Friday, July 20, 2012

Because I Need to Remember (And, Currently, be Reminded)

Oh, Landis. My dear Landis. You are ... 3 ... and a half... and I ... love you for so many reasons. The following is certainly not an exhaustive list.

  • You love to eat "swaaan-wiches."
  • You are learning what not to put down the toilet (i.e.--paper clips, pennies, rags, etc.).
  • You are learning to, at least, clean up what doesn't [& should] go into the toilet.
  • You no longer have to wonder what will happen if you pour all your pennies into Mom & Dad's fan.
  • You want to give your money to God so much that you put your pressed souvenir Disney penny into the offering.
  • You could exist for weeks at a time on cheese & tortillas.
  • You affirm you know how to readjust your attitude when you state, "I willn't do it again."
For these reasons, and many, many more, I celebrate who you are and who you are becoming.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 A Year in Review: True Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom & Church-Planting Wife

A Christmas letter.... A Christmas letter. Always one of those things that I expect I'll have time for this year. Always one of those things that gets put on the back burner, only to get burned in the end. A yearly blog? Now maybe THAT is something I can do! :) If you want a good look into the lives of the Ryan Nelson Family, I invite you to read on.

Most of you know that November 2010 marked the official beginning of 33Church, so it makes sense that this would define much of our year. I can tell you that we have learned so much about the exceeding riches of God's grace in this journey. Because of our responsibility at 33 in its early days, we stuck close to home for most of the year. Our church changed meeting locations in the summer, moving to a school that was much more interested in our partnering with them to meet needs in the community. It has been a great move for us, not without challenges or questions, but deeply enriching. One lesson we have learned, and continue to learn, is to put our trust in God, not man. It is amazing that we can daily be made even more aware of how without God we are nothing, yet with him we can be more than we imagine.

Ryan had the opportunity to coach Reed's basketball and soccer teams early in the year. While it didn't make sense with the amount of pressure he felt with his new role as lead minister, it was an opportunity to get into the community in a way that he couldn't pass up. We also decided if he could lead a group of first and second graders to play the game, he would be able to lead people in a journey of starting a church!
Sledding during February Blizzard
The Blizzard of February '11 was fun for all. Daddy was able to go out the morning it started for emergency supplies of donuts and hot chocolate. Then we were all able to hunker down a few days and enjoy the slow down. You see the kids sledding down our neighbor's hill, which I could watch warmly from the back door! We discussed our "snow day policy" and decided that if the snow caused the roof to cave in, making it impossible to get to school, we would in fact cancel school. However, we did enjoy a few days of doing nothing, then got back at it. I kept telling the kids it would pay off in the spring. When I found out our local school district was not making up the snow days, we ended school a week early!! That was a good pay off!

One great institution we have made this year is coffee time for Mom & Dad. Since our move, Ryan had started drinking coffee, a bond that was really exciting for me! So I was extremely delighted when he started making coffee every morning and bringing it to me in bed! And for his birthday in September we took it to a new level, getting a mini fridge for the bedroom (for the creamer, of course) and moving the coffee pot upstairs. We enjoy starting most of our days with this time just talking and being together. It is a our time for discussing, regrouping, planning, reflecting, praying, and encouraging, though there is no set plan or agenda for the time. Every morning is different, and that is part of its beauty.
First Day of School 2011-2012
Ashton, K; Landis, PreK; Reed, 3rd
Last school year was our first--and I've decided probably our last--normal school year. (Reed's K year we had Landis, and in 1st grade we moved.) It has been an adjustment this year teaching two at the same time and accounting for their different learning styles, but they are patient with me! While I love homeschooling our kids, I do not think that I am "thriving," as I read so many other homeschool moms described. I do approach almost all weeks with a lesson plan and almost always get up and dressed before school time (except on our once-a-semester Pajama Day). The moments of understanding are sweet, but the times when all three kids (& sometimes the dog) are all vying for my attention are overwhelming. The days where every task is met with a whine+shoulder drop cause me to really examine my calling. I am hanging on to the idea that "The days are long, but the years are short." I know my time is precious with the kids, and I want to spend that time teaching them grace. I also struggle with household upkeep, and I am finding that teaching the kids to do these jobs does not lighten my load! But I am learning in God's grace (again!) that these things do not matter as much as "Watch this, mom" "Can we read..." and " I need help with...." However, we have regular "zone cleaning" so I don't go completely off the deep end. I have also recently had the epiphany that a family that stays home all day puts loads of more housework on me. It makes sense, I know, but I haven't always given myself this allowance.

Ashton has been able to conquer a new frontier for us. We were able to get her into a one-day-a-week Homeschool Academy in Kindergarten. This is a school we have tried to get Reed into for 2 years, but his grade is extremely full and unmoving!! However, because she got in this year, her siblings will be able to get in starting next year. The waiting is hard on him, but he is usually gracious.

