first of thousands


Karen called to say she was leaving a birthday gift on our front porch while we were out.  Karen, beautiful friend and giver of beautiful gifts.  She is a gifted gift giver.

Tingle of excitement.

The kids raced from the van to the front porch and came in bearing a little gift bag with tissue paper being actively crumpled in exuberant hands.

I pulled out the card first.  Perfect.  Warmth and smiles.

Then I pulled out the gift.

My heart fell.

It was the book I didn’t want to read.


My happy gift excitement fell in ashes at my feet.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The celebrated book and author that circles regularly through the corner of the blog world that I inhabit.  Writing and a person that, by all indications, I should really like.

But I didn’t.

Every time I’ve come upon a piece of her writing, I’ve experienced a strong, I don’t know how to describe it.  An inner stop sign, barrier, halt, defense, aversion.

The strength of my push-back was surprising enough to make me stop and pay it some attention.

What’s going on?  Why do I react so negatively here?

There was a little disquieting inner voice that said that if I had developed differently, if I had followed the path of spirituality I developed beginnings of in college, I would have been like that.  A presence like that.  A spirituality like that.  Someone who is doing me better.  Ouch.

(I’ve felt the same about Rachel Held Evans, who is on a completely different plane – asking tough questions, engaging in controversial topics.  I could have developed that way, also.  And these musings bear the question how HAVE I developed?  But that’s a question to find an answer for another day, or another year.)

There was also a sense of not now.  Come back to it later.  Because really, I knew it should be something I would be, should be drawn to.

Karen had told me on the phone that if I already had the book, she had something else to give me instead.

A glimmer of hope.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to face this unwanted specter.

I considered lying.  Oh yes, I already have this book.  I’ve already read it, yes it was wonderful.  Well, lying wasn’t really under consideration.  Let’s call it wishful thinking.

I considered gifting it to someone else.

I considered letting it lie here, unread.  And then gifting it to someone else.


I remembered that a strong internal reaction to bears listening to.  I mused to myself that maybe this could be big, huge, a life-changer.

Oh, come on, just pick it up and start reading.

So I did.



I am changed.

I am melted.

I am broken open by a voice that is brave enough to ask the hard questions about pain and suffering and aging and death and fear – things that have laid very heavy between God and I.

And he took bread, gave thanks (eucharisteo) and broke it, and gave it to them…” (Luke 2:19 NIV)

Eucharisteo, Ann says, something to build your life on, live your life in.

Eucharisteo – thanksgiving.  Charis – grace.  Chara – joy.

I read through the book slowly.  Late one evening this week I finished it, then turned back to the beginning and began again.

She names one thousand blessings, one thousand gifts, a way to live eucharisteo.

I can’t but help to draw a line and connect the dots.  I’m in the early days of a year of noticing, and what have I been given?  A guidebook to naming thousands of gifts.

I sense that a door has been flung open.  A door I’ve been searching for across several years, maybe more than several.

I looked for and found a journal that’s just right for my own list of thousands of gifts.  I need to find a good pen.  It seems silly to wait for something as insignificant as a pen to begin.  But it has been a long journey to come to this new starting point, and I’d like to start it with more intention than jottings on a scrap of paper destined to be lost in the shuffle.

So I’ll wait for the pen, and then I’ll find a quiet moment to write on the first line of thousands.

1. a beautiful gift from a beloved friend – a book to change my life

Thank you, Karen.  I love you very much.


bits & pieces turns into story


Amelie is reading these days.  A lot less sounding out, a lot more easy reading.  Right now we are aiming for reading small, manageable bits, consistently.  This week, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, in two two-page spreads per day.

We are really enjoying Dick and Jane.  For some reason Dick and Jane have been sorely misaligned.  They are just perfect for my early reader and the classic illustrations keep me entertained, too.

Levi caught the sounding out bug early this year and helped himself to letter-learning and letter-writing and letter-typing.  He often refers to himself as “L-E-V-I”, all spelled out.  Kiri and Lia and Devo, likewise.  Those of us with longer names just get called as usual, no spelling.

I had been watching his skill-building from the corner of my mind as I worked with the others on spelling and reading and writing.  I offered him help and new materials when needed, but it was his thing and he was happy and I was happy.  This week he read his first BOB book.  Not too shabby for a little peanut of a three year old.  He has a knack for remembering the sounds he just sounded out and smooshing them quickly into a word.  Helpful knack, that.


