Showing posts from November, 2009

One Thousand Gifts-Week 40

The rain started Friday night, on the way home from celebrating Shabbat, Beema's birthday and yet another uncle who had the dubious fortune of having his birthday land of Thanksgiving Day this year. By Saturday morning we were nearly drowning in wet. Then the hail started. But it hasn't rained in months, so we reveled in it. The kids ran out to play and came in to warm up over and over all day. They gathered up the hail where it lay in the grass. We lit candles, and made tea and hot chocolate. Oh, and set up a new, to us, computer that was a gift passed on from my BIL's girlfriend's family. (Got that?) Thank-you so much. It's great to be able to work in my own space again. Here's this week's list. bowls of hail preserved in the freezer. Piles of wet clothes near the door from playing outside in the rain. Damp kids drinking hot chocolate. Little singing a made up song, "Are you sleeping, little one? Are you sleeping..." A balsam fir scen

The First Sunday of Advent

I've been planning to keep advent for most of the year, but last night I was putting together a wreath at just before midnight. (It crept up on me. I had no idea it started so soon after Thanksgiving.) Thankfully, Leila's post on making advent wreaths inspired me so I threw this together from what I had laying around. A few small glass candle holders, and a shot glass because I only had 3, to hold the candles. I wasn't sure whether to use a large bowl or this silver try I have, and ended up resting the tray on the bowl to add some height. Then I ran outside in the rain and cut sprigs off of the 3 plants growing closest to my front door. The ribbon was languishing in a closet somewhere. I picked up some pine cones this afternoon after church where they fall near our parking spot and Voila! It's actually quite pretty. I laced together two long acacia branches to form an outside circle with a few twist ties and the ribbon. The rest is just sort of arranged in the cente

Thanksgiving in the Slum-Updated

I'm putting this one here at the top again for today as I run around and bake and finish painting and make a Thanksgiving tree with my kids just in case some people missed it. It helps me as I run around baking, making candied orange peels , gluten free chocolate cookies for my FIL and SIL, and try to finish a million projects to remember how blessed I am to have these things to do and work on, unlike most. Thank-you so much for your donations so far. When I told my MIL how much had come in she was only half joking when she said, "At this rate they're going to be able to move out of the slum." It will be a huge blessing to this sweet family when they receive what you have given.  ps. Our version of a Thanksgiving tree is really simple, and good for the last minute people like me. Stick a branch in a pot and anchor it with dirt or pebbles. Cut out paper into leaf shapes. This year we are using scrap book paper so it looks really cute and patchwork quilt like.

Busy with paint over here

I'm painting a chair today, doing some hemming for my neighbor, and going out to buy the Girl another pair of shoes because her feet just won't stop growing, and she has exactly one pair of running shoes left that fit. She wants something to wear with dresses too. So in lieu of an actual post I will send you off to read some stuff I posted last week that you may have missed. At the voice , the charis project blog, I wrote about the realities of running an orphanage. It was the year 2001, we had been married less than a year and we were at the Door of Faith Orphanage in Mexico talking to DJ and Lynette, the couple who run the whole place. A month earlier we made the choice together that someday, somehow, we wanted to take care of kids who had no one, in a long term meaningful way. Of course, the first thing we thought of was an orphanage. We were there to learn. I will never forget what DJ said that day. “The truth is,” he said, “ I spend most of my days fund raising,

One Thousand Gifts-Week 39

Glorious golden tousled curls, bouncing as she laughs. Boy laughing and making silly faces. The little bit of a lisp when he's laughing and talking because of missing front teeth. the homey smell of turkey broth simmering. peanut butter trails in the honey remind me that the Girl made lunch for everyone today. All by herself. Aaron walked in the door with lilies at the end of a long sad day last week. Notebooks, bubble bath, and a bundle of decorative kale from my Milly. The look the Boy gets on his face when he's saying something odd and funny. the freshness of the air on my morning walk. A night at Beema's house for all the kids, and a restaurant gift certificate from a friend for Aaron and me to enjoy together without them. The way her eyelashes curl. The Girl's crazy stories. Little's stunning eyes. Beautiful friends who send thoughtful gifts, and emails. Hannah will be able come for part of Thanksgiving.

