Milk And A Song

Julia is a great toddler, but she has some kinks we’re hoping are worked out by spring. There’s the fact that she’s still in our bedroom, making it difficult to do anything very early or very late without waking her. Then there’s the bedtime routine, which consists of putting her down with blanket, binky, and a sippy cup of milk. Up until last week this last item was a bottle, so we are making progress.

Many times when I cover her up, she will say, ‘gong’, which means she wants me to sing her a song. Not just any song- oh, no, she wants to hear Jesus Loves Me. Again. And again. And again. I’ve had to learn the less common verses to this ditty, to keep my sanity.

Last night when I lay her down, I tried to change the subject every time she asked for a gong. Finally I lay down myself, letting her complain her way to sleep. Am I neglecting her? I asked myself. No, I had to conclude. First, she asks for this song in such a demanding way, that to keep giving her her way is likely worse for her in the long run. And, if we have the ultimate goal of her going to sleep on her own, this part of the routine has to go.

A ministry we support in South America has the opportunity to open a home for at risk girls. So many details had to come together in such a short time for the home to be up and running, that I told our kids we were praying for a miracle. My little girls drafted a prayer calendar, and faithfully prayed for this need for the past month. Today I got word that only one thing remains for the home to be open. This is big. This is God- big. I am so excited that He is answering our prayers and working this miracle on behalf of these girls, so that my girls can see how much He loves us.

I came away from this news so pumped, that a news post on Facebook sent me crashing. A couple were discovered, having chained their children in their rooms, neglected and abused. Oh, God, how much evil can go on under our noses. Here we make some headway against trafficking in South America, only to be reminded that it exists everywhere there are people wanting to hurt other people.

For the rest of the day today, I saw my tasks of caring for my family in a new light. I get to kiss you again. I get to change your diaper to make you more comfortable. I get to make some delicious food for us all, and we get to sit and eat together. Only by God’s grace am I in a position of trying to get this right, and not be stuck in a filthy home, chained to a bed, or worse, the one who bought the chains for my child. Thank You, O merciful One.

Tonight, I get to tuck Julia in and make sure she is warm and comfortable in her bed. I may just sing a gong to her, too. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me how to love.

Together

I tried to comment on my sister’s new blog, but was unable because I don’t have a Blogger or Google account (well, actually I have both) that was wanting to cooperate. This is what I would have said.

I loved Steven Curtis Chapman’s book. I read it this fall, and was encouraged in many ways. What I didn’t expect was to find that the journey he and his wife are on closely resembles Luke’s and mine. They and we have struggled, for a myriad of reasons. We couples both have read the marriage books and gone to the marriage counselor expecting at some point there to be that magic solution that fixes it, whatever ‘it’ may be. But that isn’t how it has worked out. The best Steven and Mary Beth, and we ourselves, can do, is to say, “Today, we are together. Today, we are okay.” That is all we have, all we are ever given. And it is a precious gift.

I’m beyond words at having the chance to wake up for nineteen years, going on twenty, and making trouble, making up, and making babies with my best friend.

Happy anniversary to us.

Christmas Thoughts

As I ate breakfast this morning, I spoke to my unborn child about movement. “It simply won’t do to not feel you today, or any day of the coming Christmas holiday. I can’t go there again.” Mine is a family filled to the brim and overflowing with gifts from the Father of lights, but there remains that choked sob this time of year that sighs, why? What space time continuum would it have altered to have allowed her to live, except ours, in the most wonderful of ways? But I know better than to complain for too long.

Luke is so good at buying the kids gifts. He is a sucker for a good deal, and has a heart that always wants to give. I’ll have to pay close attention to what the kids unwrap on Christmas morning, because I am only aware of some of the things they are getting. He ordered much online this year, or bought it when I wasn’t along.

He has wanted to take the family out to dinner at a restaurant for some time. Last year it didn’t make it to the calendar, but this year, we go out tonight. Some of the younger kids have never been to a sit down restaurant ever, so this is big. This afternoon, I’m working on making sure we all have something decent to wear. Should be a memorable time.

For Micaiah

‘Pet and her baby sister were so exactly alike, and so completely one, that in our thoughts we have never been able to separate them since. It would be of no use to tell us that our dead child was a mere infant. We have changed that child according to the changes in the child spared to us and always with us. As Pet has grown, that child has grown; as Pet has become more sensible and womanly, her sister has become more sensible and womanly by just the same degrees. It would be as hard to convince me that if I was to pass into the other world to-morrow, I should not, through the mercy of God, be received there by a daughter, just like Pet, as to persuade me that Pet herself is not a reality at my side.’

-Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

Would You Rather

I love reading by the Christmas tree at night. It is just enough light to see by, but not so much one can’t start winding down from a busy day.

My compression hose went through the wash today. This week I thought of a new ‘would you rather’ question; you know, those kinds of queries that don’t have a good choice on either end. Sunburn or frostbite? Rotten food or no food? My new one is: would you rather be greatly annoyed by the constant sagging of your compression hose, or the rush of pain in your legs while you stand? At first glance, I would choose the hose, but after some months in them, I’m not so sure. Feeling like the saggy baggy elephant develops a craziness in me that I get to where the hose HAVE GOT to come off or I would go insane.

Today was hose free, but pain accompanied, as I said. I ran some errands, and while I am up and doing, I usually don’t have as much pain as when I am standing still. I went to the grocery stores, to Goodwill to drop off some bags that sat in the van a while, stopped at the library for some reserved books, and home again after my world tour.

As I walked in with two more books, I realized how many good books I’ve got in my queue right now. Another would you rather question, but where all the choices are good. Here’s what I’m working on:

Last Mitford book, To Be Where You Are. I just started, but have been delighted so far. This has been my umpteenth time rereading the Mitford series, and I even did the Father Tim ones. Though I found them dark the first time, this time they seemed sweeter. Goes to show you are never the same person when you reread a book! The title of my blog came from the Mitford books, too.

The Assault. This is a sequel to Invitation, a book by four authors I read in October. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though it had a lot of spiritual battle stuff (Peretti is one of the authors) and kind of scary stuff. I told the ladies at book club about it, and at the time I couldn’t put my finger on why I liked it so much. Now I know. It’s all about Jesus! He shines through the darkness, and those who have a relationship with Him in the story are the most powerful against the enemy. Here’s hoping the sequel is as promising.

Little Dorrit- this classic of Dickens was mentioned in a Mitford book, so I thought I would read it. It looks promising, too. Duh, it’s Dickens! It has to be good.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years is a memoir of the Holocaust. I know nothing about it other than that. Of all the books in my pile, it is the most likely to be opted out in my would you rather game. We’ll see if I get to it.

Sewing By Me

We unpacked the Christmas decorations this week, and I saw in a bag one of my many unfinished projects- Christmas stockings.

Originally, I had purchased these cute ones from Hallmark years ago, not ever imagining that I would need 13-15 of them. I did find one on eBay last year, which was super exciting, seeing these are at least 10 years old. But no luck this year with the Internet, so I’m stuck coming up with a few more homemade to look like the others. This is difficult because even with all the fabric choices at JoAnn and Hobby Lobby, I haven’t been able to match any colors, not even red or green! So they are brown, and cream, with red and green accents.:)

So I look in the bag and I think, how pathetic, I only needed to finish two more and I’d be done, why didn’t I finish them last year? But I must have miscounted; though I did finish the two today, I still have two more, plus the one for baby. I think I will do two reindeer in brown, then maybe try again to find the same green or red for another snowman or Christmas tree.

Here’s the list so far, as I am inept at posting pictures:

Three green with snowmen (original)

Three red with Santa (original)

Two brown with gingerbread men (homemade)

Two cream with candy canes (homemade)

In progress: two light brown with reindeer, one green with Christmas tree

Here is a link to when I was first trying to add to my collection. Luke didn’t think the blue coordinated well enough, so I pitched the snowflake last year. But you can see the originals in the top picture.

valerie.luvaburton.us/?p=484

 

Bacon Karma

Last week, we went to see Tim Hawkins with some friends. Since we hadn’t seen this couple for some time, we arranged to eat at a restaurant beforehand, and catch up. As funny as Tim was, I think our fun at the restaurant closely rivaled the main event.

We met at Outback. I had given our friends their choice; if it were up to us we would have gone elsewhere because we think their food and service are lousy. This set the stage for the evening, I’m sure. As we are seated looking at our menu, I marvel to the group that the trend right now must be to take a perfectly good piece of meat and pile another meat on top of it, in an obnoxious way. The steak had crab on it, the chicken bloomin’ onions, and the salmon was piled with bacon. This last pictured meal looked pretty good to Joel, so he ordered it.

As we waited (a while) for our food to come, we tossed around bad restaurant experiences. Luke and I talked about how I have sent plates back before, a dubious character trait he might not have married me had he known about. One time at Bob Evans, the salmon fillet was so tiny, I felt I had to say something. “I’ve ordered a lot of salmon,” I remarked to the waitress, “and this is the smallest portion I have ever been served.” She patiently explained that they are all the same weight, that they come prepackaged and are served as they are. “Well, can I at least have some more coleslaw?” I reasoned.

