Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Barbaric Yawp

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion.

Medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life; but poetry, beauty, romance, love: these are what we stay alive for.

--John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Monday, July 30, 2007

In the Good Ol' Summertime

















Natta's For-MAY-wa

Natalie watched with rapt fascination as I prepared Seth's bottle. I added the proper amount of warm water and scooped three scoops of powdered formula into a bottle. Her eyes took in every detail. I topped the bottle with a nipple and lid, screwed tight and shook well. As I collected her squalling baby brother, she followed me, watching still while I plunked down into my blue chair and poked the nipple into his waiting mouth. His grabby fists latched in a death grip on the sides of the bottle.

When she was sure that nothing else of excitement was going to happen, she wandered off across the room to play. Soon, she told me that her baby doll needed a bottle as well. She found a small flower vase among her toys and decided it would do. But her observant little mind needed more than just a bottle for the baby. She needed the whole process. (I need some "For-MAY-wa" in my bottle, Mommy.)

Together we found a sugar dish and lid from her plastic tea set to be the can of formula. A spoon soon followed. Like me, she set it gently in the top right-hand cupboard of her little kitchen. The bottle was filled with pretend water from her play sink. Then she gingerly lifted the imaginary formula down. With infinite care she spooned three spoonfuls --counting aloud as she did so-- into the flower vase and shook it vigorously. She replaced the lid and set the jar back neatly in the cupboard. Next she collected her doll and sat down to feed him. We sat companionably side by side, our babies in the crooks of our elbows, both contentedly sucking down formula from carefully prepared bottles.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why we likely will not homeschool our daughter

Some of the comments on the recent post about education highly advocate homeschooling as a good option for a Christian family. Others who have had the experience themselves are not so enthusiastic. I feel somewhere in between. I am really glad I was not homeschooled. Hubby who was homeschooled in high school really liked it because it allowed him to graduate a year early, but he wouldn't really recommend it even though he was active in sports and music. He had some struggles getting financial scholarships for college because he had a GED rather than a diploma. He also missed out on social activities such as school sponsored events like prom, partly due to his parents' restrictions rather than the homeschooling.

When it comes to our daughter, we talk about her schooling and what would be best for her fairly often. As we think about her personality the choice becomes pretty obvious to us. I imagine two scenarios:

1. Homeschool.

In the morning after breakfast is over and the dishes cleared we do what I have seen my mother-in-law do many times. I sit the kid down at the kitchen table and open the penmanship workbook. I go over the lesson and leave her to do the homework, helping her as needed. So far so good, right? Well, I know my daughter. Two minutes later it's "Mommy, I want to go play with Sethie!"

Me: "No, Natta, it's school time right now. Let's do this example, okay?"

The day goes along with her bored out of her mind, arguing, begging, pleading to get out of working so she can go do something. Begging to go somewhere. Maybe once a week we'd do a field trip or have a sport activity in the evenings.

Yes, she would learn. She is a well-trained kid and she obeys. But she would be miserable and not even know why. Mommy would continually be the bad guy, the teacher who has to push her to do her work. I know I could do it. I have a teaching certificate, for crying out loud. I have taken all of the methods classes, the educational philosophy and even worked in the Special Education department at UI. I have attended cutting edge education seminars. I have hundreds of motivational strategies at my disposal. And when it comes to my daughter sitting at the kitchen table fighting with me to get out of doing her homework day after day, I know there is a different way to go.

2. Classroom.

After breakfast, we load up in the car and drive to school. Natta has on her special school outfit (uniform or just school clothes, either way). She has her pencils and crayons and a cubby with her name on it. She sits at her desk with her own nametag next to other little girls who also sit in desks with their nametags. She has her own little apple on the wall and she knows the schedule of the day, punctuated by bells. She knows that she'll get to play with her friends at recess.

The time comes for the penmanship lesson. All the kids take out the workbook and the teacher explains the lesson. Like all the other little kids, she is expected to do her work and she tries to do a good job because if she does she'll get a gold star and she is trying to earn more stars than her deskmate.

When reading time comes she feels compassion for the kid who stumbles over his words and at recess she smiles at him. At snacktime the children chatter while they eat and at art time she tries to make a bigger snowman than her friend.

After school she comes home to Mommy with delight in seeing her. Perhaps she had a bad day and got in trouble from the teacher. Mommy comforts. Perhaps she had a hard time with an assignment. Mommy goes over it with her at home and helps her finish the homework.

Okay, so much for the scenarios. Not every child will respond this way to each situation. But I know my daughter very well. If I keep her at home, no matter how great a teacher I am, I will be the bad guy. My role will be to hound, push, punish, shame, coax and coerce her into learning. But if I put her in the right setting with a certain amount of schedule and peer competition, she will shine. Mommy won't have to be the bad guy but will be able to meet her after school with hugs and cookies and a listening ear.

Now, as I mentioned in my comment, my son may be completely different. He may have the personality to respond to a one-on-one setting much better and would prefer to learn at home with a tailor-made curriculum. I'll wait and see. Right now he is busy learning to crawl and seeing how much of the dog food he can get into before Mommy catches him.

Those of you who plan to homeschool your kids have no criticism from me. I realize that a homeschool community takes away a lot of the so-called "socialization problems". But it doesn't make up for a classroom setting and there are still hours upon hours sitting at the kitchen table. For some kids this sounds ideal. They can focus on learning the things they need to focus on and relax about the things where they are ahead. Families are freed from the yearly school schedule to take trips and visit zoos and museums. All of that is great.

When I was a kid, it would have been pure torture. I loved school. I loved my desk and my Snoopy on the wall and my part in the play. I am so glad my parents recognized that homeschool wasn't the right option for me. I think that the decision is entirely based upon what it right for each child, for each parent, for each family. For my sister the public school worked out the best. (She even homeschooled for a semester due to poor health but she did not like it and begged to be allowed to return to school.) That is partly what having the freedom to choose is all about. Not every country has that freedom at all and I'm thankful that we do.

Cast Party at Reany Park

Our show wrapped last night with the best performance ever and almost 200 people in the audience. I have to admit, I am feeling a bit down today, knowing it is over and I won't be heading to Pullman after dinner tomorrow. I felt blessed to have my family (parents and sister) some to the final show.

Today after the cast struck the set, they went to the park to party. We musicians were invited to come too, although only two of us actually went. Elena, the director, headed to the Ukraine to visit family and the others were similarly busy. The clarinetist, I discovered, is a representative and was heading out to the state capital. But Huckleberry showed up, along with my whole family so the musicians were somewhat represented. As the cast members, many of them children, and their families arrived, the designated picnic table began to drown in potluck food. Blankets dotted the grass with patchwork colors and lawn chairs rose like sentinels from the soft grass.

hubby and I had not been up to the task of preparing a dish so we partook of Chinese take-out, sitting and talking to our good friend, M, who had produced the show, as well as a number of other functions, including acting. Natta hurried through her chore of eating the required number of bites so she could go play on the playground. She didn't take off before she coaxed Daddy into giving her some of the cookies that temptingly graced the food table.

