Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolving: A post for the new year

The weather says, "occasional scattered snow, accumulation around an inch". They must be having a funny little joke together at Binghamton weather underground because its not scattering, its falling heavily out of the sky and its accumulating a lot more than an inch. I could go on from here and make this post about how much I hate the weather and how I intend that to be the defining essence of myself in the new year, but you would probably all stop reading.

We (Matt and me) are currently working (or should it be Matt and I? oh dear) are currently working through a great grand Thank You post for Stand Firm relentlessly detailing the blessings of God and the overwhelming generosity of Stand Firm readers over this year. On pain of repeating any of that, I would rather, as I watch this wretched snow, sort through what I've learned and what I hope to do, starting tomorrow.

God is Good

I know this might come as a surprise to some of you. It certainly constantly surprises me. Matt and I joked when we got married and God clearly called us to Binghamton, NY, a place of which we knew nothing except that in April it can still be really cold, that we had been put on the 'Death and Suffering Plan'. Christians, the joke goes, can be on the 'Happiness and Joy Plan' or the 'Death and Suffering Plan' and it was clear from the weather alone which was to be our lot. This year showed the joke was on us. To go from a house overwhelmed with stuff with a funny lay out and a yard that eluded us, a church that was lovely but too small, not enough parking, bad insulation, leaks all over, no possibility of expansion to, well, the happiness an joy plan has completely blown apart my understanding of the goodness and priorities of God. Turns out he does want people to come to church, and he does love Anglican music (sometimes) and he does think a functioning home and church space is important. How do I know this? Because he's done all that this year.

Babies are always a good idea

I knew this already but I don't think anyone believed me. It may shock many of you but Marigold is a premeditated baby. Shortly after moving here it became very clear that the best way to settle in to a new house and leave behind the grief of leaving the place where all four of our babies had been born, was to have another baby. And we've been proven right. The month of her birth was, at least for me, a turning point in gratitude and grief.

Too much stuff is bad
I don't think this needs too much elaboration. Getting rid of half our worldly goods in the summer was almost as exciting and wonderful as having a new baby. (I'm only slightly joking.)

So, I really only have like 5 or 6 resolutions for the new year. I don't want to over do it.
1. Keep on top of the stuff. We don't have too much and I'd like to keep it that way.
2. Read the Bible straight through.
3. Take reasonable exercise and eat moderately.
4. Move in slow motion. With this many children, the moment I start running in a panic everything seems to come apart. The last week or so I've been trying to clean and cook with deliberate very slow movements. I think I get more done the slower I move because, as a very wise person once said, "those who don't think with their heads, run with their feet". The slower you move, the more time you have to think. This will also be my homeschooling policy in the new year. Instead of shouting "Hurry Up and finish your math so that we can do something else" I'm going to say quietly "Huuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy uppppppppppppppppppppppppp aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnddd" just kidding.
5. I'm going to read the Lord of the Rings. I've never read it, due to fear, so I'm going to suck it up and read it during the day so that I'll be able to sleep at night. I have a serious problem with nightmares.
6. Convince Matt to let us have a lot more pets.

That's it.
OHHH wait.
and 7. Stay on top of taking and sending pictures. I'm going to actually plan it into my daily life instead of just hoping it will happen when I get a "free moment" as if any such thing exists.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Sermon from Sunday: Galatians 4:4

Just about to start getting ready to take 3 kids for their well baby's. They are still so sick with this wretched cold I imagine we'll have to shortly go back for the shots they're supposed to have today. Sigh. Anyway, here's my sermon from Sunday. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poor neglected tiny blog

May the Almighty be thanked that Christmas is finally over. I have to go to the dentist today so Not Only will I be posting fabulous Christmas pictures But Also, you'll be so thrilled, I have another dentist installment, this time from my mother. And, not surprisingly, I've been thinking a lot about 2009 and considering hopes for 2010.

Anyway, here is what everyone is doing (without pictures).
ss I write this, is sitting on the large lou and singing loudly. She sits there a lot, happily and of her own free will singing and shouting. Santa brought her underwear for Christmas and she's learning 1. how to put it on, which is more complicated than you would think and 2. when to wear it, which is more complicated than you would think. Also, on Christmas day we noticed that she is still using a bottle (I know, she's two, how did this escape my notice?). When a child can say, "I don't want that sippy cup. I want a bottle. I'm not too big for a bottle with my nap" the child is obviously too big to have a bottle with her nap.

is getting to be enormous. I tried to feed her in the middle of the night (because that's what you do with new babies) and she had a temper tantrum. Eating at 3 am is apparently not in her plans. Also, her cry strangely resembles the whining of all the other children. I know she can't be whining because she's too young, but it sounds like a fairly sophisticated whine.

