Wednesday, July 29, 2009
FOR TODAY, Wednesday, July 29, 2009...
Outside my window...in the thick, damp night, bullfrogs croak near the stream's edge. Back and forth, "qwark!" and "broyk!" they say in the rhythm of a tennis match. High above them hangs the moon like a pearly slice of a clipped-off thumbnail against the black canvas of the sky.
I am thinking...I need to go to bed, but am dreading it because our mattress is so uncomfortable. We paid good money for it, and I'm thinking it wasn't even four years ago, but
I'm not sure. Could've been nine. Nine years go by like four.
I am thankful for... the company of women, for board games, for the evening we shared as sisters in Christ tonight, for laughter and wit and words and the beautiful eyes I saw on all my fun-loving, laughter-filled, witty, wordsmithy friends.
From the learning rooms...my youngest is learning in the basement to fold bath towels standing up, first in thirds longways (which makes the towel longer than he is tall) and then to roll them. They fit into our narrow towel keeper better that way--in another learning room called the "WC" in some parts of the world. May he learn, dear Lord, to close the door before he voids and wash his hands after.
From the kitchen...comes not a sound except for the low drone of the fridge's motor and the long, swollen sigh of a lazy old dog. Earlier tonight we ate the first zucchini from our garden. I chopped it into finger-length sticks, tossed some bread crumbs and olive oil in a frying pan, and sauteed my Z sticks with a toss of salt and a grind of pepper. Two days ago we had our first cucumber which Joel made a Pinocchio nose of and modeled for the camera. In my 43--almost 44-- years of life, I have never been so happy about firstfruits from a garden. Makes me think of Jesus. Never thought I'd write Jesus and Pinocchio in the same paragraph.
I am wearing...a brown polo shirt, Mom Jeans that need to be replaced now that they're too big (I love saying that!), a brown watch, my three wee rings on the left hand and a costume garnet ring on the right. And my glasses.
I am creating...a menu for our mini-reunion of Russia missionaries at my house this coming Monday; two new planters from old drawers (drilled drain holes, need soil and flowers, and probably a mess in the meantime.
I am going... to tighten these abs. I look like a compressed marshmallow when I sit down. That comes from having four children and countless s'mores.
I am reading...the books listed on my sidebar. (Yes, I read that many at once, but slowly and as I'm in the mood.) The Testament is most engaging. Not eternally valuable like, say, the OLD Testament or the NEW, but I enjoy reading lite fiction in the summer.
I am hoping that our new family room will be as beautiful a haven in real life as it is in my fantasy.
I am hearing...the drone of my laptop, the clanging of my dangle earrings against my shoulders, and the fresh burst of artificial air through the vents. No more bullfrog dialogue. Tennis game is over.
Around the house...sit too many stacks of papers to be dealt with; a pile of giveaways ready for the charity truck pick-up; books to go back to the library, laundry in varying degrees of doneness and several closets and cabinets that haven't taken the class called "How to Organize Yourself and Stay that Way 101." I don't even think they've registered yet. What are they waiting for, a scholarship?
One of my favorite things...the giggles of my seven-year-old as we were making Alphabet Soup and folding laundry. I said, "Pretend we have a huge pot. You throw the first thing in that starts with A. It has to be a meat, vegetable, fruit, drink, or spice." He threw in asparagus, I threw in bacon, he threw in coffee...I threw in watermelon, he threw in "Xtra virgin olive oil" ...and he then got the giggles really bad and said, "Ew--hoo-hoo--this soup is really disgusting now. Watermelon and olive oil! " Oh, just now? I thought it was disgusting after figs and garlic.
A few plans for the rest of the week...tomorrow: to find homes for homeless miscellany (read: clutter) and clean the bathrooms; Friday--hang out with Ya'el, maybe treat her to pure, organic, sweet, smooth Broom's Blooms Dairy ice cream from "down the road apiece" ...since her last name is Blum (pronounced "Bloom") and this ice cream will leave her with a wonderful Maryland memory when she returns to Israel. Saturday--pick Kris up at the airport, go to Sacha's going-away/b'day party, Sunday hug my long-awaited daughter.
A picture thought... big brother, little brother.
heart (evidenced by the time I spend on here compared to things with eternal value) I have to do the hard thing of taking a break from it.
It's really tough because blogging is such a hobby and I love the camaraderie here. But I don't steward my God-given time well. I wish I could just set a timer and stick to it, but inevitably it bleeps and I shut it off and keep right on sitting here. For the next week I really need to focus on friends, family, and my future class.
I will come back in a week or two, reserving the right to get back on sooner if I have an urgent prayer request for my Christian sisters (and brothers?) to know about.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My game plan for improving the look of the first level of my house was to help Joel deep clean his toy corner. Again. It's an eyesore in the family room when he lets things pile up in and around his toybox and lego cart (things neither lego nor toy). So I started with a realistic goal for him: "Joel, you must get rid of all the pure trash plus give away eight things before you can play." ("Pure trash" sounds like an oxymoron, but it distinguishes gum wrappers from unwanted but perfectly good toys.)
