12.29.2012

This is the Dog

Do her eyes seem to be sorrowful?
That's because they are.
Regretful and remorseful, downcast and dismal, melancholy and mournful because
 this is the dog that broke the camera.
This is the dog who jumped on her owner who had on pajama pants to go 
with the boots that are just right for snow. 
This is the dog whose foot caught in the strap that was NOT around the 
neck of the foolish woman who ran out to take pictures 
of fat, luscious flakes of newly falling snow.
This is the dog who escaped the boot furiously flung from the foot of the 
angry woman who knew in her heart that her camera was broken for good.





12.23.2012

Tart Pants


Some evil being has slipped into my closet and switched my well-fitting jeans with 
very similar ones that are  just a little too tight ...
Is this happening to anyone else out there? 
I guess it could be the Chocolate Raspberry Tart
The one with the most tasty graham cracker crust EVER.
This is my specialty dessert this Christmas! If you invite us over for the holiday, 
I'll be whipping one up to bring along.

But maybe I should decline to have any myself. 
And certainly I should insist you keep any leftovers.


12.22.2012

Hand Holding

When we go out to a Christmas Event, we don't have to hold their hands anymore.
There are no visits to a freezing zoo bathroom to mop up a loaded diaper. 
No one has a snot-slinging meltdown in anticipation of the zebra being 
ridden by another kid in the carousel line.
Negotiations are not held over division of cold chicken strips and french fries.
We hold each other's hand while they look over our shoulders.
Or they hold the hand of a Special Friend.
OK, I still slip into denial sometimes - that's what I called them for a long time.
Our two older sons have GirlFriends, whose hands they'd much rather clasp than ours.
We are thankful that the young ladies they've chosen to spend time with are Godly Girls
who seem to be growing in grace and truth. And while it is proving to be an adjustment for 
our Youngest, who is clinging to the ways of Christmases Past, we are always glad to 
have them join us for Holiday Fun and Games.

*Please consider all the extra capital letters in this post a tiny gift to you from me! *


12.20.2012

Two Ton


Do you ever read over the third or even the fourth verses to the old Christmas hymns?
There is some two-ton theology in those verses we hardly ever sing!
(Could that be why we skip those verses?)
But so many are blessedly, sweetly, painfully, relevant
I love that! 
I need that!

(from) 'I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY'
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

***
I know I'm not alone in the constant breathing of prayers for the bereaved in Connecticut.
Doesn't this seem like an appropriate Christmas hymn to add to our prayers?

12.19.2012

Merry Mary

My December eyes need a quiet place to rest sometimes - do yours?
Some spot that is unadorned with red trim, green glitter or sparkling bows.
There might be a little too much MERRY around here ...
 and not enough MARY.
"And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord:
let it be to me according to your word." Luke 1:38
She gave up every plan she had up to that point in her life
and embraced the plan of the Lord instead.
Later, her cousin Elizabeth said of her "... blessed is she who believed that there
would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." v. 45

There's enough of MARY to ponder for the whole Christmas season. 
So pardon me while I turn my eyes back outside, for a little while each day, at least,
 in search of some  plain things.
Somewhere to rest my gaze while I examine my heart and ask the Lord to 
make it more MARY than MERRY this season.


12.16.2012

Holiday Sounds


In the Christmas season, every opening of our front door is accompanied by the jingle of bells.
A leather strap of bells, I don't remember where it came from, is dug from the boxes of Holiday This and That and hung on the door handle, as soon as it gets all Christmasy around here. 
They fall to the floor often, which aggravates the Men and the Almost-Men 
of the house. I heard one of them grumble last week, 
"Why do we have these on the door anyway???"
Because I like them! 
The sound can be heard almost anywhere you might be in the house,
announcing someone's coming or going, which seem like holiday sounds, to me. 
I didn't try to explain that, though; I just pretended not to hear.
 I find it best to use words somewhat sparingly around here. 
Now if they had really wanted to know ... I would've explained. 

