Monday, December 26, 2011

for your reading pleasure

The house is awash in toys and puzzle pieces, the laundry is piled up, the cool remote control helicopter doesn't work, so I've retreated to the internet for some sanity.

Mark Steyn, as usual, is brilliant.

And on a similar subject, here's Tim Challies. I would add to his interesting and astute cultural observation that this same principle is very much at work in All the clothes women are expected to wear today. Fashions of the past were generous and suited to the motherly life giving figure. It was possible to give birth to children and wear clothes afterwards that were flattering and suited to the physical impact pregnancy and childbirth have on the human body. Now the expectation is to return to the clothes and body of yourself before children. I am constantly struggling to return to myself Before children so that I can wear clothes--any clothes and also clothes that might be lovely and make me look like a normal person. And by normal, we all know that means a young (not aged in any way) rail thin woman who hasn't had six children. And so far I've swam in that pool unthoughtfully. But I read this post recently and found it to be really helpful.

Anyway, its the second day of Christmas, I'm going to go put my fat pants on and eat another piece of white bread. Happy cultural criticism!

Merry Christmas!

I'm watching a cool documentary about earthquakes on Matt's new Kindle Fire while he snores loudly. He outdid himself in the way of goose, Brussels sprouts (that can't be right, is that really how you spell that?), Cornish game hens, mashed potatoes, gravy, and the sermon in church. Its the first time I managed to get to church on Christmas day. The girls thought they would come but then changed their minds and ran back home to keep playing. Everyone really played wildly and devotedly for the whole day. Well, I say everyone, but I obviously mean the children. I didn't play. I made bread and Yorkshire pudding and weirdly, decided to flame my persimmon pudding. It didn't flame very much but it was really delicious, if I say so myself. And the table, which I neglected to take pictures of, was beautiful thanks to Matt's mom and aunt.

So obviously I'm just being stupid now. Being that its 12:14 and everyone will wake up shortly and want to know what my problem is and why I'm not rising with a song on my lips and joy in my heart. Merry Christmas! May all 11 days remaining be beautiful for you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

maniacal laughter

Feel led to blog....can't think of anything to blog about today.
Sorry, I just have Adrian Plass stuck in my head all the time.
I do have lots of things to blog about but more pressing is the fact that Matt's parents are coming in four days and there are a myriad of ways in which I am not a tiny bit ready for this occurrence, among them being my intention to pull off a full week of school, get my laundry room into sparkly order, do a little more painting, finish a bunch of presents, move the girls out of the guestroom into some other bedrooms, and just generally be on top of everything in my life. In other words, it would be deeply irresponsible of me to blog this week, And Yet, I probably will because that's what I do when I am trying to avoid reality. I think I've had it in my mind that this coming weekend is Christmas. Found it a great relief when I looked at the calender yesterday and found this to not be the case.

Friday, December 09, 2011

7 quick takes

The four oldest have been invited to a birthday party this evening. May the Almighty help me not to scream at the next child who comes in and asks, again, if its time to go yet. Not for another 9 hours, Buster, NINE HOURS.
Tomorrow is the Christmas bake sale at church. May the Almighty help me not to scream at the next child who comes in and asks, again, if its time for the bake sale.....
I'm pretty sure today is the final push to paint the last rooms upstairs. And start moving all the girls into one room. We'll see if the intervening months have caused Marigold to become a better, less violent person. I doubt it. I took three cheerios out of her bowl just now to give to the baby and she tried to hit me. Almost every day I praise God that toddlers have no power whatsoever. Can you imagine the level of devastation upon the face of the earth? I can and it makes me shudder.
It seems that lots and lots of people at Good Shepherd are very sick--bronchitis, pneumonia, a throwing up bug, various infections. Rather than worrying, which is what I've been doing all week, going to try spending big portions of the day praying for healing for them all and that we continue not to get it.
All my kitchen cabinets close. For the first time since we moved here All The Kitchen Cabinets Close! Thank you John! (And also, thank you so so much for removing that horrible toy knight from our lou. All the day long we go on being so grateful.)
It snowed enough yesterday for the children to go out in it. Took FORTY MINUTES to get everyone dressed, and that didn't include the baby who stayed in. Completely exhausted after all the struggle but had to immediately begin making vast amounts of food and hot chocolate against the moment they all came back in. Didn't start school until 10:30 and then forgot to do noon prayer and so had to do part of Matt's office hours. Rushed home in the afternoon to force the children to do history and geography before the magical hour of World Girl. Went to bed feeling like one of those washed up people who work really hard but never achieve anything.
And now its Tomorrow!
Poor Romulus. Day after day he would ask if it was Tomorrow and I would always say "No, its Today" and he would weep. Finally had the presence of mind to say, "Yes, its Tomorrow." So difficult to long for a day and never see it arrive--like the Day of the Lord.

Have a great weekend and go check out Jen!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

a broken body: or why I'm very sad about the church today

What seems like a lifetime ago Matt and I took the astounding and miraculous opportunity to go to Jerusalem to participate in the GAFCON meeting. I'm still living off that brief stunning visual landscape--off just standing on the Mount of Olives looking at the Dome of the Rock, off our one day driving around the Sea of Galilee and hungrily sucking down every word of our guide as he unfolded the Scriptures before us, off sitting in front of the huge great stones of the temple, flung down.

But there was a great and shocking grief for me, when we visited the Holy Sepulcher which I wrote about here and here. I know others who visit are generally overwhelmed by holiness and love for Jesus and other wonderful things. And its not that I didn't get a little of that as we walked through the cavernous structure. But my over-abiding thoughts and emotions were of shock at the decay, at the blackness of the whole thing, at the weird gaudy ornate gold around the place of the cross, the pale and bizarre representation of Mary in some sort of glass box. Which Narnia book is it where they find the Stone Table and it doesn't resemble itself at all?

Looking back, part of the reason I was so struck by this particular visual, I think, is because of what was going on in the GAFCON meeting itself. Not being important at all, I was not privy to any politicking or anything. I attended the general lectures and seminars and my small group--all of which were excellent--but it felt like something was in the air and it filtered down to my dim consciousness in a phrase that stuck in my head as a freaky little irritating refrain

"when sin enters in."

