Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes--All my advice edition

We're trying to ramp up the manners before we leave. I made a long speech yesterday about not interrupting, especially to tattle. Then I asked if anyone could say back to me what I had just said. Gladys repeated it pretty well and then touched Elphine gently on the arm, looked soulfully into her eyes and said, "Can you say a word, Elphine?"
Surprisingly have moved Marigold out of her crib. Found she was picking at the mattress, which will not do because the baby has to move in there, and so in a fit took the mattress out, bunged a toddler bed mattress on the floor in the closet (because somehow when we moved we only came away with parts of toddler beds but not a whole one) and plunked her down for a nap. Amazingly, she slept without a peep and continues to--naps, bedtime, everything. All the struggling of having her climb out of the crib over and over and over every night is gone in one bright moment. So weird though, because now she can just stand up and walk away, but she doesn't, at least not yet.
Been reading someone's blog about endless horrendous evening and bedtime routines that always devolve into tears and tantrums. Thought to myself, "Wow, I so don't have time for that." Not sure how we've avoided it though, other than insisting on cheerful complete obedience and then not really catering to everybody's tiny bedtime extending wish. You can get a drink of water but you better run fast before I get you, and you can go get your bear if you forgot it but you have exactly three seconds and I'm timing you. It sounds mean, maybe it is, but if bedtime isn't militaristicly enforced so that I have exactly 30 minutes of complete silence before I go to sleep, I will loose my mind, and that would be bad for everyone.
I stupidly got it in to my mind to wash everybodys sheets and blankets before we go. When I use the word 'stupid' I mean mind blowingly, win a Darwin award stupid. Because I don't really have time for this and its taking me the whole week and so everybody, except the babies, are sleeping on the floor in the sunroom. Lied and told them it was a special treat because I'm such a great mom.
Romulus got a glowing turtle thing that projects stars on the ceiling at night for his birthday. You can change the color from purple/blue to green to golden. Its so beautiful. The little pamphlet says that all the constellations are there. I haven't looked carefully to see, but if its true, its going to save me a world of hurt trying to take them outside  in the dead of winter when I planned to have a little astronomy going on for science.
In that same vein, now that my oldest child is nine, I realize all the guilt about not doing crafts and outings was a big gigantic waste of time. There's no reason to do anything reasonable and fun with children until they can carry on a semi intelligent conversation and get out and put away all the wretched craft stuff themselves. Until then, its crayons and tape all the way. And an outing once a year to the aquarium is just fine. Wish someone had mentioned this to me when my oldest child was four and I was covered in guilt and shame for not being totally awesome.
Alright, back to the laundry. I'm actually half packed. There might actually be time to deal with all those lovely herbs. Have a lovely weekend and go check out Jen!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Its going to be Perfect

Laundry, so so so much laundry
and actually finishing the office and printing out my paperwork for le governement (it always sounds French in my head, this word)
and cutting down the number of clothes I thought I would take for each child by half
oh yeah! Putting the beautifully amazing new nursery together at church. Its been painted and carpeted, and lovely shelves and hooks put in and new lighting--its Gorgeous! I'll have to take some pictures though it will probably take me weeks to post them. I can't imagine that every baby in Binghamton will not be toddling up to spend a Sunday Morning Hour in this beautiful room. Tell your parents, babies!
And, then, of course,
there is the impending struggle with Elphine about which bag she will take, never mind which bag I will take, and what will go in it. And it looks very much like Gladys is prepared to throw fits about her tiny kitty purse which doesn't fit anything but will have to fit something because you can't just take an empty purse! Which means Marigold will want to take a purse but she can't be expected not to drop it, so there will be some crying about that.
And then we have to carefully choose our shoes, not only which ones to pack, but which ones to carry us through security. Just the mentioned of the word 'shoe' and lips quivered and eyes teared up yesterday.
Anyway, Matt's mom and I have come up with a motto for this grand holiday adventure.
"EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE PERFECT" and if you want to silently add 'blast it', that's ok too.