Thus began the cycle which started at 9 a.m and ended at 6 pm, with only a break for lunch and three short computer breaks. Once his toy corner was squared away and vacuumed, I started rearranging furniture. Not just within rooms, but between rooms. And not just between rooms, but between levels. Up came an end table, down came a lamp. I got rid of a freestanding kitchen cabinet I had kept way too long. It was country style and that look has been "out" how long??? But it housed my cookbooks and kitchen linens, and was a yard sale find nine years ago. Sheesh. While I was at it, I turned the kitchen table 90 degrees. I added one whole seating area to my family room by bringing in two dining room chairs and a floor lamp. (Just temporarily till the good stuff gets here!) I broke up a collection of old hymnals and displayed them differently.
Meanwhile Joel cleaned my bathroom of his own volition, which blessed me greatly. When he saw me beaming, he asked for a dollar. Oh well, so his volition was motivated by a buck. What can I say? He's a little capitalist. He did a good enough job for not having been trained in bathroom cleaning (yet).
Anyway, this morning I have one glorious backache. But it's worth it to have heard Paul say when he got home and looked around, "You messed up." I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "You showed how much you can do in one day." I didn't know whether to smack him or kiss him. I did neither. Just said, "If that's a compliment, thanks."
Monday, July 27, 2009
First, our daughter will return, Lord willing, on Sunday, home from eight wonderfully exhausting weeks at a camp three hours away.
Second, five of us gals who went to Russia two years ago as missionaries with Global Aid Network, are having a mini-reunion Monday right here at my house! Jaye, our leader, will be in town from Dallas. Kristin is coming up from Raleigh to stay with Sacha who is going to be heading to Russia for almost a year starting the end of August. We are planning a formal luncheon that recreates a lovely luncheon we were invited to in the home of Russian believers. (See my June/July 2007 posts if interested.)
Third, we will be seeing the design presentation for our family room on August 6th. A professional at LaZBoy came out to the house, took measurements, talked with me at length about my tastes and what I wanted the room to feel like. Ironically, having just decided that I wanted no TV in the room so that we might grow less worldly, I told her I wanted leather furniture, solid cherry side pieces, maybe an ottoman, and use accessories that I like from around the house that remind me of our travels and the people who live across the Pond. The designer concluded, "so you're going for a ...worldly look?"
A friend from Israel wants to go with me to Lancaster this week. She wants to know about the Amish since there aren't any in Jerusalem that we know of.
I get to plunge deeper into school plans. That's not altogether exciting since it means the beginning of the end of summer, but there's no better way I'd prefer to think of school than in
Okay, so now I'm jumpy.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here's what makes me comfortable in other people's homes:
-when I feel like they really want me there
- if I "drop in" (which I was taught not to do), there's just enough clutter in the room to tell me there's life in the house (books on end tables, laundry stack in the making, ingredients on the counter near a measuring cup or knife)
-a little bit of noise (I feel awkward in long silences.)
-a dog , cat, or horse (if the dog is calm, the cat doesn't get in my face--I'm allergic--and the horse stays outside:)
-being offered something to drink within the first 15 minutes
-helping in the kitchen before a meal
-people who get along
-playing board games
-being able to find an extra roll of toilet paper easily in their bathroom
-art of any kind on display
-a musical instrument
-candles that are contained (open wicks are pretty but make me afraid of something catching fire, like clothes, hair, accessories)
-fresh flowers on the table
-conversation that goes deeper sooner rather than later or not at all
-a view that includes birds or a birdhouse (I only like wild birds, not domestic ones. They freak me out.)
-when children greet me by name and title if they're old enough to talk (It speaks highly of their parents' training in hospitality--everyone loves the sound of their own name, right?)
-knowing in advance what time people need to leave the house or go to bed or bathe their children or whatever (It gives me the chance to be a thoughtful guest and leave then.)
-when the host or their children are waiting eagerly at the door or window (says "We are so glad you're here) and when they walk me to the car or stand on the porch waving goodbye.
Here's what makes me uncomfortable:
-complete mess (makes me feel claustrophobic, and I can't think, and I have to work extra hard at not judging)
-perfect order (Will they be mad at me if I accidentally spill something? Do they want to impress me or bless me?) Given the choice, though, I'll take perfect order and hope I'm not a klutz in their company.
-no sign of books anywhere (to me it says "dull minds")
-white walls except in a bathroom
-lack of natural light
-dead flowers on the table
-loved ones' urn of ashes on display
-tons of family photos hung everywhere (kind of says "Our Family Shrine"). I like one or two groupings of them. That's it.
-loud noise, children constantly interrupting, any repetitious noise
-people telling me to please take off my shoes at the door. To me it says "notice my housekeeping; it's more important than your comfort" --because, frankly, taking off my shoes is not always socially comfortable for me. Please tell me that I'm not the only one.
-ppl arguing in the house
-smell of smoke, cat pee, dirty dog, urine
-medicine bottles in the open
-not being offered anything to drink (it says "I don't want you to stay long" which may be true, which of course hurts my feelings, or if it's not true, I perceive it that way.)