And I came home with it in my head. And as ACNA became a thing, and AMiA became a thing and we lost our lawsuit and engaged on varying levels with Anglican politics the refrain and the broken decaying sepulcher joined to be the filter through which I have always been seeing the Anglican Church in America.

Its so broken. And it goes on being broken.
And there's not really any thing we can do about it. The church in every age and at every time is full to the brim of sin. When you stand on something and say 'you can go over there but I'm not going to go with you' its easy to imagine that all the sin has gone on over there and you are standing in a pool of purifying and holy light. It may be that sometimes ACNA and other leaving bodies have tried to say that, or not. Its possible any of us say it at any moment. But the key is to stop saying it. We are in the light, and it does purify and make us holy. But it does that because we're standing in a dark cavernous ruin of a church, a church that the moment Jesus ascended to the Father started crowding itself into the darkness, breaking things and sinning. And its going to go on doing this for the foreseeable future. And it will be Jesus, really and finally, who comes and says Enough! to the weird Mary in the glass box and the broken pavement and the black walls, and Enough! to all of us who can't pull it together to do his will in all that we do and say. Until then,
Lord have Mercy
Christ have Mercy
Lord have Mercy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

st. nicholas

St Nicholas visited Good Shepherd this Sunday (does ANYONE have a picture?) and then circled back through town Monday night bringing the four girls very pretty tea spoons (which he got online from a really fabulous place in Canada) and the boys camping knife/fork/spoon pocket implements in their own little cases. St. Nicholas, as usual, fretted very much about everybody being happy and went to bed at midnight the night before thinking that someone would maybe have rather had an actual toy.
And, of course, he fretted very much that he had bought stupid Santa chocolate lollypops instead of  buying a St. Nicholas' bishops mold and making his own chocolates. Also, he was foolish enough to put handfuls of chocolate coins in each shoe instead of carefully counting to make sure each child had the same number of chocolates.
Fortunately for him, after the initial screaming and shouting, everybody was able to settle down and make it fair. And the spoons turned out to be good for eating soft boiled eggs, drinking tea, and having relationships with each other as they appeared to take on the personalities of dolls. And the pocket implements were AWESOME and were good for eating both breakfast and supper, for cutting a small wooden dowel into bits of sawdust and for becoming a more cool person. Eventually, though, some people were just too exhausted to keep eating chocolate, and eating with the special spoons, much as they would have liked to.
Anyway the house was well prepared for his visited. Monday we managed to dig some things out of boxes. (WRETCHED baby finger prints on camera lenses.)
And snapped our very clever fake pre-lit tree together. As I have shouted to anyone who will listen over the past few weeks, When All The Children Can Walk and Buckle Themselves In The Car And Cut the Tree and Drag It To The Car And Drive the Car then we'll get a real tree. Until then, the magic of Christmas is a fake pre-lit tree. Tuesday morning as I groped my way towards the light, deeply regretting having any children at all, much less six, I said to Matt, "Wouldn't it be great if this was it? If now we went back to our normal lives and there was no insanity in three + weeks?"
He looked at me in abject horror. "Oh, I guess not," I said. But if I was in charge of everything......its probably too horrible to even say out loud.

Monday, December 05, 2011

In conversation with children

Romulus gagging and trying to get through his dinner.
You know this black stuff on top of the potato? Well, that stuff makes some people throw up.
(Nobody is allowed to say they don't like something at dinner, and nobody is allowed to throw up.)

Romulus putting a little world on the Jesse Tree.
God created the world?! Seriously?!
(Like we haven't mentioned this over and over in the last four months! What!)

Alouicious flirting with logic.
You know why I believe Santa is real? Because people don't go outside at night and so it must be Santa that brings presents all at once. He's the only one that's out late.
(He's right. We Don't Ever go outside after dark. Congratulated him on his astute reasoning.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

7 quick takes

Baby took a step one day this week. And then the next day took another step. And then we panicked and stopped coaxing her.
As a result of doing a tiny bit of Christmas shopping online, I have been followed around by the things I was looking at on every single other website I normally attend to. Well, I was until yesterday when I deliberately went to a series of websites I like very much but from which I have no intention of ever buying anything. Now I see all their nice things all over instead of the weird stuff I had to look at for Christmas. Take that Google.
Alouicious and I are trying to learn this song. We have it half done and we're pretty good. I like how testy he (the Jesuit, not Alouicious, that I wouldn't abide) is, and irritable.

We finished all of Alice in Wonderland and in the Looking Glass on Tuesday. On Wednesday we started another book and Alouicious looked up and said, "What? Why aren't we reading Alice?"
"We finished it," I said.
"What? All of it? Every single page there is?"
As if I would have taken pages away and hidden them or something.
Carrol's attitude towards poetry is so brilliant. First of all, its everywhere. You can't read more than three pages without reading some kind of poem. Second, its so tiresome. The deep resignation of Alice every time she's about to be subjected to some excessively long poem is my own every day as Elphine accosts me, "Want to hear a poem?"
"Do I have to?"
It's time for my annual reading of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass. Have most of it memorized but read it carefully and devotedly anyway...every year...and its still desperately funny.
We've got to decorate for Christmas. And all I can say about that is...ugh.
Here's where Matt starts wildly dispensing eggnog to children and listening to Il Divo's Christmas album and I start yelling at everyone because of the wretched mess. It will be such a glorious relief in January to pack it all away and sit in that first profound moment of clean, calm quiet when the house is its usual plain rational self. And I will thank my providential God that we only have to celebrate his birthday once a year. In the meantime, I will just try to remember that the glory of the cross would not have been revealed had he not actually been born and a little tinsel and pine needles is a small price to pay for celebrating the salvation of all the world. But honestly, wouldn't it be great if he came back in the single moment before I cracked open that first Christmas bin?

