Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Young A's Christmas List

For Christmas I want....
1. electron mikraskop
2. remowt-control cars
3. sise kit
4. Legos
5. Art suplys
6. u bild game
7. choclit scrabel
8. tape

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The pile is growing...

Packages from Amazon show up on the doorstep. (I have Miss E read who they are for so that I don't ruin my own surprises.) Bags of goodies keep coming home from the store. Cards have started trickling in. And even I don't know what is in half the packages. I had to wrap the Professor's gift so that I would stop being tempted to give it to him early. I'm getting excited!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what can I give him: give my heart.

The words stream from the speakers, and I am reminded of another year. Suddenly I'm back in a cozy living room where a fire crackles and two friendly dogs rest in front of it. Outside is cold and winter. Inside is filled with the warmth and friendship the Midwest does so well. My children play with a pirate ship on the hardwood floor at our feet. We are gathered around the piano practicing for the Christmas program at church.

I first learned this song while the Professor was in school. The family that introduced me to it also lived it so well. I don't remember any physical gifts they gave, but the rich variety of their service touched my heart as they shared theirs. More than once they fed us. They regularly bounced my babies during church while I listened. They shared thoughts and ideas freely. They showed us how to raise delightful, interesting children while nurturing a deep marriage. They focused on what matters most rather than what is easily seen. The husband taught my toddlers. His class helped them love going to church. And he appreciated their unique personalities. (When we moved, Young A went through withdrawal.) He helped me fix my broken mixer, all the while treating me like an equal and letting me help. How grateful I am for the beautiful way they live! When I was poor in so many ways, they taught me to give what matters most: my heart. Each time I hear this song, I am reminded.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My abundant collection

While we were living in apartments, the only nativity set I had was a little wooden one appropriate for children that the Professor's mother so kindly provided. The last few years, the Professor has decided to remedy that. And so he has inundated me with them. I now have a beautiful collection that helps us feel the Christmas spirit in our home. And each year as I carefully unwrap my treasures, I'm reminded that the Professor loves me. He doesn't just want me to have beauty and joy in my life, he wants me to have an abundance of both.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sleep tight.

The last year of the Professor's graduate schooling, we were expecting Miss E. At a department Christmas party I met one of the retired faculty. She is a prominent woman in a field that hasn't had many until recently. Her husband wrote one of the books I studied during graduate school. When she noticed our impending arrival, she offered the use of their cradle. We gratefully accepted. And so Miss E napped in an antique cradle that not only held Mary Ellen and her children as infants, but also many other math babies. I am grateful to be a part of such a caring community.

Story time

I recently ran across a beautiful post about the sweet things people do. In the comments section, people share stories of times they were blessed by others. I loved the perspective it gave me. And I'm realizing how seldomly I share the times that I have been blessed. So I'm going to start sharing some of my stories, big and small.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

How high can Young T reach?

Can you tell?

We've kept most of our decorating up high this year. Our horizontal, high surfaces are covered. Miss M has donated two of her prized pictures to adorn the living room walls for the season. I've also decided that trying to keep a tree beautiful that gets knocked over and redecorated regularly is not worth my time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Good Samaritan

Recently, I heard a radio segment that I really enjoyed. John Welch talks about an allegorical reading of the parable of the good Samaritan. In it, the traveler is like us. We leave Jerusalem, the one city with a temple, (God's presence) and start traveling toward Jericho, (the world). The robbery and assault is like our own fall and disobedience, and we are left for dead. Along comes the priest (Law of Moses) and the Levite (the prophets) but they cannot help us. Then comes the Samaritan, Christ. And he binds our wounds and carries us to the inn (church) where we can heal. Most of all, he pays for everything. Then he promises to return later.

I've always liked the good Samaritan and the lesson of love we learn from it. But the day I heard it, I especially loved the idea that we have such a loving reminder of the care Christ takes with us. It is so easy to feel the weight of my struggles, the impossibility of all I want to become and do, for it is truly impossible. While I can't do it, someone else can. Being reminded of this brings peace and faith. And the image of having the Lord heal my wounds, carry me when I can't walk, and pay my debts that I can't afford brings a secure comfort I've seldom felt since I was a child.

I later found a more in-depth article here (which I probably read three years ago and promptly forgot. Thankfully, I was reminded when I was ready.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I thought I could bake, but...

