Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

Put the children to bed early after informing them that 2007 was effectively over and tomorrow would begin 2008. SO happy they have no idea and that we don't all have to stay up.

Roasted two turkey legs in the following manner:
started oven at 450, buttered and stuffed tyme under the skin of the legs, laid them on a bed of mushrooms, baby pearl onions and garlic. Roasted the legs for 25 minutes and then turned the oven down to 325 for the last half hour/45 minutes. While they rested I removed the mushrooms, pearl onions and garlic onto a bed of fresh baby spinich and put that on low to wilt, and then gravied the drippings (sherry, cream, touch of flour). And indulged in another Yorkshire Pudding, even though we only ate a quarter of it. Too big.

And reflected on the past year. And now am thinking seriously about going to sleep before midnight.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Conversations

Aedan: When I grow up, I'm going to marry a Floozy!
Emma: I'm going to marry a Prince.
Anne: Where did you hear the word 'floozy' Aedan?
Aedan: I don't know. I'm going to marry her and live happily ever after.
Matt: No, probably not happily.
Anne: No, Aedan, you need a good sturdy, even tempered girl. Not a floozy.
Emma: I'm going to marry a prince, a prince, a prince.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sorry! AND Thank You!

Sorry I've fallen off the blog cliff the last few weeks, and Thank You for continuing to check back all these days. It has been CRAZY, as I'm sure you can all imagine.

First of all, let me just say that the Christmas Pageant came off beautifully. The Best Yet. I missed the first part because I was running around in a panic behind scene trying to get Mary and Joseph to GO OUT, go out, go out, while they just stood there in a daze. But I managed to make it to the back in time to see Herod and the Kings and the rest. The music was Wonderful-THANK YOU Micah. I've heard all kinds of nice things about it. And, I will say, for the first time in Five Years, I get the point of Silent Night in the dark with candles with everybody crying. Never understood before, but you're right, it is very beautiful and worth the effort.

My homiletic remarks are in some file or other. I'll have to retrieve and post them at another moment. I'm also hoping someone took pictures because I didn't have time.

And then we all came home and next day ate not just an enormous goose, but a good sized duck as well, with Yorkshire pudding, peas, gravy and mashed potatoes, and then had spiced apple cake for dessert. Matt outdid himself on every level. We were also given a lot of things we don't deserve-like a large horse for Emma, with a saddle and everything (not real, heaven be thanked), and a little real functioning sewing machine, and a castle for Aedan and a wooden sword and shield and a helmet, and a riding scooping truck that makes noises that you can sit on for Rowan. I gave Gwendolyn a china tea set because, well, she'll need it some day. So, now we are exhausted and overstuffed and relieved that the festivities are basically over and we get get on with the bland functioning of day to day life, at least until Lent when the madness all begins again.

I did a chunk of time at the store today, checking people out with half price on all Christmas items. I was fascinated to watch people self censor, wishing me already a happy New Year, after a pause, rather, of course, than Merry Christmas, or even Happy Holidays. Which just proves to me that 'Happy Holidays' is a Complete replacement for Christmas. At Thanksgiving, everyone says, 'Happy Thanksgiving', and of course we're all allowed to say Happy New Year. Its bizarre. Almost wished a few people Happy Kwanzaa, even though they were clearly buying Christmas Items (wrapping paper, little 50% ceramic santas etc.) Anyway, it doesn't look like I'll have to work much longer, due to the enormous generosity of many people, and the fact that Matt knows how to count, whereas, when I was handling things, being unable to count got us in all kinds of hot water. Forthcoming, when I've thought it all through, are all the spiritual lessons I have learned about The World, Money, and The Buying of Many Things.

Meanwhile, I am in a glow of thankful gratitude. For one, I'm thankful for this blog, wherein I can spew all kinds of chatter and people get on and read and comment. Matt and I were recently discussing the joy of having a real 'online community'. I know its cheesy, but in these dark ecclesiastical times, when we war in the trenches, its easy to feel isolated from the far reaching and expanding body of Christ. For all its trouble and heartache, the Internet connection at my fingers is a source of connection and growth and spiritual care that I am very grateful for.

I am also vastly grateful for Matt. As I was running around the church on Christmas Eve, making sure everyone knew where to go and what to do and how to do it, Matt was following after me and giving opposite instructions, confusing everyone and causing mayhem and destruction (from my perspective). BUT, we were in it together, and when we realized what we both we're doing, we had a good solid laugh in the sacristy. AND, it was beautiful. We pulled it off. God pulled it off. For heaven's sake, he managed to be born in spite of us all, and live through childhood, and die for all our sins. From the depths of my soul, I Praise Him! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stock, Bread, Life

Yesterday I spent a much needed day in the kitchen making an enormous vat of stock (hopefully enough to last about 6 months), bread and oatmeal cookies. The stock was really very good, I think. I had a couple of lamb bones as well as turkey and chicken carcasses and it was a beautiful golden color. And I expunged and cleaned the fridge. Its nourishingly satisfying to spend a whole day in the kitchen, without a dreaded holiday to make it stressful.

And the baby has started to say 'goo' (such a cliche :)). This strikes me as remarkably early to me, showing her obvious and impressive intelligence. She's holding her head up so well, I let Emma hold her and walk up and down briefly.

And lately, as in the last two weeks, I've been working part time at The Christmas Tree Shop. I've been loath to bring it up online for fear of inciting pity and 'how on earth do you have time' comments (I don't know how I have time, maybe in retrospect I'll be able to see how it was all possible), but its been such an interesting thing to do, and, obviously, I've been spending a lot of time at it, that I don't want to keep it from the blog world. (I keep thinking I'll post about interesting topics, but I don't have time to think about things right now, so all you're going to get is what's going on).

So, my first and only observation for this evening (because I'm, frankly, tired, and about to eat a nicely roasted potato and go to bed), is that Christmas is rotten without Jesus. I found myself praying for people as they went through my line. Overall people looked stressed out, tired, sometimes angry, definitely not happy, buying cart fulls of stuff in a desperate way to give away. And they have to be sure and hang on to their receipts so that the gift that is given on Tuesday can be quickly returned on Wednesday. As the days get closer to Christmas, people get more desperate and less happy about shopping.

Its a starkly dark and unhappy contrast to church, where things are somber but exciting. My Christmas preparations have been all about the Christmas pageant and writing out Advent prophecy cards for the atrium, and singing O Come O Come Emmanuel with my children. I haven't even been shopping.

But it's into this dark, this despair, this desperation that Jesus came. So interesting to be working in a shop that bears the name of this event, 'Christmas', full of people who have never heard of him. It actually makes me rather excited to be there, spiritually, and I'm afraid of accidentally proselytising :) and loosing my job. But I now have a whole new realm of people to pray for that I didn't know about and I'm glad to be there, and sell people a lot of stuff they don't need, and pray that they'll think better of it over night and bring it back.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

scattered already

Missed celebrating St. Nicholas Day on the 6th. Thank heavens the kids have no idea what the date is. Had them pu their shoes out last night since St. Nicholas will be joining us in church this morning. Then woke up in a panic about having to fill their shoes. And, blast it all, it appears I have caught Matt's wretched cold.
Onwards and upwards!
Onwards and upwards!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Hodge Podge

A big shout out to Nigel Mumford of the Diocese of Albany for coming to Good Shepherd last night to do a healing service. A good time was had by all. Many went forward for prayer and healing and someone was moved to leave their cigarettes and lighter on the altar-very cool. I have a sketchy perception of the whole evening because I was wild and crazy enough to take all the kids and try to make them sit through the service. Eventually all the boys ended up downstairs making hash of the nursery. But it was nice to be there, nonetheless. I took little baby forward for healing prayers for this wretched cough she continues to have. So that was very lovely. And, joy of all joys, the Shepherd's Bowl (Good Shepherd's Soup Kitchen) was dishing out Beef Stew and I managed to finagle a bowl. You can see how scattered it all is in my mind-stew, healing all on the same level.

So now we've all had too much french toast and are about the brave the weather for a trip to AC Moore to have our imaginations sparked on the subject of Christmas Presents.

Also, the benefits and necessity of acquiring a Slow Cooker (and the means to do so) have been impressed upon me (thank you Grandma!) and I would very much like any advice and thoughts on brands, size, and any other details there abiding.

