21 December 2009

Counting Up

It's December 21 and I've yet to post ANYTHING this month!
Lo siento.
It's not for lack of thoughts.
It's because I've had too many thoughts.
This year I've had what I consider to be lots of Christmas angst.
I've wanted to write lots of times, but have not been sure what to say.
One thing I do know:
It's time to post more reasons for gratitude, especially this Christmas week.

If you don't know, we are counting our way to 1000 of God's blessings. We have a notebook on the kitchen table and we daily (usually) keep a list of things for which we are grateful.
I love that my four-year-old knows the word "gratitude"; it's a good one to put into our vocabulary early on.


I'm going to make these
smaller because I didn't post them the last two Mondays. And there are a lot of them.

#0204 lunch of soup and salad
#0205 Mrs. Min and Song who play with Lucy on Mon and Wed while I teach
#0206 banana yogurt from Trader Joe's
#0207 goofy 8th grade boys (my students)
#0208 silly 7th grade girls (my students)
#0209 time with Lucy eating lunch together
#2010 Lucy's tiny face
#0211 how red cranberries are
#0212 Advent
#0213 the 5 and 10 store on Massachusetts Avenue; we can walk there; and they have EVERYTHING!
#0214 baking
#0215 the smell of oatmeal cooking
#0216 seeing new students learning Spanish
#0217 samples at Trader Joe's
#0218 naps for Lucy
#0219 naps for me with Lucy
#0220 that John takes the boys to school most days
#0221 school
#0222 vacation
#0223 good visits to different middle schools with Walter
#0224 watching "Elf"
#0225 hot tea
#0226 John helping me with the computer
#0227 Women's Bible Study on Tuesdays
#0228 the Bible
#0229 book of Joshua
#0230 that God is much higher than we are
#0231 reformed theology
#0232 Tim Keller
#0233 New York City
#0234 my friend, Meda
#0235 my warm slippers in my cold house
#0236 Lucy's shots
#0237 middle school (it's coming next year!! And I didn't write this one)
#0238 hand warmers!
#0239 salt and pepper
#0240 movies
#0241 tuna melts
#0242 Lucy being brave at her shots
#0243 tummies (I think Lucy said this one)
#0244 Lucy's belly button
#0245 Covenant School
#0246 Mrs. Levy (my colleague)
#0247 Mrs. Leiserson (another colleague)
#0248 youth (Walter!)
#0249 milk
#0250 Park Street School (and we're a quarter of the way to 1000!)
#0251 volcanoes
#0252 clementimes (I know it's misspelled; that's how Lucy says it)
#0253 flowers and roses and all the flowers (Lucy)
#0254 milk in a tin mug
#0255 Dr. Danis (our pediatrician for the past 11 years!)
#0256 Mr. Utter (another colleague)
#0257 "There is no Christmas to buy or to make. There is only Christmas to find." I read this on someone's blog? Was it on Ann's blog? It comforted me so.
#0258 Benjamin Britten (composer)
#0259 sharpened pencils
#0260 school supplies
#0261 messy chairs with piles so you can't sit down
#0262 Clay's dirty socks in his bed
#0263 having plenty of socks
#0264 being able to Christmas shop
#0263 praying with the boys
#0264 laughing with the boys
#0265 lined up lunch boxes in the morning

#0266 snuggling in a warm bed
#0267 being able to borrow our neighbor's dryer because ours done broke
#0268 parents (Walter)
#0269 not having video games (Walter; is this reverse psychology?!)
#0270 being a kid
#0271 family
#0272 snow!
#0273 brothers (be still my heart, they're thankful for each other!)
#0274 Walter being nice to his brothers
#0275 Advent (again; redundant gratitude; see this post)
#0276 bagels with butter
#0277 new clothes
#0278 my friend, Heather Ashe
#0279 Lucy's songs she makes up every day
#0280 hearing kids play together
#0281 wrestling with the children
#0282 Lucy holding up one finger as she goes to sleep; this means, "One more song."
#0283 happy children
#0284 grumpy children
#0285 lip gloss
#0286 Lucy playing ponies
#0287 dishwasher! And that we have one!
#0288 boy haircuts
#0289 sunrise
#0290 the smell of Lucy and her blankies when she wakes up
#0291 Cheerios
#0292 candles
#0293 ipods
#0294 not having to buy a new phone! (I lost my cell phone, but a friend had an old one to give me!)
#0295 that Jesus is our Shepherd; He won't leave us
#0296 Santa hats
#0297 scarves
#0298 mothers/ my mommy (Walter and Lucy; yay!)
#0299 fire
#0300 two boys shoveling the walk and digging out the car
#0301 church people going after (a long way after) someone who has strayed; I'd want someone to come after me
#0302 that John is home safely from a long and snowy drive many states away
#0303 knee socks!
#0304 God's mercies are new EVERY morning; He knew we would need that!

If you made it to the end of this, I applaud you.



holy experience

30 November 2009

A Thousand



"I wo
uld maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~Chesterton

Continuing with the list, hoping to become quicker in my grateful response to the Giver of all good gifts. Our list is growing more slowly than I would like...a few more moments a day are needed to reflect on and record the many, many blessings!