Found on Young A's homework:

Write a prediction about what will happen next.
4. Mom makes a cake.
The cake will burn up.

Maybe I was wrong.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still here

The last few weeks have been busy. Some days have been good, some harder. I've been learning again to make choices that make a difference. I'm still trying to find words for the lessons I'm learning. When I figure it out, I'll share. In the meantime, I found the camera, and the pincurls worked even better the second time. Did I mention how fast kids grow?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010


Earlier this week I got to bed late, only to have Young T wake up in pain maybe an hour later. After an hour I finally clued in that he wasn't going back to sleep without some out of the ordinary help. I fought him to get the magic Tylenol down. He started settling within maybe ten minutes. And after another hour, he could finally relax enough to sleep. Three and a half hours later, the medicine wore off, but I slept for those three and a half hours.

Every time I think I'm getting things under control and can finally start to dig out of the exhaustion, another bad night comes or a new crisis, and, again, I am running on sheer willpower mixed with a dose of grace from above. I am again stretched past my own abilities to the point where help from above is vital to getting through the next five minutes. The Lord is determined to help me grow. I just wish it was more comfortable.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Miss E: Lawyer or mathematician?

I was on the phone today when Miss E was telling me she and Young M wanted to play the Wii. She said:

A. We will turn it off when you ask us to.
B. We will play Lego Star Wars.
C. We will play together.

I was left thinking, "Where in the world did that come from?!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For future reference

Do not sword fight with gogurts. If one of them surreptitiously opens, the mess will be spectacular and your mother will be underwhelmed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pin curls

This last weekend we experimented. Both girls got pin curls after their baths. It turned out really well and neither one complained about sleeping on them. We'll do it again, I'm sure. (Of course, the camera went missing until after they were mostly fallen out. Maybe next time I can get pictures.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From the mouths of babes

This week at church the children put on their presentation. I honestly didn't think that many children could sit that well for that long. All of the children remembered their parts. Young A has learned to slow down since last year when he stole the show with his speed talking. Miss M loves to be mature and do everything just right. She was quite obviously aware that she was on stage. She did well. And Miss E did her best to steal the show this year. She was right in the front and kept finagling her way right in front of a microphone. Her little staccato voice could be heard just enough to tell it was her. Later reports were that my children entertained more than one teenager in the audience.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


There seems to be a theme of faith running through my life right now. I am being reminded on all sides how much difference it makes to move forward with the Lord.

One dear friend prepared for a sudden, surprising, yet exciting move without realizing that was what she was doing. Because she followed the gentle guidance of the Lord, when an opportunity arose, she and her family could accept it quickly.

Another dear friend (here) has recently been given much more opportunity and responsibility at work. And as she looks back at her past, she finds the Lord's hand preparing her for this. As she looks forward at the near future, she feels his assurance that he will be with her in the details that are coming.

Yet another dear friend has been telling her story (here) of creation this past week. She had a great opportunity to paint pictures for a beautiful book by another friend. As the project progressed she experienced both impossible roadblocks and improbable miracles. The end result is a gorgeous, spirit infused Christmas book (here). But more than that, it is a changed heart, a consecrated gift, and an experience of walking with the Lord.

Lately I have felt the Lord guiding and preparing me. There are minutes I wish I didn't. While the experiences that require such close contact with the divine are full of joy and peace, they often also bring pain, grief, and agony. My little faith trembles and shrinks as I consider the possibilities. But then I think of a loving Father, of my friends and of their faith. Their ends are better than their beginnings and better than they could have created alone. They were never left alone. When things seemed impossible, the Lord had already prepared their way. I remember how much better off they and those around them are because they had the faith to walk with the Lord. My faith burns brighter and the Lord's will is not as terrifying. It becomes easier to believe that he won't leave me without the help I so desperately need. I find the faith to take his hand and move forward without answers hoping the Lord is creating something of beauty.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Before the storm..

We spent a wonderful day in the late summer teaching the children the joys of water. It was a great way to celebrate all they had learned in swimming lessons. The storm was kind enough to wait until we were done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

One block at a time

A good friend and I are doing a block of the month quilting class. I love it. I get creation in the quilting. I get knowledge in the learning. I get friendship in the doing of it. Three of my favorite things all rolled into one. Stay tuned to see what I'm accomplishing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


A song my children sing says:

Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day.
Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayer each time I pray.
Faith is like a little seed--if planted it will grow.
Faith is a feeling within my heart. When I do right I know.