I better get moving. A has just informed me that his 'tummy hurts' and that 'its getting boring when my tummy hurts' but that 'when I go out in the snow it doesn't hurt'. He is furthering this information along with a big whine, so that means my time on the computer has come to an end. Good day to you all.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Various Thoughts on Consumerism around the 'Holiday Season'

I am not doing vast amounts of Christmas Shopping this year. I don’t have time nor money to go rushing out buying for all the various and sundry people I know. For those very special people who require attention, we’re making some small tokens of our love and affection. Not having grown up in America, I’ve never been caught into the mania of Christmas Shopping because I never had anywhere to shop, besides the Sikasso or Bamako Market. I have recently, however, been able to observe the American at Shops and am curiously impressed. First of all, the Owners of Shops know what they are doing—The arrangement of items to their logical conclusion (lamps in the home section, light bulbs at the end of the row, extra power cords in a bin within arms reach), the changing over of merchandise during the night so that customers learn to Buy Now, because it will be gone tomorrow, teaching the consumer not to think before buying, the far ranging assortment of glittery And practical stuff at little cost, so that when you walk by, you think, Oh, I need that, its so pretty (when in fact you Don’t Need it). All this says to me that the consumer has been considered, carefully, and analyzed (well, of course, I knew that, it’s just very interesting to experience it first hand.) And it’s very interesting to observe that the present problem with products made in China (so many of them having lead in them) is not enough to actually prevent their being bought. I would say it’s near to an addiction, the Need for China to make us stuff that we can buy, especially around Christmas. We Need this stuff even if we know its bad for us (Spiritually or because it’s packed full of lead). And I don’t think there’s an economic differentiation for this Need—rich and poor are prepared to buy alike. These are just some small observations of the season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not enough time

I don't have time to think it through, and I really ought not be blogging as I have somewhere to be, BUT, I've been, when I have a moment, following the story of the British School Teacher in the Sudan who was so foolish as to allow her class to name a Teddy Bear Mohammed. She was thereafter arrested and was in real fear for her life as a mob outside was crying for her execution. I'd been reading in prayerful horror over the last few weeks or days or whatever that she was held, and very relieved to hear on the radio yesterday that she'd been allowed to go home back to England, and that she would be spending a very quiet Christmas holiday at home. I can't put proper words to it, but this is one of those small by the wayside lavalike events like a small earthquake or something. You just feel a little shaking and think, oh, that was interesting. The world is not materially changed. But all the while underneath the surface, the plates are moving and scraping and grating against each other. The growing interaction between Islam and the West, feels in the bones, like one such seismically defined conflict. The outrage of the culture around her completely surprised this poor British woman. I don't really even understand it, at least not emotionally. We are diametrically opposed on so many levels.
Blast it all, I don't have time to think this through.
Comment, or something :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

First Sunday of Advent

We woke up this morning to the beautiful and gently falling Sunday attendance killer-snow. It was so white and pristine and silent, as I looked out the window and reevaluated my Sunday School and Christmas Pageant Practice Plans. There's something calmingly restful about looking out towards a Sunday when Everyone will have an excuse to stay home. You go in prepared to be thankful if Anyone comes, and its always best to start out a Sunday thankful. And of course, it took ages to get out the door. Boots and coats on three kids, the fabulous warm fluffy bunny thing on the baby, trying on 6 sweaters (me, I was trying on all the sweaters), warming up the car, getting the snow off it, running back in for the jump drive and then back in for an Album page and then back in for a mug of tea. All the time knowing that we can be late because until we get there and start shoveling, no one can get in the parking lot anyway, heh. But then, Amazingly, people came, lots in fact. Enough for a whole Sunday School class, all cozied up in the atrium with our one purple candle lit. We chucked the lesson and talked about the end of the world and when Jesus will come back and what it will be like and how the earth will be undone. So now we're going to sing O Come O Come Emmanuel and all go to bed, because its cold out and we've already had our hot chocolateses. Good Night.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Not Inspired of Myself

"His thoughts said, I am ashamed because of my poverty of love and my interrupted obedience.
His Father said, I know it all. I know thee as thou art and yet I love thee.
His thoughts said, I often pray to be delivered from slothfulness that all the spaces of my time may be fruitfully filled by Thee; and yet the spaces seem to me quite empty, and the little that is done is so imperfectly done that I am ashamed.
His Father said, Commit thine empty spaces to Me, and let thy trust be in the tender mercy of thy God for ever and ever. I will perfect thine imperfections."
-Amy Carmichael
His thoughts said...His Father said...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Caring and Compassionate Micah. Meant to post this a few weeks ago but entirely forgot. Votes on the side burns (is that what they're called?) or maybe chops. Halloween is over, maybe we should move on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Carnival!

I am totally remiss in putting this up sooner, especially since its past the deadline to enter (unless you can butter up At a Hen's Pace). Here is what it's all about.

Contrary Expectation: A Celebration of Advent

Advent is arguably my favorite time of year. I always enjoy Christmas and even Easter and Lent in a too busy distracted kind of way (although I really don’t like the inevitable let down after a major feast, like Christmas, which is always more intense if the feast was especially wonderful), but Advent is best. There are three reasons for this. The first is that it gets dark early and so lighting candles in the evening with the children is fun, because it’s dark enough to see them. Second, I love the hymns, love them far better than Christmas Carols. Third, I love Advent because I am contrary and ornery in my soul. While the whole world is rushing out to buy ipods and nanoos (oh wait, that’s the same thing) and x box players and getting crushed trying to beat their way into store after store and listening (oh horror in my soul) to Christmas Carols for a whole wretched month, I retreat into the solitary beauty of sorrow over sin, longing and desire for the parousia, quiet lighting of one candle and then another candle and then another.

So we do have some small Advent Traditions. The first, of course, is the Advent Wreath. I have a wooden bowl/plate thing on which I put three purple candles, one pink and one white. This year the Advent Wreath Routine will be in the morning rather than the evening because we have been having a morning Bible Story with the children plus songs and the Lord’s Prayer. And we’ll sing ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ probably every morning so the kiddos can learn it.

Then, in the evenings, we’ll open the Advent Calendar which this year is in the form of a lot of little books, some sacred, some secular, all alluring because they’re all so little and everybody wants to touch them and read them and wreck them. They might go on the tree eventually, but I might rather keep them safe in the box so we can use them next year.

Third is the feast and celebration of St. Nicholas. I am fussy about this because it’s a nostalgic moment for me. I always had a pair of clogs growing up and my carrot and turnip and parsnip would be shoved in them. Clogs are really especially nice for St. Nicholas. My kids are too American already to have clogs (I mean, where would I even get a good pair of Danish clogs for a child in Binghamton? Really, if anyone knows, please email) and so we’ve actually put out boots the last couple of years. And because I really don’t like parsnips for eating and haven’t been organized to go buy them just for the shoes, we’ve put in carrots and potatoes. And then, when they wake up, they find a perfectly round orange, a chocolate St. Nicholas and a small present. It’s so exciting and special. And then, of course, St. Nicholas visits everyone in church, arriving with gold chocolate coins and oranges and wearing a fancy bishop’s hat and cope. He knocks on the door to the altar and then comes out crying for all the children to come and greet him. Every year I’m surprised by the number of even older children who think he really is St. Nicholas.

Fourth, our lives are inextricably wound up in the church, so for me, part of Advent is the intense and sometimes stressful preparations for the Christmas Pageant on Christmas Eve. The pageant has grown to include the Annunciation, Visitation, Holy Innocents, Kings, Shepherds, Everything. Because we did so much work last year, it’s basically ticking along beautifully this year. I am particularly charmed because we have a long thin King Herod, three enormous adult Kings and then Aedan will be Herod’s Guard (a tiny tiny guard) because he refused to be a sheep. We also have a lot of baby lambs this year that will have to be carried by the Shepherds. It should be wonderful.

Fifth, my own private celebration of Advent has come to include the making of materials for the Atrium. This week I’m going to start work on the Level Two Prophecy Prayer Cards as well as the Flight into Egypt. The making of materials has come to be a restful moment of devotion and focus in a month that can be garish, busy and stressful.

And finally, Matt and I spend a whole day making some sort of food as our Christmas presents to everyone (I’m sorry, I don’t have the money or inclination to shop, so if you don’t like chocolate or cookies or sweets, you won’t like what I’m giving you this year). Two years ago we made chocolate truffles, and the year before that, jars of lemon curd, and the year before that, Nigella’s Chocolate Loaf Cake.

Somewhere towards the last Sunday of Advent we’ll get a tree and decorate the house. But again, I love the plain sorrowfully quiet tone of Advent in a house undecorated for Christmas until the last moment. Then you put it all up, and immediately tare it all down.

Several weeks ago I explained Advent and all its charms to my unchurched Jr. High Sunday School class. They were appalled at the idea, as well they should be. Its shocking that God would take on Flesh and come be with us, rebellious and sinful as we are. That he would go through the pain and unpleasantness of being born. That he would spend years trying to communicate with our small minds. And then that he would die. Four weeks is not too long to wait in silence and hope for him to come back in glory. I’m frankly excited about it all. Happy Advent!

Friday, November 23, 2007

I just came across this gem on Drudge,
Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child. "I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."
I would say, yes! absolutely! By all means Don't Have Children if you're going to have this kind of attitude about them. Of course, the attitude is completely false, and, I would say, arrogant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prep Day

I continue to be amazed that Matt didn't cook one tiny iota when we got married. When I cooked for him the first time, in those romantic courting days, he was unflatteringly skeptical about the idea. But I managed to impress him enough so that when I was pregnant the first time, and couldn't go near the kitchen for nausea, he took up the enterprise himself and now does fully half if not three quarters of all the family cooking. This is very good for us all because he's very good at it. The more he has devoted himself to food and the cooking thereof, the happier I have become as a person. Thanksgiving is his high holy day of cooking, and Wednesday is always spent prepping.

