Thursday, February 25, 2010

If your goal is to clean up after yourself right away instead of leaving a mess for later, but you find yourself slinking off to indulge in some reading after supper instead of first doing the dishes, make sure you're slinking off to a Charlotte Mason book about forming habits. She'll prick you right back to those dishes before the food has time to harden on the plates.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My daughter's budding fashion sense

First, the hat. She wears it all day long. It coordinates with every outfit.

Then this morning she found her favorite striped shirt among the clean laundry.

She has no favorite pants, so at one point this morning she wore the hat, the shirt, her favorite pink socks, her favorite pink shoes, and a diaper. Wish I had a picture.

I'm sensing a bent towards bright colors.
Also towards warm and comfy. Her fleece jammies are her other favorite outfit.

And this jacket. It only comes off with tears.

wearing skin

"Everybody's wearing jammies except Raindrop. She's wearing 'kin." -Peanut Butter

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'poon, 'now, 'ticker

"I dropped my 'poon," Peanut Butter says at the supper table last night.
"Your poon?" I ask.
"Nooo. My ththththpoon," he corrects me.
I laugh and smile and accept his correction, and he smiles a little bashfully and then switches tactics.
"No, I mean poon. It's a poon."
"It's a poon?" I query.
"Yup, it's a poon." When he's not caught off guard, he'd rather insist that his way is right than that he's saying it wrong.

He makes me laugh, and I love his way of talking, with nary an "s", even though he can make the "s" sound. Sometimes it's clear, sometimes it's a lisp, but almost always it's dropped off the beginning of words. "Look outside! It's all 'nowy!" "This 'ticker doesn't 'tick." "I put it away 'ticking out so I would know where it was." I don't want him to talk like this forever, so I draw his attention to it when I think of it, but it's endearing, all the same.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eyes wide open

210. bed posts

211. smooth sheets

212. warmth

213. sharp pencils

214. pink

215. upcoming vacation

216. smell of leather

217. birds chirping so loudly outside they can be heard through closed windows

218. crunchy snow

219. brown mud

220. soft round cheeks

221. sweaters

222. yarn

223. parents-in-law

224. shiny black shoes plopped in my lap by friends' daughter during comedy night ("see my shoes?" she whispered)

225. hot crusty bread

226. stone walls

227. chipmunks

228. song

229. vegetable seeds

230. paper

"Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you!" -Our Town, Thornton Wilder

Saturday, February 20, 2010

16 gallons

of maple elixer, dripping generously from 15 trees in the woods behind my house. Like Thornton Burgess's Peter Rabit, I run and jump a little on my path between the trees, because it's 45 degrees and feeling like spring. Because buckets, neglected yesterday, brim with clear sweetness today. I thought February was the longest, dreariest month of the year? This year spring touches us early, and I relax my worry that our March vacation will take me out of the country during the most generous maple week.

Basement woodstove stoked to its hottest means windows upstairs can crack open and let some freshness into our closed winter home.

Maple season, my heart flips with love and fills with singing.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Library Day

If you have ever read Poppleton by Cynthia Rylant (and if you have any children between 3 and 5, you should read it to them, and if you don't have children, you probably have not and never will read it) you will know that "Poppleton went to the library every Monday. Monday was always Poppleton's library day." He's a pig who spends every Monday at the library reading an adventure story.

Such a life that would be, says this mother of three who spends her library visits keeping books on shelves and prompting to put the toys back in the toy box and helping with puzzles and approving (or not) books taken from shelves to go into the library bag for home. Today the three enthusiastic youngsters went to spend 9AM - 3PM at a friends' house, and the day is mine. Such luxury. I choose the library. As I walk to the door I'm a college student again, those college days of independence, when I went to the library to study, or in a rare hour, to read for pleasure, just me, surrounded by books and other book readers.

I'm reading Lighting Their Fires by Rafe Esquith, which references, in relation to teaching our kids appreciation of time, the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. I find it on the shelf and begin to read. Interrupted at the end of Act 2 for lunch with My Hero, I check the book out and take it home with me to finish. I end streaming tears and longing to drink up every beautiful minute of this one wild and precious life I have been given.

In a loud voice to the stage manager.
I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have
time to look at one another.
She breaks down sobbing.
The lights dim on the left half of the stage. MRS. WEBB

I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never
noticed. Take me back--up the hill--to my grave. But first:
Wait! One more look.
Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners...Mama and
Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food
and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking
up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
She looks toward the stage manager and asks abruptly, through her

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every

The saints and poets, maybe--they do some.

It's the life He's called us to. To be saints. To live in this extraordinary world and make the most of this gift of life, and worship Him for it and through it, because it all counts in the end.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Even tough days hold their gifts...

197. Two friends coming over with their children = a house FULL of sitting, toddling, building, biscuit-munching, hiding, running, make-believing, grinning kids

198. Red swing coat on sweet little lady

199. Phone message during tea time informing friend the job is hers

200. Colored paper, scissors, glue, mailing love to family across the miles.

201. Bashful boys at the doctor's office stop playing, cross the room to sit in my lap and whisper their love to me as bold older boy tries to talk to them .

