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Showing posts from January, 2009

Candlelight Questions

The Brontes had a mask, one that they could hide behind when telling the truth. The brainchild of a wise father. Sometimes it is hard to tell the truth in the harsh light of day. I've found in my own life some of the best conversations take place under cover of darkness. We're currently testing this theory out on the children.
"Hurry. Brush your teeth. Get in your PJs and then it's time for Candlelight Questions." The children scurry out of day clothes and into night. They rush around the house flipping off lights but leave the oil lamps burning on the kitchen table. Someone brings a candle and sets it on the hearth in the living room. The lighter flares in the darkness and ignites the candle's wick. Everyone finds a space on the sofas or the floor.
"Are you ready for tonight's question? Who is someone you admire and why?"
"I admire JRR Tolkien. He basically spent his whole life with one set of characters." "I admire you and Papa beca…

T Minus Ten and Superman

"John! Quick! Get out of your sweats and put on jeans! We're going to be late for bell practice."

whine. mumble. moan.

"I know you don't like jeans. Too bad. You are old enough to start thinking about proper public attire and sweats don't cut it!

whine. mumble. moan.

Lauren comes in fresh from the shower with dripping wet hair. "Come here. Your hair is stringy. It will just take a minute to trim off the ends... Charlie! Get your shoes on!... John! Jeans! Jeans!... No, Charlie, take the yellow boots off. Get your sneakers!"

"I can't find my sneakers."

"What do you mean you can't find them? They should be on the shoe shelf."

"I looked. They aren't there."

"Look again! Be quick! Don't step in the pile of hair. "

"I know where they are, Mom."

"Faith, you haven't brushed your hair yet! Come on!"

"I will, Mom, but I know where Charlie's shoes are. Superman is wearing them.


Chim Chiminee

"Have you taken a picture yet?" Stuart asked me this when he walked in the door around dinner time. I had the counter covered with baking sheets and fajitas. Chicken Fajita Pizzas were on the dinner menu. I'm a one-thing-at-a-time girl and putting pizzas together was my one thing.
"Take a picture of what?"
"Of the kids. Have you seen the kids?"
"Oh. That." I had seen them but it hadn't occured to me that it was a moment. The pizzas, you know.
Stuart put down his computer case and, still in his jacket, he grabbed the camera to record the children (re) blackening their faces.

Then he pulled brooms from the pantry and equipped each of his chimney sweeps with one.

And he didn't even mind that dinner wasn't quite ready or that some of the black came off on the wall around the mirror.

Minus Four on a Sunday Morning

It has been some weeks since I have been able to go to and hospital and illness detain. Today was no exception. Home with Faith and Charlie. They turned the doll house upside down and got to work arranging a cozy place for their little family. I plowed through the piles in the living room and bedrooms; made beds and washed dishes. Lit some candles to chase away the gloom and sat down with Isaiah. Quiet.

A little while later Faith and Charlie joined me in front of the fireplace under a big blanket for their Bible time. Noah and the flood and a year and ten days in the ark with all those animals. I imagined the mess and the closeness. Bible time over, we picked up some stories and set about missing the rest of us and listening for car sounds.

Two more stories and the car crunched gravel in the driveway. Books and blanket went flying. "They're home! They're home!"

Kids and Papa and groceries tumbled into the house. Bibles scattered over clean countertops. S…

To Arms!

It was a day. Malaise hung thick in the air affecting children and school work and chores. I hauled the stragglers back to their tasks and felt the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders. At eleven I asked John to start getting ready for a doctors appointment. At twelve he was good to go. At twelve-thirty I asked the children to begin getting in the car. By one, all were assembled. Steam gathered between my ears and Charlie cried because he couldn't get his shoes on.

I started to wind up for a good tantrum on the highway but refrained. "Guys! We are at the crossroads and and we need to choose the good way. Let's take turns praying that we would choose peace." We did while Charlie cried louder. "John! Help him with his shoes!" Peace eluded.

Smack! A stone flew out from under the tread of a tractor trailer and hit the windshield. A round hole remains to tell the tale. Charlie cried, "I need a pillow! My stomach hurts! I want to lie down!" It w…

Do Unto Others

I am never finished. I never arrive or achieve or accomplish. As fast as I begin to get the hang of a thing, another is set out before me to work through. I do not mind this for I love growing beyond myself. The task at hand? Do unto others...

A thousand commercials tell me that I am the center of the universe. Billboards, magazines, and my own selfish nature spur me on to grab what I can, spend as much time as I can on serving myself. The end result of self-centeredness is loneliness and dissatisfaction in everything. Join in. This been the relentless message of the past few months. Fortunately the response of friends and neighbors to Charlie's struggle has given me a better direction.

We've not lived here long and I often worry. Who can we turn to if we need help? A needless thought. Neighbors rallied and picked up and dropped off childen. People dropped by the hospital. Pastor, neighbors, and our favorite visitor...a young father who just started working for Stuart a few mon…

Day Eight: High Five!

Day Six: Regrouping

Five bags in the trunk.
5 medical supplies in a Wal-Mart cart.
5 kids in the car.
5 repetitions of "Are we almost there yet?" High five! Charlie is home!
If you are praying: Last night the pediatric ward filled up with children suffering from a nasty stomach virus. Hopefully we did not cart those germs home with us! John has come down with a cold so we are keeping him under quarantine. Charlie's immune system has got to be pretty compromised after seven days on three types of antibiotics. We also have another week of bandage changing ahead of us. The drain has been completely removed but Charlie still has a small open hole in his neck.

Day Six: Regrouping

Day Five: Speaker Phone Prayers

"Mmm. You look nice," Stuart said into my neck this evening.