One of the things we love about homeschooling is the flexible schedule it allows our family. While we still find ourselves getting into a rut, we do make efforts to break the norm! Shortly after school started this fall, we made a special announcement to the kids about a fall vacation. They didn't believe us at first, but we were finally able to convince them that we were in fact going to Disney World the end of September. Much screaming ensued, and even a few tears of joy!

We will all tell you that it truly was a magical experience. While it was hot and tiring, no one complained or whined. That time of year was perfect--not too hot, and the lines were incredibly short at the parks. We had planned to camp on the way down, but rain prevented that the first night, and then gave us a very "camping" experience the second night complete with wet bedding, pending thunder & lightning, a noisy neighbor, and a NOAA weather radio alert (which turned out to be nothing). We spent the first day at Epcot, 2 days at Magic Kingdom, & the last at Animal Kingdom.
Our First Magical Day
Reed especially loved the "Future World" part of Epcot, where he could create his own roller coaster & video game, and interact with some of the video characters. Landis called this icon "the big golf ball." When we rode the history of the earth ride inside of it, Ashton did NOT like the dark (even though it was slow and kinda like just seeing museum) and declared in the first 30 seconds, in her shakiest voice, "So far I'm hating it!!!"
Ashton DELIGHTED in Meeting the "Big 5" Characters
Fortunately, she was later able to stand in line and meet Micky, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, & Goofy. The child-like delight she had truly brought tears to my eyes.
Landis Was Glad Tigger & Pooh Did Not Bite Us
Landis, however, did not want to meet any character or ride any rides! We did convince him to pose here with Tigger & Pooh (his current Disney favorites) and afterwards he declared, "See, they didn't bite us!!"
Riding the Magic Carpets
Here is one of the rides Landis decided he didn't want to ride while we were in line. We were able to convince him in most instances, but he would not put up with anymore 3D movies by the end. Disney adds sprays of water, air puffs, and other tactile experiences that we finally had to shield him from just to get him to stay with us.
A Little Silliness on our Way Out the Last Day
Maybe because it was our last day, Animal Kingdom was our least favorite park. It had great animal displays, but the rides are more zoo-like than amusement-like. However, the Lion King show was completely worth the price of admission!! Great costuming, singing, & pageantry!
Enjoying Daytona Beach
We capped off the vacation with two days at Daytona with Grandpa Dallas & Grandma Pat. We stayed on the beach to maximize our time in the sand & sea. The kids were able to learn sand castle building from the best, my dad. All of us relished the time together with Grandpa & Grandma just relaxing for a couple days.
Landis & Grandpa Return from a Walk Down the Beach
Landis did not really want anything to do with the water, but he did enjoy digging & digging in the sand. Reed & Ashton, however, spent most of their time in the water, even using their life jackets as boogie boards for a while.
Reed Showing Off a Christmas Gift & a Missing Tooth
Reed continues to delight us with his sense of humor and quick thinking. He has always impressed us with his math mind, and now he has gotten to the point where we can't keep enough books around. He especially loves a good mystery. He is always amazing us with his new creations, whether with blocks or cardboard and tape. For Ashton's birthday he made her a cardboard box city that she could use to play with her dollhouse.
A Self Portrait of Ashton
Ashton loves going to school on Wednesdays. We have seen she is a much quieter leader in that environment, but we can still see glimpses of our little mommy even there. At home she is taking to reading much faster than I was teaching her! She is a great caretaker to us all. She knows where things are, brings us things we might need (before we know we need it!), and loves to serve us. She is quite the giver, wrapping up things from around her room to give away on birthdays or "just because." Ashton loves to take pictures (as you see above) and got her first camera for Christmas.
Landis' First Black Eye--Likely Not the Last
Landis is a delightful challenge. We love hearing him use new words, and he loves to make us all laugh. He is a very physical little boy. This black eye was a run-in with the entertainment center. One of the things he learned last year was what can and cannot be thrown in the house. Squishy balls are approved; hard balls, toys, butter knives, books, game pieces, pencils, crayons, food, shoes, and fits are not. He is quite grown up these days. He makes me toast for breakfast nearly every morning. He toasts the bread in the toaster oven, sets the timer, gets it out with some wooden tongs, butters it, and delivers it to the table. (Sometimes I request a knife to spread the butter glob out a bit more.) Then he sits on my lap and waits for me to "eat it down" (to the top crust) so that he can eat the rest of it.
28 Weeks Pregnant
Our biggest change in 2012 will be the addition of another kiddo to the mix. Right now we don't even know if God has blessed us with a boy or a girl, but we are all excited! Ashton was particularly wanting a a sister, but then someone commented that she wouldn't be the only princess in the family. Now I think she will be happy either way! The kids are dying to know the names we have picked out, but they will have to wait, just like the rest of you. Until then Ryan keeps throwing out names like Bubba (a girl) and Buford. March 10 is the due date, but if baby decides to come 10 days early, we will have a Leap Day birthday!
Baby Nelson 28.5 Weeks Along
We think s/he is pretty beautiful. Since Christmas, we have moved our focus to getting ready for this arrival. Reed and Ashton have moved into bunk beds, and Landis has moved into a big boy bed down the hall. (His big lesson of 2012 might just be how to play/talk/close doors more quietly!) Baby will be sharing a room with our guest bed, so if you come to visit, you will get a chance to heat up a bottle and change a diaper or two.... ;)