202. Bananas and clementines satisfy baby girl until pancakes are ready.

203. Raspberry oatmeal pancakes with maple syrup

204. Stories about children who know hunger. Humble gratefulness that these ones in my lap always have enough.

205. Inspiration...a funny message popping into my head to make him laugh... left in crayon on shower wall, an early morning message on a day when our paths don't cross until night.

206. Five year old learning to write.

207. Five gallons of clear sap gathered on one February afternoon, enough to make a pint of syrup.

208. Boy ideas: instead of "What can we do, Mom?", they make their own fun with a couple of sleds and carpeted stairs.

209. Baby girl asking permission with large blue eyes, serious round cheeks, and inquiring tone, her spoken words as yet unintelligible.

Monday, February 15, 2010

God is my Hope

"Mom, do you hear Peanut Butter? " Christopher Robin asks me, coming in to use the bathroom as I brush my damp hair and smooth cream on my face in my early morning routine. I do hear Peanut Butter's moaning cry, but I know better than to attend to it until I'm really ready to face him and help him. Ready to start the day. I finish and head to the kids' room.

"Mama, I want you to 'old me," Peanut Butter moans. I sit on his bed and scoop him into my lap and do just that. I revel in his warm stillness. Oldest boy and baby girl are all wiggles, inherited from their mother an inability to sit still very long, at least without something to think about. My middle boy just loves to be held, and always has. His content in my arms is part of who he is. So I sit still and soak in his warmth and run fingers through his hair and thrill to the silkiness of his three year old cheek. His cup fills up, and he decides he'd like to make his bed.

Later he's finished his breakfast and I call him to me again, to soak in some more of him, and he refuses. Cup still full? Or because it's my idea? My Hero roars and runs and scoops him up and he rests long, content in his daddy's arms. Christopher Robin comes to fill mine, long arms and legs and cheeks like soft pillows and wiggles...

I drink in happiness. I marvel that this family God has the best. I don't want anyone else's, only mine. These ones, all of us together, are right. Other families are wonderful to them and this one is wonderful, supremely wonderful, to me.

Now is naptime, and I sit like an orange peel ripped open and missing the fruit inside. Hollow and empty, dry. I type from a marred keyboard, missing the 1 number key.

"Mom, come look at the computer," Christopher Robin's voice warns. "Not now," I mutter as I put lunch on plates. I can't face more trouble right now. Raindrop has cried at me much of the morning and Peanut Butter retaliated my saying no to more Valentine candy before lunch by swiping the card-making debris, papers, scissors, pictures, glue sticks, papers scraps, magazines, onto the floor. I had fairly calmly made him clean up his mess, but his behavior much of the morning seemed to be aimed at getting even with me. I can't imagine anything seriously wrong with our laptop, but my heart alarms a bit when Christpher Robin scolds Peanut Butter for breaking the computer. I come to look, and Christopher Robin informs me that Peanut Butter "bit" the 1 number key off. It does not snap back on. I snap.

He, unintentionally, has found a way to get even, he stumbled on a way to hurt me, to make me rage inside and feel the same frustrated helplessness he feels when I say no more candy before lunch. Our new computer now looks like junk, and I know it doesn't need to matter, but it's so unnecessary, and probably irreparable.

This boy whom I love, deeply, passionately does he wield so much power to frustrate and anger and lay me low?

Anger burns steadily as I sweep up crumbs and paper scraps during naptime quiet. An image enters my mind, a video, clear and real, of 18 year old Peanut Butter leaving home, independent, unfeeling, glad to be finally away from restrictive parents, ready to fly and not look back. Neediest child grows up with least gratefulness and affection. Despair enters my heart, and the feeling of futility. Powerless against inborn selfishness, what can I do? And what is this for? And why must I give and give and give?

I turn to the God of hope with my feelings, and ask Him. And go to bed weary and discouraged.

Today, a new day, questions remain and discouragement persists, but I remember where joy comes from and determine to give thanks in everything.

And at snacktime, as baby girl naps, the God of hope opens my eyes, washes away the despair. Boys open valentine boxes from Grandma and dig in to their candy. Peanut Butter brings me a small package of gummy hearts to open, and after I do, he gives me one with a loving smile. I thank him and kiss him. A few minutes later he comes from behind, taps me on the shoulder, and gives me another candy. I thank him for his generosity, saying that it makes me happy and it makes Jesus happy. That brings Christopher Robin over with a gift of his own. As the boys shower generosity, I see it. The capacity for good. The potential for transformation in each of the boys. Left to themselves in sin and selfishness, chances are good they will lack love and gratitude, but Jesus can transform them. Thoughtfulness can be encouraged, love for others developed to a degree, and ultimately, as they know Jesus better his divine power will give them everything they need for living a godly life. Jesus is their hope just as He is mine. Rather than harden my heart to them in despair as I suffer from their selfishness, my response can be to turn to God in prayer to transform them, as He transforms me, and to give me wisdom to teach them a better way.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Come back later,"

they greeted me when I opened the door to their bedroom to let them know they could get up.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another good day in February

185. As we know Jesus better his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. II Peter 1:3 Such as thankfulness to transform a grumpy, self-pitying mother and thereby redeem the day before it even starts. Yesterday was a good day, and the glory belongs to Jesus.

