Saturday, July 21, 2007

Change of Plans

Why must Higher Things consistently plan their conferences for mere DAYS following Harry Potter releases???

The boys must read the book prior to arriving in Minneapolis, where many a friend will have already read the book and be discussing it -- and letting slip spoilers.

We put the audio-book on hold at the library. We had hoped to listen all day today and tomorrow and part of Monday. I don't know whether the audio-book is available in bookstores, but it's not available yet at the library (as I was disappointed to find this morning when I tried to pick up the book). Happily, the grocery store had a cartful of The Deathly Hallows for a mere $22 each, so I grabbed one this morning.

There's just not enough books to go around our house so that we can read it to ourselves prior to the HigherThings-imposed deadline. So we're attempting to do tag-team reading-aloud. Don't know if this is going to work. Sure did mess up all sorts of plans for having Jim Dale read to us today while we build swords, puttered in the kitchen, folded laundry, and other things.

If it weren't for HT, we could enjoy reading this book at the leisurely rate of 100 pages of reading aloud per day. But now it's just stressful to try to get to the end of the story in three short days. We've been waiting for this book for years. And now it's just become another chore for me instead of something to enjoy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not Answering Questions

A homeschooling mother answers questions. It's what she does. It's who she is. EVERY mother answers enough questions to make her head spin. But homeschooling mothers have another whole arena of questions to answer. And ask. And explore.

Kids with VCFS ask questions. When my youngest was about 4-6 years old, she asked questions. Persistent questions. When I was overwhelmed by it, other mothers assured me that it was normal and healthy for kids to ask lots of questions. They said their kids ask lots of questions too. I remember thinking how they just didn't understand. After all, I have five other kids. They asked lots of questions too. But nothing like Maggie's questions! (Some people call this perseverant behavior.)

Gary and I have discovered that we ought not answer Maggie's questions. It can get a little maddening to answer the same question repeatedly. Maggie's repetitious questions are her way of checking on whether she is actually remembering something correctly. We've tried to teach her to say, "This is what I think I remember," and then state what she's thinking, and continue, "Am I right about it?" But she rarely does that.

After all, why should she? She wants to ask. And it works: usually I answer. After all, that's what homeschooling moms do.

This week though, I've been trying harder to catch myself. I feel like a huge meanie, refusing to answer her questions. But she's asking questions she knows the answers to. And she's asking them repeatedly. Sometimes I've been callously saying, "I'm not answering that; you know the answer," and then ignoring her. Sometimes I need to ask her questions, guiding her through some steps to help her realize that she actually does know the answer. But she's figuring out that she does indeed know the answer.

I think I need an Impatient Pill for when I'm feeling like a niiiice mommy who wants to help her child by answering questions. What Maggie needs much more than answers is the prodding to figure out that she knows the answer already.

Piles in the Garage

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to sort. There's too much stuff in the house. I have a pile in the garage that is destined for the dumpster. A pile that is headed for Goodwill. A pile that will probably be stored in the house as our own little "stash" (something for Philip to raid when he moves out in a couple of months). A pile of stuff that needs to be kept, but must be put in a more reasonable place than where it currently lives.

Over the past 15 years, I have definitely become one of those people with a Depression-Era mindset. Things can't be thrown out because you know there won't be money to replace it later. I hate storing and packratting; if there's much of that, you can't find things when you need them anyhow. But it's hard to get rid of things, especially with Maggie's special needs. I eliminated so many toys when she was 4 or 5, and it turned out that toys I'd thought she would've grown out of were actually toys she hadn't grow into yet. That makes me hesitant to get rid of too much.

Nevertheless, today I have gotten rid of
the wicker paper-plate supports,
quite a few tablecloths,
gobs of plastic spoons and forks saved by my in-laws,
an aluminum saucepan,
bunches of old ice-cream buckets,
many board games,
picture cards to reinforce kids' Bible study,
and much more.

At meals, we're currently using the leftover napkins from our wedding. (Did you know that paper napkins get a bit stiff and non-absorbent after 26 years?)

