Friday, April 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes (vol. 34)

#1 - I am coming to the end of a much needed week of rest combined with successful completion of various jobs. We worked for four weeks prior to this week, so essentially most of March, and it was a very busy time. Being off my feet and focusing entirely on my home and family has been much needed.

#2 - One of the busy parts of the last month was preparing the cottage for a state inspection. We scrubbed and cleaned and examined parts of the cottage that have not been cleaned since I don't know when. True Spring cleaning. I am pleased to report that the inspector came on Tuesday and we passed very well. Such a relief. I feel one of the hard parts of Houseparenting for me is how much our actions, from house keeping to parenting, are always under inspection. It is nice to have praise and not being put down. It's far too easy for others to second-guess our actions, not having a full view of the day to day workings of this compilation of personalities and needs.

#3 - In anticipating this week, Blueberry was making all sorts of plans. These included going to the bookstore to buy a new Clifford book, going out with Daddy on a date, buying a live animal, playing in the gym, etc. While the live animal has not happened, it was our pleasure to fulfill many of these wishes for her. After all, we refer to these weeks as our "fun weeks" and I am pleased that she embraces that idea. So often, depending on the season, her specific desires may or may not be fulfilled while we are working, so for her to know that she has these weeks to count on, is important. Tricky balance between not spoiling and providing fulfillment, but I think we are finding our way through that treacherous path pretty well.


#4 - As I type this, I'm also watching Pride and Prejudice. It's been quite awhile since I've sat and watched this film through, and I am happy that it still is as satisfying to watch as ever. There is such grace and decorum in the expectations of that day. I sometimes wish I could pull more of those things into our lives today, as opposed to the flagrant disregard for boundaries and moral behavior so often seen today. Mind you, I type that and then look at the dresses they wear. Ankles be covered but bosoms fly free. I guess it's all really relative.


#5 - I'm enjoying an evening of quiet solitude. Blueberry and Z are both asleep in bed and Chris is off at a hockey game with the boy's cottage. Such evenings are rarely come by for me, and I'm treasuring the solitude.


#6 - I am counting down days until my parents arrive. 24 to be precise. They will truly fly by as 3 of them are our last days off this week, followed by three weeks of work. One of these weeks is a campus, week-long trip to Myrtle Beach. Am so looking forward to seeing the ocean, I can barely begin to explain it.


#7 - One of the major projects I had to get done this week was to complete our taxes. Miserable business as always, but more so than usual as I have three separate states taxes to complete! So glad that's over with. And our refund should help pay off our new roof on our house in Springfield. Praise the Lord for that blessing!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thankfullness - 1000 Gifts March II

16. 3 Hard Eucharisteos
  • Having parents who are missionaries--living across the world, so far away--and yet doing as they are called by the Lord.
  • Having given up living near family, following the pattern of most of my life, in order to follow in obedience to the Lord. Working a job that is a ministry and a gift.
  • The pangs of labor, resulting in a gift from the Lord.

17.  A Gift Turned, Folded, Hung
  • Turned: the three year old who, storming away from me in an angry fit at being told no, stops, turns of her own decision, and returns to me to me to "talk about it"
  • Folded:
  • Hung: two gorgeous skirts, free of cost, exactly the style I've been wanting
18. 3 Gifts Red
  • Roses, given by my love, in full bloom full of sweetness and promise.
  • Crisp apples, sweet and tasty
  • A velvety Christmas dress, hanging in the wardrobe, waiting for the next time of celebration.
 19.  3 Gifts Eaten
  • fresh baked bread with honey on top
  • granola and yoghurt first thing in the  morning
  • roast chicken that stretches into a meal of chicken tacos and then stretches further into chicken veggie soup
20. 3 Gifts That Make You Laugh
  • Baby Q leaning forward to give a slobbery, wet, open-mouth kiss
  • Silly girls all talking at once to share a story about school, running into each other with their words and giggling over nothing in the end
  • My Blueberry informing me we are playing "I'm the mommy doggy, doggy is the baby doggy, and you're the grandma doggy. Daddy can be grandpa."
21. A Gift Salty, Sweet, Just Right
  • Salty caramel chocolate
22. 3 Gifts Found in His Word
  • Hope
  • A Future
  • Savior
23.  3 Gifts found in Women Today
  • Motherhood - a continuation of the role from the beginning of time
  • Compassion for others
  • Leadership in the church--mentoring to other women. 
24.  3 Gifts Spoken
  • "I love you"
  • An encouraging phone call on a tired day.
  • "You're beautiful."
25. A Gift Sung, Written, Painted
  • "Let it Go" sung by a goat. Because it made me laugh.
  • Madeline L'Engle - Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art  Such a continual source of inspiration--both spiritually and in my arts.
  • Rainbow colors of a freshly painted picture by my three year old.
26. 3 Gifts Almost Gone
  • A plate of sticky rice and somtam. A taste of home.
  • Another month in 2014. So quickly they pass, so precious each day, even the ones that seem to drag on.
  • A TV show that has made me laugh and given me times of distance from sometimes stressful days.
27. 3 Gifts Redeemed
  • My parents, missionaries to a nation in desperate need of a Savior.
  • My brother and his wife--serving those who are so often considered lesser.
  • My sister and her husband--teaching children; reaching out to friends; love and laughter.
 28. 3 Gifts Entwined
  • baby arms and mommy arms--held together
  • Hands with my husband, sleeping in the night.
  • Matching mommy and toddler toes, rosy red, bonded in paint.
 29. 3 Gifts of His Promise
  • A future in heaven
  • Purification, even from the times I just flat out fail.
  • "I have called you friends" John 15:15
30. 3 Gifts Uncovered
  • Baby toes wiggling in the grass
  • Lost socks buried underneath a bookshelf when we need more socks or be forced to buy more.
  • Toes, free in sandals, rejoicing in heat after the cold of bitter winter.
31. A gift heard, held, hoped
  • A longed for baby cry in the dark, arms wrapped around my neck for comfort and love.

