Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Old House

That Old House always made me cringe.

It seriously creeped me out.

Sometimes I drove past it as quickly as I could, in a hurry to get to one of my important activities.  Other times I drove slowly, craning my neck, trying to peer through the shattered windows.

Everything about the house was gray.  Dismal gray rocks splotched the front.  A cracked, gray sidewalk ran to the gray, crumbling curb.  Grayish yellow grass struggled to survive against the ungainly gray weeds that sprawled all over.  Through the dirty shards of gray glass I could see sodden, gray sheet rock bedecked with gaping holes and spidery graffiti.

Maybe at one time this house was brand new.

Taken care of.

 Maybe there was a happy family in residence, with happy, rowdy little kids.

I really don't know.

But at some point something must have happened.

What, I really don't know.

I have my suspicions, though.

There could have been a fire.  Maybe a tragic death.  It's possible the family fell behind on their mortgage payments.  Maybe in their anger and rage at being forced out they exacted revenge by smashing everything smashable.  It could have been a drug house.  Even now there might be squatters with a meth lab burbling in an abandoned back room.

I really didn't know.

One day there was a pick up truck in the driveway.  That caught my attention.  Maybe the bank was going to rehabilitate the lot.  I had often thought the best thing that could happen would be if lightening struck the house and burned it down.  That would certainly be the easiest solution.

A few weeks later, a large blue construction dumpster appeared outside the front door.

Huh.  I wondered what they were going to do with That Old House.

I really didn't know.

 But, I was curious to find out!

Over the next several months the dumpster was piled high again and again.

What all did it take to gut That Old House?  Did they have to rip out the carpet?  Sand down any wood?  Re-hang fresh drywall throughout?  Was anything salvageable?

I really don't know.

One day, new windows sparkled a greeting as I hurried past.  Then, there was a new door gracing the entry.  Fresh paint, the weeds were gone.  A fence enclosed the back yard.  And then one day . . .

A bike!  A pink child's bicycle leaned against the fence in one corner of the yard.

Now, when I drive past, there are cars in the driveway.  Lights pierce the darkness through windows with blinds drawn against prying eyes.  The bicycle appears in various places, dropped where ever the small rider happened to be when dinner was called.

I don't know anything about the new occupants.  I like to think there is a mother waiting to greet a father at the end of the day.  Pink paint in the "abandoned back bedroom".  Maybe a bassinet in the corner of the master bedroom, waiting to be filled with the newest member.

I really don't know.

I don't know who the renovator is or why he spent his own time and money on That Old House.  But Someone thought it was worth their while.

And now when I drive past That Old House, it makes me . . .

Smile!

"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."  2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Last Of The Firsts

The first 6 weeks of life with baby are punctuated by several noteworthy events.

There is the:

First time to hold baby
First time to nurse
First time to change a diaper
First time to get out of bed and walk
First time to go potty (and for the first time since you were two, the achievement is met with wild applause from an audience!)

First time to venture forth with a brand spanking new car seat
First time to wonder what in the world have you gotten yourself into,
Shortly followed by your
First postpartum meltdown
and the
First postpartum threat to hubs if he mentions upgrading to a 15 passenger van one more time

It's always memorable to hear your
First "Aww, what a sweet baby. How old is she?"
and the inevitable
First "You have your hands full!"
and
First "You know what causes that . . ."

I've been steadily ticking off my list of Firsts.

First church service
First doctor's appointment
First trip to WalMart solo
First night back at karate
First day at the park
First trip to the zoo
First weekend visit to Oklahoma City

It's only fitting that the day of my 6 week checkup was welcomed by a blissfully sleeping baby and equally blissfully sleeping momma.

Yes, my friends.  Last night was the
First time to sleep through the entire night!!!!

Not that I expect her to repeat the feat anytime soon.

But, it did give me enough of a boost to attempt the perilous

First Doctor-Aldi's-Library-WalMart-Foray-With-All-The-Kids-In-Tow-Trip-Of-Doom

Whew.

We made it.

I was snarling by 2 pm, but here it is, 11 o'clock  and we are all still alive and reasonably sane.

It is also notable that in spite of the hectic and pressing day, I still had enough ginger in me to attempt my
First batch of homemade bread

It wasn't yeast rolls, to be sure.

Just ye olde Irish Soda Bread.

But it gave a breath of hope that someday soon we'll be back to business as usual.

And that makes me kind of sad.

Which leads to my
First twinge of missing being pregnant.

Crazy!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday's Child



Monday's child is fair of face,

Tuesday's child is full of grace,

Wednesday's child is full of woe,

Thursday's child has far to go,

Friday's child is loving and giving,

Saturday's child works hard for a living,

But the child that's born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny, blithe, good and gay. 


                          Happy 1 month-aversary, Anastasia! 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oliver Twist- A Book Report



So, what about school during these fuzzy newborn days?