So today I made pie crust with the kids, pumpkin pie filling (roasting the pumpkin, pureeing it myself and adding cream, eggs, sugar and spices), and Brioche dough to be baked up for breakfast. And Matt minced onion, celery, sage, garlic, parsley and other fresh herbs. He also brined the turkey, and began the base for his gravy tomorrow. He has lately been devoting himself to perfect gravy. (I am torn in my praise of this gravy. If I say it is perfect, he may move on to something else, meaning less gravy. On the other hand, I can't lie.)

Tomorrow, after Brioche, the menu, as it looks now, is very traditional.
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, asparagus, brussle sprouts, gravy and biscuits. And then apple and pumpkin pie. We thought about fussing around with cranberry, but we only ever do it for looks, not for actual eating, so we decided not to bother. And we'll also be making hand turkeys out of construction paper, and Indian hats (whether or not this is politically incorrect, I don't know, I'm sure someone will tell me), and the children will dance, because that's what they do on thanksgiving.

Oh, and providentially, our Bible story reading for tomorrow just happens to be all the Israelites dying in the wilderness for whining and being ungrateful. So that will be nice. I look forward to it all very much and am perfectly prepared to be thankful All Day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My sermon for the Southside Ecumenical Service Tonight

I have always loved the road outside the house where I grew up. My house is just off the road
with a row of thorn trees in front. The drive sort of forks off and there is a path running from our house across the road to the neighbor. The road itself is dirt, not the red cake like dirt of the other side of the stream, but fine white soft sand. Over the months and days the worn easy places of the road change depending on the rain and traffic. A considering person will be careful
to walk on the smooth places, and pay attention to how the road changes over time. By walking it every day, the road becomes familiar even as it changes, so that even in the dark, you know where to walk.

It’s hard, I think, driving everywhere, or even walking on paved roads to visualize walking in a spiritual sense. Here, if you walk from Giant over to La Tazza, you have to look up and out, not down at your feet, so as to avoid cars, rather than stones. But more than likely it would be easier to drive the distance, faster.

It’s no mistake that Paul uses the word ‘walk’. ‘Walk’ not as unwise but as wise. He is talking to those of you who are already on the road, already walking towards God, away from the world,
away from yourself. The road stretches on ahead of you. There are two ways to walk. You can walk wisely, carefully, considering the road, the destination, your situation. Or, you can walk unwisely, carelessly, without attention.

How do you know the difference?

Well, first you have to make sure you are on the road and not wandering off on some path that peters out. Do you know Jesus? Do you love him? Do you trust him to save you from your sins?
Or are you relying on yourself and your own goodness? Relying on yourself is foolishness. Don’t be foolish, don’t continue walking on the wrong road. Get off that road and walk toward Jesus.

But if you’re already on the road, you love Jesus, he is transforming you day by day into his image, he has saved you and made you whole, then, to know if you are walking wisely you must be able to understand what the will of God is. Do you know why he made you? To worship him?
Do you know what your purpose is? To go out into the world and tell people about Jesus and how much he loves them. To listen to his voice and do the work he gives you. Do you pray every day and read the scriptures to know his will, day by day, step by step? If you don’t know his will, you won’t walk wisely.

But then, understanding the will of God, do you allow yourself to be distracted, to be filled up with other things, the things of this world, like wine, or worry, or busyness, or gossip, or anxiety, or a grudge, or envy, rather than to be filled up with the spirit. You can be on the road but not walking carefully in smooth careful watchfulness of God. Don’t walk that way. That is foolish.

How do you fix it?
Paul says, be thankful.
Now, I know its possible to go through this whole week, this week of Thanksgiving, and say thank you a lot, to other people and to God, with your lips, but not have time for it to be translated into your heart and mind. But if you cannot see God any more, and you do not know his will, and you are filled up with many other things, than you are not walking in wisdom.

Walking on this road in wisdom, means walking on this road in thankfulness.

Stop and put yourself into the place of Thanksgiving. You don’t have to feel thankful. You have to stop and bend your will, your mind, your feet towards God and thank him.
If you don’t know where to begin, start by thanking him for your existence.
Without him and his desire for you, you wouldn’t have been born.
Thank him for his preservation of you and provision for you.
Thank him for his salvation—in sending his son to die in your place so that you might live with him forever.
Thank him for the Holy Spirit who sanctifies and guides you.

The way of wisdom, the road toward Jesus is gratitude, is thankfulness.
Walk in it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

late again!

We DIDN’T Forget, we kept trying to get to the computer, but it kept getting away from us. Here is the book Emma wrote and illustrated in your honor. The pictures did not photograph well but here is the text. Each line is actually a page. We are considering mailing it, however, it might be that E will insist on doing another one to mail, being somewhat of a perfectionist.

Book by E

I like flowers.
I saw a moose print.
Those are berries.
I saw a different moose print than before.
I love you.
I saw a different canoe.
Then I saw a better canoe than I saw before.
This is a drink.
That’s not a horn.
That’s not a cross or an ‘x’.
That’s not a bird.
I don’t like that glove.
I saw a whale.
Two boxes.
That’s a shark.
That’s scribbling.
A tooth is gone.
We are all together with the sun, the grass, and the sky.
Clouds you like.
I love Gwendolyn.
That’s a school.
A scribble.
We flew.
We love you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

a little more preachy

Listened to this today.
Really. Excellent. Check it out.

a little preachy

I’ve been feeling frankly euphoric about having four children all day. These moments, as you can imagine, are few in the day. If I do have them I don’t generally have time to notice because there’s so much to do. But I was in the car a fair bit this morning and again this afternoon and I had time to consider how great it is to have so many kids, and how completely impoverished I would be with, say, only three, or only two, or only one, or none at all.

I’d be, first of all, very poor in experience. It’s taken 3 babies to figure it out. Nursing alone is something I only just now feel I have the hang of. And knowing the capacity of a child, say, to not whine if you tell them not to; I didn’t know that with the first, or even the second child. Now, on the third, we finally have the whining under control. Or the difference between boys and girls from birth. Being so rich as to have two of each, I am gaining wisdom and understanding in the differences between men and women, boys and girls, on a more basic and deeper level.

Second, I’d be poor in time. My days have become vastly richer and more varied with each baby. Its especially nice to have a baby at each stage doing different things, all day long, so that at every moment there’s a whole tapestry of play and conversation and activity. Also, I get more done, so my time is overall better spent and less wasted.

Third, I’d be poor in understanding. As I’ve known all my life with my head (because my dad said it over and over) ‘you can do it if you have to’, I now know with my body and soul. There isn’t anything that can’t be done, if God tells you to and gives you grace. So now, when people say, ‘Oh, I could never do that’ when they see my four kids, I can say ‘Oh, you probably could, if you had to.’

But mostly I’d be poor in love. And I don’t mean all ooshy gooshy I’m so in love with my kids they can’t do anything wrong. I mean that God expands the human faculty of love as needed. If there are a lot of people around who need it, God gives you the ability to act in self giving/selfless love towards them for their good, regardless of your own needs. He meets your needs and gives you sufficiently of himself to meet theirs. This, I am experiencing daily, even in my own flesh, is so crucial if you want to be rich in God. You cannot say no to him. If he says, do such and such, you cannot say no, or you become poor. You become lean. You become narrow. Or, as my mother has so helpfully pointed out, you develop ‘good boundaries’ (usually at the expense of other people).

All this I saw and felt as I drove all over town today, thinking about this new baby. The nurse when I checked into labor and delivery, hearing she was our fourth, said ‘Oh, I have an oops baby too’ it’s great. And it is. It’s actually the best.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Health and Happiness

E is definitely feeling better. I now have a dinning room table covered in paint, an elaborate train track taking up the whole hall way, a sea of crayons and paper in the living room, and a soaked bathroom from the bath currently going on. Its going to take me a whole day to recover and then she'll be home because its Saturday. And her cat, Francis, is staring at me fixedly in a murderous sort of way, like if she were a lot bigger, I'd be a snack.

And, just to rub it in, before throwing up on me this morning, the baby slept through the night AGAIN, that's right, again. Ha!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Meat Loaf

I was actually thinking about making meat loaf. I'm not sure why, maybe because its starting to be cold out. I'm not even sure that I've ever even eaten meat loaf. Anyway, I'm looking for advice. Is this a worthwhile endeavor? And if so, can anyone recommend a good recipe? And also, what would one eat it with?

Shameless Posting About My Children

I get really irritated when my favorite bloggers don't post ever day, or worse, take a whole week off from blogging. In that same spirit, I offer my deep regrets for taking almost a whole week off from posting. Thing is, I preached Sunday after not preaching in a long time, and I kept meaning to post my sermon, but then I added and adjusted so much as I was actually speaking, that I decided to bring it home and fix it, but then someone walked off with it during coffee hour, and Lord knows where it is now. So, of course, then I meant to try and fix it from memory, but that hasn't happened either. Anyway, I think it was a perfectly fine sermon, and maybe someday you'll get to read it.

Also, just as we were all getting over a vile cold, E caught some throwing up bug. She's been home from school for two days and will stay home again tomorrow to get some more rest, by which time I'm sure someone else will be throwing up often without prior warning. The fall/winter season is definitely here.