#0177 - 0204

0177
school and friends

0178
food

0179
sugar

0180
the smell of pumpkin rolls

0181
football

0182
that we are all healthy

0183
Walter's 6th grade class

0184
marshmallows

0185
our neighbors


0186
different families, different traditions

0187
my friend, Gretchen

0188
happiness

0189
Clayton


0190
Theo


0191
Walter


0192
Lucy


0193
John

0194
freshly-washed jeans

0195
Uncle Clay's visits

0196
apples and peanut butter

0197
Longhorn football

0198
rainy day at home


0199
electronics

0200
Kit/Mom (I promise I didn't write this!)

0201
boys cleaning out the car

0202
a cleaned out car

0203
a car

0204
more pumpkin rolls - already gone!

Think about keeping your own list; it will change you and those with whom you share it. To read more lists, go to A Holy Experience.

27 November 2009

Thanksgiving Post Script

We had a fantastic day of celebration and thanksgiving yesterday at our house.



There were 17 of us around two tables: six children and eleven adults.


My brother came up from New York City and stayed for the night. Always so fun to see Uncle Clay!

I was up til 2 am the night before getting ready. And I was up til 1 am last night cleaning up (and taking breaks to watch the Texas/A&M game!!). While it is tiring, I honestly love doing all of it. I truly find it satisfying to create a meaningful holiday for my family and for those who come to our house.

This morning, John kept the crew quiet and let me sleep in til 11:30 am!!! What a great husband.


Happy Thanksgiving weekend! May it be quiet and full of rest.

25 November 2009

Sweet Patooties

I made up a recipe today! I never do this, I'm NOT a creative cook at all.

But I remembered a sweet potato dish I had many years ago with John's family down at the hunting lease (what is a hunting lease, you ask? ask someone from Texas) in Pearsall, TX. It was sweet and spicy at the same time, but my mother-in-law has no recollection of this dish. So someone else must have made it.

Ever since then, I've wanted to recreate it, and this is the year! It's not exactly as I remember it, but then, MANY of my brain cells have probably died and gone to heaven since then.

I cooked up a huge pot of sweet potatoes and mashed them up.
Added about 3/4 stick of butter, a good amount of maple syrup, the juice from a jar of green chilies, a bit of salt, some nutmeg and a few shakes of cayenne pepper. Oh, and a few generous spoonfuls of sour cream. Then tasted and adjusted for a while.

I think it turned out pretty well! John says the only thing that will make it better would be to put a layer of marshmallows on it, but I say you can only have so many marshmallow dishes in one meal!!

AND, I'm pretty sure the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims did NOT have marshmallows down there in Plymouth, lo many years ago!

Thanksgiving Food Update #2

I'm reporting from the kitchen here at 123 Sesame Street...

Just kidding, that's Ernie and Bert's address! I'm at MY house.

Anyway, the pumpkin rolls are out of the oven and several have been devoured. I wish I could communicate smell on the blog, because the aroma of just-baked pumpkin rolls is AMAZING!

The pastry is chilling in the fridge, the children have eaten. Walter ironed a nice stack of 17 napkins for me!

I'm going to clean up the kitchen and run to Trader Joe's for flowers and candles. When I return, Lucy will take a nap and I think I'll have the boys work on the pies with me and maybe also some more silver polishing.

Fun, fun! Pictures to come on my next update!

Thanksgiving Food Update

The Thanksgiving food preparation in our house began last night. I made the traditional cranberries in wine and began polishing the silver.

This morning I ran to the grocery store before 7 am for the last minute items. I've completed TWO jello "salads" (Are you from the South? Then you know about these. These are in honor of my husband's Texan heritage), a green and an orange. The pumpkin rolls are on their second rise. I'm about to make the pie pastry so that it has time to chill and then I'll probably need to take a break to feed the hordes their lunch.

Walter is about to do some ironing of the linen napkins for me.

The difficulty I run into with all this holiday cooking is that I lose steam for making the regular meals that people still need to eat. What should we have? Cereal? Bread crusts? I wish I were more organized.

More to come as things develop.

23 November 2009

What I'm Thankful For


The list of 1000 blessing continues this Monday, our little Lucy's birthday and the week of Thanksgiving.

I'm grateful for the memory of the day of her birth. It was the day before Thanksgiving that year and that labor was hard. I thought the fourth labor would be the easiest, and boy, was I wrong! It took everything I could give to get her out and I'm so grateful that she's here! We just can't imagine our lives without this breath of gaiety, whimsy and yes, drama!

Here is Lucy snuggling in her bed in her new bathrobe with her new Frenchy dog (from Fancy Nancy. Have you met her yet?)

Lucy in her new (to her) princess/bride dress, and me


From our family's Gratitude Journal this week:

#0153-0175

0153
Good Earth tea

0154
Greek yogurt...so yummy!

0155
doing chores together with the kids

0156
repentance and forgiveness

0157
singing at church, really loud. I always sing really loud.

0158
the change of seasons

0159
sausage (guess who?!)

0160
driving along the Charles River in the morning light

0161
coffee very early in the morning

0162
that Clayton finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

0163
haircuts - Lucy and me

0164
that he doesn't have to get a haircut yet - Walter

0165
the 84 bus and the 78 bus (at the end of our street!)

0166
the weekend

0167
Fridays

0168
Papa and Lucy having lunch together

0169
Mac B. (Clayton's best friend)

0170
Harvard Book Store

0171
my birthday daisies on the table still look good!

0172
water

0173
buttoning sweater buttons over a tiny round tummy

0174
going for a walk with Lucy and her baby in her carriage

0175
the different personalities of our children

0176
this:


If you'd like to join others in listing God's gifts (even if you don't blog!!), GO HERE and look for the Gratitude Community!