Have a great weekend and go check out Jen!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

overheard this morning

I'm trying to avoid reality by not getting out of bed, but everybody is up and arguing and it looks like I'm going to have to give up and arise.
Alouicious and Elphine fighting in the other room:
A: I am doing it because I love Jesus. But I like chocolate too and Daddy said we could have chocolate.
E: But you shouldn't do it for the chocolate. You should do it because you love Jesus.
A: I AM. But I also get chocolate.
E: I don't think you're doing it for the right reasons.
Me (shouting from my bed): Stop questioning his motivation. Leave him alone!
At which point Gladys twirls in and says to Matt
G: I want to ask Jesus to come into my heart.
M: That's so great. Can you tell me where Jesus is now?
G: He is in heaven.
M: That's right. Can you tell me what he did for you and why you want him to live in your heart?
G: Yeah, but I'm not going to.
Twirls out as Romulus comes in
R: I did not just tell a lie.
That's my cue to go interfere.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

for a wednesday evening

103 Shall not the hand of the Lord be fully sufficient?

Sometimes for a while it was midnight for the son; he could not see his way.
Then, just then, it often happened that a friend came to his house and he had nothing to set before him; and Moses' anxious question was his, Shall sheep and oxen be slain for them, and shall it suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together and shall it suffice them?
But soon he remembered his Lord's gracious answer, Shall not the hand of the Lord be fully sufficient?
And his Father said to him, Thou knowest the way to My house, thou canst find it even in the dark. So he went to his Father's house, and his Father gave him not three loaves only, but as many as he needed.

His Thoughts Said...His Father Said
Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

lilies of the valley

There ought to be a law against any change in routine ever. Nobody knows what to do on this ordinary regular morning because of all the previous days of partying. And I also seem less able to grope my way towards sanity than I was a week ago.

And there's only like three weeks until it all gets messed up again. Its fine for Jesus to say, "don't worry about tomorrow" but I don't think he was accounting for the insanity of Thanksgiving through Christmas. Well, I mean, obviously he was accounting for it, in some spiritual way. But there ought to be some kind of scriptural dispensation allowing certain kinds of people (like me) to freak out for this period without falling into sin. Who's with me?

On that note, we will go do something sensible and calm, like math, and try our very best to push the encroaching madness off to at least another portion of the day. Happy Advent!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

my sermon from this morning: jonah 1

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the first day of the new church year--Happy New Year! As the secular year draws to a vibrant gaudy and showy close, the church year dawns dark and quiet and sober and fresh. The single reed like voice of John the Baptist cries out in the still darkness as a sliver of golden light burns bright along the horizon. "Repent" the voice calls out, "the Kingdom of God is at hand." "Behold, the King is coming." 

It is the same call of God to Jonah to go tell Ninevah to repent, to turn from the violence of their ways to the mercy of God, it is exactly the same message you will hear throughout this month as the prophets are read, as the light grows stronger, as we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus.
Turn with me to Jonah chapter 1. Last week we saw Jonah very busy, bustling, frantic to go away from the presence of the Lord. He gathered his stuff, he purchased passage on an boat, he got on the boat, and then he went to sleep in its depths exhausted from all the busyness. In verse 4. Jonah paid the fare and "went down into it", that is, the ship. this "going down", "went down", "down" is like a drum beat in this chapter and the next. Already, as he boards the ship, Jonah is going down into death. The going down is precisely chosen to describe the kind of death spiral he is in. And that is the mark of our whole text today. Where everybody else on the boat is trying to live, trying to survive, Jonah has pinned his way to destruction. He would rather die than live. He would rather die than obey God. He would rather die than turn around and face God.

So, Jonah gets on the boat and immediately, look at verse 4, the Lord hurls a great wind upon the sea, and there is a mighty tempest, and the ship threatens to break up. 
This is the opposite of the great wind stilled by the voice of the Lord on the Sea of Galilee. There, the tempest obeyed our Lord's mere word to "be still". Here, the Lord hurls the storm in the path of Jonah and the sea and wind obey in ever increasing violence.

The storm is immediate. There is no pause in the text between Jonah getting on the boat and the wind being hurled. So eager is the writer to let us know about the storm that we only find out in the middle of the paragraph that Jonah went straight down into the guts of the ship to sleep. You can almost hear the scary foreshadowing music sweeping over the scene as Jonah climbs the ramp to board. There's like 30 seconds of ordinary calm weather as the ship pushes away from port into the sea and then blam, the Lord hurls a great wind. The ship careens back and forth so terribly that there, in the middle of the sea, it "threatens to break up." You can see the boards creaking and straining away from each other, great gaping holes filling with water as wave after wave pours over the side of the ship. Everybody is completely soaked. Now a days, and of course I have in mind here those brave shipping boats in Alaska trying to catch crab, Matt says every year that he's just going to chuck it all and go sign up because it looks so cool, the captain rushes to his instruments and starts radioing for help and trying to get the coast guard. But here there is no coast guard. These are isolated sailors in the middle of a great expanse of water. There is no radio. There is no hope. The only hope is to cry out to whomever you think is bigger than you are--the god of the sea, perhaps, the god of the sky, the god of the sun, the god of keeping people out of danger. There's got to be someone bigger who can hear and do something. The captain and the sailors undertake to pray on a scale they themselves have probably never imagined possible. The kind of prayer wherein your whole soul, your whole being cries out for help. They pray and cry out and throw all the cargo overboard. Great beautiful clay pots of oil or dates or wine or spices or beautifully dyed cloth. All that money, all that profit, gone, flung into the raging depths. The whole enterprise is a total loss. The captain leaves his sailors above and goes into the depths of the boat to find Jonah. He's sleeping the deep sleep of the wicked, numb  from the business of running from the Almighty. He's spent every ounce of his intellectual energy rationalizing his run, abusing the mercy of God to himself, demonizing the people of Ninevah, inflating the potential of a new life in Tarshish. His feet are weary from his hurried journey from the interior of Israel all the way the coast. The longer he sleeps the less time he will have to stare into the great depths of God's unfailing undesired presence. The captain finds him and shakes him and shouts at him to wake up. Jonah grudgingly comes to life. "Arise, call out to your God" shouts the captain, matching the word of the Lord, "Arise, call out against that great city." Jonah does not call out, he does not pray. He follows the captain to the deck where the sailors are preparing to cast lots. A couple of dice thrown down, or a bundle of sticks, held in the hand, the ends hidden. One stick is short. Jonah draws it at his turn and the crowd turns to him in desperation. "Who are you? What are you doing? What have you done?!"

