Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh and I forgot

Matt's sermon yesterday was really personally encouraging to me, and I hope to you. Also, they're experimenting with the video option. I think it came out surprisingly well (considering that I was so dubious when they were setting it all up before the service).

Things I've got to do today because I didn't do them sooner

Today, after I stop lying here, I HAVE to do the following things.

-Go scavenging for prizes for CC on Wednesday
-Organizing my maps and geo notebooks for CC on Wednesday
-seek out and find science notebooks for Elphine and Alouicious for CC on Wednesday
-have Elphine and Alouicious practice their presentations for CC on Wednesday
-Keep practicing our family presentation for CC on Wednesday
-Buy a thermos so I can take mid morning tea with me to CC on Wednesday
(are you noticing a pattern yet?)
-Go look at the baby undergarment section with Romulus and Gladys and dig out the plastic pants because they CAN use the potty and they ought to all the time
-Finish writing Thank You Notes for the whole of this year and actually send them
-Have a family picnic right now because its not raining for 15 seconds

I think this list is achievable because my house is clean. And instead of running around messing it up, the children, for some inexplicable reason, are all trying to work out with their dad. I think probably one of the most satisfying things in life is lying in bed watching Other people work up a sweat.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shortest 7 Quick Takes Ever

Go check out Jen for some Real Blogging

I can't figure out how to center anything on this blog, except for pictures. I'm sure there's a way but I have no idea how. Also, Matt is irritated with my banner picture and thinks I should change it ('Its too big!' he whines every day, 'I have to scroll down so far.') So maybe a blog redesign will be in the works. Hmmm.
I cut all the children's hair yesterday. I really like cutting hair, I think. If the whole priest/mother/whatever else it is I do doesn't work out I think I'll go to beauty school.
We're trying orange peels as a deterrent against the cat pee (on the advice of my mother who knows so many interesting things). We eat oranges, and then we lay the peels all over the living room, white part up, and change them every day or so when they dry out. So far, NO CAT trouble. But that's only after 36 hours so we'll see. It looks odd, but it smells a vast deal nicer.
I went ahead at bought Prima Latina for myself. I mean, if the children Want to do it with me, that will be fine, but I figured, what better way to start learning Latin myself than to buy the first grade book. For the children we'll be seriously hammering out the Classical Conversations stuff, but I thought it might be helpful to work through the Prima Stuff myself quietly.
We have Four Horses on sticks but only 2 sleeping bags. I'm pretty sure that's why two children were crying this morning. One of them kept coming in and asking for his own sleeping bag. Meanwhile, the horses litter the floor. There's no reason to play with them, because then Everyone could play and no one could tattle and complain.
Matt and I moved out of the master bedroom and into the office (so that we can overnight company, and so that I can call it the Spare Oom) and I think its one of the best things we've ever done in our lives, besides having children and trying to do God's will etc. etc. I just LOVE it. I'll be hard pressed ever to move back up.
The result of living in the office means that we keep all of our clothes in the garage and all of Matt's shoes in a box under his desk. This means that there is always a trail of shoes all over the house, left there by Gladys who LOVES Shoes and comes in for a new pair every few hours. Something about the arrangement seems vaguely impermanent. I'm sure I'll be able to put my finger on it at some point. In the meantime, the house is ominously quiet which means Someone is Doing Something they Shouldn't be doing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday on the Links

I'm not really awake enough to think. Maybe as the day goes on I'll HAVE to blog about something, but, just in case that doesn't happen, I thought I'd link all the things I've read this week that have been particularly interesting or lovely.

These posts by Jen at Conversion Diary are really moving.
When God Locks Doors
Undefeatable Joy

This interesting thread on health care at Stand Firm, particularly the comments.

This excellent article by Mark Steyn.

And This very nice visual, hat tip Jen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vegetable Soup

The children are clambering for pancakes. I probably should indulge them because I made them eat massive bowls of vegetable soup last night with tiny rolls of brown bread. And I carried their table into the backyard and made them eat it outside, watching from the window as they carefully ladled the soup onto the ground. I thought about running out and yelling at them, but they seemed to be so peaceful, spoonful by spoonful. But, then, they didn't get any dessert.

The soup was delicious though.
One big vat of stock.
A large bag of vegetables from Micah's wedding (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes) dumped right into the stock.
Salt and Pepper
Let the whole thing simmer for a couple of hours until everything is soft, delicious, melded together.

I still have a full container left in the fridge and I froze two more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!!

My mom and dad have been married 35 years today. I'm so impressed. May they have another 35 years together. Here is a celebratory cup of coffee. Wish I was there to actually drink it for you.

Its that time of year again

My kiddos have been hassling me for the last three weeks to start school. In my peaceful objective evenings, I am delighted by this nagging. In the moment I am usually totally impatient. 'Do I look like I am ready for us to start school? Look at the state of this room! Nothing is organized!' They gaze at me compassionately.
'That's ok,' says Elphine, 'I just want to do some math'.
'Well,ok,' I gave in last week, 'here's a worksheet from last year. Knock yourself out.'