21 November 2009

Boring life

Here is what Theo just asked me:

"Mom, have you ever been in prison? Have you ever owned a gun? Have you ever been to outer space? Have you ever been to the inside of the sun and survived? Have you ever been the guy who got stabbed in the heart and then they got his blood working again and he came back to life?

No?

Awwww, DARN it. That's so boring."




19 November 2009

"World" Famous

EDIT: The light version of this recipe called for skim milk and fat-free chicken broth. And possibly reduced fat cheese. The bacon grease was NOT the part that made it light, surprisingly! You can easily do these things, but I've made it so many times using whatever I had (don't have potatoes? Leave 'em out). Enjoy!

As requested by "many, many" "people" (What? Am I misusing quotation marks or something?), I share with you now our beloved recipe for Chicken Cheddar Chowder.

Chicken Cheddar Chowder (from Cooking Light 1997; modified by me so that it's not so "light")

At least 2 slices bacon (I usually use much more)
1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4.5 c. chicken broth
1.75 c. diced red potatoes (peeled or not)
2.25 c. frozen corn
.5 c. flour
2 c. milk
.75 c. cheddar cheese, grated (I usually use more!)
.5 t. salt
.25 t. pepper

Cook bacon in a large pan coated with cooking spray over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, crumble and set aside.
Add chicken and next 3 ingredients to bacon fat and saute for 5 minutes. Add broth and potatoes; bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until patooties are tender.
Stir in the corn.
Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk and whisk until blended. Add to soup.
Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until it thickens, stirring often.
Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper. Remember to season to taste!
Top with the crumbled bacon.
This recipe makes around 7 servings.

Happy fall soup making!



16 November 2009

Practicing the Song

We're trying to practice the song of gratitude in our family. Following Ann's lead, I purchased a simple spiral pad for our own gratitude journal. Right now it lives on the kitchen table so that we can remember to jot down our thanks as they come to mind.

One thing I'm learning is that on the grumpy days, I need to keep my list more than ever. I need it, I need it.

Here are some from the family's continuing list.

0127
eggs

0128
pizza

0129
rain

0130
snow

0131
Thanksgiving

0132
my mom and dad and grandparents who went home to see their dogs (this was written in Lucy's special script and translated by me)

0133
food

0134
family

0135
baboons

0136
monkeys

0137
fresh bread and butter

0138
very helpful and fun son/mom time

0139
cake

0140
siblings

0141
popcorn and hot chocolate

0142
soda

0143
cheese (are you beginning to sense the food theme? these come from one son in particular.)

0144
Theo so he will get better (Lucy)

0145
musical birthday cards! They give hours of fun!

0146
a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge when you think you're out

0147
trees and oxygen and carbon dioxide

0148
Memaw (that's the children's great-grandmother)

0149
brothers playing football happily

0150
folded laundry

0151
unfolded laundry because it means we have plenty of clothes to wear!

0152
that God doesn't leave us like we are.

"We're not all that we should be, but we're so much better than we used to be." Our pastor says this all the time. He is at work, changing us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!


Consider joining the Gratitude Community...


holy experience

11 November 2009

Yesterday

Yesterday's post was titled Today so today, on this post titled Yesterday, I am in fact going to tell you about yesterday.
Confused yet? Good.

Here's what I did yesterday.

1. Got up and did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred for the first time. It wasn't that hard at the time, but I am sore this morning.
2. Had two kids sick who stayed home from school.
3. Drove non-sick kid to school.
4. Went to Market Basket.
5. Came home and read to sickest child. Other kind-of-sick child played my old records on the record player (Beauty and the Beat, anyone? Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits?)
6. Made a meal for a new mom at church. For the first time EVER, I was organized in my prep. I'm making a meal a week for the next three weeks, so I made a double batch of our world-famous Chicken Cheddar Chowder and split it into three containers. One for yesterday, two for the freezer! Yay for me!
7. I made FIVE loaves of bread. The dough threatened to overwhelm my poor little Kitchen Aid mixer. I think I might need an industrial size. It was a new recipe for me and turned out quite good (according to John and the children...I'm staying away from carbs). I used half whole wheat flour and half white.
8. Picked up non-sick kid from school and delivered meal to new mom (container of soup, a loaf of bread and salad in a bag).
9. Came home, attended to really sick child.
10. Made a batch of applesauce. I think the smell of apples cooking is one of my very favorite. Which gives me an idea for another post...what are your favorite smells and why? What do they evoke in you?

I like days when I have to stay home and do things around here. And I like making so much food. Very satisfying.

10 November 2009

Today

This is my birthday week! Yay! I love birthdays, and I had a great one this year.

The celebrations actually began LAST weekend when my parents-in-law were here and we all went out to East Coast Grill for a birthday dinner. It was SO fun.

Sunday was the actual day. There wasn't time for a special breakfast, because it was "church day" and John was preaching. But Theo said, "We have to have a special breakfast! It's your birthday!" We compromised with the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through on the way to church.

The children gave me an awesome musical card. You know, the ones that play music when you open them? This one was Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "Funky Town". This was selected by Theo and they all LOVE it! Lucy picked out some fluorescent colored pencils for me and the boys gave me a WICKED AWESOME clear umbrella, the kind that comes down over you like a bubble. I just love it! And I've been wanting one, too!

Going to church on your birthday is lots of fun because you get lots of people to say happy birthday to you and it makes you feel really special. At least it made me feel really special! And thanks to Facebook, you also get lots of birthday greetings from hundreds of people that you don't really even know all that well. And that makes you feel special, too. At least it did to me!