Verse 9 Jonah says, " I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." I fear God, so matter of fact, which sends the sailors into terror, into real fear and awe at the power of this man who can stand on a rocking breaking ship and calmly say, I fear the God who made all this. As they talk the sea grows even rougher, the wind whipping the waves into a stinging rage. "What shall we do to you!?" they ask in horror.
"Throw me into the sea," demands Jonah. Nevertheless, the men cannot imagine such a remedy and try, now, to pick up oars and row to shore. But the God of the sea increases the wind and the storm and they finally give up and cry out, again, to God to spare them for such an act. "This isn't murder. Its not our fault. Its your fault." And they pick Jonah up and throw him in, and immediately, as quickly as the sea was whipped into a rage, it falls into a placid dead calm. Blue sky. Blue water. Its the Mediterranean after all. Its beautiful. And the men fall to their knees and fear, that is reverence or honor or belief in, the God who has such immense power.

Jonah, meanwhile, sinks into the depths of the ocean, and there we will have to leave him, along with his appointed fish, until next week. In the meantime, there are a few matters to consider.

First, observe the amazing contrast between the sailors and captain together and Jonah. These men want to live. They want to survive. They appeal to what divinity they have heard of. They pray and pray and pray. In this chapter, Jonah never prays. He doesn't cry out, he doesn't appear to have any emotion, he doesn't even seem a real character. He is wooden and stubborn. Even when he tells them to throw him in the sea, it is very matter of fact. There are at least three possibilities for Jonah's motivation at this moment. He might feel repentant and be trying to obey God. But I don't really think so. He hasn't anywhere given an indication of wanting to turn around up to this point. He might feel bad for the sailors and be offering himself up as a sacrifice to save them. But if that were the case he wouldn't have bothered with the sham of the lots and all the questioning. He could have offered a solution at the first sign of wind, like, let's go back to shore, guys, I'm going the wrong direction. No, I think the third option is most likely, and that is that Jonah would rather die than turn around and obey God. So deep is his rebellion that he is practically suicidal. Look at chapter 4 verse 3. By this point he has preached to Ninevah in chapter 3, they have cried out to God and turned from their wicked and violent ways, and Jonah has left the city and gone to wait for God to go ahead and destroy them anyway. When he sees that God is going to have mercy he says, in verse 3, "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah would rather drown, at this point, than admit that he's going the wrong direction.

Second, look at verse 10, even though he is in complete defiant suicidal rebellion, he doesn't feel comfortable about it. "Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, "What is this that you have done?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them." Like, Hi, I'm Jonah, I'm from Israel, I want to go to Tarshish, because I'm running away from God. In the few minutes he is on the ship not sleeping, the main thing he tells everyone is that he's running away from God. Who does that? Well, we all do. What is the first thing you tell everyone when you see them or meet them? What kind of things do you find yourself talking about all the time--your own goodness? The badness of everyone else? The greatness of God? How you have gotten the short end of the stick? Its possible to gain some real insight into your own soul by listening to your own words, the repeating themes of your own conversations, facebook statuses, journal entries, blog posts, things you think about while you drive from place to place in your car. You may think you're a hard cold steely eyed go getter like Jonah, but if you're on some path you shouldn't be on and you think its just a secret between you and yourself, its also possible your speech is giving you away.

Third, there is the little matter of the storm. There are two things about the storm. One, if God wants to get your attention, he's going to get it. If God wants you to turn around and go in another direction, you're eventually going to turn around and go in that other direction. If he wants you to stop doing something, don't kid yourself, eventually you're going to stop doing it. He might send a raging storm, he might allow all the circumstances of your life to come completely apart, he might allow you to be in pain or illness, he might open all the doors in one direction and bang them shut behind you as he pulls you kicking and screaming through them so that you can't run back, he might frustrate every single plan you have all day, causing whole tidal waves of traffic to rise up before you, moving other people's shopping carts into your path, bringing every little irritating request of your children into your kitchen as you try to make one tiny phone call, all to have you in the right place at the right time. Do you think that you organize and plan your own day? That you are the master of your own destiny? Than you are seriously deluded. God made the sea the land and the sky. He isn't going to be thwarted by you--either your basically reasonable ideas of what's important, neither your sin, neither your rebellion.

Two, you might like to think that God is extravagantly out of balance to be sending such a great storm to bring one person to repentance. You might say, "I'm not that important. God's got a lot to worry about, why would he care about this very small thing in my life." "It doesn't matter if I am disobedient in this one small area because its just me. I'm not that consequential." Or you might say, "I'll pray for others but not for myself because I'm not that important. I can just bear with this trouble, its not that big of a deal. God has bigger things to worry about." To both of these kinds of 'humility' but really 'pride', the Bible says: The Lord God created the whole earth and cosmos and then bothered to create and design you. And he cares very much what you do. He cares very much about your attitude. He cares very much about the choices you make. He cares very much about your needs. You cannot escape his notice. There isn't any moment where he is not fully cognizant of what you're doing and why. And because he is sovereign, because he is big enough and powerful enough to be over all things and have things go the way he intends them, he knows what you're doing and what everyone else is doing too. In these verses, the life of Jonah, the attitude and obedience of Jonah is the focus, but the lives of all the other people on the boat are in view. Not a single one of them misses out on God's care and discipline and attention. In fact, they are saved. They meet and believe in the God Jonah would rather die than obey. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

a spot of thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving All. I am chiefly thankful today to be in my house and not in line in any kind of store. I'm thankful for a lot of other stuff too, but its hard to remember any of it from the over abiding glow of Not having to go outside today for any reason. Anyway, on Wednesday, we made pie. Everyone got to make their own little pie. The two large ones, I guess, are for me, since Matt won't eat them. I suppose I could share with the children....
And Matt cut the table legs down and one of the chairs so that when I sit at the table, my feet can touch the floor. 
And I got ready for Advent. I'm saving my money for an elaborate candle holder for next year (I have an envelope). So this year I used tea cups. You can see the deep theological significance of all the candles being in opaque teacups except the Light of Christ which is in clear glass. 

And then I discovered bits of my missing Scandinavian light dinging thing (boo, can't find all the parts) so I re-appropriated it for a mini advent wreath.

