Saturday, October 01, 2011

Yea, I Know We're Odd

What a lovely time we have had here in Houston.  We accomplished our Mission of Love, and had a lot of fun in the process.  One thing that I am realizing as time goes on, is that getting away from our home is important on several levels.  It allows me to more easily shift into "Mom Role" from "Teacher Mode", which is sometimes harder to do when we live in our schoolhouse.  Each of the kids and I have had conversations of depth that are remarkable, and I cherish those moments as that is what really draws us all closer.  Living in a small, rural town, it is also extremely important to us that the kids get a taste of the broader world and that they experience the richness of diversity that is our America.  Because of where we live, it takes work to make that happen, but with our ever shrinking world we feel it needs to be a priority, far more than it was when we were little.  The internet and our global economy have created an entirely different future for our kids, and we want them to be prepared while still enjoying the blessings of living in a small, welcoming community.

Yes, Joshie is still carrying around his beloved blankie!!
  We met with Mr. Chuck yesterday afternoon and delivered not only his teddy bear, but a poster Angela created that many from our church signed, and artwork/cards from other children from our church.  As you can tell, Mr. Chuck is a beloved member of our church family, and his graciousness while we were here is just one reason why.  Thankfully, his treatment is going well and he is not feeling all that ill from it, as the side effects have been minimal.  We spent the past couple of evenings playing cards in his temporary apartment, and tonight he even stepped up to make us dinner despite my objections.  He said he doesn't cook much, but you wouldn't have known it!  We had a tasty meal, and he laughed and was patient and kind as he guided each of the kids with helping him in his little kitchen. 

I know that having 5 kids suddenly invading your  space might not be everyone's idea of brightening their day, but Chuck sure accepted it as if it was totally natural, and maybe the hugs he received as we left this evening were accepted with all the love that was behind them.  As we left, I realized our Mission was accomplished even more than I had anticipated when Angela turned to me and said "Mama, it is so sad to leave someone you really love behind and know they are alone.  I am so glad we came."  Love in action, and developing deep compassion.  Very much worth the 4 day round trip drive.

Ok, now for the "odd" part. While we were waiting to meet Mr. Chuck yesterday, we decided to hit a local attraction.  Houston is known for the Space Center, the fine medical care available, and their terrific sports teams.  So what do the LaJoy's decide to visit while here?  What is a "must see"?  OK...don't laugh...

The National Museum of Funeral History:

I half laughed as I threw the idea out to the kids, and all of them said it sounded interesting so off we went.  Guess what?  It was awesome!!  It was very cool and they all said it was even better than they expected.  We learned about the various hearses used during modern history, saw exhibits on funeral practices in other countries (Did you know the average funeral cost in Japan is $37,700??), learned about the rituals surrounding the death and burial of the Pope (Excellent displays), and saw a lot of displays about the funerals of various US Presidents, including Joshua's hero, Abe Lincoln.  We spent over 2 hours there, and came away with a greater understanding of the practices surrounding death and funerals, and it demystified the process a little. 

One of a kind hearse, holds 2 caskets and 20 mourners.

Even though we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in person this year,
 they were all still fascinated by this display.

Josh looking at the display showing Abe Lincoln's last train ride for his funeral.

Josh and Abe, face to face.  He could have worse hero!

Learning about the burial rituals for the Pope.
 As you can tell from the photos, we had our new school shirts on for the day!  They paid off just with this visit as we were able to get a school discount for entry to the museum.  The kids were quite excited to wear their new shirts, and loved them.  Here they are, mugging for the camera:

Here they are!  Mom was very glad for online software to help design them.


Matthew brought along a book about Sam Houston to read on the road.

Today we went to the zoo, after an aborted attempt to visit a Historical Society Museum.  It was closed due to the Susan G. Koman's Race for the Cure being held downtown, but it was fun to wander around the area a little and see all the participants dressed in various pink shirts, and we saw a little of the theatre district.  Then with Mr. Chuck we went off to the zoo where we spent the entire afternoon.

On the road again tomorrow, as we head back home.  We have a looooonnggg drive ahead of us, but we are prepared with lots of DVD's from the library still remaining, and Chuck provided me with a CD collection of Martin Luther King's sermons and speeches as he challenged the kids to listen and find as many metaphors as they could.  As you can tell, he is my kinda guy :-)  He already had Angela researching the Ming Dynasty and writing a little one page report to share with him when we arrived here. 

While we often say we are going back to the "real world", we know this IS the real world.  The real world is filled with uncertainty and joy, heartache and hugs.  We create a richer life by sharing what we have, by caring for one another in the ways we can, and by letting those who suffer for whatever reason know that indeed, they are not alone.  That IS the real world, and our kids are beginning to discover ways in which they can make a difference in their world, and to see the real world as being something they are always a part of, whether at home or not.  That's important if they are going to take on the world someday!


4texans said...

I had no idea that museum was there, pretty cool! What a blessing your visit must be to your friend. Have a safe trip back, and check out one of the Safety rest areas, they are really clean and sometimes have historical info. Did you see the statue of Sam Houston in Huntsville by I-45?

Anonymous said...

Would that the world had more "odd" families like yours!


P.S. Wish I had known about The National Museum of Funeral History when I was in Houston. It sounds fascinating.