has had a rich and bubbly cold for a whole week and a half. He runs around, covered in snot, shouting "For Narnina and for ever!" I didn't miss spell 'Narnina', that's how he really says it. He alternates between playing wildly and then falling asleep on the floor, sword in hand.

has escaped all the illness. He was Herodian Guard in the Christmas Pageant and wore a bow-tie under his breastplate. He leaned lazily over Herod's chair and gazed at the wise men in boredom and conceit. It was fabulous. He has gone from chocolate to chocolate, tracing paper to knight, vast plate of Christmas dinner to capacious cinnamon roll, strength, in other words, to strength.

has seemed to move entirely away from all the playing with her brothers. She spent much of the week holding her new beloved Laura Ingels Wilder cloth doll and reading her four new Laura books. I went into the living room this morning and found her alone, perched over the heating vent, reading to her doll. When attacked by a sword wielding brother she looks on disdainfully or comes to tattle.

I'm hoping everyone will come with me to the dentist. I hate so much to go at all, never mind alone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh and

a really good article by Matt on the Anglican Covenant.

Lessons and Carols

Don't forget to listen to the BBC broadcast of Lesson's and Carols today, 10am Eastern on your NPR channel or 11pm Eastern.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Carol for the Day

No time to blog. Here's a little something instead.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend in Review: Christmas Pageant Edition

First, go read this, which is not related to the pageant but is good for you and then come back.

I've been considering to myself over the last few weeks What it is about the Christmas Pageant. Or to put it another way, What is it about the Christmas Pageant? Why do I get so geared up and run around with so much energy this time of yea?. When you mention the word 'shopping' I get all tired and procrastinating and whiny. When I having something to do on the pageant I leap up to do the next thing and make the next list and am not only On time to everything but even sometimes early. Those of you who know me personally will attest that the five Sunday's of pageant preparation I have trouble making good eye-contact and finishing sentences. I'm always scanning the church horizon for errant children or people trying to escape and not be involved.

I haven't really come up with any decent answers. All liturgy is interesting to me, but the Pageant, I don't know, its just so exciting.

This year, and I do probably say this every year, is particularly wonderful. My Mary is four or five inches taller than Joseph (which is just Fabulous). She has serious backbone and intensity and I think the congregation will be enthralled. My chief shepherd is small and his manner is tinged with belligerent wonder. 'Let us go Now' he says scowling, 'even unto Bethlehem and see This Thing which has come to pass.' Herod is equally captivating. He leans forward, points his finger and shouts, 'Go and search diligently for the child.'

The choir will sing 247 in the Episcopal Hymnal, the Magnificat (if I had a hymnal on me I would tell you more about it), Luly Lulay, and in the Bleak Midwinter among other things. In short, the music should be wonderful.

to be continued as everybody is crying...would that their crying sounded like this...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Remains of the Day or Left Over Pictures

Here I am reading a Bible Story to the children in the evening. Matt has determined that we will read the whole Bible, not just a children's version, hard as it will be. I believe, in this story, I was struggling through the genealogy that comes right before the tower of Babel. You have to read the genealogy or Babel doesn't make comprehensive sense. This week we are taking a break and the children are watching a Moses movie in the evenings as a special treat. After Christmas we'll pick back up where we left off in Genesis. Check back in a few years and maybe we will have gotten to Deuteronomy.  
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Here Elphine and Alouicious are drinking tea on my mother's bed in the morning. You can see the array of what they have been reading and yes, that is a tea cozy on Elphine's head.  
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Here you can see that Gladys has laboriously and diligently carried a small doll chair down from her room, heaved it onto my bed and is sitting with the rest watching something or other online.  
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This project was made more difficult by the fact that I twice caught her taking this chair downstairs out of her room and made her take it back up. So she had to wait, apparently, until I was not looking before she could get it all the way down onto the bed. I took this picture before making her take it back upstairs again.

This, I think, speaks for itself.  
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And this is one of my all time favorite pictures ever.  
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See you on the other side of Sunday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

In the jungle?

A few weeks ago we received these super fabulous masks in the mail.

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The animal print wasn't plan. She was wearing it when the package arrived.
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So now this is their favorite youtube clip.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Knights at Table

I hope all those of you who are always complaining about the lack of pictures have taken note of the last few days. You know who you are.

Today's picture is classically representative of the way life is lived at our house. My boys are basically Always in Knight Costume. Every now and then they take a break to be spider man, but most all the time its knights--knights for breakfast, lunch, supper, school and play. Generally Alouicious stands on a chair during school hours, waving an imaginary sword and basically doing whatever he's told. He takes breaks to sit down and draw or write.

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The girls are not so fanatical. They take breaks to dress up but generally wear whatever they've picked out for the whole course of the day. Its one reason I'm really enjoying homeschooling. If Elphine wants to wear her favorite sun dress for the day, even though its frigid outside, she can. If it helps her think then I'm delighted.