I'm still struggling with what to do with the rocker. Sometimes things just break beyond repair. But when it's got memories of many babies rocked in the chair for two or more generations, you keep thinking that maybe you should find somebody else who has more skills, somebody who might be able to fix it.

Still lots of clothes and books to go through, and more closets and other things tucked away. This takes more brain effort than I have to spare at the moment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Heavy Cream

I've been skimming only the very top of the cream, the really thick stuff, the stuff that whips up nice for desserts. The cream jar happens to be full to the brim right now. (Ah, the luxury!!)

A child took a nearly full jar of milk from the fridge and asked about starting a new cream-jar. "Nope," I said, "I already skimmed that one." He looked quizzically at the layer of cream floating on the milk. I continued, "I've only been skimming the heavy cream. You know, the stuff that sits at the very top that's all thick."

Sits at the top of the jar? Didn't we learn in science class that the stuff on top is the lightest, the least dense? What's heavy goes to the bottom of the jar. So what's with the term heavy cream?

Environmentalist Theology

Liberals don't want to believe in original sin. They think children are by nature good and sweet and wonderful. They think it is the way we bring up people that ruins them. Criminals wouldn't be criminals, after all, unless they'd been victimized first.

Nature is good and pure and gentle. (Now, don't tell me about lions eating gazelles. That's good and gentle too, silly.) It is eeeevil man that destroys the environment, makes plastics, and cuts down the jungles rainforests so that little critters are left homeless.

So where DID this evil greed come from that destroys the environment? How did the purity of the native peoples get twisted into something so horrible that we now do wretched things like drive SUVs? Didn't we learn our greed from somebody? But from whom ... because we're born all nicey-nice and only learn to be bad from being taught to be bad? So who was the first Bad One?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Hate Shopping

I'm not coping well.

It's gotten so I hate going to town to do the errands. Yesterday was errand day. I managed to blow it off. Of course, that means I had to do it today. But today I just couldn't bear the thought of 4-5 hours of errands and shopping. So I blew it off again. I took the kids to Pizza Hut for lunch. (Going to a restaurant for no reason? That's unusual enough that Paul threatened to call the police and have them arrest me and demand information on where the real mother is.) Then I let Andrew pick up an item for a new Belegarth sword while I picked up a little fruit at Aldi.

I had intended to blow off more of the afternoon by going to the arboretum and sitting by the lake, reading to the kids and doing some fun stuff for me while Paul took photographs. Maggie wasn't keen on it because that lake doesn't have swimming. Paul decided to work on his pictures on the computer. So I did a little housecleaning and laundry. But I spent the day looking forward to blowing off the evening at the beach.

We got to the beach only to be disappointed that the rules had changed. They used to charge entry fee until 6:00. Then a couple of years ago, they changed it to 7:00. We got there tonight (first time to the beach this summer) and the gate is now monitored until 9:00. So much for that. Pretty disappointing. Maggie's wondering if we can buy a pool for the backyard now....

Dumb Jokes

How do they circumcise a whale?
They send down four skin divers.

Bert asked Ernie if he wanted ice cream,
and he answered, "Sure, Bert."

Why did the tiger eat the tightrope walker?
He wanted a balanced meal.

What did the mother buffalo say to her son when he went off to school?
"Bye, son."

Where did the little king keep his little armies?
Up his little sleevies.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not Our Ways

The following was taken from the tape from Bible class that I happened to listen to during this morning's jog. It was from a class on Acts quite a while back. I wonder if Pastor meant that this had something to do with us, and not just the captives that went to Babylon. Like as if it might have to do with walking by faith and not by sight.

When Judah was carted off to Babylon, the temptation for many of them was to believe that God's promises were a lie, that they would not come to pass. So in Paul's sermon (Acts 13), "I will work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe," that in effect says that it will be through the destruction of you -- through the Babylonian captivity -- that I will work my work, my salvation.

That is what you have in the cross. God says, "I'm gonna do something in you. You won't believe it even if you're told. I'm going to save the whole world through the death of a Jew." People think, "Man, I just can't accept that!" But God says, "I'm going to work a work in your days that, even when you hear it, you won't accept it."