Monday was a faculty day at my school and we went on a field trip to this amazing place. The Community of Jesus is down on the Cape. The most striking thing about the place is the gorgeous church they have built on the property. The artwork on both the exterior and interior of the building is beyond belief...frescoes and mosaics done by Italian artists, carved stonework, a huge and beautiful organ. The weather was not typical November weather - sunny and in the upper 60s - so we enjoyed everything about the day.

Oh, wait the title of this post is today...and I didn't even mention today!

That will have to come tomorrow! Good night!

07 November 2009

Sometimes



...you just have to grit your teeth.

One of my sons is playing with a toy that makes a COMPLETELY ANNOYING sound. I am SO tempted to tell him to knock it off!

But I remind myself that a) he's having a lot of fun with it, b) it won't last the whole morning (please, don't let it last the whole morning) and c) it's good to not be an annoyed, snippy parent. He's not trying to be bad or irritating.

One of my home-schooling friends used a beautiful phrase on her blog the other day, as she wrote about their days together: "Like sandpaper, rubbing sometimes all day long, we become smoother." Lord, let the rubbing make me and us smoother every day. Jesus, help!


05 November 2009

One by one


One by one, I want to number the things for which I give thanks, the things that remind me that I'm the daughter of a loving Father.

The thing that I love about this is that they do not depend on the circumstances of my life! His goodness doesn't change. I want to hold onto the idea that even in the worst storm, I could continue this list, calling out the ways He shows and declares His tender care.

Today I bought a journal that I intend to turn into a Gratitude Journal for the family. Especially this month, I want all of us to have the place and opportunity to write things as they come to mind.

Here's part of my continuing list...

0121
great discussion with the boys at our devotional time tonight

0122
reading Little Pilgrim's Progress with Theo (and whoever wants to listen) and hearing his observations

0123
the blessing of being able to buy the groceries I need

0124
my preacher husband. He is so faithful, to me and to the Church and to the Word.

0125
a yummy dinner of sausage ratatouille. Good, good, good.

0126
looking forward to my birthday this weekend! I've always loved my birthday. And I share it with THREE wonderful sisters at church!!!

Blessing to you tonight!

In case you're wondering, the photos from yesterday and today are from Mix and Match Day at the boys' school last week!




04 November 2009

November


Bet that picture got your attention!

It's been too long since I posted, my friends! So much has been going on. We had Halloween and my dear parents-in-law visited. Man, October was one busy month!

This month I want to keep special track of the blessings of the Lord. I want to foster a heart of gratitude each and every day. Tonight, as I write, I've been struggling with a very ungrateful and angry spirit. And the verse that rang in my ears as I cursed under my breath was from Jonah, the book that we've been taught from at church.

Twice God asks Jonah, the reluctant prophet, this question: "Do you do well to be angry?"

I felt God asking me that same question tonight, as I raged in my heart about my perception of how my children provoke me, ignore my instruction, blah, blah, blah. Me, me, me. Forgetting, like Jonah, that I am a sinner.

Forgetting, like Jonah, that before I was in Christ, I was fully deserving the righteous wrath of God.

Forgetting, like Jonah, that my own anger is VERY RARELY righteous or justified.

Again, I turn to giving thanks, a surefire way to experience a change of heart, a foolproof method of finding my joy again.

Let me not delay to remember, and give thanks. On our way to 1000 Blessings!

#0112 - 0120

0112
the words of the Lord coming back to me, "Do you do well to be angry?" Gulp.

0113
our community group from church

0114
being able to get up earlier than usual the past several weeks. I hope make it earlier still in the coming weeks

0115
time with the grandparents. So good to be with them and miss them while we're apart.

0116
my special friend, M. I love being her friend and am so grateful for her and her family. They are really and truly gifts to us.

0117
real enjoyment in classroom teaching these days. And today I received some great feedback from a highly respected colleague. I yearn for feedback! And positive feedback makes me feel so good.

0118
that the Lord can use anyone, even me, even Jonah, even you!

0119
the last brilliant days of fall. I love leaves swirling through the air

0120
looking ahead to February when I will travel to Dominican Republic with my students. Lots to pray about and plan for!

For more potent reminders about gratitude, finding beauty, giving thanks and walking with the Lord, may I highly recommend A Holy Experience, written by Ann Voskamp? She says it all so much more eloquently than I do.

More tomorrow! Don't miss these last two pictures...


20 October 2009

How her mind works

I know, I know, second Lucy post in a row. But she's so funny!!! To me, at least.

Here's a log of some of her thoughts and sayings on our car ride to school today. Whew, what a ride!

This is all Lucy:

(in a worried voice as we drove out of our neighborhood) I hope we see my favorite color, green, today!

(a few seconds later) Oh, there's some green! In the trees!!

(in a quiet voice, to herself) My God is so...strong. He talked and things...came.

(as we crossed the Charles River) It's a good day to canoe!

(as we passed the Harvard playing fields) I wish there was a bigger guy football game. Mom, will you sign me up for football? Then I can be big and strong like my mom.

[Later in the ride I gave a friendly toot of the horn...yes, I promise it was friendly...this time...to warn someone that I was in his blind spot.]

(when we picked up the brothers, this was the first thing she said to them when they opened the door) Guys, guess what?! Mom honked!!!

18 October 2009

Our story

Got a Lucy story for you.
This was our conversation the other day in the car:

L (sounding skeptical): So, Mom, when there was nothing in our story, Jesus TALKED and things were made?