While Natta slid down the slide, Hubby and I toted Seth around the field playing Bocce. I had never played it before but thankfully it was not too complicated and we were soon joined by Huckleberry, who had lost his glasses the previous week. Hubby easily won the game, then we moved on to sit among the people chatting. I love to people-watch, even if I am not involved in any particular conversation, so I set up my blue and green striped lawn chair and tuned in to several of the adjacent conversations. Some of the parents discussed the WASL test. Mothers talked about their children's accomplishments. I mostly listened and kept an eye on Seth, who was trying to eat grass.

Hubby wandered off to make sure Natta was okay. He soon returned with a soaking, dirty-faced, tousle-haired child who was having a ball. She had managed to acquire more cookies and had stood under the fountain, resulting in the wet state of her clothes. I just grinned at her and gave her a drink of water.

The sun slid toward the horizon as we loaded the kids in the car and headed home. I reflected on the interesting mix of people I had met, from young to old, liberal to conservative. I had enjoyed them all. I hope I get to do more shows with them in the future.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Do we really have a choice of education in our country?

Apologies for yet another opinionated post. I think that is what has been on my mind lately. I'll get back to the fun stories soon. :)

Years ago, in college, the question of private school vouchers came up in one of my education classes. My professor, being the die-hard liberal that he was, spoke in favor of public education and made a case against them. He argued that they take money from the needy public education system, which is strapped by many demands as it is. This in fact is true. The public school system is forced to keep up with the demands of the public sector including helping every underprivileged and disabled child that lives within its districts.

However, talking about vouchers brings up the very relevant issue of freedom. According to our laws, we have the freedom to send our children to any school we choose, whether it is a public school in a different district or a private school or homeschool. Unlike communist or socialist countries, we are not forced to use the government school system. Are we?

As an American citizen, I have been thinking about my children's education, although it is still several years down the road. Already my family pays about 13% of its income in taxes to the government, a percentage of which goes to public education. Already I am funding the education of some child in the public school system right now. The thinking is that my children will attend a public school and be payed for when it is their time as well. That sounds all well and good except for the freedom issue.

Right now the public school system is dominated by liberal political thinking. This includes for example a preference for non-religious holidays such as Halloween, an acceptance for less-than-moral literature, a leftist slant on issues such as abortion or homosexuality and a trend toward more sex education as well as less acceptance for families who do desire Christian values to be taught to their children.

Okay, so send your kids to a Christian school and quit complaining. It isn't that easy. Remember the part of that 13% of our paycheck that already supports education? If we choose a Christian school, that part of our paycheck still supports the public schools. Since private schools are not funded by the government, they charge high tuition bills as well as fees for everything from books to sports. They often do not have well-funded science or art departments and cannot afford to hire certified teachers or pay competitive salaries. In essence, our family would be paying double the price for our children's education. We would be paying for the education of a public school child on top of the cost of educating our own children which would come directly out of our pockets.

In a sense, we have the freedom to send our children to a private school. In another sense we do not. A family with a similar income to ours has no trouble securing a public education for their children. Yet if our family cannot afford the tuition charged by a private school we are in a very real sense forced to send our children to the public school which teaches values contrary to our own.

Wait! What happened to our freedom? How can anyone, even someone in the public school system argue against vouchers? A voucher, they say, would effectively cut the money to the public school equivalent of one child's education. Do we want to do that to our children, they plead. Yes! That one child cut out would be mine and I am sending her to another school. Either that, or public schools need to offer an alternative to the leftist values being touted in most schools right now. Since that is not even remotely on the horizon, I have looked at other schooling options. Many Christians homeschool their kids. Because my hubby was homeschooled, we outrightly reject that option. It causes way more problems than it solves. What will probably happen is that we will struggle to pay the high tuition at a private school, while our neighbors who don't have the same moral standards coast by with a "free" education and we help pay for their child as well as our own.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gender Discrimination

As I watched my daughter push around her little brown truck and horse trailer, a vivid emotion rose in me. First it came as a memory. I played with that same truck as a child, pulling its horse trailer and dreamed of the day when I would drive for real. I learned to drive at age 15 and did quite well with it after some practice. My memory soon brought a darker emotion with it: the years of anger and frustration at being told I could not drive a truck because I am a woman.

It started with my father. He would not allow my mother to drive his pickup truck because she is female. After I learned to drive, I was expected to drive a car and be happy. If the truck was needed for any reason, he made sure to do it himself. When I asked to take it somewhere he would not allow it, even though I was a perfectly capable, licensed driver who was comfortable with a manual transmission. Because I knew my father, I knew there was nothing I could do about it.

Later after college, I went on a trip with our church's campus pastor and his assistant. We drove a 15-passenger church van with a U-haul trailer. Three of us were approved to drive on the church's insurance: the pastor, the assistant and me, who was not only over 25 but was also married. I offered to take my turn on the three-day drive to Texas. But even when the two guys were so tired I feared they would fall asleep at the wheel they refused to let me take a turn, based solely on the fact that I am female. It had nothing to do with my driving abilities or my flawless driving record. I am a woman and therefore it was not safe to let me drive the van and trailer.

I find myself running up against male chauvinism everywhere because I enjoy activities that in society's eyes tend to be done by the masculine gender such as construction. Once, when my Home Care Leader was building a shed, I was told I could not help and I ought to go back inside with the girls. As a music teacher, I was informed by another teacher that the principal was a chauvinist and I would never be given a fair chance to be a good music teacher because he didn't think a woman would do a good job. Angrily I wondered why he had hired me. It turned out to be true and I was asked to leave, despite my best efforts. Though this was only one of several issues I had with that principal, it still seemed like one more link in the chain that binds me, as a woman.

We have been visiting churches during the past year and one here in Moscow caught my particular attention in this way. Taking the biblical principle about the man being the head of the household, they run with it, having "head of household" members meetings and all-male ushers and pastoral team. Although I am comfortable with the Biblical role my husband is assigned, I appreciate the fact that he doesn't use it as an excuse for all kinds of non-biblical discrimination. I am so tired of people telling me I ought not to do this or that thing because I am a woman. Or far worse, assuming I am incapable or dumb. It makes me so angry I want to throw something.

I would not in a million years align myself with the feminist movement with their militant politicism, but I sure understand what sparked their fire when I run across society's subtle barriers everywhere I go. There are times when I ask my husband to make a business phone call for me because I know the businessman on the other end of the line will listen to what he has to say. We think our culture has changed to liberate women but in many ways the thinking of people has not changed.