    Sunday, March 30, 2014


    As of today, all references to Baby Q will now be Z. Because really that's what I use as his written nickname more than anything else any ways, and he's growing up so quickly, Z will be easier to refer to. Just an FYI for those who are confused as to where this new child suddenly sprang from.

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    Daybook - March 29, 2014

    Outside my window...rain just started bucketing down. It's been raining off and on all day, but this still took me a little bit by surprise. I've found rain tends to be very fierce around here at times.

    I am thinking...all my girls (and my one little boy) tucked in their beds and saying a prayer for each of them tonight.

    I am thankful for...a compliment we received a few days ago from a mom of one of our cottage girls. She was commenting about how much she wants her daughter to be here because of the marked changes she has seen in her in just two months. That was encouragement I needed after a rough few weeks.

    I am also thankful for how generously my children are included in all the activities of this campus. That is not always the case at children's homes, and the staff children sometimes get ignored and left out. Not here--not by a long shot. I cannot begin to express how much that means to me.

    From the learning rooms...[or in our case--the learning brain]...for Blueberry, she just continues to constantly grow in her vocabulary and understanding of things. We had to get on to some of the older girls the other day for talking in front of her about her like she wouldn't understand!

    For Baby Q, he's added please to his repertoire of sign language and the work "ook" (look) is his favorite one to use...all day long. "Ook" at the tree. "Ook" at the birds. "Ook" at my big sister. "Ook at the rice you're cooking and not yet feeding me (followed by a tantrum to get some rice.).

    From the kitchen...came a blessedly easy day for me. Cereal for breakfast. Lunch provided by a group who came to tour and hang out with the kids. Dinner for most of the girls provided by one of their mom's. Whenever they come to visit, they tend to bring huge dishes of African food that we freeze and eat up slowly (well, the girls who like it eat it up). Which simplifies cooking for me as that's about half the cottage taken care of for at least one or two meals when we do those!

    I am wearing...pajamas--because it's that time of night folks.

    I am creating...plans on sleeping some day for a whole six or seven hours in a row. Perhaps just wishful thinking. We were doing good until Baby Q got sick and then he decided to add to his already copious amounts of teeth for a 13 month old (seriously, the kid has 10 or 11 teeth already and he's working on another 3 or 4--he's only 13 months old. What possessed him to think he needs that many teeth!!!?).

    I am church tomorrow. At least I hope I am (praying against any sickness falling on anyone else despite some warning signs--see my "I am hearing" post).

    In my mailbox today.. .nothing I'm assuming, as the mailman doesn't deliver to us on Saturdays. However, I did receive a much wanted package the other day full of leggings for Blueberry to put under her skirts and dresses. Very happy with these. Not the long leggings that will make her hot in the summer, but not the short skimpy shorts either. These come just above her knees and will make this whole learning-to-tumble-playing-outside-with-boys business a lot better.

    I am reading.. .Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card. Book three in the Bean saga which follows Ender's Game. Such good writing.

    I am hearing...coughing from various people including me. Praying it doesn't worsen for anyone else. Blueberry had a fever last weekend (and severe cough) followed by Baby Q followed by me. Not fun.

    Around the house...I've done pretty well with keeping up with our personal apartment these last few weeks, but it's definitely needing a good clean/tidy. And I have to get the bills and TAXES done. Yuck. Things to look forward to on my week off--not.