I've been thinking about faith this week. Today, I would rewrite the song for me to say:

Faith is getting up each morning, day after day after day.
Faith is falling to my knees, even when I don't want to pray.
Faith is planting little seeds, and watering them, too.
Faith isn't something I think or feel, it's mostly something I do.

I've been struck by how much faith it takes to get up day after day and go about life--to feed the kids and clean the house, to invest in relationships and sacrifice for others, to let go of good things to make space for better things, to continue after tragedy. I am surrounded by faith every day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Today's creation:

A reversible witch hat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodbye baby

Today Young T did his best to convince me that he's no baby, he's a little boy.

~He escaped when someone left the front door open. I didn't know he could go so far, so fast.
~He opened the fridge to get some eggs. When he couldn't get the carton out, he ripped the side of it off to get to the eggs.
~He grabbed the table cloth while in the high chair, pulled it close enough to get the applesauce and spoon on it, and dug in.
~He continued his climbing expeditions. Neither tables nor chairs are safe from him.

It's time to baby-proof yet again and raise the level of supervision that boy gets.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's been almost fifteen years...

Tonight we took the kids to the local high school football game. We snuggled up in blankets and had snacks. "Next time they catch a pass you can have a skittle." "Look, they got another touchdown. Here's an M&M." "Find number 15. We know him." The Professor had the baby sleeping in a sling. Young M liked climbing down the bleachers and counting how far he'd gone. Miss E kept telling me, "I'm cold. I'm hungry." Young A was getting a play by play from the Professor and greatly enjoying it. Miss M was alternating between interested and bored. She is now considering being a cheerleader in high school. They were quite impressed with the costumed Harley riders who threw shirts into the crowd (the mascot for the Rival University and someone we called Chewbacca.) Our team was beating the other team badly, so we could happily leave in the middle of the third quarter. As we left, the other team finally scored. I was glad for them. We had fun. If only my baby would go to sleep now that he's woken up from his lovely "nap," I could retire as well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My expensive exercise program

Today I went to the case lot sale at the local grocery store. (Twice a year, canned goods are sold at great prices with lots of stock, so they don't run out.) While I put away the soups and beans and juice and peanut butter that our family will use for the next while, I carried 11 loads down two flights of stairs. Then, since the basement was open, I carried 6 more loads of stuff to the storage room (although those were only down one flight of stairs). I thought that having a house with so many stairs would be a built in exercise program. Today, it was. I'm totally counting this as my twenty minutes of walking for today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The parable of the drink of water

(From something I learned a year or two ago.)

As a mother I am often asked for a drink of water in many different ways.
~My one year old will pull on my pants, repeatedly demanding. He will get louder and louder until he gets what he wants.
~My two year old will walk up to me, crying. She will cry, "I'm thirsty!" and proceed to throw a tantrum.
~My four year old will holler from the couch, "Get me a drink!"
~My six year old will whine, "I'm thirsty."... "I need a drink."... "Mom!"

I would love to hear, "Hey, Mom. May I have a drink? I'll get the cup."

I realized that I do these same things to the Lord as I pray.
~There are times I act like my baby. I pray over and over, demanding to get what I want. The only acceptable answer is now.
~There are times I act like my toddler. I begin to be upset that he isn't giving me what I want before I ever ask for it. I expect the answer to be "No," and a tantrum ensues.
~There are times I act like my preschooler. I pray with little thought for what I'm asking, expecting the Lord to magically take care of everything. I tell Him just what to do and when.
~There are times I act like my oldest. I whine. I beg.
~And there are times I don't even ask, afraid that what I'm asking for will be wrong or make someone upset.

I suspect the Lord would love to have me ask in confidence that He will give me what I need and yet be willing to do whatever work is required to get where I want to be. He would like me to trust Him when the answer is "Not right now."

As a mother, I can help my children more quickly when they ask for what they need and trust me to help them soon. When they don't, it takes so much longer. Can I trust my Father the way I want my children to trust me? or do I throw so many tantrums I can't hear His gentle answer?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Thanks!