Of course, I am not saying reverse discrimination is at all acceptable. Prime-time TV that takes its sport in portraying men as bumbling idiots turns my stomach. Men who cannot get jobs because the quota of women and minority groups is not filled doesn't make sense. And women who sincerely want to do nothing but raise a bunch of kids are great. But the idea that I am not intelligent enough or capable enough to build a fence or drive a truck and trailer makes me furious. If it was true based on ability, that would be one thing, but to never even be given a chance, based solely on gender is wrong. I understand that many women don't WANT to drive a truck or build a fence. Fine. But don't assume all women are like that.

I know people with disabilities have to deal with this issue constantly. I have read the writing of several blind people as saying "It is not blindness that is the disability. It is merely an inconvenience. The disability comes from how I am treated by sighted people." I can only imagine. The way people write me off, I can just think how I would get written off if I had a disability. And statistics show that disabled people are unable to get jobs in most cases where they are qualified for them simply because the employer doesn't realize their capabilities.

I wish I had a solution. I wish I could take all the people like my father and turn them into a woman or disabled person or minority for a while and let them understand what it is like to be continually put down, underestimated and treated as if you are dumb, substandard and incapable. I wish I could tell parents that it is not gender reversal for a little girl to play with a truck or wish she could join the Boy Scouts so she doesn't have to sell those stupid cookies. Part of me wants to fight and rage and hold up political signs like the feminists. But the trouble is so much more subtle than that. It lies in the minds of the all-male usher crew and the pastor's assistant who won't even consider that a woman COULD drive a van. Even my hubby, who is one of the most fair men I know admits that the issue doesn't interest him much because it simply doesn't affect him. The only reason he even thinks about it at all is if I bring it up. When will this kind of thinking change?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Roots

Six hundred and eighty-eight pages. That's how long the book Roots is, and I read it in two days. I picked the book up from Daily Grind's Lending Library on Sunday while waiting for the matinée show of Oliver to begin and have been reading during every spare second since then. Tonight I finished it. Seldom has a book moved me so powerfully. I cried, no, I sobbed. Deep, wrenching sobs like I never do when reading a book or watching a movie. I laughed in other places. Anger filled me as events of cruelty were described in aching detail. I looked at my children with newfound tenderness as I imagined them growing up in a life that the African-Americans in the book could only dream of and wish for.

Tonight as I reflect on the profound words I have read, I am thankful for my own life, my freedom. And a part of me wonders about my own roots. Through the generations, Alex Haley's family told the story of their ancestors and where they came from. Although I don't know as much detail as he spent years acquiring, I do know a little of my family's origin.

On my father's side, the Meachams came from Great Britain during the colonial times. "Meacham" is an English name. According to my dad, there are 14 recorded Meachams fighting with the Americans in the Revolutionary war. A patriotic march from that time, written by Frank W. Meacham, is a staple in community band literature. From there, the Meachams traveled to California during the gold rush days via sailing ship around the tip of South America. This points to them having some wealth. According to family legend, the patriarch of that particular generation became so fond of the wine made in California that his son moved the family to Idaho to escape the embarrassment. However, once the old man arrived, he discovered that the Indians made homemade whiskey and he was content.

At some point some of the family must have moved to Oregon as there is a town named Meacham there. But my particular branch moved to the area between the Camas Prairie and the Clearwater River Valley and settled down to become wheat farmers. My great-grandparents had seven sons and one daughter who later spread throughout Idaho, both northern and southern. A few weeks ago I met several hundred of their offspring at a family reunion, in fact.

On my mother's side, the facts are less well known. My grandpa's family came from Wales only a few generations ago. He grew up on a small farm in Idaho which for a time had no electricity or running water. I have a hard time picturing my prim great-grandmother living there raising three children, but I am told it was so. Grandpa got a good education and went on to be a mining engineer in the Silver Valley of northern Idaho. He also served in the Navy in World War II, about which he tells interesting stories of life aboard ship in the Pacific and how one time his ship was torpedoed nearly in half. It is from him that I get my love of the American Flag and the game of cribbage.

My husband's family is of Danish descent. My grandmother on my mother's side had French blood in her and one of my other ancestors was Choctaw Indian. But if I traced one line back, it would most likely lead to Great Britain.

As far as I know, my ancestors did not own slaves, but the fact that my race committed the atrocities about which I read filled me with shame. In the book, the African villagers believed that three kinds of people lived in their village: those who had died, those who lived and those who had yet to be born. In my country, here, now, we who live have the responsibility of teaching those to come what happened long ago. I will teach my children of the hurt and pain that greed caused. Maybe someday they --or I-- will write a book that causes people to stop and think just as this one has done.

The Wrong Time of Year

It is exactly the wrong time of year for this poem, but I was thinking about it the other day and I love the descriptive imagery. I also love the spontaneity and feeling of peace. It amazes me that in only a handful of words, the author can pull you into a memory of his that is so real and evokes even the emotion he was feeling.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Putting on her shoes

Lately Natta has been absorbed with the mysteries of dressing herself. I lay out her clothes on the couch ready for assembling. Then she struggles and twists and whines until she shrugs her arms out of the sleeves of her pajamas. The legs are easier and soon she is running around "nakey" as she calls it. I do her diaper then she tackles the clean clothes. She pokes her little round head through the shirt. It usually ends up backwards since it was right-side up on the couch. Then the arms go through and I help her with the pants. She is extremely proud that she can do the socks and shoes all by herself.

This morning she decided she needed shoes with her silky pajama pants. She looses the Velcro and raises the tongue, setting the shoes on the floor in front of her. Then she gingerly steps into them, stooping to latch them snugly again. If she happens to get the wrong one first, they end up on opposite feet. This was the case this morning as she went parading around the living room. Her little brother, rocking back and forth on his knees, commented with a short "uhmmm". I gave her a quick hug and she was on her merry way. Soon we need to get dressed in earnest since Sethie has a Dr. appointment this morning over in Pullman. Time to lay the shirt and pants on the couch. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Farmer's Market

One of the highlights of living in Moscow revolves around the Saturday morning Farmer's Market. Yesterday we packed up the kids and headed downtown to enjoy the festivities. Parking next to John's Alley, we unbuckled car seats and set up the stroller. Hubby plunked Seth into it while Natta and I discussed the possibility of visiting the playground before we even entered the Market itself. Two-year-old persuasion won and we headed for Friendship Square and the playground, which was swarming with children. Natta delightedly joined the fray while we lined up with the ranks and files of parents crowded under the shade trees on the sideline. We discovered some friends there who we hadn't seen for a year or so and enjoyed a good chat.