Thursday morning I baked bread and cinnamon rolls. My wonderful and clever grandparents sent me the cookie cutters (which we couldn't wait to use and so stuffed bread into) and the Swedish horse baking pans. I must say, at the early hour it was, NO ONE was as excited about this shape as I was which put me out. Thwarted everyone by taking a lot of pictures of it instead of serving up the bread. Alouicious felt he was going to die of hunger. All the rolls were gone in 7 3/4 minutes.
 The baby Swedish horse was so so so amazingly cool.
 All the the pictures are blurry because children repeatedly kept finding and sucking on the camera or putting their fat fingers directly on the lens. Spent large portions of the day yelling about it. There was still quite a long wait at the moment of this picture.
Elphine's cat got into the package from my grandparents and went absolutely nuts. We thought there might have been a large sprinkling of catnip. She ate one of the little foam angels (well, chewed it thoroughly) and then did a series of mad dashes around the room crashing into furniture.
Still waiting for dinner. Alouicious hoping that an attitude of prayer will bring a swifter conclusion to his suffering. You'll notice we had a starter of steamed artichokes with two kinds of dressings. On the whole it was a success. Nobody gagged and everybody was intrigued.
 Elphine rescuing angel bits from her evil cat.
 We decorated! As in, some of us glued some leaves to some paper. That was actually a week or so ago. It gives the illusion of order and craftiness, I think, where none actually exist.
 Back to the Swedish Horse pan. Marigold tried desperately to smear her snot covered hands all over it before I could get it in the oven. As I took the picture, I screamed and shouted for her to stop it and get down. Went back to bed when it was in the oven as there seemed no point in trying to carry on living after such an ordeal.
The baby slept a lot of the day. She has a bad cold and FOUR TEETH cutting at once on the top. Poor poor poor baby.
Eventually we did finally sit down to dinner. All I did was the artichokes and all the bread and pie. Matt outdid himself on the matter of the turkey--his best yet, hands down (no stuffing, brined for 18 hours, rubbed inside and out with various concoctions, seared at 500 degrees, breastplated and roasted at 350 for another many hours)--gravy, potatoes, asparagus. We sat around for hours in total comfort, both of all our feet touching the floor, grateful for another year of eating.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

my sermon from the service tonight: psalm 34

Apparently I preached for 15 minutes instead of 5. Oops.

This psalm, psalm 34, is attributed to David and we have an interesting little note at the top, just before verse one. The ESV says, "of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimalech, so that he drove him out, and he went away." Some Bible's say, "when he feigned madness", when he acted crazy. And then, if you glance at the text, we have a perfectly reasonable and seemingly ordinary psalm. One might say, and many have, that David played the fool to get out of a tight spot, but then was no fool at all because he turned directly to praise God for his salvation.
There are some great big pits that we can fall into at this time of year, from Thanksgiving onwards toward Christmas--almost like falling into the hands of Abimalech, our enemy, as we might say. They are the wells, or the enemies of pride, anxiety, gluttony, showyness, covetousness, and of other people's expectations. I tie these enemies around me, as I tie my apron, and wallow in them, gazing enviously at other people's Christmas lights, or trying to win the acclaim of the gathered throngs with my fancy perfectly formed dinner rolls.
But David feigns insanity to escape his enemies and runs to the praise of God. 
1I will bless the LORD at all times;
Says David
Not because the LORD needs to be blessed by me, he is blessed, he is perfectly content and happy in himself. I bless him because it is only in him that I can be content and happy. All the time.
   his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Even as I fuss over my lists and worry about giving the right present to the right person and fret about my oven being too small to cook everything that I want to cook, my mouth will always be praising him. My mouth will always be saying lovely thing about God and how he has given me life and hope and food and warmth and family and a table and all the cookies downstairs. Continually, not just once in the morning and once in the evening--all the time.
2My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
   let the humble hear and be glad.
Because if I boast in myself, everything will shift into the shadows of poverty. If I boast in myself, if I organize everything so that everyone will know it was me that pulled this off, me that made Christmas beautiful, me that bought the turkey, me that cooked it to perfection, me that holds the family together, my inadequacy will shine forth like those cheep neon lights that you don't want to look at but you can't avoid. But if my boast is in the LORD, who made heaven and earth, whose foot is never moved, whose love is as big as the ocean, the beauty of that boast will sustain and strengthen those I love. The humble hear this boast and are glad.
3Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
   and let us exalt his name together!
My boast, my gladness, my joy spreads over the whole table as we magnify the Lord together. We magnify, we examine, we mull it over, we look at his Name from every angle, adding layer upon layer of praise.
How would I do that? You cry. My turkey is still frozen. My sister always says she'll host Thanksgiving but never does. How can I magnify the Lord and boast in him?
 4I sought the LORD, and he answered me
   and delivered me from all my fears.
I ASKED for help. I prayed, in helplessness I gave every worry and anxiety and trouble to him and he delivered me. You have to Ask. You have to cry out. He will hear your cry and come to help you.
What happens when you cry out to God?5Those who look to him are radiant,
   and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Radiant, full of light. When you cry out to God and he hears you he gives you himself, he fills you with himself, he gives you his light, he gives you enough. No longer a blinking ghastly neon sign, no, the Lord of light, who created light, lives in you, and lifts your face into the light, out of shame, into beauty.6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
   and saved him out of all his troubles.
This poor man, that's you, you cried out and the Lord heard you and saved you. Have you cried out? Have you asked for help from the Lord?7 The angel of the LORD encamps
   around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Even an angel was sent to encamp to surround David in the time of his distress. Is God too busy to hear your cry? Is God not big enough? Is God too lofty to trouble himself over the troubles of your life? Test him out. Carry out an experiment.
 8Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Spend some time with him. Read some of his special book. Spend some time in quiet with the Lord. Taste, and see if the Lord isn't good. You can't taste something just by looking at it. It doesn't say, 'Look, see, the Lord is good." No, you have to make the commitment of a mouthful. If you put something in your mouth, you really commit to it. One of my children really knows this. He is really careful not ever to put anything into his mouth that he doesn't know. He hates thanksgiving and restaurants and almost every meal at our house. It can be scary to Taste. Back in the old old days of the Bible, when it was time for little six year olds to begin to learn the Torah, the Law of the Lord, they would get a little taste of honey on the tongue. The Law of the Lord is perfect, the teacher would say, it is sweeter than honey. Open your mouth. Don't sit at your table and say, well, I looked around at my life and I didn't see anything that God has done. No, test the Lord. Open your mouth to cry out to him for help, see if his help isn't sweeter than honey. Then you can see that the Lord is good.
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Happy, content, taken care of is the man and the woman who goes for safety into the presence of Jesus.
9Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
   for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Not because you perfectly acquire everything on your list. It might be that you don't get the perfect gift for everyone, that you don't have all three kinds of pie, that your bank account is slimmer than you would like it to be. The good thing you won't lack will be the Lord. If you seek him, you will find him, and he will give you enough of what you need and all of himself. You won't lack, your soul will not be in poverty, if you seek him. 
 11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the kind of wisdom that teaches you to praise the Lord. The kind of wisdom that lightens you out of the difficult darkness of trying to please other people when really the most pleasing thing is to look to Jesus. The kind of wisdom that brings everyone together to magnify the Lord and rejoice in his Name and his great love. It is kind of crazy. At this time of year, the most mad insane thing might be to say, 'Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.' What's the worst that could happen? That God would hear the sound of your voice and come to be with you in the midst of your enemies? Take courage, play the fool!

