22 July 2009


The other day, on the way up to my in-law's AGAIN to help with their garage sale, I was introducing the kids to my good friend, Billy Joel. Mostly, while we are in the car, we listen to kids' music or just the wind blowing through our hair (we have no AC), but on this day, I needed something different. Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume 3 it was.

First, we listened to "The River of Dreams" (In the middle of the night/I go walking in my sleep/To the waters of faith/To the river so deep...) . Then, because I was in a sentimental mood, we listened to Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel, now it's time to sleep...) about ten times in a row because I wanted to be able to sing it to the kids at bedtime. It's such a sweet-sounding song. In fact, Charis asked why I was listening to it so much, and I told her. Later, at bedtime, she asked me to sing "that song from the car" to her, so I sang her "Goodnight, My Angel." "No, mama," she said. "The one about the RIVER." (Meanwhile, Judah asks for the "one about the rain." I presume he means "To Make You Feel My Love:" When the rain is blowing in your face/And the whole world is on your case/I can offer you a warm embrace/To make you feel my love.")

Later in our car ride, we listened to "We Didn't Start the Fire," to which Charis' response was, "They are lying. They DID start the fire."

Later, at the garage sale, Charis was perched, along with Ruby, near the cage that held the kitties that were for sale. A woman with several small children happened by. "Oh, how cute!" she said, eyeing the kittens. Charis looked her square in the face and said, "You cannot buy her. She is my SISTER."

15 July 2009

Newsletter for Today

Just a few tidbits to share:

A) Yesterday, Ruby stood unaided for about 20 seconds. We tried to get her to walk to me, but that scared her too much, so she sunk to her knees and crawled instead. It won't be long, now...

2) While we're on the subject of Ruby, I thought she was teething recently, but no teeth have popped. It was apparently a false alarm. Perhaps she'll have teeth by the time she's seven.

III) She's also becoming more vocal, and seems to understand the command "Say..." If you say, "Say mama!" She says, "mamamamama." If you say, "Say goodnight!" She might wave at you, or say "aaaackkagkkkk."

M) Judah has been becoming more and more comfortable on the bike. It's almost time to start training him for the Tour de France.

17) Judah is gong to have a sleepover with Gideon and the daddies this Friday, and Charis is having a sleepover with Elise and the mommies (and Ruby and Isaiah). Then we're all going to our favorite parade and garage sales together. Also, the boys are going to the annual fireman's pancake breakfast. The girls are not. Get up early to eat pancakes of lead? Not for me.

18) We've been getting a lot of literature in the mail pertaining to Charis' starting school in the fall. Supply lists, teacher assignments, dress code information... Frankly, I'm kind of excited about the dress code. It should make getting dressed in the morning much easier.

XI) Charis had to say goodbye to one of her favorite friends this weekend. Katie G. officially moved to Florida, where her father got a new position. We're very sad to see the Gortons go--we always enjoyed our playdates so much! The Gortons' kids are all the same ages as our kids, within about 4 weeks of each other. That was (obviously) unplanned, but fun to have that in common. Of course, they have all girls, so poor Judah is the odd man out.

3) We're going on vacation up North in a few weeks. It will be our first trek to Family Camp at Gitche Gumee Bible Camp. The kids are constantly asking, "Is it almost time for 'acation?"

That's all for now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

10 July 2009

License to Thrill

Here's one from the story archives, one that I've been meaning to post for quite some time now. It is about Judah, our minivan, and the mind of a three year-old.

I mentioned that Tim and Beth's family is growing; they just added Isaiah Reed to their household a month ago. He's very cute, as are all babies belonging to people you like a lot, and shortly after they returned from the hospital with their little bundle, the kids and I went over too see and hold him. It was so soon after their return from the hospital that they didn't even have their other kids back from Grandma's house yet. This turned out to be a very good thing.

Tim and Beth have a whole lot of acres, and more importantly to this story, their house is set about a quarter mile off the road, making it a really secure place for the kids to run around unattended. The kids aren't allowed into the woods by themselves, but if we can see them from the house--whose windows offer sweeping vistas of the yard--we let them play out there on their own. It's so secure that not only don't I lock my van, I leave the keys right in it, sitting on the drivers' seat or the dash. This was the case on this particular day. Since Gideon and Elise weren't there, it was just Charis and Judah running around outside, playing in the sand, playing on the swingset, being safe and obedient (or so I thought).

I was inside cuddling Mr Isaiah, thinking to myself I could do this again, when Charis barged into the house.

"Mom! Hurry! The van is rolling!!!!"

"What?!?!?" I asked, incredulous. Stupid van, I thought. Just one more thing for Abe to fix. Now the gear shift doesn't even work right. Still, though I wasn't concerned too much about where the van was headed, it being parked in front of a hill, I thought I'd better hustle out and look into it.

When I got outside, there was Judah, walking towards me, sobbing, and speaking words I couldn't quite make out. Of course he'd be afraid--who wouldn't be afraid if they were standing next to a van that started moving of its own volition? I saw Transformers, and even Shia Leboeuf was scared of self-moving vehicles.