Actually, now that I'm through my two birthday parties and I have Sunday School 90% sorted for the fall, and I'm 80% done getting ready for school and I've just decided not to cook any more for the rest of the week, I'm really excited. But also, very worried about my garden while I'm gone. Should I just let my herbs go to seed and gather the seeds in and pot them inside when I get back? or pick them all and just eat fresh herbs all weekend until I feel sick? or give them away? And what about the Sunflowers that are finally blooming? Can I just leave them there for a month? And I need someone to come every day and pick the evil beetles off my roses. Ok never mind, I'm completely stressed out.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another Birthday

Romulus turns five today.
I've got to roust myself and go make him 'hot cereal' (Cream of Wheat lathered in cream) for breakfast and then try to pretend to clean the house and make a cake--all white, including frosting.
"What kind of cake do you want?" I asked him yesterday.
"White" he said, vaguely annoyed that I would ask such a stupid question.
"What color frosting do you want?"
"White" (stupid mommy).
He wanted, of course, to receive a Remote Control Voltron and the Five Lions that gave birth to Voltron, but it turns out that Voltron has become an expensive antique, and the Five Lions are as unto gold. Wish I'd acquired some of these precious goods as a child to pad my retirement. Anyway, he's not receiving any Voltron object, poor child, but rather a lot of very reasonably priced and fun toys.
And we fed him sausages last night. So he is very content and happy.
Nobody else is, naturally, it not being their birthday. I, in my usual disorganized way, am half ready for school, half packed, half done getting people to do stuff at church, and feeling half out of my mind that I only have a week to get everything sorted out before we go. I spent half the night awake, a la Simcha Fischer, worrying about the fact that I won't be traveling with a beautiful purse.
Have a lovely day! We'll be partying our hearts out.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sermon from this morning: Colossians 4:5-6

The motto of very many Christians, in the west,
as we huddle together with our cups of coffee
worrying about how many people signed up for the jumble sale
and if Father so and so is going to get his garden in order, is,
Preach the Gospel to everyone, and if necessary, use words.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard this quote, attributed,
I don’t know whether correctly or not,
to St. Francis.
The assumption of the quote
is that we won’t ever have to speak out loud—
the testimony of our lives will be so powerful,
we won’t ever have to say anything.
Of course the way we live our lives is important,
we’ve spent an entire chapter talking about how we ought to live with each other, but no matter how beautifully we live,
at some point we are going to have to speak.
Our mouths are going to have to open,
we’re going to have to say something about the hope that lies within us,
that is, who Jesus is, what he has done for the world and for us personally,
and what kind of response the human person is invited to have.
And Of Course this is difficult!
Of course we would rather not.
That’s why Paul gives instructions as to how we ought to speak.
He anticipates our reticence and worry.
Remember, the tri-cities area here
is comparable to the tri-cities of Colossae, Laodicea and Heiropolis.
Just as with the average Central New Yorker,
people in Colossae had largely heard of Christianity,
there were rumors swirling all over the empire that Christians were possibly cannibalistic because of the vivid way they spoke about the body and blood of Jesus.
Many believed that Christians had bad intentions,
that they did strange things at night in the bowels of the cities of the empire, that they were disloyal to the emperor,
that they were irreligious because they wouldn’t worship the gods of the time. People were mistrustful, but also curious.
That mistrust hasn’t gone away. Every time I pop open netflix on my computer,
I always have five or six suggestions for documentaries about how weird and bad Christians are and how they’re tearing down the cohesive and moral fabric of our nation. Try talking to someone about Jesus who is sort of mainstream atheist secular and you will experience a very similar kind of environment to that of the Colossian church. In other words, it wasn’t easy then, it isn’t easy now, it’s not going to be easy tomorrow. But it is possible. So let’s delve in and see what Paul has to say.
If you look up at verses two and three
you’ll see that there ought to be no speaking without first praying.  
There is seamless unbroken transition between prayer and speech.
The Colossians were to be praying in the course of their own personal lives—
and that personal prayer was to drive them to pray for Paul in his work,
which then moves forward to inform and shape their own work of speaking.
Paul wants an open door to declare the mystery of Christ,
on account of which he is in prison.
The first and most precious thing you want,
if you are bound in chains, is an open door, a way out.
But the door Paul wants is not for his own freedom,
but for the freedom of the good news about Jesus.
He wants the mystery of Christ to go out, through the door.
Behold, says Jesus, I stand at the door and knock.
Every human heart is a door.
Every single one of us have the opportunity to open our door,
to open ourselves up to Jesus,
or shut the door and walk away.
The mystery of Christ goes out,
Jesus goes out knocking and knocking,
ready to go in and live with the person who opens the door.
Paul assumes that every single person who is with him in prison,
who attends him,
who guards him,
who delivers him mail,
who comes on an errand,
who tries him in his trial,
that Every Single Person is a door that Jesus will either walk through or not.
But it is even greater than that,
Paul, in chains, in prison,
sees clearly that his bondage in Christ has opened many doors
that would have otherwise been shut.
Do you think that if Paul,
as a free man,
had just written a letter to Caesar and said,
‘I’ve got some great news I’d like to share with you about God becoming incarnate, dying, rising on the third day, ascending into heaven etc. etc. Can I just pop by and tell you all about it’.
No, there would have been a big door slammed shut in his face. But because Paul was arrested and appealed to Caesar and was taken to Rome he actually got the opportunity, in the course of his trial, to preach to Herod, And to Caesar and all his household, and we know from records of the time that some of Caesar's household believed.
We Don’t Know what God is doing.
But he has all kinds of doors for us to walk through and very often,
our adversity,
our trouble,
our unhappiness is an intricate and foundational part
of what God is doing to bring the world to himself.
And so, in sending out the mystery of Christ,