But we've been having a good time nonetheless. For example, E informed us this evening that God can make people sick, but he can't heal them. 'Well', she amended her statement, 'he can but he lets doctors do it.' She has heard about the Israelites getting sick in the desert for complaining and it has made a big impression on her (being sick and all). She organized tea for us this afternoon-a lot of plates carefully arranged on the coffee table, three empty (not sure why), one with 4 grapes on it, one with 6 tiny biscuits smeared with jam, peanut butter and nuttela, one full of cookies. She took the plate of grapes around carefully to ask if we'd like more. Very hospitable. But then she made us sing 'Now the Day is Over' and 'The Lord told Noah to build him an Arky Arky' and afterwards told a long and complicated 'Bible' story holding a copy of Mansfield Park instead of a Bible. Then she got really bossy and tried to make us all take a rest, which I refused to do and everything broke into chaos. She really misses school. But I've been happy to have her home for a couple of days. We miss her when she's not here.

And A's powers of reason are becoming more sophisticated. The kiddos are not allowed to say they don't like whatever they've been given to eat at the table. So tonight, careful not to say that he didn't like it, he explained, very carefully, that the chicken in front of him was made from milk, 'the kind of milk that I don't like'. Very clever, I thought.

And the baby smiled yesterday, after giving it obvious and crucial thought. Plus she slept through the night one time, which was amazing. I've never experienced such a thing, with babies. Imagine, sleeping through the night instead of eating every hour.

And R is his own solid self, agreeably wandering around the house muttering 'yes' to himself quietly. Its his favorite word, although 'cake' comes a close second.

So, you see, I've been covered in children, and not even reading anything online. And its been, frankly, refreshing. Let the Anglican World wreck itself, it doesn't need me reading about it to make anything different.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Butternut Squash Soup

I, frankly, outdid myself tonight on the subject of Supper.

Butternut Squash Soup
I roasted the squash, and then scooped it out into my pan, added probably four cups of chicken stock, salt, pepper, curry powder, ginger powder and cream and, when it came a simmer, went at it seriously with my (well, Matt's really) super cool immersion blender. Creamy, golden orange, I believe Matt used the word 'heavenly'.

Along with miniature biscuits done with an irritating flower cut out. But so puffy. So perfect.

And then tomato and egg (mommy, what's its proper name?) salad avec vinaigrette. And an avocado at perfect ripeness.

I must say, the soup was probably the easiest thing I've ever cooked. It took about 3 minutes of actual cook time-cutting the squash open (I made Matt do it), hunting around for curry and ginger powder, blending it, that's it. Well, and putting everything in the pan. We're going to eat the rest with couscous and then do it again the day before Thanksgiving, that most holy day of eating. Oh, and if you try the soup, it starts out smooth and then the ginger and curry kick in with an interesting bite. Very worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Matt discovered, to our amazement, by staring fixedly at the baby for some time, that she really looks, really really looks dad (Dr. Robert Carlson). I thought it would be so unfortunate for a girl to have to be the spittin image of her father, image having to be a combination of one's father and maternal grand father. Plus she really does look like R.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

by them is your servant warned

I’ve been going back and back and back again to Psalm 19 lately. It’s always been one of my favorites, particularly since being in boarding school and hearing some of my school mates when their parents came to visit—a CRWM family from Mali—sing the second part (verse 7 on) of it all together beautifully. But also because it’s a perfect summation of the Christian Life and what produces real happiness and joy. The psalm articulates the liveliness of the Law, the dynamism that it produces in daily life when one tries not only to walk in it, but to integrate it into one’s interior essential being.

But I hadn’t paid particular careful attention to the first half—the declaring speech of the cosmos and earth concerning the greatness of God. There is actually interesting movement—the heavens, the sky, the sun declare the perfection of the Law, after which and out of which flows man’s response.

There is all kinds of richness here, besides the dripping of honey.

First of all, we’ve been teaching our kiddos the 10 Commandments with the use of the old 70s ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’. I don’t know the words to the real thing (heh) but we hit upon it because it used to be one of the tunes I, along with everyone else, had to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to in Boarding School (along with Ghost Riders in the Sky, In the Jungle, and Gilligan’s Island). With a little tweaking, we managed to make all the commandments fit in plain language, and now we sing it almost every morning (their choice, not ours) and sometimes again in the evening. Their learning of the content of the law concurrently with a love of Jesus was my aim and its delightful to see it happening.

Second of all, psalm 19 has, over time, very much informed my emotional sense of obedience to God, and my overall desire to know God through the Scriptures. Because, let’s face it, the easy way is not obedience or even knowledge of God. The easy way is strict slavish adherence to one’s own passions and desires. To first of all know the Law and then to find it sure, right, pure, clean, true and golden, that takes a life time of work.

As I write this, I am most painfully aware that this sets me entirely outside the worldview of most of the west, actually. I frequently delude myself into thinking myself in the majority by reading people I agree with and avoiding everything else. But this is not the case. The west has become obsessively self centered. The Law of the Lord, perfect or not, is not known nor sought. Even the church has bought into the boring madness of self gratification. Only its called ‘self actualization’ or ‘becoming one’s best self’ or even, ‘living into the baptismal covenant’. And its why the Anglican World is breaking apart.

I will probably come back to this later. At the moment I’ve just made myself mad and I have to feed the baby.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scattered Saturday Thoughts from E and A

E, on the way out of a store where she and I had been browsing together on our own: 'All those things in there, that's what made it so wonderful.' (relish and emphasis on the 'wonderful')

E praying in the evening after hearing the story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac (a favorite):
'Dear Jesus, thank you for Isaac and his family and how long he lived and that he he was a nice baby but grew up and lived a long time and for his mommy and daddy.'

A, gazing at the sun even after being told not to: 'Mommy mommy mommy mommy, you know what there is behind the sun? A SQUARE. And it has lines and its behind the sun.'

A, much later, gazing at G: 'She's so beautiful, and pretty.'
E (whispering in my ear): 'She looks like a boy.'
Me (whispering back): 'No she doesn't. She's covered in pink.'
A: 'I love her.'

Lest you think we are all peace and joy, they then got into a heated argument about how much big furry blanket they each had and who was going to have which song. Finally settled on 'Now the Day is Over' for E and 'I head the Voice of Jesus Say' for A.

And now its 5:30 Sunday morning and everyone is Wide Awake because of the time change. So I am going to roust myself out of bed and begin collecting things for Sunday. I'm even contemplating shoving myself into a collar, would be the first time in months. Its not conducive for baby feeding, but, frankly, I don't have much else that's interesting, and I do have a fancy wine colored velvet jacket, and, as you know, its so much easier to worship God in a fabulous outfit than not.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Happy Belated Reformation Day

So we had a reasonably good time on Wednesday.
It was balmy-windy and warm-and there were lots of little kids running top speed from house to house. We got to meet several neighbors hitherto unmet. Everybody wanted to see the baby. I'd been walking the block for months pregnant so I guess it was only fair.

The highlight of the day, though, was accidentally wishing our very good friends/neighbors a Happy Reformation Day-such a fun thing to wish Roman Catholics. K- wanted to know what 'the reformation' was. Periodically I help her fill out her Confirmation Class worksheets. Told her and her brother in great detail and then asked if they would be dressing up for All Saints. T- couldn't remember what that one was either.
'What do you do in church?' I asked him.
'Go in the cry room' he said, 'the sermon is so boring.
Told him he should be glad he can go in the cry room. 'I sit with our teenagers during the sermon and make them take notes.'
He was aghast. All this time our Jewish neighbor was pondering. Finally she asked if the sermon was all in English. 'Oh yes,' I said, 'All in English, but its very long. At least 20 minutes.'
'My class has to lead the service this week' she said, but she wouldn't say any more. Then I asked them all if they remembered anything for Religious Ed. L- remembered the Shema in Hebrew but didn't know what it meant (Emma told her), and T- remembered that there is someone named St. Paul but didn't know why he was a Saint. 'Wasn't he an apostle?' he asked.
'Yes,' I said, 'but do you know what an apostle is?'
T- thought maybe it was Jesus. Laughed heartily and then told him. Invited them all to church.

I enjoy these conversations with our young neighbors. Its so interesting to see what the average person is getting out of church (any church). And I'm impressed that they're interested. I wish their clergy/pastors would tap into this interest. But of course, K- and T- are not voicing this interest when they are in church.

Anyway, we are launching into the weekend. Micah is here (the official sign that CHURCH will be happening). He is arguing with Matt, well, its sounds like Micah is arguing and Matt is laughing at him. I am going to vacuum the house and muscle the extra bed out of the nursery into the basement. And I'm hoping Matt will cook something fabulous for supper. I bought chicken on purpose for him to do so.

OH! and a big shout out to Bishop Duncan for an AWSOME comeback.


I've just turned on that word verification thingy because I'm getting comment spam. Sorry about the extra hassle.