With the promise of a return to the playground, I managed to entice Natta away by offering to buy her lunch and a cookie. Good smells wafted from the parking lot where the Market was set, making my empty stomach rumble. I have been dieting hardcore, limiting myself to about 900 calories per day, so the feeling of gnawing hunger is not unfamiliar. But it was time to eat and I gleefully headed toward the smells.

We were interrupted in our search for food, however, by a clown named Slinky and the promise of a balloon twisted into a flower. Since this sounded irresistible we got in line, standing in the broiling sun. As we stood there, two young boys, completely unsupervised shoved their way into the line. They grabbed balloons and insisted it was their turn. Wide-eyed, my daughter stepped back, but this hot mama would have none of it. Ignoring their arguments, I recalled my schoolteacher days and ordered them back in line. Recognizing the hairy eyeball, they meekly returned to their spot. Triumphantly, I collected my daughter's flower and we resumed our lunch-shopping.

Once again delay accosted us. We had no cash. Hubby scurried off with Baby Seth on his shoulders to the bank, a block away to use the Alpha Tau Mu and we returned to the playground. One step forward, two steps back.

At last he returned. This time, my hungry daughter left the playground willingly, reminding me that I had promised a cookie. So I had. We made a beeline to Wheatberry's Bakery booth and hubby proudly purchased a giant cookie. Sadly, I averted my eyes, imagining my bathroom scale sinking a few more pounds as a result of my virtuous decision. We wandered through the kaleidoscope of colors and sounds, brushing past people and eyeing booths full of stained glass, woodworking, tye-dye and of course flowers, vegetables and produce. At last we reached the food booths. Aaaahhhhh. Ethnic foods predominate at the Market, so we had our choice of authentic Mexican, African or Arab food. We stopped at the tent closest to us and loaded up on rice, chick-peas, spinach pastries made with Philo dough, barbecued chicken and fruit kabobs. Mouth watering, I pushed through the shoppers to a shady bench where some other friends were sitting. Our family shared all the food, taking turns with the fork and never has any gourmet meal hit the spot so well as that paper plate full of barbecue.

Once satisfied, we wandered happily, looking at the wares and admiring Natta's balloon. Shortly afterward, the Market closed for the day so we loaded the troops and headed home for a nap. On the way, I got the idea to do some face painting at the Market. I've done clowning a lot when I was younger. I think I might ask Mom if I can borrow her adult-sized clown suit and dress up for a few of the Markets this season. I noticed that Slinky had quite a few dollars stuffed in his "tips" box. Our family sure could use a few extra dollars, that is for sure. I'm not sure if I'll do it yet, but it sounds like a fun idea.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Opening Night: I Discover A Bad Edit

On my way to the orchestra pit, I picked up a program, thick, shiny and freshly printed. As time allowed, I leafed through it eagerly, reading cast bios, lists of songs and, aaahhh, my own name. Like most people, I love seeing my name in print. Also included was an article I wrote, in fact the blog about the first rehearsal. The producer had read it and liked it so much that he wanted to print it. My first publish! I could not wait to see it. I scanned through the article, wondering if they had edited anything. I had given permission, thinking that it might have been shortened. Instead two sentences glared out at me from the middle of the page. What had they done??? Frustration bubbled up inside of me, as if someone had taken a piece of artwork and drawn a mustache on it with a Sharpie.

The original sentence reads thus:

A room full of strangers were opening instrument cases and claiming chairs with black music stands.

Whoever was doing the edit decided that the sentence was grammatically incorrect, as indeed it is.

This is how they decided to remedy the situation and this is how it appears (teeth jarringly) in the program:

A room full of strangers was opening instrument cases and claiming chairs with black music stands.

EEK! The ROOM was doing all of these things? It was opening CASES and setting up stands? I had meant that the strangers were doing these things. At the very least, the room-full [was? were?] doing them. Granted to be grammatically correct (and Mace-Dawg Schaefizzle-now-KFizzle, if you read this, you're going to be laughing till you fall off the chair) the correct verb when you take out the prepositional phrase (and without a hyphen in room-full) is "was" not "were". But it doesn't make any sense!

So, for all of you who do not keep a copy of the ALA style manual handy on the back of your toilets for easy reference, let me propose a correction which sadly will not appear in the already printed programs:

A room was full of strangers who were opening instrument cases and claiming chairs with black music stands.

Sigh. Two sentences later this enterprising editor also added a stand-alone sentence "Of nerves." Ugh. I would never have written that as an incomplete sentence but instead would have tacked it onto the end of the previous sentence. Words like "sigh" and "ugh" are the only words worthy of appearing in incomplete sentences.

I snapped the program shut angrily. Now all of Pullman would think I wrote it like that, a gross bit of nonsense right in the middle of a story. Maybe snooty Pullman would rather have a sentence that is grammatically correct even if it makes no sense. Perhaps they all read for grammar peculiarities rather than for content.

Now that the whole edit thing is off my chest, the show went fine. Timid, but okay. We only had parents and grandparents in the audience anyway. The only thing that really went wrong, beyond a couple of microphones not working was Oliver singing "Where is Love?" with his mouth full of bread.

And the show, as they say, goes on.

Notes From Daddy

Since my involvement in the community theater has increased, Hubby spends every evening with the kids. I have been impressed with the wonderful job he does, taking them to the park, giving them dinner and baths and then putting them to bed. Natta has been delighted with this arrangement. She adores her Daddy, plus the added bonus of fun trips to the park increases this attachment.

During each day she has spent an inordinate amount of time on figuring out the whole Daddy-work scenario. Last week Daddy told her that he went to work to get money. This started the wheels turning and the next day she came up with a brilliant plan. "Here, Daddy," she said, handing him the penny I had given her, "here's some money. Now you won't have to go to work any more."

Unfortunately that didn't keep him home with her to play. "Where's Daddy," she pleaded another day.

"He's at work because it's Tuesday," I replied. She must have thought long about this because last night when he got home, she rushed to him, hugged his knees and commented, "You don't have to go to work now, because it's not Tuesday any more." He laughed and hugged her back.

The whole "work equals money" idea caught hold of her as well. She told me the other day that Daddy had no money and that is why he was at work. I agreed and tried to explain that he was earning money so we could buy things at the store. She was not too impressed. I think she'd rather we did not go to the store at all so her beloved playmate Daddy could stay home all day with her. When he comes in the door, she often cries, "I so missed you, Daddy!"

In order to placate her, Daddy has begun leaving her notes in the morning when he leaves for work. She squeals with delight when she finds one and brings it to me to read it. Usually printed with some variation on "Daddy loves Natta", the notes often have some kind of inside joke as well. On one of them a purple cow marches across the bottom while the letters "Mooooooo" arch over its head. When I read it to her she giggles and her eyes get a far away expression. "Daddy says that," she informs me.

