“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His love endures forever!”
This particular scripture rings out as a happy little chant around our home. (The punctuation is mine, not the Bible’s.) November’s memory verse for the Sunday School has become a kind of mantra over the last few weeks. I love to unexpectedly call to our older son, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” And our Sunday School student replies with the remainder of the verse. It’s especially cute because he says “His love and doors forever!” So true, little one.
In fact, God has been abundantly good to us this year by providing much love and more than a few open “doors.” As the readers who are close to us know, the budget of two graduate students with two children is a tight one. The summer of 2009 required the greatest financial caution that we’ve ever had to exercise. We skimped, we cut coupons (something I’m terrible at), and we made tidy little grocery lists that made use of every leftover. We skipped a vacation this year, and we prayed that our car would hold for awhile longer while we ignored the noises and the shimmies. When we thought that we had reached the end of our monetary options, God came through in an amazing, humbling way. We made it through the summer without borrowing, and more importantly, we found that our creativity and love were enough to make for a fun, memorable summer.
The fall, as you’ve seen through this blog, was wonderfully rewarding and beautiful. I actually credit “Warm as Pie” for bringing out the best in my family and myself this season. I find myself thinking about what I can share with you, my readers. I have a vision for what I want this blog to be, and while the blog does report what my life is, it has also inspired me to make my life what I want it to be. I don’t know how many people are actually reading this collage of our family’s life, but today I give thanks for you. I’m glad that you are sharing in this experience with me, and I hope—if you haven’t already—that you will leave a comment at your leisure.
Our family is gearing up for Advent, our favorite time of year! Now that the Thanksgiving feast is behind us, I’m taking down my fall decor, and we’ll be pulling out boxes of ornaments and lights in the next few days. I am excited to share some of the crafts and activities that will lead us to the celebration of Christmas. We’re hoping for some magic…
When I was a child, Sundays were for haircuts. After a day of church and spending time with my mom’s family, we would head over to my dad’s parents’ home or they would come to our house for a round of haircuts. Papa was a barber, and he passed the skills to his son. So on a Sunday night, I delight in seeing my boys have their hair cut by my dad, their Papa.
More than a month of autumn officially remains on the calendar, but everyone knows that it’s glory days are behind us. A few tenacious leaves hang on to skeletons of trees, avoiding the inevitable drift to join their brothers upon the lawn. The chill that so many of us long for and love is threatening to become the icy wind that takes your breath away and makes you reconsider a trip to the store or a stop at the post office. ‘It can wait,’ we’ll say as we sip our tea and pull an afghan tighter around our shoulders. Boy, do I want to hold on to this beautiful season.
I feel the same way about my boys’ childhood years. When people warn new parents that it goes by quickly, believe them! I did believe, but I didn’t really understand. I didn’t understand the rush of emotions that accompany watching your “baby” dress himself and inform you that he wants to wear the Superman undies instead of Elmo. I had no idea that I could get sentimental at the thought that “Lellow” is the only baby word left for my elder son. (Now, I understand why my mom used to get so frustrated with me when I insisted upon correcting my little sister.) Yes, I know that I can enjoy the babyhood of our little one, and God willing, more may follow, but still… I treasure the reminders that they are still so small. On Thursday, we were having lunch with my mom, and our preschooler announced, “my teacher said that she saw my picture on your Blob, Mommy.” I thought my mom and I would burst! Last night, our younger fellow kept pointing at his pajamas saying “Weee Pooh,” translated “Winnie the Pooh.” I love it; I love it; I love it!
Do you have a peaceful place, a little square of quiet somewhere in your busy world? With a wild preschooler and a growing toddler, no corner in my home is untouched by activity and happy noise, but as I was cleaning up in preparation for company last week, I took a moment to notice the temporary peacefulness of my front porch. I wish that it was on a country lane instead of a much-traveled street, but even so, we’ve created a tidy, cheerful face to greet the world and welcome it inside.
On Saturday we joyfully witnessed the vows of my husband’s youngest brother and his long-time love! The ceremony was simple and lovely. The bride’s teenage daughters were her beautiful Maids-of-Honor, and her son served as Best Man. The sight of the newly formed family together at the front of the church promised that my eyes weren’t dry! Little hints of autumn set a beautiful color scheme and a warm atmosphere. The bridesmaids wore chocolate brown gowns, and the silver accents all around added a bit of magic to everything. The flowers incorporated white, yellow, and an orange that was so orange I could almost taste it! Gorgeous.
I love weddings. I love the Holiness of the promises made. I love the romance, the food, the care that goes into every decision. But even if they had stripped away all of the special details, this would have been an uncommonly special wedding. My new sister-in-law and her kids have been as good as family for nearly as long as my husband and I have been married (more than eight years). We love all four of them, and we are delighted to make them “official.”