Sometime in the (far) future, as the boys establish their own households, 
we'd like to gift them each with a set of Christmas bells for their own entry doors.
I wonder if they'll still grumble?

12.13.2012

Ungrateful (Fish)


It seemed like a good idea.
Sort of a rescue purchase.
Such luxurious teal blue fins cooped up in a tiny, tiny plastic pet store container -
hardly any room at all to swirl! and twirl!
Since becoming a member of our family, he lives in a summertime flower vase with 
rocks from a sidewalk filling the bottom.
I felt like a rescuing hero, a beneficent provider.
He didn't turn out to be a grateful sort of fish, though. 
He spends alot of time hanging out suspended from the surface of the water, 
that's right, as if very dead.
The Guys go by, peer into the vase and declare him'dead' at least once a day.
If he's not playing dead at the top, 
he's lying on the rocks at the bottom, also looking very dead. 
I haven't had much fish experience, but am pretty sure they aren't supposed to 
LAY around?


12.12.2012

Stockings


These Christmas stockings were made for the boys as they were born. 
By me. (!)
I don't know much that is more soothing than following kit instructions. 
Making the stocking come together is so satisfying. 
A wonderful, intricate puzzle of felt, floss and sequins.

Over time, various bits of the stockings (doves, chickens, carrots) were pulled loose for 
closer examination, to make a trip to Grandma's
in a pajama pocket, or because the dog may have wanted a sniff/lick. 
No problem - all the bits sew back. 
Chocolate melting in the second stocking was alarming for a few minutes and actually 
'left a mark' that lends character

The stockings remain empty until sometime in the wee hours of Christmas morning, when we, bleary-eyed and full of our cut of stocking candy, stuff them and move them away
from the fire. Once we forgot that last part ... and someone's candy melted. Right.

Husband and I have stockings of our own that hang in our room (which I did not make). 
We follow our own stocking traditions which involve much anticipation, taunting and delight  - like any good marriage tradition. We drop items in the other's stocking, at least a week ahead. No peeking, but squeezing, guessing, and mocking is encouraged. It's fun, and the boys like to come check our stockings, too. 
They actually LOOK though, and taunt us also. 



12.10.2012

Balloons and More

We went to Cincinnati's Mirror Lake in Eden Park to see these -
But we also saw other interesting things.
There's alot to look at in a crowd that size, especially in the heart of a city like Cincinnati.
So many different kinds of people! It is always amazing to me.
For example, I don't think I've ever seen anyone wear red and white checks as
well as this guy. The woman in purple is admiring him, too. 
The Big Boy is just noticing the most adorable baby -
- and he bends over the stroller to get a better look. 
He probably wanted to just say hello to the little tyke. 
I wonder how that went? 
I know how that would've gone if it had been one of my kids in the stroller.
shock
terror / horror
panic / screaming / possible spitting 

 Here's another casual attender of the festivities.
How'd you like to have him bend over the stroller?
Guaranteed ruined Holiday Event and at least three sleepless nights
 spent trying to calm your nightmare plagued child.
 But as far as I could tell, he kept his nutcrackers out of the strollers.
Whew!


Linking to Flower Patch Farmgirl and Lowercase Letters.
Visit them too!


12.06.2012

Tightly and Lightly



Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had been in the service of the Lord their whole lives. 
You might cast them today as Pastor and Wife, and former missionary kids, but you'd have to know that they were the among the very humblest, joyful, obedient, wise and giving. 

6. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statues of the Lord. 
All this, but they had no children. Elizabeth called her barrenness "a reproach". No one to receive the gift of their Godly heritage. No son to bring into the brotherhood of priests. No one to care for them in their latter years. And now they were in their latter years. Did it ever become easier to bear, I wonder, or was the cry of their hearts still for a child, even after so many years?


While Zechariah was waiting on the Lord, burning incense in an inner chamber, an angel appeared right there with him. History seems to indicate that heaven had kept its gates closed for about four hundred years. Israel was in a bad place, occupied by Romans - times were very hard. But what do you think the angel, (Gabriel, no less) chose to speak to Zechariah about? 