Because these notes hold such value to her, I have tried to keep them out of harm's way, unsuccessfully, I might add. Harm's Way, in the form of a drooling baby brother, finds them with disconcerting regularity. He grabs the note, wads it into a ball and coats it with slobber. When the thing is good and soggy, he pulls it to shreds and, catlike, sits on them. Before Natta can discover the carnage, I rescue the limp paper and smooth it out, taping the rips and then I hang it back on the fridge where it will be safe for a while.

As a treat today, we went and picked Daddy up at his "oppice" and took him to lunch with us. He loves seeing "his girls" and we loved seeing him. To one little curly-haired munchkin, he is akin to a deity, the most special person on the entire planet. I hope a few of these notes survive so I can keep them in her baby book. Their worth is beyond measure; the love contained and received from them is priceless.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Un-Dress Rehearsal

A mixture of excitement and fatigue filled me as I pushed through the double doors of the community theater and made my way down through the rows of wooden seats. Today had been long already and I would not get back home until late. Now, though, it was almost 7:00 and I dropped into a seat next to Elena to listen to the general briefing. A few comments from the director and producer were hurled our way then they released us to our places. I wandered down into the orchestra pit and began setting up my instruments. With the flute and pic sitting ready on my lap, I looked around.

We sat in a hole in the stage that was roughly 6 feet by 12 feet. It contained an upright piano, some chairs and stands, an enormous upright bass and enough power cords to cover the floor like a rug. Since several of them fueled the lights on our music stands, I wasn't complaining. It also held the heat of a sunny day in the desert, rather than the drizzly eastern Washington day that had actually occurred. I wondered briefly if some diabolical actor had inserted heat lamps into our lights. Elena, especially seemed bothered by the heat. The previous night she commented on it in this way:

"Oliver, in the song 'Where is love', you're singing to your mother. Your mother is in Heaven. So DON'T look down into the orchestra pit when you sing. It's nothing like Heaven down here. In fact, it's more like Hell."

Sweat made my flute slippery in my hands. I opened my book. As the show commenced, I wondered if the actors would feel a sense of thrill as they approached opening night. Instead, they seemed jaded from the two months of rehearsals they had undergone.

For anyone not involved in theater, the week before opening night would seem bizarre at best. The illusion of 19th century England is only half complete, creating a surreal blend of the modern and the historical. Actors wearing halves of costumes sported Nikes and tank tops along with a full ruffled skirt. Microphone wires dangled awkwardly from lapels. Sets, nearing completion, still lacked props in a few scenes, causing the actors to mime the interactions.

As I watched the show take shape, however, I was filled with a sense of wonder. People from all walks of life had come together with a mutual purpose. We all love storytelling. We love theater. Only here can a middle aged husband transform into a crotchety undertaker with a bowed back and a raucous wife. The shy and quiet find their voices; the unique are accepted.

Of course, we had some glitches. Lines were forgotten. An eerie silence fell a few times as the show ground to a halt while an actor frantically fought for a dropped line. Some of the songs were inaudible, not only to us in the orchestra, but to the audience. Oliver had contracted a cough and a fever. The night before he had missed part of the show since the heat had made him so dizzy he was fainting. But unlike other productions I had played at church, there was no sense of panic here. The pressure to be perfect was gone and as a result, the end performance would be much better. Here, people were doing this because they liked it. They had no agenda, no 'message' to convey to the audience and so they were free to just play the characters and enjoy themselves. This gave a spirit and life to the show that I had forgotten existed in theater. It was fun.

For me, I fought exhaustion and the pain in my back. It wasn't my best night, as my mind wandered and I missed cues. Also the clarinetist wasn't there, creating a hole in our music that felt extremely distracting. Still, I did my best. Thankfully, I feel much more familiar with the music. I'm so excited to open the show on Friday!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bittersweet

Today, the first day of the rest of my life, is the day I officially wean my son. He hasn't really been nursing for a while, but still, this is the final cut-off. Part of me is in a deep, quiet grief. In my memory I sit snuggled on the sofa, one knee bent as my son makes a warm, soft living blanket who fits so perfectly in my arms. We meet each other's eyes and study each other's faces. His left ear has a little crinkle in the top that makes it pointed, like an elf. I pet his hair and his eyes roll back inside his head as he enjoys pure bliss. The mommy-feeling bubbles up inside of me like a subtle fountain, soft and oh, so sweet that it hurts. In the middle of the night I sit in the blue chair, laying my head back on the cushion and praying for my son. I prayed that he would be drawn close to Jesus, that he would he healthy and would find God's plan for his life. I prayed for his future wife and family. I prayed that he would be kept safe as he grows.

At other times, I would invite him to bed with me, snuggling him beside me, he would cease his crying and smile his sunny smile at me before he would close his eyes and have a snack, falling sweetly asleep in complete peace.

Now he is on the go across the floor. As he gained mobility he lost interest in snuggling and began to lose weight as he refused to quiet down and eat. I started bottles which he accepted gratefully. They solved the crying problems and the sleeping problems since his tummy got filled.

While a part of me grieves, another part of me feels relief. No more long sessions of pumping, taking 45 minutes sometimes. No more equipment to wash, no more enduring the pain of Mastitis shooting up and down my left side. No more awkward sessions in public or wondering if the lacy curtains on my window are adequate cover. No more uncomfortable tossing and turning at night.

I watch him now, moving on his tummy across the floor and my heart surges with love. I love my baby. I know I will always miss those intimate times of Mommy-milk, but I love his joy in discovery now. He sucks his bottle quickly down so he can go play with his sister. Looking forward to the years ahead, I will watch him grow from a baby into a boy into a man. I'm glad I will always have the memories of him cuddled against me, his baby-blue eyes looking up into mine, his mouth curled into a milky smile. As I write this, my own smile emerges through my tears.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thomas A'Kempis With Salt

Please read hubby's blog entry here. To me it was more interesting and thought provoking than anything I had to write about today.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Whistle While You Garden

Here is my garden in the "before" state back when we first moved in.



This is a few weeks ago:



Here it is tonight :)



We wanted easy maintenance so we put in a load of bark:



With leftover bricks we extended the patio so the little BBQ has a place to sit. We call it a Goomba after Super Mario Bros.

Made it to Saturday

Ahh, slept nine hours last night. Hallelujah! And Hubby is at home on Saturdays to carry some of the load. I think rehearsal last night saved my sanity. Two and a half hours of playing music and being social with people renewed my zest and I'm ready to tackle another day.