in speaking the Gospel,
not knowing which door may be open and which may be shut,
Paul wants the message to be clear and understandable.
How can we make the message clear and understandable?
Verses 5 and 6 show us how.
Verse 5, Walk in wisdom towards outsiders.
Paul intends us to understand the word wisdom as he has used it through the whole book—Jesus, the Christ, the Preexistent Second Person of the Trinity is the source of all Wisdom. All things hold together in him and fall apart without him. In him, chapter 2 verse 3, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If you want to gain wisdom you go closer and closer into God, and you do that by devoting yourself to the study of the Bible,
That is how you gain wisdom.
Its not just that you know a lot of stuff about God
and can rattle off the creed perfectly,
but rather that you know Jesus, you are found in him,
that you are becoming more and more like him,
you are seeing everything through him,
you are hearing his voice, you are growing in his love.
You walk in wisdom.
Towards who? Towards outsiders.
That doesn’t mean people outside of this room,
it means people who don’t know Jesus.
It certainly includes many people outside of this room,
but it includes some inside.
If you lack wisdom,
you will be like a thug with a blindfold on and earplugs in,
swinging your Bible like a battle ax.
Look at where you’re stepping.
Look at the people you love.
Pray for them. Ask God to move them, to work in them, to love them. Ask God to show you what you might say if you were going to say it. Ask God to make you sensitive to their needs. Ask God to give you wisdom. Ask Jesus to remake you like himself.
Paul goes on, ‘making the best use of the time’.
In the old days we used to say, ‘redeem the time’.
We’re not talking about using your time wisely, in the way that we are all told in school--don’t waste time! No, we’re talking about eternity.
We are pitched toward eternity.
We are praying all the time for God’s will to be done,
for the door to be opened,
for more people to come to him, and so,
we are aware and watchful
able to leap up and speak when the moment is exactly right.
And we know what to say because we so love,
we are so founded in him.
We don’t waste time thinking,
oh, I may see them tomorrow,
or the next day,
so I won’t worry about it now.
Now is the moment!
And you know it’s the moment because you are wise in Jesus.
And moreover, because you are wise,
because you are eager to talk about Jesus
and able to recognize an open door when there is one,
you can think about how you might speak.
‘let your speech always be gracious,’ says Paul,
Let it be characterized by the substance and nature of the Gospel.
Let everything you say be measured up against the transforming love of Christ.
So that who Jesus is and his great love is always on the tip of your tongue and clear in your mind as you speak. So that if you had the chance to speak about Jesus, it wouldn’t come as a great shock because of everything you said before hand, and your manner of life.
seasoned with salt.’
Salt, you might remember, does more than one thing--it certainly adds flavor, so therefore you ought not be very boring to talk to. ‘Hi, my name is Anne, I’m a Christian, I’d like to take you on my long journey of how I got to be here.’ NO

