Tuesday, July 31, 2012

in praise of mediocrity

We're having a week "off" watching the Olympics and squabbling with each other. For my second day "off" I'm going to do laundry and write up my Individualized Home Instruction Plans (IHIP) for each child and then think about burying myself under a rock or something. Can you believe that I have every single book, apparently, that I'll need for the year ordered, arrived and shelved by child by subject in the school room...and my desk is clean? I can't believe it either. But its true and as a result of its being true, I am going to have to actually do all those other things I also didn't want to do, like laundry, and writing up a purpose mission statement for the Sunday School (sorry CHEC! I am doing it! I am! I am! I am!). But at least I don't have to dive off a huge tall diving board perfectly synchronized to someone else and then miss out on the dream of my whole life because my "partner" splashed into the pool slightly too much. Boy, that would rot. That's the take away lesson, kids! Don't pour your life into only one activity because it might turn out to be not that awesome.
"That's ok, mommy," Gladys assured me after this little speech. "I weally weally love bayblading but I love God more. AND" she said, driving the point home, "Jesus is God and God is Jesus."
Isn't it great how holy and spiritual my children are? Wish you could hear the supercilious relish with which Gladys talks about God. Boy has she got it all figured out. She could be an NBC Olympic Interviewer for her remarkable timing and self-righteousness.
Happy Olympic Viewing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

some quick takes

Now we are six.
Romulus turned six yesterday.

His hair is all shaggy and wild and he's been running around for days amending a long, but compared to his sister, uncomplicated list of things he longs for: Knights, a Pokemon 50 pack, cars, cars, cars, a Batman mask. He wanted a "rainbow" cake with that part inside. So, as far as I could figure out, he meant Funfetti, that vile sugary "cake" like substance that is so ubiquitous in childhood. A table full of little boys hopped up on Funfetti and icing led to a nearly sonic sized amount of noise. In other words, a good time seemed to be had by all.


Before we were two. 
Marigold cut her own hair last weekend. I'm not the least bit surprised she was the first to do such a thing. If anyone in this family has an undercurrent of anything, its Marigold. She is silent and devastating wherever she goes. This morning she went and took the baby's bottle away from her while she was rolling around in bed causing much rage and frustration. Nasty little flower.

And we were also one.
Baby Elaine, whom I'm seriously thinking of just calling Honoria, what with her being such a solid girl, pushy and so forth, is far away from silent, shouting and bellowing wherever she goes.

She has taken to "singing" in church. She picks a note and hollers it, waving her bulletin in the air in a managerial sort of way. Her volume is matched only by her caution. She is cautious about the vacuum, about climbing on things, about water, about going outside, about Other People. Its ridiculous because if anybody could survive anything, it would probably be her, what with being so fat and all.

But one of us is four.
And very fussy about the wretched and horrible bow on every single dress worn every single day.

"Elphine tied my bow to be weally ugly" she said yesterday and then looked at me accusingly, "and your bow looks just like hers."

And eight is a pretty good number.

But loud, and posturing and silly. Alouicious is entering into all the silly obnoxiousness that Elphine is blessedly leaving behind. He manages to throw everybody off task by just talking to them All The Time. BUT, he is lately really good with the babies. He has a knack for keeping them laughing and occupied and Baby Elaine Honoria prefers him to just about everyone else.

And ten is too old for me.

I was done growing by the time I was twelve. Done Growing. I looked at my shrimpy ten year old yesterday and prayed that she would at least get to be as tall as me, which I admit isn't much to boast about, but still. Each generation in my family seems to get slightly smaller. Soon we will barely exist at all. She found her camera from Christmas and charged it up and has been going around all morning making news reports. "This is Elphine reporting live from the living room" she announces with relish. "There was a big storm yesterday and the community is struggling to recover." She points the camera at her brother, "Alouicious, what can you tell us from the streets?"

And so we were all very busy.
My garden has been growing.
Except the storm tumped my biggest most glorious tomato over last night. About to go out and see what can be done about it, if anything. And I've taken every single thing off of every single shelf in my school room and either trashing it or putting it where it belongs.
 Booooorrrriiiinnngggggggggggg. To make it go faster I've been watching ancient episodes of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. SO Funny! Matt thinks I must be out of my tiny mind. But anyway, tonight we get to watch the Olympics. Any bets on how weird the opening ceremony will be?