-yappy dogs or schizo cats, or any rodent, reptile, caged bird
-feeling obligated to help clean up every last thing after a meal (that's taking "make yourself at home" too far--it takes some of the joy out of being a guest)
-when people leave the TV on
-being too hot (I do better being slightly chilly at my age)
-barrage of small talk (which bothers me mostly if I realize it's been coming from me...again says "dull minds")
How about you? I'd love to hear what says "comfy" and "uncomfy" to you in other people's homes. It's always a mix of tangibles and intangibles, huh?
On Thursday night Paul and Stephen took Joel along to worship practice at church until I could pick him up at 7:30. To occupy our boy, Paul grabbed a new book from our shelf. It's called Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn. It's about three-quarters of an inch thick. The reason I bought it was to read it as a reference for the questions that are sure to arise. Never did I imagine that Joel would read it all by himself before I did!
But lo and behold, when I arrived at practice to pick Joel up, he had his nose in this book. Paul smiled at me and said, "Do you know he's read 30 pages since we left home?" (We live 14 minutes from church.) A couple days later I asked Joel if he was still reading it. He had read over 100 pages.
Lest you be overly impressed, I must tell you our short conversation before bedtime last night. Again, I wished I'd had a camera. Joel was deep into the book between Paul and me on our bed, while each of us had our own books.
I paused, seeing that he was nearing the end, and asked, "So, Joel, what have you learned about heaven?"
"Nothing," he replied. "I don't learn or remember anything when I read. I just read."
Paul leaned close to Joel and whispered in his ear, "You're supposed to read for comprehension."
To which Joel said, "That's no fun."
Friday, July 24, 2009
There is one I read, however, once in a great while because it's all about grammar, written by a grammar guru. Occasionally I will leave a comment, but I get the kind of nervous one feels when she's one chess move away from checkmate. I mean, this grammar king has some serious linguistic syntaxes firing away in his brain. The rest of us are babbling pawns.
Not even in my 400-level college grammar class did I hear about "datives" (unless I mistook them for daters--people who date) and I barely recall accusative constructions. Then again, I was planning my wedding.
This blogger, proud author of Anti-Small Talk, has been "refusing to celebrate mediocrity for over four years!" (Woe is he for letting grammar run amok before then.)
In his most recent post, the blogger analyzes the correctness of Ophelia's cry "Woe is me!" by stating that an alternative construction could have been "Woe is to me," since woe is something that must be given to someone. (Think of it as giving grief.) The blogger concludes that only a preposition is dropped, thereby rendering the sentence grammatically correct .
Diagramming the sentence would prove that woe is the subject, is is a being verb, and therefore me would have to be a predicative nominative, which it can't be because you can't interchange the two. You can't say the reverse: Me is woe. Me is a pronoun, which means it stands for a noun. Woe is a noun, but it's not me. I am not woe. I am Zo. (Woe's on first.) I can be woeful, but I can't be woe, nor can woe be me. Grammatically, the wording would only be correct if you could say "woe is I" because "I" must follow a being verb. That's not what Shakespeare's woe-man character meant. She said what she meant and meant what she said.
Got it? Woe is you for reading this.
Conclusion: the construction of "woe is me" must be a dative, not an accusative.
And I have no idea what I'm talking about.
I'm just having fun throwing a smart guy's words around.
The main thing I want the room to do is invite people in to sit a spell, read, and talk. So what's the problem? Well, for a decade I've thought the problem is the placement of the TV. It sits in an old armoire with a broken door squarely in the center of the focal wall. The room is 11.5 by 16- ish: difficult dimensions meant I was pretty stuck with "a" sofa wall, "a" TV wall, and a wall that's half-taken up by a sliding glass door. (Our favorite part of the room is the view outside, so at least the sofa has faced out that way.) What to do to change it? How to make it more comfortable, more of a conversation and reading room? How to add seating in a rather small space?
It was actually Stephen, our 17-year old son, who gave me the "eureka!" I needed. Being an avid reader and calming presence, he simply asked, "Why not do away with the TV on this level?" The question came literally within days of my asking the Lord to give me (and our family) more of a passion for Him and His people and to show me the idols that were standing in the way. Well, when you look at our family room, the focal point is the TV.
I never used to be a TV person. When I was little we didn't get a TV till I was five, and it was about a 16 inch black and white. We were allowed only one hour a day after homework was finished--and everyone had to agree what to watch in that one hour. Our TV was never on during the day, nor during dinner, and always got turned off (at the dial!) when we had company. It was never on just to be on. Of course I grew up before VCRs or DVDs, so we didn't pop movies in. My parents have never liked noise, not even "background noise" so watching TV was purposeful--usually World News with Peter Jennings, and "The Waltons" or "Little House on the Prairie." The absence of TV encouraged creativity, reading, game playing, conversation, and quietude. Our home was peacefully void of idle noise.