    One of my favorite things...watching my daughter blossom socially. Today she made friends with a five year old and I had to laugh as they carefully sat and painted each other's nails. Too cute for words.

    A few plans for the rest of the week: survive. We are heading into our last week of a four week shift. I'm tired. Lots of events have happened. Lots of people taking trips. Lots of changes. And the state inspector is coming week after next so we're all double checking that we have everything in order for that--which of course is a lot of extra work.

    Here is picture (or more) for thought I am sharing...

    Squirrel whom we discovered eating a nut while sitting directly outside the kitchen window. Completely ignoring the fact that 11 people were all fascinatedly staring at him eat his dinner. Baby Q was mesmerized. Such cute!

    Want to join in? Go check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Thankfulness: 1000 Gifts - March

    1. 3 Gifts at 3pm:
    • a slumbering child
    • a six year old learning to talk and share her thoughts and needs instead of just wailing at shutting down
    • sorting household supplies and finding free Puffs tissues (because I'm a tissue snob but I'm also cheap--so getting my soft tissues for free makes my day a little brighter)
    2.  3 Gifts Green:
    • asparagus, because really lightly sautéed asparagus is one of the natural wonders of this world
    •  a new-to-us raincoat of mint for my Blueberry who loves to jump in the puddles in the rain
    • Wild onions releasing their scent to the air, promising spring is coming
    3.  3 Gifts Hard to Give Thanks For:
    • Nursing moments at 1am--because even though I'm tired and I don't want to be awake, feeling soft chubby arms clinging to my neck makes it all better. 
    • My former place of employment. I might not be a houseparent now if I hadn't started out there, and even though I don't want to go back, I have to be grateful for the opening to this pathway we are now on.
    • My snoring husband--because even though it's an annoying sound at times, I have a great man in my life who chooses to sleep next to me every night because that's where he wants to be
    4.  3 Gifts Wore:
    • a sparkling ring on my finger that even after 13 years of use still brings a smile to my face
    • Comfy shoes that don't leave my feet aching at the end of a busy day
    • earrings--because every time I put them on, I can't help but remember a gracious boss who gave me money for my birthday one year with strict instructions that I had to spend it on something completely frivolous and entirely for me. As we were newlyweds and definitely not making much, she allowed me to do something I had wanted to do for many years and not feel guilty for spending money on such a frivolity  
    5. 3 Gifts Found:
    • a second toddler shoe hiding underneath a chair so that she could quickly go out and play
    • a voice message from a friend for no other reason than that she cared
    • blueberries, hiding in a grocery bag, because my husband knew they would make me happy
    6. A Gift Bent, Broken, Beautiful
    • a poorly folded piece of paper, handed to me by my daughter, with scribbles and wrinkles and dots and lines all mixed up together to tell me a “story” of love
    7. 3 Gifts in the Kitchen
    • a full refrigerator on a slim budget
    • black and white aprons and mini-girl aprons too
    • hot and toast bread fresh out of the oven, ready to be smeared with honey  and devoured
    8. 3 Gifts Loud
    • a houseful of rambunctious girls, all wanting to talk to me at once 
    • shrieks of laughter from the playground 
    • a chattering voice of a 3 year old who truly wants to share every thought with me—all day long
    9. 3 Gifts Carved
    • a 30 minute nap for me, wrapped in love, carved out by my husband
    • my Cradle to the Cross wreath
    • 5 minutes of solitude and peace and a prayer breathed, carved from a busy dinner hour
    10. 3 Gifts in Christ
    • forgiveness 
    • hope 
    •  future
    11. 3 Gifts Read
    • a birthday card from loving grandparents far away 
    • a note with a thank you in it from a girl often trying and proud 
    • blog posts showing the walk in Christ of a new believer, a beloved author
    12. A Gift in Wind, in Water, in White
    • wind: The awe inspiring roar that swooped around the cottage this evening, blowing in a storm in the brilliance of sunshine 
    • water: the cleansing taste of my favorite drink 
    • white: memories of a winter’s day of snow dogs and snow angels and snow ball fights on a three year old level
    13. 3 Gifts Round
    • blueberry goodness to burst in my mouth
    • full little baby bellies, today full with blueberries (apparently he's thankful for them as well)
    • the succulent look of a bottle of Kombucha ready to be savored. 
    14. 3 Gifts Found in Silence
    •  sleeping babies, sleeping husband, sleeping children....time to stretch and contemplate and pray without distraction.
    • breathing time, concentration on the act of slowing down, resting in the peace
    • bird song heard across the expanse of lawn
     15. 3 Gifts Given Away
    •  a hug at 2am to help a bad dream
    • time from a friend who was willing to put off her shopping trip so we could talk
    • a quick prayer in a time of stress