K: Yes, that's right, God spoke and things were made!

L (still not sure): So...when there was nothing in our story, Jesus TALKED? And things were made?!

K: Yes! Isn't that amazing?

L: He can do magic!! I can't do magic!

And then a few days later, she asked this:

L: Mom, how is our story going to end?

(By this time, I'm catching on to the fact that "our story" is life as we know it. Love that phrase.)

K: Well, the Bible says that Jesus is going to come back and there will be a new heaven and new earth, and we are going to get new bodies!!

L (whimpering): I don't want a new body!

Another day as we walked out of the house, she asked, "Are there going to be any squirrels in our story today?"

Our life is one big story.

12 October 2009

Multitude Monday

holy experience




Time to continue the list. Since my last Gratitude post, I've heard from more friends about how this list has encouraged them with their own thanks to our Father!

Glory be! It really does make us different!

0095-0111

0095
time away to learn the teaching craft; it give me great joy

0096
apple picking with friends; an autumn tradition continued, this time in the lovely mountains of New Hampshire

0097
Oldest son waving to me from across a field with an enthusiastic, "Hi, Mom!!!" So glad he still likes me. :)

0098
church retreat and living our lives with these dear friends

0099
our boys sitting at lunch table with a bunch of single friends from church, chatting and laughing together

0100
amazing foliage colors in NH! Glory!

0101
gospel teaching over the weekend and great discussions afterward

0102
stars...you can see so many of them when you leave the city!! I had forgotten.

0103
anticipation of a few days away with sweet husband! Fancy hotel, here we come!

0104
remembering God's faithfulness as I looked around at church friends over the weekend. He has done and is doing so much in our midst.

0105
time on my drive to Maine to really pray and sing and admire the creation

0106
sweet memories of our early years of marriage and living in lovely New England

0107
this morning, I woke up for a bit and then was allowed to go BACK TO SLEEP. It was that deep, sweet, relaxed sleep that I don't feel that I get very often. Mmmmmm.

0108
laughing with son #3 and seeing him grow in confidence

0109
holding Lucy, my sweet baby. The way I yearn for her is just a little picture of how the Father yearns for me. Can you believe it?!?

0110
thinking about the story of the prodigal son, and how maybe he felt when he saw his father RUNNING down the road toward him, all dignity and caution thrown to the wind. May I feel THAT love as I learn to authentically repent and move on in Christ's life.

0111
apple crisp from the fair and our SWEET friends who brought it to us! What did we do to deserve such a gift?

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness to us! You whisper your love in so many ways.

Read more and see the Gratitude lists of others at Holy Experience.



08 October 2009

I'm going places

Today I went to Maine. All by myself. I drove up to Lewiston, Maine for a workshop with this person. I had to leave before dawn even cracked!!! It was dark. Like, night time, I tell you. But I had a lot of coffee with me and good old NPR on the radio, and I had lots of time to pray.

When the sun came up, things got a little brighter (guffaw guffaw) and I spent some time admiring creation and singing. It was great!

The workshop was very fun, informative, interactive and also good for networking. It really made me even more happy to be a language teacher using TPRS. I love it so much! And it makes me laugh, so what could be better?

Tomorrow we are all going to Lake Winnipesaukee (NH) for the church getaway. I'm so excited! We missed it last year because we were at Derek and Luz's wedding (that's a worthy cause). There will be s'mores! Bonfires! Hiking! Kids! Yay!

Next week, John and I are going on a little getaway of our own to NYC! We are staying at a FANCY hotel (using hotel points for that!) and taking the train down there. We will see some family and some friends. And be by ourselves. In New York City. All by ourselves with millions of others. We will go to a museum or two. And take in a show.

If you know NYC, give me your best recommendations of what we need to see/do with 2.5 days in the city. What is not to be missed this time around?

The List

Clayton had an assignment this week which was to write a paragraph incorporating all of the week's vocabulary words.

Here are the words he needed to use:

received
feisty
advertisement
mild-mannered
pesky
troublesome
energetic
harshly
murmured
crowding

Think about it for a minute. What would you write?

Here is what Clayton came up with. It is PERFECT! And the best thing is, he doesn't understand why I find it so hilarious:

Yesterday I received an advertisement in the mail. It said, "Please adopt a troublesome, feisty and energetic little dude from Tasmania." I murmured, "Who would adopt a troublesome guy from Tasmania? I want a mild-mannered guy who is never crowding you or being pesky or doing anything harshly."


04 October 2009

He goes before and behind

For ye shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rearward.
Isaiah 52:12 (English Revised Version)


I want to share the reading from Amy Carmichael's Edges of His Ways, a devotional I've mentioned before and one that always ministers to me. I found it so appropriate for a new month. This is the entry for September 30, though I'm just now getting to posting it. Here are Amy's words:


Have you ever looked back over a month and felt more than a little disheartened over the failures and mistakes - the blots on the page you had meant to keep so white?

There is a most beautiful and tender meaning in the word "rearward" which again and again has comforted me. It may be new to some of you. It means to gather. The Revised Version margin has, to gather you up. An army as it goes forth into new territory needs a Vanguard to protect the van, and a Rearguard to protect the rear, so our glorious God uses these two words in speaking of His loving work to us-ward. The Lord will go before us. Our Vanguard is the Lord. And the Lord God of Israel will be our Rearward - following after, not only to defend us, should the enemy attack in the rear, as he often does, but to gather us up if we flag and are weary because of the way. And if He gathers us up, He gathers up also the things we have dropped, our poor fallen resolutions, mistakes, everything, and deals with them Himself. There is eternal love and tenderness in these dear words, "The Lord God of Israel shall gather you up." Not only that, The glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward (Isaiah 58:8).