Our friends and Luke had a good laugh at my salmon story, and at me, when Joel’s salmon came to the table. A single, scrawny piece of bacon lay across the fillet, and we all busted loose. It looked nothing like the picture! He commented how he could say something to the waitress in a nonthreatening way, to find out where the bacon went, when the waitress overheard him. “Oh, the picture is of the 12 ounce, not the ten ounce. Somebody else complained about that, and that is what I found out.” Oh, my. We were talking too loudly before dinner; the bacon fairies heard us, and figured what goes around should come around. What great memories to be had, though. It isn’t often you can tuck away two great salmon stories.

Middle Love

Both of my middle children got to do something fun with a friend this week. Abbie was invited to a girl’s house for her birthday on Wednesday, and today we are hosting Caleb’s buddy.

Abbie was originally invited to a sleepover a few weeks ago, but the distance and inconvenience of it was off-putting. Plus, we really don’t do sleepovers unless they are at our house, and we don’t even do that anymore. Unless you count every night. Kids everywhere. So I was really wanting this afternoon with her friends to work out. I ended up driving her to Marion, giving me some good alone time. I was going to shop thrift stores over there for maternity clothes, but it started to rain and I would rather be home laying down or eating (see previous posts). Abbie’s friend’s mom shared some toddler hand-me-downs for Julia, so I came away feeling quite blessed.

Today we picked up Caleb’s friend, and planned on going to the Y since it is raining again today. He seems so uncomfortable in our home when he visits, but came out of his shell once we were in the van headed to the Y. Right when we got here, someone discovered puke in the pool and they cleared it and cleaned it for the next half hour. I felt bad for Caleb and friend, but we just waited it out. They finally got to swim and slide, and appear to be having a blast. I opted not to swim today, and am glad I did. I couldn’t stomach getting in right after an episode like that. The kids are happy, though.

 

New Mercies

I commented in my last post that I don’t miss much of it now that we don’t go to the Sunday church service. One thing I miss is the opportunity for Luke and Aliyah, especially, to play music and sing together. We do some songs in our makeshift Sunday morning service at home, but it isn’t as good as having a mic and having a sound system (hopefully behaving) projecting. The other night when Luke’s cousin visited, we sang some songs together, and it was so nice, we put more effort into it than we had been and the sound was great. This makes me want to dress up our Sunday offerings from now on, too. Plus, we’ve got Christmas tunes to practice on piano.

Luke has a controversial situation in his school system with a student that has gone on for a few years now. The student was due to be in his class this grading period, but Luke has just found out there will be some change and the student will not be in it after all. I believe this is one of those ‘He answers before you even ask’ kinds of mercies, and am hoping this is the closest Luke gets to the controversy.

I’ve been asked again to paint the window of a business in Bellville for Christmas, in time for small business Saturday. This isn’t because I have much talent; there are a lot of windows and few volunteers. Last year I volunteered, thinking, how could I not do something like this, and did a couple of holly wreaths. This year, all year, I have been thinking of a way to incorporate Christmas cookies- they can have simple round shapes and nice bright colors. I thought of a gingerbread boy and girl; the boy is putting a star on the top of a Christmas tree cookie, and the girl is looking on, delighted. I did a sketch earlier that I’m pretty happy with, I just have to decide how ornate the gingerbread people should be. Less is more on a window.

 

 

Hello Thomas

The two littles are watching Thomas the Tank Engine. We have cleaned house and really don’t want to get any toys out, so cartoons it is. A relative of ours is visiting that we rarely see, so in one sense we want to make an okay impression. On the other hand, he only comes around once every five years. What’s he going to do, ridicule us on Facebook? Big deal. But he’s a good guy. Lots of stories and talk. He likes to talk.

We haven’t been to a Sunday church service in a coon’s age. It seems more reasonable to get together as a family in our home, than keep visiting churches we are fairly certain are not going to be a good fit. I have been thinking about what I miss about going to church on Sundays, and it is surprisingly little. I do like to share in some kind of Christmas musical or pageant from time to time, and it would be nice to find a concert or two this holiday season. Maybe the local paper will have a list, or I can ask around.

On Thomas, Duncan was passed up for a ride in a hot air balloon for the twins’ birthday. What kind of children’s programming is this? Don’t worry, he set the balloon loose. Maybe he can give the twins a ride now.