:: story

So the other week was communion at church, which means foot-washing.  Which means, in our church, small basins of water and thick paper napkins.

Church day continues to be a rigorous day for me, worthy of marathon status, surely, herding my small flock hither and yon and up and down, to class and muffins and cups of gold fish and the bathroom.   And all in heels.

I really must get flats.  (Side note – don’t think I haven’t tried to get in on this wondrous proliferation of cute flat shoes that fashion has been so kind to bestow on us.  For some reason, my heels slip out of every single ding dang pair of flats, regardless of size.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Target or Nordstrom’s or Clarks.  Pity me.  I do.)

But on communion day, it was cold, so I was wearing my Uggs and tromping around lithely and blithely and warmly.

(Really, you can’t imagine how much extra effort heels and a skirt requires over the course of a morning/afternoon at church.  Or maybe you can.)

I thought we could swing foot washing with three big kids and one toddler and one experienced mother.

Things did proceed fairly smoothly, right until I took off my own shoes (lead by example, right?) and was standing in the church with one sock on and one sock off.  Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John.

It must have been then when Kiri dumped over the basin of water as I vainly grabbed for her, because I distinctly remember that my toes were cold and wet, and I couldn’t figure out if it was more important to put my shoes back on (I know some people have a serious problem with bare feet in church) or make a barefooted dash to the table with all the paper napkins to mop up the water beneath my partially stockinged feet.

And then Kiri took a look at her handiwork and plopped herself down in the middle of the spreading sea.  (How can an inch of water in a small basin make such a large puddle?)

This was a first for me, I realized.  Eight years and no one has ever dumped out the foot-washing water.  With our odds, that’s rather remarkable, I’d say.

Cue out-of-body experience.  I see myself mopping on my hands and knees (in skirt) and trying to keep hold of wet child and coaching the bigger ones through the drying of feet and the donning of (frilly) socks and shiny shoes.  Some hissing of orders to take the other basin, navigate crowd, and empty it. Carefully!

And I see the other people around me, so very very close in proximity.  Are they oblivious to the small but desperate drama happening two feet away?  Or are they politely not seeing?  It’s too bad if they are being polite, it’s definitely worth a chuckle.  And maybe a napkin.

There was no pious post-foot washing prayer that day.  It was more like a rout and dripping retreat.  In bare, wet feet.

An unusual to-do list

A favorite quote.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?”  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so people won’t feel insecure around you.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us.

And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~Maryanne Williamson


A thought.

I don’t want to live caught in a web of guilt-based should do’s.

Neither, of course, do I want to live in the self-serving, self-centered want to do’s.

I want to dwell in the freedom of created to do.


A blessing.

May each of us have the insight, the courage, and the kindness to be and become fully alive because we are doing what we are created to do.




:: Levi in Plaid

Self-styled for church this morning.  I’m all for self-styled as long as it looks like personality, not abject parental neglect.  Personality, indeed.  And, as he pointed out, it matches.

When he walked into my room this morning, all I could think was “He’s gone PLAID!”  Name that movie.

:: VBS Aftermath

We have just finished a rockin’ week of VBS.  I’m sooo glad my mom was here…she added an indispensable layer of help and hysterical laughter into the mix.  Late-night, kids-crying, extremely-long-days-that-just-would-not-end, kind of hysterical laughter.  Comic relief.  True bonding.

I am totally planning on indulging in some coma-inducing TV watching for the kids as part of the recovery process.  Can we say “grumpy”  “very very tired”?

:: Mommy Brain Strikes Again

Mommy Brain’s most recent manifestation has made itself known in the Name Center of my brain.  Where there used to be names of friends and children and family and people I’ve known for forever and people I met last week, there is now … nothing.  Just a blank.

A pleasant, slightly bewildered blank.

But it’s not even like the name is there somewhere nearby if only I can think hard or long enough.  Nope, it’s just gone.  If the name happens to appear within ten minutes of needing it, I consider it a gift.

So if you see me looking at you with a bit of a blank, bemused smile, just know that I’m searching for your name and coming up with nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

But I do know who you are.  I just don’t know your name.

