Thursday, June 28, 2007

Traitor. You've been replaced.

Yep. He's a traitor. On Saturday, halfway through a load of urine-soaked bedding, it died. I knew it was coming. I knew it. It kept stopping mid-load and having to be started again. It was much more temperamental about spinning and getting off-balance than it had been. I had mentioned to the Bookworm King that it was in its death throes. He was sure I was wrong.

BUT, thanks to both my in-laws' Christmas present for us and a really good deal, we have replaced him.

Here is The Replacement:

Folks, I think I'm in love. He's quiet. He gets the clothes cleaner. He scrubs the diapers better in less time. He's quiet. He uses less water. He uses less electricity because he's faster. He's - didn't I tell you? - He' QUIET!

And, he's entertaining.

"The Common Stuff Of This World..."

You know how sometimes you read something on a blog, and you think something like, "Gee, I want to think about that more and I might have something to say about it later and I certainly don't want to forget about it." So you cut and paste into an new post and save it as draft and wholeheartedly believe that you'll get to it later in the week? Well.....

A MONTH ago, Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer posted this quote from Elisabeth Elliott:

When women--sometimes well-meaning, earnest, truth seeking ones--say "Get out of the house and do something creative, find something meaningful, something with more direct access to reality," it is a dead giveaway that they have missed the deepest definition of creation, of meaning, of reality. And when you start seeing the world as opaque, that is, as an end in itself instead of as transparent, when you ignore the Other World where this one ultimately finds its meaning, of course housekeeping (and any other kind of work if you do it long enough) becomes tedious and empty.

But what have buying groceries, changing diapers and peeling vegetables got to do with creativity? Aren't those the very things that keep us from it? Isn't it that kind of drudgery that keeps us in bondage? It's insipid and confining, it's what one conspicuous feminist called "a life of idiotic ritual, full of forebodings and failure." To her I would answer ritual, yes. Idiotic, no, not to the Christian--for although we do the same things anybody else does, and we do them over and over in the same way, the ordinary transactions of everyday life are the very means of transfiguration. It is the common stuff of this world which, because of the Word's having been "made flesh," is shot through with meaning, with charity, with the glory of God.

In this season of doing the same things over and over all day and often all night, I found Elisabeth's wisdom rather encouraging. I love to create things - and if I get past my own perfectionism, sometimes they come out pretty good - I just don't have time to make anything now. I love to cook, but even creativity in the kitchen is limited by either #2 boring, repetitive eating habits or #3 hanging on my leg and whining or #4 screaming because you just can't cook and wear a baby at the same time. Praise the Lord for Pass Your Plate! Before I had #4 I went and made a bunch of meals and stocked up, and then our Sunday School class gave us a gift certificate to PYP and we used a free assembly coupon to further fill the freezer. We're about halfway through our stash. I'd better start saving back some grocery money and planning another trip. (Now THAT was a tangent - one that must be noted on the checkbook and the calendar.)

ANYWAY - if I can harness the brain cells for a moment, I must say that I am reminded by Elisabeth just how lucky I am to be able to stay home and clean my house and cook for my family and care for and educate my children. So when my husband is working late, my children are whining, the washing machine is broken, the tire blows out and time for myself is nonexistant - I am reminded that I have this blessing poured out on me: I love my job. While the ritual of it may leave me rambling on like an idiot, I know that I'm making an investment in the future, and I'm fulfilling the calling God has for me at this time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And then we were rescued...

It's Tuesday. So this morning we went to Bible study - because it's Tuesday, and that's what we do on Tuesdays.

And then we made plans to meet friends at Mazzio's because it's Tuesday, and that's what we do on Tuesdays.

So, we were tootling along on a rural highway between what #2 calls "the Tuesday church" and Mazzios. It was raining lightly. #2 was talking about garage doors, as usual. #3 was dozing in his car seat, as usual. #4 was screaming, as usual because he doesn't like the car...yet (she says with great faith). I was settling in for the 15 minutes trek and tuning #4 out and just as I turned on some Hillsong there was a great pop and much jiggling.

