Monday, October 12, 2015

No Mad Dashing.

It’s not the kind of day wherein one madly dashes about doing things. It’s more the sort of day where you drink hot things and stare out the window at the chilly world out side and smile both inside and out. This weather is amazing. It is chilly. Like 70 degrees chilly. No fans running here today. I couldn’t stand just being inside this morning—so the children and I went on a walk with Aggie and her girls. Lovely misty fallish weather! I hope it lasts.

I suppose I should really sew a dress for Havilah today, but I just can’t seem to pull it out. I kind of missed my slot for that anyway. Rennie is awake from his nap now and right now he has a cold so is rather demanding. I can do that tomorrow, or the next day…or the next day…or…

My excitement is mounting as well as my trepidation. My husband bought me and Rennie airplane tickets. We leave to go visit family in the States this next Sunday at about midnight. Mostly I’m excited. In the evening hours when we’re tucking into bed, that’s when I really question the whole idea. Away from my man and two oldest for over two weeks. Can I do this? I hate going to bed without my man! But when the morning comes again, and I send e-mail to the friend who will be picking me up from the airport, I get all excited.

The primary reason for this visit is that my brother got married and I missed the wedding. It was at a bad time of the year for us. Terribly hard to miss but this is better anyway. I wouldn’t have gotten to know his girl over wedding time anyway. So I’m going home to catch up on what I’ve missed. This includes four new nieces. (And a nephew who lives in PA and I won’t get to meet. I’m sad about that.)And I get to show my mom and Dru’s, my own baby—who is nearly walking and getting into everything.

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Including this fish pond. The neighbors took out the shrub that was there because it was damaged by caterpillars, and replaced it with the pond. May I say that I’m not overly impressed? Putting plants in front of it on my side helps a little…but as you can see, doesn’t totally take care of the problem.

So, anyway, I’m not madly dashing about getting ready to leave. I can start mad dashing tomorrow. I’m just enjoying this weather. I’m going to make a nice supper now and hope to have a lovely evening with my family.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Birthday Men

This child turned six years old yesterday. I’m a little dazed. He didn’t stay this little. His brain works in ways wondrous to me and many times I’ve been thankful for his father’s interpretation of it to me. I wasn’t that smart at his age! But he’s a keen little soul. I think sometimes we expect too much out of him. Other times we don’t expect enough. He’s an artist. He’s a dreamer. He’s a keeper.
We bought him an Electronic Snap Circuits set. He is pleased.

I told him that he couldn’t possibly be six because I’m not old enough to have a six year old. He didn’t buy it. So I guess he’s six. Funny though, his last birthday happened just before we left from the State’s last year. He commented the other day that this last year went fast. He’s right, it did. I hope next year goes a little slower. Sometime between now and his next birthday I have find time to finish teaching him to read. He’s a clever enough child that my horrible homeschooling habits haven’t hindered him too horrendously.
Dru just had a birthday too. He looked like this six years ago.
He is a good man. I love that he has a tenacious grip on the Word of God. I love the perspective he brings to my life. His commitment to brotherhood and his patience in the face of disagreement has amazed me time and time again. He’s my favorite preacher and teacher, any day, and I get to live with him! He works hard and expects way more out of himself then I think is necessary. He takes care of us  well.  He makes me feel like a queen. He’s made an interesting journey of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I often tell him that I’d marry him all over again, only this time faster. We both know what I mean by that, and you probably kind of get the drift.
I love you, Dru Seth
Dru Seth Inis
I snitched this picture off of his company’s website. I think he’s quite good looking.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How Grace Looks Today

Yesterday I wrote this:

Really, it isn’t fair to blame the coffee. It helped. But something about the balmy afternoon stirred those feelings. Like I was fourteen again and walking in the door of the old Stone House. It was something peaceful and precious and happy.
Today I keep having memories about school days.
Jacob abusing my stuffed monkey. Putting lines on the freshly packed snow that was to be his kitchen floor, with my white rubber boots with the pink trim on top—and how upset he was with me for it.
The time LeeAnne and I were goofing around and she ended up with a bloody finger. I was so grossed out I didn’t let on because she’d have made me look at it. I told her later.
We hid from Mr. Zook one time too. Why were we so mean to him?
The time I desperately wanted to go to school in spite of feeling like I maybe had the stomach flu that was going around. I ended up flying down the center isle of the church auditorium to get to the bathroom in time to throw up. We were doing program practice that morning.
The time I burped, very loudly, to Miss Mast and LeeAnne’s horror—and my own actually.
The year we were still playing soft ball in December.
The heavy snow in March one year and how Dad just drove in the lane, through that heavy snow in his big truck, and dropped me off at the school house door. Mr. Zook seemed noticeably perturbed that it would have the nerve to dump three feet of snow in the middle of March.
The time I poked Heather and got caught. Honestly, Mr. Zook, I was ALWAYS good when you were out of the room. That was the first time I ever did that—I got tired of being good all the time. Then I got busted.
I also got busted the time LeeAnne ran into me at the scoring table and whispered, “I can’t make wide turns.” I replied, “You’re crazy.” Miss Mast made us write what we’d said fifty times. I don’t blame her really. We weren’t in the habit of not whispering at the scoring table.
Miss Mast once put me smack between Eric and Elvie (is that still what he goes by?) when we rearranged offices. It was an effort to help me be more diligent—because I was not a diligent student—but it didn’t necessarily eliminate distraction. I periodically had offerings of eraser bits delivered to me from beneath the divider. I didn’t particularly mind the seating arrangement, but I could always tell which one of them had won  the soft ball game at recess. They weren’t usually on the same team. The loser always had to bang around in his desk quite loudly for a few minutes to let off steam. I trust they’ve both overcome this tendency.
Mr. Zook once gave me a C+ on my report card for Phys. Ed. I have since forgiven him.
There was the time we girls decided to do a bread baking contest. Mine won because the judge apparently had a tendency for doughy bread. This was totally unfair to Esther and even at the time I was miffed because it wasn’t a fair contest.
As I sit here writing this my hubby is messaging me. We’re working through some hard stuff this week. I read some, I write some. Two different stories. I find myself incredibly thankful for the stability and happiness of my childhood. I find a kind of refuge in the memories today. I don’t know if that’s good or not. But I thank God for these memories. I thank God that the grace that has been there for me all the days until now,and  will continue to go with us through the future. That whatever happens in this story today, His grace will be just as loving as it was to me as a child. Even if it feels hard today. Because He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Here we must stand, or like Peter, we sink.
It helps to know that my Mom’s dining room still looks like this:

