31 October 2009

I'm having some issues...

...making things harder than they should be lately.

Some Halloween photos

For those who are interested, a couple photos of the kiddos dressed up at Gramps' house can be seen at this link. A report on the weekend coming later, I think.

22 October 2009

A place to cook

Dennis and I spent some time discussing the house tonight. Basically, we've run out of money to spend hiring other people to work on it and we still have a whole heck of a lot that needs to be done before whenever it is that we'll move in (hopefully before summer heat next year). It's stuff like running electricity into the main floor, sanding floors, redoing walls, fixing plaster where we can, putting in some bathrooms (because right now there's only half a toilet in the house) and a kitchen, because, um...well, this family's gotta eat. It was a very energizing discussion.

Tonight's discussion was about the kitchen and we figured out some solutions to annoyances. The kitchen is small, but will still be the largest kitchen we've ever used. Because of our cash crunch, and because he's always wanted to do it, Dennis is going to build the cabinetry. Another advantage to him building the cabinets is that whatever he comes up with will actually fit the 10-foot ceilings. And because he's going to build the cabinetry, and because I've always wanted it, he's going to make it very primitive -- but not in the way that involves red paint and star and moon cutouts and prematurely rusted wires. :) (It may involve beadboard and prematurely worn corners. We'll see...)

The door to the dining room had been moved at one time in the house's past. It made sense to leave it, but that meant the other entry door to the room was not symmetrical. I've realized that symmetry is a big thing for me in buildings, rooms, etc. I like a sense of order into which I can bring my messiness, I guess. :)

My brilliant husband's brilliant solution involves moving both doors a bit (and moving a brand new duct which he assures me is not a big deal) to make the doors symmetrical and thereby make room for an entire wall of shelves which will be concealed behind beadboard doors. That means we don't necessarily need upper cabinets, but can instead use open shelves for the dishes and mixing bowls and such which, I think, will make the room look a lot bigger. But the coolest thing about the wall o' doors is that our door to the second back stairs will be concealed giving us a "hidden" staircase. That's just the sort of thing that makes Dennis and I grin.

Now -- the question is just this -- when is he/ when are we going to find time to do all of this?

20 October 2009

Sweet things today

Daniel and Annalivia played together this morning really well. It was a very complicated game wherein Daniel was Annalivia's daddy. She'd cry out, "Daddy, Daddy!" and then run over to him as he sat in the rocking chair. He'd say, "Do you want me to rock-a-bye you?" and then she'd climb up in his lap and he would stroke her hair and say, "Shhh...it's ok..." Then he'd get tired of her sitting on his lap and shove her off the chair.

Later in the morning, I sent them outside to play. They had another elaborate game going involving their bikes/ trikes and several stuffed animals in the wagon. They went around to the far side of the house, however, and when I called them back, Annalivia explained that the reason they were over there was because they were discussing their child The Director. What director, I have no idea.

This afternoon, after naps, they were having a snack. I have no idea what they were talking about, but occasionally Daniel would say the word, "butt" and then they would both burst out into uncontrollable laughter. Then they'd get it together again and he'd say it again and they'd laugh hysterically. I pretended like I didn't hear for about 5 times and then came in and told them it we don't say, "butt" as per this post. I may be a hypocrite, but I have good reasons.

And lastly, tonight, after we got home, I worked on Annalivia's Halloween costume a little. I will elaborate more on its providential pieces later. I had to cut some stuff off of a long dress and Annalivia took the pieces and made a gaiter and scarf and headband out of them, told us she was on a "snow skateboard" and then ran around jumping off of things pretending to snowboard. At one point, she was talking about how she wants a snowboard, which she was still calling a "snow skateboard" and Dennis said something about he had a skateboard once. Her eyes grew really big and she looked at him like he was really cool and she said, "You did?" He replied affirmatively. Then she asked, "Is it still in your shed?" Those of you who know about the giant machine shed at his mom's house packed with everything he and his family members have ever owned will know it probably is. I just hope he doesn't have to go looking for it.

18 October 2009

A different expectation

One of the prejudices I managed to nurture throughout my previous mainline church experience was the notion that evangelicals have a sub-standard intellectual tradition. I thought that most of them just didn't want to really think about faith. (I mean, why else would they believe in the pesky doctrine of the sovereignty of God?)

I was introduced to the error of my ways about three years ago when I encountered a faith community of women at the now-defunct Choosing Home. For the most part, these were stay-at-home mothers who were...how can I say this correctly... not in the least bit dumb. I don't want to use "intellectual giants" because probably none of them would accept such a description of themselves, but suffice to say, their knowledge of the Bible, theology (both theoretical and applied), and church history just amazed and astounded me. I was brought up short in front of a false picture of evangelicals I had painted and hung off to the side of my faith journey. What I had created was not real. It was a convenient portrayal so I could disregard the hard questions I would inevitably be asked.