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into our lives. We love to keep up with all of you and hear what is going on with you. If I don't write again until next year, please accept my apologies.

Until then, Love,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anniversary Log

A couple years ago, I started something I wish I had done many years ago. I made an official record of all the ways we had celebrated our anniversary. If you want to see them all, here is the original list. Let me just add a few updates.
  • 2010--Having moved to Olathe, we made a trip back to Albuquerque to help with the Pendergrass/Stoddard nuptials on the 12th. And when I say help, I mean it was a little bit of a Nelson side show. (Of course, when isn't it with my three lovelies?) Ryan stood up as a groomsman & performed part of the ceremony. Reed & Landis were ring bearers & Ashton a flower girl. Ryan & I even sang. We were blessed to be so involved with Amanda & PD at the beginning of their marital journey! While we were in Abq we were able to leave the kids at Miss Jacqui's (again!) for an evening, go BACK to that fab restaurant Antiquity, and spend the evening at MCM Elegante.
  • 2006--Yes, I realize this is out of chronological order, but I have to take memories as they come or they are gone just as fast. Being part of the wedding last year reminded me that we were also blessed to be part of the ceremony of the Frazier/Smith on the 10th in 2006. Ryan performed the ceremony & I dusted off my wedding coordinator skills for the weekend. The evening of our 11th anniversary we enjoyed a delightful rehearsal dinner with Johanna & Ian and the wedding party.
  • 2011--So, present day, we spent celebrating a few days early with an evening at the Holiday Inn (we love and splurged on room service! Our big kiddos were with Grandma & Grandpa for the week of VBS and Landis spent the night with our dear friends here in KC, the Kelly family. The day of our anniversary, Ryan worked all day on a treehouse for the kids (to surprise them). He, of course, asked for my blessing first. I told him later, I cannot think of anything that better embodies the blessings we have experienced in our marriage.
It is ultimately romantic. The thought would have delighted me on the day of our wedding. In fact, it still does.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I am a Person

If I hear or see any more references to Brent Favre, I just might spit.

Yes. I'm mad.

Ryan & I have been involved in ministry for more than 15 years. In that time we have hastily finished up a ministry before we were ready. It was very much a growing-up period, where we learned to keep our mouths shut for the greater good, & it definitely strengthened our bond to each other. The lessons I learned there are priceless, and some I don't care to have to learn again! :)

We had worked for years building up a church and its people. We knew we did not want our labor to be in vein by destroying what we had worked to build. Some of our relationships have continued; others have waned. We know that life has gone on there without us, as it should have and as we have wanted. Some people have already forgotten about us, I'm sure. But I sure do hope that when they speak of their current success, they don't say, "We don't need that Brain & Kara!!" (hahaha, yuk, yuk, yuk, let's make a t-shirt that says that)! That would break. my. heart.

Because I'm a person. With feelings. I treat with respect. I expect to be treated likewise.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Blessing of Submission

That's right. Blessing and submission. Together. Written by a woman. Read on, if you dare.

I have been mulling over this post in my mind for many weeks. It's not a topic on which one can spout off opinions without considering all sides for a while. I doubt I have a concrete answer for everything yet. However, I thought I'd post it now since our 33Homes and Worship Gathering focused on Genesis 3 this past week. There was SO MUCH in this story that had never been in there before.... Ok, maybe that was just me having missed it.

Here's the basic story, but I would recommend you also read it for yourself here. (If you don't like that version, feel free to change it on the drop-down list at the top of that page.) Adam & Eve have the run of the Garden of Eden, which God "had planted" (not just created, but planted!) and placed them in. There is only one tree that he tells them not to eat from, a fruit that will take away their innocence. They were naked and happy, just like my 2-year-old running diaperless to the bath. God offers a choice: love & obey me, or don't. Then Satan shows up and confuses them. Long story short: Eve eats, Adam follows, mankind is cursed. Part of that curse: Woman will have greatly increased pain in childbirth (thank you very much!) and her husband will rule over her.