This summer we've been meeting with a group of neighbors to play games. In theory we play all sorts of games. In practice, we generally play No Thanks. It is a simple game with numbered cards that goes quickly. There is some strategy involved, but enough luck and dealing with others' choices that the same strategy doesn't always work. I've been surprised at how many different people enjoy the game.

The basic game play is quite simple. Take nine cards out of the deck. They are out of the game for this round. Don't look at them. With the remaining cards, turn over a card. If it is your turn, either take the card or pass by putting a chip on the card. If you pass, the next person has a turn. If you take the card, you get all the chips on the card. Turn the next card over and it's still your turn. When all the cards are gone, the person with the lowest points wins the round. Chips are negative points. Cards are the number of points on them. For consecutive cards, only count the lowest card.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Enigma

Can I just say I'm excited for the Professor to build this? I love the intersection of math, history, electronics, and secrets. (For those of you who aren't up on your World War II history, this is an electronic replica of the code machine the Germans used during the war.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

As requested

I hadn't realized it had been almost six months since I uploaded pictures to the computer. No wonder the Professor's mother is getting anxious for photos.

This is for her.

(Young T is teething.)

I love the majestic calm of this picture.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On the way home from the library

Miss M: Fake blood? Cool. Mom, do we have corn syrup?
Young M: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...
Miss E: When a mommy has a baby in her tummy, she shouldn't eat sweets. This book says so.
Miss M: A working model lung!
Young M: 10, 11, 12, 13. Mom, what does 1 and 2 make?
Young A: On Venus it's hot enough to melt lead!
Young M: Mom, what is this number?
Me: I'm driving. I can't look. Ask Miss E.
Young M: Miss E, what is this?
Miss E: It's a six.
Miss M: It takes twenty four hours for your food to turn into poop.
Young A: Venus's day is longer than it's year!
Miss E: There are two words "can" that are spelled the same but mean different things!
Miss M: A nutrition balance helps you balance your nutrition.
Young M: 12, 4, 16.
Young A: Venus's day is 243 days long.
Miss M: A model hand?!
Miss E: Like "The beans are in a can." or "George can paint."
Miss M: Make your own edible cell? Mom do we have some candy the size of a gumball?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A disagreement in chocolate

About a month ago, Young T discovered the drawer in my nightstand, the drawer I keep my chocolate stash in. I rescued one of my birthday chocolates with two tiny teeth marks on top. Ever since that first taste, Young T and I have been having a major disagreement. He makes a bee-line for the drawer, snatches a brown chocolate paper, stuffs it in his mouth, and spits it out in disgust when he realizes it is empty. He grabs a Lindt ball and chomps it almost in two until it begins to ooze from the side and he gets a taste. Then he howls in rage when I take it away. We compromise on the chocolate bars. I let him carry them around and chew on them, but I don't unwrap them. I don't think I've ever had this much competition for my sweets.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Do it.

Important Mothering/Life Principle I've Just Figured Out #467

Do it.

I tend to get caught up in wondering how to do all sorts of important things: Family Home Evening, cleaning the house, teaching the kids to clean the house, exercising, etc. Usually, I think up some great program/schedule. Then, I don't follow it. I love organizing a plan. I hate sticking to a plan.

I'm learning that the first thing to do is to start. If I worry about how to do something, it won't get done. If I start doing it, then I will know how to change it to meet our needs. But nothing will happen until I do it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And how do you like your cereal?

Yesterday I took all five children to the grocery store. As we were shopping another lady started chatting with us. Noticing the boxes of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch in the cart, she told Eliza that we seemed to be buying the same thing she was. Then I heard her ask me, "Do you like yours with booze, too?" I didn't know quite what to say. I've heard of using orange juice instead of milk, but not booze. After a moment she clarified, she enjoyed her peanut butter cereal with the chocolate Boo cereal. She claimed it was just like Reese's. Ah. Suddenly it all made much more sense.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My choice

~Each day I waste my gifts and time on mundane jobs that nobody appreciates. I do everything nobody else wants to so that my husband and my children can go out into the world and enjoy and succeed. Each day, I sacrifice my career, my fulfillment, and my basic needs so that others can have them. I work overtime so they don't have to. No matter how much I do, it is never done and never enough. No matter which knee I kiss or which stomach I feed another need is waiting. I never pray enough, or read enough scriptures, or exercise enough. I eat too many sweets, crave too much sleep, and waste too much time on the computer. Life is hard.~