I can't blame them, as I've been putting the house slowly in order, the school/sun room has come to be more and more inviting and its hard not to drop everything and start wildly doing crafts and copy work. BUT, after so much reading, and a little tiny bit of experience, I REALLY don't want to get started until I'm organized and have at least a vague idea of what I want to accomplish every day.

I am a little startled, to be perfectly honest, about this nagging desire on the part of my children to learn stuff. I don't remember having any such inclination. In fact, I remember fighting my mother every step of the way through my fourth grade year (I'm really really sorry, Mommy, what an irritating child I must have been) and being bored out of my mind over the study of Rune Stones and Fjords (part of the year as a trip through Norway). And I'm pretty sure I was no more interested in fifth grade when I went to boarding school. My only thought, concerning my own children, is that they don't know any better. At some point they will wake up in the morning and think, 'wait a minute! Our mother is making us learn!' and begin to revolt.

In the meantime, I am enjoying fussing around arranging all our new books, making clean crisp photocopies, making lists of websites and you tube clips on my calendar days, learning the new CC history songs, and rearranging my desk every so often. And, its a relief not to be out fighting the crowds of school supply buyers, as well as being able to assure my oldest child that if she would like to dress like an old lady for school, purse in hand and hat on her head, she may.

Monday, August 24, 2009

For a Monday

I thought this was lovely. It is really Helen Keller and her teacher.

h/t Simcha Fisher

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Sermon for This Morning

When I was 12 years old, I went to boarding school for the first time. My mother sewed all kinds of dress code approved clothes I packed my bags and we drove the two days on a miserable road my parents dropped me at school. I don’t remember much about that first term. Other than reading the book of Revelation for the first time, the only strikingly vivid memory was the day my parents were supposed to visit. As soon as class was over I ran and sat to wait for them on the huge cement sign bearing the name of the school. I sat there for the rest of the day. They were supposed to arrive at 3:30 in the afternoon. I sat and sat. And sat. Finally someone came to tell me that I had go to supper or I would be in trouble. And after supper came the inevitable unpleasant march to bed—devotions, snack, teeth brushing, all of it went by with a huge knot in my stomach. They Hadn’t Come. They were probably never going to come. That’s it, at the tender age of 12 I was alone in the world. But, most of you have met my parents so clearly the suspense I am trying to build is not completely possible. They arrived just as we were finally being sent off to bed. They had been delayed at the border. They had sat there nearly All day, miserable themselves, showing their papers to every official that decided to see them, they were exhausted and frustrated. This morning we’re taking up the next part of our verse from Ephesians that we have been studying these long weeks. You can turn there if you would like. Ephesians 4, Paul writes, ‘I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We have talked about unity, humility and pride, and gentleness. Today we’re going to look carefully at patience. Not surprisingly, when Matt asked me to preach on patience, I thought, I’m not patient, I don’t really want to be patient, what a horrible sermon topic. Possibly all of you are feeling similar emotions just now. We’re going to first look at God—because God himself is All Patient, he is the definition of patience. If we want to understand what it means to be patient, we have to look at God. Then, we will look at our lack of patience in the face of God’s patience. And finally, we will discover together how we might change, how we might more gain the mind of Christ, be more conformed into his image. So, God is patient. Peter, in his second letter, writes, “9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Many times I have read Genesis 1 and 2 and then chapter 3 and wondered, why didn’t, when Adam and Eve sinned, why didn’t he just wipe them out and start over, or give up the whole project. Because its not like, after he, God, had gone to such a great deal of trouble to create a perfectly beautiful world, to put two people in this creation to care for it and do his will, when they deliberately rebelliously defied him and ate of the tree whereof he had commanded them not to eat, its not like he didn’t know how bad it could get. Or didn’t know what was coming. The easy way out would have been to chuck the entire project and visit death upon them literally, not only spiritually. And yet, and yet, the bible goes on for another 65 books. God is patient, abounding in steadfast love. He waits and waits and waits for us. The very moment that Adam turned his back on God, God turned himself towards Adam and began at the very least a 4000 year walk toward a new Adam, toward Jesus and his work on the cross. Not only so, if you look particularly at the face of Jesus, the words he spoke, the things he did particularly in the week leading up to his death on the cross, and indeed the incredible suffering of the cross itself, you find the perfect model of long suffering patience. He bore, to quote the dictionary, the provocation, annoyance, misfortune and pain without complaint, loss of temper or irritation. Not only so, he did it with love. God so loved the world that he not only took the time to create, he took the time to redeem and restore. Therefore, and we come to Point Two, we must be patient. We must bear with one another in love. And yet we don’t. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve wanted to do many things and been increasingly unable to. You’d think, after four times of being pregnant, it would be no surprise to me that by week 30, I can’t just spring lightly from my chair, run the vacuum around the house, carry several boxes to the basement, and then get a quick and healthy super for all my kids. You’d think I would know that 30 weeks of pregnancy doesn’t allow for that kind of agility, and that I would plan accordingly. Instead, I forget my frailty, I don’t allow for it, and then I become frustrated and angry when I don’t get everything done on my list. I am not patient with myself. Nor am I patient with other people. Just like I cannot meet my own expectations and plans for myself, nobody else meets my expectations and plans either.
And so I am not in control, things do not work out as I intend, and I spend all day sitting on a sign waiting for what I think should happen, or waiting for someone to live up to some idea I have. This is not Godly. Jesus spent some time on exactly this kind of behavior in Matthew chapter 18. A king was going through his accounts, discovered that one of his servants owed him a vast deal of money, more money than could be paid in a life time. There’s no way this guy was going to be able to pay a fraction of it. And so, when the servant was called before the king, he begged for mercy, for patience. And the king did, he had mercy. The debt, in the story, stands for our sin before God. There’s no way we can atone for our own sin. The immensity of it, before God’s perfection, is so great. The mercy that the king has, in the story, is Jesus and his work on the cross. So, the servant went out of the presence of the king, having just been forgiven, but before gratitude could settle in, the servant saw a guy who owed him five bucks, if that. He grabbed him by the collar and said, you better pay me now or I’ll have you sent to prison. But the guy didn’t have it. He was poor. He had to buy milk and bread for his family. The servant wouldn’t have mercy and sent the poor man to prison. The king heard about it and was rightfully enraged. You were forgiven your life, and you couldn’t forgive? I had patience with you, and you couldn’t have patience? From God’s perspective, it doesn’t matter the irritations and disappointments of our day to day life, we have been given life. We have been forgiven, and not just on a whim, God took time, he had a plan, he sent his Son, and we can’t exercise a little grace with each other? We can’t swallow a little bit of irritation because someone didn’t live up to our plans and expectations? God has given us everything, he’s given us himself. We can, more than that, we must be patient, we must be gracious, we must bear with each other and forgive one another. But how? And this is our third point. Well, first, you have to have a relationship with Jesus. You have to have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. But then, knowing that it is God who does this work in you, you can cooperate with the Holy Spirit in working to change the habits of your life. If you can turn, just for a minute to Psalm 17:15, the Psalmist writes, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” And also Psalm 62: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Changing your habit of mind and heart away from impatience and frustration with yourself and other people to patience and bearing with another in love is a two step process. The first step is to mediate in prayer on the Scriptures. I’ve just given you two verses to start with. As your feet touch the floor in the morning, after you’ve read the paper and had a cup of coffee, I’m going to assume that you’ve already disciplined yourself to read the Bible and pray. The next step, for me, is to use scripture itself again to pray through your day and what you expect. Get out a piece of paper, write at the top, ‘For God alone my soul in silence waits’ and ‘I shall be satisfied with your likeness’ and then write out what you intend to do that day. Every few minutes, stop and look at your verses. The second step is to wait on the Lord. Rather than rushing in, pause, wait. When that knot of anxiety, of worry, of irritation, of things not working out the way we want them too—when that wells up in the throat and you feel a yell right behind it, or a quick snappy remark that will make you feel better but will decimate your brother or sister in Christ, or an air of superiority that lets your brother or sister know that they have blown it and crossed your line, or a sharp response to your child who, frankly, can’t be expected to accommodate your crazy schedule—practice taking your eyes off yourself, and being satisfied with God. Of praying, of imploring God for help to act patiently, though you do not feel it. Of training yourself to look to God and be loved by him enough so that you can bear with, you can forgive the person you really do love, though not even a tiny smidgeon of how much God loves you. I’m going to stop there.
The Lord be with you…….

