Eggs instead

We have had the blessing of money provided this month specifically for food.  So last week, I stocked the freezer fuller than it has ever been.  Ground beef, turkey, chicken…all the things I cook with as a basis for our meals.  I had my weekly planning time yesterday afternoon and laid out meals for the week.  The days of leftovers are fairly over, we usually eat it all or make two full meals, one to freeze.  So tonight was burgers and fries because it’s F week and fries sounded fun.

All well and good right?  One small problem.  In order to access the well stocked freezer, here is what I would have to do:

Go outside.
Get a ladder.
Bring it in and place it in the hallway.
Climb the ladder into the attic.
Crawl through the attic (which I’ve discovered has rather damp places and traces of mold).
Shimmy (is that a word?)  through a hole my husband cut in the sheetrock/firewall in the attic last night with a saw.
Crawl down through another hole to get into our 6 feet of garage where our freezer is located.
Get said food out of freezer.
Climb back up (all this in the pitch dark) into the attic.
Drop food through the hole in the wall.
Fit myself through the hole in the wall.
Carry food across attic and down ladder.
Make dinner.

Why can’t I just open the garage door to get the food?  After hours of cleaning and organizing our little garage space, when we shut the door, the spring broke and the door crashed down.  Without the springs, it weighs nearly 400 pounds and we could not even budge it last night.  Why don’t I want to go to all that trouble to get some beef to make hamburgers for dinner?  Truth is, I won’t fit through the hole Christopher cut in the wall up in the attic.  So even if it sounded fun, I wouldn’t make it.  Or I would end up wedged like Winnie the Pooh when he ate too much honey and got stuck in Rabbit’s doorway which is for me a fabulously vivid and highly amusing mental picture.

So no burgers tonight, we’ll do eggs instead-maybe omelets to be more dinner-ish.  Tomorrow’s dinner?  We’ll see how long it takes to get this worked out.  Trying to be flexible and just laugh.   I’m really striving to roll with the punches and figure out how to delight in the challenges that come up every day.  My kids watch everything I do and I’m seeing responses from them that I really don’t like sometimes.  No one else is responsible for that but me as they are with me nearly 100% of the time.  I feel like they hold a mirror up to my face and sometimes it is so endearing and other times it makes my heart sink.

Back to grace.  Just finished Grace Based Parenting and now am about to pick up Philip Yancey’s famous book, What’s so Amazing About Grace?.  This whole raising children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, that’s for sure.

What did Kyler do today? For those keeping track, he stuck a screwdriver up his nose  and hurt himself quite badly I’m sure he will never do it again.  Blood and tears and more blood.  He also, without anyone knowing, carefully placed a good many Kix cereal balls back into the milk container then put it away.  At lunch time today, Caleb had the surprise of pouring a glass only to find it was quite contaminated with little yellow balls, he was less than thrilled.

Costco won’t be the same…

…without Kristin and me and our combined seven children.

It may seem very strange but we have the best times there (large carts big enough for all four of my kids and a load of groceries, free samples, lots of noise) and in a few short weeks she and her family are moving to Arizona.   This is the theme for me the past few years with good friends I’ve had.  They move away or circumstances change and their place in my life is not the same.  I’m trying to understand the purpose in this but don’t have it figured out just yet.  That’s a whole other post.

On our last trip there, I for one was close to crying more than once.  There were all kinds of things that made it highly amusing and a delightful end to our Costco shopping career.  A short little lady with a thick Spanish accent said to me in the freezer section “You just need three more!  Then you will be like me-seven is so fun!”.  She went on to dote on all our kids and talk about how cute they were and how we should enjoy them every minute and they were such blessings.  Not the usual reaction we get and it was so sweet.   We did, in the same trip, get the pointing and laughing from another two ladies.  Some just shake their heads.

Then there was the moment three kids had to go to the bathroom, I took them.  We filled most of the stalls and as I waited for everyone, a man (distracted and talking on his cell phone) walks right into the women’s restroom, stops, looks at me, turns around quick as he can and exits still talking away.  In the same trip, another mom was in a stall with her two kids constantly telling them to keep the door shut, sit down, don’t touch anything-you know the drill-and finally the door came flying open and she was sitting on the toilet trying to finish quickly and cut her losses.  I couldn’t help but smile.

Our last Costco adventure...for now.
Our last Costco adventure...for now.

On another “Kristin” note, when she gets all set doing caligraphy for a little business on the side going, I’ll be sure and let you know.  She helped me create one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever had the joy of giving.  Visit Steph’s blog to see a picture of it.  If you click on the first photo you can get an idea of Kristin’s handwriting talents.  It’s pretty amazing.