186. Sap buckets are hung, ready to collect maple nectar as days begin to warm.

187. Sweet baby girl's mouth pursed in concentration as she aims a single finger towards my nose, then opens her small hand and presses palm to my lips when I say "nose, mouth..."

188. Five year old boy laughing to himself because of a phrase come to his mind from The Adventures of Sammy Jay, our naptime chapter book.

189. Full night of rest, uninterrupted.

190. Chocolate Swirl Banana Cake

191. Mashed banana with a few sprinkles secretly substituted for ice cream when sick baby girl sees brothers hovered over bowls of her favorite dessert. She licks her bowl clean, too.

192. Oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast.

193. Peanut Butter's blue eyes and earnest expression as he explains his understanding of things.

194. Photos waiting to be put into albums. Albums to be flipped through and browsed and absorbed as we remember these fleeting days.

195. Farm fresh eggs again, delivered right to my door. The hens have resumed their laying at my parents' place, and my kitchen rejoices.

196. Another day of surrendered plans, waiting to see what circumstances bring, focussing only on the things that matter most, with a few projects fitting into the cracks as the opportunities come.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Antidote to self pity after a rough night with sleepless baby girl

175. Warm chai, ever the drink of comfort.

176. Deep purples and turquois of predawn sky.

177. I can slow. No pressing agenda forcing me to rush through the day. I can relax, let go of things, refuse to allow stress or bad attitudes to reign in me.

178. Jesus. In my weakness you are glorified. If you turn the day into good, all the glory, always, belongs to you.

179. Husband long miles away, out of reach of unrealistic expectations, safe from my tendency in these hard days to lean heavily and then layer on most of the blame.

180. Sap buckets hanging in the woods, ready. Just a few. More today? Only if circumstances allow...

181. Christopher Robin can READ! Not just stumble over small words, but pick up a book and expressively read the story. Sometimes I take it for granted, and then it hits me new again. It's a precious gift, this natural ability in my son. I think God smiled the way indulgent fathers do when picking out a special gift for one of their children, when he put that into my firstborn son, knowing how much it would mean to me.

182. Library day.

183. Project taking shape, a handmade something for darling neice who turns one this month.

184. "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Gal. 5:22-23

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February Evenings

Winter days can be long. Stuck indoors when the cold wind bites soft little cheeks and reddens tender noses. Days made longer when Daddy's days at work get him out of the house before little ones are out of bed, and home again after they're down for the night. No one to interrupt the day with "Daddy's home!!" and a half-hour of romping and growling and laughter and squeals. Evenings can feel daunting, the question, "Mom, what do you want to do with me now?" coming, coming again, challenging. Can I fill the time with creativity, warmth, fun? Energy dwindles, but my eyes quickly scan the list of ideas on the side of the fridge. This is precious time. Three little ones...the simplest things entertain. They really just want time together. Attention, touch, ideas to think about.

Tonight began with a recent favorite: flashlight hide-and-seek. The house goes dark (maybe a night light here or there), the seeker holds flashlight in lap while the hiders find dark corners and shout their readiness. Then, before seeker has a chance to wonder where they are, hider is squealing, "Help me! Help me!" from the hiding spot. The game moves fast when players are 5 and 3 years old.
When the game wore down, I dug out needle and thread and mended baby girl's favorite shoe broken by 5 year old boy's long foot. As I stitched, 5 year old boy gathered library books for a final reading before our trip for more tomorrow morning. First a few rounds of Raindrop's new favorite games, the classic ball with shapes. She doesn't ever seem to tire of it.
I let boys "help" make bread...when I do, it helps me appreciate the next times without their involvement. I had started to take those times for granted.

Other ideas from my list on the fridge of things to do together:

  • make cookies
  • make Thank You cards (paper, pictures cut from magazines, glue sticks, scissors, tape... not exactly a dreaded chore...)
  • finger knitting (make a simple chain with fingers and yarn...hasn't caught on yet, but I'll keep trying)
  • paint (watercolors)
  • read new magazine (Christopher Robin gets Clubhouse Jr., Peanut Butter gets Your Big Backyard, thoughtful gifts from my sister to her nephews)
  • sing songs
  • write a letter (both boys enthusiastically draw pictures so they can put them in envelopes and put stamps on them to send in the mail to people who matter to them)
  • take walk along snowmobile trail (a daytime, not evening, activity, since evenings are dark. Involves this mama pulling three young ones in a sled through the woods...a lovely adventure when the weather is kind and the snow is firm.)
  • do puzzles...this used to be a problem time; boys on stools at the kitchen island, 100 piece puzzles safely out of reach of baby sister's intentional trouble-making, baby sister below or in my arms, loudly discontent to be left out. Last time was better. I pulled out one of her small wooden puzzles and set her in a chair on the other side of the island. I alternated helping each of them with their puzzles, and thereby maintained a relative peace and happiness throughout.

Other ideas? I would welcome them.