Thursday, June 27, 2013

a true happiness

I appear to have just had an unplanned blog holiday. Oops. I lost my voice for a while and the strain of whisper shouting at the children exhausted all my mental faculties. It is at just the right time, then, that I got the all clear to delight you with some news.

Many of you have been asking over and over the many long years
When is your mother going to blog?
When is your mother going to write a book?

Well, the first nagging question has been brought to a cheerful and happy conclusion. Finally! Finally my mother, Joyce Carlson, is devotedly blogging at her new sight Asking for the Road and there is even some talk of my father, Robert Carlson, will be applying his own ready fingers to the keyboard. Those of you who know anything about anything know that my parents write splendidly. If you like to read at all, then you are always longing for their next letter. If you have met them in person, you are constantly exasperated by the intervals in between updates. Blogging, I am assured, will alleviate this sorrow and force my mom, in particular, to WRITE WRITE WRITE which may eventually lead to that long hopped for book.
Here is a mere taste to cause you to go NOW to her site and BOOKMARK IT and go there every day!
It seems to me after a weekend of mountain chasing, that looking for Kilimanjaro—and hoping to actually SEE it as a whole—is rather like looking for God. “I don’t see any mountain,” I say petulantly to anyone who will listen. “It’s over there,” they say, waving vaguely in a southwesterly direction. “Where?” “There.” So I stare and stare, and gradually pick out a pale blue, never-changing smear of color stretching low across the horizon, rising ever so slightly to meet an ever-changing wall of clouds. And now and then I fool myself into believing that something enormous and dark lies hidden behind the puffy white clouds... Most of the time when I’m looking for God (or mountains), I underestimate the size of things. I keep looking for something small and particular somewhere near the edge of the horizon—something comfortably about my size. And not looking high enough, I miss the essential truth that “the world is crowded with God”. C. S. Lewis says, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.”[2] Stealthily he comes. “Clouds and thick darkness surround him.”[3] Then imperceptibly the clouds roll away, and I’m left open-mouthed, eyes shining , glad beyond glad to catch a glimpse of such magnificence, until the time when, unaccountably to me, God withdraws again into darkness, “making the clouds his chariot, and riding on the wings of the wind”[4]. It’s not like God doesn’t ever come down into the tiny, particular cry of a baby, or speak in a nearly silent whisper from the back of a cave, but that’s another story. For the time being, I’m trying to remember to get my eyes off the ground and look up.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

good dads

Every year on Father's Day I waffle between discouragement about that horrible statistic about fathers' church attendance and the resulting faith of their children (what is it, one in fifty children grow up to be church going if the father doesn't go, I need to look it up) and huge gratitude and joy that I have a good father, that my husband has a good father and that my children have a good father. And by Good I mean Kind, Godly, There, Having a Backbone and Being Wonderful in Every Way.

I was always surprised and happy as a child that my father laughed when I said something funny. Also, it seemed that his highest priority in life was to organize a fun time. This priority included fun things like going to church and eating cake. Now, far away in Kenya, he does fun things like play in fancy Recorder Ensembles and preach many Sundays at St. Francis church. 

Here we are, way back in the bad old days in the village, eating toh (I actually have no idea how to spell this essential delicacy) and probably peanut sauce.

Matt's desire for a good time means that we eat really fabulously and are on our way to an enormous and lush garden. This spring, though, to keep me from generally freaking out under the vast weight of laundry and baseball, he has spent hours in the basement, I mean Sheol, bailing me out of the pit of laundry I dug for myself, and at almost all other moments standing on the top level of the baseball risers biting his nails and praying for the strength of Alouicisous' skinny angular arm.

He well deserves a moment to sit down and 
receive a fancy card from Elphine. Marigold wasn't able to make a card, she said, because it its her Earth Day. This has become her standard response when asked about anything. In fact, said Marigold, we should have made her a card. Honestly.

So Happy Father's Day! And thank you for being a true picture of God's good fatherliness.

