Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
(I did email the research company in charge of the survey...but have yet to hear back from them.)
My problem was that we had not received mail two times last week and two times this week. I know that it's not possible that there just wasn't any mail for us; the bills are due and I didn't have them in hand. I told this to the first live person I talked with this morning. Since it sounded as though I had interrupted her solitaire game, I didn't have much hope for the whole exchange and I was proved correct. Right after she said, "Hold on just a minute, I need to look something up." the phone clicked and I hear a dial tone. So, I have to go through the whole process again. It is somewhat shortened this time since I know all the answers and the computer doesn't care if you interrupt it. (It also doesn't care if sound highly annoyed. And while one doesn't have to feel guilty about being less than pleasant to a real person, it is not very satisfying either.) I make it back to another human being. I've learned before that the trick is to quickly give all the information I can before allowing myself to be put on hold, so I quickly explain that whole problem and add that this is my second attempt since I was hung-up on the first time. To the USPS's credit, this man was very helpful...and apologetic. He took all my information and promised to work on it. In the meantime, he gave me the number for my local post office. (It's a novel concept, I guess; calling the place that is actually providing service.)
Armed with a phone number that is possibly more difficult to get than a celebrity's, I made another phone call. Miracle of miracles, there was no voice mail, just an operator (who must also have been playing solitaire). I guess it's because they don't expect the public to have their phone number. I was transferred to another live person who looked into my problem. He straightened it out and also apologized. Our rather large collection of mail was delivered an hour later.
On the whole it was a positive encounter with the post office... one problem solved and two apologies. You can bet, though, I'm keeping that phone number.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I know I've mentioned how much we're enjoying reading Little Britches at lunch time. This was in the chapter which we read today and I will be writing on the white board this afternoon:
"There are only two kinds of men in this world: Honest men and dishonest men. There are black men and white men and yellow men and red men, but nothing counts except whether they're honest men or dishonest men.
Some men work almost entirely with their brains; some almost entirely with their hands; though most of us have to use both. But we all fall into one of the two classes -- honest and dishonest.
Any man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest. The same God that made you and me made this earth. And He planned it so that it would yield every single thing that the people on it need. But He was careful to plan it so that it would only yield its wealth in exchange for the labor of man. Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest."
Monday, February 22, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Day 1: Faith - Matthew 17:20 Set-up branch (I use pussy willow branches, but it could be anything. If you decide to force forsythia branches, know that you will have to untie and retie all the ornaments when the pretty yellow flowers dry up and start to fall off, looking not quite so pretty.)
Day 2: Creation - Gen. 1 Globe
Day 3: The fall - Gen. 3 Apple
Day 4: Noah - Gen. 6-9 (In some of the longer passages, we will often read excerpts if the audience is having difficulty sitting still) Ark
Day 5: Tower of Babel - Gen. 11:1-8 Ziggerat (sort of)
Day 6: Abraham and Sarah - Gen. 12 Tree (Oak at Shechem)
Day 7: Abraham and Isaac - Gen. 22 Ram
Day 8: Jacob and Esau - Gen. 27 Twins
Day 9: Jacob's ladder - Gen. 28 Ladder
Day 10: Joseph - Gen. 37 Coat of many colors
Day 11: Joseph reunited with his brothers - Gen. 43:9 - Gen. 45:15 Silver cup
Day 12: Moses - Ex. 3 Burning bush (Yes, go ahead and laugh at my attempt, my children do, it's part of the tradition)
Day 13: Passover - Ex. 12 Door frame with blood
Day 14: Ten Commandments - Ex. 20 Tablets
Day 15: Joshua and Jericho - Joshua 5:13 - 6:27 Trumpet
Day 16: Israel desires a king - 1 Sam. 8 Crown
Day 17: Samuel anoints David - 1 Sam. 16 Ram's horn
Day 18: David and Goliath - 1 Sam. 17 Slingshot
Day 19: David as Musician - Psalm 8 Harp
Day 20: Solomon - 1 Kings 7 - 9 Temple
Day 21: Jonah - Jonah Whale
Day 22: Enslavement - 2 Kings 25 Chain
Day 23: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Daniel 3 Fiery furnace
Day 24: Daniel and the lions - Daniel 6 Lion
Day 25: Rebuilding the wall - Neh. 2 wall
Day 26: 400 years of silence - period between testaments scroll with lock
Day 27: Annunciation - Luke 1 Angel
Day 28: Birth of Jesus - Luke 2 Manger
Day 29: Boyhood in Egypt - Matt. 2/Luke 2 Pyramid
Day 30: Baptism - Luke 3 Dove
Day 31: Temptation - Luke 4 Snake
Day 32: First miracle - John 2 Wine barrel
Day 33: Sermon on the mount - Matt. 5-7 Candle
Day 34: Do not worry - Matt. 6:26-34 Lily
Day 35: Feeding the 5000 - Matt. 14:13-21 Basket with loaves and fish
Day 36: Walking on water - Matt. 14:22-36 Waves
Day 37: Rich young ruler - Matt. 19:13-30 Needle
Day 38: Woman at the well - John 4 Well
Day 39: Raising of Lazarus - John 11 figure wrapped in cloth
Day 40: Palm Sunday - Matt. 21 Palm branch (Note that I made a date palm frond and not a fan palm branch.)
