Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

7 Quick Takes: How Clean is my House?

My house is immaculately spotless (to be excessively redundant). When I say spotless, I mean that the furniture is finger print free and shining, you can eat off the deeply clean floor, there is no way to trip over piles of laundry and toys because everything is put away, you can see your face in the kitchen sink, and all the bathrooms smell like a fresh summer breeze. In fact, I remarked to myself yesterday, this house Cleaner than our apartment our first year of marriage when we had no children and no pets. 
How is this possible, you ask? 
Largely due to the miracle of prayer and supplication to God, combined with the fact that we live next to the church and we are really really desperately tired of greeting all our friends with "please come in, please don't look at the floor, be careful where you step, oh, I'm so sorry, is that chair sticky, please try this chair...."
Also, we discovered the novel idea of teaching the children to pick up after themselves Before They Move On to the Next Thing. 
Furthermore, we discovered that we also could pick up after ourselves. Like putting a dish in the dishwasher instead of the sink to sit for five days. I've even tried making beds in the morning after we get out of them, instead of in the evening right before we get in them.
I had no idea how much of my identity and purpose was bound up in cleaning. In the absence of having piles of rooms to clean, I've been at a veritable loss of how to conceive of reality. I actually sat down to read a book yesterday, and to read some books to the children, and play the piano for a few minutes. I feel like I'm living in a purpulishly clean twilight zone.
How can we possibly continue with this beautifully clean and ordered lifestyle? you ask. One day at a time. 

Go check out Jen!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I finally read this after having it forwarded to me and seeing it everywhere on facebook. Actually, I got about half way down and had to stop because I began to be lightheaded and sick. Followed upon the recent watching of this, after which I was unable to sleep for several nights, I am ever more confirmed in my belief that none of us ought to be shocked whatsoever at the current political whirlwind we are reaping.

If you make it through the article you will notice, besides the very favorable victimizing tone, words like 'respect' and 'dignity' so perverted by their context as to make them essentially meaningless.

And now to prayer, for the battle belongs to the Lord.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What a glorious thing it is to worship the Lord...

We have recently reached a  milestone with our eldest child. She has gained the age, possibly not of discernment, but of being invited to be trained and to serve as an acolyte in church. For those of you who are not remotely Anglican or liturgical in your ecclesiastical leanings, an acolyte assists in worship by carrying candles or a cross down the aisle, ringing the bell during the Eucharistic prayer (when its supposed to be rung and not all the time or when they feel like it), assisting the priest to set the table for communion, ushering people up to communion and other tasks of that nature. 

We have struggled over the years at Good Shepherd to convince children to want to serve in this way, have struggled to train them, and struggled to get their parents to bring them to church. However, in the last year, there has been a veritable explosion of children desirous of participating in this ministry and eager to serve, our own child amongst them.

Of course, our own child is excessively short, and, as an eight your old, she succumbs, though rarely, to silliness.

This last Sunday was one of those times. She, and the other candle bearer, also of small stature, walked carefully  and reverently down the aisle with the crucifer (the one who carries the cross) at the beginning of the service. I could tell from the gleam in her eye that she was thinking about silly bands and not about Jesus. The ministry of the Word went forward without incident. The acolytes stood, knelt, sang, sat, and prayed without drawing attention to themselves. Only an occasional leaning back while she knelt, to grin at me in the pew, interrupted the quiet flow of worship. At the peace Elphine made a bee line for me to inform me that her fellow candle bearer had been allowed to wear his silly bands high up under his robe and so could she have her back. 

"Absolutely not!" I said, "and the Peace of the Lord be always with you."
As she regained the altar, she and the other acolyte consulted with each about what to do, always a bad sign, I feel, but finally decided to pursue the correct course and return to their seats. The bell was mercifully rung by the crucifer and then came the agonizing moment when they had to walk back to the first pew and let the congregation out, pew by pew, to come forward for communion. Again the two whispered together but finally decided to do what they'd been instructed to do. As I left my pew Elphine whispered loudly, "NOW can I have my silly bands?"

"NO" I whispered back, imploring God to save my child from her sins.
The final prayer was said, Matt blessed the congregation, I opened my hymnal to sing the final hymn, and then Elphine, possibly in confusion, or impatience or gratitude that the service was finally over, took her candle, glanced at the other acolytes, the Eucharistic Ministers, me, and her father the priest, and spun around to walked quickly down the aisle all by herself, candle flailing. The other candle bearer, naturally, took off after her. The entire congregation, excepting visitors who didn't noticed, dissolved into fits of laughter, some of them crying with joy.

I left my pew and went back to encourage my child in the way she should go. "You did a pretty good job," I said, "but, um, did you notice anything just now?" 
"No!" she whispered, "can I have my silly bands?"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Morning Haze: Birthday Edition

Did I mention that I was going to Maryland for a week (last week) to Rockbridge Academy's Teacher Training? Now the week long blog silence will be totally comprehensible and you will be able to put away your rage at my not posting, even as I am trying to put away my rage at the list of people (Lauren!) who are having a 'blog sabbath'. Honestly, what am I supposed to do if I have no blogs to read? Study? Clean? Attend to my children? Surely you will reconsider your family and spiritual commitments when you hear of my agony.