~Each day, my husband goes to work so that we can have our needs met. Each day, he works so that I can stay home and bless our lives and provide the stability and continuity the children need so much. Each day, I make a difference as I teach and comfort my children. Every time I exercise, pray, or read scriptures, I am strengthened. Each day I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and lift up the hands that hang down. I am blessed to spend my days in the service of my children and my husband and my God. My husband misses so much of the sweetness of parenting so that I can be here for it. I am blessed to use my gifts in our house to enrich our lives. As I create a clean home, delicious food, comfortable children, and a safe haven, I create joy for myself and others. I am so blessed.~

Each day I choose with my thoughts and my words. Each day I teach my children that either I am downtrodden and oppressed or that I am uplifted and blessed. Each time I choose, I create a reality.

Which will I choose today?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be still my heart

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Before I was married, I was free to think and choose only for me. When I got married, I gave my heart away. My thoughts and choices were now split between my wants and needs and the Professor's wants and needs. As the children have joined us, my heart has been split and given to each of them.

Shortly after we were married, the World Trade Center was attacked. That morning, I vividly remember needing to get to my husband. As long as I was with him, I could face whatever came. Until then, my heart's demands to gather my little family drowned out any other need or desire I had at the moment.

Later, I was driving home with Miss M as my baby. We got caught in a blizzard. Again, I had an overwhelming need to gather my family, preferably at home. During the long drive inching slowly toward our little apartment, all I wanted was to be home with my husband and my family. Once home, the blizzard could rage all night, and I wouldn't care.

When Young T was born, he was whisked away to the NICU for a few hours. I had hardly gotten to hold him, much less get to know him, before they took him. While he was gone I thought I was doing pretty well at staying positive. The nurse asked me more than once how I was or if I needed anything. I kept replying that I was fine, and the only thing I needed was my baby. When he was finally brought to me, I relaxed. I hadn't realized how tensely I had been waiting for him until he was in my arms. Finally, all was right with my little world.

This year, the Professor has been traveling. His trips for work have been as exotic as Hawaii or Ireland and as mundane as the Midwest or California. Throw in a few trips with the family and one with the young men in our church and he's been rather busy. I miss him. Today as I checked his flights to see where he was, I realized that I've been kind of holding my breath just as I did all those other times. All week, I've been very aware that he isn't here. I think about what he's doing and what time it is. I don't want to go somewhere if he might be available to chat. I've been waiting without even realizing it. When he got back in the States, the tension eased. I'll relax more when he is in this state. And when he is finally here, my family will be gathered and I can stop worrying about the rest of the world. My heart is coming home.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet things.

Today, I am grateful.

I am grateful for peripheral stereo vision and sweet children. I am grateful for a curly mohawk and friends. I am grateful for naps and repentance. I am grateful for the summer. I am grateful for my husband and to be home with my kids. I am grateful for an increased appreciation of both of those blessings. I am grateful for strawberries and ice cream and cookies and milk. I am grateful for a chance to make my life and home into a comfortable, content place for my family. I am grateful for hot water. I am grateful for health.

Next, I think I will be grateful for bed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


(Young A and Miss M long ago)
The small ones are sleeping and the smallish ones are on their way. The pink eye is quickly retreating. Calm has descended where earlier chaos reigned.

You are forewarned...

Do not wake up my baby. Otherwise I will send you to time out for the week.

And should you feel inclined to whine/cry/scream at me today, don't bother. There are five people ahead of you in line, and they have done more than enough for the next week.

Should you happen to find an extra night's sleep lying around, please send it my way. I could desperately use it.

And should you be misguided enough to want some pink eye/croupy stuff/teething?/congested cough/allergies, let me know. We've got lots and lots to share.

I keep thinking, "This has to stop sometime. I can't do this much longer." And then the Lord says, "Let's find out if you can." I'd rather not.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Musical reminder

Our choir sang a beautiful song yesterday. I enjoyed being reminded that there is more to life than me and my problems.

Lord, Speak to Me

Lord, speak to me that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou has sought, so let me seek
Thine erring children lost and lone.

O lead me, Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me, Lord, that I may feed
Thy hungering ones with manna sweet.

O teach me, Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words, that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.

O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart overflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.

O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,
Until Thy blessèd face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share

Words: Frances Havergal, 1872