Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day

We have four or five inches of snow here, covered with some icy mix, and we are at the in-laws' property, alternating between walks and sledding in the snowy woods and warming up in front of the woodstove. No one anywhere in the state is going much of anywhere today. Why would we?

I know you people up North think it's funny how Southerners overreact about snow. I was even a bit grumpy about this snow and how it would shut everything down. But, really, if you didn't have the snow plows and salt to deal with the occasional big snow and if snowstorms were very often accompanied by ice storms, y'all might just be the same as most of us down here, running to the store to stock up before the big storm hits.

Mostly, I think Southerners just know how to slow down and enjoy life a bit more. This post about covers the Southern snow question, for those of you who just don't get it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Odd Man Out

Calvin and Hobbes were in the bath. Daddy Two Square was finishing up some work in his office. I was trying to wrestle the clean sheets onto the top bunk without falling off and breaking my neck. He was sitting in his high chair with only the dirty dinner dishes on the table as company. Rice and muffin pieces were scattered on his tray in hopes he would get some calories into himself. And he sat, the occasional squak coming out of his mouth to remind us all that he was there. If not for that, I suppose he could have been choking on that muffin. Eventually I did get him, after the beds were made, the boys were reprimanded, and the dishes were cleared and cleaned.

Poor Linus, this happens to you so often. You get put in the high chair or the crib or the pack 'n' play and just left there, the rest of us scurrying around you, in and out of the room, or not in the room at all, trying to get the basics taken care of so that we can function as a family. But is it functioning if you are alone in the dining room, contained but not included, acknowledged only when you finally get mad enough to demand it?

I need to know, those of you who have had or currently have three or more children at home, how did you do it? How did you manage life and pay enough attention to your children that they knew they were loved? I'm not talking having daily planned crafts and activities, reading oodles of books, and making sure each one got individual floor time with mommy. I'm talking about just acknowledging their existence long enough that they know you remember them.

It's not as bad as it sounds. Certainly Linus gets plenty of love and attention from his brothers, and from us, when we are take a moment to stop. But he does get left on his own a lot. Is that just part of being the third?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Seven Quick Takes-Movies and Discipline Edition

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen.

And let me know what you think of my new, simple and free from Blogger, design. Anything you want to see here that you don't?

1. Thanks to Wolf Totem, I am totally fascinated by Mongolia now. My husband and I just watched Mongol and were thoroughly impressed. It is an incredibly violent movie, but I was still engrossed in the story. It is the first of a trilogy of movies based on the life of Ghengis Khan. There are a lot of liberties taken with the history, but after having read Wolf Totem, which gives a very detailed account of Mongolian culture and life on the grasslands, I loved seeing a movie that had Mongolia as its setting. I can't wait for the next two films!

2. These days have been really, really hard with Calvin. Does anyone have any experience with taking children to a psychiatrist? We may not need to, but he definitely has frequent episodes where he is completely out of control of his body and emotions, and nothing we try seems to help. Other times, he is incredibly funny, sweet, creative, and in control of himself. But when these episodes occur, he is like a different child. It is unbelievably exhausting and scary for all of us. Anyone who has experience with this sort of behavior, please feel free to offer advice.

3. Linus is suddenly becoming a much less pleasant baby. Oh, that strong will. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a compliant child. I know that no children are totally compliant, but some are less intense than others. Despite his normally pleasant demeanor, Linus is showing us that we may be three for three in the strong personalities department. Lord, have mercy.

4. Despite this, things are actually going okay around here. I am trying to intentionally slow down and enjoy the good moments with my kids, even if it is just a minute where Linus is laughing at Calvin being goofy. Even if that minute is surrounded by two forty-five minute battles with Calvin and with Hobbes refusing to take rest time. I am trying to not make life always be a battle between me and these boys, trying to convince all of us that we are on the same team.

5. Having my husband working at home during this season is incredible! He can handle Calvin when he is too out of control and strong for me to contain. And he can step in when I need a break or have a crying baby and pouting Hobbes and angry Calvin. God always knows what he is doing when he moves us from one job to another.

6. It's almost Chinese New Year! What are you doing to celebrate? We are sending out our first prayer letter and doing some more purging and cleaning and generally preparation for one day leaving the country. One day before the next New Year comes around, we hope.

7. Tonight, I am escaping from this craziness and watching Julie and Julia. I love Meryl Streep, and I have loved Amy Adams since I saw her in Junebug (which is her best movie, by the way, and one you should definitely see). I may or may not let you know what I think of it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Art Giveaway-Deadline Today!

My wonderful artist cousin, Beth Stone, is doing another giveaway. This time it is for three greeting cards featuring her lovely artwork. There are a lot of ways to enter, so go check it out. Today is the last day!

I Was Up Way Too Late...

...but this place has been needing a new look for a long time. If you miss the plate of fried chicken and glass of sweet tea, you can always come and visit me for some that you can actually taste. That picture is totally not what it is like here right now. It's been warm and sunny for a few days. Anyway, I'll see ya around.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Other Things

Yeah, I'm still alive...just learning that some things need to take a backseat for awhile so that I can enjoy life here and not just survive it.

So I am busy reading this and this and this...all well worth your time. And I am purging and cleaning and organizing and preparing. Oh, and of course checking ESPN every few hours to find out the latest news about my team. Also spending a lot of time praying for this and for my cousin who landed in Haiti just in time to see the airport collapse and is at an orphanage right now. Mostly, I am trying to enjoy my boys some more and invest in them while they are young enough to let me.