So, as we travel on into another month we need not fear, Eternal Love is our Vanguard, the glory of Eternal Love is our Rearguard. The everlasting Arms of Everlasting Love shall gather us up.

May the Lord God go before and after you today and all this busy October month! Grace, grace, grace.








29 September 2009

Rules

A rule I never imagined I might someday have to utter:

You may not play the kazoo while you brush your teeth.

I told this to Theo today and he said, "Okay. But it is quite a talent."

25 September 2009

ALERT!!!

Okay, you guys (or y'all, whichever you prefer). This is serious. Get ready for what I have to tell you.

I

just

fixed

my

own

washing

machine

with

TOOLS

and

I

even

went

to

an

appliance

parts

store

and

purchased

the

correct

part

and

installed

it.

BY

MY

SELF!!!

(with a little help from a friend I like to call YouTube. And a little video I like to call Direct Drive Washing Machine Lid Switch Replacement)

21 September 2009

1000 Gifts continued

Oh, do I need to post this today!

Too tired for any pretty graphics or buttons or even pictures.

But I want you to know, I need you to know that this gratitude business REALLY changes me! It really changes my heart!

AND...it changes those around me.

We're learning from Jonah in church this fall. So in Community Group tonight (where we discuss the sermon from the previous Sunday), we talked about how life's storms can present an opportunity for repentance.

A friend asked, "But HOW can the storms help us to repent?"

My answer is that when we give thanks in the storms, we are convicted of our ingratitude. When we remember the thanks, then we are also reminded of all the times that we neglected to give thanks.

And then we must run and hide ourselves in Jesus, cry mercy and rejoice in our adoption!

I'm not in a storm right now. But today felt heavy, low, draggy. And I thought this morning, "Today, more than ever, I need to write my Gratitude List."

Today write down ten things that God uses to let you know that He loves you, that He delights in you, that He is a Good Gift-Giver. I promise you, it will change you!

#78-94

0078
three sunny days in a row, unbelievably sunny, bright and perfect. Gifts, I tell you!

0079
how when I feel a bit under the weather, I remember how great it is to NOT feel under the weather

0080
getting back to the gym this week. Hello? Body?

0081
excitement in teaching and learning

0082
our dear community group starting up again

0083
a beautiful new person at community group! I hope we loved her well enough so that she comes back!

0084
getting in a better Bible reading routine with the family

0085
Son #3's eyes that light up with new knowledge

0086
Son #3 getting the giggles in church and both of us almost losing it completely!

0087
AWESOME songs in church yesterday

0088
being able to fight with husband and easily make up after. We're getting better at fighting (now that sounds funny).

0089
neighbor's adoption of 3 school-aged lovelies from Congo, brand new to our school, neighborhood and lives. What a privilege to love them.

0090
water...as much as I want to drink. And it's clean.

0091
Gospel of John...so tender. He loves us so.

0092
Husband who loves me

0093
Son #1 learning to help in church service. Proud to see him grow.

0094
vacuuming

Do you see how this could go on and on and on and on and on? Let it be so!


07 September 2009

Blessings #66 - 77

holy experience


0066
the feel of September in the cool nights and dry days

0067
a peaceful time getting to church with the family for the third week in a row...THANKFUL

0068
warm boys' bodies snuggling up to me all during church

0069
singing in church

0070
hearing my children humming the songs from church later in the day

0071
friends at church who love our children even when they find out they're not always cute

0072
the Lord's leading me to help in Sunday School this year mainly so that I can be with son #3

0073
the fun of hanging around with two goofy 11-year-old boys

0074
throwing the football with those same boys and laughing

0075
reading a book concurrently with son #1 and both loving it!

0076
my long-time favorite devotional by Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways. I highly recommend any of her writings, but this little book has been a special friend to me

0077
the awesome, beautiful, encouraging note from a friend who said that my list of blessings blessed her!


sunset in Ogunquit, Maine in July

06 September 2009

And now, a poem


Onion Ecstasy

Liquid gold spreads in blackened cast iron
Welcomes soul mates
Translucent, pungent pieces tumble in
Soften
Release first promise of
Comfort to come
Pressed shreds hiss
Melding, marrying
Consummating, sustaining
Come what may.

written by me during our teacher meetings of 8/24-8/27. My task was to become an expert on the onion, write a poem, paint a picture and also do a science experiment. This is all a part of our school becoming an Expeditionary Learning school. Click HERE learn about ELS...I'm not sure that I really "get" it yet.

Labor Day Weekend Update

So I'm just trying to keep all you anxious readers (hahahahahahah...ha) satisfied with all the nitty gritty, sordid details of my life here.

Here's a list for you of the last few weeks or so. Life's about to make the jump to hyper space here in the next week and a half, with the boys starting school. This week will be a warm up, with ballet for Lucy and soccer and baseball for the boys beginning.

1. Week before last I had four days of teacher meetings at my school. I will be teaching 5-8th graders again this year. The meetings were very fun, encouraging and even, dare I say, inspiring. We teachers had the chance to play with art, poetry, science, and exploration. Very good for the soul.