Salt adds flavor. Flavor means knowing and being interested in everything that’s going on in the market place of Colassae, Flavor means reading books and philosophy and being an interesting person. More than that, though, the most interesting and fascinating people in the world are those who know how to listen. I’m sure you’ve all had those wonderful conversations--I just had a marvelous time talking to so and so! Why? Because I got to talk! If you want your speech to be flavorful and interesting, be the person who listens. If you’re down at coffee hour and the only voice you can hear is your own, chances are nobody is really listening to you.
But more importantly, salt also has healing and cleansing properties. If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water. If you have a rash, bathe in the sea, if you have a sore, soak it in salt water. Your speech should be a healing, a life giving balm. This is the substance of the gospel. Is your burden heavy? Jesus’ burden is light. Are you broken? Jesus can heal. Have you sinned? Jesus can forgive all your sins. Are you going to die? Jesus can give you eternal life. Your speech should be a healing speech.

And finally, salt is a preserving agent. Christians stand as a preservation on the earth—drawing more and more people into eternal life. A little bit of salt and the whole piece of meet lasts and lasts. Christians, like salt, are spread over the world, preserving one person and then another and then another against the day of Judgment.
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
There is no better example on earth than Jesus who is able to see into the heart of each person and answer them according to their need--to some he spoke in parables, others he rebuked, to others, he offered healing.
This brings us full circle back to wisdom--we seek the mind of Christ, the love of Christ, the knowledge of Christ so that we may know how we ought to answer each person.
I’m out of time. Let me end with an encouragement.
Preach the Gospel with your life certainly, and also, it will be necessary to use words, but the Word is Jesus, God, who gives you himself, who gives you the words, who gives you the person to talk to, who gives you the right moment, who is himself the door. Take courage, speak to everybody of the hope that is within you. Rise up like a trained and disciplined athlete, train your spiritual muscles, sharpen your knowledge of scripture, open you your mouth wide and let Jesus be the Word that you speak. That word will not return back empty, but it will accomplish all that God has purposed.
Let us pray.
Open our Lips, O Lord, to speak of your great and holy Name, to fill the world with your glory. Give us courage to speak of the hope that is within us, the Love of Jesus, our salvation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

7 Quick Takes--Travel Anxiety

Is this true? Southwest Airlines allows you to take luggage on the plane for free? I'm stunned. And a car seat or stroller extra? Has anyone told them what all the other airlines are doing? DON'T though, before I travel.
Even with luggage, I'm nervous about flying with all these kids. I mean, I did fly home from California gravely pregnant with four kids by myself. So, with two of us, and the lung capacity to do a fast sprint down the length of a terminal, we should be fine, right?
Really, what it comes down to, is that I've spent the Entire Course of my life trying not to draw attention to myself when traveling. And I've gotten to be very good at it. And here I am, about to just willingly chuck that out the window, all because I'm that desperate for a proper holiday.
Its just that, as I sit here gazing out at the heat rising up in great waves, (I'm not speaking for Matt, maybe he has thought this all the way through) I didn't premeditate having six children in ten years. So, I don't feel like I've quite caught up. So that's definitly something I should work on before flying.
Just like I didn't plan on having three sets of dishes. I'm grateful for them all. I love them. I don't know how to properly store them. Not that I'm storing my children. They all fit just fine.
Or maybe its like being saved from sin. Its not something you make plans for. God just does it out of his great mercy, and then you can just sit back and be ever so grateful.
Just like I'll be when we're there safe and sound, sitting back in a beautiful garden, drinking something more lovely than we ever imagine or deserve. As my psychopathology professor used to drawl, "Its goonnnaaaa bee okaaaay. You're gooonnnaaaaa beeee okaaaaay."

Go check out Jen!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Give us this day our daily ham

Romulus hates having to eat anything that isn't made out of sausage, ramen noodles or rice. As you can imagine, he is unhappy a lot of the time because we don't eat sausage that often, although we tell him that almost everything is made out of it, nor ramen noodles, nor rice. We eat a nice array of healthy and unhealthy foods, sometimes including ramen, sometimes including sausage, but not Every Time.

Two days ago I caught Alouicious trying to shove a piece of lemon tart in Romulus' mouth while shouting, "Its made of sausage! Its made of sausage!"