:: Vacation Troubles

We are supposed to go on vacation next week.  We really want to go on a road trip to Central California.  See the redwoods, camp, follow the coastline.  We’ve done staycations for two and a half years, I think we’re all itching to vacate this place.

Problem 1 – We don’t all (us plus Mom and Liana and stuff) fit in one car.  And we like to be together.

Problem 2 – Both of our cars need work.  The (old) Explorer needs a working air conditioner.  The (old) Odyssey has a stubborn check engine light.

Problem 3 – We’ve been considering going down to one car.  We’ve also been considering upgrading to a 12 passenger van for our adventures.  And can’t we fit a cargo bike into one of these scenarios? Puhleeeease?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to do whatever it is we’re going to do now before paying for gas for two cars on our road trip?

Well, we’ve gotta decide tomorrow and do whatever we’re going to do on Monday so we can get outta here!  (Eek, I’m really not sure what we should do!!!)

:: Cake Dreams

Does anyone else ever daydream about a slice of those vanilla layer cakes with chocolate frosting in Pollyanna?  Me too.


Coming up to Easter

This week, our entire household has been focused on the countdown to tomorrow’s Easter service.  The church has four days of services this year, but Sabbath happens to be under Devo’s jurisdiction (with creative input from Leilani)…so you can understand that it holds a vast amount of work, time, and focus for our family.

It’s been a week of late bedtimes (either because we put the kids in late, or because they just won’t. go. to. sleep), meal prep disorder and too many defaults to eating out (ugh, I am so done with cheap food), days where the morning routine doesn’t get finished until 11am, or the lunch dishes are still in the sink at 3pm, and days and days where the kids entertain themselves for hours on end while Devo and I work on “shhhhh, Mommy and Pappie have to concentrate” kind of projects.

And I recommit myself to focusing on here, on now, on home.  On things that do not, by nature and necessity, exclude the smaller members of the family.

Lesson learned.  Again.

But in the meantime, it is also incredibly rewarding to birth an idea and see it come alive and take on its own shape and power.   I have the premonition that we possibly should have arranged to provide kleenex at the church doors.  I must remember to tuck some in my purse in the morning.

Lia has been most interested in reading the daily accounts of the Last Week.  Lots and lots of questions from both girls.  I have tried hard to find ways for her to understand how Jesus offended and infuriated the Pharisees.  Verbal insults and intellectual and theological challenges do not register powerfully yet in her six year old experience.

I have also not quite been able to define the concept of (Peter’s) denial to either her or Amelie’s satisfaction. “Mommy, what does ‘deny’ mean?”

But Lia will cajole me every day until we’ve snuggled up on the couch and read through the day’s events, with Lia reading over my shoulder.  Amelie informs me that she prefers to play quietly…she doesn’t like reading books without pictures.  (Levi, if you were wondering where he is, is tucked into his bed before reading time commences).

For tomorrow, I plan to sit quietly with my children, and set aside the harriedness of the week.  And we will experience this together, as the old story becomes new once again.

Lent Begins

Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.

Lent is a summons to live anew.

~Sister Joan Chittister

I’m not sure that I wish to fully embrace this particular Lenten journey.  Pregnancy has a way of cleaning everything out that has been stored in my attics and basements.

It pretty much makes me feel like this most of the time.

I suppose that Lent is a type of “pregnancy”…a time of waiting, excruciating vulnerability, getting rid of the old junk to make way for new life.

Maybe I should count myself blessed to be ahead of the game, already prepped and ready to go on this journey, thanks to coursing hormones and general biological upheaval.

Maybe I should gather courage to embrace the raw meat.  Become an emotional sashimi enthusiast for the duration of Lent.

But, frankly, it’s daunting.  I’d rather just get to the “new life” bit.  (Wouldn’t we all?)

After Christmas

…1… Devo thinks the camera’s problem is the usb cord.  I was unsuspicious….it’s been bent for like two years, why would it stop working now?  But we haven’t replaced the cord, so there are no pictures.  Still.

Which is kind of lame at Christmas time.  All the pictures are stuck in the camera.  Which just means that we’ll skip Christmas for now, and come back to it later.

But it was good.  Merry and bright.

…2… I got my first seed catalog of the season in the mail today.  I’m trying to remain sane, reasonable, and practical.  But I’m seriously thinking of digging up some of the grass so that we can have melons.  Lots of melons.  I’m sure the kids would enjoy dirt paths around vegetable beds to run around and get lost in just as much as they enjoy grass. Right?