Rockbridge was excellent. If you're thinking about starting a school, and considering making it a Classical Christian school, then you ought to go to Rockbridge. They very much have discovered the winning formula and share it cogently and charitably. My only complaint was that the chairs were too tall and so for an entire week of sitting my feet were well above the floor and I came away with a back ache. Next time I'm taking a large pillow and a stool. 

I will have to process and organize my piles of notes from Rockbridge another day because today is the fourth birthday of Romulus and he intends that I will make him both a batman cake and a spiderman cake. When asked how he would like to spend the day, he focused exclusively on eating--toast, cream of wheat lathered in cream for breakfast, chicken lathered in sauce served up with rice for supper, two cakes, chocolate and butter sandwiches. That's just a partial list. I can see how he won't be interested in playing or riding his bike after so full a day of eating. 

Surprisingly I feel well up to the task of cooking all this food because the house is immaculate--clean enough, in fact, to be photographed. Left unaided with five children for a week, Matt undertook to deep clean and organize the house. This included polishing all the furniture, coping with the horrendous playroom, and training the children to clean up after themselves. Apparently, my method of telling them to clean up and then freaking out when they don't do it bore improvement. Now they clean up what they're playing with before moving as on to the next thing, and they don't smear butter everywhere. 

Romulus informs me that has finished his first course of toast and is ready for 'hot cereal without the cream mixed in'. Ta ta for now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not Enough Sleep Thursday

There's no way I can really blog because I woke up at 3am and couldn't go back to sleep, and then at 4am, Matt got up and turned all the lights on and blamed me for hiding his workout clothes (I DID Not hide them! I would Never Do That!), and then at 4:15 the baby woke up and had a long long long drink which she drank too fast and so at 4:35 she vomited it all over me. So, um, I think things can only get better through the day, don't you?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marigold at 9 months

I don't know what the baby has to be so happy about. She grins unmercifully in the morning and coos and spits while everyone else whines.

Right now she is trying to pull the hairs out of the cat one by one. You would think cat would get up and move.

She doesn't appear to be getting any bigger although she eats everything, especially if you are eating it, gazing at you soulfully, blinking her eyes, puckering her lips in the most manipulative manner possible until you cave and start giving her bits. We didn't intend to give her chocolate cake yesterday but she looked so sad and alone eating banana that we finally gave in.

She also seems to have decided never to crawl. She was showing interest a few weeks back, and we were worried she would take off and become a menace. Now she is choosing the better, lazier way. If you put her down, anywhere, she screams unmercifully until someone, anyone, picks her up again. I can see that she will probably decide not to talk either, because everyone will be able to do it for her.

In short, she is the striking opposite of Gladys. This is not a Bad Thing. God, in his mercy, only gives us those trials we can bear and hopefully that means only One Gladys, not two.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy Birthday

I'm not allowed to blog. I have to arise and go downstairs and make soft boiled eggs and biscuits for breakfast. Five children are jumping on me and freaking out. Okay, okay, I'm coming.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Morning Haze: VBS/Birthday Edition

The sky really is hazy, and the air is hot and humid. I finally rifled through the vast array of pregnancy clothes (I have everything you could possibly want for every season) in my possession looking for cool summer things. I'm too big to stuff myself into anything else. So amazing to be this big at only 12 weeks. Speaking of which, I Really need to remember to call the doctor.

But not today, because VBS kicks off tonight!!!! and I need to be more helpful than I have been so far. It is a huge enormous wonderful fabulous blessing not to be organizing this event myself but instead to be relying on a detail oriented talented enthusiastic creative perfectionist who really loves Jesus and loves children (unlike me, just kidding). This wonderful person has invented a program that far and away surpasses anything I have ever seen for sale on the subject of VBS.

And, I think we've solved the Birthday Party Problem. Thank you so much for all the suggestions. We're entering new territory as we approach this eighth birthday. Heretofore, its been a matter of saying brightly and cheerfully what's going to happen and then carrying on. For example, "We're going to have a cake and a balloon, and T is going to come over and you may also have a potato chip!" And the child coos with delight. I adopted this strategy after clarifying in my own mind what I thought I could cope with.

"Elphine," I said brightly, "on Tuesday morning, your Birthday, I will get out of bed and make us all a lovely breakfast, and then Daddy will take you out to lunch, and then, in the afternoon, we will have tea and that gorgeous fat chocolate cake from Wegmans. And then, when Teacher Training is over in a couple of weeks, and I've had time to recover, I will make a real Holly Hobby cake for after church."

She smiled cheerfully but didn't run off to play. After a few minutes she said, "I've thought about it, and I think we should invited E, S, R, T, N, J, P, J, and T to tea on Tuesday." And so began two days worth of negotiations involving both me and her father with unhelpful suggestions from Alouicious.