Friday, July 13, 2007

We're not as strong as we think we are - Rich Mullins

Another rotten day yesterday. Ugh...why me? For one reason or another I have not gotten sleep for five nights in a row now and I think I want to die. I have retreated to my bedroom so I don't do something I'll regret to my children. Please, God, will this ever get better?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Water off and on

Our white car pulled up to the curb last night as the sun was setting. Two happy, tired kids and satisfied parents climbed out. Hubby and I had gone out to dinner while the kids played at a friend's house. This particular friend has kids the exact same ages as ours. As we got home, I determined to water my flowers before time to go into the house. I grabbed the hose and turned on the water but... nothing. A subdued gurgling noise came from the limp hose. Irritation rose in me as I wondered why the water had gotten turned off. We checked the kitchen faucet. No water. Hubby then mentioned that a note in the mail room said the water was scheduled to be turned off at 11:00 PM for maintenance of something. GAAH! NOW he tells me! And the park managers apparently were operating on Eastern time since the water was already off. I immediately readjusted my evening plans. No baths for the kids, no shower for me. Thank goodness I had not emptied out the jug of water that had been sitting on the kitchen counter all week. Instead I had stuck it in the fridge. So we had a little drinking water.

Hubby and Natta set off to the store to buy a jug of water and also to Friend's house where the Nap had been left. They returned with a 2.5 gallon jug and we used it to brush our teeth and get bottles ready for the kids. As Murphy's Law would dictate, every bottle in the house was dirty and we had no water to wash them! If I had known ahead of time, I would have washed a few. Once again, I swallowed my irritation and continued putting the babies to bed.

Life went smoothly after bedtime. Both kids were completely worn out from playing with their friends so they crashed as soon as they hit their beds and the late hour helped. We went to bed shortly after.

The sky held hints of dawn when I was wrenched awake by the sound of the toilet gasping. Apparently they had chosen this particular ungodly hour to resume our service of running water and the empty toilet struggled to renew itself in spite of the air in the lines. It popped and surged, each gurgling noise louder than the last. I squinted at the blurry clock, failing to make out the time, but almost glad I didn't know. Just as I drifted off, in spite of the howls of the toilet, Hubby got up and began his morning ablutions. The sink let out a whoosh, then the shower was next to be approached. In keeping, it growled and protested, letting out spurts of water and air. When he got it running, I relaxed. Surely this was the limit and now I could grab another precious hour of sleep before the kids called me forth. I was wrong.

Hubby got up with the hungry baby and began a bottle for him. The kitchen sink began howling and spraying next. I debated getting up in the dawning morning or putting my pillow over my head. I wondered why he didn't use the jug water, but figured it was the thought that counted and it was nice of him to make a bottle with the angry, gushing, bubble-filled water faucet echoing through the sleeping house. I frowned at the clock again, making out a 6 as the first number. Sighing, I snuggled down in the blankets. A bleary hour later the inevitable call of "Mommy, Mommy" came from the kids' room and I launched into my day. The very first thing I did was to wash every single bottle!

Budding Artist

She loves to draw.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Natta's Milestones, age 32 months

Milestones Natta Can do - She appears to be at the level of upper three years. Except for certain things like potty training, she is average. Her vocabulary and academic knowledge would put her in the upper 4 years. I find this amazing!

During the third year of life a child typically:

* May sleep 10 to 12 hours at night
* Hops on one foot - NO
* Walks a line - NO
* Walks on tiptoes for a few steps
* Brushes teeth, washes hands, retrieves own drink
* Puts on shoes (no laces)
* Completes a six-piece puzzle
* Draws simple shapes
* Enjoys helping with household tasks
* Follows simple directions
* Plays spontaneously with two or three children
* Identifies some common colors
* Counts to three - Counts to Ten
* Enjoys "pretend" games such as playing house
* Feeds self completely using a fork.
* Speaks in three- to five-word sentences - Speaks in much longer sentences
* Uses plurals (cats, dogs, etc.)
* May have difficulty getting some words out (not a sign of stuttering) - NO
* Sings a simple tune
* Asks a lot of the "Five W" questions
* Demonstrates a three-minute attention span
* Uses the toilet consistently - NO
* Remembers yesterday's happenings
* Understands some dangers, such as moving cars
* Feels shame when caught doing something wrong
* Is interested in similarities and differences
* Understands difference between self and younger children
* Doesn't understand difference between self and older children
* May show preference for opposite sex parent
* Develops sense of humor and enjoys making people laugh
* use words associated with their understanding of time, such as dark time, sleep time, eating time
* go independently to find their boots or their mittens in the box by the door, when told it's time to get ready to play outside
* find the correct book on the bookshelf when the teacher asks them to get the book she was reading yesterday
* follow all the steps in feeding the hamster (going to the cupboard to get the food, putting it in a dish, and then delivering it to the cage) when it is their turn to take care of the class pet
* get their coat when the teacher says it's time to go home
* follow the suggestion that they get a paper towel from the sink and help wipe up the soapsuds that were spilled when they were blowing bubbles
* respond to direction words like around, backward, go forward
* repeat actual text when they retell a story using a puppet or the flannel board
* describe the feeling of play dough in their hands as they squish, pound, and twist it
* answer fairly complex questions, such as, "What is this?" or "How did you do that?"
* talk about things that are not immediately present, such as what happened at the store or what happened to Mommy's hat when the wind was blowing
* explain the rules for using the slide: "Only one person can be on the ladder"
* add observations about details in the pictures as they look at books
* use an increasing number of position words, such as inside and underneath
* include more extensive social conventions of speech, such as, "You're welcome"
* describe in more detail, using their expanded vocabulary, the trip they took to visit grandma or the class trip to the library
* express their growing understanding of time when they say, "after Daddy comes home, we will have dinner."
* ask questions in order to keep a conversation going
* insert their own information into a family discussion, such as "and then we "
* take turns speaking when involved in a group discussion
* use social conventions such as saying good-bye when getting ready to go home from school or when a classroom visitor is about to leave
* chatter away to the dolls sitting at the tea party, asking questions and then answering the questions as they talk for both

Kindergarten readiness milestones:

* identify basic colors?
* recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects?
* count to 10?
* sort similar objects by color, size, and shape?
* change direction when running?
* walk down stairs using alternate feet?
* initiate his own leisure-time activities?
* listen to stories without interrupting?
* pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks?
* do tasks the first time asked?
* follow two or three oral directions?
* finish one activity before starting another?
* understand that actions have both causes and effects? - NO
* take turns and share with others?
* enjoy interacting with four to five children without continual supervision?
* know how to follow rules?
* recognize authority figures?
* respect other people’s property?
* show an interest in the outside world, beyond home and school?
* enjoy pretend play, imitating adult roles?
* work independently?
* spend time apart from you without being upset?
* speak understandably?
* talk in complete sentences of five to six words? - eight or more words
* use compound sentences?
* use contractions?
* look at pictures and then tell stories?
* relate a familiar story without picture clues?
* explore a variety of roles through creative play?
* recognize rhyming sounds? -NO
* show understanding of general times of day?
* tell the days of the week in order?
* identify the beginning sound of some words?
* sing the alphabet song and know some letters?
* recognize some common sight words such as “stop”?
* know his address and phone number? - NO
* tell a simple joke? - NO
* tell a simple story in sequence?
* ask the meaning of new words?