Friday, August 21, 2009

Turning off the Tube

Largely for economic reasons, mainly because we weren't watching it, we recently unplugged our beautiful shiny big black box (by that I mean TV), turned in the cable box and fancy remote, painfully shoved the TV into the garage, and rearranged the living room. We've been thinking for several years that this is probably what God wanted us to do, but we never took the time or trouble, and there are so many interesting things on. But as the bills rolled in and we added up the time we actually spent watching it, it just didn't seem like a good use of money.

We haven't, of course, missed it at all, not even the children, because you can pretty well watch Anything you want on Hulu or YouTube, which in turn has caused me to realize something interesting that probably all my dear readers already knew.

The very simple action of having to click a mouse to pick a program is an action of commitment.

In other words, I cannot bring myself to 'commit' to or click on so many programs I watched before because I don't love them. Whereas before I watched many things because they just came on, I cannot now bring myself to choose them. The smallest movement of my finger over the button is enough of a deterrent, enough of a moment of decision to cause me to do something else, or to watch something else.

This tiny realization led me to consider what other things in life just 'happen' to me, and what things I actually choose. I don't really want to tell you about any of them because they weren't that interesting. BUT, when I consider how many lovely hard working Americans, like me, all with their lovely TVs flickering beautifully in the gray evening light, waiting to see what's coming on next, watching and watching without ever choosing, well, it explains to me a great deal about the current American political and cultural landscape. There seems to be an inevitability about the way most of us live, a helplessness, a well that's just the way its going to be.

I'm not saying that suddenly all of America turning off the TV would completely change the prevailing culture (but, of course, it would have to in some ways), nor make any particular judgments about TV watching, but I'm sure some PhD student out there should do a serious study on this matter, and write a book.