…3… While driving out and back from my cousin’s wedding this weekend, I listened to two fascinating stories on NPR.  First, on Being, Joe Carter and the Legacy of the African-American Spiritual.  Spirituals sometimes get the bad theological rap of being ‘escapist’.  But this interview, with fantastic interludes where Joe Carter sings, explored and deepened my understanding of what spirituals say about God, people, and suffering.  There are free downloads of the songs he recorded during this interview…go get them!

On the way back, on The Changing World, Mandela: In His Own Words.  It was almost like my trip had bookends…two stories of intense suffering under unimaginable oppression, and a response to that suffering that did not include bitterness and hatred.

…4… We went on a most awesome trip to the mountains yesterday.  The main highway to the snow was closed due to road damage, so we took a roundabout route.  Three hours of driving, 45 minutes for lunch, and a glorious 15 minutes of sledding.  It was a great time.

In fact, on this trip, for the first time, we sang a chord as a family.  This is a big first!!!!! (We also sang The 12 Days of Christmas innumerable times).  We had watched White Christmas, and there is a scene where Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and the other actress who’s name I’m too lazy to look up, sing about snow.  Snow, snow, snow, snow!  What better thing to sing, when searching for snow?  Even Levi could chime in with “noooo”.  I know, we’re destined for family musical greatness…just envision The Trapp Family Singers…


Children’s Choir

:: catching up, post #5…see, I told you I was busy ::

December 4 was the Ordination/Commissioning Service for my good friend (and Devo’s pastoral colleague) Janeen.  She’s been Children’s Pastor here since Lia was 6 months old…so she IS our children’s pastor.  Ordaining women in ministry is not something that is common in our denomination, so I am so proud to be a part of a community that acknowledges the work of God through women.

She requested that my Children’s Choir participate in the service.  We hadn’t done anything since the Easter Messiah last year, so I was glad to get it going.  Janeen requested You are the Shepherd.  A beautiful, beautiful song to follow her ‘response’ at the end of the service.

And then we thought that the children could lead the opening hymn, so I chose the perennial success To God Be the Glory.  Because no matter what happens, everybody can sing “praise the Lord!  praise the Lord!”

Three weeks of rehearsals, through Thanksgiving weekend, no less.  I opened up the choir to the ‘younger than 6 year olds’ for the first time and we had a whole row of 3 year olds.  It was a lot of fun.  We spent a lot of time working on the three verses of To God be the Glory and I am proud and gratified to say that they knew the second verse really, really well.  O perfect redemption, the purchase of God… If anybody ever needs ideas on how to teach this hymn, I have many.

We ended up choosing Gracie as our soloist for You are the Shepherd.  Gracie is four, and I’ve been sitting in Sabbath School with her for two years at least.  She was just. darling.  It was unbearably sweet.

It was such a great group of kids, I’ve started thinking about what we should do next year.  So many of my kids are getting almost too old (or so they think), so I’d like to do another something before they outgrow Children’s Choir.

And then we dashed out the door, I dropped the family off at home, and sped off for my choir concert.

edited to add :: I just realized that I don’t know who took the pictures that my husband acquired.  Let me know who you are and thank you!

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry I missed your call the other day.  I’m surprised I could even find the message, it was sandwiched in between about thirty five campaign calls.  I don’t know who they think they’re going to convince to vote for them by leaving those annoying messages.  I don’t think it shows good fiscal management to spend that much money to call people up, irritate them, and leave a recorded message.

We did indeed have piano lessons on Thursday.  And Mrs. Linette said the kindest things about Lia and her progress.  You know we had that Fall Recital on Sunday.  Lia dressed up as the Sugar Plum Fairy and played her little piece.  She didn’t play it as well as she usually did, but that didn’t seem to phase her.  It was a grand social event for her, making friends with the kids she was sitting next to, and then having a glorious post-recital romp with Ali and Micah and Amelie.  She informed me that she talked to her new friends during the whole recital.  At least, until she went to sit with Micah, who was ‘lonely’.