I guess right now, her pretty table is my reminder of the grace of God which is still available and as sure as ever. Now to live in that promise.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Visas and Vientiane

I think we do not like visa runs. I think we do not like Vientiane. It’s really not fair to Vientiane. We go there to do visa work, which is generally stressful proposition with a family. Therefore Vientiane doesn’t bring to mind thoughts of peace and joy, as a general rule.
However, Vientiane in rainy season is a lot more favorable to be in than Vientiane in dry season. Even on the back of a tuk-tuk when you’re getting wet in spite of plastic being drawn down. Somehow, it was a warm, happy wet. Maybe because that happened on our way to the border, leaving the country.
I realized that my family likes sandwiches. Dru likes the Laos sandwiches made on French bread. I have become inspired to learn to make good sandwiches and serve them to my family often.
When you are away from home your realize more keenly the holes in your training. My children eat like birds and complain about the food set before them more often than not. I intend to bring this to an abrupt end as soon as I get home. It’s especially disconcerting to me because both of them seem to be somewhat anemic. Especially Havilah, who can eat six bites while the rest of us eat our whole meal. I don’t think that’s much of an exaggeration. She then proclaims herself full. But she’ll be hungry for five more bits in an hour. Unless it’s sweet, then she’ll have twenty bits. This, my dear children, must come to an end. They’re both too skinny and pail faced to have such habits. I always said I wouldn’t force my children to eat if they weren’t hungry, but five bites doesn’t constitute a meal. Furthermore, both of them are too skinny. I don’t mind feeding them three meals a day and two snacks. But It is not necessary to feed them seven snacks, give or take a bit.
Havilah has some issues concerning willful emotional instability. (Fits or tantrums, some people might say.)
Jube lives in La-la land. It’s fine in small doses but not for always.
Rennie yells and stiffens.
Three naughty children but I have no one to blame but me. I’m a dreadful pushover. I tend to threaten and say things over and over. How dumb!
Visa work actually went okay. We were pretty stressed out there for a bit when we realized that there was one document we had no idea we needed and weren’t sure how to get it. However, thanks to Sheriff Mark Kelsey of our little home town of Hayward, Wisconsin, we were able to get that last document together. Looking back on it now, we didn’t actually lose a day because of my passport needing pages, but it was an inconvenience and an expense of 82 USD to get pages added.
In the end, we’re taking two days of family vacation. Today was spent in much doing of nothing much. The children have colds. So the rest was lovely for them too. Tomorrow we  head to Udantani, or however that’s spelled, to spend some time with Pii Ang. The flight to Chiang Mai leaves around eight.
Monday I will have mounds of laundry to do and a yucky fridge to clean out. I have potatoes growing in the kitchen too. Oh, and children to train.
My computer clock says it is eleven forty-two. I hope this is coherent in spite that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Savor

I am in that stage of life where everything is busy. Husband is working hard. Baby is teething. Other children need constant in put, love, and correction. I live on coffee and survive headaches, which are a new and unwelcomed thing for me. I want to learn this stage well and enjoy it. I’m learning to relax and be happy in my chaos. I’m learning that I need Jesus all the time. I’m hoping that when this stage is over, I’ll be thankful for it. I’ll look back and say, it was hard, but it was good.

Right now I struggle to notice the moments let alone savor them. I find myself needy. I need to hear from my friends that all my struggles are normal. I also  realize that it’s okay to feel stressed out and needy. It is a state of being that I’m trying to become comfortable in. 

I hope I learn this quickly. I want figure out how to stay in the Word and in prayer—consistently. Then walk in that joy.

But this is hard work. This Mom stuff is the hardest work I’ve ever done. I think it may be the hardest work I will ever do.

I have this theory that those grandmothers who remind us to “savor these moments, they go by so quickly,” would never look to have this intense mommy time back. Because it is hard work. They had their chance at it, gave it their best shot, and I do say, deserve their grandmother stage. You know, where they spoil them rotten then send them back to us. But it tells me that the memories that stick best aren’t about babies who don’t sleep well because they’re teething. They might remember being tired, but they’ve learned not to resent it. They don’t remember discipline and line upon line, precept upon precept. No, they’re remembering those blue baby eyes that sparkled so brightly when nap time was over. Bouncing blond curls. Laughter. Snuggles. Victories. They remember the happy things. They savored well. I would do well to do the same.

On another note. Today I made some pretty. Then I guarded it. Havilah stole the bird and the pumpkin cookie cutter then brought them back guiltily when she was caught. Jube saw a clear pretty table and thought, “Aha! my crafting space is clear! I shall now make a paper sword!” But I said, “No. I want to enjoy my pretty space.” I get the biggest kick out of how Jube did admire the pretty though—and how Havilah can hardly keep her hands off of it. Now, go make some pretty, and enjoy your day. Savor the moments.

 

fall table

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In this quiet moment.

This is a quiet moment. It might not last long. The children are all down for naps, but there are dishes to wash and laundry to fold. I need these quiet moments though. I didn’t get one yesterday and I realized that this moment  really does help me get through the rest of my day.

Dru’s brother Adam is here right now. It’s fun. With in an hour of him being here, the two of them were singing. People say that they act like brothers. In my mind they’ve always been as different as black and white. So I’m watching them. They are brothers after all. Adam doesn’t like to be asked if he’s fussy any better than Dru does. They both like stupid puns. Even their voices have similarities that I didn’t notice before.

Adam is getting to see our lives pretty much as they are. Even the messy bits we wouldn’t have chosen for him to see. Some of those bits are probably good for him to see though, as he considers moving his family over here.

Dru is as busy as ever—tons on his mind this week. We’re working on baptism plans for Bob and Yai this weekend and also visa work—on top of all the other stuff that has to happen with work and school. And Dru’s phone locked up on him for reasons unknown. His life is kept organized by that phone. Meetings, deadlines, contacts, you name it, it’s on that phone. He’s using mine right now, but it’s not ideal. He’s stressed about to the max right now, I guess. So I’m praying for him more today. You can too, if you think about it.

