Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did I mention we're having another baby?

I really don't have time to blog. Surprise!
Yesterday I hassled my husband and father into moving a heavy and deeply ugly cabinet up into the sun room in what is, for everyone else, an irritating organizing and cleaning frenzy.
The new floor for the living, dining and hallway is sitting in the dining room becoming used to the climate of this house.
I've been trying to de-clutter my own bedroom and go through bins and bins of clothes getting winter things out, new baby things out and all the bins into better organization over all.
I've got two foul eggs in jars of vinegar for science. They're sitting there, fat and gleaming and gross, engorged. Everybody wants to throw them away, and rightfully so.
And in another fit, I took the door off the basement stairs in the hopes that the kitty would more easily find his way down there, only to discover (thank you Mommy) that he's AFRAID of the basement because Elphine's cat is so mean to him. So now I'm trying to figure out where to put a private lou for him so that he will feel welcome to go in the right place rather than EveryWhere Else. We've known that Frances, Elphine's cat, is horrid. She was always pushing my cat around. For those of you who were wondering why we bless animals, its precisely for this reason. Although, year after year we we lay hands on her and year after year she continues to be very much part of God's fallen creation. I need a cat whisperer for both cats.

Here they are, in a brief moment of Christian charity.

But in a few minutes I'm going to put all that aside and cozy up with my whole hoard of children for some 'study at home'.

Friday, September 25, 2009

And so another week ran swiftly by

I've come to another Friday only to realize that a whole week has slipped through my blogging fingers. Not only did I not continue to redesign my blog, I didn't write anything either and I also frequently forgot to read any other blogs or the news or anything.

One whole night this week I missed sleeping at all, due to the number of babies in this tiny bed, and the rest of the week I've been catching up. Miraculously, tonight was the First Night, since we returned from all our summer travels, that everyone slept all the way through the night in their own bed. I have now had so much sleep that I'm tired because I'm not used to it. heh.

Because of all the sleeping location difficulties I kept everything down to a minimum--school, indulging an irritable attitude, making half cooked and weird meals because I couldn't think straight, and sarcasm. On the whole I think everyone is glad the week is over. Yesterday we redeemed the time by writing Thank You notes all afternoon and eating Apple Cake. This morning I have another Doctor's Appointment and Elphine has ballet in the evening, so we should be able to do plenty of learning in between.

As my gift to you, so that you will realize that you didn't miss me all That much, my exhaustion induced haze allowed me to see two things that Irritate me a whole lot.
The first, that so many of us end so many sentences with the word 'at'. The tipping point for me was to hear our Dear President do it on some morning show or other.
The second is more personal. I've been saying for two years now, 'oh, we're going to do school today' or variations there on, and I've concluded that its a ridiculous thing to say. From now on I'm going to Try to remember to say 'we're going to study' or something like that.

And now, hearing the gentle screaming of arguing children in the background, I will arise and discover what is the matter.

Friday, September 18, 2009

7 Quick Takes

Jen's post today is exceptionally hard to beat. I had No Idea!