2. Last Wednesday was my first day of teaching for the year! Eeek! I'll be in class M/W/F this year and I'm really looking forward to it. I've been doing lots of reading online and otherwise about school issues, teaching methods, and teaching in general. Invigorating. As a side note, one of the most interesting books I've read is called
The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn. From my perspective, as both teacher and parent, he is dead on in his assessment. I'm already dreading the homework this year. That sentiment leads to my next point of interest...

3. I've been reading
Parenting with Love and Logic and it is like a balm to my mother-soul. So much wisdom in their parenting ideas and techniques. I'm just a fledgling at trying them out, but can't wait to read more and experiment more. Have any of you read this stuff? I'd love to talk it out with someone.

4. We did indeed have two birthdays week before last. I WILL post pictures very soon. I will, I really will. Suffice to say for now, that the numbers 7 and 11 were involved and there
was a trip to 7-11 that week.

5. We had a yard sale on Saturday, finally! We have been meaning to have one ever since we got a serious truck load of stuff from John's folks last fall. We would plan it and then have to put if off for various reasons. We really almost did it last weekend, but it rained. So yesterday was the day and I'm SO glad that we pulled it off! We made a decent wad of cash and got rid of some things. We still have some stuff to sell, but I think we'll use craigslist and some other email lists to do it. It was A LOT of work, but I think worth it.

6. I had an epiphany while reading a old favorite, classic book to Lucy tonight (
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel). I know this book so well that I don't have to really concentrate in order to read it well and with expression (I think this also points to how well the book is written. It easily lends itself to being read aloud. Some children's books are just absolute death to read aloud. Some books I just flat out refuse to read aloud...but that's another topic). ANYWAY, there I was, reading about Mike and Mary Anne, his steam shovel, and my mind was completely wandering to other things, making plans, pondering plans, etc. Are you still reading? Are you wondering what this epiphany was already? What I realized was that I can actually get some good thinking done while reading if I'm reading something familiar and comforting. So not only did I get some snuggly pre-bed time with Lulu, but I also had a good little brain workout. That's what I call time well-spent. And we all know that I'm all about efficiency and spending time well. Right? We all know that...don't...we...?

This strange post has come to an end. More as the holiday weekend unfolds!




01 September 2009

Yesterday was Monday...

and I didn't get around to posting our blessings!


I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your
faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let Your Glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:9-11


That was our reading in Psalms yesterday, so perfect for Multitude Monday.
I promise more posts this week about the birthdays...lots to share!

Blessings 0051 - 0065
.
Won't you join with me in the praise?


0051
celebrating two boys' birthdays last week

0052
making birthday cakes

0053
making frosting

0054
seeing the joy and calm of six boys and two big buckets of Legos

0055
the sincere thanks of the boys for their birthday presents

0056
rainbow balloons and a shaving cream fight

0057
the joy of givings gifts; what a blessing!

0058
having a beer at the late afternoon with the neighbors while we watch the children play

0059
wearing a sweater this week, instead of sweating

0060
yellow tablecloth in my kitchen (there's that yellow again!)

0061
lots of learning and creating at teacher meetings last week

0062
laughing with colleagues and feeling free to be silly

0063
snuggling with tiny girl in big chair with books

0064
reading Katie's story this past week; praying and wondering

0065
stacks of books to read and the joy of learning






holy experience

17 August 2009

When all thy mercies, O my God...

"When all Thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost in wonder, love and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul Thy tender care bestowed, before my infant heart conceived from whom those comforts flowed."

Hymn 51, Trinity Hymnal

Here's an attempt at the numbering of those comforts to my soul. May it increase my joy, as well as yours! Consider joining the Gratitude Community and writing down your blessings as well.

I know this list has no theme, nothing that appears to hold it together. I guess what holds this together is that my Father has bestowed all these gifts in my life...overwhelming! And this is only the tip of the iceberg! More on that next time.

0022 thick beach towels

0023 colorful beach towels hanging up to dry

0024 colorful beach towels stacked up waiting to be used

0025 tiny girl bathing suits

0026 tiny hineys in said bathing suits

0027 brown arms, legs and backs

0028 sun bleached hair

0029 free public pool with every kind of person imaginable in attendance

0030 husband who loves to cook (more than I do)

0031 ice cream maker and fresh peach ice cream!

0032 cold showers at the end of a sweaty day

0033 staying up late and cleaning/organizing

0034 sleeping late in summer

0035 going to a teaching workshop for the first time in at least 10 years!

0036 being able to support friends going into missions abroad

0037 banging my dishes at night because my neighbor is away

0038 sunny kitchen windows

0039 the cool of water on hot shoulders

0040 reading a funny book to the boys (Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker; don't tell anyone but Clementine really reminds me of Theo)

0041 #1 attachment on the clipper set and a freshly-shorn head (Clayton)

0042 having oldest son say he wishes he was like me (gulp!)

0043 when by God's grace I use a gentle answer and thereby turn away wrath

0044 a hazy sunset that reminds me of my years in Atlanta

0045 the Trinity Hymnal

0046 teaching Sunday School to the 2-3 graders. We had such a great discussion yesterday!

0047 having people over and that forcing me to clean up!

0048 the United States Postal Service

0049 the new yellow dress that my dear, sweet husband bought for me ON HIS OWN, UNPROMPTED, COMPLETELY WITHOUT MY INPUT! And I love it!

0050 yellow and how it makes me feel


holy experience

16 August 2009

Banging dishes

Our downstairs neighbor is out of town for two weeks.