I, on the other hand, will go listen to a sermon on my IPod while I clean and clean and clean and clean.

A Couple of Announcements

Thank You For Praying
I passed my blood sugar test, may God be ever praised. Thank you so much for praying. I am very much looking forward to a piece of cake at Micah's wedding now. But I'm not going to start eating white bread, at least not every moment of the day.

Mimi and Meg are having a blow out sale!
Go check out their etsy site and buy something beautiful before its all gone.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not having the Moral Fiber: Or, How to Cope with Your Chidlren Expecting the Tooth Fairy

Matt is distracting me by looking at the Fail Blog and laughing too loudly for me to think. The children are quietly fighting over Lincoln Logs in the background and coming in every few minutes to tattle.

Romulus: Alouicious Coffeeeeeeed me!!!!! (And no, Romulous can't say the word Alouicious, just like I can't spell it. AND if you come over and tell them that its 'copy' not 'coffee' I'll be so unhappy with you.)
Me: I'm sorry to hear that. Are you ok?
Romulus: Yeah. But I'm gonna be a knight.
Me: Ok.

Two minutes later
Gladys: ROMULUS AGH lalalla (the intonation of a tattle is perfect)
Me: I'm sorry to hear that. Are you ok?
Gladys: Yeah.

Two minutes later
Alouicious: Romulus is hitting Gladys on the head.
Me: I'm sorry to hear that. What did she do to deserve it?
Alouicious: She bit him.
That's right, we have a biter.
And, we have another lost tooth. That makes three. Three perfect funny little holes in the bottom of Elphine's mouth, three dollars scrounged around for at 4 in the morning because I forgot the night before, three times of Matt and I creeping into her room trying to find the blinking tooth. This time she woke up and sat straight up in her bed.
'What are you doing?'
'Checking on Gladys, go back to sleep.'
'Why are you touching my pillow?'
'I didn't touch your pillow. Go back to sleep.'
We stumble out, Matt and I, cursing each other under our breaths.
'Why did you lie!!!!' He hissed.
'I thought lying was our standard operating procedure concerning the Tooth Fairy. The Whole Thing is a Wretched Lie! Why didn't you do it? You know I can't think on my feet. Its 4AM!!! (Did I mention that I was woken by Matt out of a dream that turned out to be......That's right, the Gummy Bear Song. Please don't google it. Its lude and catchy--a horrible green gummy bear in yellow underwear dancing an inappropriate dance and singing 'Oh I'm a gummy bear, yes I'm a gummy bear, I'm a gummy yummy gummy yummy bear'. THAT is what lies in my deep unconscious. How thoroughly disappointing.)
'I'm just saying,' said Matt, 'You could have said, I was checking to see if the Tooth Fairy had come.'
'Well, that would have made sense wouldn't it have.' I stumbled back to bed and woke two hours later to the gentle sound of Susan Russel and Kendall Harmon battling it out on Minnesota Public Radio or something. As far as I can tell, the tooth is still in there, but my child only noticed the money. So now I only have to creep in when she isn't looking and remove it. That should be easy. I'm sure I won't foul that up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thank You

Thank you all so much for praying. I am slowly emerging from a much needed nap. Not that sitting around a doctor's office all morning counts as work, but I felt rather like I had been on a longish airplane ride by the end.

The test is just what I thought it would be (since they told me what to expect) and I can say with grim satisfaction that it was just as awful as anticipated though no more awful. I should here back late this afternoon or tomorrow and go on from there.

So thank you, VERY Much.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Kingdom of Anxiety

Two babies are wandering around without their diapers on. So far we seem to be slowly and agonizingly progressing towards a constant use of the lou by All members of the family.

And we're also, today, putting all the bins we sorted through and decided to keep down in the basement so we can regain some order and begin organizing a space for school.

Nevertheless, I can't get rid of that anxious knot in my stomach brought on by the fact that I'm going to have to have my blood taken 4 times tomorrow morning after not eating (which I'm really Not good at) and worst of all, drinking 100 grams of pure sugar. As I said to the very wonderful nurse who took my blood before, "I'd rather be in labor and give birth than drink this stuff."
"Lucky for you," she said, "you don't have to choose, you get to do both."
In other words, I feel exactly as I would if I was going to the dentist, which those of you who know me is akin to being put on a rack of some kind and tortured for hours.

So, with one eye on my lou bound toddlers, and one eye vaguely on the Scriptures, I was caught up short by this, which you will recognize as the words of Paul from Romans 5.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love i has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I have a little note in my margin that says "not inner peace. Rather, the war of rebellion is over." But, it also is a little bit of inner peace, or, as Mrs. Elton might say, 'Inner Resources". In other words, regardless of whatever my anxious innards may being saying, I feel spiritually prepared to cope with the suffering at hand, to endure it, as it were, because God's love has been poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit.