So I've missed blogging all week because my mom and dad are here and I spent the first part of the week cleaning and the second part collapsing out of relief and general delight. Its So Good to have them here. Not just because, of course, four adults on four kids is a lot easier, but because I really like them and there's so much to talk about. So, I will try very hard to keep up with blogging even though once I've told everything to my mother I loose my desire to write it down. Somehow I will have to find a balance over the next many weeks.
The Living and Dining Room are painted. I've decided not to photograph them until the floors are done because I'm still highly conflicted as to whether I like them or not. Picking paint colors when you can't even really think through what you want for breakfast is the height of foolishness. Suffice it to say that my warm/summer/spring colored husband looks great in the Living Room and I, cool toned/wintery as I am, do not look good. However, I look exceptional in the Dining Room. Honestly, what's the point of spending time in a room if you, personally, don't look beautiful in it?
As Art+ so helpfully pointed out, its Not Me that's signing up for ballet, its Elphine. I went to the parent meeting last night. Amazingly, Binghamton has a real classical school of ballet with someone who knows what they're talking about. My favorite bits from the meeting:
'You're child is probably used to being special, but when she comes here, she will be among all special children, and she will have to get used to it' and
'I am the teacher, this is my school. Please don't question my methods' and
'When they are small, the child has to love me and they will love me. Later, when they cry, you must help them.'
I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I can't recommend enough How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, especially when the moment is right and the iron is hot. Alouicious and I are blowing through three or four lessons a day and I always have to stop even though he would like to go on. I don't want to burn him out. Of course, its all clicking into place in a way that it wasn't earlier.
The top of my blog says I only have 45 days to go before this new baby makes an appearance. That seems like an immeasurably long time Except For The Fact That We Have Not Agreed On A Name!!!!! Have become desperate enough to even begin praying about it.
Clearly, this blog is only halfway redesigned. The rule about repainting your house at 32 weeks of pregnancy applies to redesigning a blog. I can't think clearly enough to make important decisions about what the blog should look like.
I woke up at 3 am in a cold sweat worried about When we will go apple picking. Its been so rainy, will there ever be a good moment? And should we try to go while my dad is still here? Or should we wait until mid October? If we go too early, we'll get our pumpkin too early. If we go too late, I might be giving birth. Woke up again at 5am thinking 'Is apple picking Really the most important and worrying thing on my mind right now?' Now, three hours later, I honestly believe that it is.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

That Long Ago Trip to Kenya: Episode Two, Visiting the Giraffes

A very short 15 minutes or so from my parents house in Karen, there is a Giraffe Refuge, I think on the edge of the Nairobi game park. (Mom, is that right?). We went one afternoon towards the end of the visit, hoping mainly to see these amazing creatures, but having heard that we might be able to feed them also. Gladys, as you can see below, spent nearly the Whole Time feeding them and was angry when the food seemed to slow and run out. The tongue of a giraffe is like slimy sand paper. She didn't mind this at all. Elphine, on the other hand, was completely disgusted and would not go near those tongues for any price.

This, obviously, is not a giraffe but a very fine warthog.

After being so brave and feeding the giraffe, Gladys was given a very fine wooden giraffe. Elphine picked out three more smaller ones, one for herself and one each for her brothers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Word Rightly Preached or A Monday Morning Haze

We've been listening to a lot of sermons lately--Mark Driscoll, RC Sproul, Alister Begg, John MacArthur. I wake up each morning to the sound of some preacher or other expositing the scriptures. Matt often listens to half the sermon while he's working out and then leaves it loudly on and goes away for a walk. When I'm a little more agile, it will be no problem to roll over and turn the volume off if its a sermon I'm not really interested in. But right now, I lie here morning after morning, unwilling to move, listening in half awake fascination.

For instance, I am now fairly sure that Mark Driscoll does not preach off a text. His sermons seem to ramble down into 'Its All About Jesus!' even on Mother's Day. He's been preaching through Proverbs--but really, I think, just so he can talk about different kinds of human dysfunction.

RC Sproul is talking right now about philosophy, as he often does. It always irritates me, at the end of a talk, to hear the announcer person come and and inform me that I haven't heard the whole thing but if I want to, I can order the box set. Of course, I'm not awake enough, usually, to absorb a whole talk.

John MacArthur last week, I think, was talking about life issues and creation? Actually I shouldn't say because I was Really Asleep. But it sounded good.

And just this morning, I listened to another excellent Alistair Begg sermon that was sort of on the scriptures But Really on Alistair's favorite hymns. As far as I can tell, an Alistair Begg sermon isn't complete without a recited hymn, Beatles's Song or some other piece of music.

