The Great Adventure

I cannot tell you the thrill I felt as the coldest wind blew past just now. It was like all the good feels of the holidays and home comforts that cold weather brings rushed by me with those dry leaves. Bring it.

Tonight at dinner I was absolutely shocked by the behavior of some children. And when I went to apply discipline, it backfired. So I’m left with keeping us home from the library tonight, and watching the movie without the offenders. They were in bed by 7. I feel a little responsible for setting the scene by being too lenient up to this point. But no more. This has been one instance where I can get a taste of how God feels about sin. It is abhorrent.

The library miss is punishing me more than anyone. I had three books I was reading, then decided none of them were worth finishing. So my fingers are all jittery, looking for a page to turn. I pulled out an Above Rubies magazine this evening; it looks promising.

In better news, I was able to get out some dry erase marker that was on our new couch. The theory online was that if you mark over the marks with fresh marker (follow that?), wiping it right away will take up both. It worked!

House Help

Ahhh- it feels good to sit back in a chair and rest. The morning has been very fruitful, but I’ve had to spend a lot of time harvesting that fruit, ha. Pumpkin bread, blueberry muffins, meat sauce for chili mac, and rice pudding. Not bad for a few hours.

Some angel ran a dishwasher load early this morning before they left for the cross country meet. That got me thinking again how to help us with the dishes. It isn’t working to assign it to a person, or even multiple people. It isn’t working to use paper and plastic. It isn’t working to have me do it all, obviously. But it occurred to me that if we all were involved,that  just might work. If each person put their dishes in the washer right after a meal, and if the meal prepper washed their dishes right away, hmmm. This starts sounding like something I read at Like Mother Like Daughter once. Maybe I’m a bit mannish, having to think of these things myself.

We went apple picking yesterday, but I haven’t done anything with the apples we picked yet. Just wasn’t feeling it. I’m going out this afternoon to get a new Crock-Pot, one I plan to do applesauce and homemade cider in. We’ll see.

 

What’s Your Superpower?

If you could have the superpower of invisibility OR flight, which would you choose?

(Quick- email or text me your answer before you continue reading. Thanks!)

I love driving to Columbus on Saturday afternoons, because I can listen to public radio broadcasts. Shows like The Splendid Table and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me are a rare treat, as I can’t get a good NPR station up in Mansfield. There was a show a few weeks ago where the host was discussing superpowers, specifically the above two choices. He put the question to many different people, and shared his analysis of their answers. One key to getting an accurate result is sticking with your first thought; if you have time to mull it over or talk to others, the other choice may look better. Another funny thing he noticed was that there were stages of acceptance of their answers- they’d think of every loophole, every what if, before settling into what they’d most like to be able to do. Also, the host had his own opinions about why we choose what we do.

So, you want to know what I chose? Flight. From my infancy I have dreamed of flying. It would be so much fun, and freeing.

I had no idea I was so unique, however. At the close of the program, the host concluded that humans are innately after a way to hide, guilty animals really, so everyone, if they are honest, would choose invisibility. What? I was surprised. It seems to me you might have an even split, both sounding so good, but it appears the host had the deck stacked from the beginning.

So, I thought I’d do my own test, at home with my children. I gave them the question and had them write their first thought on a sticky note. Later they would write a paragraph about their choice. Do you want to know the outcome?

100 percent invisibility!!! I said to myself, I’ve got the sneakiest kids around. But it may just back up this radio host’s thoughts on the subject. I can’t explain why my answer was different; wanting to fly is not a prerequisite to sainthood, but maybe it helps. I’m off to ask Luke. Will he want to soar with me or disappear completely? Heaven only knows.

Gimme A Light

“…if it is a religious ceremony we may not be able to understand it, for the mysteries of most religions are very dark and not easily understood, even by those who profess them.”-Captain James Cook, The Voyages of Captain Cook

I have had something very interesting happen to me this week: three books I’ve pulled from the shelf have bombed. One I finished, see last post, but the other two I barely got through a few chapters. Maybe I should be vetting my recommendation sources. Maybe this lets me down easy from a summer/nursing/reading high that will come to a close with school starting next week. But it does make me realize again how there isn’t anything new under the sun and, they really are just books.