Our family has been participating in an evangelical church (Evangelical Mennonite is the best description, or at least the most well-known) for the last five months. Today, our adult Sunday School class, which involved about 25 adults from the ages of 20-40, engaged in a spirited, intellectual discussion about Calvin. I was amazed that laypeople, and not just a few laypeople, but many of those in the room, not only knew who Calvin was, but knew more about theology and the differences in the theology than I did. Their comments revealed an intellectual curiousity about faith that indicated that this discussion was not their first introduction to theological debate. And this was no milquetoast discussion; it was passionate, and complex. There was never a convergence of opinion/ belief -- some of the theology introduced was pretty liberal, some pretty conservative -- but it was an incredibly respectful discussion. It was completely unlike any conversation I've had at church, ever. It was, frankly, exhilarating.

When Dennis and I processed it verbally after church together, we realized two things...

1.) This church expects a certain level of literacy from followers of Christ. The expectation is informal, but it is there. It begins with Biblical literacy, but extends to a basic knowledge of different theologies, Christian traditions and world religions. Dennis mentioned today that he has been incredibly impressed by the knowledge possessed by laypeople in the congregation. I hadn't really thought about it much, but when he mentioned it, I realized how extraordinary this level of knowledge is, particularly in the light of my second realization, which will probably get me into trouble...

2.) I have been confronted again and again with the fact that, in large part, the mainline church is failing its people when it comes to really connecting the mind with the process of faith. I'm not sure where it was that it became a joke that we don't read the Bible. It should be incite a great sense of shame, I think. What mainline illiteracy has produced is a laity that is dependent on ministers to not only illuminate, but also introduce basic Biblical concepts. This allows for only a very narrow thread of theology to be discussed and considered amongst the people. Because hardly anyone, including pastors, are secure in Biblical knowledge, there is almost no ability to produce an intellectual discussion, let alone a classical argument/counter-argument. Debate doesn't exist. And when it does, it generally isn't very respectful. Bottom line -- the conversation I experienced this morning simply couldn't have taken place in the churches of which I've been a part or with which I'm familiar. And that's primarily because of a basic lack of necessary education.

So, I've realized again how ridiculous my former prejudice is. It turns out that picture I painted of someone who did little to move beyond preformed suppositions and did less to challenge one's faith intellectually, was the mainline me. The sub-standard Christian intellectual tradition was mine.

I was schooled again today. At church. It was a wonderful thing.

17 October 2009

Saturday update

It's a beautiful COLD day here in central Illinois. Dennis is out mowing the leaves around the house towards the street, Annalivia is "reading" to Daniel, and Emmeliese is bouncing up and down in her exersaucer, which she loves again now that we moved the legs up a notch so she can get some good bouncing action going. I'm trying to figure out how to save money on groceries. Right now all I've come up with is making a list of meals we like and the ingredients therein and trying to buy a lot of those when they are on sale. That's probably Basic Home Ec 101, isn't it?
We had pepperoni pizza for breakfast this morning. I had made the crust and two loaves of bread yesterday, but our oven smelled terrible when we turned it on. Dennis took it all apart and I put the dough in the freezer and we went out to eat. After tearing it apart and finding nothing but little mouse droppings, we think a mouse may have peed on the insulation around the oven. This morning, we suffered through the smell until I found that lavender/ vanilla Febreeze got rid of it, if sprayed every 10 minutes or so. The kids really wanted pizza and I hadn't been out to the store to get any proper breakfast materials, so we indulged in pizza while the bread baked. But the bread never rose properly from the freezer. I have two rather flat loaves. Still good, especially for meatloaf sandwiches, which is their immediate need, but not quite what I was anticipating.
Our new church is having an open house this afternoon to celebrate the new building, so we are going to head over there sometime after lunch. Dennis' brother is coming into town for the funeral of a beloved coach at the high school and college, so we'll get to see him, if briefly. And inspired by Ann, I think we may take a bit of a walk to soak up some sunshine, which has been in short supply here.
Emmeliese has been teething a lot lately. She has 6 teeth in and the seventh is taking it's sweet time, right below the surface of her gums for about 2 weeks now. She is miserable at night, and, consequently, so is Momma. She also isn't sleeping in big stretches during the day -- just little naps of less than an hour. It's such a vicious circle -- the sleeping less during the night leads to sleeping less during the day which leads to less sleep at night. She has also developed a howl of righteous indignation when something is taken away from her to rival anything her siblings have produced, which is really saying something. You'd think her hand was cut off. Poor, persecuted child has a mother who won't let her chew on paper... It's terrible. :)
Tomorrow, the church is having a dedication Sunday with a potluck afterwards. I'm singing in an ensemble, so I need to take something that can sit for a while or be refrigerated. I was going to take scallopped potatoes in the crockpot, but I let my little sister borrow it to take out of town, so I have to come up with something else. I'm thinking about making pea salad, because I have a whole lotta peas in the freezer, but I should bring something else. Flattened bread?
Well, the kids are trying to "help" by doing dishes without me. This usually involves an argument, followed shortly by a mess, so this is the end of this update! Hope your fall is beautiful!