She got two new pieces at her lesson, Jingle Bells and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  I’m excited for both.  We’ve been working on her playing less tentatively and deeper in the keys, and I think she’ll get right into the spirit of things with Jingle Bells.  And then the Sugar Plum Fairy is pretty ‘difficult’ – for sure the most difficult piece she’s played yet.  She’s sight-reading so well now that the pieces she is assigned are not challenging…at least to read and get the basic idea.

Lia’s stretched up the last week or so.  Today she went around and showed me how tall she was – she could reach this or that.  Her head touches the roof of the car when she stands (not when she sits, she clarified).

And when she opened her mouth and peered inside this week, she discovered that she is getting molars, too!  Just like Levi!

So now Amelie’s mealtime prayers go thus ::

Dear Jesus, Thank You for the wonderful day!  Thank you for Lia’s teeth and Lia’s molars and Levi’s molars.  Amen.

And Amelie, of course, is sure that she is getting some new teeth, too.  Or perhaps has some wiggly teeth.

The girls have decided to study The Nutcracker Suite (hence the Sugar Plum Fairy stuff).  Interlibrary loans are the bomb.  (Did I just say “the bomb”?  I thought I swore in highschool that I would never say those two words in colloquial usage.  Well, as my Grandma always says, one shouldn’t swear.)  But our library system apparently doesn’t have a recording of the original score.  The closest I’ve found uses synthesizers behind the orchestra.  Very 90s.  Very disturbring.  I’m a purist.

But we also got an album from Beethoven’s Wig. I had seen the group mentioned on some blog some where some time in the recent past and snatched it up when I saw it in the online catalog.  It’s so fun – “sing a long symphonies” and other classics, all with singing words.  We have album 3 and the opening number is Carmen’s Toreador, entitled Bull in a China Shop. Hahahaha.

I finally, finally ordered and received the Math U See.  But Devo keeps thinking we’re talking about Matthew C.  (Who is that? he wonders.) Amelie loves to play with the manipulatives.  But maybe that is because all of their toys have been confiscated.

Yes, our first toy confiscation has occurred.

Friday we were working upstairs in the loft and the girls were playing with the kitchen toys, the dolls, and the doll clothes.  And when it was time to come downstairs, I asked them to clean up.  And then I asked them again.  And then, that was it. That was the end of this era of toy-picking-up-patterns.

Toy clean up has recently gone like this :

Me : Time to clean up the toys.

Me, five minutes later : Girls, it’s time to clean up the toys.

Me : Amelie, you clean up the books.  Lia, you clean up the dolls.

Lia, whining : Amelie isn’t helping.

Me : Amelie, please help.

Amelie : non-verbal declaration that she is NOT going to pick up the toys now.

Me : cajole, cajole

Lia : whine, whine (although, she does pick up the toys)

Amelie : lays on floor, possibly weeping and wailing

So I told them that they needed to clean up their toys without me saying any more about it.  And if they didn’t pick them up, Pappie and I would box up the toys and put them where they were not allowed to play with them.  And then I set a timer … they needed to start picking up before the timer went off.

And they both soberly and deliberately came downstairs, sat on the couch, and read books.  I would love to know if they had a conversation about this, or if it was an unspoken agreement on a selected course of action.

The timer went off, Devo and I picked up all the toys in the house, stowed them in the front room and closed the door.

And they haven’t said a word about it since.

Well, I take that back.  Amelie did mention the next morning that she missed having a snuggie.  And Lia told our friend Marni who came to babysit them Saturday night that their toys had been confiscated because they didn’t pick them up.

But that’s it.


Ironically, the house is still the same amount of messy and cluttered.  So I guess I can’t blame it on the toys.  We didn’t give a timeline…I think we’ll wait until they ask for them and then sit down and talk about the privilege of playing with toys.  And the responsibilities that come with the privilege. And the expectations that exist in this home.

And in the meantime, I’m going to work on figuring out what on earth is making the mess if it isn’t the toys, and eliminating it.




Wild Times

Today is officially our day of Return to a Sense of Normalcy.  At least, I’m hoping hoping hoping it is.

It’s been wild around here.  Our church has just added a second service (‘contemporary’, for lack of a better word) and the first two weeks were awesome in the most literal sense of the word.  But as you can imagine, it has also been a lot of time and alot of work and a lot of anxiety for the pastors.  To put it mildly.