Flood damage

pacific cleanup1

I have been spending some of my work hours out in Pacific, WA where the White River flooded around 100 homes in the White River Dr neighborhood.  If you have not heard, here is just one news story.  I was blown away by the destruction of the homes that I have seen.  I had the opportunity to talk with the Mayor and the Building Inspector, both of whom are taking the responsibility for coordinating the restoration of this neighborhood.

Thanks to my job taking me to places where people need new insulation I have been able to witness first hand the damage that a flood can do to a home in places like Pacific and Issaquah.  When I was walking through the neighborhood in Pacific, I was deeply saddened in my heart as I watched family after family taking the destroyed furniture/carpet/etc. out of their home.  Some homes that were on higher ground simply need a crawlspace clean out and re-installation but there are many families starting the laborious process of completely gutting the main floor of their home.  The Army Corps of Engineers did not take responsibility at first but now has acknowledged their culpability and have apologized, but the residents are looking for more than an appology.  I was pleased to see several trucks of people who were volunteering their time to help with some of the cleanup.  If you know of anyone who wants to volunteer time and energy, this is a great place to show up with a truck and some able bodies.  They are going to need help and lots of it.  I was thinking this is a great place for the Church to step into the neighborhood and lend a few hundred hands.  Maybe your church might want to lend a hand?  It never hurts to raise the issue with your church leaders.  I will be calling a few of the connections I have with churches in the area to alert them to the need.  At the very least, remember to pray for the people in Snoqualmie, Issaquah, Pacific, and others who have come face to face with a great challenge as a result of this latest flood season.

-Chris

Marshmellow eating monkeys

Once again facing the day with kids inside and lots of energy, today I made up a game that evolved into something very fun the longer we played it.  I explained that I was a zoo keeper, and that the monkeys were my favorite animals.  I would take care of them last every day then they would do tricks for me while I fed them their favorite treat-marshmellows.  So I led them out of their ‘pen’ (a fort under a table) and called them by name (Sophie, Henry and Baby).  I had them make monkey sounds for a marshmellow. Then they had to do tricks for marshmellows, while giggling and trying to keep in monkey character.  We must have spent over a half an hour in the family room running, leaping, bouncing, hiding and hollering.  Well worth the few dozen mini marshmellows required and a great way to get out some sillies.

As if that wasn’t fun enough, our Christmas package (that got lost in the mail) came from my Aunt and Uncle who live in Zambia.  The paper crowns were a crowd favorite instantly:

january-2009-086
january-2009-087

King Caleb and Queen Rylee took to play immediately and Kyler, without a crown, ran to find his knight helmet and sword.  They deemed him the bad knight, tried to escape his sword and played together for quite a while.

Thanks Craigs for the fun stuff!

Fresh air

january-2009-0681

After way too many days in a row of being exclusively indoors, we made it to the zoo.  It was good for us all despite Kyler tipping backwards out of his chair in the food court while I was nursing Audrey and the subsequent efforts to keep her nursing and happy while getting up, trying to help Kyler and not lose all sense of modesty.  A kind stranger picked him up and put him back into his chair.

january-2009-044

Audrey continues to master the army crawl.  Most days she can be found dragging herself around the house with one of several pairs of baby leg warmers on, the cutest being a pair from her cousin Isaac from Christmas.  He knows how to pick out just the right things for his little friend.

january-2009-048

My favorite Christmas present, a cashmere hand-knit beanie from Christopher.  Our friend Heidi in Idaho knits these darling hats and sells them on Etsy.  Audrey, Rylee and I all have matching ones in various colors.  I got the girls the hats then Christopher secretly ordered another for me for Christmas, love surprises like that!

january-2009-076

Back in the home school saddle today, we painted with mushrooms (it’s M week) and then with potatoes, apples and hands eventually too.  Fun!

Community vs. Communitas

forgotten-ways

I have a sense of accomplishment today – I finally finished one of the four books that I have been reading!  Sometimes I can’t keep myself from starting a new book that someone gives me or suggests to me even though I haven’t finished the other ones I am reading.  However, I spent some time this afternoon and finished up The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch.

Upon finishing, the vision that God has laid on my heart to plant a church that is a group of people on mission together to the community has been reinforced.  One idea in particular that drove me to deep thought was his discussion of community vs. communitas.  A rough definition of both terms: Community – a group of people connected together.  Communitas – a group of people who are connected together with a cause.  Probably the best way to describe it is with a story/movie that many are familiar with.  The Fellowship of the Ring, by Tolkien is the story of a group consisting of an elf, a dwarf, some humans, a wizard, and some hobbits working together with a common cause.  At the beginning they were an eclectic group of creatures.  Throughout the journey they grew into a communitas.  With the onslaught of danger and adventure, they formed a band who trusted in one another and in the mission they were all trying to accomplish.  In the same way, Hirsch argues that the church should function similarly – a group of people going through life, facing adventure and danger, all the while working on a common cause, sharing the gospel of Christ by loving the people of our world.