But 22 years of marriage to a man who grew up in just the opposite environment has altered my viewing habits. I don't blame him; I was the one who drifted toward TV. Now I watch too much. Namely HGTV and Food Network, but entirely too often. I can become a news junkie if I start watching. I like drama and trauma shows, history and mystery channels, game shows and comedy. TV plays a much bigger role than I want to think about. How can I grow in godly passion when the world is being pumped into my mind through TV so often? How much of an unconscious habit is TV watching, like grazing? Just exactly what is "must see" TV? What is "engaging television" really engaging?
These questions are not difficult to answer; the answers are difficult to come to terms with. To realize that when you walk into our home, you can't immediately tell how important Christ is to us. Not that we need to hang crosses or Jesus pictures up (Paul wouldn't allow it anyway), but I was thinking that, except for the Bibles and Christian books around here, a casual observer would not readily identify the Person we worship. The thing that's front and center is a thing. A thing! An idol that I've unfortunately become too comfortable with. And now that's starting to change. God is rocking my worship centers--food and leisure. I know I will appreciate the changes eventually, but I am having a hard time saying, "Will I really be fine without a TV in front of my favorite chair? How much will I miss plopping down after dinner with a book and a TV show?
We have a big TV in the basement and a smaller one in Ben's room upstairs. It's not as if we are completely eradicating TV. I am not anti-TV. I don't think than non-TV watchers are necessarily holier or more spiritual (though some might like to give that impression) , nor are their leisure pursuits less idolatrous. (I mean, if I gave up 70% of my TV watching and God decided to take away my books, I would immediately request the Rapture!)
I am just feeling that God is in hot pursuit of MY heart and He has pinpointed, gently but firmly, the things I need less of, in order to experience more of Him. He wants to do a makeover on me that will, I hope, be reflected in our family room makeover.
How about you? Is God rocking any of your worship centers? How so?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Art teacher Kathy Barbro has made templates for wall murals, downloadable to your printer. (Each section of the mural is printed on one page; you color them and then assemble.) These are really big and if you have a large wall or table where your kids could work on it, it's sure to keep them busy and productive for a long time. Templates are $5 and sent by email. Don't worry, there are plenty of free ideas there, too.
Since this upcoming school year I will be teaching world history and geography (slanted, I plan, toward geography) I wanted to incorporate as many art projects from world cultures and artists as I could. I also want to bring in special guest speakers whom I know personally have either lived in or traveled to certain countries. One of these people, Katrine, was born in Belgium. I was tickled when, after asking God to show me a fun art lesson about a Belgian artist, I landed on this site again and immediately found a project called An Eye for Magritte. All you need is a piece of white paper, a CD, and colored pencils. Very cool. Can't wait for Joel to try it.
One more thing: if you're teaching world geography, you might want to request the passport template from Art Projects for Kids. Again, only five bucks. I'm going to do that since we will be travelin' Around the World in 80 Days (Give or Take 50).
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I would describe the past two legs of my journey with the word honor.
To make this brief, let me say that Paul wanted me to consider quitting Weight Watchers for two reasons:
1. He thinks I can lose weight on my own now.
2. We could save $12 a week.
I felt he was trying to sabotage my success. I stomped my feet metaphorically and wagged my tongue not-so-metaphorically. It was unfair of me. He was simply saying that his confidence is in God, not in Weight Watchers, and now that I was applying self-control to knowledge, walking in repentance, did I really need a support group or to spend 12 dollars a week to get on a scale? Wasn't Karen enough as a human accountability partner?
I seriously thought he had reduced my progress to dollars and cents and maybe he secretly didn't want a thin, attractive wife. (Yeh, like that's ever be going to be thought by any man!) I wish I didn't have to confess how furious I became, but such is the nature of the beast within.
When I finally calmed down, I realized I had unfairly accused him. He truly believed I had reached a point at which I could go it alone. And he truly thinks about money way more than I do. Honestly, he thinks about money to the degree I think about food--which he has confessed is a problem--but I will say he's made far more wise choices with money than I have with food, prior to April 29th when my journey began.
He really had no ill will toward me. Isn't that sick that I could think my beloved would not want me to continue this blessed quest for satisfaction in God, as well as health and freedom? How my thoughts had distorted his meaning and built a case against my prince!
Still, I was not ready to quit WW cold turkey. So I asked him if he'd be okay with my going every other week? He said it was up to me. Oh, joy! I had the opportunity to put my newfound
habits to the test of 2-week accountabilty as well as the chance to prove to Paul that I honored his (very deep) desire to save money. All I asked of God was to please help me lose at least 1.5 pounds a week for two weeks. All I asked of Paul was that if I couldn't do at least that much, please believe I still need weekly plunking down of money in exchange for motivation.
Well, I am thrilled to report how God honored both Paul's desires and mine.
After a two-week hiatus from WW, I weighed in today.
Loss? 3 pounds.
I almost giggled when the lady told me. The Lord seemed to whisper to me as I stepped off the scale, "He who honors Me, I will honor." (I Sam. 2:30)
Total now: 18.4.
I'm down a dress size and a pants size.
Most importantly this week, I have seen (by looking hard for) increased faith in God because of my husband's request--a request that initially sent shockwaves of fear and subsequent fury through my body. It revealed to me just how powerful my thought life is and that's what I really need accountability for.
wondered out loud what he'd print on a sign in the event Molly got lost.