We got pulled over onto the side of the highway and discovered that the left wheel tire had blown out. Our friends saw us pull over and turned around - I sent them on to Mazzio's knowing that I wouldn't be going to Mazzio's because I'd be going to Hibdon's Tires by way of McDonald's after I figured who was going to come help change this tire because the lug nuts were put on with a speed wrench, so there was no way I could get them broken loose without more leverage. I'm not Olive Oyl, but I'm not Wonder Woman either (but #2 would really get a kick out of an invisible plane). So, after I surveyed the damage, I sat back down in my seat and did the only logical thing any woman stuck on the highway with an inquisitive boy, a sleepy toddler, and a screaming newborn would do - I prayed.

When I opened my eyes, I realized that I could see my brother-in-law's driveway - and his truck was in it. I flipped through my numbers on my cell phone and found his - praying that was the right number, I dialed and he answered (ya'll don't know what a miracle that was) and he promised to come to my rescue - though tire-changing isn't his forte - he's a carpenter, not a mechanic.

As I hung up, a beat up brown car pulled up behind me. I didn't panic, but there was a rough-looking guy in it, and I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I got back out. He walked up and said, "Gotta jack?" I took the Grand Caravan-specific tools out of the tire well and handed them over. Uncle Matt (my BIL) pulled up behind us, so I felt safer and went to figure out how to get to the spare down. (Do you know where the spare is in your minivan?)

About that time, I realized that #4 was still screaming and I was wearing the wrap I had been carrying him at the church. I pulled him out of his car seat and tucked him back into the wrap. #3 was sound asleep, slumped over in his car seat. #2 was asking questions faster than I could answer them, but at least he was obeying me and staying in his booster seat.

The tire was successfully changed. I thanked the rough-looking mechanic-angel and Uncle Matt, stowed all the tools and buckled #4 back in (screaming ensued).

I called the Bookworm King at that point to tell him the story and ask him to call ahead to Hibdon's, explain my situation and ask them to please put me (and my three monkeys) on the waiting list then in order to shorten our wait. We went through the drive-through at McDonald's to get some lunch (because my sweet wild boys do sit somewhat still long enough to eat - particularly if chicken nuggets and French fries are involved). I called my dad (a mechanic) to learn something about tires so that I wouldn't get jipped at the tire place. Then we drove past the Hibdon's to go though another drive-through at another McDonald's because the first McDonald's forgot the straws and the thought of a 15 month old trying to drink milk out of an open cup in my nice new double stroller was rather unpleasant. #4 was still screaming.

Upon arrival at Hibdon's, I tucked #4 into the wrap again and moved #3 to the front of the double stroller and went over the rules with #2. We walked in and the girl behind the counter announced that we were next on the list. She knew right who we were - I guess that there aren't that many women who bring all their babies to the tire store. We settled down in the chairs and stroller to enjoy our clown food.

Just as we were finishing up and I was starting to wonder just how much good behavior #2 had in him, #2 ran to the door shouting, "GRAMPA!" My father had come to my rescue. Entertainment taken care of - he took #2 out to watch them fix the van. #3 was happy with his French fries (rare treat) and #3 drank a bottle and fell asleep. The van was fixed in half the time the girl at the counter had estimated, and the cost was half of Grampa's estimate.

So, even though I have been particularly mad at God, He sent three men to help me today - my father, who my boys adore and is usually willing to help, Uncle Matt (who doesn't often help anyone for free), and the Mechanic-Angel, who I'd love to thank, but I don't know his name.

I'm so thankful that my God is far more faithful than I am.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I am angry, very angry, at God.

There are reasons for it. Some would say that I'm entitled to my anger. I've cared for a medically fragile child, not gotten the miracle I prayed for, and wound up without the privilege of caring for him. It sucks. (I'd pick a more socially accepted phrase, but there really isn't one for this situation - stinks just isn't strong enough.)