Friday, July 20, 2012

7 quick takes

The pouring rain gets us out of going on any kind of outing today. You know. You ought to do something "fun" with your children but the idea fills you with a nameless dread and you would much rather spend the day cleaning the children's rooms because you went up there once last week and realized one child was hoarding paper and another child was hoarding what looks to be actual garbage and the babies had got hold of some kind of book and shredded it to a fine dust and so you feel really bad, as a parent, and know that if you get up there and actually clean, you will feel better about yourself. And that's what its all about anyway--feeling good about yourself--isn't it?
I know that its all about feelings because I happened to watch a little TV yesterday, which I don't often do. I just turned it on and flipped around and watched a bunch of commercials. There's a commercial for something called Beneful Dog Food. I don't know what they're trying to achieve with a name like 'Beneful' but I can, of course, imagine. So anyway, there's the big golden retriever running through a meadow chasing a ball and we get to hear what the dog is thinking. Turns out he doesn't know the word for 'ball' but he does know words like 'round', 'object', 'what makes me happiest is that when we're playing out here in this meadow my beloved friend and parent smiles and is happy whereas normally, when we're not playing in the meadow, he is a grim horrid man.' My own paraphrase. How remarkable to have advanced so far that dogs, once our obedient, if slightly less intelligent than cats, companions, now care more about how we feel than they do themselves.
Speaking of intelligence, our white "dog" barked loudly at the tv during this commercial and then this morning refused to go outside because it was raining.
Part of the flipping around landed us on The Real Hutterite Wives of some Wind Driven Snowy Location. I don't know what the program was really called but it was totally strange. Who are these cursing, gossiping, lard eating, education eschewing Hutterites? Elphine and I were entranced as acres of pie were churned out and many many women talked about how they had ditched their education to cook for the community. And the swearing. wow. No more TV for us.
Because I really feel like I oughta read more books. Other than blowing through Grace Livingston Hill's The Old Guard I haven't read anything in at least six weeks. Matt's idea of an ideal holiday was to lay around "reading books and watching movies". This idea brought tears of rage and frustration to my eyes because that's what he does when he's working, except for the laying around. He reads All Day (imagine) and then watches a movie while he makes dinner. And then he reads some more. Whereas I wander around picking up toys and yelling at children and then, on the rare occasions when I do pick up a book, fall asleep almost immediately, deeply enough to drool. On my vacation I'd like to...actually I have no idea. If Matt wants to read more that sounds fine.
I have a lovely artist friend who has taken up blogging. Go check her out! We don't agree about almost anything, well, except food, which, for me, trumps everything, so I hope you'll go read her! Now! Go! Skip Number Seven!
Because I have to go take breakfast out of the oven anyway. Six cups of cooked oatmeal, whipped together with four eggs, 2T of baking powder, fat pinch salt, some sugar (or whatever), a couple of mushy peaches, some handfuls of blueberries, 1/4 cup oil or melted butter, 3 cups flour. Mashed into two buttered pans and then topped with great slabs of butter, a whole lot of cinnamon and some more sugar. Then into the oven at 350 for awhile until a toothpick comes out clean. And for a brief bright moment the whining stops and I can go back to sleep for fifteen minutes.

Cheerio. Go Check Out Jen!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a huge thank you to cogs

Three weeks ago Good Shepherd threw a party celebrating these last ten years of our ministry here in Binghamton. We had advanced warning of about 3 days which allowed us, or rather me, to fret with anxiety and consider being sick on that day. In the intervening time I dreamt twice that everybody stood up, one by one, to tell us, in detail, what a disappointment we've been and how sorry they are that we've been here this long.

But of course, it wasn't like that at all. In fact, the people of this church went quite the other way to embarrass us with praise. I was veritably and completely overwhelmed by the lovely and encouraging things said that day. You would think we are giants of faith, continually hard working, abounding in righteousness and perseverance from all that was said instead of people who regularly struggle to believe, who frequently let things fall through the cracks, who sin all the time. I praise God so much that he has worked so much, and used us even a little, to bring so many to himself and deepen and strengthen so so many in this church.