Well, we have been reading Little House On The Prairie together.  Watching the PBS Docu-Reality show, Frontier House.  Watching From The Earth To The Moon.  And learning about the Iditarod.  We are doing math fact flash cards when we can.  And math work sheets.  Trying to keep up with karate. 

 Cy is independently (without me asking) reading aloud to his brothers about barnacles and the Greek and Persian War.  

And then there is Oliver Twist.

  The young reader adaptation has been the bane of Cy's 8 year old existence for the past twenty weeks.  I know it's been 20 weeks because I just rechecked it at the library for the 10th time and each time is good for 2 weeks.  He was initially enthused about reading it.  That didn't last long . .  He quickly decided it would take longer than he cared to spend to read 15 chapters over 140 pages.  I really debated whether I should let him choose another book or make him finish what he started.  The full Dickens classic would be way over his reading level.  This illustrated adaptation was a bit of a stretch, but fully within his reach.  We decided to persevere.  I would mark with a post it note the number of pages I wanted him to read each day.  Usually between 5 and 10.  And we went weeks without reading at all.  But, by Jinks, he did it!   He finished the last chapter today.  And, most importantly, he retained what he read, even with it spread out over 20 weeks.   I called him over to the computer today and had him dictate what he remembered of the story.  This narration technique is the cornerstone of Charlotte Mason education.  I typed it down verbatim, pausing only to ask the occasional clarification.  I will have him copy it out in his own handwriting, a little at a time, over the course of the next several weeks.  We will talk about paragraphs and run-on sentences.  We might tweak a few things.  But the main goal for now will be handwiting and spelling practice.

Without further ado, I present . . . 



Oliver Twist- A Book Report
Josiah Hudson, 3-12-14


Oliver Twist, when he was born was free.  He was born, but then his mother,  right at his birth died.  And he turned into an orphan.  And then he went to the work house.  Then he was put into a family where he ran away because another kid made fun of his mother.   And that is where he met a very friendly old lady, a widow, who gave him his supper.  And he stayed there that night.  And then he went to London.  And by the way, he was on London’s trail because he didn’t want to get found.  And that’s where he met The Artful Dodger who was also about 11 or 10 years old. The Artful Dodger gave him some supper and some beer, and invited him to join their gang.  And that’s where he met Fagin.  And they were all robbers which have been guilty.  And Fagin is also old.  And he stayed there with him and that’s where he met Nancy, which later in the story gets beaten to death by Sikes, which is evil, really evil.  Back to the beginning of the story, that’s where The Artful Dodger stole a wallet from a stranger, who thought it was Oliver and went running after Oliver.  Oliver was punched in the mouth and knocked out.  Then he went to court and was found not guilty.  And the man who thought he had stolen the wallet was named Mr. Brumwell.  And Oliver went with Mr. Brumwell and got better.  And then The Artful Dodger saw him and got him back in the gang.  And then he got out of the gang again. And then back in.  Mr. Brumwell got other people to help find Oliver.  And Nancy also helped by meeting the men in secret at the London Bridge.  And there was a spy, Noah.  And he heard everything.  He went back to Bill Sikes and Fagin and told them everything.  Which fired up Bill Sikes and he went up and beat Nancy to death!  Then he went back with Oliver onto the roof trying to escape a crowd that discovered him and was trying to capture him.  There was this rope hanging off a post.  He was going to swing to the other side of a ditch, cut the rope and creep away.  But it didn’t  work.  He slipped through the loop and it tightened around his neck and there he hung, dead.  There was a roar of terror.  And then Fagin was discovered. And he was brought to the court.  His sentence was to be hung by the neck until he died, on Monday.  And before that Oliver came to him and hugged him until they were separated.  And then Fagin was hung.  It was Monday.  It actually is quite an incredible, but dry story.  It’s a very dark story. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Post Pardon

Oh.
My.
Doodness.
(As Miss Elle would say)

Goodbye Baby Moon . . .  Hello Baby Blues!

Today has been a hide-in-the-corner-of-the-closet-behind-the-long-dresses sort of day.

We've all had days like that before.

Right?

Anyone?

Maybe I'm just good at finding boss hidey holes . . .

It was the plumbing that pushed me over the edge.  The kitchen sink was hopelessly clogged.  And the water pressure was about half what it should be, suggestive of a busted pipe.  The plumber was due in 30 minutes and I hadn't had my coffee.  The bad weather and sick children were closing in on me.  Of course, not sleeping well and plummeting hormones always contribute to the fun.  And doggone, if Robert isn't trying to lift my spirits by giving me soggy smooches!  It's more than a bedraggled, spit up encrusted, smushy midriff-ed, oily faced, death breathed, desperate housewife can bear!

O.K.

After the plumbing issues were resolved.  And my wonderful, loving and sensitive husband had left for work (He really has been fantastic.  Usually his attempts to make me laugh are quite effective.)  And the starving Visigoths were fed.  I was still crying.  And quite put out with myself over it, too.

I called my mom.  And I texted Sherry.  Mom was so encouraging and momma-ing.  It was great to hear love and good sense.