Birthdays are complicated for me. I've always adopted a defensive strategy of disappointment on my birthday. In the days leading up I indulgently and mournfully relive my 11th birthday when we planned a party for some friends three towns over, waited All Day for them to come, and finally, in the evening, picked up the party and drove it to them because they had forgotten. Or the birthday on which I received a large poster of Annie with the curly red hair and enormous dog. This poster so offended me--that someone looked at me, and then saw that awful musical, and thought, she's just like that--it still makes me shudder quietly. Or the many many birthdays when I had to go back to boarding school, the two days always seeming to coincide. I bring all this sorrow to every birthday celebrated by every member of our small family (by small, I mean, everyone single one of us is very short).

Matt, on the other hand, sees birthdays like a beautiful uncomplicated dream of happiness and ice-cream. He has no disappointments in birthdays, excepting that since he's been married to me, I have disappointed him every birthday by not being cheerful enough about it.

Naturally, he has insisted that we celebrate Happy Birthdays his way instead of Disappointed Eeyore Birthdays my way. I'm not the best judge, but I think we are succeeding. The children seem so Happy on their Birthdays, eyes bright as they utter long sighs of satisfaction. I hover in the background, waiting for someone to burst into tears or cloud over. My time, however, may yet come. The expectant gleam in Elphine's clear brown eyes is bound some day to encounter disappointment. May God yet spare us from it being this year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Oh Man

Elphine is under the regrettable impression that because her birthday is next week, she should be allowed to have a birthday party, with a chocolate Holly Hobby cake, friends, balloons, and maybe a present. Agh!!! Its VBS week. Saturday is getting ready for VBS, Sunday is getting ready for VBS and then the whole thing kicks off, and then as soon as VBS is over I disappear to Maryland for teacher training. What shall I do? Seriously, help me out with some ideas.

(Remember, Alouicious managed to celebrate his birthday for a whole week, in very very recent memory.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Half Dozen

Per my request, Matt told everyone on Sunday that we're expecting Kennedy 6.0 in early February. I'm a mile wide at 10 weeks and I could tell everyone was looking at me and wishing they could ask. I was seriously toying with the idea of waiting until I was almost giving birth before admitting it and forcing so many loved ones into awkward social trauma by saying aggrievdly, 'NO! I'm just fat! And I'm throwing up because I have a chronic flu! What kind of person are you?'

We're all tickled pink. The children are wildly picking names and making plans. Elphine wants it to be a girl named Violet. Aloucious wants a boy named Daniel. Romulus wants it to actually be Spiderman. I'm pretty sure the only person who won't be uniformly thrilled will be Marigold, but who knows, she might surprise us all.

I've been telling everyone that I feel terrible, but it must not be too bad because I stripped all the kitchen wall paper and painted the kitchen last week, and yesterday I surprisingly decided to make French Fries from scratch (a stupid thing to do because I'm the only person in this family who will eat white potato and so I was forced to eat the entire bowl myself, lathered in mayonnaise--the fries, not me--Delicious!)

I have one small regret. Years ago I told everyone I 'wanted six'. The response overwhelmingly has been 'well, now you have your six' with a slight raise of the eyebrows. WHAT is everyone going to say when we go for #7? I wish I'd said from the get go that I wanted to be Michelle Dugger and have 20. But, I didn't know about her back then, and I was young and foolish, and six seemed like an outrageous lot of children. Am I allowed to grow in wisdom and maturity and up my number at this late date? How 'bout not 20 (I'm already too old) but, say, an even dozen? Isn't there a book about that? And also, my grandmother wanted 12. Its a Biblical Number.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy 4th!

Part IV of Leaving Home is Finally up! Took us an age, but I think the extra time made it extra good. If you missed the beginning, here's Part I, Part II, and Part III.

On that note, I'm going to wrench myself from the internet and desperately paint my kitchen and fling it back together and clean the house before noon when my weekend visitors arrive.

Stay cool! Its a scorcher.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

having started something, I really need to go finish it....

On Monday, without premeditation, but largely because of the advent of the Awesome New Refrigerator, I started taring at the kitchen wallpaper. As a result, I have a dining room table full of kitchen junk, half a kitchen with wall paper, half without, a house full of little bits of wall paper because of so many children "helping" and tracking dirt everywhere, half a kitchen taped up for priming and painting, and general complete chaos. So, um, I really can't justify sitting here writing about how much I'm loving reading, or rather, listening to the Bible in a year, even though I'm exactly one month behind (because of going on vacation) and how much depth I am gaining my listening to it chronologically--the psalms spliced into the accounts of David's life--which is what I'd really like to be doing. Or, on the other hand, the depth of schmultzy nostalgia in which I am wallowing as a result of not only watching the world cup, but all the ads on youtube for the world cup, and all the floozy songs on youtube for the world cup. I know its been said Way Too Much, but it is special that its in Africa this time. I am so homesick. Also, why did they have to get a white chicky to sing the official (or one of the official) songs for the occasion? Are there no qualified African singers? (The answer to that question should be obvious to us all and if you answer wrongly, I won't even post your answer). What is the matter with me! I need to go work on the kitchen!