I'm sure hearing all these sermons makes me more holy as the day goes on.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chuck Smith and a Baby

This is just Too Fabulous to pass up. I was thinking quietly about hymns I intend you all to sing at my funeral but am completely distracted by this baby.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Evening Prayers

Prayer of Alouicious

Dear Jesus thank you for this day please be with Mommy and Daddy and everybody else please help the new baby to be nice and not bite like Gladys and please help everybody in the world to have a good time and do good things. Amen.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday on the Links because there's too much to do

Elphine's cat is staring me down for a saucer of milk.
Romulus is looking pale and complaining of a stomach ache.
Alouicious is still sleeping.
Gladys is wearing layers of other people's clothes and shouting.
And I am calculating up all the things I need to do today and trying to organize them into some kind of order. For instance, I have another Dr.'s appointment and ultrasound. And I need to go to the post office. And today is the last day to go find a suitable leotard (scoop neck, cap sleeves, black, no tights) for the first day of ballet. And I said I would pick up four pieces of foam board for the the Land of Israel Pin Map. And we're doing so well in reading and math that I Really Hate to miss a day on that score. Oh, and Matt is speaking at IV tonight so I'll need to be around on and off to see if he needs anything. Looking at the list I can see that it is too many things so I'm going to stop with the list and go make breakfast for everyone.
But for your pleasure on a Friday, I really enjoyed This Post, which, I can attest to, is SO TRUE.
And the kids and I watched this again last night. It really never grows old.

OH, I nearly forgot, Dr. Mabuse a while ago posted one of these. Again, really very fine.

And this was so funny, even though I know I'll never get around to seeing the movie.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Uninteresting Thursday

We're all camped out on my bed today doing school and ignoring everything else. I'm not feeling particularly steady on my feet. In fact, every time I stand up I feel like I'm going to whamp over. So, we're going to settle in here and pound home the new memory work, do some tedious reading and math, and maybe read a little history or something. Maybe later I'll drag my deck chair in the back and we'll do our work in the shade, if its not too humid.
In other words, BORING. Nothing interesting going on here today.
Oh, and the house will be being painted. I'm sure four little kids and lots of paint going on in the other room won't be distracting At All. I don't see how it could be.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Day of Wonder and Excitement

Its chilly this morning and I can't convince Gladys and Romulus to go play elsewhere. They are rolling around my bed letting cold air in. Boy I'm glad we're all still in bed while the rest of the world scrambles towards the first day of school, or maybe that's tomorrow. Nothing wrong with school. Its just that we all stayed up till 9pm eating cake and talking politics so its really nice to sleep in. The kiddos really want to watch the speech but I read it last night and it seems pretty boring. AND, we have So Much to do today as far as school goes. My mind is not made up. Also, I have to go buy a new toothbrush. I'm willing to take all four children on such an errand, however fraught. Gladys got a hold of mine and chewed it to smithereens and I cannot cope. Its these small eventualities that make the day so interesting.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Rearranging the Furniture

I seriously overdid it yesterday and ended up in a rocking chair, at the end of the dining room table, grimacing and closing my eyes every few seconds while everyone else ate supper and asked repeatedly, 'what's wrong, Mommy?'
'I didn't drink enough' I said over and over, chewing on ice cubes, 'and now the baby thinks it should be born right now.'
'Ew' said Alouicious.

I never can get used to this last stage of pregnancy. After this many babies, or so my doctor tells me, your body knows how to give birth and sets itself up to be ready to every moment of the day and night. So you feel, for weeks and weeks, like you're about to kick into labor, but you never do. That's the key. You Never Do. You just go on being pregnant until Jesus comes back. And of course, God is patient and merciful, abounding in steadfast love, not wanting any to perish but all to gain eternal life and so He Doesn't Come Back. Day after day he waits.

I exaggerate, only a little. This pregnancy has been the best, probably, of all five (except for being seriously nauseated for 6 months). Matt pointed out yesterday, when I was whining, that usually by this point and I am affixed to the couch eating lime popsicles and moaning. Instead, for reasons I cannot fathom, I am vacuuming almost every day, maintaining an organized and orderly house, cooking immense pots of soup and getting in full days of school. And This Week (I can barely contain my excitement) I'm hoping to move all the contents of two atria into two beautifully constructed rooms built for this vary purpose in the parish hall. I have Never Had three separate rooms for all three levels of Catechesis. The rooms are going to be painted a cheerful and holy yellow and then I'm going to putter and move furniture and make lists.

It was a great comfort to me, then, to discover this post this morning. I know Matt (and probably the whole vestry) wonders why I am always in the atrium, rearranging stuff and fussing. And I know my own children wonder why, when we arrive at CC on Wednesdays, the first thing I do is rearrange All the tables and chairs even though there's no real practical reason to do so. Obviously, its because I'm such a godly person (ahem). It couldn't be any other reason, like being overly perfectionist and hung up about inconsequentials.