As I got closer, I could tell Judah was sobbing, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

"What do you mean, buddy?" I asked.

"I'm sorry I moved the van!"

Let me tell you, it's a good thing I already knew everyone was safe. I had no idea that the van wasn't actually moving of its own accord...it was actually Judah, who had somehow selected the right key, put it in the ignition, and had turned the key just enough so that he could slip the van into neutral, thereby letting it roll until it stopped on its way up the hill. Judah's first driving experience had terrified him, hopefully sufficiently to keep him from making the same mistake, at least until he's old enough to see over the dash. Apparently, when the van started rolling, Judah got really, really scared, and JUMPED OUT OF THE VAN.

As a million possibilities raced through my head--What if he had gotten trapped under the wheels? What if Charis or Gideon or Elise had been standing nearby? What if this had happened in our driveway?--I started to have myself a tiny little panic attack. It was short-lived, of course, because none of those What Ifs was the case, and everyone was in one piece. But still. My little guy somehow figured out how to move a ton of steel, and lived to tell about it.

As you might expect, a couple of things changed after this event:
1) The children are no longer allowed to play in the van, or any vehicle that had wheels and/or an engine.
2) I take my keys with me now. You just never know

09 July 2009

Just a thought

It's berry season 'round these parts, and at our house, that means black raspberries. They're wild, they're tart and sweet, and even though they're a little bit seedy, they're super tasty just the same. The kids and I go out every day to pick, and we usually end up with about 3 cups of berries. Well. I end up with three cups. Charis and Judah end up with berry-full bellies. My rule for them is that they may eat whatever they pick, but whatever berries end up in my bowl are off-limits. I mean, they still get to eat them in the end, tossed with sugar and topped with whipped cream, or flipped into a pancake. But while we're by the bushes, my bowl of berries is a hands-off zone.

Besides producing a bumper crop of berries, our backyard, situated 1/4 mile away from a pond, and wooded, sees more than its fair share of mosquitoes. And it seems the mosquitoes LOVE the berry patches. They positively swarm. Which also means I get attacked whilst picking, making the berry harvest a true labor of love. So in the midst of picking, swatting, and protecting my berry bowl from greedy little hands, I try to distract myself by thinking deep thoughts that will pull my mind away from my present strife. Usually, my thoughts get no further than gee, maybe I should go get the insect repellent, but the other day, I actually came up with something worthwhile, and I wanted to share it with you.

Our black raspberries are wild, as far as I know. The vines are very thorny, and since they're not cultivated by us, they grow in a very haphazard way. They proliferate along the border of our woods, so between the thorns and the woody brush, any black raspberries that are not within arm's length are out of bounds. They will rot on the vine and never make it to plate or belly. But it always seems like the biggest, juiciest-looking berries, shiny, with the most beautiful purple-black bunches, are always just out of reach, while the tiniest, dry-looking shrively berries are the close offerings the vine has for us. So the other day, despite the fact that I was wearing non-thorn-friendly shorts and a tank top, I decided to approach the berries from the back, through the woods, hopefully securing for my family the choicest black raspberries. I was fairly salivating as I tramped through the brush, swatting away ever more bugs, treading so carefully lest I encounter poison ivy or a snake. There were prickers there, too, which made the going even tougher than I'd imagined. Finally, many minutes and scratches later, I arrived at the back of the patch and reached out my hand for the Promised Berries. Huh. Somehow, up close, they weren't as juicy-looking and plentiful. I picked a small handful and disappointedly made my way out of the woods.

It was the old grass-is-greener phenomenon; the berries that were out of my reach looked so fabulous compared to the inferior berries I was picking, but upon closer inspection, they were just the same old berries, just farther away.

Extrapolate with me, will you? Abe's sister and her husband are some of our dearest friends in the whole entire world. We spend all kinds of time together, because in every way, we are compatible. Beth and I have similar interests, Abe and Tim like the same things, too, and our kids, when they're not antagonizing each other, get along swimmingly. Up until recently, they rented a home. Then they got an amazing deal on a huge house and 37 wooded acres and upgraded from their teeny tiny rental. Suddenly, my house looked so tiny, so inferior. I was wildly jealous for a while, until I realized that it's just a house. It's a beautiful house, sure. But God provided us with a lovely house, too. THEN, to add insult to injury, they recently had to purchase a mini van to accommodate their growing family. The van they acquired is newer, shinier, and lots prettier than our heap. Again, I could taste envy. I was so ungrateful for my van, with its lack of air conditioning and TV screens. But again, I realized it's just a van. Ours works just fine, even if it is a little less posh. But their house and their van were like those berries--so beautiful from afar, but up close, they were just a house, and just a van. Just like we have.

Around the corner from us, there's a business that has a sign reading: "Fight the recession: Learn to be satisfied." Whether you're talking about recession, berries, or bigger things, I think that's pretty sage advice.

I almost fell for the juicier-berries lure again today. But I did not succumb. The berries we have are perfectly delicious.

(photo acquired from oregonberry.com)