15 October 2009

The artist

One of my favorite pictures by our 4 1/2 year old artist. The picture on the other side of the paper sort of shows through, too, but this one here is of a ballerina dancing. I love the motion in the hair, the 3/4 view of the face with proper orientation of facial features including earrings on the ear, and the pointy feet and ballet shoes...I may be biased, but she's good, isn't she? :)

The sweet squirrel

Tonight, I checked on Dan-o after he was asleep and removed about half of the stuff in with him. I always like to see what he considers important enough to take to bed with him. Tonight's haul included a picture of a semi truck. Drawn for him by Annalivia. Oh, how it warmed this momma's heart. :)

Our little biggie

Yesterday, I took Emmeliese to the doctor. For reasons I'll not detail here, but have mainly to do with insurance changes and errant parenting, she has missed her 4 and 6 month checkups. I knew we had a big girl, but I was surprised when she weighed in at 20.5 lbs yesterday! She had a pretty full diaper, but still...what a big girl! This explains why she fit so well into that 18 month romper yesterday!

Annalivia's growth was completely different -- a 50% percentile baby all the way. Hence, her clothes that fit Emmeliese right now are things like sunsuits and capris. Emmeliese is also taller than Annalivia was, though not by much. So -- it's time to go shopping. Again. I wonder how long she'll wear whatever we find today?

14 October 2009

An uncomfortable comparison

Have you ever had someone liken themselves to you and you think, "O dear God, please, don't let that actually be true..."?
This happened to me rather publicly with an individual at one point in my life and I had that reaction. And that person is on the far periphery of my life again and I think about it everytime I encounter them, which, thankfully, is not very often.
Before, I sort of brushed off the comparison, but lately I've been thinking about it a lot. I have always admired certain things about this person, but also realized that the relationship with them was sort of toxic for me. But lately, I've been realizing that, in some fundamental ways, we are a lot alike. And not in the good ways.
It's been a bit of a wake-up call. And then I realized, opening oneself to self-criticism can be a good thing. If a bit uncomfortable.

13 October 2009

A glimpse of things to come

So I've hesitated to say it here, "out loud" as it were, but Dennis and I are pretty sure that we are going to be homeschooling our kids. We've not started anything formal, but Annalivia has a little math workbook that she likes to do. It has counting and numbers and she gets to draw things. She always wants to "do math homework" so I let her.
Today, I was sitting at the table helping her and trying to pay bills online with Emmeliese on my lap while Daniel was sitting on the potty hollering about his progress there. Emmeliese was grabbing the computer and fussing, Annalivia was asking questions and Daniel was yelling to be wiped as the microwave alarm reminded me that lunch needed to be removed.
I wish I could link to my blog-friend Tonya's private blog where she took time to write out a journal of her day as a homeschooling mother of six. It was hilarious and totally delightful. I'm actually looking forward to this sort of chaos. :)

07 October 2009

Bringing down the volume

If there is one thing I say every day more times than I can count, it's this -- "BRING DOWN THE VOULME!" Sometimes I say it nicely, with a "please" tacked on to it. But most time, it's just the latest add-on to the ever-present din around here.
I only have three children, but I swear they make the noise of 30. Every thing they do is Loud.
They run Loud. They walk Loud. They sing Loud. They yell Loud. They laugh Loud. They cry Loud. Loud, Loud, LOUD!
Luckily, most of the time, Loud does not bug me much. It's when I ask Annalivia to go ask her brother who is upstairs if he wants a muffin and she stands 6 inches from me and hollers, "DANIEL! DO YOU WANT A MUFFIN?" that I get annoyed. Or when I say, "No, Annalivia, please go ask him if he wants a muffin" and she moves approximately 2 feet and yells, "DANIEL!! I SAID, 'DO YOU WANT A MUFFIN?!?'"
This house does not help. This rental is huge, has wood floors and high ceilings and the house we are redoing is huger, has wood floors, and higher ceilings. I've realized that we need to figure out the volume thing, and pronto. I've started not talking to the kids until they are in front of me. When I was in the hospital with Emmeliese, I got to see that show about the Duggars and saw that they have an intercom system in their house. When we bought the new house and started redoing it, I told Dennis that was going to be a necessary expense. We simply MUST figure out how to bring the volume down. Any ideas from you experienced moms out there?