Today I’m thankful for an ant who goes by the name of Bobby. He’s made of a pop sickle stick, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and googley eyes—all glued together. The children and I discussed ants this morning. We discussed work and where it came from. We discussed doing things with out complaining and arguing. Then Bobby was cobbled together. Today he has begun on a journey all around the living room and kitchen. A job well done and he gets to go forward. Complaining and failing to obey or complete a task, and he goes backward. Right now Bobby is sitting on the sugar jar on the table. He’s six steps away from the starting point at Jube’s desk. This is as far as he’s gotten so far today—beings the children forgot to obey and pick up some toys at one point—along with some other misdemeanors. Jube found it truly disconcerting when Bobby had to move backwards. I don’t know why. There is no named reward in the event that Bobby really does make it back to the starting point.

I do know that I was at my wit’s end. Somewhere a long the line my children decided obedience was optional. I knew that Jube needed something visual, but I was really struggling with what to do. So I packed two bins full of toys and stacked them away. (Children who can’t put toys away without much coaxing, crying, fits, complaining, procrastination, and etc. don’t need to have very many toys, I say.) I totally rearranged the living room, making one corner of it a toy area. I put a way the significantly less toys. Then I sat upstairs in my rocking chair feeling dazed. I got out my Bible and read the ant verses. I did some praying. This morning “Bobby” came to be. So far, he’s a very welcome member of the family, if you ask me.

I’m still struggling to keep up. Still tired. But I’m more okay with it. I’m still feeling humbled by my experience last week. I’m kind of feeling my way around. I don’t have answers really. Neither do I want them. I just need to live this motherhood thing out day by day, in prayer, by Jesus. I’m praying about little things more. Jesus is the answer, really.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Confessions Of The Superwoman Who Wanted To Be

It’s been a hard two weeks. When I blogged last Monday, I was feeling better. Then I got a cold and everything crashed for real. But I learned something.

I learned that I’m proud.

Sometimes I wonder what good I am—how I can possibly be of an encouragement to the world of Christianity around me when I have had everything so good. I know nothing of the hardship of being an abused child. I know nothing of grieving the loss of a close relative. I know nothing of being sexually abused. I don’t have any “dark” sins in my past. You name it, it hasn’t happened to me.

Well, maybe not quite, but you get the idea. This makes me feel rather insignificant sometimes—like I have nothing to share. I’ve sat in ladies’ meetings and felt totally lost as to know how to relate to what was being discussed. Or how to relate to the person sharing. Sometimes I’m like, “Wow, that’s big—I have no clue what to do with that.” Other times I’m like, “So…what’s the big deal?”





Though I’m frustrated at times by not being able to connect, there is a certain thankful feeling pride I have for how good I do have it. I don’t have those “issues to deal with,” I tell myself. I am “balanced”. I minimize my own journey. Really, I minimize my own sin. I don’t much like to go into the fact that my besetting sin happens to be hidden away in my mind where nobody knows about it. Teenaged fantasies that still haunt me today. That’s my journey and it’s yucky and embarrassing. Yet I tend to minimize it. Perhaps I wasn’t sinned against, but my mind isn’t clean, except by the blood of Jesus—and that’s really all any of us have to stand on. I am left with the realization that I’m proud of the fact that the sins I have to deal with are “insignificant.” Sick.

I want people to think I have it together. I despise feeling weak. I hate crying. Period. I don’t like to cry in private, much less in public. I desperately want to help my friends in need, but I do everything in my power to not be needy. Being needy leaves me feeling shame and guilt. I refuse to be in need, even when I am.

I’m pretty good at cramming. Cramming in the Bible study and prayer so that I can get the dishes done. Cramming in the kids so that I can get the laundry through. Wasting time, only to make the important people in my life pay for it. I will appear good. But this usually means donning an impossible fa├žade. An impossible reality for me, and perhaps for any mother at my stage of life.

Then everything crashes. In one week I’m hit with a bad cold. Then the “elusive time of the month” arrives as well. Elusive because I’m nursing a nine month old, which saps my strength, leaving me exhausted. Everything crashed last week and I was left with nothing but my pride.

On Tuesday, I talked to my old best friend on the phone—for over two hours. I wanted to talk to her because I was worried about her. But guess who talked and talked? Guess who spilled? I realized that I really wasn’t put together very well. She was asking, “Have you prayed about it?” “Have you taken your vitamins?” She asked me about my boredom. About feeling trapped in my home. She said lots of good things. Thank you, Melinda.

Later that day, I realized that I was in no condition to have a Bible study because I hadn’t been in the Word and in prayer like I should have been. I sat at the dining room table, staring at my Bible, trying to prepare. I was in no condition physically, emotionally, or spiritually, to teach. I cancelled. I was desperately needy, and I hated it. Suddenly all the stuff I’m usually happy with about myself was stripped away. What was left just looked like a whole lot of pride.

I’m still trying to figure out what this all means. I think it means – at least – that superwoman needs to die. I need to stop trying to be everything and just focus on the important things. I need to sleep more. Do you know how stupid that makes me feel to have to say that? I hate naps! Waste of time. I like to be able to get up early, but I just cannot right now. Weaning this huge baby doesn’t seem to be an option right now. So I need to take my vitamins religiously. It means that dishes sit while I spend time with the kids. It means that if all that gets done in a day is a few dishes and food and clean clothes…it’s okay. It means that I listen to audio Bible while I color with the kids.

This superwoman I want to be has no needs. I need to learn that it’s okay to have needs. I need to figure out how to live with where I am at in life right now—and how to take care of those needs. Those trapped feelings I get? It’s a pity party. Pride. But I realize that I have a need here and I have to figure out how to combat that in whatever way works best for me and my family. If I’m tuned in, I won’t let things get to the trapped stages.

In all of this, I have to learn to be content. I need to choose joy. I need to learn how to THRIVE. Otherwise, I’m going to look back at this stage of life and kick myself for wasting time wishing I was more than I could be. I’ll wish I hadn’t missed what was right before me at the time.