Imagine my hesitancy to start The Voyages of Captain Cook next. I mean, would I get anything out of it? Page 15 I find the quotation above, and it brings to light what I’ve just been speaking of. What is your light? What brightens your eyes? What do you look forward to doing? What brings you joy? The psalmist in the Bible says the LORD is his light and his salvation in Psalm 27. I’m trying to memorize this chapter, and one time I was going over it I was stopped at that first phrase: the LORD is my light… It is humbling to note how many other places I look for light than to the LORD, the only source. And this is evident in our human history of false religions- doing things a certain way to gain some light to our paths, while we only end up in further darkness, confusing to others and even ourselves. Thank God for the Bible, truth and light right at our fingertips.

For with You is the fountain of life, and in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

First World Problems

I picked up the book Pachinko because it was recommended on Goodreads. Not sure if I’ll do that again: the book, like many humans, lumps all religions together, rendering Christianity ineffective. Why keep reading a book that doesn’t line up with my worldview? I guess I want to see how it ends, if in any kind of redeeming way. That would make the references to Christianity shine out a little bit. But things don’t look promising. Most of the main characters are dead, with no great legacy. One thing I have learned from reading this book is the confusion and oppression that results from war-torn countries. Humans displaced who just want to be humans, not treated badly just because of their national heritage. I got to thinking about how great it is to live in America, and to be from here, too. There is little room for any of the problems those impoverished people around the world face. We can get to complaining, but most everything here boils down to being ‘first world problems’. Here are some of mine.

Our kitchen sink went out this past week, and the part needed to fix it won’t come for another week. When you use the faucet then turn it off, you hear a sound like Dory speaking whale, and water goes everywhere. So we keep the water valve turned off most of the time, to curb the flow. I was using ice cream buckets I filled in the tub to rinse dishes for the dishwasher, which still works. But the dishes come out still smelly, or it could be my imagination. So today I have Caleb, our resident plumber while Luke is gone, turn the sink on while I do a lightening fast round of dishes. This will be our new normal indefinitely. Don’t buy Pfister.

Luke took the van to pick up kids from Lakeside today. I had planned to go to the store, but pouted when I realized with both him and me gone, I’d have to take littles, and he’d have the van til late tonight. Oh, well, guess that meant the trip to Aldi would wait til tomorrow, and I would get creative about dinner with the plethora of foods I have on my shelf already. We’ll dine on a tater tot casserole, baked beans, and applesauce.

While cleaning out my cupboards, I found three bags of beans, so I’m thinking I should try to work more of those in our diet. I found a neat website that offers pinto beans five ways, and am off to get my beans cooking. That will cure me of complaining, one way or another.

 

For Gifts I Didn’t Expect

I’m currently reading a book called The Good and Beautiful God, and in it the author challenges us to keep a gratefulness journal of God’s many blessings. My first entry was “gifts I didn’t expect”. Here are an assortment that come to mind.

-an art book that the kids all signed for Mother’s Day last year. I knew Luke took them to Ollie’s, but I didn’t know they were shopping for me.

-my baby shower for Julia. Chloe is continuing to benefit from that.

-a personalized baby quilt for Chloe. A young friend made it, and it is too pretty to use!

-a stuffed animal homemade by this girl’s little brother. I don’t know if it is a pig, or a bear with a pacifier, but how sweet of him.

-my parents just shared some money with us that will help us greatly in finishing our house. Now that we are only a year away, I feel like I can plan. I know how fast a year can go by.

-we’ve had both expected and unexpected bills lately, and a way to cover them all. Though I do confess to a sour stomach when I opened the dentist bill. So much money, and charges all due to fillings and sealants, not routine care. I feel guilty for not making the kids brush enough. I feel bad for putting Luke’s hard earned money to something like this. It was a heavy weight on me til I paid it this afternoon. I’m not sure all of the guilt is justified, the kids may just have bad teeth and that bill was for three, not just one. But it hurt me all the same. We’re brushing tonight, mark my words.