I am a complete failure

We are on our way to the laundry room. The girl lingers at the door, clearly ready to make a bolt for the playground. "Come," I call. "Come with me to the laundry room." "I don't want to," she replies and runs off to the playground. Naturally this is unacceptable behavior. Blatant disregard for directions usually is. There are consequences for such things. A few minutes later we are talking about it. "I said come, you didn't come, you chose to disobey." "But mommy," she argues tearfully, "I told you I didn't want to." blink... um... Let's try this again. "When I say to do something it's your job to do it, even if you don't want to. That's what it means to obey. You do it because I said so, not because you want to. After you obey you have the choice to ask if you may do something else." That's pretty clear, right? "But I didn't want to, I told you I didn

Remember Who You Are

I finished reading The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis to the kids this week. (If you have never read it or the accompanying books in the Chronicles of Narnia series you should stop now, drop everything, go out and buy the books and read them all this month. They are very worth the time, and really great to read aloud to kids as well.) I have no idea how many times I have read this book before. Many. I noticed something this time through that I don't remember noticing before. The villain of the story is a witch. Her primary power is her ability to make people forget; who they are, where they're from, and what they are supposed to be doing. We see it first when the children encounter her on the moor. By the time they are finished talking to her all they can think about is their own comfort; warm beds, hot baths, and getting in out of the cold. So strong does this idea become in their minds that they almost completely forget that they are on a quest, miss the signs they are


The Boy kneels on the floor sobbing, surveying what used to be an entire fort for his army guys to defend, complete with cannon, now scattered Lego pieces kicked all over the carpet. Little stands in the corner, arms crossed defiantly, brow furrowed, lower lip sticking out. She is angry because there was no page for her to scribble on identical to the big kids school work today, and she doesn't want to color in one of her 20 books instead. While the big kids were working on school she quietly knocked down and kicked to pieces all of the Boy's Lego creations. I stand surveying the aftermath. He is heartbroken. He can't remember how he built it, he can't reassemble the pieces and I kneel on the floor with him as he wraps his arms around me and sobs. A while later I am holding Little, nursing her actually, as she continues to be sad, this time because of the discipline she received for choosing to hurt someone in anger. The Boy comes out of the bedroom again, still sad

I said I wouldn't write about grief this month, I changed my mind.

I wake to the regular morning sounds of chatter and clinking at my MIL's house. "The spare room is way too close to the kitchen," I think to myself, for the 567th time. Little sleeps on my shoulder and I am pinned to the bed, plotting how to escape without waking her. "...It was a pretty long labor. The baby was finally born this morning but the mother had a seizure right after and needed to be transferred. She's been there all day holding the baby..." My youngest SIL is working at a midwifery clinic, job shadowing if you will, to gain experience, to decide if this is the direction she wants to take with her life. She left before dinner last night to attend another birth. I am momentarily jealous. I long to hold a newborn these days. I finally wriggle free and stumble blindly to get dressed before putting in my contacts. The potatoes are already cut and in the pot. One turkey pulled apart and ready to serve. I spend the next three hours making mashed po

Dear Anthropologie, This is getting kind of ridiculous,

Ever since I bought my super cute apron from you you have been stalking me. You won't stop sending me seductive emails, and at least once a month I open my mailbox to find you've sent me yet more photos of yourself. I will admit, they are beautifully shot and very creative and I may have been willing to continue simply sighing over their loveliness before throwing them in the trash, knowing that you and I shall never have have more than a mild flirtation. You prefer women with money to burn. But with this month's decorating themes you so kindly sent to my inbox I can no longer keep silence. Anthropologie, I hope you don't take this the wrong way but, it's time to get over yourself. Really. Your new home decor line titled recycled ? Let's talk about this. My kids could make something that looks exactly like this, for free. All you need is a pair of tin snips and some rivets. Or failing that some glue and cereal boxes for the exact same look. Do you really