Friday, June 14, 2013

off the bottle

We're in to week two of no bottles and day four of no Strawberry Short Cake and My Little Pony. 
How has it gone?
Well....I mean......probably good.
Marigold was horribly addicted to massive bottles of milk so that she wasn't really eating food. Fatty Lumpkin was so addicted to My Little Pony that she had no ability to play or do anything interesting when the wretched program was playing and when it wasn't. It's been like what I imagine a Hollywood rehab spa in the Sierras would be. The drama, the sneaking of the iPad to watch something quietly under the table, the practically silent pouring of a whole gallon of milk into a baby bottle and on to the floor, the violent shrieking when the offense is discovered, the bargaining, the rage, the half step forward seven steps back. One day last week, whatever day it was, Marigold gathered a bunch of bottles in a plastic bag and hauled them over to church to give them to a real baby. We fell all over ourselves congratulating her only to live through four days of her lying around whining, 'actually, I'm not a big girl anymore. I need a bottle of milk.' Fatty Lumpkin just shouts 'My Pony! My Pony' as a response to anything anyone says to her or near her.
But, it seems like maybe we've broken the back of it. There's an imperceptible tiny bit less crying and a bit more eating of food and playing. Heaven keep them from gambling and strong drink and rock and roll. I can just see the shattered wreck of their addicted lives stretching before them. And the blaming of their poor foolish parents. Well not this time! This time I win!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

{phfr} here comes the rain again

It's raining torrentially and all manner of flood warnings are in effect. I cannot face my basement which I know is filling with water. I ought to get down there and cope with all the stuff on the floor. I ought also to be more holy and good. I ought to do a lot of things. So clearly blogging moves itself to the front of the line. 

Gladys has such an interesting eye. I discovered this jumbled in a pile of recycling and rescued it. I particularly like all the detail, and of course the face. 

Long ago, when baseball was still in play (heh heh heh) (so grateful it's all over, even though I do sort of miss it. But not too much. They lost the championship game on Tuesdsy night, sob, but the coach was so lovely, sitting them all down and methodically saying something wonderful about each child's performance over the course of the season--you could see the boys strain forward in turn to hear what he would say--and then sending them tumbling out of the dugout to run and slide and laugh and jump while the winning team filed somberly and strangely away)... where was I...oh yes
Long ago when there was a game on a Friday and the gods of baseball decided to go ahead and play to the bitter end even though it was clear who was going to win and Matt was stuck out in Vestsl and texting me in rage and fustration because as you all know, Friday is the One Day we sit down and talk to each other and the children aren't allowed to interrupt for any reason other than immanent death, 
I spent the long lonely two and a half hours making this
And setting up this
So that when they finally did make it home reason was restored to its throne.

For the month of June I am spending my Sunday School hour with the Littlest at Good Shepherd. Normally this room holds not only the threes but also whacking great four, five and six year olds so that the threes get kind of lost in the shuffle. But now that Summer Sunday School is in full swing and everyone is upstairs memorizing as many verses as they can before the end of summer, I've assembled the Threes together for some quieter chatechesis by themselves. And the group of them together is pretty hilarious.

Good Shepherd supports a church in the slum of Kuinde in Nairobi, Kenya.
Last night one of the ladies in the church, someone whom Elphine and I got to meet when we visited in 2009, lost everything in a fire that destroyed her one room tin house. She has two little girls and isn't as healthy as everyone would like. If you have a moment could you pray for her today, and for the church. Her name is the same as mine.

And now my conscience is seriously troubling me so I guess I will go have a look at the basement, that is, Sheol.
Go check out Like Mother Like Daughter.

Monday, June 10, 2013

the end is nigh

Baseball is well nigh at a close. Alouicious has plugged along all this season, keeping track of his glove and bat and cleats and hat and uniform, playing catch when there's time, throwing the ball into the tire placed carefully against our gorgeous fence (see posts from last summer) when there's less time, whistling his way through practices and games. The rest of us have been trying to live sanely around him. Elphine and I, waiting out practices, have bought groceries in myriad locations we never expected to know about in the long distant baseball-less past. Matt has been to, what seems like to me, a thousand games, standing, shoulders squared, on the top level of those dilapidated and ubiquitous risers available at every baseball field across America. He mutters under his breath and shouts desperately at his child to RUN and HIT and mostly PAY ATTENTION. I, even I, have stood, white knuckled at the fence, shouting hysterically at children to whom I have never been formally introduced to RUN RUN RUN COME ON RUN RUN RUN!!!  
Yesterday, after rushing away from the Church Picnic (sob), it occurred to me that baseball is alright. It is orderly and cheerful. The angles are well arranged. The lawn is always perfectly green. The little boys (honestly, they look so like babies but also on the cusp of being men) look so right in their bright clean white and wine colored uniforms. The catcher for our team, who I do happen to know, squats keen eyed and ready, but when the moment arises flings aside his massive helmet and cap, scoops up the ball and goes fiercely at the poor child coming desperately towards home. Then, generally satisfied, he reassembles himself with the help of the umpire. It all happens in a languid, fascinating, nail biting rhythm. 
And so, here we are, one single game away from it all being over. We have gone all the way. Had it not been for the rain today, we, I guess I should say 'they' since I am not technically playing, would have played the only other team that has gone all the way. Tomorrow? Or Wednesday? Who can know when the rain will stop and the teams will be assembled. 