-so many children to fill our arms and home. The older four, as we call them, are at camp this week, the middle two last week. Anytime one or more is missing, you can tell. Aliyah flits about a lot these days, to photo shoots and coffee with friends, so I’m getting a little used to her not being here. But it is hard. I like to have them all around. A book idea I had was all about families, a counting book, where the last page said, “What is a family? A family is room for one more.” We have found this unexpectedly true.

A Tight Ship

Oh, a travelling life, a travelling life for me…

-Mr. Potts, senior

I’ve come to love the Aubrey Maturin book series, naval tales set during the Napoleonic Wars. This fifth book I’m reading now, I have not skipped a word, but earlier on, I couldn’t hack the sea going jargon at times and was forced to skim. Definitely a growing love for these books and their colorful characters. I noticed in this book how attractive the rigor would be on a ship- things stay clean and sharp. Of course, there are many hands to do work. But I wonder how much like the keeping of a ship I could adopt here at home.

One thing I note is that personal belongings stay stowed away, and the public spaces are orderly and methodical. While we can’t accomplish this right away (we’re finishing rooms in the basement-squeal-so people are all over the place until they can move in), it is definitely a good goal.

There is a time to work, on a ship, and a time to play. The other day Anna and Micah were painting, something I rarely let them do, though I love it myself. Micah said, “Let’s pretend we are artists…” and my heart squeezed. Of course you are artists, no pretending necessary. But I run our home like we don’t have time, energy, interest, or organization enough to fit these things of beauty into our day. They think it is forbidden fruit when it should be their daily bread.

Always something to learn, there is.

-Yoda

We’ve Got A Lot Going On

A week and a half ago, my mother in law broke her leg. Since then, for related and unrelated reasons, it has been crazy busy around here.

The broken leg will keep C in recovery for 12 weeks. This changes some things for all of us. She’ll start out on a nursing facility which is right by our house, so we’ve started going in shifts to be with her. Sam and Noah each rode their bikes down to see her yesterday.

Yesterday was the end of the summer reading program, and there was a festival downtown with free carousel rides. We finally made it to the carousel! There were long lines, but fortunately rides can accommodate a bunch of people at once. I kept hoping to get a phone call from the library saying one of us, okay me, won the prize drawing. I put all of my tickets in the drawing for Renaissance Theater tickets and restaurant gift cards. That would make some great dates this fall!

I had some spare time yesterday, and realized I didn’t have a book in the house that I hadn’t read. Like an alcoholic with no drink in sight, I began to shake at the thought of filling the time, filling the hours of nursing, filling the next week while Luke is gone. As I perused my bookshelves for a title I might feel like reading again, it occurred to me that I should use this time working on my memory verses. A phrase in my morning reading in Hebrews stuck with me:

“strengthen yourselves in grace”

What does that mean? What does that look like in my life? Maybe a good start is taking some time to memorize words that are eternal. So I did. It was very cleansing.

Luke is headed to Mammoth Cave for four days. I honestly don’t mind his trips with the Trail Life Troop, because I don’t enjoy that kind of travel right now, and because while he is gone I can read and relax. That sounds bad, like when he’s here I don’t do that, but for some reason there is more open space and free time to do what I like now, so I’ll take it. We may do a day trip to a petting farm and dairy on Tuesday, if we aren’t too crazy busy. This is more my style.

The Last Three

The kids put on Barbie and the Fairy Secret, so I thought I would sit and write a while. Things have been busy this weekend, so a dumb movie and a blog post are great ways to wind it down.

I’ve been faithfully filling my bingo card for our library summer reading program. Last week I had three more books to finish, and was reading them all at the same time (“I don’t know how you do that,” Aliyah says. It’s just like watching two or three shows at once. Very doable.). Reading them simultaneously wasn’t the difficulty; it was the big book, the one on my bingo card that was described by having more than 500 pages- Les Miserables. I wasn’t sure if I could read it all before the end of July, and two books besides. But I was able to pull out the win, with time to spare.

