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Showing posts from December, 2008

The Fancy Dinner

Come on. You are invited to the fancy dinner.

Place: The Living Room Time: After the children are fed
Dress: Thrift store fare. Formal (women and girls) Flannel (men and boys)

It's become tradition, this fancy dinner. Tonight is the third edition. Women put dinner in the oven, feed the children, exchange jeans for gowns. Doors are shut all over the house as everyone dresses.

Little girl eyes sparkle delight. Lithe bodies swish, swirl. "Look, Papa, Grandpa!"

"Oooh! You're gorgeous! So pretty!"


Mamas appear from behind the closed doors. Mother bodies swish, swirl. Am I still? eyes ask. Am I still your beautiful girl?
Yes. Oh, yes echoes round the room.

And the men, the men that we love, lumberjack men in soft flannel, bubble over with good humor and cheer.



We sit around the table. Velvet. Flannel. Sequins. Flannel. Taffetta. Flannel. And the children serve. "Would anyone like a glass of wine." Six adults coach five young ones through the art of presenting, po…

Door to Door

"Goodbye!"
"One hug more."
"See you in a few days!"

We pulled out of the driveway, weighted down with two car top carriers, honking, waving to cousins.

"Goodbye!"

Over Virginia mountains. Weaving through truck traffic, recording license plates, reading, sleeping.

And when darkness falls, we leave the highway to the trucks and wind over a ribbon of country roads. John navigates, scatters direction-covered Post-Its, shuffles and reoganizes. We grope tentatively through inky night, stop to read road signs.

"We're almost there!"
" This is the road. Look for house numbers." Eyes squint and strain.

"10057. Almost." Headlights seek treasure, family, at 11164 Frog Hollar Lane.

"Come back!"
"Back up! You missed us!" A flock of children crows from porch and yard.

We do back up, thread though exuberant greeters, burst from the car, trailing empty water bottles and stuffed animals.

"You're here!"
"G…

The Snowflakes

Because you asked. Tell us. Did you make the snowflakes? How?
Yes. We did make these curly bits of paper. Charlie wrapped some strips of paper round the quiller and handed them over to be shaped and joined. But the other four pairs of hands measured and cut and curled and glued with no help at all. The best kinds of projects don't need a mother hovering directions. I joined in and worked too while City on A Hill provided Christmas ambiance in mid-November.

These are our tools. And waxpaper to save the table. And toothpicks for the glue. If you don't have a quiller buy the kind with the little slit in the top. Much easier to use than the pointed awl kind. Prevent squabbling. Get enough. The quiller design board is a necessity as it forms identical curls. You may want two or three if there are lots of eager hands at your house. Precut quilling paper is inexpensive and is of even, narrow width. Better than I can do on my Fiskars paper cutter. We used two snowflake kits that came wi…

Of Crops and Christmas

My father is a farmer, no longer one who tills the soil and plants the seed, but a farmer nonetheless, drawn to crops and weather forecasts. I grew up in the corn fields and in the planting and harvest seasons, my five o'clock father came home dusty and tired long after dusk. Memories stirred because a post came across my reading list this week. It my caught my eye as it is of a harvest. The children and I have been following with interest.

"Look at this field of corn. This family's paycheck stands in that field. These are their children. They are all your ages." Internet journals make this big world small and intimate. Tie together the hearts of strangers.

We have been so caught up in this tale I wanted to share it with you. Part One, Part Two and Part Three. Begin at the beginning. Prepare your heart for Christmas.

Searching for the Mark

You miss the mark. A wisp of an idea, a whisper, a breath during these happy, creative days. Cookie baking and Christmas carols. You miss the mark. Stories and puzzles in front of the fireplace. Hot chocolate. Presents...storebought and homemade.You miss the mark.

This unrest grows and swells until, finally "How? How am I missing?" I look into the lives of others and am not found wanting in giving or worship.

Child, look to Me.

I look. I fall short. I miss the mark.

In worship. You attend to many things but only one thing is needed. I have this complaint against your family. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! In giving. You bring buckets of water to full wells and spare only a few drops for me.

My heart breaks and into the wreckage He pours out His plan to finish well this season.

For worship: We put aside Isaiah for a time and begin the Jesse tree devotional. A soothing balm. A right turning for our wayward souls.

For giving: Silver words challenge. Confron…

Goon Shoes

One dollar! Who will buy us for just one dollar? Down here! One shelf below Timmy the Tooth on VHS. Down. Behind the green press-on nails. Yes! Us! The Goon Shoes!