13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.


Isn't it amazing that the Lord sent a messenger to burst into Earth's atmosphere, and the immediate subject is the prayer, the very old prayer, that the man had been offering for so many, many years? I love that after 'do not be afraid' comes 'your prayer has been heard'.

And not only will his wife bear a son, but she will bear A SON! If Zechariah and Elizabeth had written a description of the son they longed for, I'll bet it would be pretty similar to this one. Is it even possible that the angel is proclaiming aloud the hopes their hearts had only whispered to the Lord? Who knows, but I'm sure this father-to-be was buoyed higher and higher as he heard what was to come. His son, HIS SON would be:


15-17 "...he will be great before the Lord....he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb ...he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord...in the spirit and power of Elijah...turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."


If the OB tucked your newborn into your arms and made such a declaration - can you imagine? The child's future would construct itself right there in front of you, glowing and grand, bright and beautiful - much much much more than you would have ever dared hope for!


ALL of what Gabriel declared did come true - of course it did, what else? But there's no way that it looked like what these two parents imagined. Absolutely No Way. In their golden vision of their future son, I'll bet there was no camelhair clothing or diet of bugs and honey. I feel pretty sure they did not imagine, no way did they envision their boy as a man living in the wilderness, instead of with them, denouncing the religious leaders, their own business associates, as it were: "You brood of vipers!" Do you believe that those young parents conceived a dream for their long-awaited son that included dungeons or his head on a platter?


I wonder if the Lord intended His words to be repeated to Zechariah and Elizabeth as they sifted  through the shards of their hopes, all that was left of their boy as Herod prepared to finish his time here on earth. Was He sending the comfort of truth to these disillusioned and distraught parents?


"Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist." Matthew 11:11


Our dreams, our visions and our hopes for our children - no parent can deny that we all build them. How we think it will be, what we imagine it will look like, what paths they will take and how wonderful it will be! As you read this, do you sense the Spirit whisper encouragement to let those dreams go and to cling tightly to the Father instead? Let us hold lightly the dreams we spin for our children!
And rejoice over what He's going to do!

Luke 1:6-17





12.03.2012

Sharing the View

I guess I'm a nosy sort.
OK, I am. 
But do you ever wonder what other people see every day outside their windows?
My window views are very, very familiar to me. Window gazing, especially in these months, can be a
 major distraction from the list of things I SHOULD be doing. (Those annoying SHOULDS!)
In the spirit of sharing, then, here is the window view from our tiny downstairs half-bath.
It looks out into the greenhouse, and when I say tiny, I'm talking about 16" x 30". The window, that is. The bathroom itself is 3' x 5'. It's a great reminder to keep my weight under control.
Pros:
* You have someplace convenient (the sink) to rest your head, if you need to, while 'using' the facilities.
* Clean-up time can be less than 5 minutes.
* It's easy to open the window, reach out there, grab a shovel, and scare away thieving raccoons.
(Husband is saying right now, "Easy for you, since you'd coaching from the bed while I do that!"   Sorry, MWH!)
* As stated before, major weight deterrent.
Cons:
* No laying in the floor, in case of stomach virus. (sorry - yuk!)
* Very difficult to paint.
* Not much room for privacy when wedging self into jeans that may be a teensy bit too tight. 
Which links back to a pro ...
* Odds are much, much greater that your phone will drop into the toilet in such a small space.

ANYway --- all that is a big long side note!
What I really wanted you to see is the stained glass hummingbird hanging out there! Found him at a sale this summer, and got him for a dime. A dime!His sunlit colors against frosted greenhouse glass are causing me to spend even more time window-gazing!