Apparently our sweet canine has lost 36 dollars in monetary value since
my last Kidbits post about her. Poor girl. See what I mean: http://www.apenchantforpens.blogspot.com/.
Joel is just as into hot cars as Paul and I are, though Joel is a Ford Mustang kind of guy and we prefer imports. He's got such an affinity for them that when he saw a ride-on childsize Mustang in Wal-Mart, he came home and started putting price tags on everything he could find to sell. (Some of the things actually belonged to him.) He announced he was having a yard sale on August 10th. I had to talk him out of it. I think it worked.
But the yen for that Mustang, which costs $294, grows stronger by the day. We've had a talk with him about coveting, about the cost, and about the impracticality of having a car with only a steep driveway to ride it on (which he doesn't see as a drawback, but as offering greater momentum and hence a greater thrill).
So he was yammering on about it just before a nap yesterday. He asked me earnestly how many minutes of backscratching it would take to save up for the car.
"I really want a Mustang, Mom. You know, the replica--clone--of a Mustang in Walmart? Not a real one."
The way he changed the word "replica" to "clone" made me laugh. He had that look and tone that said, "You might not know that big word. I'll use a smaller one so you'll understand." It cracked me up.
I asked him, "Replica? Where'd you hear that word?"
"I don't know. I just did."
"Do you know what it means?" I asked. He looked timid. "You used it right, don't worry," I assured him.
"Yeah, it's something similar to the real thing, like a clone or a miniature."
Golly! He could even define it with two synonyms.
Later, coming home from Jerusalem Mill with him, I was in and out of conscious listening. (You know how moms pretend to listen, or half listen?) He was saying something about a friend named Betty who has a "thing you jump on, it has springs, what's it called?" when I snapped back into conscious listening.
"How big is it?" I asked. "Do you mean a trampoline?"
"No, it's for one person."
"A pogo stick?"
"Yeh, a pogo stick. And Betty was jumping on her pogo stick and she had to do one of those---" (pauses to think of the right word)--Mom, can I use you for a dictionary?"
Monday, July 20, 2009
The weekend started actually Friday night when Heather G dropped off a glorious care package she and her care group had assembled for Sarah. (She had called me for things Sarah would like and I blurted out "cold hard cash" because she's not getting paid a dime till the end of the summer, and even that's not guaranteed. I also said Sarah would rather miss a meal than have bad breath, so she likes to keep gum and mints on hand. "Homemade anything" Sarah asked for since it's so rare and goes really fast when shared with other counselors. I had also said she loves cards and children's art. She decorates the area around her mirror with them. Well, Heather came through with ALL of it! I welled up with tears when she dropped it off. It wasn't just a plain old box or shopping bag. It was a picnic basket filled with assorted gum, mints, delicious homemade muffins (we had to beg off Sarah), cards, a generous amount of cold, hard cash, and a set of picnic dishes. plus a long roll of newsprint decorated by Heather and her two young children. Sarah kept saying, "Aww, aww. look at that!"
Hungrier than hungry, our first stop was lunch. We chose the closest non-pizza place in town, which means a half hour from camp. It was a beautiful quaint old restaurant called the Jean Bonnet Tavern. Not cheap, and not fast, but quite good. The waitress recommended the crab cakes. Even though I said we're from Maryland, she insisted they rivaled any Maryland crab cake around. I bit. She was wrong. It was good, but it wasn't a Maryland crab cake. I loved the quilts hanging on exposed stone walls, and glossy old pine tables with silver candlesticks and cushioned wrought iron chairs. Mostly I liked hearing Sarah and Stephen swap stories from their camps.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the camp. Sarah showed us around, starting with her room. The bunks are four high on two walls. Joel had no problem scaling the ladder to the highest one (about seven feet up) but was all kinds of terrifed to come down.
But he soon discovered it would be a day of overcoming fears, for the next adventure was the rock climbing wall. Everyone but me took a turn; I have zero upper body strength and plenty of lower body mass to compound my weakness. Besides, I'm scared of heights and youtube.
Next fun thing was the zipwire, accessed by climbing a 60 foot tower, trusting oneself to a flimsy swing with harness, and hanging on for dear life for what seems like the last ten seconds of it. When Joel got up there I was so scared for him. (We shall see if my pictures show a steady hand or sweaty palms.) I was on the ground watching as his brother and sister fastened him in. I thought he'd chicken out since he had been scared to climb down from the fourth bunkbed. Go figure. He did the zip wire four times and begged for more. Paul, Sarah, and Stephen also zipped. Did I? Nah, didn't I mention I am scared of heights? I did this same zipwire about 16 years ago and the thrill has lasted me this long; no need to repeat it. That was the day I overcame the fear of peers; the fear of heights has only, well, heightened.
I took video of all this, but it's on Sarah's camera since (I can't believe) I forgot my own.
Paddle boats came next. Sarah and Joel raced Stephen and me. They won by a nose.