I don’t understand everything my friends have had to deal with in their pasts—or are dealing with now. However, I do understand that I have my own set of weird problems. My own set of needs. My own set of guilt and pride and sin that I have to take to Jesus—daily. Because I do want to do this walking with Jesus thing right. I want to be victorious.



The truth is, I need this stage of life. This tired, hormonal, busy, boring stage of life. Because, right now, it’s important for me to be face to face with the fact that what I can do is not important in the light of eternity. This isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus. What He can do in a day, in a year, in a life, in a child, in me, in whatever we allow Him to work in. So I have to rest. Be okay with feeling and even acting tired. And choose joy, which, ultimately, is choosing Jesus.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Listening Well, Proverbs, and Verse Books.

Last night I was fuming in my kitchen—all by myself because I’d scared my man away when I  yelled and glared viciously snapped at him for turning down my music. I don’t blame him, I was a bear. I was stewing, wondering if I was the only good little Mennonite woman who sometimes feels like she’s just supposed to be fulfilled by doing dishes, raising kids, and washing laundry, mopping floors, and all of those things over and over and over and over. I tried to think about long term results and other stages of life that we’re working towards. It was NOT working. I was mentally blogging many eloquent words—strong and fierce words—about how we’re just expected, as women, to enjoy this sort of thing. I thought about confessing that there are times my home feels much more like a prison to me than a home. Lucky for all of you, three things happened since then that changed my attitude. (Yup, I am a fickle woman.) Oh, and I have made up with my man. He forgave me, as he always does.

Thing one that happened: I went into my air conditioned bedroom. I’m still dealing with the sticky heat totally derailing me and I don’t even realize what’s going on until I get out of it. It’s totally irrational sometimes. I just need to do a better job of realizing what’s actually going on. I’m warm. It will cool down one day (maybe) and until that day, I need to find ways to cope and be happy. And on those cool days, I need to tackle the big projects. In the long run, I don’t know what to do with this heat thing being such a big deal—but it I have to tackle it more gracefully than I have this summer.

Thing two: I just read my Mom’s latest blog post. (I hope you don’t tire of me linking to my mom’s bog, but I am still learning from her and strongly suspect this will never change.) I especially noticed how she said her and Dad have been listening to other people’s stories. I need to listen better. What do the other moms do when life feels like a pointless cycle? I need to stop spewing, even if it is just in mental blog posts, about how I feel trapped and life feels pointless. I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of Moms, who, like me have other dreams and hopes, totally out side of raising children and keeping clean houses. How do they handle these things? When is the time to lay aside other dreams, and when is the time to pursue them, even with the kiddos underfoot? I need to read more, listen closer, and make a point of shutting my mouth and listening when I’m with my friends, to hear what they do and handle life. I need to ask and listen. How do others maintain a eternal perspective reality, while maintaining a day to day reality?

The third thing I did? I just drank my coffee for the morning. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to articulate cravings, outside of those associated with pregnancy, very well. Since returning from Thailand last fall, I have come to really appreciate my AeroPress coffee. Every day. I like it sweet, iced, and with plenty of milk. It is my happy thing. I’ve also come to understand why there are Moms who hide chocolate stashes where the children can’t find them. I periodically get strong urges for chocolate. What’s with that anyway?

So, I feel better now. My house is still needing the floors cleaned up and I have laundry to do. But what I really wanted to do was write. I’m beginning to think that I need to make writing a priority. Something in my brain feels better when I write. It keeps things tidy up there, I guess. So I will. Maybe it will help me feel purpose in life in those times when I feel like everything else is pointless cycle.

Right now I’m reading the book of Proverbs and the book of Matthew with Pii Yai, the lady I’m doing Bible Studies with. I found out something very interesting to me. While I enjoy Matthew, she enjoys Proverbs. While I struggle to understand whether or not Proverbs is true all the time, she is able to discern the difference between a principle and a promise. I think it’s a blessing that comes with being Asian. Who hasn’t heard a Chinese or Japanese, or yes, Thai proverb? While I feel yanked around, because the subject matter jumps from verse to verse, that doesn’t faze her so much. We got together last week and she had no questions about Proverbs, while I did. Her questions were in Matthew. I’m asking questions about why, if the Proverbs are true, there are Christians who suffer for their righteousness, rather than be rewarded. She’s wondering why Jesus spoke in parables. Unfortunately, we only got so far as discussing her questions. I’d still like to talk about mine with her some day. Until then, I have to ask Dru my questions, the same ones, every other day for a week, until I get it. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons God gave me the man he did is because he knew I’d need someone who didn’t mind saying something several times in several different ways until I finally get it.

Even with my failure feelings of last week, I think there is one thing I’ve done right with my kids. Especially with Jube. It was the creation of his verse book. It’s a scrapbook of the Bible memory we’ve done over the years. I was browsing through it this morning and realized that the verses that mean the most to him are the ones I dug out of my Bible, Proverbs no less, in desperation, trying to get him to understand something important. Proverbs 29:1 came out when I couldn’t get him to understand that there are certain kinds of play that just aren’t physically safe! “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” I debated about memorizing this one. It’s pretty harsh, but I was scared for him. He was three or four at the time and would scare the bejabbers out of me and the neighbors with his antics in the yard while I wasn’t watching at the time. We had this old rusty fence and gate that he’d crawl all over if I let him. The gate was pretty high and there were these long prongy rusty points on it. I lived in fear of him cutting himself open or impaling himself on them.However, he simply would not obey and stay down and way—until we got out the verse book and pasted a new verse in.

 verse book1

Proverbs 12:10 went in when we were dog sitting for friends. “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”  I always want to be careful with my use of the Bible when I train my children. I want the Bible to be the book they chose to live by as they grow up, not the big scary book Mom digs out when they’re bad. However, I’m thankful for the Word of God, and will continue to use it. That’s what it’s there for. See Second Timothy 3:16.

verse book

Havilah has a verse book too, but it is smaller with fewer verses. She’s been slower to memorize and even now she struggles to speak clearly. I’ve just now began to use her book more. Yes, the verse books have seasons, too. We’ll dig them out for a while, then then they get set aside for a while. But every time we dig them out again, I’m so thankful for them.

Now, I shall go get some laundry going and tackle my day. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Broccoli and sweets—more thoughtfully.