But today, after watching every body eat delicious ham, cheese and lettuce sandwiches, face still covered with the chocolate from his own, he decided to make a bold move and try one himself.

"Mmm" he said, "this is as good as sausage."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh Dear

I appear to have invented a breadish sort of thing that is so delicious I'm not sure we'll be able to leave it there until morning--and it has to be left there till morning because of its being breakfast.
So, um I'm pretty sure it needs a name, but I'll write it out and see if I have one by the end.

Buy or be given a large amount of rhubarb.
Cut it up as if you're making Nigella's Rhubarb Custard Pie but then realize you have too much rhubarb and not enough eggs for custard. Glance at the clock to find its 2 whole hours later than you thought it was. Panic and dump all the rhubarb into a pan with roughly a cup and half of sugar and turn it on high. Stop to make supper and then discover a small bottle of orange juice and dump it over the rhubarb before it burns. Cook it down to a full delicious mush and bung it into the fridge when you realize the blueberry cobbler you made was perfectly delicious on its own.

Three days later make the bread.
3 T dry yeast
2 cups room temperature buttermilk
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or several sticks of soft butter)
1 T salt (or less)
6 to 10 cups flour or until dough is elastic and not sticky. I used all white flour because I was out of wheat but normally I would do half wheat. I do mine in my kitchen aid with my dough hook. It occurs to me that you may not want to make enough bread to feed 5 children for a week, so you could revise down accordingly.
Let it rise.
Roll it out into a huge square and spoon the rhubarb over half and then fold the dough over and pinch the edges so that essentially you have a big pocket. I'll try and take a picture before its devoured.
Bake in a 350 oven. Its probably going to be divine lathered in butter.

I need a name for this! Oh please try it out and then suggest something!

More Monday Rain

Of what shall I blog? It being almost 10 in the morning and rain clouds rolling slowly in to cover the already gray sky with storm and tempest. Matt is reading through all the endless websites about CJ Mahaney (!!! so weird) to the gentle background noise of children squabbling and biting each other. Well maybe only one of them is biting. I'm trying to decide whether to get up and do something useful, or just ignore reality and do nothing at all.

And there is the rain.

So I guess we won't be toddling into the garden for a nice gentle sit and a read. Blast it all. Did really hope to completely avoid the pile of laundry on the dining room table, and the pile of laundry in the laundry room, and the pile of paper in the office, and the pile of books in the school room, and the pile of garbage in the garage....

Seems I'm developing a writing tick....

Oh! That's what I wanted to remember! Alouicious, during church yesterday, looked fairly concentrated and pious, though wiggly, until he leaned over and first asked, in a loud and gaspy whisper, "Did you like having only one child? When it was just Elphine, did you like that better?" and then a few minutes later, "Why isn't our church on TV?" and then a few moments later, "What day are you going to put batteries in my remote control dinosaur?" and then, "Is a panther bigger than a wild cat?" and so on and so forth.

Each time I desperately grabbed his cheek and whispered, "Please save all these questions for later, please don't shout out loud."

Wow,  its really pouring rain. I know! I'll just sit here at watch it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

For a Saturday Evening

Alouicious' favorite hymn. We love watching this, but we sing the Vaughan Williams setting.

And Elphine's favorite.

Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes

It sounds like everyone is awake in their beds just hanging out instead of getting up. WONDERFUL! I have no idea why. Usually the children rise up from their beds  as one to fling themselves on me whining and complaining about how bad the day is going to be and about how no good thing ever comes to them. Its possible they aren't getting enough sleep.
Wish I had had the presence of mind to take before and after pictures but I didn't KNOW Gladys would spend her nap time cleaning her room which has been repeatedly trashed by Marigold who every day is less a pretty little golden flower and more a complete and wretched menace with a sarcastic and nasty gleam in her eye. Mind you, Gladys is still three, and small for three. But she made the bed, hung clothes, organized the closet, put books away AND made it look pretty. Elphine and I both gave her money because we didn't know what else to do, it was such a big help.
The day before yesterday I taught her, Gladys, to fold kitchen towels and put them away in the drawer. Nobody else is interested in being around when I'm folding laundry in case of accidentally learning how--knowing sensibly that once they know how to do it, it will become a permanent job, and therefore staying far far away from the whole activity.
But yesterday I didn't fold anything or even get out of bed. Well, I got out of bed twice--once to yell down the stairs at the children, and once to answer the front door. I was So Sick. Over the course of Elphine's birthday I became more and more clouded and full of a horrendous head cold (contracted by a very cute baby in the nursery at church so it was probably worth it) until by the end of the day I was unable to speak above a whisper. So I just didn't get up. Spent the day trolling the home school feed on twitter and ended up making a very detailed weekly plan for the Entire Year--so detailed as to coordinate poetry, music, science, art, history, literature--everything. I'm so surprised. I mean, I meant to sort of try to do something like that but I thought I would fail after trying because it would be so impossible.
So today, after a serious shower and tooth brushing because I coughed so much during the night that I actually threw up (AGH) I am going to take it to the next level and actually photocopy everything I need for the entire year and organize it in order in binders or something. I've heard that it is not only a good idea but possible to do this but I didn't believe it.
And, after such a good rest, I'm going to finish up the school room. Home schooling from this angel always looks like a breeze. Oh yeah, I'll educate my children at home and bake everything from scratch and keep a clean house. It'll be great. We'll have a good time. The children will be so lovely. And then, of course, in February you decide it was a bad idea and that death would have been a better choice.
But after this last year of teaching proper school and getting all the kids in the car every day by 7:30 and giving birth and nursing a baby and taking on more house stuff because Matt broke his foot and coping with a flood and having to unpack all our stuff in the middle of the year and getting every possible sickness in the catalog of possible sicknesses, home schooling seems like a marshmallow cloud of vacation. Its all in your vantage point. The worst thing about having this many children is finding out how lazy you were before and how much more work you're capable of doing. I mean, me, not you. I don't know how many kids you have.

Have a great weekend and go check out Jen!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Proper Holiday

We're going to Texas in August.
So we should probably plan to go to Moscow in January.

Although staying in Binghamton in January will be pretty much the same thing.

The children will be so whiny. They're so northern and cold oriented. I, on the other hand, will be more relaxed than ever, when I can get out of the air conditioning for a few minutes.

My favorite moment of going to Mali is always stepping off the plane onto the tarmac and feeling the heat hit you like a wall, and then you know you're home.

Flying into an American airport, however, I will be fully prepared and have several sweaters, because it will probably be super cold. But the children will be in shorts and tee-shirts because they are always complaining of being too hot, even in the snow.

But we plan to have a marvelous time.

So, here's my question, should I be freaked out in advance that the TSA people will grope my children? Or should I just not worry about it? And what posture should I adopt when the toddler throws herself on the floor screaming? Should I act shocked? ("She NEVER does this?!) Or should I pretend I don't see it? Or should I develop a short stand up routine? And, of course, I'm always looking for new, funny and fresh answers to "ARE THEY ALL YOURS?" and "Boy, you sure do have your hands full!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Tomorrow

My oldest child turns nine tomorrow. It's sort of crept up on me. The last nine years that is. How did this happen? How can she already be this old? Mercifully, she is ridiculously short and will probably remain so for some time, so I can preserve some something. If and when she is ever taller than me I don't know what I'll do.

On the whole I feel bad for her, being the first child. We seem to figure out each stage just after she has gone through it. All the little pack of people behind her are probably, from my current angle, having an easier time of it because we finally catch on after she had laid the ground. Oh well, I'm sure it will occur to her to blame us later so I won't worry about that right now.

So, today I'm making a birthday cake and some other stuff and maybe I'll clean the house, and I'm also going to go buy her a pocket knife, because that's what she wants. A child of frugal and attainable tastes and basically, for the most part, focused on other people, and on Jesus, and basically pretty obedient, most of the time, and also totally and unbearably silly.

Fast forward to 9:21 to see the little bit the really well encapsulates Elphine. Heh heh.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Busy Morning

This morning as I was vaguely waking from a crummy night of trying not to feed the fat baby who doesn't need to eat every two hours through the night any more but appears, from the kind of shouting and crying she indulged in, to think of herself as entitled,  I was startled to see my husband knock the ironing board over, leap through the window onto the roof and shout 'I'm calling the police!'.