One Thousand Gifts-Week 38

A quiet night at home, just me and my little girl. Silly buns with friends. Watching Little lay out the cards for a game of memory. The level of concentration is astounding. My kids all singing together, "Twinkle twinkle little star". Laughter from the bathroom where they're supposed to be brushing their teeth. Little money for groceries. But there are free guava everywhere around here. They use the trees for landscaping. The Girl loves to pick them and bring them home to eat. Quiet children, heads bent in concentration, diligently working on their writing assignments. Man humming a tune as he sorts laundry. I let Little walk to visit a friend this week by herself while I watched across the courtyard until she reached the door safe. She looked behind her at least three times as she crossed, to make sure I was still watching, before waving goodbye at the door. Those little hard and sweet fall apples that smell amazing. Walking all together, no agend

7 quick takes

1. This is the latest video by my friends Levi and Jesse from Drawn from Water. Drawn From Water, Adopt from Drawn From Water on Vimeo . I want to adopt one of these babies so bad. If I could figure out how to pay for the whole thing I would. In a heartbeat. 2. I walk very early in the morning around what is essentially a little treed courtyard beside my apartment. I go in circles, that way I can hear if one of the kids wakes up and needs me while I am walking. Given the hour, I hear my neighbor's alarm clocks when they start to go off as I pass by. This has raised a question. How on earth is it humanly possible for some people to let their alarm keep going, for 5-10-15 minutes without shutting it off? Does anyone really sleep that soundly? And even if a grown up could manage it, who are these children who aren't woken up by that sound? My mind is completely boggled. 3. I was due this month. The realization has crept up on me. I have crying fits all over again. This is


"Mama. Mama. Mama," she calls, "Just one more thing." My hand hovers on the doorknob, poised for escape. On the other side of that door is sweet relief that I made it through another day, quiet, and time to myself, time to get things done. I am almost free, but no. I sigh, turn back toward her. "What is it sweetie?" I ask, trying to keep the irritation from leaking through. "Mama? When all your work is done can you come in and lay down next to me? And if I'm awake can you rub my back and sing me a song. But if I'm NOT awake can you still give me a hug and lay down next to me for a little while?" Every night it's the same question. Usually I cut her off mid sentence, so great is my desire to escape. "Yes, I'll lay down next to you, but you'll probably be asleep by then and won't know it," I hedge. "Goodnight, I love you, go to sleep." I slip out quickly, hoping to cut off any more talk. I'm done

the mouths of babes

She loves princesses. She obsesses about hair and curls and pretty necklaces. Yes, already, at almost 6. I have not encouraged this trend, it's just who she is. She loves to plan things, and sweeps us all along with her schemes and imagining. A few nights ago we were praying together, as we do every night before bed. After prayer time was over I hurried through the songs and the hugs as fast as I could, because I wanted to get her prayer written down before I forgot it. This is what she prayed. I pray that you would give Chala and the kids lots of money for food, and that the people who are selling the food would give them change so they can buy more stuff. And I pray that the pigs would not get sick and die so they can sell them for more money. (They are raising pigs for market, but lots of pigs in their area have been dying of sickness.) And I pray that they would not get malaria. Please make it so that in Burma they aren't killing people anymore and so that the Burmas

One Thousand Gifts-Week 38

The Girl and Little working together to "make me pretty" by brushing my hair, putting in clips, and putting on all of my necklaces at once. The starlit sky framed by palm fronds. Little-Do you want to pway dis game wif me mama? The Boy's when he smiles. The Girl laughing while telling me about the dream she just woke up from and thought was real. Boys swinging swords, practicing to be heroes. A relaxing, post church beach adventure with friends and family. Perfect temperature, warm, but not hot. The way waves catch and reflect sunlight in a ceaseless dance of light. Caves etched in sandstone by waves and tides, inverted trenches with rippling walls as smooth as glass. I forgot how much fun a game of catch with a frisbee can be. The Girl singing a new song in the backseat of the car, joyfully off key. Thousands of tiny, perfect shells smaller than a fingertip. The love of a husband. Watching the faces of kids who have seen too much, too young, light up as th


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