But this morning, still being sore and shattered by my own stupidity, I am going to lie here and continue to eat ice.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

For a Sunday Evening

This is very strange.
Even though its not Lent, I've been hankering all day to hear this hymn by John Donne.
WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sins their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as He shines now and heretofore:
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

The tune I know can be found here, clunked out wildly on some organ or other. Not satisfied, I went to youtube and clicked on this.

Besides the beautiful voice, some of you will probably notice the church, which appears to be, unless I am loosing my mind, the Old Good Shepherd. In Fact, I'm pretty sure Micah took this picture as we were on our way out the door. That someone, unknown to me, would have found this picture and put this hymn to it is surely an act of divine providence if ever there was one.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Asleep in my body but Awake in Jesus Christ

I'm reading slowly and happily through Romans again. Its finally come round in my New Testament reading circle and I noticed, surprisingly, that I've marked it up more than any of the other NT books. This surprises me because growing up, Romans was my least favorite book of the Bible. As my pagan Remedial Bible for English Majors Professor at Cornell said in the week we covered it, 'This is Paul's sermon notes, badly written at that and completely incomprehensible.' But, reading it now three times in the ESV has made it not only expansive and interesting, but comforting as well. What particularly amazes me, over and over, is that Paul wrote this to a group of Christians he had never met--not only the Christians in Rome, but me. And that, having never met any of them, or me, the lines and verses are particularly, perfectly applicable to me the individual. It strikes to the heart, verse by verse, argument by argument. I always feel this way about the Psalms, but that's poetry, it can possibly be humanly explained (although not really). That a book like Romans could consistently and overwhelmingly convict and comfort shocks me every time.

And, while I'm gushing, what has been particularly lovely this time around is that I'm in the Joseph section of Genesis at the same time. The tragic drama of Joseph being a 'slave' and yet never Really being one spiritually--he was always alive, always clued in--pours so much richness into Paul's discussion of spiritual slavery and death for the Christian.

I could go on and on about this but a couple of children are screaming, and I think it might be pancake day.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

That little item of Mr. Obama speaking to all our children

Hee heeeee heeee
Further chaos reigns in the current administration.
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."
"That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it," Higginbottom said.
In the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas, the 54,000-student school district is not showing the 15- to 20-minute address but will make the video available later.

I love the cut and thrust of domestic politics. This has gotten to be so interesting I might see if I can't go borrow someone's tv so we can watch it as part of our school day. After our CC review, of course, which not only includes some fascinating ancient geography, but also the 10 commandments. Maybe we will even write ourselves letters of how we can achieve our long and short term educational goals. I've already planned that we'll write letters this term. Better yet, lets send the letters to Mr. Obama! Heeeeheeeeeeeeeee
(And really, is that poor man's name really Mr. Higginbottom? Surely this is some kind of joke?)

maybe this is helpful or.....

We're memorizing Psalm 139 in the group time of our CC mornings. Here's the tune we worked on yesterday. Its only half the psalm, and I am NOT an amazing singer, especially since at the top of my blog this morning I read, 'Your baby is almost 17 inches long and weighs 4 lbs. Only 60 days to go!' which means that my lung capacity is seriously diminished. The child on my lap is for you to look at while I sing, instead of looking at me. I don't know why she is pouting.

A number of unconnected somethings

It appears, although I'm not really awake enough to be sure, that the babies slept through the night, finally. (I've really got to stop calling them babies as we have a real one momentarily down our throats.) I'm pretty sure this is the case because I'm REALLY tired, like I got more sleep than I'm used to, tired.

Sooooo, I was thinking maybe I'd try to get up and sit in a chair and make the children learn something. I intend to make yogurt today, and bread, because on my little calendar I fussed around making for hours and hours instead of actually doing real work, it says 'Kitchen Day: Make bread and yogurt'. I read that somewhere. You should have a kitchen day and a laundry day and some other housekeeping stuff that I can't remember right now.