I've got to get up and madly clean because all three kiddos are sleeping (E is at school), and who knows how long it will last, so I've got to seriously get moving. I have exactly one hour before the next visitor. So much to do, don't even know where to start.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Traveling Mercies

If you have a moment, pray for my mom who is currently in the air, traveling back to Nairobi via JFK, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. She is set to arrive Friday morning and we are all awaiting the good news that she is there safely and soundly. In the meantime we are all in grief that she is gone. We had Such a Good Time while she was here and will miss her very much.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


However controversial, we are going to be ‘celebrating’ Halloween this year, again. Matt grew up with fond and warm memories of Halloween—running around safe neighborhoods, receiving safe candy, not dealing with the theological implications of celebrating Halloween and ignoring All Saints. I, for understandable reasons, never celebrated Halloween or All Saints Day—the one because it was too close to the occult for a Baptist Boarding School and the other because it was too Catholic. Both days always passed carefully unmarked. Although, my senior year, in June, a group of us put on interesting hats and glasses and hit all the Staff Houses up for candy and money. Strangely, we did not get in trouble for this defiance, but we didn’t get much candy either because no one expected us.

So, in the tradition of Matt, for the last five years our kiddos started out their first Halloween as a Chili Pepper, moving from there to a Bee (at age one or two) and from thence on to something of their choice. Last year A was a sort of construction working person and E was a princess. This year A will either be Spiderman or a Knight in Shining Armor (he still can’t decide) and E will be a ballerina. We look forward to R’s stepping into our third time round of an Angry Angry Bee.

And last night we carved a pumpkin in classical mode.

As Matt wielded skillfully his knife and spoon, E drew on her small pumpkin and said, sing songingly, ‘People who celebrate Halloween worship Satan. That’s us.’
Matt and I and Nonni all began quietly freaking out.
‘Where did you hear that, E?’ Matt asked.
‘In school. From my friends.’
‘All your friends?’ I asked.
‘No, just J—‘ said E.
We all launched into a discussion of how its really about All Saints’ Day and how we are Not worshiping Satan, and how that would be Very Bad. E seemed unmoved and concentrated on her pumpkin.

I’m not completely surprised by this. We’ve chosen a school for her that we were pretty sure would Not be having Halloween Parties. I have no idea what E is telling the other children. It’s probably a jumble, all of them half understanding what we, their parents, believe. And, while I wish other Christian parents wouldn’t make blanket catastrophic statements like ‘all people who celebrate Halloween worship Satan’ I can understand where they’re coming from. It is an increasingly difficult ‘holiday’ to deal with—another occasion the culture at large has embraced the dark night of shadow and rejected the clear lighted day of rejoicing. It’s been particularly interesting to consider this cultural drive given that Matt in his Sunday morning Adult Ed has been covering Contemporary Neo-Paganism, particularly Wicca. More and more of us ordinary Christians are running into this developing religious/cultural affiliation, especially those near college campuses. On our evening walks with the dog, we pass a house that appears to have a sort of celtic/pagan shrine or offering for or on the occasion of (?) Samhain.

So that’s why I have ‘celebrate’ in scare quotes. Because I approach it with caution, delighted for my children to step into the clothes and shoes of other kinds of people for the evening, and for them to run around this safe practically old fashioned neighborhood, in the way that Matt remembers so fondly, eliciting candy of all things, from the neighbors, but cautious of the darkness. I look forward to the light and joy of the next day, of spending time considering those saints who have clarified and illuminated the Narrow Way for me personally.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Sitting Not Thinking

I’m sitting here in the sun, watching siding being put up on the neighbors’ house. All these years they’ve had bright green siding. I thought they liked it and had put it up on purpose. Turns out they’ve always hated it and suffered through a decent number of years until it was reasonable to tare it off and do something nicer. This new siding is tan. It’s very nice, but I thought the bright green was garishly endearing. I think I will probably miss it.

A is copying out the alphabet. He drew an airplane this morning, far better than any airplane I have ever drawn. I see now that I really need to get him into some kind of art class. Haven’t been able to find one, though, that takes three year olds. And, despite the mess, I should really dig out the paints and let him go at it. Sigh. So much of this house is already covered in paint.

Baby is enveloped in pink—pink blanket on top, pink blanket underneath, pink sweater, pink skin. Despite all this pink, she still looks like both her brothers. Poor child.

R is taking a second morning nap. We are getting better about calling him R. But mostly we say ‘Baby’ and then have to clarify which one.

So, it’s a calm Monday morning off. We do have to run out and buy a pumpkin to carve, and we probably should take a walk.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What I've been Doing instead of Blogging

I’m sorry for the lack of posting. Every day I get up and turn on my computer and think, ‘I should really blog about something today.’ And then I stare blankly at the wall and think nothing at all. And then life sort of happens for the rest of the day.

I’ve been slowly reflecting on my hospital stay, in a vague way. For instance, it occurred to me after coming home, that the reason I was in such a rotten mood leading up to labor and delivery was not because of all the wretched hormones, but rather because I was really honestly and truly afraid of the experience I was facing. The first baby, of course, represents the unknown, and one has every right to be nervous and afraid of that which one knows not. But I was surprised to be experiencing fear in advance of this fourth time. But really, its more justifiable, I think, to be afraid of that which one knows. I was dreading, terribly, the machines, those bands around one’s tummy to monitor the baby, the weird and uncomfortable bed, the blood pressure machine. All of it combines to set you in a twilight of space, not anything like normal life.

Most particularly not like normal life because of, essentially, the partial loss of control over one’s own body and circumstance. Of course, it’s not a total loss—one can say what one wants and doesn’t want, one can call for the doctor. But one, that’s me, doesn’t. I don’t generally call out. I go along quietly and don’t ask enough questions, all the while boiling inside at the relaxed and calm manner of the nurses. I’d rather they weren’t calm. If I’m freaking out, I’d like them to freak out with me. The calm soothing tone, voice, body language all drove me to distraction.

In advance, I feel sorry for the people who will have to drag me to a hospital if I’m ever really sick.

But mostly I’ve been feeding the baby, running around in the car to a thousand appointments and errands, cooking lunch for a hundred visitors come to see the baby, and soothing the fragile tempers and feelings of all my little children who love their sister very much but are having to reorder their lives and routine to make space for her.

And I’ve been praying quietly about this whole unknown concept of ‘maternity leave’. I think I needed it Before giving birth, when I was so anxious and wanting to hide under my bed and not face anyone. Now, tired but happy, I probably still need time off, but I don’t want it. I want to get back into the thick of things and sort out the Christmas Pageant, seriously catch up on making Materials for the Atrium, reorganize the church office, and read a book without falling asleep.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rain and Running this morning. The last few days have been taken up with luncheon engagements-friend from college, friends of my mom's. Today is One Week Well Baby amongst other things, as well as checking back with people who want to come meet baby. Haven't been able to get to the computer to read, let alone write.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Press On

I'm surprised by the sheer number of children in motion in this house. I shouldn't be, I guess, I've acquired them over time. But I'm amazed at how many of them there are now, and that they all belong to me. Last night I made a line up of Sunday clothes, and it goes all across the spare room bed. I know 4 isn't that many, but still, I'm experiencing an element of surprise.

This morning we're going to gather ourselves together and go off for a full morning-8am (no music), 9:15 Education for Everyone, 10:30 (music). And then coffee hour full of lots of little pieces of paper for me from various parishioners reminding of things I've got to do, like order toner. And then we'll come home and collapse.

I think, for me, this morning will be like climbing a mountain, sore as I am. But, as with all the Sundays these last few months, I won't be climbing on my own.

His thoughts said, The coil of circumstances is beyond anything I ever experienced before.
His Father said, All this assemblage of complicated circumstances is the massif of the mountains thou must climb. There is a way among the boulders of the moraine, between the seracs of the glaciers, over the snow-bridges that cross the crevasses, round the overhanging snow-fields and up the precipices and long aretes. There is a way through the deep shadows that will seem to bar thy path at times. Press on, press on to the summit.

His thoughts said...His Father said...

Amy Carmichael

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not a Blogging Fiend Right Now

Have acquired our first throwing up baby. Have never had one before. At this point, the most valuable baby thing I own are all my Malian panya cloths. Ordinary American baby blankets have nothing on this cloth. Right now Gwendolyn is wrapped in an old Christmas one-blue with pictures of Jesus ringed in 'Je suis l'Alpha et l'Omega' and 'Moi, Je suis le Pain de Vie'. I guess it was Christmas 2000. Everyone wore this cloth to church that year, made into various outfits. If I ever locate my camera I'll post a picture of it. I must say, its not Baby's best color, although, I don't know that she has a best color yet.

The last few days, as you can imagine, have been a tunnel (for me) of feeding this baby and trying to get beyond that to connect with the other kiddos. Today I have to come out of that small world to do the bulletin and think about Sunday School.

And I've been reading The Pickwick Papers and this awful thread over on Stand Firm. Its an interesting juxtaposition. And then, to satisfy myself, I hunted up a very tiny envelope for E's lunch money this morning. She is profiting mightily from this baby by getting to buy lunch more than is good or right or proper. Hopefully all that will come to a grinding halt on Monday, when I sleep All Night on Sunday (ha).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Baby

G...thirty minutes old
Here's another
R, sitting on bed, not entirely happy...other siblings quite pleased

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Lord giveth...

Its very quiet now, and a twilight 'grey dark' as A might say. Everyone has gone home and I am propped up in some hospital contraption bed with new baby G. So far she is not a delicate wilting rose flower. She has kind of a thick neck and lots of dark hair and an expression of entitlement. I can see why. Rowan, when visiting this afternoon, climbed on the bed and tried first to sit on her, and then to kick her, and then to poke her, each time thwarted, each time enraged.