Monday, November 21, 2011

mawage. its what bwings us togethah today

I posted this
Nothing says "marital bliss" like trying to talk about money while you're both actually surfing the internet.
earlier in the day on facebook. The only use I generally aim to confer on facebook is sarcasm without bitterness, but I was So Tired this morning that I forsake both sarcasm and bitterness and posted something I really meant. Maybe it was the scare quotes around marital bliss that threw Matt off, causing him to say, "I don't think that was very nice".
But Really. We both hate coping with money. Its really nice sitting each with our own computer distracting ourselves as we cobble a budget into some kind of conciliarly agreed upon direction. How rotten if we had an actual focused meeting where we sat down and did only that. 
While we were budgeting I read this(heartbreaking), and this (helpful) and this (hysterical) and this and this.
Of course, we had to add it up three of four times because we, or rather I, got different numbers every time. But eventually it was twice the same thing. And the long morning bore the fruit of having enough to wander through the aisles of Wegmans buying fancy things for Thanksgiving dinner. Elphine, being too old to go in the play place, is turning out to be better company than I imagined. I do confess, I dreaded the time of having to shop with her for at least 6 months before she turned 9. Today she pushed a second cart through the chaos (I'm pretty sure the entire city of Binghamton was in Wegmans this afternoon) and weighed vegetables and she can't whistle, Bless the Lord, so there we are.
But the true moment of bliss, not only of today but of the last two weeks at least, was catching Matt's eye at the end of the cereal aisle as he took a package of hotdogs out of the mouth of Marigold and adjusted the hat of the baby so that she would fail at trying to hang herself and mouthing to him, "We don't have to make stuffing this year, do we?" and him mouthing back, "Oh absolutely."
I long for nothing else in this life. To be that unified in purpose, mission, heart, mind and soul, Well, I defy you to show me something more blissful. And I'm NOT being sarcastic. The sarcasm will be back another day, maybe, but don't count on it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

what! prayer? has it come to that?

Where have I been the last few days? Trying to put the house back together after this last painting trauma, doing school, generally spinning my wheels BUT ALSO helping to organized a Day of Prayer at the church.

Long ago we had a day of prayer right before we lost our law suit and building. Pastors from many kinds of churches came and preached and prayed with us and for us. It was so encouraging and wonderful to pray together in this way and for the community to come together with us. And then we lost everything, as it were, landing in this extremely pleasant and expanded situation. Through the move there was a small group that met, and of course we prayed like anything on Sundays and at Bible Studies and individually, but we also got busy moving in and arranging the furniture and adding daily to the number of faithful, those who were being saved.

But there has lately been a really wonderful rebirth of prayer at Good Shepherd and in the course of this new and wonderful thing, it became clear that we needed to pray more Right NOW!!!

So Saturday, from midnight to midnight, there will be people praying in the church continuously for a long list of needs. I've been running around filling in the slots, making lists, gathering resources and trying to keep on top of the stream of volunteers we've had. One day out and I only have one slot empty--5am. But there's a party tonight and I'm pretty sure I can sucker someone in who isn't really paying attention and who, in the delight of food and good company, will be foolish enough to think, "5am? Oh, I can do that."

See you tonight guys! I'll be there with my lists.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm going to dye

Because we're a little bit stupid, we painted another room yesterday instead of sitting around lazily as is we Should have done because the next two weeks are horribly horribly unrelentingly busy.

And the painting, which turned out beautifully, means that I HAVE to dye my curtains
1. because they are now very much the wrong color and
2. because I am too cheep to buy new ones.

They're raw silk. Somebody, PLEASE, advise me.

Also, Why Oh Why didn't we paint the whole house Before we began this long and delicate process of Marigold learning to go the lou? Gladys had been our easiest so far but I think Marigold is even easier. Why are those children with the worse personalities the best at this? and those that are nicest terrible at it? Is there some kind of correlation? Anyway, because she So Gets It, she constantly needed to be running past the paint, screaming and shouting. And then we discovered that we did need a second gallon which Matt unhappily went all the way back out to get, only to come back with a can that was a vaguely different color. After painting nearly a whole wall with it I, I'm very sorry to say, manipulated him into going back out a third time by opening my eyes very wide and saying innocently, "is it closed? Its only 6:30." He came home with a third color which was a little better than the second but not as perfect as the first. We had to cover all over the beautiful first color AND I had to apologize a whole lot for being picky and stupid about paint colors the difference of which one could barely notice.

Also, I'm still deeply troubled by the fact that we have no blog name for Baby. Maybe Dorcus? So many people have pointed out that Biblical names are nice, with a slight rise of the eyebrow, as if to say "what's wrong with you pagans that you can't give your children good biblical names?"

And now, I will arise and go to cook breakfast because Alouicious is certain to perish if he doesn't eat porridge RIGHT NOW!