Les Miserables was one of the free books on my Kindle, so I don’t know how many pages it actually is. But it was a lot! I already knew the plot, so this helped me figure how far along in the book I was, and it helped me skim through some parts that were long and uninteresting to me. LM serves as a type of historical novel, and includes lengthy explanations of the faulty penal system at this time period in France, the battle of Waterloo, the mindset of the revolutionary and the bourgeoisie, and the plight of orphans (gamin), to name a few. I leapt over whole chapters, gratefully, when I realized the author was going into detailsville again. On the other hand, I found so many great phrases and passages to highlight, both from his opinion pieces and from the things characters said and did. Time goes by, but humans are all the same, in many respects. I appreciated reading Les Miserables, and would highly recommend it.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, kept me wondering what was going on. One doesn’t see the word Solomon until page 283, and never did it share meaning with the book of the Bible, like I thought it would. It is a coming of age novel about an African American man, and the challenging relationships he has with family and others. This is in the early and mid-1900s, when racial tensions were high. (Many would say they still are, of course.) Maybe because I’m white, maybe because I have led a pretty easy life, I don’t relate to books like this. But occasionally I will read one, and strive to finish it, knowing I have lots to learn about others and their struggles. This book satisfied my bingo square “something with ‘song’ in the title”.

I also needed a book to fulfill “something you should have read in high school”. Aliyah recommended a book she had just finished, and I laughed at how this would work! Party of One is written by a single girl about the misconceptions and realities of being single. All too often we look at singleness as a bad thing, as a lonely season just to be survived until marriage, and we can look at single people with poorly placed pity and even be found guilty of thinking there is something wrong with them! When the truth is, God’s plan for any human can be accessed and embraced right now. None of us should ever put off doing things or thinking we’re just getting by until the next life happens. There is no such thing. A single person isn’t flawed any more than a married one, either. This book was an eye opener for me in a lot of ways. I was glad to have read it now, when I am raising my daughters. But it would have been great for me to read in high school. I might have avoided some heartache and gone after other opportunities with more gusto. Singles have unique privileges.

Bingo! I felt such accomplishment when I collected my prize tickets. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone with each of these books, but it was time well spent.

 

Double Take

Luke left for Columbus with…wait for it…Sarah at the wheel! This time of driver training is nerve wracking, but the benefits of one more driver under our roof will be worth it. I am not a good one to have in the passenger seat, even when it is Luke driving, so he has taken the bulk of educating Aliyah, and now Sarah. I so appreciate him for doing that.

Last Monday we had our family photos done. Aliyah took most of them, all the ones she wasn’t in, and brought her friend to do the ones we all needed to be in. It went pretty well, when all we have to compare is the year Micah was a baby and we were trying to do things ourselves with a timer at Ohio State Mansfield. Luke lost it pretty early on then, so I knew we needed to make this session snappy. Aliyah was on it, having some experience with family portraits, and with our family in particular. We were able to get some great shots of all of us, and groups and individuals. What a treasure, as many commented on Facebook, both the photos and our children.

Speaking of family, we had two of Luke’s siblings visit with their families over the fourth of July. One family stayed with us, a good kick in the pants to get work done on the basement rooms, so that-

-the girls could move downstairs, so that-

-the little boys could move from the living room into their room, so that-

-we could get new furniture for the living room. The prices we were seeing for new couches were discouraging, until Luke thought of Ikea. There we could get two couches without breaking the bank, and even though they likely won’t last very long, we aren’t out a whole lot.

We had a fun and busy time with the visiting folks, going to the zoo and blueberry picking and a pool party. I had planned some large meals, but we only ended up eating one of them. So once the relatives left, I had a lot in the fridge and pantry. That, and every time I thought I would head to the store, I got rerouted or just didn’t feel like going. So here it is Wednesday, and my meal/shopping week renews on Friday. I might as well keep on limping along until then. Only problem is, Luke feels like we have not been eating all that great, as we limp, and is tired of the pasta dishes. So I looked at a cookbook for some fresh ideas. I’m thinking of getting a Crock-Pot, but am not sure I want a big one. I have a lot of problems with them, one being breaking the inserts in my sink. You did read insertS. It came to me while looking at my cookbook- Crock-Pots are inexpensive enough to get two regular sized ones. I could follow the recipe, just doing it twice over. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. Next week we may try Crock-Pot meatloaf or stew. Wish me luck!