Friday, June 07, 2013

don't ask me for food

I have been in bed for two days. Well, not really in bed, more languishing on the couch trying to keep the children from razing the house to its foundations while I move as minimally as possible lest something terrible befall me. And also, all the time exerting prayers and supplications over the contents of my insides, I've gone ahead and started the next school year. It's raining and cold and everyone is fractious. We might as well get on with the books. In this way, I told Elphine, you can be done with college by the time other people are supposed to start (snort) thereby saving me a lot of money. Srsly, you want to sit around wasting your life? 
I didn't wait for her to consider that option but shoved some bright shiny new books into her grubby mitts and dismissed her with my pallid blessing. Because honestly, I really hate it when you stop for the summer and everyone forgets Everything they ever knew. 
So anyway, I did manage to stand up this morning and make enough food for the whole day (pictured above) and after this little moment of blogging, I will probably try to wander around picking up various gross objects from the floor and pretend that I have energy enough to be ready for the weekend. 
Because there's the COGS HEALTH FAIR!!, and the church PICNIC!!! and baseball PLAYOFFS!!! Unfortunately kind of all at the same time. So I'm not sure how it will all play (heh heh heh) out. If I was a better person I would mumble something about 'God's perfect time' and 'everything falling providentially into place' but who am I kidding? It's stressful to have everything coincide and know that God could have rearranged it if he wanted to, given that he's known all about this for months, but he decided not to. Probably because he wants me to be more holy or something ghastly like that. But I'm not taken in! I can worry and fret anywhere anytime! 
Sorry about all the caps. It's time to go for the daily removal of Fatty Lumpkin from the family sugar bowl. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

oh grow up

I've just been making a great long comprehensive list of everything I need to do in the world in order to be allowed to take a holiday later this summer. It includes things like Coping with the Basement and Throwing Half the Contents of the House Away because there's no where to put it. I've already completed some of the tasks--End of the Year Reports for the Government, Getting the Babies off of Drinking Out of Bottles since they're not actually Babies Any More (a fact brought home to me this week while trying to talk to people after church only to find two large girls, my own I realized, lying on the floor screaming and shouting in a way that was not cute or funny but was loud and Too Big)--but I went ahead and wrote everything down so as to be able to cross some things off right away.

But honestly, the reason I'm planning a holiday is because I need one--more and more than ever as the stupid list lies there on the table,
taunting and laughing at me while I try to muscle my way through one task after another. It seems like this would be what it would be like to get ready to die. If I had warning that I was going to die, I would feel like the house needed to be super clean and everything put away. I wouldn't be the person who said, 'Oh Whatever, I'm going to die so who cares anyway'. I would say, 'Oh No, I'm going to die and the house is not clean'. 

Without descending into morbidity and sorrow, I look cheerfully at death on this bright sunny day, which, though evil (death, that is), resembles in many ways a holiday, a welcome rest. That may be because we have had two successful days of two little girls drinking out of cups, although with so much anger. They are angry, not me. I am so happy. It's possible my happiness is contributing to their anger. And yet, my cloud of happiness is shattered by the screaming and the tripping over these large little girls flinging themselves down in my path in an effort to get bottles of milk out of me. My shins are a mass of contusions. However, because it has already been crossed off the list, I will not give in. They will have to settle, once they stop screaming, for sucking sugar water out of those little plastic tubes, or gnawing on frozen smoothie, or drinking warm sugar milk (Tea) out of their little mugs. What a misery their lives are, stretching before them in one long bottle-less wasteland. Clearly, they would rather die than live this way.