On a completely different note, for those of you who wonder at my deep abiding hatred for oatmeal, I would draw your attention to this excellent description of an average morning at my boarding school.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Modern Man Wears His Baby

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This sling is the easiest and most comfortable thing for a baby of this size. When she gets a little bigger I have a clever way of tying her on my back. Anyway, this sling is SO WONDERFUL I don't ever mess with the horrible car seat any more--through the grocery store, in church, on a walk (like I would walk in this frigid weather), sitting at dinner, actually cooking get the idea. It was $30 at Target (thank you Very Much A and S).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Picture

Here was my Thanksgiving Table, all those weeks ago.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

A taxing day of worship and study

You can see the poor child has been trying to read the Story of the World vol. 1. No wonder he's exhausted. Also, he screamed for half an hour after church because he was told he was going to be a sheep in the Pageant and his brother was going to be a Herodian guard. Turns out they are now both going to be Herodian guards for a total of three guards and one less sheep. The baby, naturally, is exhausted from sleeping comfortably in various peoples' arms all morning and looking peaceful and angelic.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009


Here are my persimmons, ripening to be made into pudding for Christmas.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why I Love Sleeping in the Office

Matt wouldn't agree, when we moved here, to let the guest room be the guest room. "No" he said, "It has to be an office. We don't need a guest room."

Well, it turns out we Very Much Do need a guest room, not least because his beloved parents will be arriving Christmas Eve and they need a nice place to sleep. (And It Is nice because my mother spent considerable time fluffing it up.) And we didn't want to loose access to the office by combining it with a guest room.

The compromise was to move out of the proper "Master Bedroom" upstairs and live in the office downstairs off the kitchen. The arrangement is ideal, and I'm not be remotely sarcastic. Our antique old medal bed frame is slotted between his computer and mine. Our clothes are in a cupboard in the garage. The babies clothes are under the bed. The cradle is comfortably along the wall. And I have constructed a clever little device to hold books and my laptop. Like all smaller spaces, we are becoming more efficient and organized in its use every day. Its well nigh my second favorite looking room in the house (after the dining room, which, if you saw it, you would agree takes the prize).

But probably the best part is being able to hear whats going on in the kitchen while lying in bed. I can be here, on this wretchedly cold morning, under several heavy layers, and still tell everybody what to do. "Don't clink the glasses together!" "Sit back on the potty!" "Please go get dressed and make your bed!" "Go play in the basement!" and everybody can hear and obey because I'm so centrally located.

And that's why I love sleeping in the office.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

For your Wednesday Snow Day Viewing Enjoyment

I'm fending off children who think I should get out of bed and look at the piles of snow outside. I wonder if we could make a project like this count as school. I could watch this guy all day long.

And then there's this

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Weekend in Review

We've spent, on the one hand, a very quietly subdued weekend, and on the other, a completely crazy one. Halfway through it occurred to me that there's an Appalling lack of sunlight. Being in total darkness at 5pm severely shortens the window of opportunity for doing actual work. As the sun goes down, so does my energy.

Friday, after leaving my mom off at the airport, we sat around in a kind of stupor, wondering what to do next. In the absence of any purpose in life Matt and I both separately put in loads of laundry and ran the dishwasher. And the children basically wandered around in a fog, arguing with each other and getting their feelings hurt. I was meant to go acquire all the accouterments required for a decent celebration of St. Nicholas, but I couldn't gather up the gumption to go which meant a crazier and more rushed Saturday.

When I finally did make it to the store, I was sorely bewildered by the number of people until I remembered why we do our weekly shopping on Monday and not Saturday--the Whole of Binghamton does their weekly shopping on Saturday. I stuck manically to my list so as not to be confused: turnips, carrots, oranges, clementines (for church), chocolate coins (for church), chocolate Santas (because I don't have time to mold my own chocolate bishop St. Nicholas'), a small fair even toy that in Some Way approximates the fancy expensive Russian Nesting dolls provided for Elphine by my mother. Turns out, there is Nothing that approximates fancy Russian Nesting Dolls. Wandered around and around trying to make a decision. I finally settled on plugs, as in pacifiers, for the baby, a little motorcycle for Romulus, chap stick for Gladys, and expensive pens and a notebook for Alouicious who is always trying to take mine.

Fretted for the rest of the day about whether or not I had blown it.

St. Nicholas Day
But really, I didn't blow it. Gladys loves chap stick and chocolate. Romulus loves motorcycles and chocolate. Alouicious loves to draw and eat chocolate. And Elphine loves Fancy Russian Nesting Dolls so much she actually forgot to eat her chocolate. She named the dolls, from biggest to smallest, Carolina, Sarah, Melissa, Mary and Rahab.