12.01.2012

The Joyful Incidentals


As we go along, I'm surprised by the things that my boys keep as 'special' about
the Holidays. 
*Now by 'the Holidays', I mean the Big Three - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.*
And, as you might guess, it's not the things we intentionally set out to make  memorable.
Seems like, it's the incidentals that make the "I love it when ..." list.
I have a list like that, and you probably do too. 
I was recalling to my mom last night, 
"Remember when you used to make a pan of fudge when something really special was happening? I remember peeking in the fridge to see if it was cool yet, being so excited  waiting for that fudge!"
She was silent for just a second, then she said, "Did I do that?"
The oddest things get caught and stick on the lint screen of our memories.
Here's some of mine:
- At holiday time, there used to always be a bowl of nuts with metal nutcrackers and picks on the table. 
- Shopping in downtown Cincinnati was a big event. Entering the thickly perfumed atmosphere of the department stores at street level (perfume, gloves, purses...) was almost as wonderful as going up and up those narrow Shillito's escalators. The anticipation of going to a new floor and the gripping dread of getting caught in those ever-opening and closing stairs. I vaguely remember that Santa was there on the toy floor, but don't remember sitting on his lap. And the beautiful fruity embellishments on the Gidding-Jenny building! No wonder I was always tripping along - - - I was usually gawking up!
- Dad used to pop popcorn in a great big pan, then salt and butter it just for us.
- My favorite decorations to put out were the felt elves and the character shaped candles.
- Mom would snip and sew a special dress for me to wear on Christmas Sunday. I didn't get to see it until she was finished with it, and that moment seemed like a great unveiling TAH-DA! I was always filled with a sort of awed pride that she could make something so beautiful with her own hands.

Pondering this list myself, I see that every one of these is a memory of a moment when there was joy, or excitement - events that only happened once a year and which were accompanied by wide, shared grins or lovingly clasped hands. I wouldn't be surprised if my parents don't even recall many of these things, or that they would probably consider them to have been only incidentals. 

And that's what I try to remember with my own sons. We can be intentional in creating Holiday memories and traditions, and we've certainly thrown our best efforts into the ring. But what they'll probably take away on their Most Loved List will be Joyful Incidentals. It's all in the Lord's hand as He builds the reminiscences He will use in their lives, letting what's un-useful pass out of memory and causing what He considers to be the profitable bits  to catch.

I'm glad that I can trust Him with that, too. 


11.30.2012

The Getting of the Tree


We're getting the tree tonight, at Lowe's. (sigh)
Our favorite tree farm never did re-open, and we miss it every single  year!
 Finding and cutting the tree has been a tradition since our boys were just little guys. 
Some old photos:
(You don't see anyone snapping pics of tree-buying at Lowes, do you ...?)
Check this one out! Each boy with his specific gear, ready for the big event. 
Rope, saw (a privilege of the eldest), pacifier and Dr Seuss board book. 
I think the one pictured is  Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb - which, after reading 1.27 billion times,  I could whisper from memory into the tiny boy's ear while still paying attention to a sermon. I still can recite parts of it! 
It was bitterly cold that day. We hiked uphill and downhill, up and down, and.... up and down again. I voted enthusiastically for every even marginally acceptable tree, worrying over frostbite, sock layers, and toenail loss.

This might be on the same day, although the hats are different and coats can sometimes 
be made to last two winters and not only one. 
Judging from his overjoyed look, this boy was the first to spot the winning tree.

Sibling Issues 


These two were taken at our favorite farm, probably the first year there.
My Middle Son is taking the above shot. There are so many things to say about this photo, which might seem like a simple one. I'll just share a few, since I know you're sooo interested in the nonsense that swirls around in my head:
Whew- no paci...Those boys are so small...My Husband - that SMILE!...Tall, rubber barn boots are so useful AND make thighs seem smaller... That red coat was my favorite kid coat - every one of them wore it. 
And various thoughts of longing, which seem too great  to press into print. If you're a mom with grown children, you probably can fill in those blanks.
 And every year, he chose this tree.
I loved that - go big or go home!



