Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Blog On Hiatus Due To Pool Season

That's right, folks. I will probably be around here a little bit this summer, but it is officially hotter than...well, hot, anyway. Our house has bad A/C and very little shade. The only solution? The pool. Every day.

And I am trying to get myself, my family, and my stuff into some sort of emotional and physical order before we start this last year of preparing to move overseas.

I may be around, but not much. I'm still reading your blogs, though! Keep me in your readers if you like me enough to keep me around. I'll be back.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On My Way Through the Mountains...

I used to pick these every summer, making daisy chains or crowns, putting bouquets in my room. I drove by thousands before I finally stopped today and picked a bunch. Lovely. My favorite flower.

After these messages...

we'll be right back.

Lots of traveling around these parts lately. We just returned from a week in Colorado doing some training for our sending agency in preparation for Asia. Lots to write about and process.

But the boys and I are off in an hour or so to see my family in the mountains and visit my Grandma and pick blueberries. I may be off yet again next week, but that is yet to be determined. So it could be quiet around here for a while. In the meantime, a Calvin story:

We have recently made a summer schedule and posted it in our kitchen. The boys helped me to make the schedule and cut out pictures to glue on it. The biggest change is that we made getting dressed and putting pajamas away the first thing of the day, before breakfast and playtime. When I went to wake Calvin up yesterday morning, he was naked in his bed, pajamas in a pile at the end of the top bunk. When I asked him why he had slept without his pajamas, his answer was simply, "That way I can hurry and get dressed and have more time to do things." This boy is very busy doing things lately. He wakes up with a head full of exciting plans and the energy to carry them out, all day. Thank God for the pool! We'd go crazy in the heat if we were stuck in this little house.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Emptying the Dishwasher and Quotidian Faithfulness

Back in another life, or maybe just before I had baby Linus, I read A Mother's Rule of Life and began attempting to adopt some of Holly Pierlot's ideas to my life. I am not much of a schedule person and scheduling every minute of my day and every activity or chore I could possibly think of was a bit much for me. I started out trying to make my rule look like Pierlot's, and I just couldn't hack it. If I ever tried Fly Lady, I am sure I would fail miserably. Then Advent and Christmas and a new baby came along and even the meager attempts I made to get us organized were replaced with constant feedings and little sleep and complete chaos.

Somewhere in there, I read Kathleen Norris' Quotidian Mysteries and decided there really was something to this idea of living a life of organized faithfulness in the daily things in order to know God better and to honor Him. If God created us as humans with the need to eat and wash and tend the earth, then those must be places where He meets us in our truest humanity. And when our humanity is out of whack, when we are facing spiritual depression, those places are the hardest to be faithful.

As I have struggled with post partum depression, I have seen that the first things to go when I am depressed are the daily things, sweeping the floors, putting away laundry, and emptying the dishwasher. I hate emptying the dishwasher more than any other daily task, and when I am depressed, it is truly a spiritual battle to get up and empty the dishes, even with my kids helping. If I don't, the dirty dishes pile up, I lose my desire to be in the kitchen preparing meals, other chores weigh on me, and before I know it, the house is a mess and my kids and I are grumpy and impatient. It all hinges on that dishwasher.

(I should insert here that I know that serious depression is a whole different matter. Many people need to worry about getting better and not about unloading the dishwasher. But my depression is often a form of spiritual acedia that may be heightened by hormonal or chemical imbalance but is not beyond my ability to manage.)

I don't think I realized when I started this journey of homemaking and motherhood just how much it would refine my soul. In my undergrad years, I was certain I was called to big things, to pioneering mission work in some remote corner of Asia, to really difficult, big sacrifices. I saw that path as the way to spiritual maturity and growth. Martyrdom is the way to go when you are young and single and zealous, I suppose. Who has time for the dishes?

But now I am called to daily faithfulness in the smallest tasks, like putting books back on the shelf and wiping the table after a meal. I spend my days in doing one mindless job after another only to turn around and find that it needs to be done again. There is not one, great sacrifice of life and family. No, I am learning the value of the small, quotidian sacrifices, though I still have a long way to go. You see, the dishwasher is full of clean dishes even as I write this.

When I planned to go to Asia as a young woman, I was ready for the sacrifice of leaving family and all thing familiar. I was excited to live only on faith in a rugged place. I am still going to Asia, still hoping and praying that God will somehow use me to build His kingdom. But I am so much more aware that it will be through little things, through daily faithfulness to the most ordinary of tasks. That quiet life, that slow steady pace. I am far from finding the rhythm, but I am seeking it. I suppose I should start by getting off this computer and unloading those dishes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Case You Forgot

Though Obama's administration is doing something, mountains are still being destroyed. Listen to this woman's story. Then go and do something. Please.

Appalachia is one of America's most beautiful places, and it is being blown up and dumped on people's homes and in their drinking water. They may be poor, and they may not talk like you. But they are strong, beautiful, intelligent people with a love for land that you may have never known. I know it, because it is my land too, and they are my people. Please help us.

Monday, June 8, 2009

If Only Linus Had Teeth...

