Sunday, August 20, 2006

You Would Think I Would Learn

(E)

A few days ago it was time to sit down and work on the checkbook and pay some bills. This is never my favorite thing to do and usually the children give me a wide berth while I am doing this. I was feeling grumpier than usual about the bills this time. I haven't taught any piano lessons all summer and because of all of our travelling, J. hasn't been doing any over-load teaching. All combined, it makes for a slightly slimmer paycheck than we usually have. So I started thinking about that and the fact that the property tax bill which was higher than I was anticipating and the recent discovery that 5 out of the 6 children need both sneakers and dress shoes and the eye appointments which will undoubtedly lead to new lenses and the orthodontist....well, you get the idea. So money was seeming to be a very scarce commodity. I often read about people who receive checks in the mail just when they need it, but I couldn't think why we would be getting money from anyone. To sum it all up, I was in an ugly, ungrateful mood and definitely suffering from a severe lack of faith. This explains, but does not excuse, my rather tetchy prayer which went something along the lines of: "Well, God, I'm not sure how You're going to make this turn out alright."

Deciding to balance the checkbook first, to avoid actually writing checks, I got to work. Not more than three items down the statement, as I'm checking them off in the register, I realized I can't find the second July paycheck written in my checkbook. I looked several times to double check... but apparently I had never recorded the direct deposit of an entire paycheck. This meant that my estimate of how little money we had was significantly low. We had much more money than I had realized, and it suddenly seemed possible to pay the bills that were giving me terrible squinty looks from my desk.

While at first glance this missing paycheck may seem nothing more than a serendipitous piece of forgetfulness, I believe it was nothing less than the hand of God. In our house, we live pretty much paycheck to paycheck; we pay our bills and buy groceries, but there is very little left over after that is done. We paid all of our bills and fulfulled all of our obligations for the month of July on only one paycheck. I'm still not sure how we were able to manage but we did. I wonder if the loaves and fishes was similar...there was enough, but no one could explain the mechanics of it. When the realization hit that we had enough...more than enough, actually...to pay the taxes and buy shoes and such, I was overcome with such remorse for my previous bad attitude and felt so loved and cared for all at the same time that all I could do was sit and weep at my desk for a while. This is not the first time that God has provided in generous ways for me and one would think that I would get better at trusting Him after every occasion of His provision. But I'm afraid this is a lesson that I'm still working on.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Joy

(E)

We just returned from a weekend spent with J's aunt and uncle at their beach house along with J's sister and her family. We always have a wonderful time when we are there, but this past weekend was particularly joyful. It is joy to see T.M. follow along with his brothers and sisters and not just watch them. It is joy to hear T.M. laugh... a lot. These are not the little laughs that never touched his eyes in Vietnam. These are great belly laughs that radiate happiness from every facial feature. It is joy to watch T.M. and D. holding hands as they follow A. out into the water. It is joy to be roused from sleep at 5 am by two little boys who had come to find Mommy and Daddy together. It is joy to see D.'s exuberant personality returning after the trauma of Mommy and Daddy leaving for 3 weeks and bringing home a rival for the toys. (Admittedly, this took the form of D. running upstairs where no less than 7 children were sleeping and shouting "Boo!") It is joy to look at T.M. and think of him as one of the kids. It is joy to be greeted with a hug in the morning by a little boy who didn't want to look at me a month ago. It is joy to watch T.M. get to know some of his cousins and aunts and uncles. It is joy to run with T.M. on the beach when not very long ago he wouldn't walk five feet without asking to be carried. It is joy to have T. M. ask to hold my hand when before I had to make him hold it when we were walking. It is joy to hear T.M. cry like a real three year old when he is hurt instead of not seeming to notice pain. It is joy to notice the care and love that A. shows to T.M. It is joy to be able to comfort T.M. when he is scared or upset. It is joy to have T.M. need to hold my hand in order to fall asleep. It is joy to have this new addition to our family.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Teasing the Frog

[J]

So... A. and P. have discovered that they can tease M.'s pet African Clawed Frog by holding a finger up against the tank where the frog can see it and then wiggling the finger. This makes the frog leap about trying to catch what it thinks is a worm.

Who would've thought that on otherwise mostly inert aquatic pet could be so much fun?

M., of course, protests strongly against such teasing of her beloved frog. (Or one of her beloved frogs.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hundreds of Doctors, Thousands of Doctors, Millions, and Billions, and Trillions of Doctors (and some bugs)

(E)

I'm feeling just a bit giddy over the number of appointments we have this month with various medical professionals...pediatricians, orthodontists, dentists, opthamalogists, etc. It is a result of having put off various appointments because we were a little distracted earlier this summer, the appointments we already had, plus the new child who needs to be checked out. And since I want to get them all done in August so we can avoid September's own unique nuttiness, it makes one feel slightly light-headed. I will admit that keeping track of and going to all of the necessary doctor's appointments is a downside to a large family. There is something to be said, though, for office staff knowing who one is. Visiting often makes one a real person and not just a name on a file, which is particularly nice if one needs to phone in a question. On the other hand, each visit seems to offer the doctors a new opportunity to squeeze a bit more income from the Currys. And, although we're quite a healthy crew, our children show a tendency toward near-sightedness and crooked, crowded teeth... inherited from both parents. We'll see if Minh manages to break this trend... or if the environment exerts an overriding influence.

In other homefront news, our pet tally has risen by two frogs since our trip to Lake Geneva. That brings us to 3 frogs (one aquatic and two Northern Leopard Frogs, or so I'm told), 5 gerbils (until Monday when 3 of them go home), and 1 turtle. As you can see our children favor the reptile and amphibian varieties. For the most part this isn't a bad thing. Turtles and frogs require no house-training, never chew shoes left lying around, and the kennel fees during vacations are whatever you pay the parents of unsuspecting friends who agree to watch them. But what most people don't realize is that your children get "two for the price of one" when dealing with these cold-blooded creatures. You see, unlike your garden-variety labrador who eats whatever kibble is poured into his dog dish, these lovable pets eat insects... and depending on the creature, the insect has to be moving or else it is snubbed and ignored by the discriminating frog. This leads to interesting situations in parenting. Senario 1: Eldest daughter schemes how to earn money to pay for the crickets and cricket food and cricket house that are required to feed the pet frogs. At 10 cents a cricket and the frogs eating 2-4 crickets a day, this adds up for a 13 year olds meager earnings. Which leads to senario 2: because of the high cost of crickets, other insects are actively sought to feed the insatiable froggy appetites. But digging and searching and catching insects is only half the fun. The best part comes when the newly found insects are brought into the house to proudly show Mother. I can't tell you how many times I have turned around today because M. has said, "Mommy, look at this!" only to have a container of live insects shoved into my face. My least favorite insects are the ones who jump.
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