So how can submission be a blessing and a curse? It is a curse in the re-organization of creation. It is a blessing when it is honored.

Allow me to use the first aspect of the curse to illustrate the second. Having experienced natural un-medicated childbirth three times, I can tell you that pains in childbirth are ... oh... let's say, significant. (This begs the question: what was the original plan for a no-pain or low-pain childbirth??) But having come through on the other side? Oh yeah, worth it. Not just the baby, but having made it through that experience and survived made me feel so powerful! It was a role in our family that was uniquely mine, and I did it! *blessing* Did I do it alone? Uh, no. Could not have done it without my coach, leader, encourager, counter, support--my husband. He loved and led me through the entire process. (And it was, at times, not pretty....) I was able to respond to his lead to thrive in my role.

The same is true for submission. Is it a painful process? Sometimes, yes, especially when I try to assert my own will into it. I believe God created women with the same creativity to meet life issues as he created man. The curse is to reign it in to submit to someone else's plan over yours. Does a blessing come from carrying it out? Absolutely! I have learned over and over (somehow it doesn't stick the first time) that getting my own way in a matter is not always best. I have lived a much fuller life by doing things I wouldn't have decided to do on my own! *blessing* Again, I am able to do it best when I am responding to the love with which my husband surrounds and leads me. He does this, from Ephesians 5:
  • 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
We are, by no means, perfect at this! We follow in Adam & Eve's footsteps and find ourselves giving in to Satan's confusing talk. We struggle to keep God first and each other ahead of ourselves. But when we love and submit: *blessing*.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blessed Lesson

We had a stark reminder this week that how you treat people is important. Sometimes we go through life acting as though we are anonymous, that what we do with those we do not know is not important. That is not always true.

We had a great trip to Wisconsin to see Ryan's family. We met at a lodge in La Crosse, which is about 7 hours from us. It's a pretty easy trip, especially having been used to trips from Albuquerque and we agreed that this might have been the easiest in a while. We listened to the "Chronicles of Narnia" CD set we got last year for Christmas. The kids were enthralled. We stopped for supper at a gas station/Arby's combo place and did an all in one stop. There was another family there of a mom with 4 elementary kids on her own. I was admiring her from afar, especially when she spilled her drink and kept her cool. Ryan told the employees that a mop was needed, and also complimented the mom on how well her oldest son had taken care of things while she was in the restroom.

Farther on down the road we got some exciting news. A friend of Ryan's sent an email inviting us to Thanksgiving dinner, but also offering us a van that some of her out-of-town family was wanting to give away. I don't think she knew that we had been looking to buy this very same van in the spring but had decided to squeeze more life out of ours as long as we could. We could not believe God's blessing!

We got home Friday evening and made arrangements to meet them to pick it up and go over how things work. They were leaving for home the next morning and we were just excited to see the van even though we had a cranky toddler.

Imagine our surprise when we met the generous family and recognized them as THAT VERY SAME FAMILY from that random restaurant in Iowa. I was glad we didn't have to be embarrassed at how we had treated them, and that they had felt blessed (however slight) by us in that moment. We all had fun putting together the details and sharing how we had felt at the time.

How incredible is God in his timing, in how he teaches us, and in how he blesses us!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Fun

This week the kids had a carnival for which I volunteered (read: was cornered) to make 5 dozen cookies. I decided to make a day of it and have some fun and school at the same time. Tons of math: halving recipes, counting dozens, grouping by dozens & counting extras. Reading: recipe. Art: Cookie decorating. We did our reading and spelling assignment to keep up with the week, but the rest of the day was cookies!

The Recipe Reader
The Pourers
First we mixed up these Sugar Cut-out Cookies so the dough could chill in the frigde for a while. We did half of this recipe and got probably 20 pretty big cut outs and a little extra dough for sneaking. They turned out pretty sturdy, but I have learned from my baking past to always grease the pan for cutouts, even when the recipe says not to. We let the dough chill for about 3 hours while we baked the other cookies and had lunch.

I wanted to do the shape cut-outs, but I knew that decorating them with icing would be too much for me. So we used candy corn and chocolate chips and inserted them as soon as they came out of the oven. Lazy, but still cute. Eyes on the moons and ghosts are pieces of candy corn. The ghosts were my favorite.

Then we made these easy Ghost Cookies. We used Vienna Fingers instead of Nutter Butters because of Ashton's peanut sensitivity.

Finally we ventured into Martha Stewart world with these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. I shied away from choosing them at first, but they turned out to be pretty easy. The batter is pretty runny, but it bakes up well. And adding pumpkin to the filling makes it separate a bit, so if that bothers you skip it. I also added more powdered sugar to the filling.

This pic was when Landis found a way to look at the counter full of cooling cookies. I was so excited to be almost done, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!

All in all, a fun day, and educational to boot!