The joy and excitement continued in church. St. Nicholas actually came to visit, passing out gold coins and clementines which just happened to be in a large basket in the sacristy. All the children put out their hands as if receiving communion.

The Nutcracker

My final task of the day, after Christmas Pageant Practice, was to muscle Matt, Elphine and Alouicious into the car to go off and see the Nutcracker. I was just sure that Matt would not be able to get away from church before 2pm. I played it over and over in my head all weekend and as a result probably came across as hysterical and out of control. "Its 1:30! You need to leave Right Now! Here's your money! Here's your coat! Here are your children! Go go go go go!"

Matt gazed at me compassionately and buckled the children in, turned the car on, pulled out of the drive and then pulled back in and came back into the house.
"Where is it?" he asked.
"The Forum" I screamed wildly. "Its at the Forum!"
"Where is that?" He asked.
"You told me you know where everything is!"

Two hours later they all came back rosy, tired and basically happy.

Odds and Ends

Of course it snowed on Saturday. My mother knew it would.
"It will snow" she said as we drove up to Syracuse to the airport, "on Saturday. And the snow will stay on the ground until December 23rd. Then," she went on bitterly, "you will have a heat wave and all the snow will melt. Matt's parents will arrive December 24 and be completely disappointed by the lack of snow. You will continue snowless until they leave and then there will be a big storm and you will be covered in snow for the rest of the winter."

We had so much snow on Saturday that the children were able to go out and make a snow man. They also completely lost their wits, possibly with excitement, and began to remove their coats, hats and mittens. It only took the threat of coming in again for them to put them all on again.

And finally, Gladys seems to have decided to use the potty. When I say 'seems' I mean that she removes her diaper, announces that she will use the potty, sits on it for 30 seconds and then wanders off naked into the house to cause mayhem and havoc. Having not known how to potty train Romulus, I now do not know how to train Gladys for the simple reason that she's a completely different person. On the other hand, maybe she'll just figure it out herself.

And now, instead of uploading pictures which I know you all long to see, we're going to mash ourselves into the car and go buy food, because hopefully the rest of Binghamton is at work, not at the store, leaving the aisles free and clear.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

And so the days ran swiftly by

My mother leaves tomorrow to return to her home in Nairobi. I'm hoping that you all will pray and pray and pray for her safe travel. She has become an essential and necessary part of our household over the last two months and we are all staring blankly into the future wondering what life will be like in her absence.

For example, every morning she lets my two eldest get in bed with her, makes them tea and shows them youtube clips of interesting stuff on her computer. Who, I ask myself, will do this starting Saturday? Matt brings me tea in the morning and I have serious doubts about whether he can be persuaded to do it for his children.

This is just one small thing. I could go on and on about laundry and salad and table manners and the use of serviettes at dinner and flowers on the altar when none were previously arranged for and, probably most of all, the organ on Sunday morning. Its been a long while since we've had organ music during the service and I'm going to miss it a whole lot.

So I hope you'll pray, for her safe travel, obviously, but also that I won't loose my mind when she's gone.
Here's her garden, waiting for her.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning Haze

In honor of the fact that I will now often be going to the dentist, I am treating you all to first in a series called Going to the Dentist. Essentially, I'll be giving you installments of Mrs. Miniver "At the Dentist's"
Here is the first bit and it really perfectly describes my experience this morning.
"For really it was the refinement of civilized cruelty, this spick, span, and ingenious affair of shining leather and gleaming steel, which hoisted you and tilted you and fitted reassuringly into the small of your back and cupped your head tenderly between padded cushions. It ensured for you a more complete muscular relaxation than any armchair that you could buy for your own home; but it left your tormented nerves without even the solace of a counter-irritant. In the old days the victim's attention had at least been distracted by an ache in the back, a crick in the neck, pins and needles in the legs, and the uneasy tickling of plush under the palm. But now, too efficiently suspended between heaven and earth, you were at liberty to concentrate on hell."

And now, having gotten that off my mind, I'm going to dress all five children and muscle them into the car so we can All go to Marigold's one month well baby and then to the store. Why, you may ask, are you taking five children? Because Matt has to be somewhere else at the same time, some nice place where no children are allowed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I forgot! I forgot! But go, right this moment and check out...

this year's Advent Carnival hosted at Ten O'clock Scholar.

I meant to write something this year, but I'm still not in any kind of blogging routine and I just kept forgetting. And also, everyone has had a cold this week. Matt is the last to fall (although I continue to be unexpectedly healthy, how weird is that).