After my rant the other day, I considered pulling it down. I was afraid I’d hurt feelings of friends who are more health conscious than I. That was not my intention at all. It was more a rant about the reality I live in. My mom and my man said to leave it up. However, I have decided to follow that post up with something a little more thoughtful.
There is a part of me that could embrace a cleaner life style. Making my own soaps is an intriguing idea. Were I in a position to do so, I would. Rachel blogs about her experience with this here. Sounds fun to me, and I love home made soap! I would dearly love to grow all my own meat and veggies. Right now I live in a foreign country with not a stitch of a yard about my home—so growing my own food is not an option.
I have my little health hang ups too. I’m suspicious of stevia. Why is a green plant processed in such a way that it becomes a white powder a healthier option? Perhaps my very asking this question shows my ignorance, but a simple search on Google confirms that there are some concerns to be considered when using stevia. I’m also suspicious of Monsanto. They seem to me like a huge corporation who makes a lot money making food and food products--with little regard for public health. It's a recipe for disaster.  Neither do I like the air being polluted by chemicals, or smoke like we have here during part of the year when there is burning going on in the mountains.
Perhaps more controversial would be our decision to vaccinate our children. Dru grew up in a non-vaccinating home. I grew up in a home where vaccinations happened—my Mom remains a huge believer in them. So when Jube came along Dru got on the computer and did his research. We decided that they were important. Now he works for an organization that does a lot of work for the World Health Organization. He is even more firm in opinion that this is best. However, just the other night he told me that as firmly as he believes in them, he does not believe that the decision to vaccinate our children or not, should be in the hands of the government. This should remain the parent’s decision. 
There is a huge world of perspectives and ideas out there about what is good and healthy. And honestly, I think we all need each other. I don't like when health becomes a battlefield. Although our bodily health is important, I think that our relationship with our brothers and sisters, and our relationship as Christians to those around us who are not, is way more important. While I don’t use stevia, I think that those who have totally cut sugar from their lives have something good to share with the rest of us, reminding us to sweeten with care. I am not a Trim Healthy Mama, but I think that the authors of that book have a lot of good to share and the diet they offer is so much better than the standard American diet. I’m skeptical of Plexus, but I don’t deny that it seems to be very beneficial for some people. For you of my friends who use and distribute Plexus products, I am by no means critical of you. I even don’t mind seeing your goings on from time to time on Facebook, as long as I see the other parts of your life as well.
If I were to buy into whole new health life style, I would put the health of other areas of my life in jeopardy. It would be stressful in the budgeting department. It would take a lot of research and discussion with my man and, well, a LOT of effort that we need to be putting on other things right now. For me to do it “right”, my life would have to revolve around that, at least until the learning curve is over. That is not what God is calling me to revolve my life around right now.
Jesus said, “isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?”in Matthew 6. We rich Americans forget that from time to time. We demand the biggest and best and even the healthiest, thinking that somehow we’re entitled to that. However, there are some who would be thankful for just our table scraps, sugar and all. Some of us have it with in our power to live healthier than the rest of society. If you chose to go this route, or even, feel as though this is where God is leading your family, I beg you, do it with humility. Let’s not make a religion out of what we eat. Let’s eat what is available to us, be we poor or rich or somewhere in between, with humble thanksgiving that we have what we do.
As for my dislike for broccoli, yes, I have quit buying it for the time being. Broccoli rotting in the fridge does not do any of us any good. However, I did realize lately that I need to place more importance on the vegetables in our diet. I have never liked vegetables. I love meat and dairy. But I think vegetables are important and am therefore doing some experimenting with them. I finally figured out how to successfully roast vegetables that aren’t so shabby to eat. I want to do some playing around with salad options. And just maybe, I can figure out something that will suit us well as a broccoli replacement—although I can’t throw it out completely—Dru likes it. (It’s fine, we agree on the important issues in life.) I would love your input on simple veggie recipe options!

I still must admit though, I am of the opinion that a little sugar sweetens the life of anyone. My children will have their cookie or two a day, metaphorically speaking. If they turn out to be as good looking, sweet, with an amazing servant heart like my youngest brother Brad, I will be ever so proud. Who is, after all, made 95% of cookies and milk. A little bit of sugar brings a smile to the hearts and faces of children the world around. I’m all for smiles.
And here are some cookies for you here and here, straight from my own mother’s gluten free kitchen.
(Now for those veggie recipes?)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sweets, and a clean house, and (a little bit about broccoli.)

There is a sacrilegious little thought it me that goes something like this, “So, sweets aren’t good for the body, but they bless the soul—and it’s the soul that’s eternal after all, right?” So, it goes a little overboard, perhaps, but it’s something I wrestle with. When I was a kid we had a cookie jar that said, “Happy the children, wherever they are, who live in a house with a full cookie jar.” And our cookie jar was filled once a week or near abouts there. My youngest brother is made of 95% cookies and milk, last time I checked.  My mom taught me that you never over beat cookies once the eggs are in and butter is always best. Always. Dru’s family ran a bakery for ten years. In fact, I learned some of my baking skills from Dru.  So in my house, I like to have something baked and sweet around. I’ve guilted around about this some. I’m not always quite sure what to do when I hear other moms meticulously rationing cookies and candy, and I am not ever sure what to do with statements like, “My kids don’t get sweets much.” My initial reaction is not, “My, what a good mom!” It is more like, “Those poor kids!” And then I ponder these things in my head for a couple days.

I’m no health nut, and I’m the first to admit it. However, I don’t think we’re bad eaters either. Frankly, eating 100% healthy 100% of the time is more expensive than I feel l could pay for with a good conscience. Plexus blows my mind on some levels, although I’m not about to say it isn’t helpful for some people. I think that people eat too many carbs as a general rule—me included. I’m always a little aghast when I go to a Mennonite pot luck and the hot dishes are loaded with pasta and all other manner of carbs—just because they’re cheap. Actually that really bothers me.Which is silly I suppose because even I like me a pasta hot dish from time to time. So there is a balance, somewhere.

I also kind of think that when God told the children of Israel that He would take them to a land flowing with milk and honey, it was indicating that milk and honey would be a good thing. So I buy the idea that honey is a healthier sweet than cane sugar. I will not buy it if you try to tell me that all sweet is bad. Period.