Natalie Dictionary pt 2

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"Thomas-a-Train Piwwow" - Second favorite item to take to bed

"Seffie" - Bother's name

"My Night-DOWN" - What she wears to bed

"Noonels and Sketti Sauce" - Favorite lunch

"Elmo's World" - Time for yelling and wild celebration

"I Chuch a- Box" - touching my vibrating breast pump

"My yummy Brown" - brownie for dessert

"Or 'Vivor Show" - Your Survivor Show - What Mommy and Daddy watch sometimes and Natta has to be somewhat quiet

"Better check-a garbage truck" - looking out the window on Mondays to watch the big blue truck

"I want my stuff" - collecting Nap, Pillow and stuffed Nemo Fish to carry around

"The Chirldwen song" - Jesus Loves the Little Children

"Ban-baid" - What we put on owies

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Alphabet Letters (She now knows them all)
"A" says Aah
"B" for Bee, says Buh
"C" for Cabin
"D" for Daddy
"E" for Erin (Tha's Mommy's name)
"F" for Fire (Pire-trucks too)
"G" for Green
"H" for House (favorite: "H" - a - house!! Look Mommy! H-a-house!)
"I" for Isaiah
"J" for Jesus
"K" for Kyrie
"L" for Love (wuuuub)
"M" for Mommy, says mmmmmm
"N" for Natalie (N-a-Nally! N-a-Nally!)
"O" says Ah
"P" for Piper
"Q" says Qwuh
"R" says eerrrrrrr
"S" for Seth
"T" says Tuh
"U" says Uh
"V" for Violin
"W" says Wuh (it's on the Wal-Mart store, Mommy!)
"X" (It's an X! an X! I like X)
"Y" says yuh
"Z" for Zipper

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(Natalie will be 32 months old tomorrow. She's only 2 1/2 and talks understandably by strangers, knows all her letters by sight, counts to ten, knows all her colors and can color pictures, draw a happy face or a circle and can fill in a shape on her color book. She types letters on the computer, a favorite treat. Her normal sentence length is about 8 words. She has her bedtime books - Goodnight Moon, Mother Goose - memorized and will "read" them to Daddy. She can also brush her own teeth and put on her shirt and shoes all by herself. I'm pretty impressed with her! Of course I am VERY biased...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First Rehearsal: Meet the Musicians

Timidly, I opened the door to the Nye Street Theater, a building I did not even know existed, tucked behind Dissmore's Grocery in Pullman. The building was accessed by a little hidden stairway down from Nye Street between overhanging trees and bushes. I had left my two babies, aged 2 and 8 months at home with my patient husband with instructions for a smooth bedtime. I climbed into my little Toyota Camry and made the half-hour drive from my home on the other side of Moscow to Pullman, singing show tunes in my head. Promptly at 7:00 I descended that little stairway, entering the world of the theater immediately when I noticed the whimsical Christmas lights wrapped around the handrail. Then I opened the door. A room full of strangers were opening instrument cases and claiming chairs with black music stands. Unlike most encounters with strangers, I felt only a momentary flutter. These were musicians. I fit in here. The music director, who had seen me the week before when she gave me my book of music, welcomed me warmly and I was left on my own to claim a seat. She turned to her piano and began looking over her own music. The seven musicians appeared to be seated in the same sort of order as a dropped box of pick-up sticks. I gave up looking for "the spot where the flutist should sit" and instead began peering at the empty chairs. I found one in the middle and sat, assembling my flute and opening my music. The black book said simply "Oliver!" on the cover. Running through a few warm-up scales brought a warm familiarity. I had spent hours with the slender, silver instrument in my hands and it just felt right. Glancing around the room, I smiled at the lobby decorations, old black and white photos and sayings such as "Why is there so much month at the end of the money?" I settled back in my chair with a contented sigh, looking interestedly at the other people who shared this unusual room with me.

On my right a nice-looking middle-aged woman held a clarinet. Behind me a man with a red beard wrestled with an upright bass. His twinkly smile and sandy beard reminded me of a leprechaun, although he towered tall above me, lessening the illusion. The empty chair to my left soon was occupied by a trombonist named, oddly enough, Huckleberry. He shook back his blond dread-locks and set up his 'bone. Next to him a retired professor cradled a French Horn. The front two chairs were filled by a shy violinist in a crisp blue dress shirt and slacks who introduced himself as a sophomore attending the University of Puget Sound and an upright, talented cellist who I only actually saw the back of her short haircut. Although we introduced ourselves, I immediately forgot everyone's name except for Huckleberry.

As soon as we were all seated, Elena, the director addressed us in her heavy Slavic accent. As we tuned up and launched into the first song, I was swept away once again into the magic of making music. In no other endeavor can you sit down with a group of complete strangers and suddenly become a working team in the space of a few measures. Every musician there, although amateur, was well-practiced and talented, so it was a treat not to have to wait for anyone to catch up or cringe at a barrage of out-of-tune notes. We were mostly sight-reading, so there was some wandering around lost and some shaky key signatures, but over all, the music flowed out with sudden sweetness. We worked through the entire show over the next 2 1/2 hours, Elena explaining the tempo and feel of each song. By the end of the rehearsal, my back, unused to the rigors of playing straight through with no break, had begun to ache with a sharpness that made me wince. But inside, I was bubbling with excitement. It had been so long since I played with a group and it was so good. I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the sumer musical for the Pullman Civic Theater. I smiled at Clarinet Lady as I thought, "This is going to be a great show."

Monday, July 9, 2007

Don't Drink the Milk

This weekend saw us up at the cabin once again, this time with our really good friends, the H's. We hung out playing board games until late when I discovered that before going to bed I needed to collect another batch of Mommy milk. For privacy, I headed out to the darkened front deck. As I got settled, however, I was joined by hubby who commented on the peacefulness of the night and the brilliance of the stars that we seldom got to see living in town. Although blurry to me, the stars indeed looked beautiful and I delighted in them. A few minutes later our friends came out to see the stars too and I was once again in a Mommy-milk dilemma. Should I go back into the too-warm cabin by myself or stay in the chummy circle of stargazers? I opted for the latter, hoping the dark would conceal me enough. I positioned my chair back to the side and re-joined the conversation. As all conversations with good friends, it roamed over a wide range of topics. We drank in the cool spicy pine-scented air, too chilly for S and my hubby but refreshing to M and me. Sitting in deck chairs, we leaned our heads back and watched the stars between dark silhouettes of tall trees. Nearby, the muffled chatter of the river added a backdrop to a silence that I only have known up in the woods.