" A little sleep, some makeup, and a change of clothes will do that for a girl."

Stuart stayed at the hospital with Charlie last night and I came home to get some rest and spend some time with the other kids today. I should have gone right to bed but instead, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning updating the blog. Then I climbed in my big comfy bed with my big comfy comforter (ahhh!) and watched the end of Return to Me.

Woke up at quarter of eleven, visited with our next-door neighbor, made lemon-raspberry muffins, did a little laundry, trimmed my hair and gave my son, Absalom, a full fledged haircut. Comforted Claire. This separation has been the hardest on her. The kids snacked this morning and we finally sat down to eat breakfast at three this afternoon! This confused the kids. They didn't know whether to do their after-breakfast chores or after-lunch chores. I …

Day Five: Speaker Phone Prayers

Day Four: Psalm 91

The big guys have been holding down the fort off and on this week. Neighbors pop in to check on them during the mornings and in the midafternoon they ride with Stuart to the hospital.

They've been impressive. I got home last night after being gone for five days to a CLEAN house. Laundry washed, folded and put away; dishes done; rugs vacuumed; beds made... They've helped each other with their school work and have put in about three full days this week on their own. The chore chart and family schedule have helped to give their days structure.

The thing that has impressed me most is that they have come together for Bible study all on their own each day. We're beginning to see fruit. Hallelujah!

Every morning around 9:30 or so, I called to help them get organized and to supervise as best I could via speaker phone. "John, no media this morning. Faith, use a small bowl for your cereal, that way you'll waste less. Claire? Is your bed princess worthy? Go fi…

Day Four: Psalm 91

Day Three

"You have to print a retraction and take that Calico post off your blog, Mom."

"No, John. It stays."

"Why? It just shows how wrong you were."

"Yes, sweetie, it does but to delete that post would rob God of the credit that is due to him."

Charlie stood just a step away from Heaven's gates while we called him the Calico Boy.

For weeks, the abcess grew, deep withing the recesses of Charlie's neck tissue; swelling invisible to human sight or probing fingers. Not once a fever, no sign of illness revealed until he began to sleep for long hours only two days before we brought him to the doctors.

"The abcess was huge. It extended from just under his ear, down to his voice box and went behind his esophogus." The surgeon measured of span of one and three and four inches with his forefinger and thumb as he described the area to me. "He's lucky still to be here."

The surgeon left the room Wednesday night and I sobbed into t…

Day Three

Day Two: Waiting
Stuart, Charlie and Underbear Orange Popsicle#27

Charlie and the Magnadoodle. He drew a birthday cake and told his nurse, "Go get all the other nurses so they can see my picture." A minute later our tiny room was filled with six oohing and aahing nurses. The hospital staff has gone above and beyond for us. Last night, Charlie's nurse brought in a flashlight and helped him make his glow-in-the-dark underwear glow.
Happy Birthday. Charlie's favorite stuffed animal. Here Charlie is coloring but mostly he told Lauren what colors to use where. His right hand is a little tied up. He was very disappointed when he discovered this made it impossible for him to play with his Gameboy. Waiting. A long afternoon at the hospital. Goodnight, Charlie.
Day Four: Psalm 91

Day Two: Waiting

Day One: Charlie's Comfort

It rained today, great heaping buckets of the stuff cover roadways and lawns. Lakes and river and little ponds stretch their borders and gobble up ground to store the abundant cache of rainwater. I saw this when I drove home today from the hospital to relocate the kids but mostly I saw grey skies dripping on a flat, black roof a few stories below Charlie's hospital window.

It was a waiting day, and a pinching day. The vampires came to visit at six this morning and the phone rang at seven and these things brought the short night to a close. Stuart panicked at being away and came early. We waited for the doctor, waited for a diagnosis, for action, for anything. Our pastor came instead and he prayed and the phone rang during our visit. "Mom, we just finished Bible and we prayed for Charlie."

I repeated his words out loud. "Pastor Rob is here, buddy, and you are making us look good." That got a chuckle.

More waiting. Charlie sucked on pop…

Calico Boy

First Charlie had a cold. The cold is gone but a stiff and sore neck hangs on. Charlie hasn't had much experience with pain so he copes by crying. And whining. And blubbering. He crawls into our bed in the middle of the night so we can better enjoy the cacophony. We long for a good night's sleep.

We are sympathetic. The girls read him armloads of books and heat a rice-filled sock for his neck. John rubs Charlie's back and shares his Gameboy. Stuart and I medicate and massage. We rub Vicks into the sore spot and gently stretch neck and shoulder while he shouts, "Don't work on me!" We bribe him with candy cane bits and get him to tentatively shake his head no. Still he lists to starboard and cries. We pray over him and are thankful that he's not really sick.

Once we took our cat to the vet because she was limping and crying. Crying and crying. The vet prodded gently and the cat lept straight up off the examining table. "I'll have to put her to slee…

An Unlikely Excuse

"Please, John. Grab me a package of ground beef from the freezer." He's mailing laundry and the freezer is only a few steps away from the clothes room. He comes back empty handed. "Did you forget?"

"Did I forget what?"

"The meat. You forgot the meat."

"Oh." A few minutes later the meat appears on the kitchen counter.

And then, "Where was I going?" John is holding an armload of dolls and looking bewildered.

"Might you have been going to put those in the girls room?"

"Oh. Right."

He's back in a bit with an explanation. "The problem is, Mom, that I keep passing through the Fogs of Forgetfulness. They seem to be thickest in the hallway."

I chuckle with him. He will have to do battle with the Fogs of Forgetfulness for his entire life but humor is a powerful coping mechanism. One that I hope holds my absent-minded boy in good stead as he sets out to make his mark on the world.