Its going to be a loud week, I can tell, when I get home. Everyone shouting and trying to get a word in and be noticed AND assimilate this new interesting creature into our lives.

As for me, I'm very tired. But that's ok. Its something I'm used to.
Matt is very tired too. He has been busy all afternoon trying to arrange a funeral for someone we never got to meet. He called the funeral home,

'hello, Yes, I need to speak with a gentleman who passed away this morning, I can't remember his name.'
Silence on the other end of the phone. I shout the name quietly in Matt's ear.
'Oh yes, with ________________.'
Silence on the other end of the phone.
'Oh no, I mean, I need to speak with someone about ________ who passed away this morning.'

He, Matt, tried then to tell me he would sleep in this uncomfortable chair next to my bed tonight, but I told him he was ridiculous and sent him home. We all need a quiet night in a proper bed. Tomorrow there will be plenty of time to get to know this interesting little person.

As for me, I thank you all Very Much for your prayers over the last 24 hours. At 7 and some centimeters, as I wimped out and requested an epidural, and then burst into tears and had a good solid cry of fear while a very nice doctor put it in, I was profoundly buoyed by the love and grace and mercy of Jesus, and by my husband and mother who held my hands and told me that I was not, in fact, a wimp, and that I was going to be ok. And I know also that your prayers sustained me. Thank you.

Counting down

This is the famous ME who occasionally comments -- Anne's mom. I'm a few feet away from the end of the birthing bed, and I'm very omfortable thank you, in a rocking chair with my coffee at hand, and Anne's computer for light-hearted entertainment.
Matt is in another soft, pleasant chair, typing fiendishly on his computer. Anne is counting her way through intensifying contractions, and the baby's heartbeat is adding a soft undertone to the quiet hum of this birthing room.
So nice. So different from the day Anne was born to me in "The Shrubbery" (a maternity home in High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire). So different because then, I could hear another woman wailing down the hall, and the midwife kept stepping out for a cigarette. Here, all is quiet and peaceful. We're only waiting for the wail of a baby.
When I heard the first wail of tiny baby Anne, all other crying stopped, and the August wind stirred the curtains at the windows, and all the roses bloomed brighter in the garden outside. "One lump of sugar, or two?" asked the lady with the teacart.
On the way over to the hospital this morning, I caught the tail end of "The Writer's Almanac". "It's the birthday," said Garrison Keillor, "of P.G. Wodehouse.
Oh! We have moved from four to seven centimeters in a very short space of time!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Normal Life

We're waiting for the rain, and waiting for this baby, and waiting for Jesus to come back. I'm not a betting person, but I did finally bet my mother today-coffee and bagels at Panera that this baby doesn't come until a week from tomorrow, Wednesday the 17th, the day of Good Shepherd's 106th Harvest Dinner, during the dinner. I'm not sure how to work out odds, but I've read The Great Sermon Handicap twice in the last week trying to figure out how it all works.

Meanwhile, A has acquired a Helmet and tunic sort of thing to go with his sword. 'I', he said to me this afternoon, 'am the knight of the world'. The helmet is enormous but very satisfying.

R has been playing the piano.

E bought lunch in the school cafeteria for the first time, to her own immense satisfaction.

So basically we're all fussing along in our own quiet ways.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Well, life continues a hodge podge. I've read through most of 1 Chronicles in an effort to go into labor, wading laboriously through the names and trying not to skip any-surprisingly difficult to do in the middle of some heavy duty contractions.

And I've totally cleaned and reorganized my desk again.

And I've learned from A that babies are 'silly mooses'.
'Are what?'
'Silly mooses.'
'Are you a silly moose?'
'No! Baby is a silly moose.'

And I watched R, always the problem solver, stand at the top of the stairs and fling a large toy dump truck down, come down carefully after it, proceed to sit in it and try to ride it around the living room. Sensible child, not carrying it down and hurting himself.

Oh, and I've cut everyone's hair, except R. Matt and I are in a battle over the curls on the sides of his head. So far they remain intact, praise be.

OH, and tomorrow is Matt's Birthday. We're all so excited, except him. He has all kinds of gray on his head to show his age and wisdom. In celebration we will be indulging in Nigella's Chocolate Cloud Cake AND Nigella's Chocolate Pots.

Oh, and R has learned to say 'hi'. Its really his one word. If you were to come over, he would say it to you.

Friday, October 05, 2007

OR, the baby could look like this

(Picture taken by my mother in Grand Place, Brussels. Notice the cigarette, amongst other things, like the size of the baby.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Good Sized Baby Daily Getting Larger

Baby flipped to head down, as ultrasound verified yesterday. Relieved and basically very uncomfortable. So, still waiting and the temperature has gone back up to 80, of all things. Really long to go into confinement. Think it would be better for everyone. Instead of have cleaned Matt's closet, made an apple spice cake, cauliflower soup and read some more of Uncle Fred in the Springtime (that was yesterday). Today I'm going to pay all my bills, make bread and reorganize my spice and baking situation. Basically too hot to think about anything else interesting. Have begun to worry that baby will have bright red hair.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One mind, One heart

I'm off in a minute to do Matt's Tuesday Night Bible Study. He's out of town for the night to some meeting or other. His Bible Studies are always very gracious, but I can tell they're secretly disappointed when Matt can't make it. This one, I believe, is reading through Proverbs, a good activity for us all.

E and A are on opposite sides of the couch instructed to not speak, to each other or to anyone else, for a few minutes. They cannot, for whatever, get along, and I will not have them constantly tattling on each other.

R is wandering around moaning because his teeth hurt. He has a large curl sticking out wildly from the side of his head.

Nonni is making spaghetti and meatballs.

Just in case you were all wondering what we are all doing.
I've been getting bins down from the attic and sorting throw clothes by age, gender and season-bins and bins and bins.

I don't have anything to say about anything, EXCEPT, its been bugging me on some back burner of my mind, that the HOB statement from New Orleans contained the phrase (or something like it)
though we are not of one mind, we strive to be of one heart
That, to me, seems a huge neon sign of the problem we're in. Precisely because we are not of one mind, we cannot be of one heart. Its irrational and schizophrenic (or something) to 'strive' for such a thing. The heart and the mind should not be divided from each other. More, perhaps, on this later, as it continues to niggle at the back of my mind.

Friday, September 28, 2007


We forgot and we feel terrible and we love you very much!
Here is a picture from E and one from A wishing you Happy Birthday!

I did the weekly article, instead of Matt, for Good Shepherd

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I had the splendid and joyful opportunity to be with the Finch family in the hospital as they awaited the arrival of the latest baby Finch. First off, it was a real pleasure to be in those nice delivery rooms, Not as the person who is in the uncomfortable position of giving birth, but as an encouraging spectator. They are really nice rooms. Second, I was able to witness in another person something profound that I have experienced myself, namely, setting oneself in motion to bring another life into the world. This decision for life is a sacrificial and overpowering task. At its most basic point, you, as the person bringing another life into the world, have to make the decision to go ahead and do it. However much you may long for the child, however much it is inevitable, at that point, to give birth, a moment of decision arrives—I’m going to do this, even though I am anxious, even though its going to be difficult, even though its probably not going to happen the way I want it to, for the sake of another person, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this now. The decision has to be made.

I remember this vividly when it arrived for me. And I saw it in Liz’s face this morning at the crucial moment.

For those of us who are Christian, when this moment of decision comes, and we choose to go ahead and do the difficult thing in front of us, two important things happen: one, the grace and love and power of God comes in and gives us what we need to do the job, and two, we get to see what it is that God did and does for us on the cross.

The first part—the grace, love and power of God giving you what you need to do the job—is called Providence. God promises, when we put ourselves in his hands and trust in him, to meet our needs. I was getting ready to pray for someone this week and they said, ‘Oh, I don’t like to pray for myself. I don’t want to be selfish.’ This stance of self reliance is actually an extra hassle for God. He went to the trouble to make you. He knows you inside and out—when you lie down, when you stand up, when you go out of your house, when you come in, when you think, when you rest, when you work. He’s more than equipped and willing to meet your needs. You do yourself a great disservice when you try to solve your problems yourself without consulting God. More than likely you will mess things up and then have to call on God anyway to fix it.

Trusting in God’s providence means going to the source of all things Right Away, without waiting. When you’re facing something difficult, go to God first in prayer, lay out the trouble, ask him for strength and courage and the skills and resources to do the job in front of you.

The clearest most powerful example of God’s providence in our lives is the cross. When we mess things up, when we sin, when we rebel against God, it is the providential work of Jesus on the cross that saves us and makes it possible for us to live, be healed, forgiven and whole. This providence is, of course, first and foremost available to us when we accept, by faith, the work of Jesus and accept him into our lives and hearts to rule and transform us into his own image. But as you live as a Christian, the depth and richness of the cross will continue to provide and to nourish.