Roughly a year ago, when I was anxiously planning my homeschool year and wondering to anyone who would listen "How am I going to do this?" and "Do I have to use Saxon Math?", a wise veteran angel of holiness, homeschooling, and self control said, "Its a matter of grace." I stared at her in uncomprehending blankness. Grace? Really" That's what makes it possible? Not planning or really good curriculum, or my natural brilliantness as a mother and teacher?

But she's perfectly right. "Through him we have obtained access by faith into This Grace in which we Stand." For those who are justified by faith, God stands us in his grace. He gives us the desire and ability to do many things, like homeschooling. He walks us through the anxiety of our frail bodies. He stands us in his grace so that our suffering produces endurance which produces character which produces hope.

And so, ultimately, we are able to peacefully rejoice. And now I see that one of these baby toddlers needs to be returned to the lou.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend in Review

Matt has been on the phone with a Very Nice Tech Person for roughly the last two hours. My computer has moved on from the weird ruinous loop it was in to something more like a functioning computer. I have no idea what I did to it, but hopefully I will soon be able to lie back and perch it on my tummy, rather than straining to reach the keyboard of my desktop as I am doing now.

So the Yard Sale was FABULOUS!!!! Thank you all so much to everyone who helped, not only the day of, but the many days leading up--the endless boxes that were moved out of my house, the sorting and pricing, and good humor as each day was slightly hotter and more humid than the last. And, we made a very nice stack of money which will go a good distance towards our floors. What kind of distance? I have no idea because when I got online and googled 'flooring' I became completely confused and overwhelmed and decided not to do this kind of thing anywhere near a computer. Instead I will wait for the experts to return from holiday and advise me in person. I'm totally delighted, though, both at the prospect of new floors, and also because I have So Much Less Stuff.

Sorry about all the exclaiming.

Sunday, after an excellent morning of church, worship, Sunday School, and Cake to say goodbye to Micah, we got to meet a devoted Stand Firm reader who told us many interesting things about life in the trenches. She was able to stay to supper and endured the shouting of many enthusiastic children through the afternoon and evening.

Today, if Matt is ever able to get off the phone, we will continue to lie around and look outside at the heat from our beautifully air conditioned house. Maybe we will go outside this evening and watch Elphine and Alouicious ride their trainingwheelless bikes. And then tomorrow I will start deep cleaning because Micah is getting married this weekend, and it may be, in the course of the festivities, that someone will walk into the house and gaze into my cupboards, so I'm going to clean them all just in case.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

For a Saturday Evening

This was sung at our wedding and this particular group happens to be singing in one of my hometowns, Eugene, Oregon. (Note: The song doesn't last through the whole clip.) The song is 'Africa' by William Billings.

Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.

God, on His thirsty Zion’s hill,
Some mercy drops has thrown;
And solemn oaths have bound His love
To show’r salvation down.

Why do we then indulge our fears,
Suspicions and complaints?
Is He a God, and shall His grace
Grow weary of His saints?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Because its Friday; Jen's 7 Quick Takes

Here they are, and go check out the rest at Jen's.
My brand new wonderful computer is completely on the fritz. We're sitting here together, my broken new computer and I, divided from each other, unhappy. So, while I sort, I'll probably have a phone appended to my ear, sitting on hold, cursing quietly under my breath and not hearing what everyone else is saying or doing around me.
Did I mention I am still sorting. I have a smallish pile left in the garage, and a few boxes upstairs. I shouldn't be sitting here, I should be out there getting it done before people show up to sort and price. Lord help me get through this last bit of stuff!!!! Of course, then I have to deal with the stuff I'm not getting rid of--the boxes and boxes of books, my china, the toys that the children remember and miss. None of this can come out of boxes until I acquire some serious number of book shelves, a china cupboard, some kind of something for all my sewing...Did I mention that I'm also trying to trust God more in the material realm of life? Well I am. Ask me in a week how its working out for me.
I'm so relieved that Matt's deposition is over. Didn't realize what a huge stress it was waiting for it to happen until I came in and found him cashed out in his office chair, mouse in hand, fingers on the keyboard, breathing quietly and regularly for the first time in weeks. Thank you to EVERYONE who prayed.
I made bread nearly a week ago for the first time in this house. And stock. Felt like things were maybe becoming normal. And, in the spirit of that normality, I've left a big vat of stock in the fridge for a whole week and have to use it all today or it will go sour. So along with getting ready for this sale, I have to make some kind of fabulous soup. But now I have three boxes of kitchen stuff that I intend to keep, to trip over while I do it, and a baby who won't let me leave vegetables on the counter while I cook. Plus, remember, I'll be on the phone, so it should be a fun and productive day.
Last night I completely bored Matt by watching this