And you know what? Anger is coming out in Bookworm #2 also - he is mad because he misses his big brother, he isn't sure he likes his new role as the big brother, and he is afraid of losing us too. I know he's five and he can't say all that himself, but it comes out in his actions and his stories and his play and his recollections of his dreams. He is mad - and he also has his reasons, and some would say that he's entitled to it.

Really, both of us are angry because we didn't get our way - and we get mad at each other when one of us has to give to keep the peace. We're two peas in a pod, and not everything about that is good.

But mostly, I've got to get my anger under control because he's not going to be able to do that until he sees me do it. Here's a verse from tonight's Bible study lesson:

Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Thing of the gift you o nce had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears-- grasp it again and turn back to God.
Revelation 3:2-3,
The Message

If I can't get my own heart right and turned back to God and hungering and thirsting after Him just because He is who He is, how am I going to teach and train up my children in His ways?

More prayer and battle-of-the-mind is required on this topic, but my eyes keep closing.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Homemaker Helper #1

Right now, I'm very busy with the seemingly mundane, so I found this very encouraging.

Putting up the school lunch for the children or cooking a good meal for the family may seem very insignificant tasks as compared with giving a lecture, writing a book, or doing other things that have a larger audience; but I doubt very much if, in the ultimate reckoning, they will count for as much.

If when cooking you will think of yourselves as the chemist that you are, combining different ingredients into a food that will properly nourish human bodies, then the work takes on a dignity and an interest. And surely a fairly well nourished with healthful food so that the boys and girls grow up strong and beautiful, while their elders reach a hale old age, is no small thing.

It belittles us to think of our daily tasks as small things, and if we continue to do so, it will in time make us small. It will narrow our horizon and make of our work just drudgery.

There are so many little things that are really very great, and when we learn to look beyond the insignificant appearing acts themselves to their far-reaching consequences, we will, "despise not the day of small things." We will feel an added dignity and poise from the fact that our everyday round of duties is as important as any other part of the work of the world."

Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1913
from Little House in the Ozarks: the Rediscovered Writings

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

WFMW: Blogging Break

When my house is falling apart and my kids are needing extra attention, it just doesn't pay to have my attention focused on the computer screen. That's when I know I need a blogging break!

It's hard. I love to come and write something in the evenings, but in this particular season, there just isn't always time! My job is to nurture and nourish my husband and children and to keep nature from taking over my house. Right now, reading email and checking up on friends' blogs are all I can accomplish - and that's because I can do those things one-handed. :)

So, I just took a few weeks off - and I bet it will be several more before I am back to regular posting. We are planning a trip to the lake in the near future, and I'll be trying to get some long-planned posts written while I'm up there so that I can post them when I get back.

I must go get some work done because we have friends coming in an hour, but you can read more WFMW posts at Rocks in my Dryer!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Babywearer's Dream

Adventures in Babywearing is having a contest for a $75 gift cert from MamaKanga. MamaKanga sells all kinds of baby carriers: Wraps, Ring-Slings, Mei Tais, etc. and other things - tights for little girls (not that we have any of those at our house), diaper bags... Nifty stuff. I'd get the BabyHawk Turquoise Gothic Rose Mei Tai on Chocolate straps. It looks bee-yoo-ti-ful. :) And I'm still hunting for a good way to wear the toddler on my back.

To get in on this contest you need to:

1. Sign up on the Mr. Linky.
2. Post about it on your blog by Friday mentioning both Adventures in Babywearing and MamaKanga .
3. Tell what you’d get with the gift certificate.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Summer Reading Challenge

De'Etta at Choosing Joy is hostessing a Summer Reading Challenge. I love to read. I used to read a lot. But lately, all the reading I've been doing in online. Now, that's kind of handy when it's 3am and I'm up with a baby and don't want to turn on any lights for fear of waking someone else. I can read the laptop screen even in the dark. But I miss the smell of a book and the feel of the printed page and that little sound the page makes when you turn it. (Yeah - I know - I'm weird. Just call me "Bibliophile.")