And guess what! A certain orange cap is finished. Whoopee! Although the top didn’t turn out as I had envisioned it, my little man looks quite handsome in his first mommy-made accessory. I’m still totally in love with the yarn—the color and quality. This was the first time that I used a circular needle for a hat, and I enjoyed the process very much. My knitting was unusually even and smooth. Maybe it was the yarn or the needle, or maybe I’m actually improving.
I’m noticing a weird trend. Every year, in late October, I start to feel anxious. I get sort of panicky, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied. I begin to feel inadequate and question all the busy-ness in my life. I call it Midterm Syndrome, and although the Syndrome has come upon me almost every year for more than a decade, I am still (somehow) always caught by surprise. I reach that point in the semester when I realize that time is slipping by too quickly. The workload is increasing , but the time until finals is disappearing all too fast. I find myself in the closest that I ever get to “depression,” and I finally ask, “Hey! What’s happening here?” And only then do I realize that Midterm Syndrome has struck. If you look through my previous journals, you would see a very obvious pattern, but oddly I never anticipate the onset.
In the past, I have cured the mucky symptoms by weeding out some of my “extra” activities. Each fall, I seem to drop out of things or delegate responsibilities to others. But over the last year, I have been making a conscious effort to simplify (Some of you who know me well are probably chuckling at that!), so I feel like I’m already down to the minimum. There are no more activities to zap from the schedule. The things that I do now require very limited time. So when Sunday evening and Monday morning left no doubt that the Syndrome had arrived, I felt lower and more overwhelmed than ever before. What can I do if there is nothing to drop out of? So I moped a bit. I had a quiet, lay-low kind of Monday. I cleaned. And finally, I made a decision to look forward. I already had plans to have my older son’s friends and their moms (my friends!) over to our house on Tuesday, so I happily wrapped myself in their company. I relished the sound of seven happy little kids in my home. I enjoyed the smell of the oddly shaped and wonderfully messy homemade pizzas that they created. I had a cute cupcake and some homemade chai. I laughed with other moms and marveled at my husband’s ease in the kitchen and in conversation with my mommy friends. Then this evening, my family enjoyed Bible study and fellowship with some other friends. It felt good to be with them after a few weeks of missing our bi-monthly time together. So what was the cure of Midterm Syndrome 2009? Friends. I realized during this bout with my annual slump that the answer is the decision to be thankful, to understand that God has blessed me with friends and family and opportunities to laugh and to love. Maybe that sounds terribly cliché, but next October, I’m going to keep away the irksome blues with a big ol’ bash at my house. Wanna come?
Okay, I confess. I dislike Halloween. I don’t like its questionable spiritual origins. I don’t like that it brings gross candy into my house that I don’t even want my child to have. (This point, of course, excludes Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and other forms of good chocolate…not the cheap waxy stuff that is as counterfeit as all the princesses parading around on the 31st.) As a kid I was freaked out by the notion that my parents would actually want me to knock on the doors of strangers’ houses, talk to the strangers, and ultimately take candy from them. What?! We didn’t have any real neighbors, so Mom drove us to our grandparents’ neighborhoods. It took me years to figure out that although these mysterious figures were strangers to me, many of them were the same folks who gave my parents candy when they were little trick-or-treaters. But even once I concluded that my mom and dad weren’t try to lure me into the hands of would-be kidnappers, I still disliked this pseudo-holiday. What are we celebrating anyway?
But here is what I do like about Halloween: creativity. I remember lying awake at night designing an alarm clock costume when I was in the fourth grade. I explained it in detail, and together my parents and I made my late night musings come to life. We used cardboard, Styrofoam, aluminum foil, felt, yarn, an actual alarm clock, tights, sticky numbers, and paint. The results were fantastic, and I won First Place! What a proud moment. All of my costumes were homemade…sometimes by me, sometimes my mom, even my Aunt Georgia made a poodle skirt and a Rainbow Brite. Now, I’m making costumes for my own children, and while I still frown at the spooky death stuff and cringe at the thought of cavities and tummy aches, I look forward to my little guys saying some September (or perhaps on October 30th !!) “I wanna be a…,” and I’ll say, “Okay! Let’s do it!”
This year we followed our recent enthusiasm for all things pirate-y and created a pirate and his parrot sidekick. While pirates aren’t exactly upstanding citizens, they aren’t so scary that I can’t wrap my innocent four-year-old in such garb. Thursday was the costume party at school. Big fun there! On Halloween night we went to a church’s Halloween Fest that celebrated the Light rather than the creepy darkness. Carved pumpkins served as lanterns all around, and white lights were strung around the church yard and the church itself. There were traditional games like bobbing for apples (and peppers!). And of course, lots of candy and fun costumes. Not too bad…