One way this happens is through the experience of suffering. Suffering, pain, difficulty, trials, all are ways to enter into and see what kind of sacrifice it was that Jesus made. Essentially, he put his whole self aside for the sake of you. He laid down his glory, as the Son of God, his Authority, his power, and his own body, so that you might come into his family and have a relationship with his Father. Any time you experience suffering, you can take that to the foot of the cross and lay it next to the suffering of Jesus, and in so doing, you get to see what Jesus is like and what his work means.

The cross is essentially life-giving. Jesus did not just die, the way we die—to no purpose and effect, our bodies in the ground, our spirits with God or in Sheol. His death, his dying in his body and his soul to himself, for the world, was a life giving event, for the sake of another, in order to give you life.

Another way to enter more deeply into work of Jesus is, as the writer of last week’s collect (Sunday prayer) says, ‘to love things heavenly’ and ‘to hold fast to those things that shall endure’. This is completely contrary to the way American culture currently orients itself. As we go about our daily lives, there is very little that tells us to fix our minds on the things of God. When I bustle through the grocery store and try to think what on earth I am going to put in Emma’s lunch box day after day, there is very little that orients me towards God. I’m not generally thinking about what God wants or what he is doing in the world. But by allowing myself to be distracted, by not grounding myself daily in the presence of God, I do not maintain a heavenly perspective. I become limited in my vision and scope and I miss what God is doing in the world and in my own life. This lack of vision and focus allows me to believe the lie that I am in charge of my own life and can provide for myself, that I do not need God’s providence.

One practical way, however, to begin to develop a mind and heart focused on heaven, on things that last forever rather than fade away, is to find, in your morning reading of scripture, one short line that you will keep for yourself, and say it over and over again as you work and run and keep up with life. My one line, lately, has been, from 1 Kings 17:12-16, the story about Elijah the prophet and the Widow of Zerephath. This woman was destitute and there was a famine in the land where she lived. The day Elijah met her she was gathering a few sticks together to make a fire, and then she was planning to go home and cook the last of her food—flour and oil to make a small cake or bread—which she and her son would then eat and then wait to die of starvation. At precisely this moment, when from a worldly perspective all seems lost, Elijah come to her and performs a miracle. Instead of eating the last bit of food herself, she gave it to Elijah, and then, for the whole time there was famine in the land her ‘jar of flour did not run dry’ and her ‘jar of oil did not run out’. These two lines I say to myself often as I go about my business. However busy I get, through God’s providence and mercy, I will not run out of time for the things that are most important, my time jar will have enough in it to get me through. However tired I am, I will not run out of energy for the things God wants me to do, my energy jar will have enough. However poor I feel, I will not run out of money and resources for the things that are most important, God always puts enough money in my money jar. By saying these lines over to myself throughout the day, I am able to know and be reminded that it is God who provides and cares for me, not me who provides and cares for myself. It might be a different line of scripture for you, but I encourage you to find one, for today, and carry it with you.

The key in all things is to keep God, and his work in Jesus, front and center as you work and rest and live your life. In other words, to love things heavenly, to hold onto the things that last forever, to trust in Jesus’ work on the cross, and to seek God’s will in all things.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Down to Weekly Dr.'s Appointments

Baby transverse and stubborn. Only has a few weeks to turn. Please pray.

On my way to get Matt at the airport

You can't have a minority report if you voted yes. So, maybe Bennison could put out a minority report. Heh.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

E joins TEC's House of Bishops

Nonni: Well, E, did you have chapel today?
E: Yeah, we did.
Nonni: What did you do in chapel? Did you sing songs?
E: I guess so. I forget. We had a story about three things … a girl stole stuff, and then she died.
Nonni: She died!
E: Yeah. You know what? When I get home I’m gonna’ hide all my stuff.
Nonni: Who are you gonna’ hide it from?
E: From the Big Bad Wolf! I’m gonna’ put my stuff in my suitcase.
Nonni: Is your suitcase big enough for all your stuff?
E: Yeah. ALL my stuff. The Big Bad Wolf lives in the woods, and he stole my brown bunny. But someday, he’s gonna’ go on a trip FAR AWAY, and then we’re gonna’ go up to his door, and go in, and get our stuff back. And my brown bunny too.
Nonni: Are you sure your brown bunny isn’t at Tatchi’s house.
E: No. The Big Bad Wolf has it. And when he’s gone, we’re gonna’ go to his house and take HIS stuff.
Nonni: But wouldn’t that be wrong? To steal his stuff?
E: No. God telled me to do it.

Anne's New Comment Policy-don't worry, its not as bad as Stand Firm, although possibly more ticked off

I've been lying here on the couch, trying to sleep a few seconds longer (A got in my bed at 3 am, E at 5 and Baby sometime after that, each causing me to sin in my thoughts and prayers to God) and have finally been wrenched back awake by three phone calls, the dog wanting out, and trying to pick over the news online.

Matt pointed out to me last night, about 10:30, that I'd been linked from T19 (thank you so much!) and that's why so many of you, besides my mother, have been reading me today (There's no way I got 200 hits out of her alone). And I'm gathering, from a couple of comments, that some of you are on the opposite side of this ecclesiastical divide. To you I say Welcome! Glad you're hear reading.

Please leave the condescension behind, though, if you comment. Lots will be going on today. I'm sure we'll be trolling around for news and information. Lots of ridiculous and unbelievable things will happen. You probably won't agree with what I have to say about them, and I welcome such disagreement. Please offer your thoughts. But if you condescend to me, I will pitch over the edge today, which will be another source of sin in my life, which I don't need.

So, that's the rule for today, maybe tomorrow will be different, we'll see.
Bring on the News from New Orleans!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Communion Chaos

I have just learned today, for the first time, that my calm, older, beginning to be rational child is now gone a chunk of the day, leaving me with two not yet rational, hyper, beginning to be competitive children of a gender I don't understand (namely male). That two such small bodies should be able to generate so much noise is astounding.

One has been shouting all morning to listen to Balafon music on youtube.
'I want to hear the balafon, with the picture.'
'In a minute, A, I have to read this first.'
This being the next set of remarks from the HOB meeting this morning. And now the comments.

R is just shouting. He may be trying to say something, but Lord knows what it is.

Anyway, first, here is Matt's telephone call to E last night, more on the subject of Adam and Eve.
Matt: How was Church?
E: Adam and Eve ate from the tree and then they had to hide and then they had to find leaves because they were bears and didn't want Jesus to see them.
Incredulity on the other end of the line (couldn't hear what Matt was saying).
E:Yeah, they were hiding and then they knew a baby was going to be born and be Jesus, like us.
Silence, probably Matt asking some clarifying question.
E: Because, she becided it!

I'm dying to know what is going on in E's head to make sense of all this. So fascinating, the study of scripture.

Second, it occurs to me, after these many months and years of Anglican Conflict, that while all of us have been taking this seriously-pouring over documents, trying to understand the Windsor Report, the Dromontine Communique, the Dar Communique, various letters from Rowan Williams, Camp Allen Statements, and now resolutions in the HOB-these Bishops HAVE NEVER TAKEN THIS SERIOUSLY. If they've read any of the necessary documents, they haven't bothered to understand them. If they've listened to advice and counsel from Primates and others, they bothered to HEAR. In other words, this has never been a real engagement. They've never been serious about the communion. Even this morning, after Matt's careful study of Howe's Proposal, and we, reading carefully and considering and praying for God's will, these Bishop's Never Considered the option before them.

I don't know why I didn't notice before. I guess, if you can't take the time to take the Scriptures seriously, why would you take the Communion seriously.

I leave you with my two Favorites from the meeting. These I am tucking away for the sake of generations to come.

From the Bishop of N. Carolina: "Also, shouldn't we quote scripture somewhere in this text?"
"Roskam: I would hope that we will make mention of these extraordinary stoles that we have been given and that maybe we should have a separate document for this purpose"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Conversations

Anne: So, E, what did you in Sunday School today?
A: We sang, 'If your name is E, stand up. If your name is Jesus, stand up.'
E: 'If your name is Nonni, stand up.'
Anne: What did you talk about in Children's Chapel?
E: We learned about Adam and Eve.
Anne: Oh, that's good. What did you learn about them?
A: They were obedient.
E: No A, they were disobedient.
A: Yes, they ate fruit from trees.
E: And they had to go out of the Garden.
Anne: The Garden?
E: The Garden of AEDAN.

On a descriptive note, I celebrated for the first time in several months, today. Not the most practical time to get back to work, given then I only have 2 or 3 weeks left before baby. I didn't fit any of my vestments, and I wasn't able to breathe particularly well, BUT, I was totally delighted to look out at the congregation and see E and A, bolt upright in the third pew from the front on the right, books open. They sat through, with the exception of children's church, all the service and came up for communion together, by themselves. And they sang loudly throughout. I haven't been able to dislodge them from the nursery, not that I have tried very hard. But they really have needed to start coming to church, particularly as the nursery is about to be filled up with babies this fall (one coming this week-not mine), and because children ought to be in church.

E Going To School

E shouting from the back seat of the car as Nonni drives her to school:
E: I need you not to talk. I need to you pay attention.
We’re all gonna die. We really, really don’ wanna die, but we hafta die because … because our mommies and our daddies are sinners.
I’m talking about dying a lot today aren’t I, Nonni.
Nonni. Yes you sure are.
E: (laughs) I’m jus betending I’m a speacher.