I also have a child who is learning to read, and I want him to have book-reading modelled as an enjoyable pastime. If he only sees me looking at the screen, he doesn't know if I'm working or reading blogs or what. If he sees me with my nose in a book just for the sheer pleasure of it, maybe - just maybe, he'll want to eventually model that behavior. Also, I want him to see me reading for information and from several different books in a day. (Since I spend a lot of time sitting in the rocking recliner with one baby or the other, I have plenty of time to read a bit here and a bit here from different books, and to ponder them - because I need something to ponder - Clifford and Thomas the Train and the Backyardigans are turning my brain to mush rapidly.

The picture's not quite accurate because I swapped out two books. But here's the list:

For Amusement:

I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (not pictured)
Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn (not pictured)

To Further my Education (on-going project - one chapter of each a week, with notes made)
The Iliad by Homer (Fagles translation - been trying to conquer this for months)
The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer (because I'm interested)

To Strengthen my Spirit:
The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson (post discussion questions)
Enjoying Where you Are On the Way to Where You Are Going by Joyce Meyer
In the Secret Place of the Most High by Cynthia Heald

About Homeschooling with a focus on Charlotte Mason:
Learning in Spite of Labels by Joyce Herzog
For the Children's Sake by Susan Macaulay
When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper (to be reviewed)

About Homemaking
Queen of the Castle by Lynn Bowen Walker (to be reviewed)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thankful Thursday: Healing from illness

Since #2 and #3 have had a nasty virus and #3 has had pneumonia, I have been concerned about #4 getting either or both. Last night was a long night - he fussed and cried from midnight until 5am with only brief breaks for dozing. He was so uncomfortable and slightly warm.

This morning, when the Bookworm King woke me from my "night's sleep" (read "brief nap"), #4 had a low-grade fever. He was still uncomfortable. I called our new (and very nice) pediatrician and got him an appointment right way. Then I emailed three friends to pray along with us for a good report and complete healing for #4 with NO hospital stay (which is quite likely for a four week old with a fever). And we left for the doctor's appointment. (I admit, on the way, I called ComfyDenim to whine about my night and morning. Occasionally, a mom just has to whine.)

The doctor was visibly worried about illness in a baby this small. But the fever was gone when we arrived at the doctor's office (Hallelujah!). And upon examination, Dr. F. found that #4 has an infection in his left ear. He started him on an antibiotic and gave me dosing instructions for a decongestant for someone as tiny as #4. (Oh, and we learned that #4 now weighs ten pounds.) This evening, he is resting more comfortably, and is breathing much easier. I'm hoping for a good night!

Also, #2 and #3 are both back to their normal selves! So, as soon as #4 returns to his normal self, we'll declare our household healthy! Hopefully it will last for the summer because we have things to do besides sit here and change out videos and play quietly.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Bright Light

This is #3 squinting at a photographer-friend at a bike race that was held in our city on Saturday. He has some fantastic expressions.

You can find more Wordless Wednesday posts at 5minutesformom.

WFMW Boredom Edition: Go to the Ant.

Today is the day to announce to the world what we do when someone whines "I'm bored."

I must confess that my almost-five-year-old hasn't every told me that he is bored. Maybe he's just not to that age yet - or maybe he's extraordinarily good at entertaining himself - but boredom isn't a common complaint for him.

However, when his way of entertaining himself is, for some reason, not acceptable to me, I send him outside. Because most of the time, whatever he was doing that wasn't acceptable in the house (running in circles, climbing on bookcases, jumping on the couch, singing "Hey Diddle Diddle" at the top of his lungs) is perfectly acceptable in the backyard. And if his previous unacceptable activity isn't acceptable outside either, it usually involved mistreating a brother or someone else's property - both of which are difficult if he's in the backyard (where most things are indestructible and the baby brothers are currently not allowed to be without an adult). I'll send him out as long as it's not below freezing or over 100 degrees - appropriately clothed for the weather, and with a water source if it's hot.