At last I finished getting the milk collected and headed inside to stow it away for tomorrow. I smiled as I thought of my sleeping baby who would later drink it, giving him nourishment to grow even rounder. As I confronted the sink full of dishes, I groaned inwardly and decided not to wash them at all. But it meant the two bottles I brought were both dirty and I had nowhere to store the milk. I grabbed a clean drinking glass. Pouring it in, the milk innocently looked just like the cow's milk that everyone had been enjoying all day from the jug in the fridge. I cringed as I imagined hubby's surprise after he grabbed the glass and took a long drink. Oh dear! I had better warn them. Ignoring my own embarrassment, I headed out to the deck and waited for another break in the conversation.

"I need to let you all know...don't drink the milk in the glass in the fridge." I announced.

Silence. I again cringed.

Then they began to laugh as they began to understand why I had made the announcement.

"Don't worry, we'll save it for Seth."

Relief. Now I could forget about it and enjoy the stars. I have endured so many such instances during my time as a breastfeeding mom, I have almost begun to expect it. Modesty and breastfeeding do not go together, unfortunately, and the company I keep expects the utmost propriety. They understand the process and do not fault me, but it creates many awkward moments for me when, like the past three trips, we go with couples who do not have kids. I try to be discreet but in a one-room space it is nearly impossible. As I think of the lawsuits citing "indecent exposure" towards breastfeeding mothers, they make me a little bit angry. It is hard enough work to breastfeed a baby, or even use a pump, that trying to stay covered up while an eager 8-month-old is determined to pull the cloth off as fast as he can is an almost useless endeavor. Yet Mommy-milk is by far the best thing to feed a baby. So I can look forward to a few more embarrassing encounters and a few more weeks of banishment to "nursing nooks" before I totally wean my small son.

Until then, don't drink that extra glass of milk!

Friday, July 6, 2007

I like to stay awake at night and talk to you

Isn't marriage a funny thing? My hubby and I have some very distinct differences and yet we totally compliment each other. I never really bought into the idea that a perfect mate existed and that somehow we would be brought together like opposing puzzle pieces. After being married for a few years, I am beginning to change my mind. Hubby and I really fit together better than I ever expected. Still, those opposing traits cause some humor sometimes, when we remember to laugh instead of getting annoyed.

Last night I had every intention of going to bed on time. I climbed into the covers right on time at 10:30. I was delighted when hubby did, too. Since we recently moved the baby out of our room, we have reveled in the privacy and ability to spend time together without fear of awakening the baby. So... we started to talk. Next thing we knew it was quite a bit more than an hour later and I was still awake, the migraine pounding on my right front temple.

There is a classic Bert and Ernie song that goes like this (shortened version):

Ernie: I like to lie awake in bed at night and talk to you.
Bert: Yeah, I know.
I like to say good night and go to sleep.

Ernie: But though I don't always like everything
Bert: that I like
Together: Still I like you.
Bert: Though I'm not too crazy 'bout your rubber duckie
Ernie: Though I don't love pigeons
Together: Still we're awfully lucky,
Cause I like you!


The first time I heard it, I cracked up laughing because I, like Ernie, love to lie in bed talking. Hubby on the other hand can't get to sleep if we do that but would rather drift off the minute he climbs into bed. But although we have our differences, we're still absolutely crazy about each other. Isn't that how a marriage is supposed to be?

Late last night, I finally quit talking, got up, took some more medicine then sweetly said good night to my hubby. He was asleep within minutes!

(Here are the full lyrics to "But I like you")

Thursday, July 5, 2007

So Shall Thy Strength Be

Several years ago as I was reading through the Bible, probably in Catechism class, since it is King James, a verse stuck in my brain and has been percolating in there ever since. It resonates now with me when, like today, my world threatens to tear at the seams. We were up late last night watching the fireworks so the kids are tired and fussy. Somewhere along the line yesterday I developed a migraine and today it is in full blossom. As I held my squirming son, who was fighting sleep, adamant that he would not nap, I prayed for patience and this verse whispered quietly into my heart: "...and as thy days, so shall thy strength be." (Deuteronomy 33:25b) I began a study on it and the writing of Matthew Henry encouraged me even more.

The day is often in scripture put for the events of the day; and, taking it so here, it is a promise that God would graciously support them under their trials and troubles, whatever they were. And so it is a promise sure to all the spiritual seed of Abraham, that God will wisely proportion their graces and comforts to the services and sufferings he calls them out to. Have they work appointed them? They shall have strength to do it. Have they burdens appointed them? They shall have strength to bear them; and never be tempted above that they are able. Faithful is he that has thus promised, and hath caused us to hope in this promise. (Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary)


Now, as my son lies sleeping on my lap, I marvel at the promises of God, not to remove our trials or burdens but to give us strength as our days to bear up bravely under them. There are times when, overwhelmed, I must ask for help from other people or I will falter. And there are times when, like today, God Himself strengthens me far beyond my own will to endure and fulfills this promise given to the spiritual children of Abraham.

As thy days, so shall thy strength be.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Favorite Don Francisco Song

Every line in this song speaks deeply to my heart. Since I tend to be a perfectionist I feel like I can never be good enough for anybody. This song reminds me that I never have to be good enough for God and all of the rejection and hurt that people have caused still don't affect His love for me.

Don played a concert here in Moscow last night and I got to go to part of it. It brought back a lot of memories and even some tears as I remembered some things in my past. We all have hurts and old scars in our hearts where people have wounded us, where we failed to meet others' expectations of us and they wrote us off. Thank you, Don, for reminding me that God will never do that.

I'll Never Let Go Of Your Hand
Don Francisco

I know what you've been hearing,
I've seen you hide your fear
Embarrassed by your weaknesses,
afraid to let me near
I wish you knew how much I long
for you to understand
No matter what may happen child,
I'll never let go of your hand

I know you've been forsaken
by all you've known before
When you failed their expectations,
they frowned and closed the door
But even though your heart itself
should lose the will to stand
No matter what may happen child,
I'll never let go of your hand

The life that I have given you, no one can take away
I've sealed it with my spirit, blood and Word
The everlasting Father has made His covenant with you
And He's stronger than the world you've seen and heard

So don't you fear to show them
all the love I have for you
And I'll be with you everywhere
in everything you do
And even if you do it wrong,
and miss the joy I've planned,
I'll Never ----- I'll never let go of your hand
I'll never let go of your hand
I'll never let go of your hand