Anyway, go read all the great articles and enjoy yourself. I had a little girl in Sunday School this morning who had never really heard anything about Jesus and who was very interested. She and her friend both signed up to be angels in the Christmas Pageant. Such an encouraging start to one of my favorite seasons.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

an Advent thought

Better Than at thy Beginnings
"The son said, Forgive me, my Father, but sometimes I wonder if even in the Other Life there will be that for which my heart longeth.
His Father said, In My Presence is fulleness of joy; can fullness be less than full? At My right hand there are pleasures for evermore; can pleasures be less than delight? Dear child of My love, trust My love, Would I leave one longing unsatisfied? Thou dost not know thy Father if though thinkest that I would. Thou shalt be satisfied with the plenteousness of My House; I will give thee to drink of My pleasures as out of a river. Dost thou think that nothing could ever be as beautiful as once it was? Turn thine eyes from thy beautiful beginnings--I will do better unto thee than at thy beginnings."

Amy Charmicheal
His Thoughts Said...His Father Said...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

my preach moment from last night's thanksgiving service

Providentially, I had hoped, I and so many of my small children went to see some little piglets this morning. I say ‘hoped’ because I thought for sure some amazing insight would rise up out of the pig pen about Jesus sending the legion of demons in to the pigs and them casting themselves in to the sea.

Unfortunately, no insight presented itself At All. Instead, muscling my kids back into the car, arguing with them about whether I or whether they would buckle themselves into their gargantuan seats, struggling to get them all out of the car and into the house without loosing shoes and sweaters and bits of bagel, a different word from this text hit me between the eyes--the word ‘go’. Verse 18, As he, that is Jesus, was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And Jesus did not permit him but said to him, “Go”… “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you.”

Which is exactly what I want to do, for just one minute, is tell you how much God has done and how he has had mercy on us.

Last Thanksgiving the Southside Ecumenical Council Thanksgiving Service was at St. Andrew’s Catholic on Conklin Ave. which is now my spiritual and physical home. Earlier that morning, a year ago, as I sat down with my boatload of children, they had all prayed and prayed that we would not have to leave our warm comfortable home on Kendall Ave. They prayed for our old bishop, that he would change his mind about suing us and so forth. And none of their prayers, in my mind, were answered.

The opposite of what they asked for came to be. In January, on a bitterly cold day, amazingly hard working and gracious people from Good Shepherd and from the Shepherd’s Bowl came and helped move us out of that house and into the very comfortable home we know inhabit on Conklin Ave.

The line from one of the prayers in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has come to my mind over and over these last few months--grant us those things which we dare not, or in our blindness can not ask. In other words, though we may not have been demon possessed, though we may not have been out of our minds and unable to be controlled, we, at Good Shepherd, me around my table with my children, were blind--to the future, to God’s ultimate purpose, to even know what it was that we needed to ask. We prayed for what we thought we wanted.

But God had mercy. He was gracious, abounding in steadfast love showering his grace and mercy so much that we could not even hold it all. Not only did he not answer our prayers prayed in blindness, in his mercy he showed us his good will and pleasure. He showed us that he has plans for us, he made provision for us, he held us in his hand step by step, he manifested his glory and his grace and victory over sin, he used you all of the Southside to encourage, strengthen and provide for us. He had mercy.

Now the prayers of my little ones have changed. Every now and then they remember to pray for our old bishop. But mostly they pray out of gratitude for the beauty in which we live. They pray for those who don’t have enough, for food and water especially, and very often for a ‘good time’. And Romulus, who for months asked every day when we were going to go home, now says ‘here we are in my pretty house’ at least once a day.

Go, this Thanksgiving, tell your friends and family and everybody you happen upon what God has done and how he has had mercy on you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Much like going on holiday or other life changing events, having a baby really throws a spanner in my blogging and prayer life. Its not that everything suddenly falls out of control, but any break in routine causes these two parts of my life to fly out the window. In this case, waking up twice at night to feed the baby has meant that I am not leaping up with the dawn to pray and blog. Rather, I am buried under a pile of blankets and children running through the day to come in my head. And somehow, if I don't get to it right off, I never return to it during the day. Except right now.

But lots of other things have been happening. Here are some of them.

Going to the Dentist
I haven't been the dentist in a while.
As a child, whenever we were near a dentist, as far as I could tell, I had to spend a lot of time being shouted at in French while what seemed like All of my teeth were filled.
"Ouvre la bouche!!!" the dentist would shout (that means OPEN YOUR MOUTH)
Actually this only happened for one week in Belgium when I was six. But every dentist after was really just an extension of that first dentist.

And then there's the fact that I have a Huge gag reflex. I remember as yesterday throwing up on a dentist in Oregon--a foolish man who, when informed by me that he was about to be thrown upon, said 'no you won't' only to find that in fact I could and did.

So this time, having been drug by Matt (ON MY Day Off no less) to a bright cheerful sparkling clean Teeth Factory, I apologized loudly and right away for gagging. 'I'm so sorry' I said over and over as the poor hygienist tried to get an X Ray and I gagged again and again. Finally she gave up and took me into a fancy room with a machine that took pictures from the outside. 'I'm so sorry' I said as she led me back to the waiting room.