Here's the kicker: if he gets sent out, he has to stay out until I call him in. Most of the time, if I send him out, he sits and pouts until something - usually an ant - captures his attention and gets him busy doing something.

It's not like being put outside is torture - he has a play structure, a sandbox, another climbing area, and a dirt pile. He's a boy. He thinks the backyard is heaven - particularly if it's warm and sunny and he is allowed to turn on the hose or is given a bucket of water or a squirt bottle.

You can read about other families' methods of alleviating boredom at Rocks in my Dryer, but know that sending the bored outside to watch the ants Works for Me - today at least - I'm sure it will fail at some point.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday: Sick baby edition

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I didn't accomplish anything - anything tangible, that is. I did spend lots of time loving on babies and playing with #2. I was extremely blessed by several people:

1. My husband let me have a two hour nap before he went to work because I was awakened often in the night. He also picked up dinner on the way home so that there was no cooking and cleaning in my kitchen tonight.

2. My mother (Gramma) came over for the day to lend a hand with the baby-holding. #4 needs frequent holding and feeding because he is a newborn. #3 needed extra snuggling because he is sick - though he is making a remarkable recovery.

3. My mother-in-law (Mimi) borrowed #2 for the afternoon because he needed extra attention because he was stir-crazy. They went swimming and made breakfast-for-dinner. She returned him at bedtime, all clean and dressed for bed. And he went to sleep awfully quickly tonight, so he must have completely worn himself out.

4. ComfyDenim, who showed up on my doorstep this afternoon with two frozen Mochas from Starbucks - which Gram and I slurped down with gusto and enjoyed immensely.

5. A family friend, known to my bookworms as CrazySheryl, who is a nurse at the local pediatric urgent care center and therefore knows every pediatrician in town, who got an appointment with a new pediatrician, for tomorrow for #3's pneumonia recheck. Since our current peds office didn't have any appointments this week at all, I was thrilled to get in with the guy we've been thinking about changing to - and I was more thrilled that he gets CrazySheryl's stamp of approval.

That was my Tuesday - it was a good day because other people blessed me so that I could do what I needed to do - which was sit with #3 on my lap for the morning and half the afternoon until he was feeling considerable better because he was one sick baby.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Oh what a day

I have four posts in the draft stage that are actually thoughtful, and yet I'm really feeling the need to ramble. My day stunk.

Last Thursday, I took #2 and #3 to the doctor because they were coughing and had low-grade fevers. Diagnosis: a virus. It continued through the weekend. Late Sunday night, #3 started running a higher fever and breathing faster. This morning (Monday morning) I called the pediatricians' office to get him an appointment. They didn't have any, so they referred me to the Children's afterhours clinic. We went over there this evening and learned that #3 has pneumonia. So, he got a shot of heavy duty antibiotics and a prescription for oral antibiotics (now filled and waiting in the fridge.) He'll be better in a few days. I bought myself a bag of black Lindor Truffles while I was at Walgreens, too - and I've eaten three of them.

Going to the Afterhours clinic was hard in itself because I spent so much time there with #1 - we were there about once a week for two years for IV fluids and labs and such. Some of the same nurses were there tonight, and they commented on how much #3 looks like #1. When I told them that #4 had arrived just three weeks ago and yet we have this nasty virus turned pneumonia in our house, one of them warned me that #4 will definitely be admitted to the hospital if he catches it.

I'm just praying that he doesn't catch it.

I'm going to snuggle up with #4 to nurse him and then go to sleep. :)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Update on Tackle It: School Organization

I just wanted to report that my system for organizing schoolwork WORKS!

We've done three days worth of schoolwork this week because it is really easy to pull out the day's folder, have #2 do the work inside it and read a bit from a reader. And school is done - easy as that.

I'll probably regret posting this next Tuesday evening when I'm trying to dream up something to use for Works for Me Wednesday. :)