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.