 and headed home. We were sweaty and smelly, but glad we went. We'll head back there late this afternoon. For the next few days, Jackson and I will be in the VBS room with 3-5 year-olds and Curtis will be with middle school kids. Tonight Annabeth will be with me - on my person, in fact, in the Baby Bjorn - but hopefully later in the week she'll hang out with my parents.
If we should cross your mind this week, please pray for us. We're so thrilled to get to serve in this way. At the same time, having a nursing baby makes things a little more complicated. I can't wrap my mind around how exactly it's going to work, but I'm trusting God. Please pray that we serve Jesus and serve this community with lots of love and joy. Thank you so, so much! When Curtis and I met as missions interns back in 2000, the Houston Project was what we did all summer. He has been involved through speaking almost every summer, but this is my first time to have a role since we were interns. It feels like coming home again. And with kids!
*The Houston Project is a huge missions event that our church does every July. More than 1,000 adult church members are participating this year. Teams are serving in the evenings at ministry sites all over the inner city. Our church also hosts youth groups throughout the summer (and other times) and they do similar work during the day. If you are interested in bringing your youth to our city, you can get more info at the web site: www.houstonproject.org
**The slideshow of Annabeth and Curtis is finally off the main page of my blog. So if you've been avoiding it because of the loud music, you can come back now. Sorry, y'all!