For the prophet Habakkuk, he prays, "Will You not DO something? Look at this rebellious, impenitent people." Then the Lord says, "Yeah, I'm gonna do something. I told you this before. I'm going to raise up the Babylonians. They're going to come and conquer you and carry off your people." "WHAT?" Habakkuk responds, "That's NOT what I had in mind!"

Then the Lord tells Habakkuk to write the promise made to Abraham and put it on a placard. "In you and in your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" would be written on a signboard for the people to read as they were being carried off in chains to Babylon. They see the promise, but it now looks to be completely empty, gutted. Then the Lord adds, "The just shall live by faith." Faith in the promise. Those who are justified live by faith in the promise. That was their comfort to take with them. So Habakkuk's walking around with a sign -- what an idiot he looked to be. But this was God's plan.


We went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on Saturday. I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. I got tired of the kids asking what I thought about it. Finally I decided that I think I didn't like it. Maybe I'll feel differently if I see it a few more times -- which I'm sure I will, given the people I live with. For some reason, the movie just made me terribly sad. And it wasn't sadness about Sirius or any of the obvious things in the story. I'm not sure what it was. My favorite part of the whole movie was when Neville knocked the wand out of his opponent's hand when they were practicing for the D.A. I love Neville.

Maggie cannot take care of her hair. When the tangledness of her locks caused her to break the nice, thick, fat, sturdy handle of her hairbrush yesterday, that was the final straw. She now has hair that's about 4" long. It looks really cute and curly when it's finger-combed after being wet, but she decided to brush it smooth instead.

We spent a happy afternoon at Anthea's party yesterday. Sad that it is a farewell party. But the company brought great enjoyment into our day. Many pictures available at her facebook page. It was also a relief to me to be with other people as a certain child of mine chose to tell me several bald-faced lies earlier in the day, and that is about the worst thing I can think of for a child to do. So I was not in a happy mood to start.

Situations in individual congregations
and also from the synodical convention
causes us to pray:
Lord Jesus, Thou the Church's Head,
Thou art her one Foundation.
In Thee she trusts,
before Thee bows,
and waits for Thy salvation.
Built on this Rock secure, Thy Church shall endure
e'en though the world decay and all things pass away.
Oh, hear,
oh, hear us, Jesus!

Started the day with more to do than could ever be accomplished. Decided to postpone the weekly errands and most other jobs and concentrate on some overdue housecleaning. Instead, Andrew asked if he could start the intense and effective drawing correspondance-course that I enrolled Paul in a while back. That took an hour and a half to find the materials, watch the introductory videos, get the worksheets copied, and get started. Wasn't what I'd planned for the day, but I love it when Andrew gets an itch to learn something new.

Didn't get much sleep last night. I'd started the flour soaking for bread before we went to Anthea's, thinking that I'd come home and make bread in the evening. Well, we didn't get home till after 8:00. Started the bread. Got a phone call and let it over-rise (in other words, I forgot about it altogether). When I finally got it shaped and rising, and the oven was preheating, I dinked around on the computer for a while. Finally I began to wonder why the timer hadn't gone off to take the bread out of the oven. But I wasn't smelling the deliciousness of baking bread, and I certainly wasn't smelling bread starting to burn. So I kept catching up on blogs and email. Finally, "What on earth is going on with the bread? Is the heat too low? Did I forget to turn on the timer?" I arrived in the kitchen to find four loaves still rising on the counter. I hadn't put them in the oven yet. Yikes! (You who have memories may remember that I told you that I have no memory any more.) My goodness, we have big FLUFFY bread. (At least they didn't overrise and thus fall flat.) I took the bread out of the oven at 3 a.m. (Yes, you can roll your eyes. I'm rolling mine!) I can almost guarantee that I will fall asleep reading the joint history lesson to the kids when Paul gets home.

The crop-duster is flying back and forth in the back yard today. It is utterly amazing to watch his feats of aeronautic acrobats necessary to do his job. But it kind of makes me shudder to think of those poisonous chemicals being sprayed all through the air I'm breathing. The kids are enjoying the show at the moment.