And then he lept back through the window and disappeared. I managed to gather up the baby and wander downstairs past the living room full of children eating cinnamon rolls and crumbling them all over the carpet to find the car gone out of the garage and the garage door open. So I walked through the church to check on things and then back out to see that the police had indeed arrived and Matt also was back from a short drive looking for whoever it was.

Turns out three young men...well, that's rather too generous...three boys, one with a large backpack, had gotten into the church early this morning, had time to eat some left over Easter cookies and drink some milk in the kitchen, and then, hearing our Sexton going about his work, instead of sliding the screen in the Ladies' Room open, or going through the door, they tore the screen and climbed out of the window. But we can see Everything from our bedroom window and so, as Elphine has taken to calling them, the Villains were apprehended in the Weis a block away and taken in for doing criminal mischief. Heh heh.

Rather good plot fodder for Sesame Street. The Cookie Villains! or The Cookie Cartel! or Away Vile Cookies Thief! Eat your vegetables! or something.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In conversation with children

Elphine: You were born in England? Did you see the queen?
Me: No
Elphine: Why not?
Me: I'm not that important.
Elphine: Well, I would just go. I would just go see her. And I would wear this dress, and gloves and a purse.
Me: You can't just go see her. You have to be invited.
Elphine: What do you have to do to be invited?
Alouicious (interrupting): Do people wear pants there?
Me: Yeah, its a normal country, like America.
Ephine: Except there's the queen.
Alouicious: We could go see the Mayor.
Me: His name is Matt.
Alouicious: REALLY. Is Daddy a secret code name for him?
Elphine: Can we go see him?
Me: I guess maybe we could.
Alouicious: Do they know each other?

Overheard later
Elphine: Yeah English, I love English. I wonder why its called English.
Alouicious: Because its shared between lots of different places in the world. Eng, though, as in England."

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Woman's, and probably a Man's, Work is Never Done

Putting off the two giant remaining tasks of the week--sorting through a vast pile of clothes on the floor of my bedroom, and making all this dough into bread. Feel like I've spun my wheels all week and accomplished nothing, although, that is probably not the case. I did do something, just don't remember what it was.

Have been mulling over the whole concept of work all week after this most excellent sermon by Matt. I mean, I know we were designed and created to work but it was nice to be reminded of the root cause of all my futility. So much of my well worn hours are spent doing the same number of tasks over and over and over again only to have to do them again. Feeding, cleaning, feeding again, cleaning, feeding, making food, feeding, cleaning, dropping into bed. Nothing lasts--the food doesn't last, the flowers don't last, the clean doesn't last, the money certainly doesn't. So very very few things are things that we do one time only for complete lasting satisfaction and joy.

Like when I got married--one time, to my complete satisfaction and joy. Watched the video last week and was, for the first time, really grateful that I don't have to do that every day. It was so pretty. Everything went divinely. Had a true look of sincerity and love on my face for fully ten minutes before the sarcasm set back in (you can see it on the video, five minutes into communion when I start mentally making fun of the groomsmen). But in no way do I miss repeating the tasks of that day over and over and over again. Once, for all, as they say about Jesus. It was monumentous to carry over the whole rest of the road of our lives, for me and Matt anyway.

But of course, the circling nature of work, the doing things over and over and over, is what makes life grounded and familiar and real. Its not that we make progress towards anything but that we do those things which we ought to do, however many times they need to be done, and it is God who redeems them and gathers them into something lasting and eternal.

Which is why the work is punctuated with rest. Because if we don't pause for a few minutes we might spin off the road into true futility.

So here is my prayer for the weekend.
From Whittier and after it the only clip I could find that wasn't completely foul.
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Birth Story Haikus

I don't actually have time to write any (maybe later) but what A BRILLIANT Idea.

I happened to read snips of someone else's ghastly birth story to Matt a few weeks back and enlighten him as to the whole genre of blogging internet insanity.

"Are you serious?" He asked whispered in horror.
"Oh yeah," I said, "after you give birth you have about six months, although you can push it out to a year if you're really behind, to write a detailed account of everything that occurred in the course of giving birth, including but not limited to, the progress of labor, how contractions feel and are measured, how much kohosh your drink, your emotional and spiritual state, what kinds of things you say, how long you have to push..."
"STOP" he shouted, "too much information."