Been a little depressing around here lately, I know. I don't think I realized how much lack of sleep was contributing to the problem until Linus started sleeping a bit better. Since about 3 month he had been up every two to three hours and eating most of those times. It's been getting better since he started solid food, and the past few nights, we have gotten stretches of five or more hours out of him. It seems all he needed was some food other than breastmilk.

Though he would love to eat anything he sees (he was coveting the toddlers' Goldfish crackers in church on Sunday), we are still limiting him to baby food. I say "limiting" very loosely since he eats two full jars of it mixed with rice cereal every day. He would eat more if I let him, but I would like to keep him nursing if I can. He also attacked the sippy cup of water today like he had never had a drink in his life, despite the fact that all of his food until a few weeks ago has come in liquid form.

You might think that all of my new energy from sleep would be used up just feeding our little human vaccuum, but I am actually starting to remember what it's like to enjoy life and cooking and doing things other than nursing and sitting around depressed. It's nice.

We joined our CSA again this year, and we are starting to get some really good produce (stuff other than just greens). Last week, we ordered some zucchini in our box, the first of the year. It's been sitting in my fridge until today waiting for inspiration.

The boys and I mixed up a double batch of these this afternoon, substituting applesauce for half of the oil. Yum! You can never go wrong with muffins. And we had this pasta dish for dinner. I substituted a can of diced tomatos for the tomato soup. I loved this dish, and the kids and husband ate it, though it wasn't their favorite. Poor Linus, he would have been happy to finish off the leftovers if only he had teeth...

This is definitely my favorite time of year for seasonal cooking, when so much produce is available. What about you? What's on your table these days?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Post Partum Depression...


As a friend of mine at church pointed out, she sometimes wonders why God doesn't give new mothers a bit of a break. You come home exhausted from labor only to be faced with little sleep, crazy hormones, painful nursing, and a constantly needy baby. I know I am five months out and things should be better. They are to some extent. But the sleeplessness and crazy hormones can go away anytime they want. Really, they can.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Five Months

Dear Baby Linus,

You must be my third child. You see, I have these lovely little blank books that I use to record letters to you and your brothers. I have been writing in yours every month since you were born, but when I went to find it for your five month entry, I couldn't. I found your brothers' books just fine, but yours is missing. I'm sure it will turn up eventually, just like I eventually remember to feed you and to change your diaper and to read to you, after Calvin and Hobbes give me a few minutes of peace.

But you are so very forgiving and loving despite my neglect, my beautiful, smiling boy. We all adore you, and you adore us. You squeal and shake and kick with delight whenever anyone is playing with you, especially your brothers. You are really starting to participate in life, rolling over, grabbing toys (or hair or brothers' noses), and trying so very hard to be strong enough to sit up. You would be walking and eating real food if you could; you are so eager to be like your brothers.

Our greatest source of amusement from you is watching you around food. I started feeding you rice cereal and some baby food at four months, much earlier than with your brothers, and you were very ready for it. You squealed and shook with delight at every bite, and you have not looked back. We have given you apples and pears and bananas, and today you tried sweet potatoes for the first time. You love it all, if I mix it with rice cereal to give it some substance.

I don't think you will eat baby food for long. If you had the ability to chew and swallow, you would go straight for the real stuff. You try at every opportunity. Yesterday I was eating a strawberry muffin while holding you. Your eyes got big and followed the muffin's every move. With mouth wide open, you took your hands and slowly tried to bring them together around the muffin. If I had let you grab it, I am certain it would have been in your mouth. You love food, no doubt about it. No one can eat without your eyes on them. It's hilarious!

You also love for people to sing and read to you. When we stop, you make little protest noises asking for more. You especially love "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," and whenever I sing it to you, you squeal for more when I am done. You have started anticipating the end and making your desire for a sequel known before I even finish the song. When we read books to you, you often grab our hands and try to make us turn the page or point to the objects. Sometimes I swear you are reading along. With Calvin as a brother, you might just be. But you do love your books.

You are such a gift to us, little one, the most pleasant and loving baby yet. We all love watching you discover new things. Last night, you were in the tub with your brothers and discovered that you could use your feet to splash water. You were mesmerized, and so were we. You stop us all from taking life so seriously. You make us smile and laugh more than we did before. You shine little one, every moment you are awake. Well, every moment that you are awake and not screaming at me to feed you some real food. That is the only thing you are insistent about, and I am more than happy to oblige.

We have made it five months, Linus. This is the part where it starts to get fun. It's already been so good; we can't wait to see what's coming. We all love you.


I have since found the poor child's blank book and plan to write this letter in there. Hey, it's only a week or more late...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Just War Theory at Four?

Calvin was watching his daddy play a war strategy game on the computer yesterday. I think my husband was playing the Americans in some sort of early colonial battle, which makes this all the more interesting.

"Daddy, why are they fighting their enemies and trying to kill them? God says to love our enemies. They must not know about God."

"Good question, Calvin. Well...do you think you can love people and still fight them? Like sometimes you have fights with Sam when he is doing something unfair?"

"Yeah, but we just wrestle."

If only an international wrestling match could lead to world peace. Was that the original idea behind the Olympics?