Some people probably just don’t have sweet teeth, but at this house we do.  Havilah and I both have a chocolate dependency. As a three year old she came to me and said, “Mom, I need chocolate,” out of the blue more than once. This being the case, it won’t be uncommon to have something sweet in the house. Obviously, I do ration the cookies…a little. We do go through them pretty fast if I bake the whole batch up at once. Usually, I bake up part of the dough and then the other goes to the fridge. Moderation means that you should have a few sweets. If you have none than that’s just abstinence or asceticism--not moderation. (Insert self-righteous sniff and stamp of right foot here.)

(And if you happen to be one of those moms who is more careful about sweets, or if your family simply has a different culture when it comes to sugar and chocolate—that is totally fine. I mean no offense. I’m just battling this through in my mind. I also reserve the right to change my mind. My mother also taught me that “Every woman has the right to change her mind.”  Winking smile )

That being said, try this recipe.  But rather than using the suggested buttercream frosting recipe, heat a cup of cream then melt 9 oz. of chocolate chips into it. Add about half a cup of peanut butter to that. Let it cool just a tad then pour it over the still warm cake. Eat with moderation. I like this cake recipe cause it is easy and tastes pretty good for only using cocoa powder. One of  these days I’m going to find a recipe that calls for the melted chocolate to be dumped right into the batter. However, this will be a little more expensive to make and seeing that I don’t spend extravagant amounts to be healthy, neither will spend lots on chocolate—usually.  Okay, enough with that rant. Perhaps I shall be a wiser woman one day when all my children end up with rotten teeth.

When ever I go to bake though, I make sure my house is tidy and laundry all caught up. I’m especially careful about the bathrooms. HA! HA! Tricked you! Lately play has come before work. A lot. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are especially bad for this. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Dru is around for the afternoon. Dru wakes up around 4:30 am to lesson plan. By the time he gets home from teaching 8 – 12 year olds at one o’clock his brain is fried and he’s most likely battling a head ache. He might nap. I have a Bible Study on Tuesdays and he has the children that afternoon. So they play, and I come home to join them. On Saturdays we usually have a lot of family time. So while Dru is busy, too busy, we still get our family time because he gets sick of his computer and needs a diversion. So we chat and laugh hang out. With me trying to be better about school happening, some of the house work slides a little anyway. I find it very easy to sit across the table from Dru while he drums away on his computer, and chat with him. It is very hard to work when he’s in the house. He’s just a nice person to have around. So we catch our family time, in spite of a house that needs tidied and laundry that could be folded. But I decided that THAT is not something I will go on a guilt trip for. Twenty years from now, I can clean the house. But I might not get to hang out with my family like we can now. (I’ll pick up now then until then, but now you aren’t without warning before  you come.)

The truth is, Dru’s schedule is very sustainable as far as family life is concerned. But ministry outside of this is limited. We’re working on the solution to this. Somehow we need to cut back on his work hours, still get a visa and work permit, and make a little money. Not sure how this is going to work out at this point. Lots of unanswered questions. I swing from being used to not having answers to being really sick of limbo. Right now I’m not thinking about it, so when Dru comes to bounce an idea off of me I feel totally spaced and disconnected. This isn’t very helpful, I’m afraid.

It’s time to sign off for the night. I’m going to bed with a tidy house and it feels amazing for a change. However, I didn’t have to make supper—although I should have. Dru came home hangry, only rather than angry when he’s hungry, he gets depressed. He said he’d pick supper up but in then end we went and bought food at the market. So I got the house cleaning done for the next 20 years. Yay! Humph. If only.

One more quick rant? Why is it that I go from inspired and fired up about good house keeping one month to not caring an ounce the next? Same with cooking.(Speaking of cooking, I am finally mature enough to admit that I don’t like broccoli and have decided I’m going to stop pretending about it. I buy it because it’s healthy, but I don’t serve it because it’s yucky. So it sits in my fridge and rots. But I have to stop now because the blog post is unhealthy enough as it is.) And how come I can’t figure out how to keep a clean house and be a good mom at the same time? I struggle with incorporating them into the house cleaning chores as part the the work force with out jeopardizing my relationship with them. So they get left out and then I don’t focus on their needs and alas, I realize that somewhere along the line I tuned out and I have discipline issues on my hands. What’s with that? Jube did get inspired to clean the living room up fairly well though today, so maybe we’re getting somewhere. No, wait, he was inspired to watch Magic School Bus after the living room was tidy. Does that count?

Good night, or Good day, which ever applies.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Of Fits and Strong Wills

Rennie just threw a temper tantrum on the living room floor. I set him down for a tiny bit to help the other two put brown sugar on their oatmeal. This did not prove a satisfactory arrangement for him so he decided that he was going to make this a real royal fit, so passed out. Just turned blue and passed out.  He’s my second child to do this. Havilah didn’t generally do this for tempers to start out with, so much as being hurt. Her episodes bother me worse now. Because she stiffens, arches her back, and almost seizes. However, she does really good lately with catching herself for a breath when prompted in the midst of her distress. It very rarely happens and is usually only if she bumps her head severely. I know enough to run the scene when I hear something catastrophic. If I get there to comfort and remind her to breath soon enough, we aren’t in as much danger of her passing out. The first time she passed out she’d fallen out of her crib and her eyes rolled and she went limp. We rushed her to the hospital only to have the doctor shrug us off. (I would have a word with doctors about how to respond to very concerned parents when there is nothing to be done medically. I understand in retrospect that there probably was  nothing to be done other than observe for a while, but his manner was much less than caring. Not even sure if he looked at her.)

This totally freaks some of you moms out. I’m used to it. I was scared the first couple times Havilah did it. I guess now it’s just part of my motherhood—these little people passing out.  Rennie’s episode this morning was not his first, although I think it was his worst. It bothers me because it means I have a little temper baby on my hands. Seven months old and he can throw a fit like nobody’s business. Believe me, you don’t do discipline when a child is passing out. You hold them and calm them. Once the child is Havilah’s age you can explain to her what happened. Why everything got black, and why it’s important to breath. There are some who say to throw water at the child doing this. That just isn’t what comes instinctively, and my experience with Havilah is that any kind of discipline or anything when she’s in crying silently and turning blue stage, only makes things worse.