In the evening we ate a the hometown favorite restaurant called The Dream. It used to be called Dave's Dream, but Dave died. Thankfully he left his dreamy recipes behind. The meatloaf was fantastic.
Saturday Evening? That's a Post unto itself.
Friday, July 17, 2009
The day after Danny's wedding, some
of the family got to come here for a cookout. The kids spent a lot of time
playing on the deck and munching
little treats. From inside the kitchen
we spotted all four of them swinging at once. There was a light drizzle coming down which seemed to add to their joy. Joel was checking out Xander's boo-boo; Myleigh was singing, and Morella appears to have noticed that we've caught them enjoying their carefree togetherness.
On the rare occasion when extended family from out of town get to be here, it's even better when their visit corresponds with someone's birthday. In this family, my Paul and our great-nephew Xander (pronounced "Zander," short for Alexander) have the same birthday, 45 years apart. Here they are at our little party. Uncle Paul always asks for coconut custard pie for his birthday. Xander likes chocolate cake.
First they listened to everyone
sing the Happy Birthday song,
then Xander blew out his
Uncle Paul, now an old guy, needed help blowing out his candle...
Then they opened cards and gifts.
My favorite moment was when Xander opened the card from us and exclaimed, "Money!" I don't think I've ever seen a wider smile. I wish I had had the camera in hand just at that moment. It was priceless. That is the hardest thing about being a hostess for me: missing the Kodak moments because my hands are busy elsewhere.
Ah, but the heart knows how to take pictures that are framed in the memory.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
vacation. If you've been, can you please share your tips? Please include "must see" places, good restaurants if you remember them, and what not to bother with. (I tend to be skeptical of online reviews from travel sites. If you had three days in Savannah and the vicinity, what would you do again?)
Jacob is always getting the bad rap for deceiving his father Isaac. Actually he was just following through with what his mom told him to do--which, in this case doesn't justify his actions-- but let's make sure we realize he comes by his dishonesty honestly. Isaac, being blind in his old age, depends on his other senses, and is vulnerable to trickery. When Jacob disguises his smooth skin with hairy animal skin like Esau's, Isaac gives him the blessing of the birthright that should've been given to Esau. After all, Esau was the eldest son.
"What's been done can't be undone," Isaac declares when the dirty deed is revealed. Poor Esau. Heartsick and furious, he cries to his dad, "Surely you don't have just ONE blessing. Please bless me, too!"
Isaac gladly bestows a blessing on Esau.
The horror and blessing of the cross is a deed that can't be undone. It's final. When we believe in Jesus and He gives us the blessing of salvation, we "wear the robe of the firstborn" (Jesus's righteousness) and God the Father sees us and treats us like Jesus. Not only that, even if WE see ourselves as an Esau, all we need to do is cry out, "Bless me, too, Father!" and he does.
One other thing I saw this time was that, not only does Isaac say to Jacob upon touching his arms, "You feel like Esau," he also says, "You smell like him"--a very pleasant thing to Isaac. It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him."
Not only do we look like Jesus, we smell like Him.
I get choked up thinking that what's been done at the cross can't be undone, that I wear the robe of the firstborn of God, that God chooses to "see" me as He sees His son, that he treats me according to the way He sees me, and if I want more blessings, I can simply ask. My heavenly Father has plenty of them to lavish on all His children.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I only meant to tidy it up and get rid of some clutter, file a few misplaced photos and papers, run the vacuum, dust the only three pieces of furniture that're in there, and hang a picture. But then the Mouse/Cookie syndrome took over. I pulled out everything I could and deposited it into the open area just outside the office door. Then I moved the heavy glass scrapbook table as far as I could to vacuum behind. But instead of grabbing the vacuum, I decided to get the leftover bathroom paint which I love...as well as the roller and dropcloth and...by the time I was done, I had painted one entire wall. An accent wall for now, which I'll live with and decide if I want the whole room that color.
While the paint dried, I played around with a long piece of deep burnt-orange-red fabric. Topper for the sliding glass doors? Several new pillows? A skirt? Lost in thought, I put it away.
After painting, I thought I'd repurpose the two drawers from my broken craft storage unit. They will make a fine pair of flower planters. I then decided to weed the gardens and make a Bouquet in Orange. Tired and hot, I was tempted to sit down at the piano and put music to the theme of joy that was going through my head.
Thankfully I was arrested by this thought:
"Zo, the last time you were this creative in one day, you got pregnant."
Monday, July 13, 2009
My baby sister Jill and her hubby Jay just bought their first home. What a thrill to see them realize their dream, and to feel the pains that go with contracts and settlements (the pain in the backside when you realize your wallet is not as well-padded as you wished).
The house is a darling 1960s rancher in Aberdeen on a beautiful lot with a big yard and mature trees. (It's about 15 minutes from our home.) Mostly what it needs is cosmetic, not structural, and that can actually be fun for "project people" to do. Hard work, yes, but creative fun.