Qualifying note from me (Anne): The child, in general, gains an understanding of death between ages 4 and 5, which puts E exactly on target. This is why, in Catechesis, some key parables that are presented are the Grain of Wheat and The Good Shepherd (who lays down his life for the sheep).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More from the Home Front

Well, we've all helpfully gotten sick, since Matt is gone. Actually grateful he left in time to escape it or he would be having a miserable week.

Baby is unhappy and looking at us like its our fault, his nose running and his eyes red. Emma insists she is not sick AND, may the Lord be praised, comes home every day from school to write letters on the board (we have a chalk board in the living room, just in case) and tell us what they are. Aedan finally ate his broccoli this morning and then had a banana and some mango cobbler and a cookie and a number of other things. Decided to forgo the broccoli battle this evening and we all had pancakes. Just seemed like the necessary thing in the middle of a cold and the disintegration of the World Wide Anglican Communion.

I've been hitting refresh at Stand Firm and calling Matt trying to get him to tell me stuff. But so far there hasn't been anything to tell. What's the point of being married to someone THERE if you can't get news a few minutes earlier? I imagine they must be frustrated, trying to track down bishops and news and having everything be so managed. Just speculating, though, don't have any inside information At ALL.

Finally stopped hitting refresh and climbed into the attic to seek out baby clothes. Was able to find most all of E's beautiful pristine baby dresses, except the very smallest size, which is what I was looking for, along with a large ugly grey woolen pregnant dress which, unfortunately, I will probably have time to wear before giving birth.

I am surprised by one thing. I'm probably about 3 weeks out from having this baby, and for the first time out of four, I'm not impatient at all. This is not the right moment for a baby, and I'm basically sure I will know the right moment. This is a curious experience for me. All the other times, six weeks out I just wanted the sucker out (I'm not a very tall person, six weeks out there's usually just no more room). This time, I feel pretty good. I'm horribly uncomfortable and large and my feet are swollen, but for whatever reason, I'm also perfectly content. I don't want this baby to arrive before its supposed to. I don't want to rush anything. I am basically happy to keep plugging along until everything is in order.

I wish I could transfer this new calm to my feelings about the Communion and the Church and all that is going on in these coming days. If God is really in charge, which he is, than everything will happen as its supposed to. Its so easy to write that down and so ridiculously impossible to believe it. However, I am trying. We (my mother, me, my kids) have stopped and prayed several times today that God's will will be done.

This morning we also read about Cain and Abel (I have been trying to read about Jesus, but Emma has been wanting to hear about Adam and Eve, so we continued on from yesterday's disastrous events in the Garden of Eden).
'Why didn't Cain bring what God wanted him to?' E wanted to know.
'I'm not sure' I said, 'I think he probably didn't stop to find out what God wanted. But what could Cain have done, when God wasn't happy with his gift, instead of killing his brother?'
'Well,' said E,'He could have brought something else. If Jesus wants to borrow my bunny, I will lend it to him.'
'That's very nice,' said Nonni (my mother), 'I'm glad to hear you'd be willing to share your bunny'.
'Time to go to school,' I said.

And now, its time for me to stop hitting refresh and go to bed. It will all still be here in the morning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Home Front

Matt got off safely this morning, and arrived safely mid afternoon, in New Orleans, despite my usual horrifying night before dreams about air travel and whether or not it is really safe. I've spoken to him sternly three times already about the lack of news so far. I have been reading various threads all day but am longing to hear something real rather than speculative.

My mom and I are doing our best to hold things together here. We discovered, today, that a household really needs a man. All the children are in out and out rebellion, testing everything to see if the rules still apply.

After having eaten broccoli without any fuss many times before, this evening, faced with ONE small broccoli tree each, they gagged and whined and wanted to go to the bathroom, and fussed and then A finally decided to have his for breakfast. It was perfectly ridiculous. Hopefully, having won tonight, tomorrow will be a bright new and happy day.

So, we are hitting refresh at Stand Firm but will probably go to bed early and try to regain some sanity.

Oh, and Matt, I walked Maggie AND brushed her, and gave her her pill and patted her, and she still is looking at me like I am a Bad Thing. Also, I couldn't get her leash/collar off. I had to loosen it and pull it over her head. Does it always jam so badly? I hope you will have plenty of interesting news up in the morning.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Catechesis and its Arrangements Generally

Yesterday was the official launch of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the year. As usual I'm running desperately to keep up. For those of you who aren't doing a lot with children or aren't doing this program, the two posts below will not be that interesting. Right at this moment I'm trying to put my albums back together. I picked them up and ALL my pages fell out and got mixed up, so now I have to piece them all laboriously back together. Then I'm hoping to set out a good solid plan for the fall so that if I should, horrors, give birth over a weekend and miss a Sunday, someone will be able to fill in.

I miss the atrium over the summer. It was very restful and rejuvinating to be back into that life. I look forward to a fruitful and interesting year with all the kids

Catechesis and its Arrangments Two

This is the prayer table and Level Two area. I'm still filling in a lot of materials, but there's a lot of room to put things, so as I get them I'll have a place to put them. We ended up doing prayer together between the two groups this Sunday which didn't work that well, so that part is going to need some tweaking. As you can see, I have yet to put together my Blue Strip, so I have some serious work ahead of me.

This is a sort of shared bookshelf supply area that is shared.

This space is reserved for my older/junior high class. Techincally this ought to be Level Three, although they're a touch too old. But I haven't been trained yet and so essentially I'm doing an Old Testament survey. I only have girls in this group, so far, and they love to paint and make books, so they have each had to pick a person from the OT (they all picked women) to do a project on (make a book, sculpt something, do a box like they did over the summer etc). They will have half the class to work, and the other half we will cover some event or person, hopefully hitting all the main highlights over the course of the year. My class has no knowledge of the Bible and wasn't in Catechesis that long, so I'm basically starting from scratch. At Christmas and Easter we will take a break and cover those major events. Plus, I'll probably have them do some of the timeline work that Level Two will be doing, since they haven't had it.

Here is our plant/practical life area.

Catechesis and its Arrangements One

Here, as promised, are pictures of my atriums. This is the Level One Atrium. I used to have my Level Two in this room. We had a minimal amount of materials and mostly borrowed from Level One and also shared work space with them. But now I am doing two groups in the larger space, so the little ones are in this tiny postage stamp room. However, it has a lot of light and is very serene. Pictures of Level Two will be in another post above.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Counting Things Out

One Vat Peanut Sauce for supper
(one jar creamy no addatives peanut butter,
one package chicken,
5 fresh tomatoes,
3 inches tomato paste,
1 inch fresh grated ginger,
one large onion,
2 cloves garlic,
1 tub home made stock,
simmered together for an hour, plus rice)

Seven chocolate covered strawberries

One crying boy not wanting to share the final banana (I wanted the whole banana. I wanted the last bite. I don't E to have any banana-at least he's perfectly honest.)

One wiggly girl twirling and making up poems-long, long, long complicated poems.

One frustrated baby, unable to leave the computers alone, even knowing he will constantly be in trouble, weeping, smacking the keyboard-a poignant and desperate picture of the compulsive sin nature we all fight against, or should be.

One Micah
One Great Aunt Katherine
One blogging husband
One organized and energetic mother
Five computers (4 laptops)
Three large hot cats
One dog
Bed, there will I be, if you need anything.

as one too tired to blog, and yet, I keep blogging

Have got to have some kind of morning nap.

A is sticking letter stickers on Percival, the Knight in Shining Armour (Veritas Press' Phonics Museum). We just read the story, the Museum Quest and A was far less interested in the letters than who Percival was prepared to fight and when his horse would appear. He also really desperately wants a cookie. He can't believe that I'm not passing out cookies before 10am, my internal decision that the breakfast hour is officially over. He still has an hour to wait. Its been hard for him, the last few days, without E. The baby takes long naps and so he has to just be with me.

I still have to finish up these cupboards, do the bulletin and make up a bed for my Beloved Great Aunt Katherine who is coming to spend the weekend. My mother is actually going to drive down to NJ to get her and bring her back.

I need to pull myself away from the computer, but I'm obsessively checking Stand Firm and T19. Matt has gone into the Tunnel of News before any big event (that Big Event being the House of Bishops Meeting next week in New Orleans, for those of you who aren't following Anglican Communion News). Every now and then I'll get an IM from him asking if I've read such and such, which, of course, usually I haven't. So now that I'm here, planted in front of this machine, I'm loath to get up and walk away for fear of missing something. Matt and I don't usually speak to each other when something big is on the horizon. We IM and email mostly. And then Sunday afternoons we have a talking binge after church.

Anyway, enough blogging. A is weeping that the letter stickers are hurting him. I don't know how on earth such a thing would be possible. But if there's a way to be hurt by something, A will be the one to find it. Yesterday I caught Baby (I really need to start calling him R) smacking A and taking his toys. A was weeping instead of defending himself. This surprised me, given that A is twice the size of R. But what do I know. So many find babies intimidating and scary, I guess A falls into that category. Maybe I should send R to New Orleans with Matt. I'm sure a punch and a bite from him will show KJS and the ABC how things ought to be . Honestly, someone stop me, this could go on for hours!