Rennie doing this bothers me worse than Havilah’s deals. He’s plain out mad. What do you do with a baby in a rage? It just means a lot of training coming up. It means a lot of hard work. It means a strong will. It means line upon line, precept upon precept. It means a lot of prayers.

He runs my life if I let him. I’ve quit running into the living room every time I hear him holler. Generally he forgets his need to be held as soon as he can’t see me. He plays pretty nicely on his own or with his siblings. I decided I am NOT a let the baby cry it out in the crib for fifteen minutes before he goes to sleep, kind of mom. It just feels barbaric to me, if I can be so bold. However, I did figure out that 30 seconds of him yelling insults at me as I leave the room is not the end of the world. Once he gets that out of his system, he settles pretty well usually. Now when he’s old enough to put his thoughts into words as I leave the room, then we might have a problem.

Like someone said, “Why does he act so? He looks like such an angel.” Or how was that Mom? And who said it?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A post for my mom, but the rest of you may look too.

So Mom, I said I was going to show you something. A few random other pictures first.

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Well, I actually did want to show you this too. The little guy in the red hair is Asher Witmer’s son, Adrion. He’s six weeks older than Rennie.

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This is what we had for supper the other night.

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These are my children.

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This is my husband.

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Now this is what I really wanted to show you. This patio door and window leads out to the veranda from our bedroom. The rabbit used to run free out here. We no longer have her and I reclaimed the space.

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This is my view this evening. I just have to imagine away the power lines.

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To  the left.

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To the right. That’s better than a rabbit any day, isn’t it? Dru and I want to get some chairs out here next.
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And I just looked over the edge. Gives me the willies.

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While we’re at it, this is how you fit two beds in this (the children’s) room.

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My other veranda, out the children’s room.

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God has given me a lovely home!

And a last minute addition for last minute evening snacks:


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Summer sad

Did you know that summer SAD is a thing? I was explaining to my man how sluggish I feel and how I struggle with just getting anything done, and watching too many movies and documentaries, because I simply can't think anyway. Furthermore, it seems as though I have to think to accomplish very simple tasks. "Hand, move this object from this space to that space. Feet, walk. I will now move this item to make space for other item." This is only slightly exaggerated, I think.
The heat is intense and creeps into my house uninvited. We hide away in our air conditioned rooms like refugees from other parts of the house. Meanwhile, the voracious ants take over those other parts of the house. We squish them. We wipe them up in our dish rags. We spray them. Yet, they are winning. They march in from the tiniest cracks and devour any protein that is left laying about, be it the smallest crumb. THEY BITE MY BABY IF HE HAPPENS IN THEIR WAY. 
Being a true woman, I struggle with guilt about these things. Because school doesn't happen as I want it to, in all of this fog. The toys scattered all about don't get picked up. Crumbs  lay on the floor and the ants come.
But, I have a  plan. I have a some verses. I have three air conditioned rooms. And the rain will come soon. Meanwhile, I shall take control of my own brain again, if it is at all possible.
So Teresa, when you asked me this morning if I was doing well, well, yes I am. My children are getting better and the only thing wrong with me is my brain. I have much to be thankful for, I just need to guide my brain to it. And Katrina, when I wanted to know, begged you to tell me, that you were warm, it is because I am desperately wondering if I am the only woman dealing with this. However, even if I am it doesn’t make it any less real to me.
I am thankful tonight for a good man. Good meaning more patient with me than I am with myself.
http://www.webmd.com/depression/summer-depression

Monday, April 27, 2015

About that picture a day thing…

It’s kind of off. I take a picture now and then. Life is busy and I didn’t have a computer readily available for a bit there, and so…blogging fell to the wayside and pictures too. But now I have a computer again and also, I have a new phone, one with the ability to take pictures. So I take pictures and put them on Facebook. I still have to figure out how to put them on my computer from my phone but so far I haven’t looked into that. So if  you’re friends with me on Facebook, lucky you. If not, hang on a bit and I’ll get them on here some day, I hope. And I do hope to be better again about posting pictures regularly.
However, here are just a couple that I had on the camera. These first two were taken at staff retreat this year. There is a new coffee shop at Lanna Resort and one afternoon Dru and I took the kids down and took advantage of it. There is this sweet little stream that runs by and it’s been cleaned and made play friendly. So the children played in that.
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Then there are these home pictures. The other day I switched out the toys for the children. They weren’t playing with toys much and I think they were getting bored. So I got out the bins and in with the old and out with the “new.” They played very happily for most of the day. Should have done it sooner. Today I even put three of Havilah’s dollies away as well. They were laying around and not being played with anyway. Now I have toys laying out all over all the time, but at least they’re being played with.
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Rennie has decided to enter the other two children’s play. This involves bothering them by scooting across the room on his belly and sucking on the toys they were trying to play with. They complain but secretly they’re tickled pink that he’s getting around. Especially Jube. Havilah had a bad dream about it the other night though. She was sick so I had her in my room for the night. She, in her sleep, said very distinctly, “Mommy, Rennie’s bugging me.” I got out of bed and said, “What?” and she said, “Rennie.” I’m pretty sure I know what she was dreaming about.
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I’ve had to tell Jube that if he puts his hair in close proximity to Rennie’s little hands, then his hair will be pulled. Here they’re having a good time. Well, Rennie is anyway.
Here are a few random things to catch you up on our lives:
1. Bunny Foo-Foo has scratched several too many times. At this point we are seeking to relocate her to a different home. She’s not really a bad rabbit, but the children aren’t quite able to handle her strong little hind legs. I don’t know maybe she is a bad rabbit? Mostly I think she just gets tired of being picked up by them. Jube thinks he wants a turtle instead.
2. Hannah is no longer with us. We miss her. Jube cried a couple times the first couple of days. Havilah insists to us that Hannah is coming back. At the same time getting back into the groove of homemaking on my own has been good for me. It’s probably good for all of us. However, we’ll take any aunties who want to come see us, in in a heart beat. Uncles too, for that matter.
3. Staff Retreat was wonderful, as usual. I usually spend the whole month before it planning and dreaming of what I will take with me or not and all that. I look forward to it intensely. Like a little kid. So my kids do too.
4. Here’s a thought I had while at Staff Retreat and so far I am still trying to figure out how to make it practical: What if all that time we “don’t have” to have quiet time because we’re mothers and busy, is supposed to be spent worshipping and what have you with our children? Maybe instead of bemoaning the fact that we’re not having time to spend in the Word and prayer every day, we’re supposed to do it with the kids, rather than away from them? I’m pretty sure I still need quiet time with out them. But I’m also pretty sure that there are plenty of times that I’ve stumbled upon something to meditate on when I’m reading Bible stories to the kids, or just talking to them about Jesus stuff. Two examples: The other day Havilah asked if God had a house. I said yes, I think so. And then I thought DUH! Heaven is God’s home or house, if you will. That’s what going to heaven is all about, going to God’s house. Spending forever there with Him. The other example. I read the whole book of Jonah to the children the other day. We’re memorizing it but I went ahead and read the whole story to them beyond as far as we had memorized. I found this verse, “Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love.” Now tell me, who was he saying had forsook faithful love? Wasn’t it himself? This was his prayer in the belly of the fish. And then he finishes his repentance prayer in verse nine by saying “but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving, I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the LORD!” (HCSB) So I’ve been pondering that around in my head.
And now I’m going to bed. Goodnight, have a good day, all you people on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Just life.