Monday, November 14, 2011

hardy har har

From Rudyard Kipling's Captain's Courageous:
Like many other unfortunate young people, Harvey had never in all his life received a direct order--never, at least, without long, and sometimes tearful, explanations of the advantages of obedience and the reasons for the request. Mrs. Cheyne lived in fear of breaking his spirit, which, perhaps, was the reason that she herself walked on the edge of nervous prostration. He could not see why he should be expected to hurry for any man's pleasure, and said so. "Your dad can come down here if he's so anxious to talk to me. I want him to take me to New York right away. It'll pay him."
Dan opened his eyes as the size and beauty of this joke dawned on him. "Say Dad!" he shouted up the foc'sle hatch, "he says you kin slip down an' see him ef you're anxious that way. 'Hear, Dad?"
The answer came back in the deepest voice Harvey had ever heard from a human chest: "Quit foolin', Dan, and send him to me."

Friday, November 11, 2011

7 quick takes

Marigold is learning to appropriately use the lou. I'm trying to elevate the overall tone of the process by not using the word "potty" which just doesn't make me want to get up in the morning.
"Will Aunty feel better after she's been the to the telephone?" I say.
And then Marigold shouts "Potty! Chocolate! More!"
Delicacy aside, I am surprised and delighted that we're taking this important step.
The baby is standing very steadily on her own looks to be perhaps trying to take steps in the next few weeks. Imagine, a toddler who won't talk, a baby who can't, everybody walking and running around in circles pulling civilization to bits. It will be like my own tiny Zuccoti Park. I am the 1%.
After two solid months of school I finally made out individual laminated lists for each child with everything they need to do in the course of a day. I'd always intended to do this, but in the past I've always rushed in too quickly and made the wrong kind of list in the wrong order. This time I waited and waited until we seemed to settle into an order on our own before making the cards--a real mark of wisdom and maturity I think. Of course, I left a whole subject off, so everyone has to write it on the card at the beginning of the day and then it inevitably gets rubbed off before anyone gets to it.
I'm terribly worried of falling into pride, so pretend this is whispered in your ear:
I got to the end of my laundry.
I know! It took two and a half years. But wow.
All the glory, of course, goes to Jesus, who I pray will not smite me with anybody throwing up for at least a week so I can bask in the glow of what the parousia must feel like.
Speaking of parousia, a young lady with three small children died yesterday. I didn't really know her but I have friends who did. She was in car accident and fought very hard for life over a few weeks. Her youngest is a baby boy who shares the name of one of my boys. I realized, as I mourned and grieved for her family, two things. One, I don't really trust God for my children. I mean, I do intellectually, but I don't think I act that way very often. And Two, everybody said, "she went to be with her Lord" instead of "she passed away". Its alright, ultimately, if you're going somewhere to be with someone you've wanted to be with all this time. Its not alright, ultimately, if you "pass" "away"! Where is away? Nobody wants to go away!
Matt and I are going out to lunch this afternoon because some wonderful amazing friends are coming to be with the kids of their own volition and will.
"We really like your kids" she said, "we miss them."
"Really?" I riposted in total unbelief. I know they can be nice individually, but a whole pack of kids can be overwhelming.
Gladys and Elphine are taking showers every day now and then devoutly and laboriously drying their own hair. After which they don necklaces and bracelets and ribbons. The boys, on the other hand, have to be forced into putting on new clothes at all if ever. Right now, I think I'm on the side of the boys.

Have a great weekend! Go check out Jen!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

one thing and another

 I kept tripping over this all day. When I'd sit down it would try to perch on my collar bones and breath in my ear. Or I'd turn my head vaguely towards this computer and it would get off me and sit on the keyboard. Honestly.
If I'd wanted a dog (which, incidentally, I do) I'd have ....never mind. There's no logical way to end that thought.
Anyway, in answer to the catechism question, "What did God promise in the covenant of works?" My eldest child smiled winningly, sucked in a lot of air and breathed out heavily, "A Turkey."
I think that means its time to deep clean the kitchen because its getting colder and Thanksgiving will be momentarily down our throats!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

land of far distances: part three

Excerpted from Amy Carmichael's Gold by Moonlight

"And after this, when thine enemies see that thou art so well willed, then are they much abashed. But then will they assay thee with flattering and vain pleasing. Thus do thine enemies that thou shouldest think their saying sooth, and have delight in this vain joy and rest thee therein. But if thou do well, thou shalt hold all such jangling as faslehood and flattery of thine enemy, that proffereth thee to drink venom tempered with honey. And therefore refuse it and say thou wilt not thereof, but thou wouldest be at Jerusalem." "Thou art not there yet," says Hilton, in another place, "but by small sudden lightnings that glide out of small caves from that city shalt thou be able to see it from far ere that thou come thereto." And so indeed it is for us at times, to the comfort of our hearts.

But for him who would be at Jerusalem there is something that can smite and pierce and humble in the vision of the rainbow shown to the prophet Ezekiel and to John the Evangelist.

When one rises high in our material air one sees the rainbow in full circle. And so it is in things heavenly. Rising high in the spiritual air those two most happy seers saw that same glory, the rainbow in full circle, but they did not see the shadow of themselves. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about the throne that they saw. Upon "the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a Man"--thus Ezekiel. And St. John: "I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne stood a Lamb as it had been slain."

Self nowhere, nothing" our Lord Christ in all things preeminent--we hunger and thirst for that. The mountains under the quiet sky would be nothing to us if they did not speak of a detachment and a purity like that. Again and again the temptation to wish for what is not given will spring upon us ("jangle not therewith"), and the staining, softening though of self, and sympathy with self, will try to creep into the circle. But if the moment the soul is conscious of that influence it looks to its Lord ("I am naught, I have naught; I covet naught but only the love of Jesus") there will be peace; there will be victory. Not I, but Christ, will fill the center of the circle. And "He will with His merciful might of gracious presence break down this false image of love in thyself, till thou be some deal reformed to His likeness."

So let us be of good courage, for each hour brings the hour nearer, when we shall behold His face in righteousness, and we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. I shall be satisfied when awakened by a vision of Thee: that is the word of the Lake of Thun.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Alouicious has learned to whistle.

Its really the most irritating skill I can think of, in all places, in all times. He whistles to everyhing and at every moment. Just now he is whistling along to Handel's Greatest Hits (there's no way anyone can ever accuse me of being a snob for any reason after such a revelation). Later he will whistle himself to bed and whistle himself to sleep. He whistles, aggravatingly, while he works. He whistles in between whining about having to work. He whistles while he reads. Really, there isn't one single solitary thing I can think of that he does without whistling. I could hear him faintly whistling from the altar as he acolyted yesterday.