And then <BIG ANNOUNCEMENT>, it has been officially announced that Devo has come to the end of his (NINE YEAR!!!) tenure as youth pastor here and he is going to transition to a new position.  To be very clear…same church, new position.  It’s not exactly clear yet just what the new position will be, but all the options look promising.

And it’s all great and going to be great, but that, also, obviously, has taken lots of time and work and anxiety.  To put it mildly.

Devo and I fell into the habit of having serious conversations…several hours after a normal bedtime.  And then he’d often work some more after that.  I pretty much threw up my hands and let our daily life run very very loosely.  If we were going to be in a time of fluctuation and change, then by George, we were going to embrace fluctuation and change.  Besides, otherwise we might never have seen Devo if we hadn’t arranged ourselves somewhat around the 15 minutes here and there we could see him.

So there was the new service launch, followed by week of prayer at the academy, and it was all pushing us right to the very brink of insanity when the girls and I came down with the stomach flu Thursday night.

It wasn’t pretty.

WARNING :: GROSS SUBJECT MATTER…skip bulleted items if possessing of weak stomach…

Some thoughts after a night and a day of a stomach bug ::

  • Words for vomiting are actually pretty cool :: vomit, emesis, puke, throw up, hurl, retch, up chuck, barf.
  • I have never before shared an emesis basin with another before, but it’s quite a bonding experience.  And that’s what happens when the chain reaction is set off and there are only two receptacles for three people.
  • I love how encouraged Lia was every time it became evident that another person had joined her in sickness, it really cheered her up.  Guess misery really does love company.
  • I heard it said once that you know kids are “big” when they can make it down the hall to throw up in the toilet all by themselves.  I guess Lia’s a big girl now.
  • Premarital counseling question #657 – Who will take care of children when they have the stomach flu?  Does anyone have a weak stomach that would preclude them from Puke Support Duty?
  • Devo’s week of prayer theme was “7-Up”…What’s Up, Fess Up, Own Up, Listen Up, Stand Up, Show Up.  And Friday he facebooked that he had indeed completed the 7th “up” … throw up.  Hahaha.

I was so thankful we are a one career family and I had nothing else to do but take care of my family.  Oh, and survive.

Friday we recovered, Sabbath we were raring to go again, and then Saturday night Lia’s stomach rebelled against the day’s culinary offerings. And her stubborn streak made one of its (blessedly) rare appearances.  She planted herself next to the toilet and refused to budge.

She was determined to spend the night at the toilet, and yes she was very comfortable, thank you very much.

And she did look quite comfortable.  And I did think seriously about letting her just stay there and go get some sleep myself.  But I just couldn’t do it, so after a couple of hours (and a number of chapters in my book), I finally coaxed her off her perch and we snuggled together on the couch, our handy puke bowl ever at the ready.

And lest that sound too calm and nurturing, I think I ran out of calm and nurturing some time around 1am, and was ready to plead with tears and threats…but luckily was not driven to do so.  That would have been a mess, wouldn’t it?  I can just see myself whimpering, limping in to wake Devo up and beg him to rescue me, puke notwithstanding, with Lia crying hysterically as she clings to the toilet.

It could have happened.  It very nearly did.

We survived the night.  We survived the week.  We survived the last month.

And now I’m hoping that we are shifting back into a normal life.

Please.  Please.  Pleeeeeeeeeease.

I’m ready.






:: Would you like some cheese with your ham? ::

:: Lia photographs Amelie ::

:: My closet finds new inspiration.  Today’s name of choice…”Chandelier” (or “ChandeLIA”) ::

:: An exploratory look reveals the long awaited adult teeth…growing in their own row behind the babies.  Lots of teeth wiggling going on here. ::

:: incidentally, Lia has begun ending her speeches with “she said”.  For example, “No, I don’t want another sandwich…<in a quieter voice> she said.”

:: After a 17 month hiatus, Friday Night Youth returns.  So does the minestrone and hot chocolate ::

:: A trip to the creek today…this is what I want for my children ::


I’ve been all in a dither lately. Discovered that I had an accumulation of soul crud and set out to do some serious decluttering.

And because it seems that the state of my soul equals the state of my home, I have discovered that I have an accumulation of crud in my house, too.

The discipline of silence has been doing a pretty good job of stirring up the soul dust and generally making me very uncomfortable.  I feel quite like an ugly lizard in the early stages of molting.

