Thursday, November 25, 2010

Love and Faithfulness

It is good to praise the LORD
   and make music to your name, O Most High,
  proclaiming your love in the morning
   and your faithfulness at night.

Happy Thanksgiving to All My Bloggy Friends!!
Have a Wonderful Day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Smiles on the Way Home

There are days you can't buy a smile.  And then there are days where a smile awaits you around every corner.  Little delights, happy surprises, unexpected beauty, bits of grace.

Today is, of course, one such day, which is exactly why I am blogging about the things that are making me smile.

The first is the fall color. 

Yes, it comes every year, but it never ceases to make me catch my breath at the height of the season as I drive by tree after tree in delicious shades of burgundy, mustard, gold, caramel and fiery red.

As if the brilliant colors weren't enough, I pulled into my favorite grocery store and found large, sweet blueberries for $1.78 a box . . . in South Carolina . . . in November!!

I ate an entire container while doing my grocery shopping, giving the cashier quite a shock as she scanned a clear, empty box among my groceries.  And gave me odd looks.Things were definitely getting more cheerful by the minute.

The mailbox offered up a yummy taste of the upcoming holiday.      As is my custom, I will probably not use one recipe or put into place one decorating idea from this magazine.  But I will read it from cover to cover and somehow it will seem to me that I have invited "Martha" to my home to help me with the holidays and I will, therefore, be quite fabulous at all holiday endeavors.

To top off my trip home, as I pulled into the driveway and looked down the yards and yards of khaki-coated fence boards, I could see that a neighbor's flower, discontent to stay in her own small yard, had squeezed through the boards and was blooming with all her heart in my own backyard, bringing yet one more smile for the day.   Small gifts to savor.  Good gifts. 

Pieces of joy.  Bits of grace.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Of all the varied members of our family, there are 2 that, at this point, lead unfair lives. 

Their lives are unfair because (1) Their father coaches varsity basketball, (2) their brother plays varsity basketball, (3) their sister plays varsity volleyball, and (4) their mother administrates the 15 teams in the organization.

This has unfortunately led to their being dragged from pillar to post . . . or, more accurately, from one sporting venue to another.

And this is unfair because, at this point, these two couldn't give a rippin' flip about sports.  They've got their interests, all right, but they don't involve either a round ball or a ref's shrill whistle or a driving spirit of competition.

So on Friday, when The Man of the House left to coach and Oldest Son left to dribble and drive and dunk and Oldest Sister left to keep stats in the score book, I stayed home to make a fire in the fire pit, invite a few  friends, and make it their night.

Actually, Middle Son made a fire . . . a roaring fire . . . something of which I am not yet capable.

and all the necessaries were added to complete the picture.

Roasted hot dogs and marshmallows disappeared at an alarming rate. 

And then, boys being boys, they began to also roast marshmallows covered in ketchup, cheddar goldfish, and, amazingly, fruit snacks. 

None were considered a rousing hit, until one of them was inspired to try roasting an apple. 

The apples sizzled and sputtered and the skin blackened to a silky charcoal.  Then the apples were cooled and the charcoaled skin was peeled off.  And to their delight, inside they found a most delicious baked apple which they devoured in large mouthfuls. 

May I please add that it did my heart no end of good when Middle Son (who has been known to favor Vienna sausages, American cheese, and fast food french fries) declared that it was the most delicious snack he had ever yet been privileged to partake of.

There was lots of laughter, a few crazy competitions of their own, and a few too many marshmallows. 

For those of you who are wondering why I never mentioned Youngest Daughter . . . wondering whether she fits into the "sports-addicted" category or "poor-child-living-an unfair-life" category.

Let me just say that at this point she plays no sports.  But after observing her for the past 7 years, as adored baby girl of the family, I will also say that nothing about this child's life could remotely be considered "unfair."

Just saying.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Childhood Fantasy Bites the Dust