Knowing that Jill was on a tight schedule to get the public rooms painted before moving day, her friends and I offered to help. Gracious recipient of help, she let us. (The friends came one day, Joel and I the next.) Joel wiped down base cabinets in the kitchen and ran a Swiffer on the hardwood floors. He's got this thing for Swiffers. He begged to help paint --begged himself into trouble, if you get my drift, since he wouldn't take "no" for an answer. (Uncle Jay wanted only adults painting, understandably.) Parents sometimes need to facilitate a child's learning to take "no" for an answer.
While paint was drying, I wiped out upper kitchen cabinets and drawers with a fabulous cleaning solution I took with me. It's called Fabuloso. "It smells soooooooo good in here," Jill said every time she came in to check my progress. Fabuloso--which I found at Home Depot-- comes in a bottle that, unfortunately, looks like a jug of grape juice for kids. The shape and label should NOT be so appealing. It clearly says "Do not drink" on it, but let's be honest, can anybody who WOULD drink it be able to read? Anyway, I have made a note to self to write the company and say, " I love EVERYTHING about Fabuloso except its dangerous appeal to preschoolers. Please change the look of it." I love to put some water in the bathroom sink with a couple capfuls of Fabuloso in it and just let it sit. It gives off this aroma that gives everyone the impression you've actually been cleaning. Why work hard when you can fool people without sweating? That's my question.
When the cabinets were clean and dry, Jill had me use thin rubber matting to line them. They needed to be notched in front to accomodate the door openings, so I did that while she painted in the other room. When she came to inspect my work, she gushed (very easy to impress Jill, which is one big reason I love her, she is SO not critical). "Wow, how'd you make them fit so perfectly? " she asked. I blurted out (not thinking), "I cut corners."
Well, you'd have thought from our laughter we had been sniffing Fabuloso a little too long, but if you have a sister or close girl friend, you know it takes very little to bust a gut. Pretty soon Jill joined me making these liners. We went on and on: "Hire us. Cutting corners is our specialty, " and "Why do the job well when you can cut corners instead?"
Enough already. Here are some pictures from our fun day on her new homefront. I won't even begin to apologize for our looks. Does anyone look good in paint clothes?
(Notice I am holding the bottle of cleaner strategically in front of a paint smudge on my shirt. It's not just free advertising.)
Here's to more happy projects and great memories with Jill and Jay in their new home. (Glasses clink, filled with Fabuloso. Not.)
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
One of my all-time favorites is this terrier Joel created with chalk pastels. On a day when I had some art books lying on the kitchen table, he spotted a step-by-step lesson on how to draw a terrier in watercolors. But we don't have watercolors, so he grabbed the pastels. Within a half hour, he had produced this amazing dog with soft brown eyes, wiry black hair, and perky pink tongue. I loved it so much it inspired the color scheme in my new bathroom. Eventually I'll have it custom framed. (It must've gotten creased across the right side of the face. Oh well. It still impresses me that a seven year old drew this doggie.)
and South,mounted broom steeds as Rough Riders, invited parents to our parties, dressed up as famous Americans, rode in a Model T, ran ZZ's Treats at BizTown, painted on the playground, and had lots of fun that didn't get captured on camera.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Anyway, here's my variation on the recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand. Amounts for the sauce are approximate: I didn't really measure.
12 oz bag fully cooked, frozen tail-on shrimp (from Aldi)
4 cooked chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), diced
2 portabella mushrooms . diced
3/4 cup crushed walnuts
about 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1/2 T celery salt
1/2 T black pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Sharkey's hot sauce ("Regular")
a few gentle shakes each of curry powder, onion powder, savory, garlic powder and black pepper (for those who measure: try 1/4 tsp of each then add more of whatever it's lacking)
Put frozen shrimp in large skillet with a few tablespoons of water. Thaw it on medium high almost completely and discard the tails in the process. Set aside. Remove all water from skillet. Pour olive oil in, add butter, and then saute onions and mushrooms together, sprinkling with celery salt and pepper. Add crushed walnuts (I crush mine with a swift bang on the flat side of a chopping knife.) Stir well. Add sauce.
Spoon some of your delish mix into a piece of lettuce, wrap it up, and devour. (These could be appetizers, but I made enough to call it a meal.) It was a big hit with the fam, though we never told Joel it had mushrooms or he wouldn't have tried one bite.
While I'm not quite ready to challenge Bobby Flay to a lettuce wrap throwdown, I will say this: eat your heart out, PF Chang's. :)
So I'm back to a total loss of 15.4 pounds. It's not nearly as much as I originally wanted gone by now, but I am learning a lot about perseverance, acceptance of the givens in my life, God's comfort, and am in the midst of trying to discern whether I "need" Weight Watchers as accountability or whether God wants to stretch me further than I think possible by going it alone. I am so afraid of failure. There's something to be said for having to plunk down money and get on a scale and have someone see your progress (or lack thereof) week by week. There's a lot to be said also of a serious accountability partner like Karen. I have never had an AP stick with me for very long. Always before it has been a random, every 3 weeks or so, someone asking, "so, how ya doing with the weight thing?" which doesn't really motivate me. That's not really caring, in my book, not true accountability, not all that helpful. This time I am thankful for Karen, but even if she doesn't stick with me, I know I have the Lord. This isn't ultimately about losing weight. It's a walk of repentance--away from gluttony and self-reliance, toward believing with my actions that what I truly need cannot be found in the fridge or the pantry, but in Christ alone.