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On what ended up being a mini date with my men. I’d gone over to meet him to have Bible  Study with Bob and Yai and then  plans fell through with them.
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Jube’s first round at chop sticks. He was really good at it!
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Havilah had a few more complications…
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Hallah on a pizza outing.
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This one is mine. See that map under his elbow. He thought we should put the map under the glass and no table cloth. So we did. But I do really like a table cloth, so we will see how long that lasts.
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Hannah and Rennie
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This one is cute.
February
Bilbo got sick. I took him to the veterinarian hoping she’d dispose of him because neither Hannah nor I had the guts to do it. The veterinarian checked him out and for not much I’m giving him an antibiotic instead. He’s getting chipper and sassy again. Only now when I approach the cage, he is apt to very pointedly turn his back on me.
It felt a little silly to me to take an animal to the doctor. But I couldn’t get beyond the idea that the “righteous man regards the life of his animal.” And that God sees the sparrows fall. So I decided, silly or not, I was going to take my birdie to the doctor. And silly or not, the medicine he’s getting probably cost more than he did originally. But I like my birdies. And animals in general. So, rather than feel silly about it, I have decided that I am who I am. I will take my birdies to the vet if I need to. So there.
It was very interesting to me to see Brie love on Bilbo while he wasn’t feeling so well. She’d just sit beside  him and quietly feel sorry with him. Maybe I have something to learn here?

Monday, February 16, 2015

On a Chilly Monday Morning

Hannah generally opens up the house and runs the fan when she comes down in the morning. This gets the house cool and later we close up but leave fans on as the morning wears on and it gets hot. Today it’s not heating up very fast. I let Jube turn the fan off because he was cold. Hey, it’s 66 F this morning! Some how I don’t think it’s going to get too hot today. Not at this rate. I might just need to go put some socks on.

Here’s a quick up date on our last week that I facebooked my mom, “Mom, we're doing fine. Rennie was just about to sleep when you zelloed so I didn't answer. We survived what must have been a mild form of food poisoning and that was our only bit of excitement this week. Thankfully the children didn't get it. Dru had a lighter load of homework this week. Hannah visited the Tiger Kingdom one day and me and the children did fine on our own. Rennie is getting chuckely and rolls over. He is nearly sixteen pounds. Jube is ready for 105 Learning to Read and doing well. Havilah still doesn't talk very clearly and she is starting to be naughtier. Jube has a huge incentive in front of him in the form of more Lego a as far as his be setting issue, and is trying really hard. Pray he doesn't get discouraged. We set the bar pretty high. Bilbo and Brie are sassy and the rabbit (whom I think the children call Nibbles) is getting fat. Oh, and fridge is fixed. And I didn't dump it out of the back of the truck even though he didn't tie it down. It just walked down the truck bed and I had to push it back several times. And today when I asked Havilah if she was making a snow angel on the floor she said she wanted to go back to America. She asks to go back periodically and it makes my gut wrench. So I think both of us are suffering from some homesickness for the States and family there. And Havilah has this weird cough that only happens at bed and nap time. She wakes up slightly croupy.”

Since then I’ve realized that Havilah has truly come down with some sort of cold/cough bug. It behooves me to be careful because once upon I time I ended up taking her in because her high fever wasn’t going away after three days. She ended up with something bad in her throat and needed a round of antibiotics. I prefer to avoid antibiotics.

I have been taking lots more pictures through out the week. I refuse to go on a guilt trip for the days I miss a picture. But I really am trying to keep the camera close to record the moments.  Here are a few pictures now:More February This was up on my veranda last week. The roses are faded by now. The tiny sprouts in the lower left corner are rhubarb. I saved seeds from the rhubarb out behind Lance’s garage last summer. I wonder what it will do here? The little black pots are more zinnias and the top right is a plumeria finally deciding to leaf out. We cut the branch from the tree we planted at our old house and stuffed it in dirt and watered and watered. Now it has decided to finally grow.

IMG_1626 Hallah said, “Take a picture of us, Mom.”

IMG_1628There are things you work on and work on in a child’s life. You try from many angles. Right now, this sits in the hutch where Jube can see it every day and remind him. I won’t say here what the issue is. He is five now and that much privacy now. Yes Adam, these are from you. Sometimes we put presents away to dig out for the children when we need or want them. I hope this is okay. (They were on a Christmas overload already when Mike came over.)

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Dru brought this home from work for me.

 

 

 

IMG_1631 My little scholar.

IMG_1632 My little fatso. Turn your head to look at him. I forgot to rotate the picture. I think he looks Skrivseth across the eyes and he acts Skrivseth all around. What a whiner! He sits in his chair, not crying, just complaining. So we walk by, bend over a minute to talk to him, and he is all smiles and happy wiggles. Then you walk away and he continues with his complaining sounds.

IMG_1635 15.87 pounds. He almost fell asleep swinging there.IMG_1637 Oh, Hi Mom. Are we done now?

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This time I told her she couldn’t share. So when the rabbit was finished she went to get her own piece of carrot from Hannah in the kitchen.