and this

In my effort to read some other book beside The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass for the 17th time, I've been rereading all the James Harriet books and googling him online. Really, they are brilliantly written--so funny, so self-effacing, so horrible to think about putting your whole entire arm up the backside of a cow. So the documentary was a little slow, Matt didn't need to sigh quite so loudly as it was going on and on and on.
As I've been sorting, I've seriously been applying my mind to what colors all the various rooms in this house should be. By the gracious permission of the vestry, I hope to paint (or rather have painted) the kitchen cabinets something bright, creamy and cheery, but essentially, the whole kitchen needs to blend with and show off my beautiful industrial grade wine colored Kitchen Aid Mixer that can handle the doubling or tripling of any recipe. This leaves me flummoxed. What color should the kitchen walls be? And the dining room? You can see the mixer from some points in the dining room, so it should go, in some fashion or other. These are the critical questions to which I have no answers.
This coming Wednesday I have a follow up three hour (four times of taking blood) blood sugar test for Gestational Diabetes. I'll be perfectly honest, I'm thoroughly unnerved by this eventuality. I really covet your prayers that the test will be normal and that I won't have permanently ruined my body chemistry by chewing on tick-tacks for the first six months of pregnancy or whatever it was that caused my sugar to be high. I've done all kinds of sudden reading on this subject, and I gather that everything will be fine, but I require prayer anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On getting rid of a lot of stuff

Or, You can't have everything, where would you put it?

Well, I got half way through the basement. So today, after I vacuum the sun room so that we can have a little birthday party for an important and wonderful person, and make my bed (which takes me ages because of my ever increasing bulk), I'm going to try to FINISH it this morning. Ha.

My youngest child, I think, has been interceding for me constantly. I find her every so often prostrate on the floor, hands folded, head bowed babbling in some other tongue. I mean, I hope she's talking to God although it worries me what she might be saying. The other children are trying to pull toys out of the mountain in the living room that I want to get rid of. 'Put it back!!! Put is back!! We have to get rid of it!' I scream. And then, because it occurs to me that they're being quiet and not distracting me, 'Ok, you can play with it for 3 and a half minutes.' So I've also been putting things back in the pile every hour or so.

I know so many of you have been worried that I wouldn't be able to get rid of all this stuff, that I, in fact, was the one who collected it and that I have a problem with having too many things. If you come over today, you will find that this is not the case. I've had it in my mind for years what exactly I want to get rid of. I haven't acquired most all of this of my own free will. It was given or wandered in under my nose, and got stuffed into attics and basements before I could reasonably deal with it. So now I am ruthlessly and happily flinging clothes, books, toys and shoes into an immense pile--That horrible pair of jeans that Never fit but I felt like I ought to stuff myself into anyway, that Barny toy that sings and sings and sings until I feel myself slowly loosing my mind, that pair of little boy shoes that scraped the poor baby skin off my poor baby one summer, and the mounds and mounds of books that we've read and need to pass on to other lovely people.

I imagine this is like heaven. As we come into the presence of the Almighty we find we are Finally Rid of that nagging desire to gossip, that nasty feeling we've lugged around toward so and so who never understood who we really were anyway, the immense frustrating pile of imperfection and ingratitude and other junk that we knew we wanted to get rid of but never got to it because there was never any deadline. Well, my deadline is Saturday, and if Jesus comes back that day, I'll only have to leave behind a quarter of the stuff I currently posses. So, come Lord Jesus, or, if you'd like to wait a little longer, that will probably be ok too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

In honor of 8 years of marital bliss, we're going to spend a normal day in service of the church, which for Matt means Morning Prayer in 5 minutes, followed by being available in the office for people who need him, a pastoral visit, a business meeting, lunch at 1pm of spinach salad with vinaigrette and two fried eggs (seriously, the most delicious salad EVER), and finally a quick thrown together supper early before Bible Study.

As for me, I'm going to try to eat something healthy and bearable and then hopefully plow through the rest of the stuff in the basement.

And if we happen to run into each other over the course of the day we will gaze deeply into each others eyes and be grateful to have lived long enough to have this many children and this much stuff (ok, not so much the stuff, but definitely the children).

Monday, August 10, 2009

teaching a child in the way he should go

Thank you all for interesting and encouraging comments of last week. As is so often the case, I didn't set out to write anything in particular on Friday, other than Something more interesting than, we all ate breakfast and worked and worked all day until we fell into bed.

One comment in particular from an entirely different thread I thought I would pick up in a whole post. Otherwise today would just be Another weekend in review (like the fact that Gladys got into my very precious tin of Nivea cream and rubbed it all over her face and through her hair, using the Entire tin. She smells so pretty. And that we discovered a bat in the kitchen, the second one in the church in two weeks, and carefully deposited him outside, half the congregation making frequent trips outside over the course of the morning to see how he was getting on. And that we were reminded that our wedding anniversary is this week, so we unearthed and watched out wedding video again which was just as wonderful as when I saw it 7 years ago.)

Anyway, I'm grateful to this commenter's invitation to express more of an opinion, just want the internet needs.
“But meanwhile I'm glorying in the satisfaction of having so many useful and obedient children. “
I usually love reading your blog, Anne, but I was struck by the above words. I just hope your children have time to be, well, children.

This was a very helpful thought because I have been worried, of late, that All We Do Is Play. Its like a carnival circus around here most of the time, as far as I can make out. Of course, we haven't officially started school yet, but even then, as hard as I try to make us all serious, Everything seems to turn into a game. This is unfortunate for me, as their mother because I've always really disliked playing games of any kind. I'm getting over it, slowly. Particularly, I've discovered that cleaning should always be in a race against each other. We each get a room, whoever finishes first wins, except that I always have two or three rooms and so its Not Fair, heh, and I never win. Which is why I hate playing games.