What does that look like?  In my own understanding it looks like people who are on mission together to make a difference in people’s lives, to genuinely love others, to stand up for the rights of people all over the world, to fight against poverty, injustice, and all forms of evil.  It is not enough for the church to be a group of people who huddle together on Sundays, but the church needs to be intentionally on mission together, actively engaging the culture, experiencing communitas, not simply community.  Hirsch argues that this takes place when God, the church, and the community all intersect.  It might just be food for thought, but I know I want my family to experience communitas and not just community.

Table for thirteen?

No kidding, just one couple joined us tonight for dinner and conversation and the tally was 9 kids age 6 and under and 4 adults.  Talk about outnumbered.

I can hear you now…conversation isn’t possible with so many little people running around.  Contrare-it just looks/sounds different.  It’s a little louder, a little more disjointed and it moves from room to room.  But it was just as wonderful.

How could we possibly have a fun time with so many small ones about?

With a smile when one is found standing on the kitchen table reaching for the light fixture.

With giggles, lots and lots of giggles, at the dinner table.  So many giggles even all the adults had to laugh.

With ample sharing, taking turns and patience.

With noise when a marching band line up ensued that included every musical instrument we have in our whole house.

With messes that were happily made in every nook and cranny, then (thank you Heather) all cleaned up later!

With a washer load of towels when the toilet overflowed all over the bathroom floor.

With twirls and princess dresses as Rylee finally had a girl over to play with!

Here’s the thing, when there are so many, it’s hard to get worked up and stressed out about the little things.  There is no way to sweat the small stuff and somehow, that feels kind of nice.  It’s easy to relax and go with the flow because the flow as it is, is so darn fun.  It’s hard to aim for perfection (perfect gourmet food, perfectly clean home, etc) when it just isn’t possible.  Although it was nice to have my sisters’ help-right before our guests arrived- scraping all the dried play dough out of the bathroom sink and scooping up a freshly unrolled roll of toilet paper.

Not on a soap box here, really.  Just sharing our heart and the way things go around here.  Children are a gift and we dig ’em.  Simple as that.  Be they one or ten.  They are treasured.

Don’t get me wrong, we are exhausted and spent at the end of each day, not sure how we can do it again.  It’s not all sunshine and roses.   But somehow at 3 AM, I still get up with Audrey to feed her, rock her and snuggle her (although I have hit my head on the door frame a few times lately in my sleepy stupor).  Somehow my very hard working husband still gets out of bed long before sunrise and heads to his new job.

Grace.

We live under a blanket of extravagantly given grace.  That is simply the only explanation for life as it is.  We are completely and utterly thankful.

Don’t you dare say last call tonight…

home-brew

For a portion of our Christmas celebration, we chose to exchange names and not only give a gift to the name we drew, but also some sort of creative expression.  I was lucky enough to draw my brother-in-law’s name and here is the song I “wrote,” played on guitar, and sang for Todd.  Please note that there was a considerable amount of inspiration from Enrique Iglesias, and a few borrowed lines from here and there, and some help from Karissa.  Todd has recently taken a journey into the world of home brew, hence the subject matter of the song.  As you read, Read more

Organization-it sure feels good!

I don’t know what inspired my husband to attack a project I’ve been aching to have done for a long time but I’m sure thankful.  I wish I had a before to show you but the after photo is so nice that it’s okay.  This kind of thing isn’t usually his cup of tea, but he did a wonderful job and my life is easier because of it.

I think he’s pretty amazing by the way 🙂

In our family room (used to be garage) we have a closet that holds all our homeschool stuff (most of which are hand-me-down random things or from the thrift store).  It has been a disastrous mess for over a year.  And thanks to some very sturdy new shelves, now it looks like this:

january-2009-037

Besides having this great closet, I’ve been adopting some ideas from simplemom, one of my favorite mom sites.  Namely her daily docket.  It has only been a few days but it has made a radical difference in the flow of the day for me.  I was printing them out at first but now am writing out the next days ‘docket’ before I go to bed in a lovely Moleskine journal.  Now, if I can just stick with it for the magical “it takes 21 days to make a habit” principle!

Homemade play dough was on Monday’s docket, and it blew me out of the water how much fun it was.  Super messy at first, I thought we did it wrong, but we’ve now spent hours playing with our super soft new play dough.  The kids shirts had to come off in the sticky mess phase then they imprinted nearly every body part onto their play dough:

january-2009-018

The kids were trying to mold their backs in this photo!  Next time we will try a different recipe but goodness this sure was fun.  After the fact I checked another one of my favorite sites, especially for great ideas to do with the kids and there was a recent article about play dough with some super fun twists.  We’ll give it a shot next week I think!