One thing, because were I to name them all this post would be as long as the whole blog up to this point, stands out as a particular grace. The MC of the day, one of the first people to welcome us when we arrived (and, may I just say, an extremely gracious person to me who was 36 weeks pregnant at the time and feeling like it was possible I would never give birth) read a beautiful letter in which she thanked us for bringing the gospel in such a way that it transformed Good Shepherd from a social club or gathering into a body of believing Christians motivated to go out into the world. That our mission to Good Shepherd would have so succeeded that the people here see what God has done and are grateful for his work was encouraging beyond what I can say. That God should so transform and form a people for himself to take a true and sacrificial stand for the truth of the Gospel and then push out into the community and the world is so strengthening to me personally.

Because many many days, when Matt is struggling to study while children whirl and shout and want to tell him about pokemon and Little House on the Prairie, when we pray and pray for people whose lives are coming apart, when I paint tiny little sheep only to have a helpful child color all over them with marker, many many days we are discouraged. Many many days we wonder if God is really doing anything at all or if we are striving in vain.

So thank you for telling us what God has done. Thank you for the amazing amazing gift and the beautiful heart for my garden. Thank you for all the balloons and the cake. Thank you for loving on our kids and being patient with them. Thank you for forgiving us when we've been wrong, for being patient when we've been slow. Thank you for taking care of us all these years--bailing out lakes of water from the basement, providing us with a gorgeous house and a vast safe and beautiful yard, bringing us meals and boxes and boxes of fancy sugar cereal, for all the cookies and chocolate milk during the early service, for moving us on the coldest day of the coldest January, for spurring us on to work for you and serve you and love you.
Thank you Good Shepherd! Here's to the next ten years!

Friday, July 13, 2012

elphine turns ten

Elphine turns 10 today and has been up since 4:30. She is the one child that sleeps till at least 8am, sometimes 9. It breaks my heart to find her banging around singing and smashing up the general peace and its not even 7 yet.

Matt looked reproachfully at me just now as I screamed for the seventh time, "stop kicking me in the head! If you can't be still go back to bed!"
and whispered, "when I was a child and woke up at four on my birthday my mother got up with me and gave me whatever I wanted."
"Well she's not here is she!" I gurgled in despair.

Now, at least, I've had that vital first cup of oolong and can begin to emerge from the shattered recesses of sleep. After I post this I have to begin to shove us in the car to go up to a small lake for the day. I've made what looks to be awfully like Hot Pockets but they taste a lot nicer. "Call them Satchels" said Matt, ever helpful. Ham, Cheese and Potato, Pepperoni and Cheese, Ham and Tomato. And then a lot of little tiny fruit pie bites--blueberry and nectarine.

"We need to make brownies," said Elphine surveying the vast array of bread and pie after we had put everything away.
"!! What!?" I said.

She's being given a bike and some dishes and a black skirt and shawl (! I know, I have no idea!). Yet again she goes without An Old Fashioned Doll because none of us can figure out what she means and sort out a way to acquire such an object.

And now, if I don't arise, there will be no hope for my child and I will loose my mind. Pip Pip.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

hoof and mouth and stuff

 (Sorry about the horrible picture quality. Fingerprints all over my phone.)
A lot of us have Foot Mouth and Hand disease or whatever its called. Not me, I don't have it yet, but a bunch of kids have it or have had it and a couple of other ones have been throwing up and one has had some headaches and probably a few have bad attitudes and one certainly has some bad problem in his soul.
I don't know. I stopped keeping tally a few days ago. Basically, since Ma Jolie Petite Maman went on to her next lovely thing I've been wandering around sweeping, remaking beds and trying to get some kids to eat Something, Anything.
Fortunately, its summer! So the poor suckers aren't missing anything important, like school work.

Anyway, a few blog posts in the works are: 
The Gorgeous New Fence
Elphine Turns Ten
All the Shiny New School Books
How Do You Do It All?: A question from a friend who thinks I'm better than I am
Theology Matters: A reflection on how your bad view of God really will badly affect your life 
Blog Awards: Thanks Guys!
and finally
Stuff: You can run around simplifying your life or you can sit and surf the internet...I think we all know which is the better choice