Then I got Sherry's text.  And totally cracked up!

Among the other wise and helpful things she said, she reminded me in all caps, "DON'T FORGET, YOU ARE POST PARDON!!!"  Gotta love spell check!

 But she couldn't have been more right.  No matter how low I'm feeling, I'm on the other side of Calvary.  Just like history is dated Before Christ and Anno Domini, so my life should be dated Before Pardoning Grace and After Pardoning Grace.  There is no condemnation!  Even if I hide in the closet instead of fixing breakfast.  Even if I scare small toddlers .  Even when I am my harshest critic.  I am Post Pardon and nothing will ever be the same again.

And that is a really good thing.

Immediately on the heels of that text I got a phone call from the pastor.  What a blessing!  Almost made up for all the church I've missed in the last 3 weeks.  He encouraged me to read 1 Peter 1:5-9

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; 
and to virtue knowledge; 
And to knowledge temperance;
 and to temperance patience; 
and to patience godliness;
 And to godliness brotherly kindness;
 and to brotherly kindness charity.  
For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."  

Sometimes I forget how awesome and complete my redemption is and start trying to be Superwoman.  I don't let others know that I'm hurting or needy.  I would rather be the one busy, fixing everyone else up.  Delivering the meals, not accepting them.  Handing out encouraging words, not humbly admitting that I'm discouraged and in need of some verses of hope.  Maybe trying to fix myself up as perfect.  A short cut to sanctification, perhaps? 

 God is at work, building us up, step by step.  The blueprint is right there: faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance (not going hog wild! this is where I'm stuck, methinks) patience, (makes sense, if I'm pushing myself and others beyond the limits of what is necessary, I'm not going to be very patient), godliness, brotherly kindness, charity (when I'm not temperate or patient, kindness and love go right out the window)  This is the path to fruitfulness and peace.  

Otherwise I become what I mistakenly typed out in my text to Sherry: a casket case.*  

Oh and it helps to remember . . . I AM POSTPARTUM (AND PARDON) AFTER ALL!

*missed the b for basket!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Psalm 100 With A PBJ

We're still hanging on for dear life over here.  Even if church hadn't been snowed out on Sunday, we still couldn't have gone.  All the older kiddos are under the weather with a cough, fever and general malaise.  I am praying that Ana and I don't get sick.  I've even resorted to taking Emergen-C every now and then.  I can't drink the stuff without flashing back to the day when I guzzled down dish soap.  But the thought of an ill newborn compels me to greater heights of self sacrifice.

 Or at least to the plains of self preservation.

It has been quite distressing of late to see how whiny and ungrateful I can be.  I know that postpartum hormones are wreaking havoc with my emotional equilibrium.  But, that is no excuse for the down right martyred attitude I've been copping for the past several months.  (If not, gulp, longer)

I was reading Psalm 100 this Sunday, and it really spoke to me.  I've always loved The Old One Hundreth.  It has always been grand, majestic, lyrical and sentimental to me.  I remember my dad telling me that the 100th Psalm was a favorite of his personal hero, Stonewall Jackson.  But on Sunday, it became very practical.

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  (Joyful noise, not a pitiful whine)

Serve the LORD with gladness: come into His prescence with singing.  (If you serve the least of Christ's brethren, you are serving Him! That means serve your husband and children with gladness.  When you sing, you bring His presence right down into the filthy kitchen with you.  Or maybe it's you leaving the filthy kitchen. . . )

Know ye that the LORD he is God; it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.  (He made us for His glory.  We are bought with a price, for a special purpose.  Let's live it out today!)

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."  (This is my opportunity to prove to the next generation just what is so great about our God.  Why He is worth worshiping every day.  Why saying Grace at dinner is more than familiar words.  Why going to church at every opportunity is more than a social activity.  Why treating others with respect is important.  And it all begins with me being thankful each moment for exactly where I am, what I am and in whatever it is I am called to do at the moment.)

I also have been pondering a solution to my compulsive nagging habit.  Yesterday I happened across this quote: "Do not think of your faults, still less of other's faults; in every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong; honor that; rejoice in it and as you can, try to imitate it; and your faults will drop off like dead leaves when their time comes."  John Ruskin  (never heard of him, but he sounds wise)  I am now praying about how to implement this in my dealings with my young ruffians.  Dinner time manners are atrocious around here.  I hate to even look at the kids sometimes, because I'm so critical.  And I hate even more to see the oldest two avoid my gaze, because they know I'm about to say something  about the jelly all over their face or the crust hanging out of their mouth.  And that's just one issue!  I want to inspire, not nag or smother the life out of my darlings.

So, I pray for fresh grace, for fresh eyes.  To see the lovely and the inspiring.  To rejoice aloud over the miracles that surround me every day.  To make sure my children know that they are miracles and gifts from above.  To say "These are the best years of my life!"  instead of "THESE are the BEST years?"

 To miss out on the beauty of this once-in-a-life-time extraordinary journey because of jelly and bread crusts would be tragic indeed.