On a completely unrelated note, a very nice commenter wanted to know 10 reasons, or something, why we home school, and how we intend to prepare our children to deal in a pluralistic relativistic society. I'm not sure I can think of Ten Whole Reasons, maybe one or two. But it occurs to me that the answer depends on what you want to prepare your children for--in what manner do you want a child to engage with said pluralistic society? Do you agree with the basic pluralistic underpinnings and want your child to be comfortable and happy in such a society? Or do you disagree and want your child to combat pluralism or relativism?

It won't be any surprise to anyone that Matt and I want our children to be intellectually equipped to combat relativism. And so we're crafting our brief time with them as children in such a way that they have the tools to think through and engage with a world we hope they won't entirely agree with. We would be really sorry, I think, after all this work, if they decided they weren't interested in the fight. As Matt pointed out, this season of training is so important, and it is necessarily removed from the frey and heat of battle, but that's so they have the space to become equipped, not so they will never enter it.

The Other reasons I'm homeschooling (right now) is because
1. I really like my children
2. Its interesting and fun to be involved in what they're learning.
3. Its more stressful to put them on a bus (because I'm not a morning person) than to organize their entire education.
4. I Really Believe in Classical Education and there's not a school in Binghamton that provides this opportunity
5. I'd rather homeschool and make bread than be the church secretary and go to vestry.
6. We're going to try and build a pyramid this week and it would be really lame for me to have to do something like that by myself while my kids were at school and my husband looked on and assumed I'd lost my mind.
7. My children are learning to integrate learning with every day life.
8. Their primary relationships, right now, are with each other and not with a lot of other people I don't know very well, which is important because their brothers and sisters will be there always, but friends come and go.
9. We can take off and go to Nairobi at a moments notice and not worry about making up piles of work because we took it all with us.
10. Their social lives are more interesting and varied. Frankly, I find it very weird the way this culture divides everyone up by age. All the children have to be corralled by age, and when you get old enough, you either have to move to Florida (didn't Jerry Seinfeld say that?) or into a retirement community. Matt and I are already preparing our children for the fact that we intend to live with them. Unless they all turn out to be awful, in which case we'll have to revise our plans. (Honestly, I jest. I haven't made any plans for my retirement yet. I just want to keep all my options open.)

And now, I think I might be just slightly awake enough to remove myself from my pillow and see what Gladys has done to all the math blocks. I've been informed that she was 'building something'. Hopefully a pyramid.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Happy Birthday!

I just happened to write the date out carefully and deliberately and realized that I owe Many Happy Returns of the Day to my dad. Happy Birthday!
Here are some of your cats, clearly wishing you would have a really happy day.

A Little Encouragement for the First Day of School

As Matt and the children were chauffeuring me around on my endless list of errands yesterday, we passed this amazing thought posted on the local elementary school sign.
The highest result of education is tolerance.

Matt shouted in my ear, 'Reason number 5,556 why we're not sending our children to public school.' Besides agreeing wholeheartedly with him, I thought to myself, 'what a miserable reason to get up in the morning. I couldn't possibly motivate myself to educate my children, to get out of bed, to do any work at all if the reason for that work was to be more 'tolerant' myself and produce it in my children. Honestly, I can't think of a more boring reason to learn anything.

Apart from pursuing knowledge of God, which is really the goal of all education, as far as I see it, what about Truth, Beauty, the fact that there are so many interesting things to learn? What about being educated for its own sake because otherwise you can't do anything interesting in life? What about wisdom and understanding? What about being able to read books because they're Wonderful books and it would be heartbreaking to go through life Not having read them? But 'tolerance'? Of what? sin? mediocrity? What are we to be tolerant of?

Oh I know, I know, its each other. But not really. The local elementary school isn't really interested in total tolerance of everyone. They want the children filling those rooms to be 'tolerant' of some things, maybe I even agree with some of them. I don't want my children to be 'tolerant'. I want them to be respectful and honoring. When they meet other people they don't agree with or understand, I want them to make good eye contact, listen carefully and take that person seriously, not just 'tolerate' them. How unloving! How boring! How miserable a reason to engage in so important a task as learning something.