Needless to say, I'll be going back to the dentist fairly often for the next little while. Each time I will think of Mrs. Miniver lying back in that perfectly comfortable chair, designed to extract the worst kind of torture, so comfortable that nothing will distract you from what's going on in your mouth. Next time I go, I'll have found the book and I'll be able to tell you all about it.
In the meantime, I leave you with this.

Classical Conversations

We finished our first 12 weeks!! I'm really enjoying my class this year. I might not have mentioned it before but I'm the tutor for the 4s and 5s or Abecedarians as they are called in CC. I have a class of five boys and one girl. One of the boys is mine and he's made real progress this year, especially from last year.

You'd probably think, as I initially did, that spending a morning once a week with 6 little kids trying to do a science experiment, play the tin whistle, learn Latin Noun Declensions one by one and hear a presentation from each child on the topic of the day would be a completely ghastly experience. But you'd be So Wrong. Aside from Sunday, Wednesday mornings are my favorite. I particularly enjoyed this week's presentation time. The topic was of their own choosing and after hearing 3 little boys talk about movie characters they love, the one girl got up with a doll dressed as a flower. The boys could not understand the meaning of this doll.
'How did she get to be dressed as a flower?' one of them asked.
'Well, what movie is she in?' asked another.
No answers were forthcoming to these questions. I mean, really, why wouldn't she be dressed as a flower is a better question.

Nursing the Baby
As expected, its going much better. As I said before, this baby is my best eater. She gained a pound in two weeks (AMAZING) and looks, let's be perfectly honest, pudgy. And, now that we're heading into week four, its not Nearly so painful.

Alouicious came and shouted to me this morning, as I was trying to brush my teeth, 'Are there any tiny riding men?' or it may have been 'writing men'. Either way the question was incomprehensible to me.
'What?' I said.
'Are there any tiny riding men?'
'I don't know' I said helplessly. 'I have No Idea.'

We were charmed and delighted to have some family visit last week from far away places like Oregon and New Jersey. It made me quite homesick for an Oregon winter and for all the lovely and sensible people who live out there.

The Christmas Pageant
I'm immersed in it. I've been tweaking and tweaking the script and music and cast list. Its going to be the Best Ever. I hope everyone will come see it.

An ordered and Peaceful Life
It feels to me, in a vague and undefinable way, that we are shedding the stress and crises of the last 8 years. I had feared that having lived for so long, our whole marriage in fact, in a church in turmoil that we wouldn't know how to live without it when it came time.

Such appears not to be the case. A growing and vibrant church, while fraught on many days, and certainly full of the many small dramas that make life interesting, is not necessarily crisis driven. The growth, order and generalized peace of the church is very much present in our home. Even as we head into a stressful time of year we are by no means over stretched and running in too many directions.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday Morning Haze or Works for Me not just Wednesday but Every Day

I haven't completely fallen off the internet earth. I've actually been reading and reading politics online for a week and a half in morbid fascination. But I haven't had anything particular to say due to feeling basically very under the weather (me and Gladys, so far everyone else seems robustly healthy).

Also, the baby is eating A Lot. She gained 1/2 a pound in the first nine days which may not seem like much to any of you, but has never happened to any of my babies in all my recollection. In fact, since the moment of starting to write this post, I have had to stop three times to feed her.

But I thought, in view of keeping track for my own self of how the time is passing, to make a short list of things that are working right now, in a household of 5 children.

What's Working
1. Having Nonni (that's my mom) here through Thanksgiving is SO WONDERFUL. Not only has she kept the ball rolling on school while I've had this baby, she's teaching the two oldest to play the piano, keeping the laundry going in order, beauty and peace, and been playing the organ at church. If she weren't here, we would have devolved into chaos and hysteria. (The above list was in no way exhaustive.)
2. Clinging desperately to the CC Memory Work for school and letting all the extras fall by the wayside. In so doing we have kept up with At Least One Thing that becomes impossible to recover if you fall behind, and has provided some structure and normalcy. We are basically back on track already with a school routine and adding everything else back in.
3. Potty Training Romulus. He's FINALLY getting it. In my own mind I thought it would be so much less complicated to do this Before the baby was born, but it didn't happen. And now, frankly, we're all more relaxed and tired and its happening more easily.
4. Nursing is working, basically. I say this, as always, with pained reservations. I've read every possible website about pain in nursing being a sign that you're doing it wrong. In other words, if you're doing it right, it won't hurt. The only thing that comes to my mind when I read this is profanity so I won't even go there. Nursing this baby (and all my other babies) hurts, very very very much, AND I do have a correct latch. I have worked on it diligently and unrelentingly and I know I'm doing it right. Actually, two weeks in, its starting to be bearable. But you cannot convince me that nursing a baby is in any way 'natural' except in the way that a sin nature is 'natural'. That I would, by the exercising of my will over my body, repeatedly (as in many many times a day and all through the night) put what amounts to a steel trap onto a very vulnerable part of my body is not 'natural' its miraculous. However, from Marigold's perspective, it is working very well. She is the first baby to latch on and eat everything in sight without unlatching repeatedly and gasping in large amounts of air. And because she's so good at it, she barely cries, sleeps well and is gaining lots of weight. For that I am very grateful.
5. The house is functioning very well. Matt, in the days before the baby was born, cleaned the entire garage out and parked the cars IN IT (A Huge Job) and unpacked so much of the basement that the children are able to play down there as loudly and as volitally as they like. To have this done before the first frost is amazing and I didn't think it would be possible. So, less than one year in to living in this house, with a new baby in hand and a seemingly endless number of funerals and weddings, we are moved in, for real.
6. Our routine seems to be working pretty well. See above to the presence of my mother as the reason for this. I've been able to concentrate on nursing and school and take it slow like a sloth. A baby at 33 is SO different from a baby at 25. I'm so grateful to have the time to recover.
7. The amazing and lovely Nursing Apron from Matt's mom and sister. I wish I had this 4 babies ago. If you are looking for something nice for someone nursing, This is the thing.