The exercise of decluttering is starting to make inroads on the home front.  I spent last evening pruning the kids’ bookshelf.  And what a revealing exercise it was.

I should keep this book because so-and-so gave it to us.  I should keep this book because it’s about cerebral palsy, and that’s a worthy topic – even if the book isn’t well written or well illustrated.

What if I need this someday?  What if a year from now I regret getting rid of this?  Sometimes the kids like the most surprising books…what if I’m getting rid of a book they might eventually like?

Oh no, I only have five coloring books now, is that enough? (Five coloring books for two little girls who don’t really like to color).  I know I don’t like having lots of books based on cartoons, but what if Lia would be interested in reading this Clifford book all by herself?

Should I keep all three copies of “Guess How Much I love You?”…remember how you gave away the extra copy of Goodnight Moon and now your Goodnight Moon is torn and you need a new one?


But painful though it is, now that I’ve gone through them once, I’m tempted to do it again and see if I couldn’t pare down more.  There is, after all, a library just down the road.  The only books we really need are the read-it-over-and-over books.

Like The Story about Ping.  Which we are currently reading over and over.  And over.  (Amelie :: When the boy got Ping, I had a tear. I don’t like that part.)

Almost our entire book collection (which is really quite vast) are hand-me-downs from friends.  So I keep thinking, as my stack of give away books gets bigger, Freely you have received, freely give.

I’ve been thinking alot about my house lately.   I’ve been holding onto quite a lot of stuff, just in case we would want it in our future house.  But thanks to the Nester, I finally had a dawning of realization :: THIS IS MY HOUSE.

For a renter who has been on the brink of buying for two years, this is a big shift.

So I’m taking a big breath, and sending all the things that I’m not using and loving on out the door.  Hopefully out the door through craigslist for some of it, with a few dollars coming back in.

Compound that with the fact that every where I turn there is CRUD everywhere.  The small children take things from here or there and drop them on their way hither and yon, and every day as we clean up I say to myself, “We have too much stuff”.  After a while I started listening to myself.

I’d rather my life rule my stuff than my stuff rule my life. Both in my home, and in my soul.

If you know what I mean.

And now I’m going to go do some more decluttering.  Mindfully, because I’m counting it as a spiritual exercise, too.

The Measure of My Days

~natural laundry detergent~

~Sabbath challah~

~challah to share~homemade granola~

~record of this week’s official learning~

~My box of washing soda arrived today.  Because no stores in this area carry it, I ordered it from Great Cleaners…free shipping if you sign up for automatic shipments.

Grated down our Dr. Bronner’s soap bars (one bar is still incognito, probably disguised as a baby, wrapped in a dishcloth, and tucked somewhere for safe keeping).  We used Baby Mild and Citrus Orange to make two different “flavors”.

I don’t know how user friendly my pretty canning jars will be when dishing out the soap, but they sure are satisfying.  Everything is satisfying in a mason jar.

Recipe is from SouleMama, source of everlasting inspiration, peace, and beauty.  In one of the comments, someone has done the math and figured out the cost savings.  Imagine that, save money and be environmentally friendly.  Doesn’t happen often.

~Methinks it’s time to share the goodness of our challah recipe.  Maybe next week I can take the gallery of photos it deserves (my new favorite pasttime, photographing breads) and share.  It really is unbelievably delicious.

~Devo mixed up a batch of granola this afternoon.  Easy peasy now that I mix the dry ingredients in a paint bucket.  Just takes a few minutes to toss some with the oil and water and fill up the oven.

~Lia’s Book of Learning, with this week’s record of “official learning”.  Opposite page, her drawings from our experiments with the changing forms of water.

I’ve begun to think that I should keep a record of the things that I do and accomplish so that when I get to the end of these exhausting days I can say to myself Oh, yeah, you DID do alot today! Because, you know, at the end of the day sometimes you need a little cheering squad.  Especially when you’re so tired you can’t remember what happened just mere moments earlier.  🙂

It’s been a wild week, trying to get into this new, fuller schedule.  The bones of our day are still the same, but the level of faithfulness is going up, up, up.   And it’s wearing me out!

Not Baal

As I left the room, I said, “Tomorrow is a special day – the day when we worship God together!”

Lia’s little voice comes out of the darkness, “Not Baal!”

Can you tell the Sabbath School lesson is on Elijah this week?