We'll fit all of your children with these handy straps! We're bouncy! We're fun!

No! No, lady! Don't make your boy put us back. We're not junk! You don't know! You, you middle-aged woman with big feet! Please! Pleeease take us home! Don't leave us here under these big bikini bottoms!

Put down that sweater! Put it down and look at your son sproinging down the aisle of Second Hand Sams in our green and purple majesty. We're made for each other!

Yes? You said yes?! Oh, you won't regret this! I promise!

Watch that first step out of the store, son. We've got bounce but no traction.

Don't fight! You can't all wear us at once. Two shoes. Two feet. That's how it goes. Set the timer. Wait your turn! Wait!

Yes, big brother, we do turn vacuuming into a circus performance. Yes, younge…

Silent Night

Sit with me, here in the dark, in the peaceful dark of my living room. Sink down into the sofa beside the fireplace.
Here. A blanket to throw over your lap and tuck under your feet.

Let the chaos and the busy-ness of the early evening hours fade.

Feel the the warmth of the cocoa mug in your hands. Sip slowly. Savor this moment. Relax. Peace. Breathe.

Be still.

A Windy Day

What does a family do when they wake up on the living room floor to a stormy morning? (We were having a sleepover in front of the fireplace because Stuart is out of town.)


7:30 Lay under the covers and watch the wind bend the trees vigorously in every direction. Enjoy being cozy together.


7:52 The wind blows the power lines down somewhere and the clock stops.


8:00 Send a kid to the front windows to see if the broken branch in the tulip maple has finally blown down.


8:01 Pray that the wind will be strong enough to blow the branch down when the report comes back that it is still trapped out of reach in the tree.


9:00 Have milk and cereal for breakfast because the power is not yet back on.


9:00 Instruct the children on the importance of keeping the fridge door shut.


9:30 Read the last two chapters of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Wish that it were a little longer. It's such a good book!


9:45 Have a longer Bible time than normal because there are no distractions. Thank God during prayer …

bERGRAMU

Yesterday, Charlie got a letter in the mail. The Christmas activity we were working on came to a screeching halt. Letters for four year olds are not a common occurance here. "For me? A letter for me? Look! A letter for me! I got a letter!" When Charlie was done waving his letter around, he opened it.

He pulled out a sheet of stickers. "Ooh stickers! What is this animal?!"

"Move it back a little, Charlie so I can uncross my eyes."

He did and we identified animals from the African plain. "Mama, do you want a sticker?"

"Sure."

"Which one?"

"I don't care. Which one do you want to give me?"

Charlie smacked a elephant onto my chest and decorated himself with a monkey. But wait! There was more in the envelope. A note and a dollar. A whole dollar.

"Do you want me to read this note to you?"

"I got a dollar! I got this dollar! Is it store day? Can we go to the store rightnow?! (insert much dancing and waving)

"N…

Southern Holidays

1. Stringing up the Christmas lights and raking the yard can occur simultaneously. Today, we divided into two teams and took care of both jobs. These festivities were punctuated every fifteen minutes or so by the reveberation of a shotgun as our next door neighbor scared a flock of Canadian geese out of his back yard.

2. It was cold today as we worked out in the yard so, we bundled up in our sweaters (three or four apiece), our mittens and our toboggans. For those of you who are doing a double take...toboggans are hats down here. I guess the southerners felt left out. What's this, ya'll? A word we have absolutely no use for? I know. Let's change hat to toboggan. We'll show those Yankees.

3. Sometimes it snows. Well, it's only snowed once since we've moved here. The children dashed outside in their pajamas. I didn't call them back in to get dressed. It was a good thing. The snow melted before breakfast.

4. Southerners find innovative ways to create snow. Las…

From Thanksgiving to Now

Stuart came down with a cold the day before Thanksgiving that knocked him out for two or three days.  This is how he he spent all of Thanksgiving Day.  He's a handsome devil.
The rest of us were undaunted.  With Stuart's blessing, we pressed forward with our Thanksgiving preparations.  The girls made sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole and fruit cup (with the bitters).  And all that I needed to do was assemble the stuffing and cook the birds.  We were alone for Thanksgiving.  I really hate that we are so far from family and friends because I would love for my house to be full of company. I suppose it was for the best on this particular holiday. Our guests would have gone home incubating plague germs!  Anyway, it was just the seven of us so I decided to serve Cornish game hens instead of the traditional (enormous) turkey.  The kids were delighted with the size of these tiny birds and christened them ptarmigan.  Perhaps we were the only family in America that celebrat…