The commenter goes on.
I think, when I was growing up, my chores were age appropriate. I did not start doing laundry until I was in high school, and I certainly did not feed everyone breakfast, empty the dishwasher, or clean the kitty box at such a young age. I just wonder if you truly know how odd it is to see written 'useful' and 'obedient' used when describing one's children. It's not the first words I would want to use to describe my children, or how I think of them. However, I may be interpreting your words in the wrong way. But I might use those ajdectives to describe my housekeeper (if I had one), but I'm not so sure I'd use them when it comes to my children.

My thought on this matter is guided by three different sources.
First, my parents would never have bought into this idea. I grew up with the understanding that I had been born to do dishes. That was the purpose of my existence. Naturally all this dishwashing developed into being able to cook really very well by the time I was in high school and college. I can't tell you how many people have appreciated this gift and skill over the years, not least of all my husband and children.

Second, as I've said before, Matt and I read very early on Standing on the Promises by Doug Wilson which has revolutionized our home life. Basic principles that we have incorporated from this book include 'delayed obedience is disobedience' and that really we have One main household rule. That rule is 'Honor and obey your Momma!'. If this wasn't firmly fixed in place, we would not be able to homeschool and I would be tired all the time. Respectful obedient children are happy children. They don't have to organize your life and their days and so they have time to play and think and learn without worrying about who is in charge and what should happen next. This is really the opposite of what we learned in seminary (why there was any parenting advice in an Episcopal Seminary, I don't remember). There we learned that 'the child's word to you is no'. HAHAHAHA. Au contraire. The child's word to me is 'Yes Momma, Right away Momma'.

And third, on the matter of work and school, we have been guided by a wonderful website called Trivium Pursuits. Here is what they say about the work of the child. I've bolded my favorite bits, but the whole long quote is really critical to the way we organize our house.
Develop in your child a love for work and service. From the time a child is able to walk and talk he should be given regular chores to perform. We do not mean simply feeding the dog and making his bed. A five year old is quite capable of putting the dishes away and folding the laundry. A ten year old can prepare simple meals from start to finish. Children of all ages can clean and straighten the house. The mother should not be picking up things from off of the floor. Your goal should be that by the time a child is in his teens, he is able to take over the work of the household, from cooking to cleaning to caring for his younger brothers and sisters. This not only teaches them to appreciate work while removing some of the burden from the parents, but it is good training for when they have their own households.Do not do for your child what he can do for himself. We need to reject all of this popular "self-esteem" stuff. The world’s problems can be summarized in one simple expression: too much self-esteem. Too many people think they are too good for what they get in life. They think they deserve better. And among the things which foster such notions is parents fawning over their little children. For the first year of his life, you pretty much need to do everything for him. But after that, the situation should begin to change rapidly. He can learn to do many things for himself in the next couple of years. He can clean up his own messes. An important corollary to this is: Do not do for yourself what your child can do for you. Your child needs to esteem himself lower than others, beginning with his parents. He can gather the clothes for laundry, and he can fold the laundry. Then he can do the laundry. He can set the table and wash the dishes. Then he can help fix the meals. He can vacuum the floor and dust the furniture. Then he can wash the windows. If you do all of this for him, then he will get a notion of self-esteem: "I am so important everyone ought to do things for me." But if he learns to do it for himself, then he will get a notion of self-confidence: "I can do it myself." And if he learns to do it for you, then he will get a notion of self-usefulness: "I can be helpful and I am needed around here."

Wonderfully, this understanding of the child is very like that articulated by Maria Montessori and Sophia Cavaletti. In Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, the work of the child and the work of the hands is the center of atrium life. The children don't 'play' with the beautiful materials, they work with them. The work is the critical element in internalizing the gospel. Likewise in the home. We were created by God to work and that is where we will find personal satisfaction, where we best glorify God, and are best made into the image and likeness of his Son.

And finally, the commenter writes
I'm just wondering if Father Matt might help out with some of those chores, or maybe he does???

I've said this many times on this blog, but Matt bears an incredible burden of household work. He does half the cooking, all the vacuuming, all the laundry, and up to this point, all the kitty litter. He takes the garbage out (a HUGE job) and keeps the household finances, as well as pastoring a growing church in the midst of a storm. My personal goal is to have him do as little around the house as possible which I fail at every day. That is why the two oldest are learning to do some of his work, as well as mine. At this age, amazingly, they love it. Every morning there is a fight over who gets to do the kitty litter and who gets to do the dishwasher. I know this attitude will not always persist, but I'm enjoying it for now, and looking forward to the day when they can manage this house as well, or better, than we their parents do.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Little Friday Opinion Mongering

Between reading the comments on the Stand Firm Homeschool thread (the lectures by RC Sproul, by the way, are really excellent), the very funny idea that all the men in the Anglican Communion should remain silent for a year, and watching all the amazing clips of people being shut out of Town Hall Meetings (and this one of the AARP people leaving in the middle of the meeting), I've been considering to myself quietly all week the immense cultural divide between conservative and liberal. It doesn't seem, at this point, to be just groups of people leaning slightly further to the right or to the left. There is a profound and every day more bitter divide.

