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.