Day 41: Cleansing the Temple - Mark 11 Whip
Day 42: Jesus anointed - John 12 Perfume jar
Day 43: Judas plots - Matt. 26 Money bag
Day 44: Last supper - Luke 22 Loaf and cup
Day 45: Crucifixion - Luke 23 Cross
Day 46: Mystery Saturday - 1 Peter 3: 18-22 No ornament
Day 47: Easter - Mark 16 Empty Tomb
Thursday, February 18, 2010
So what's been going on the past few days? Well, my bloggy friend, Ann, and I had our first long-distance book club meeting. It was great to talk in real life and we had a good discussion about the book we read, The Map of Love. Next up is The Help.
Since yesterday was Ash Wednesday, today we are officially into Lent. In our home, that means we bring out the Lenten devotional we do every year as a family. First, I needed to find some pussy willow branches:
These are beautiful...and huge! I'm not quite sure where I'm going to end up setting them. They need to be at eye level, but high enough to keep little curious fingers away because each day we hang one of these ornaments on them:
There is one ornament for each day of Lent. At dinner each night we read a Bible passage and then hang the ornament that corresponds to what we read. By the time we reach Easter, we have covered, in a cursory fashion, much of the Bible. I made these years ago, basing my ideas on the Lenten devotional I found in the book, No Ordinary Home. When we began, none of the children knew how to read, and now we have children who can take turns reading the Bible passages. It has become a wonderful family tradition.
Monday, February 15, 2010
When I came across this pattern for knitted log cabin washcloths, I was consumed with the need to make them. Here is the first one, with the colors I will be using; the blue will be the outer rectangles. Evidently I have difficulties with things that are supposed to be easy. These washcloths are all done in garter stitch, meaning that it is all knitting, no purling needed. Well, yesterday, I was happily knitting away, when I stop and really look at what I've done. I guess I have made too many items in stockinette stitch because without realizing it, that's what I started doing halfway through. I had to stop and unknit (ugh!) back to the garter stitching.I also worked on some more hats. Here G. is modelling the hat I made to be sure the pattern still fit the babies' heads. I love how this turned out. I guess I will put it away for now. I have fantasies of someday opening an Etsy store. It would be nice to earn a little extra money doing something I enjoy.
These girls are a couple of my favorite works in progress. They turn 8 months old today and I have a feeling that they will be crawling before I announce their 9 month birthday. Here they are enjoying their valentines that their Grammy sent them.
Friday, February 12, 2010
B.'s troop also celebrated it's 95th birthday last night, making it one of the oldest troops in the country. (Boy Scouts is celebrating it's 100th birthday in the US this year.) It was fun to look at the slides of what our town looked like 95 years ago. Our ties to this city (and surrounding area) run deep. My grandmother along with her parents lived here at about the same time the troop was formed and J.'s great-grandparents were in the process of moving from Chicago to an area farther north. It's neat to see our son be a part of the continuation of this long history.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
A. mixing up the flour and water. Do you like her new glasses? Thanks to our anonymous gift-giver at Christmas, we were able to get A. some much needed new glasses. I like them, but they make her look a lot more grown-up than her last pair did.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
This morning, TM accidentally ran the laundry basket into D., which provoked tears and an angry accusation of, "Owwwww! TM hit me really hard!" TM immediately reacted with, "No I didn't!" Having been on the scene for this particular altercation, I knew it was an accident, so was able to give them each their new script. D., you mean, "TM, that really hurt when you ran the basket into me." And TM, you mean, "I'm sorry, D. It was an accident; I didn't mean to hurt you. Are you OK?"
I also find I do this with some of my children who are not so adept at expressing their feelings and desires. A couple of weeks ago, B. came up to me while I was sewing and asked where M. was. I said she was with a friend and then they were going to youth group. B.'s response was, "Oh" with a rather hang-dog expression. But I have become practiced in reading his non-existent super-titles, so I asked, "You mean, gee, I kind of wanted to go to youth group, too?"
B. -- "Yeah, what time is it?" with a continuing hang-dog expression.
Me -- "You mean, since it's already begun, maybe you could drive me?