The victory this week: persevering when I felt like giving up. The week of June 24 to July 1st was THE hardest, and the following week was just a tad easier. Thanks be to God that my former way of living (ie giving up when I didn't reach my goals, feeling doomed to failure) is changing. What I need to really work on now is refusing to get angry at naysayers. Even the lady at Weight Watchers who, when I told her I wanted to lose 100 in a year, said "that idd'n gonna happen." I wanted to smack her: I felt neither agape nor phileo at the moment, but have since realized she was probably just trying to keep me from setting myself up for failure. Lesson I learned? Don't tell someone "It isn't gonna happen." Say, "You're mighty ambitious and I wish you well," and keep your thoughts of failure zipped inside your lips!
She needs prayer.
1. She has a terribly painful ankle. It's gradually been getting worse for three weeks, and it's not like she can stay off of it. Telling a camp counselor not to walk with her group is like telling a mom with a toddler not to let him get into things. Sarah is going to an urgent care place Saturday for an X-ray, per my request and her pain. We will be going to see her a week from Saturday unless things are worse than we think.
2. She is really upset with herself for getting a speeding ticket on the way to church Sunday.
You know how it is, you're on a lonely stretch of highway and figure the only two cops in central PA are at Dunkin Donuts, but no....there is one who, while having his fourth Boston creme from his to-go bag, catches you sinning on the way to a holy moment. She was en route to Altoona from Deep Creek Lake, where she had spent the 4th of July weekend with a fellow counselor. ("Fellow" in the "companion" sense, not the gender sense:) Sarah's speeding ticket is almost 20% of the entire amount she expects to be paid at the end of the summer. She is not paid a dime until the end, and only then if the donor who has given in past years comes through again. I send her a little each week, but it ain't a paycheck, let me assure you.
She will be asking for a court date. If you've ever been in traffic court for the first time, you know how that feels.
3. She is more of a social worker than she ever expected to be in this job. I think she was imagining part-time gym teacher, part-time Bible teacher/skit actor, full-time group supervisor. But she was not prepared for girls who wake her up at 2 a.m to confess the abuse they've experienced at the hands of a family member, girls who are so hungry for attention they'll do (or have done) almost anything for it, girls and boys whose parents aren't sending them to a Christian camp to reinforce their beliefs and have fun, but to dump their kids, get them out of their hair for a week or two at a time. Of course there are kids who do come from good homes and are there for the right reasons, but Sarah has been emotionally drained from the ones who are suffering and scared. Abuse or suspicion thereof must, by law, be reported, and when the campers hear that from the counselors, they just want to clam up rather than risk telling more. What a sad, sad world we live in.
Nevertheless, she draws strength and comfort from the Lord and is surrounded by staff who love Him. And every Saturday she is able to get up to Altoona and be refreshed by her host family and their church.
By the way, she REALLY appreciates letters from home and by "home" I mean her biological AND church families. Thank you (and your children) who have sent cards and art to her; she decorates the wall around her mirror with them. On her behalf, let me say, "Please keep 'em coming."
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Yesterday I read again a verse that always, always comforts me like no other. Just when I think no one is praying for me--it's a human impossibility and quite egocentric, honestly, to think flesh and blood is capable of remembering to pray for me all the time--Hebrews 7:25 comes back to me through the power of the Spirit.
"Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."
Jesus lives to make intercession for me.
Some people live to make money. Others live to make their name famous. Others live to make food (and/or eat it). Some people seem to live to make life difficult for others or easy for themselves.
But Jesus? He lives to make intercession for you, for me.
He is constantly praying for me, no matter whether I am praying for myself or have given up, no matter whether anyone else is remembering to do so, Jesus, Faithful Jesus, lives to make intercession.
Monday, July 06, 2009
We got there so early,
Joel had lots of time to check
out the tide and build sandcastles.
The Bridal Hut.
Clearly assembled by groomsmen in the construction biz, where anything that can be wrapped like duct tape, is. I reckon if the ladies had been part of the design team:
1) they would have secured a permit from the city of Rehoboth so that Danny wouldn't have
had to play the pretty-please politician at 6pm for his 7pm ceremony
2) they would have billowed the tulle a little more, maybe tucked in few yellow flowers
3) they would've started more than 45 minutes before the wedding
As it was, I was amused at how the guys got the job done--emphasis on the guys.
Ever seen flip flops with tuxes?
Sarah absolutely loved these dresses...the color, the style, everything.
First time I've ever heard The Wedding March performed on the steel drum. This man was a friend of the family,
I think from Trinidad?
Here comes the bride!
I have to say, Zubrowski men know how to pick 'em:)-.
Danny watching his beloved Lisa coming down the sandy aisle. I love seeing a young man's face the moment he beholds her. It's how I
picture Jesus when His Bride is presented to
Him on That Day. Joy complete.