I will check in every once in awhile and hope to use this space to contemplate Lent a bit. I'm still reading your blogs, even if not commenting. Wishing you a lovely winter!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An Ordinary, Simple Life: An Epiphany Reflection

This is reposted from a couple of years ago. A blessed Epiphany to those of you who celebrate it.

They were two insignificant people from a backwoods, no-count town. If the play were being cast, their roles would not be the ones any big name actor would choose. The king of the nation, the religious leaders who held influence over the people, even the emperor's governor who lived in the capital, any of these would be better than a carpenter or a young woman of unimportant birth.

And theirs were not roles they would have chosen either. He was a man preparing to marry, building a house and accumulating possessions in order to take a young wife and make his place in society. She was a young girl, looking forward to the time she would become a wife, the maker of a home, a woman with a role in her community. They were ordinary, simple people preparing for an ordinary, simple life. Neither one of them asked to see angels, to hear an upsetting message from God, to be caught up in a story larger than their own.

Maybe she was working on some embroidery for her new house or sewing part of the dress for her marriage ceremony. Maybe she was daydreaming about finally getting out of her parents' house or of becoming a wife and a mother. Perhaps she was praying in preparation for that day. Then a stranger appeared and told her that all of these dreams were ruined. She was already a mother, a pregnancy forced upon her, her reputation ruined, her betrothed ashamed to take her as his wife.

Maybe he was dreaming of the home he would build and the bed he would lovingly craft for his new wife. Maybe he was dreaming about his new status at the city gate, his place secured by his role as "man of the house." Maybe he had drifted off in prayer for his future bride or his future firstborn, a son of course. Then he had a dream not of his own making. His betrothed would have a son as her firstborn, but it would not be his. In fact, she was already pregnant. He had a choice. Any smart man would leave her, denounce her for her unfaithfulness, and start again with a new woman, a more virtuous one.

That could have been the story. An unwed woman and illegitimate child made outcast, no man to protect them. A man shamed by his unfaithful betrothed, having to seek a new wife. But it was not. She accepted the message of the angel willingly and with a glad heart, though she must have known the rumors that would surround her and her child for the rest of her life. And even more amazingly, he chose to accept her anyway, to take on her shame. He practically confessed that this child was his and that, even if it was not, he was crazy enough to take this woman as his wife anyway.

No one would want to associate with them. What could they do? No one would believe God had spoken to them; they were too insignificant. God spoke to religious leaders or crazy prophets, not to carpenters and young women. Maybe a few close friends believed them. At least one relative did. But they would spend their lives surrounded by rumors, ostracized because of their questionable past. Their son would endure sneers. "Is that the carpenter's son?"

And yet they chose it. This man and this young woman, two insignificant people from a backwoods, no-count town. "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Theirs were not the roles the big-name actors would choose. They were not kings or queens, religious authorities, or ruling governors. They were a carpenter and a girl, on the verge of an ordinary, simple life, yet there they sat, with kings bowing before them and the King on their knees.

For the full story, read here and here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nothing to See Here...

The past month has been so unbelievably disorganized, exhausting, trying (in matters of child discipline), and unstructured. I am resolving to get disciplined, work on the projects I have let go, and spend a lot of time praying for God to help us prioritize, find perspective, and know His presence in the midst of the huge amount of work that needs to be done over the next several months.

As step one, I am spending this week working on some purging and sorting of toys, clothes, and books. Since I will likely not be around much, here's some stuff that has brought me some joy.

I saw it this past week and really enjoyed it. Here is a good review of it from a Christian perspective, but it has spoilers. See the movie first, then read the review.

Wednesday is Epiphany, the traditional day for celebrating the Wise Men coming to worship Jesus. Though our Advent and Christmas celebrations were almost nearly a failure, I am hoping to have a bit of fun Wednesday. I'll be making this cake for breakfast or for dessert after supper, and the boys will probably make crowns and read the Christmas story one last time.

New Year's Resolutions
I have not really made many yet this year, but this post got me thinking. I think instead of trying to change a bunch of things at once, I am going to try to work on one thing a week, keeping at it until I am ready to move onto the next. First on the list is getting enough sleep, which I am hoping will make all of the others (yelling less at my children, moving more slowly and intentionally through my day, praying more, exercising, etc...) easier to accomplish.

This post by Emily, who is very different from me in almost all matters of world view and political opinion, gives me hope that our country is not so divided that it can't be healed. In fact, I love her blog for many reasons, but I love it most of all because folks with very different opinions tend to have civilized conversations there.

Good Listening
If you haven't been listening to the History of Rome podcast, then you need to. It is totally entertaining and educational, and all Americans should be required to study this stuff to understand our own history better and to learn from the mistakes of the past. Really, I don't even love history that much, and I love it.

I'll see you sometime later, after I dig my way out of this pile of stuff!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Just Stopping In

Happy 2010, everyone! This is going to be a crazy year for us. There is so much to do...raising support, getting a house ready to sell and getting it sold, purging and sorting and packing up seven years worth of married life possessions for a move around the world, and somewhere in there we have to create some structure and sanity in our family, which is sorely lacking those things right now.

I don't know how much I will be writing, but I will be around some. And you can bet I'll start a blog for our time in Asia! In the meantime, we would love your prayers for figuring out how to do all of this and for it to happen in God's time and in the midst of our being faithful to our daily duties. And if you are interested in learning more about what we'll be doing, feel free to e-mail me (twosquaremeals[at]gmail[dot]com).

Now I am off to recover from the most insanely exhausting, busy, disordered Christmas I've had in a long time. (Oh, and to enjoy the last four days of Christmas!)