That's the short list. I am inspired, due to a lovely commenter, to post something soon about what we've been eating. I've been eating everything in sight trying to keep up with this baby. In the meantime, Thank You for all the comments and well wishes and prayers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Baby Edition

This baby just slept through the night so I'm surprisingly awake at this time of the morning. I know this won't happen again for many many many many days but I'm really grateful just this moment.
In two weeks we will have had two funerals. The down side of this is that its really sad and awful. The upside is that my house is full of beautiful white funeral flowers that my mother and I have been coaxing along and hoping to put on the altar for All Saints. There's something sort of bittersweet about bringing a baby into a house full of funeral flowers.
We've temporarily solved the trouble of Halloween being the same day as Reformation Day. Last night, as a means of welcoming home this lovely new baby (who shares, by the way, a birthday with my dear cousin, Erasmus And John Cleese) we carved a pumpkin and ate Reformation sausages cooked in beer. Said Matt to the children, "Do you know why we're cleaning out this pumpkin?"
"No!" they all shouted.
"Because," he said, "on this day Martin Luther began the Reformation whereby all the gunk was cleaned out from the church."
So Saturday we will go trick or treating without feeling like we're missing the Reformation and later we'll invite friends over (hopefully) for fondue to celebrate John Calvin. And I need to seriously think of some food for the English Reformation. hmmm.
Continuing vaguely with the subject of Halloween, Elphine, this year, has determined to dress up as Queen Victoria. This is a direct result of Classical Conversations Week 9 History Sentence which begins 'During the age of Imperialism...' and was So catchy that my mother and I discovered ourselves both to be reading Kim in the hospital while I was in labor. The whole week has been taken up with volleys of emails between me, Matt and my mom comprising pictures and information of Queen Victoria and debates about whether Elphine should go as a Young Victoria, or Old Victoria or a Bride Victoria. Anyway you look at it, I don't know how we're going to make a crown.
Romulus and Alouicious are going as knights. Gladys will be the proverbial Bee. New baby, hopefully, will be a chili pepper. It really saves time to have a standard set in this matter. Every child starts out in the nice soft felt chili pepper, graduates (hopefully angrily) to the bee which has a really fine stinger. And after that some choice may be exercised but we encourage the use of some favorite already existing costume.
Speaking of Imperialism, we're also reading the Jungle Book and the Just So Stories for school. Can you tell the Kipling is one my three all time favorite authors? Except that I've never actually read the Jungle Book as one who really hates suspense in any form. If my dad hadn't read Kim to me as a child I never would have read it. So I'm pulling myself together and reading the Jungle Book out loud. It is So Exciting. When we get to the CC history sentences about Africa we're going to read The Long Grass Whispers.
So far, my favorite part about having 5 kids (besides the children themselves, which, obviously, is Joy Enough) is the look of horror when people, having asked 'Is this your first baby?'
hear 'well, no, its my 5th'.
AND then, usually, whoever it is will say something charming like
'Wow, you don't look it!'
By this they could mean that I look Way Too Young or that I'm Way Too Skinny. Either is just fine. Of course, I haven't actually gone anywhere yet with all five, so who knows if the love will keep flowing.

Go check out Jen and have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It seriously looks very much like a baby

Matt managed finally this morning to run home and pick up the device to get pictures off our camera. So I thought I'd post a few.

I gave birth to our newest baby girl last night at 10:01. Despite an ultra sound that afternoon that she was 7lbs 1oz, she weighed in at birth at 6lbs 10oz, only one oz more than Elphine 7 years ago. She is 18 inches long with some darkish hair and a mushed chin from having tried to come face first. For the purposes of this blog I'll be calling her Marigold, but if you'd like to find out her real name you can head over to Stand Firm.