11.28.2012

It's Already Begun

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas around here!
We try to hold it off until December, but it sneaks up.
There are already some Christmas movies out, not viewed yet, but at the ready.
A plastic holiday soldier (25¢ at a yardsale) is standing in my living room, 
just begging to be plugged in so he can strut his 1950s stuff.
And the lights went up on Thanksgiving Day, while it was still warm enough to view them without a coat. 
There have been issues with the lights this year, as it seems they cannot coexist 
nicely with the washing machine, but it seems to be all worked out after a couple of dark nights. 
My Youngest is eagerly anticipating every small event that comprise our holidays. It's almost as if he (also) knows that the childhood sort of seasons may be behind him now. When they were all little, there was so much more childish wonder,  just smooshing out everywhere - it's tough to be the youngest one.  Living with a houseful of semi-adults, the last to be still lingering in youth can have a difficult time of it, I think.
I've been browsing Pinterest, looking for new sweets to make for the season. Funny, though, that the things everyone requests are the old standbys! Do you find that to be true also? The Men and Almost-Men would feel meanly cheated if there weren't some hefty containers of buckeyes to pillage. 
The make-ahead-hide-seek-and-eat game - a classic! 
I make ahead and hide; they seek and eat.

And playing on the radio right this very minute - this.
(sob)
***
Is anyone else enjoying the full moon? 
Was anyone else awake with me at 2:30 this morning, standing at the window and gawking at the oddly-visible nighttime landscape of your own backyard? 
I opened all the curtains and finally fell back to sleep, the whole room flooded with silvery light. 
Blessings overflowing blessings!
***


11.23.2012

Thanksgiving Imaginations

If I ever get to host the Thanksgiving ...
(with random fall photos)
Doesn't this look like a face???

 Right now we celebrate with our parents and siblings. Every year, I add to the feast - whatever anyone wants me to bring. This year, I'm just finishing the stuffing and mashed potato dish - WONDERFUL smells are wafting through the house! The stuffing has a diced apple from a Dear Friend's tree! 
No, we've never had apple in the stuffing before, and Yes, that might turn out to be controversial. What's a family gathering without a little controversy??? And if the raised eyebrows are ONLY over alternative stuffing ingredients, then we shall be truly blessed!
ANYway, if the celebration ever comes my way ...
And just how would that occur? Every year, I deliberately turn away from considering the mechanics involved in that. 


So - when that eventually happens, I have plans.

We will sing the doxology
Either before the prayer, after the prayer, or maybe even instead of the prayer! 

We would definitely include the kernels of corn tradition. I think just knowing that you're going to share something for which you're grateful would cause every person to seriously consider the many, many options available. 
And that would be time well spent.

OK - do you think the doxology is going too far? But it's so beautiful. And ancient. And traditional.  
That just makes it a WIN WIN WIN!  Yes, I was wavering, but the Doxology stays. 

It's firm.
*******************
Oh the dreams we dream about days ahead!
I know it is highly unlikely that the future Thanksgivings of my imaginations
will actually occur. And in knowing that, it's safe to dream.



11.20.2012

Pampered vs. Wild

So you know about me and gourds, right?
How I pursue them every growing season? To my own embarrassment and sad failure? 
This year, after nursing the gourd vines through a drought and spraying 
the fuzz right off their mildewy leaves ...
I was able to harvest a few tiny gourds!
This few was all that came from the vines I kept in a pot, nearby, so I could water adequately and add sweet talk (begging) to their diet. Not a very good showing, but these vines had issues, so I was happy with these few adorable, wee spinner gourds.
I put two vines out in the flower beds, pairing them with the 
zinnias which I figured were sturdy enough to bear almost anything I threw their way. 
*********
It's a teacher thing, right? 
Seating the naughty child next to the steady one, 
hoping they will balance one another out?
*********
ANYway, I only checked those two vines occasionally - as often as I went out to cut zinnias. They seemed to be getting along famously, with less water and less attention than the spoiled potted vines. The stalks of the zinnias made climbing posts and I didn't see the same pinched stem problem out there in the beds that was happening with the potted gourds.
The yield from those less cared for vines ended up being almost double that of the other!
And check out that big fatty white gourd in the back of the photo - what the heck? 
That was the ONLY fruit from one of the vines. 
So weird!
And fun! I love experimenting in the garden!