B. -- "Yeah." And we hopped in the car and I took him to youth group, though I couldn't help but add the question of, "Wouldn't that have been easier if you had just asked if you could go to youth group and could I give you a ride?"
Since so many of my children excel at memorizing great numbers of words for plays, seemingly with very little effort, I have thought of making my own family script book for them. You know, each page would have a subject, such as, 'Words for when someone hurts your feelings' or 'What to say when asked to help' Think of the time I would save when I could just refer them to a page number. B., go read page 7 on asking for assistance and get back to me. Of course this only works for the reading members of the family. Until such time, I guess I will just continue my lonely monologues of polite, kind, and caring speech.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
L. is in blue and G. is in pink. These are little dresses that my mom cross-stitched for M. when she was a baby. I'm quite sure she had no idea she was creating coordinating twin outfits as she was working on them.
Friday, February 05, 2010
But, worrying is really merely symptom of a much larger problem. I believe it shows a fundamental lack of faith. If I say I believe God will take care of me, but continue to worry, do I really believe that God will do as He says? Of course, the other side to this is will I like how God chooses to take care of me? I know I do not always know what is best for me, but am I going to like what is best, at least in the short-term? Recently I have been feeling like a small child, alternately pouting and raging at my Father trying to get what I want. And the ridiculous part is that I'm not even sure what it is I want. I know I want us to be out from under these grinding taxes. But I'm not sure I really want that bad enough to give up this house. But often the house itself is a huge source of worry....leaking roof, bad plaster because of leaking roof, bathroom which needs to be reconnected to the water source, two third floor rooms which are completely uninhabitable, the list could go on and on. Do we really want to spend all our extra income on a house? I go back and forth. One day I'm ready to call the realtor. The next day I think there must be some way to come up with the extra money because I can't imagine living somewhere else. But the day after that, I'm thinking perhaps moving to another part of the country might be exciting. Sometimes this process happens hour by hour instead of day by day. Let's just say I'm not doing a very good job of waiting patiently for the Lord. I know that at some point He will incline to me and hear my cry, but we're evidently still in the waiting patiently part of the verse.
Since whining, pouting, and worrying have not been overly successful, I guess I will have to move on to a more Scriptural way to deal with my anxiety and worry. I have a friend who uses a great line when faced with less than desirable situations. She will announce, "I'm going to choose joy." I'm learning that like love, joy is more than just how one feels. It is a conscious choice to act and behave in a certain way. So, I will take a page from her book and I'm going to choose joy and thankfulness. I am going to try and focus on all the things I have to be joyful and thankful about every time the panic I have about the future threatens. At the beginning, this could be a fairly constant process.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
As my city services dwindle and my tax bill grows, I am starting to wonder why it is we live here. Well, there's the lake...that's nice in the summer. Though to enjoy the beaches I must buy $20 per person beach tokens. The schools are good, but that doesn't really affect us. It's very diverse, if you count overall population, but so are the areas to west and south of us. It just makes me wonder if putting our house on the market would truly be the worst thing in the world. (I'm pretty sure having a house on the market with 9 children would rank right up there, though.) I don't even have the satisfaction of voting against my alderman in protest, since mine was one of three that voted to keep the libraries open.
And it's February. And it's snowing. Bah, humbug!
Monday, February 01, 2010
We are planning a trip to drive to Arizona to visit my parents this spring. It has been four years since we were last there and we're quickly getting to a point that we can't be sure our older children will be able to join us on long family trips. (Sniff.) And while in the great scheme of vacations a driving trip to stay with one's parents isn't hugely expensive, there are still hotels, gas, and meals to pay for along the way. It was adding to my worry about money in general. But yesterday, one of TM and D's Sunday school teachers offered us her hotel points. Thanks to her, we have hotels for at least one direction paid for. It's a huge relief.
Then this morning, M.'s uncle called and offered her his frequent flyer miles to pay for her round trip ticket to Orlando. It is (of course) perfect timing because we should be buying her plane ticket very soon.
I wish I had some terrific story about how our property taxes have been miraculously paid for, but they are still a source of a certain amount of panic for me. The issue of the taxes has really been on the top of my prayer list. I am taking it as a hopeful sign that the Scripture text for yesterday's service started out with the line, "Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due;" (Romans 13:7). I almost laughed out loud. If God wants us to pay our taxes, surely He must help us find a way to do so.
On a completely unrelated note...I finished the dresses I was working on for the babies. And none too soon; I'm not sure they will fit them in another week. But since the fabric cost me a whopping 50 cents at a garage sale, I'm not going to get too upset. L. is in the polka dots and G. is in the solid.