His suggestion after hearing the following line (which I won't link because I don't want to be mean)
For the first time in my militant homebirther’s life, I understood the draw of medicalized birth. ... Rounding the birth tub in the morning light, I vowed to be more compassionate towards women who give birth differently.
was that I ought, indeed he tried to command me, to write out my own birth story, moaning and bewailing the delicate prick of the blessed epidural needle, the joy and laughter of giving birth with no feeling at all, the vague discomfort of the blood pressure cup, the stale taste of the tea, the ridiculous size of the baby, however it got there, blah blah blah. But I think haikus are better.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

10 Minute Fish

One bag super cheap (5$) fish, frozen, dumped ( half-frozen on its way to being thawed, I mean, its fine if you have your life together enough to fully thaw whatever it is you're planning to eat) on a baking sheet and lathered in oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. In the oven at 375 skin side up for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to brown and flaky and white when you cut into it
just long enough to dump a can of chopped tomato, a can of coconut milk, salt, pepper, curry powder, a tablespoon of peanut butter and the juice of a juicy lemon into a pan, bring it to a boil and smooth it out with an immersion blender (or skip that if you don't have one).
Eat it with salad in a light vinaigrette. Don't bother with rice or couscous unless you're STARVING. We just ate the sauce up with a spoon. Baby (big baby not little baby) had two pieces of fish and licked the sauce off her plate after throwing the lettuce on the floor. Even Romulus ate it. That delicious.

Friday, July 01, 2011

7 Quick Takes

Maybe letting the three year old repeatedly stay up till 9pm with no nap during the day is turning out to be a bad idea.
On the other hand, its really hard to drag her away from her coloring which she will do all day, covering page after page with one single color or coloring each tiny detail a different one. Is this obsessive compulsive? What kind of childhood developement stage is this? The need more sleep stage? What is it and why is she weeping that there is not the exact right amount of milk in her cereal?
Meanwhile, my endless work on the sun room to make it into a functional school space is turning out to be a great satisfaction. I've, as may be expected, ditched the function and gone once again for aesthetics. Yesterday I unearthed two giant rugs to cover the ghastly carpet and hung another map. Instead of actually sorting and ordering stuff, I just keep hanging maps. They're so restful, maps. Pictures forthcoming.
It was pointed out to me again that there's a half price bread store that would be worth my while because of the number of kids I have and because it would save me baking so much bed. This has run me into the usual trauma of options that objectively exist (I could go buy bread) and options that actually exist in my limited imagination (I can't possibly go buy bread because I would have to leave my house and I'm way to lazy to do that). Plus, when you come down to it, I really love to bake bread. Its so restful.
What is not restful is Solemn Communion which is wrapping up this weekend. Trying to talk carefully and sincerely with a lot of seven and eight year old boys about the humility of the Centurion and our humility in praying the Prayer of Humble Access and then coming forward with our hands and hearts open to there a way to really end this sentence? Basically I've never heard so much laughing, not about the Centurion, but about how someone's arm itched and another person sneezed funny and then someone accidentally fell over and so the long day wore on. Nevertheless, this has been a really good class and I think the weekend retreat and celebration will be a wild success.
After which, I keep thinking, I will lie on the floor and do nothing for three days. But that never happens. Really, I will probably dig out another can of paint and start painting something. Anything. I have a whole can of bright orange and my eye on the boys room. What d'ya think? Terrible idea, bright orange and little boys? Their room is so dark. Maybe orange would brighten it up and make it restful?
Jen wrote, in her quick takes this week, about the absence of a 'babymoon' due to pain and sleep deprivation and so forth. It never has occurred to me to experience such a thing, babymooning (pause to laugh hysterically). For one thing, I just don't enjoy being that happy about anything, even a baby. For another, it really takes me 6 weeks to be content with the existing baby. Also, I just can't stand beautiful mothering things like nursing (I'll do it because I have to and not because I want to). On the other hand, I really love babies and I must be getting soft in my old age because I caught myself kissing this latest baby in public in church. Talk about mortification. Stopped immediately and tried to look sour but then she grinned and so had to kiss her again. Drat.

Go check out Jen!