Take this comment on the homeschool thread. The commenter asks, "One question I would like to kick around which has yet to come up—what about the career aspirations of moms who homeschool? Are there any who have managed to maintain their own careers which homeschooling? "

My initial reaction, which I didn't post because I couldn't log in by the grace of God, was, 'What! Being home with your children isn't enough?!!!' and then, 'I have an extra career and ask anyone, I'm always trying to shove my work off on other people because I'd rather be home with my kids' and then, 'well, here I am, I haven't had to choose so I shouldn't be judgmental'. But as I banged my way around my kitchen, reacting and muttering to myself, I discovered that I do not share the fundamental assumption that women are owed an extra career, or that being in anyway 'fulfilled' is a reason to do the job at hand. In fact, my baseline most important priority is to do the will of God. And the will of God, seen most plainly in scripture and then in a lot of other places, almost always involves sacrificing oneself for the sake of others, first Jesus, because he died for me, then for my husband, because he's so wonderful, then for my children because God gave them to me, then for the church because apparently that's my job (hehehe). But there is a real danger to this world view of mine. It puts me on a profound collision course with So Many People.

For example, the Episcopal Church. Every lifestyle is a right. The greatest sin is not living up to be the person you and "God" think you should be rather than, say, offending an all Holy God through blatant and unsorrowful disobedience. This is why dear Ms. Kaeton and I will probably never be good friends, though doubtless we pray for each other occasionally. I don't think she has a right to her way of life. I don't think she should be the rector of a church. I don't think God is waiting out there to affirm her for who she is, any more than he's sitting around waiting to affirm me for who I am. I think he's waiting for both of us to confess our sins and be really sorry and then he will forgive us, and let us do his work for his glory. And if that work involves a fundamental denial of the self, well, that ought to be no surprise to anyone. He laid the model down himself.

Second, the Obama administration on two points. Callous as it seems, I don't think health-care is a right to be dispensed by the government. It ought to be a matter of compassion and mercy dispensed by the church and other charitable organizations (read Non Profit) for those who can't afford it (I realize, as I write this, that this is practically a utopia and is never going to happen) and then paid for by those who can. Anyway, I'm not here to argue about health-care. The other point is that of education. I think its my responsibility to educate my children, not the state's and I'd like as little interference as possible.

And ultimately, I'm on a collision course with all feminists everywhere. Its no surprise to me that the top tier of the Episcopal Church is occupied by a gaggle of women, with a bunch of cowering male bishops underneath, unwilling to stand up and say anything, like 'Stop It'. So far from having all the men be quiet for a whole year, I vote that all the women take a vow of silence and then see what happens. Of course, then I'd probably have to shut down this blog, but my stuff's not that interesting anyway.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I sat down five or six times to write yesterday and Every time I got through half a sentence the phone rang. Clearly, whatever I was thinking of to say was not preordained by God.

Today I am continuing the immense and satisfying work of sorting for the HUGE YARD SALE we're having August 15. Mark your calendars and come buy all my stuff. I got through the kitchen yesterday and now have place to put all the stuff I emptied out from a cabinet I had to give away. Today I'm facing the girls' room. They have a beautiful newly hung rod in their closet so I can finally put away all of their clothes.

On top of all this, I'm making a desperate attempt to potty train Romulus. We had a pretty good day yesterday. If I could time things just right with Gladys I think I could slip her in too, but so far having one naked child wandering the house is stressful enough.

So, in light of the fact that I have nothing interesting to write about myself, I thought I'd point you to this excellent post by Jessica, and this one by Jen, and this one by And Sometimes Tea. And, of course, you could check out this and this at Stand Firm. Hehehehehe. I always thought Paul left out a couple of words in his letter to Timothy. He meant to say, 'I don't permit that woman to speak in church, and that one over there, and that one, and maybe you and you.' Clearly Ms. Sherrod would have been on his list.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Morning Haze

Its really hard to blog or think because Romulus and Gladys are dancing and roaring on the bed in some perverse attempt to make every part of my body hurt. However, I feel that we've turned an important corner in our lives and it needs to be mentioned before I am distracted by something.

I've heard this would happen but didn't Really believe it.

As I've propped myself up here in various contorted positions trying to find an online homeschool planning system that looks easy to use and will calculate my hours for me (wouldn't it just be better if I went ahead and calculated my hours with my clunky old calculator and a calendar, but this is so much more interesting), my oldest two children have emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the kitty box (I know, they're AMAZING kids), collected bottles and sippy cups, carried piles of laundry to the laundry room, fed everyone breakfast, cleaned up breakfast and played some complicated ball throwing game of their own invention.

Pretty soon I suppose I'll have to heft myself up from my regal and hippolike state because everyone will be dressed and ready to go somewhere. But meanwhile I'm glorying in the satisfaction of having so many useful and obedient children.