As a child, I always had a fantasy.  I wanted to know what it would feel like to chew an entire pack of gum.  I loved gum, and I couldn't imagine the joy of having your whole mouth stuffed with it. 
And I'm not talking about a little Doublemint 5-piece pack.  No.  One of the big 15-piece packs.  At the time I believe I was about 5th grade, and the most I ever managed to stuff in was 3 pieces.  I could never bear to waste a whole pack of gum in one massive chewing.
I have now lived my dream.
This morning, 1 1/2 hours before school, Youngest Son came to me, looking pale and drawn.  It seems he had forgotten to do his science experiment for the week.  Science is his difficult class.  He did not need a "zero."  The science experiment entailed weighing a package of unwrapped gum, chewing it for 10 minutes and then reweighing, and figuring weight differences, ratios of gum to fillers, and percentage of ingestible gum portions. 
At this point you are of course thinking, "Ha, give the child the gum and have him quickly perform the science experiment." 
And at this point, you would be wrong.  Because what you don't know is that Youngest Son is now in braces and has had the worst problem with his wires coming out.
A quick survey of all available children showed that not one person was willing to chew an entire pack of gum at 7:30 in the morning to help out a sibling who had not done his homework.
You know who that left.  Me.  And my childhood fantasy.
I'll hasten to add that the experiment required the chewing of 2 entire packs of gum (one pack at a time), one sugared and one non.  And then the teacher slyly added that any child who did a third pack would receive a PRIZE!
I ran to the store.  I grabbed 2 packs of gum . . . one sugared, one non.  And then, unable to help myself, I grabbed a 3rd.  You know . . . the word "prize."
Let me just say that childhood fantasies leave a lot to be desired.  Can you even imagine chewing, with cheeks distended, an entire pack of gum for 10 minutes?  Can you imagine gulping mouthful after mouthful of sticky, sweet, chemical-enhanced saliva.  I'm sorry.  I had to say it.
I chewed for a solid 30 minutes . . . 3 packs of gum . . . 15 sticks in each pack . . . 10 minutes each . . . Juicy Fruit, Orbit Bubblemint, Trident Wild Strawberry and Tangy Citrus.  I have seldom felt so ill.
Amazingly, we found out that when weighed after chewing, gum loses almost exactly 1/2 of it's original weight.  That means I actually ingested a full pack and a half of gum.
Youngest Son skittered out the door . . . apologetic, thankful, happy.  And I sat down at the table to apologize to my digestive system and to eat frozen blueberries and Greek yogurt and try to forget the last 30 minutes. 
And to grieve the loss of a childhood fantasy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Daily Gift

I know teaching your kids at home has some downsides.  This is earth and this is life and nothing is perfect.

But this is not one of the downsides.

Middle Son, sitting outside, doing his math homework.

This kid who can't sit still, who wants to live on his BMX bike, who hates working at a table, who rides scooters and makes up games for the 5 year-old twin boys next door, whose legs bounce up and down while I teach him his history, who wakes up in the morning just counting the hours until he can get outside and run, run, run with his friends . . .

This kid gets to do his homework outside, with the sunshine streaming down on him and the wind riffling his hair and the dogs running up and down the deck stairs, checking on and nuzzling him.  (And yes, that's his cereal bowl next to the dog food bowl ::sigh::) 

And for him, schooling at home is nothing short of a daily gift.

Wait . . . is that Middle Son doing his math on his fingers up above?  Must've learned math from his mother.

Like I said . . . downsides!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Ritual of the Most Delightful Kind

This weekend we gained a delightful hour of sleep.  Of course, it just wouldn't be normal if I didn't also stay up an extra hour later to completely rob myself of that delightful hour.  ::sigh::

And so now the dark nights of fall and winter are coming even earlier, sending my playing children scurrying for home before I've even put pots to the fire and whisked up their dinner. 

I would love for my home to be a warm and light refuge from the dark night.  And the adorable Lucy from Attic 24 has given me a delightful idea.  That's her picture up above.  Aren't the votives charming and inviting?  She says, "My evening ritual of lighting the candles . . ."

What a lovely evening ritual.  How warming for my family to pop their heads in the door and see candlelight glowing here and there around the house.

I think today I'll scrounge around and see if I can find some little votives for my own evening ritual . . . little pieces of warmth and light throughout the house to chase away the darkness.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Feeling Fall-ish

It happened quite out of the blue.

Last weekend we were wearing shorts and flip flops, with our hair tied back in ponytails, thinking smugly of relatives in Minnesota that were seeing snow outside their windows.

And then this week Fall swept in with a determination that shows she's here to stay.  Overcast skies, wet breezes that chill the bones, the smell of fireplace fires in the air.

And I'm feeling fall-ish . . . a most wonderful kind of feeling.

All of a sudden I found myself cooking creamy corn chowder, children were carving pumpkins, and dressing up as a frisky black cat, and I had a slice of a most delicious pumpkin cheesecake.

Fall is here, and, as usual, I find myself enchanted!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Joy Stealer

Do you have any of those?  Joy stealers, I mean.  For me, it's feeling the displeasure of others. 
I can be singing in my heart, noticing the blue of the sky and the puff of the clouds, looking to the bright side of life.  And then . . . someone expresses their displeasure with me.  Maybe it's earned . . . maybe it's not.
And my joy is stolen away.  I can feel it leave.  I can feel it leave me flat.  And then, if I'm not careful, I can feel its absence begin to draw me down . . . down . . . down.  Negative thoughts, hopeless feelings.
I bet you have your joy stealers too.
I found myself in this mode yesterday.  Flat . . . and then . . . beginning . . . to go down.
And then I remembered:
God is not displeased with me.
There's nothing I can do to mess up with Him.  Because His Son already lived perfectly before His Father and He's given that gift to me.
When I look in His face, I don't find disappointment, or frustration or disgust.  I find, instead, acceptance, and love and enjoyment.  Because Jesus has already paid for anything I've done that's disappointing or frustrating or even, perish the thought, disgusting.
And it came back.  Joy, I mean.
I could feel it buoy back up inside of me.  No one could steal that joy.
Because my joy doesn't depend on any person or any person's approval.
And so, when I found this little snippet later, "In him my heart rejoices!"  I could lift my hands in the air in glad agreement.
No one can steal my joy.  I have a source that can't be pillaged.