I have always tried, in my soul, to be a good mother and not nag, but every other word I breath now is, "don't whistle in my ear," "please stop whistling," "don't whistle at the table," "don't whistle right now," "don't whistle right here."
"Why do you yell at me all the time now?" he asked last week.
"I'm sorry," I said, "its just you're always whistling in my ear. Its driving me crazy."

I know I should be praying for my children to be saved and learn lots of stuff and other kinds of things, but really all I pray every day now is, "Lord Jesus have mercy on me a sinner and please let no other child in this house learn to whistle."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Friday, November 04, 2011

7 Quick Takes--School Stuff

We're on track to finish Alice in Wonderland today. We've spent ages talking through all the terrible puns and watching youtube clips of things like Quadrille Dancing ("that's disgusting" said Alouicious,  "I never ever ever want to dance like that."). So far the favoritist joke of all is that "Lessons" are so called because they lessen every day until they don't exist. Once she got it, Elphine laughed so hard she started crying. Over the month we've relearned "Jabberwocky" from last year and started "The Walrus and the Carpenter". I LOVE the wary look in all their big eyes as they say the words, considering that they are ridiculous and trying to measure how ridiculous, like enough to laugh out loud? or just to groan inwardly?
Elphine is working desperately hard to finish her math book by the end of this week so that she can 1. invite a friend and 2. go out to lunch. These are both her ideas. "I've worked so hard to finish early," she said, "shouldn't I have a friend over and go out to lunch?"
I mean, I guess, but I've been working really hard get on top of the laundry and nobody has said anything to me about lunch out. I'm afraid Elphine's motivation will eventually run me into money.
She gets up early and writes our schedule out on the board, dividing everything into 'things to do together' and 'things to do alone' and then making boxes for everyone to mark off what they've accomplished.
She and Gladys then plough through the day doggedly and intensely, marking off box after box while the boys whine and cry and beg to do things together. "I don't want to do math alone," cries Alouicious.
"I don't want to do math at all," moans Romulus.
Meanwhile Gladys eats buckets of candy for winning the work race every day, face and dress smeared with chocolate, singing, "I finished first. I finished first."
On the Bible front we've memorized John 15:1-9 and the first 15 verses from our little Desiring God foundation verses ring. We've started back at the Catechism for Young Children and are up to question 20. We're all praying for Gladys to be saved soon since she's more and more like a little totalitarian dictator every day.
We've also, besides piano, been working on the Tin whistle. I know, I'm probably certifiably insane. Anyway, Romulus and Gladys just try to put their wretched tiny fingers on the holes and blow screamingly in my ears. Elphine, Alouicious and I, on the other hand, are trying to learn a little Irish tune from youtube and "The King of Love my Shepherd Is", which is surprisingly hard. I really have to be completely in the right frame of mind for this or I just cry with frustration and rage. Still, maybe in 30 years we'll all be able to play a song together.
We do a lot of other stuff too, like writing and grammar and geography blah bah blah. It doesn't even really merit a whole quick take, much less a blog post. I like it all but none of its funny, well, a lot of it is in the moment but then it disappears in the cloud of reality.
I figured out this week that Alouicious is, in his heart, an information seeking American, and I, in my soul, am an information withholding French person. I need to develop some methods of indirect communication (like posting signs on the fridge or something) that satisfy his hunger for knowledge (what are we having for breakfast? when will I get to play? how long do I have to read? while I ever play again?) in such a way that doesn't make me irritated with having to speak all the time (I don't know, leave me alone!) Maybe all of this would go away if I just taught him to speak French. That sounds like a fun afternoon activity.

Have a great weekend and go check out Jen!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

a month in pictures

October was really horribly busy. As usual I always think we're going to be so calm and happy at the beginning of every month, and then we end up doing an insane number of things.
Early in the month, a very wonderful friend came from church to do a little bit of Chinese drawing.
 Romulus worked very hard the whole time.
 So did Gladys.
 It turns out to be rather difficult to control the brush. Especially if you talk more than draw.
 And then you have to work very hard to unlearn how to hold the brush.

Then, we did have at least one bath over the course of the month. Really grateful for the double sink.
 And Marigold continues to climb and get into absolutely everything she's not supposed to, like the kitty food, or my makeup, or spices in the kitchen, everything in the bathroom etc. etc.
 And the baby learned to climb up stairs this month. And to stand alone.
 And then Matt had a birthday. Here we all are waiting for him to blow out all 40 candles.
 It took a long time to light all the candles.
 You can see he was excited to have a thrilling party.
 And then Gladys turned FOUR mere days later.
Here she is waiting to go out to lunch with her dad.
 And then we had more cake and ice cream.
(A la Kim Kardashian, she changed her dress for each event. #ThingslastinglongerthanKim'smarriage This party. BWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.)
 After cake princess dress. Note the beautiful pink icing.
 And then we painted the school room. It's NOT mustard. Its saffron.
 How saffron it is.
 Or maybe turmeric.
 Then Marigold turned TWO!!!
She was given some lovely hair clips which she wanted all in right away.
 And a princess dress, and a whole lot of dolls dug out of the doll bin downstairs wrapped dubiously by her adoring brothers and sisters.
 And then she was SO pleased to have candles to blow out! 
Honestly, she looks so sarcastic all the time, it was surprising for her to be so obviously happy.
 Gratuitous baby.

 And then it was Halloween, or Reformation Day, whichever you like better. We celebrated the German Reformation Day on Sunday with Sausages and Saurkraut and beer. I hope next year we'll celebrate the Swiss Reformation with fondu. Anyway, we didn't take pictures because we were just eating a lot. The next day was an endless day of costume finding and general freakouts.
 The traditional Chili Pepper. First you're a chili pepper, then an Angry Bee, then whatever you can find out of the dress up box.
 In this case Romulus was Peter from Narnia. He is nearly every day.
 Alouicious was Batman, with hot chocolate and a large bag.
And then we had a lovely visit from one of my college roommates, of which I totally neglected to take any pictures. But that was technically November. Gasp.