This is good because I don't have to be so mindful of being quiet at night when I'm cleaning the kitchen.
For example, just now (it's 10:38 pm) I was rinsing dishes to put in the dishwasher. And I was just happily banging the dishes to my heart's content. Because, seriously, isn't it easier to be loud than to be quiet? It takes less effort to wash and put away dishes noisily than it does to do so quietly.

Now, I admit that I have used dish banging as a form of communication. Usually when my message is something like, "I'm really grumpy and mad and I don't want to have anything to do with dishes and why do I always do all the work?" Some kind of mature message like that.

John thinks I'm really loud. Putting pots and pans away is just not a quiet activity, people! Glass nesting bowls, cast iron frying pans, muffin tins, cookie sheets, cooling racks...they're loud!

Are you a dish banger? My mom (hi, Mom!) was certainly a dish banger when I was growing up. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We all need Jesus to help us amend our passive-aggressive dish banging ways.

But tonight, I'm not mad. I'm just happily and noisily and easily cleaning up with kitchen. And glad that I'm not going to disturb my neighbor. For at least two weeks.

Disclaimer: In case you're wondering, "What about disturbing your own family?!" No worries. It's muggy tonight and all the fans are running, thereby drowning out my clanging.


15 August 2009

What is it about clutter?

I've been thinking about stuff, as in physical stuff, our possessions.

We are having a yard sale in a few weeks, so I've been cleaning out, setting things aside. It will feel good to actually get rid of things, but I have this sinking feeling that even if we sell off lots, we will still have mountains of STUFF!

As I look around our house, I see so many tiny, random objects, things that either John and I or the children have collected. I have such a strong urge to get rid of most of it! I think, "What if we were to move? What a huge headache that would be!" We have so much in our basement, and more in the attic.

I feel this desire to be able to just pack up and go. Why? We're not going anywhere. We have no plans to move. We live here; it's not a museum (HAHAHAHA!!!). Why is this bothering me so much? I plan to clean out the hall closet today, but these thoughts have me feeling, "What is the point?!"

What a complicated relationship with "stuff". I'm in the middle of reading The Thing Itself by Richard Todd. It's about authenticity (loaded word, I know, and the author acknowledges that). The book is quite thought provoking and I highly recommend it.

Any words of wisdom, reader?

14 August 2009

Extreme Makeover, Lucy's Room Edition

Okay, it's not really an EXTREME makeover. And I have no "before" pictures. But I wanted to post some pictures of Lucy's new room with her big girl bed. She calls it a princess bed.

Lucy has one those little attic-type rooms with the severely sloped ceilings, a good amount of floor space, but precious little wall space. Her room has a beautiful window, but doesn't get much ventilation. Unfortunately for her, her room is the hottest room in the summer and the coldest room in the winter.

Most of the elements are things we already possessed. I'm so pleased with how they all came together. The bed is really the only thing that is new to us.

Here's the view of her room from the doorway. The big white triangle in the upper left is the slope of the ceiling. We REALLY have to watch our heads in here!
A few notes:
* the LUCY letters above her bed are from Land of Nod, received with a gift card shortly after Lucy was born.
* little yellow bookshelf cheap from a yard sale
* awesome painted lamp is an antique that once belonged to my maternal grandmother, and that my mom remembers from her house growing up
* the wool throw rugs on the sides of the bed are also from my maternal grandmother. I love them! You can only see the green one in this picture. The one on the other side of the bed is dusty rose.
Don't you love the quilt on her bed? Want to know where you can get one? Oh, my aunt made it just for Lucy! Isn't it gorgeous? The boys all have one, each quite different, from Aunt Maura.
* sweet yellow bed was $10 off craigslist! It's from Ethan Allen and was the girlhood bed of the its previous owner. It's just what I wanted.
* old school desk was free from the side of the road several years ago. I've always loved it.

That's Lucy little cardboard playhouse. It doesn't fit quite as well with the new arrangement, but I think it can still work.

Here is the reading nook on one side of the bed. Hidden from view under the bed is a long basket of books, in addition to the books on the shelf.
* blue comfy chair from IKEA
* old wooden crate from my post-college days and filled with dress up clothes.

Here's the view from the bed toward the door.
* white wool rug from IKEA
* glider is the one we bought before Walter was born. It's rocked many a baby
* needlepoint pillow on glider was on my Grandma's sofa in Tucson. I remember it there so well, and feel glad to have it where we can enjoy it every day
* blue dresser from IKEA. Not my favorite and the drawers are not holding up very well. But it is fine for now.
* the Benjamin Bunny print was given to me by my mom. I think we had it when we were little. I love it.
* the doll on the dresser was brought to us recently by my mother-in-law.
* the little pink sweater hanging from the sconce belonged to John's late sister, Stacy. Lucy wears it, but I think it looks adorable on the fancy wire hanger, too!

Here's a closer shot of the doll and Beatrix Potter print and pillow:


This is the closet/attic space just to the left when you enter the room.
* the framed cross-stitch on the wall was done by my paternal grandmother for Walter when he was a baby. The stitching became too difficult for her to do before she could finish it, so her friends stepped in to complete it. It is a treasure. I love how the blue frame matches the dresser.


This picture is a bit fuzzy, but shows the main closet on the other side of the room. You can see the door of the playhouse and the glider to get perspective.
* the cat painting is an original done by my mother-in-law many years ago


Lucy will need some more substantial bedding for the winter, so I will be thinking about what kind of duvet/duvet cover to get her.
I think the thing I like best about the room is how many things that I love have come together in the space, and that many of those things come from family and mean something to us. I also appreciate the mixture of old and new.

Happy Friday!