After fretting all day that maybe we were inducing too early etc. etc. (and then feeling bad about worrying after listening to an Outstanding sermon by Marc Driscoll on the subject of Mary while labor was bearable enough to concentrate), I'm really grateful that we Did induce. This baby is a peanut and the cord was all the way around her neck and she was super hungry at the moment of birth. She's been eating and eating and eating and looking cuter and cuter.

We're so grateful for a really healthy baby and an excellent and clued in doctor and such excellent care. I'm delighted to meet this latest edition and wondering quietly to myself whether yet we will get one laid back child or whether she will be as intense and complicated as all the other ones....I already have my suspicions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The end is in sight

I am up at an unusual hour because Matt was called out at something like 5 this morning for a pastoral emergency. He wildly made tea and found his phone and collar and was out the door in a matter of minutes. I've been trying to stay awake since then because Romulus has been up singing 'Pharaoh, Pharaoh OH BABY LET MY people go' loudly in my ear as well as 'AND ONE WAS A DOCTOR and one was a QUEEN and one was a Spiderman and one was a bad guy and I WANT TO BE ONE TOO'.

I've been contracting regularly and irregularly since Tuesday, thinking all the time that I'm about to go into full blown labor but never actually doing it. I have another ultra sound tomorrow, and if this baby isn't any bigger, the doctor intends that I go in on Monday or Tuesday and be helped along a little. In other words, the baby isn't really packing on weight the way we would all like and I'm beginning to loose weight, and all these contractions are doing something. So for everybody's health and safety, she would like this baby to be here with us now rather than waiting till Nov. 2. I'm really grateful to have such a wonderful doctor, even after whining at the beginning of the week. And I'm longing to meet this baby who, in every ultrasound picture, has the most amazing pouty flower like lips, rivaled only by her big sister, Gladys.

So, today and through the weekend, I am going to try to be 'restful' as instructed (whatever that means). I'd like to finish up some math lessons with Elphine, organize all the school work into some kind order so they can keep busy next week, and maybe make a pie. And hopefully Matt will help me rearrange some more furniture to make room for the cradle which is currently made up beautifully, covered with a sheet and then a board so as to keep cats and children out. But I have to figure out where to put it.

Meanwhile, I hope you will pray for the people Matt is with now. My impression, as he ran out the door, is that some lives have been turned upside down during the night and that Good Shepherd will be called upon to rally around in the next few days. And prayer is the best place to start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Confinement is a Good Idea; or a blog post of complaint and woe

In a few minutes I have to dash around and try to get myself out the door for yet another doctor's appointment. At this stage of the game, the more pregnant you are, the more your doctor likes to see you (or at least me), Which, it has occurred to me more than once, is Entirely Backwards.

In the beginning weeks of expecting a baby, sitting in a doctor's office is comfortable, comforting and relaxing. For one thing, its possible to sit in a chair. And for another, its really nice to know that everything is ok and that the baby is growing charmingly and healthily. But towards the last weeks of a pregnancy, going every three minutes to the doctor and being asked 'is the baby moving?' as you have your breath kicked out of you makes it hard to respond in Christian charity.

OF COURSE, I say that as someone who is pathetically grateful that everything is healthy and on track, and that week by week there is a good strong galloping heartbeat on this baby and that I am being kicked and kicked.

But with the measure of gratitude is the equal measure of weariness and hope that Maybe I'll miss Something by having this baby--another doctor's appointment? the Harvest Dinner? another day freaking out that apparently we are no longer allowed to receive mail at this address?

But this is the nature of human inconsistency and fickleness. The second I'm in the hospital having this baby, I will begin to fret about all the things I'm missing at home, and start hassling the nurses to let me out as soon as is reasonably possible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving in, and the floor...and you thought I had moved on from this subject

We had marked off 10:30 as the moment to blast through the garage and basement in a last final push to completely unpack and be moved into this house. But I hear Matt still working out so I will take a quiet moment to write. The tree outside our living room window is so golden and beautiful in the sun, we Will Have to go outside for a few minutes today at some point.

I'm thoroughly surprised to be so enjoying this house. The cat smell is COMPLETELY gone. The cleanness just permeates my being and settles my spirit. Here are the new floors, with children.

Here they were being put in,

with children.

Certainly there is work to be done. We need to paint the children's rooms, our room, the hallways. The kitchen cabinets need to be painted and a new floor put in that somehow matches the beautiful floor everywhere else, but none of it is urgent in the way these cat laden floors were.

Matt's weights have stopped clanking, so I will rouse myself. I have boxes and boxes of beautiful crystal to unpack and dust, and books, and little tiny baby shoes.