Thursday, October 28, 2010

the mess the magic

I am groaning into the mirror in the morning- powder, ponytail, keeping it quick because the baby the breakfast the morning, it's all coming at me fast and there is no time for fashion . ..

and she's popping her head in, asking how to write a K, what about a Q? and finally she brings her fat blue marker and yellow construction paper into the bathroom and we kneel at the closed lid of the toilet so I can watch her write A to Z, all the way, the first time ever . . .

and there's that catch in my throat, as always . . . the one that I am learning not to swallow away because this lid just became an altar and this paper the beautiful beginning and these moments are meant for catching . . .

She says to me that she never was happier than in those days with the babies the dogs the phone the chaos, and I am listening but seeing her myself in twenty years and telling myself to savour, savour, remember to embrace the madness, the mess, the glory, the holy . . .

and a mother's days aren't measured by hours but in rhythms, in baby dances, cups of milk and coffee spoons . . . and so I cannot remember whether it was the same morning or a whole dishwasher load later . . . but the bathroom, that was the same . . . when a younger child had an accident- a first in forever- all over the floor and just as I am bending to clean she forgets and comes running and spills herself, flat, all in it . . . and now I am cleaning the mess on the floor and the mess that is her and meanwhile the baby is hollaringhollaringhollaring and the oldest child is dancing with a plate full of food that she sends spinning all across the kitchen and I am thinking Lord I am sure there is something holy about this moment but I am struggling to see it right now . .. 

and it seems appropriate that the whole spectrum be told on any given day in an ordinary bathroom, for it is the ordinary, daily moments . . . in cleaning up and picking up and many many slips and trips that it's all unfolding, right before my eyes; growing up, bursting out, the first budding of the voice she will speak in the world . . . and a mother is the first-hand witness, the up-close spectator, and the price she pays is herself . . . her days and nights, her arms and breast and figure and sleep and soul . . . all for a view of this stage- this bathroom- where every once in a while, and every day, in the mess . . . magic happens.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a good way to spend a life

Yesterday was this girl's fifth birthday, I can't believe I have a five year old and to celebrate we put on our new pink cowgirl boots and horse shirt and went to the farm to ride horses.

The day was just right.  There were plenty of animals to feed and puppies to hold, and a bakery with giant cookies to eat at the end.  (Local people, if you haven't been to Hershberger's in Charm yet, you must go!  I think it is by far the least expensive animal place, but still lots to see and do- unfortunately the farm part closes up at the end of this month, so go quick!)

We took a buggy to the pumpkin patch driven by a grandfatherly Amish man with a kind voice and sparkly eyes- one of those people with a constant grin right under the surface, you just have to love him instantly.  He was sweet to the kids and taught them how to whistle to make the horse stop or go.  He pointed across the fields to a big white farmhouse and said that is where he was married forty-five years ago.  Sparkly eyes.  Swoon.  

He said that the farm would be closing up soon, so he'll have more time to spend in his woodshop and catch-up on his woodworking. I said that sounds like a nice way to spend the winter, and his eyes sparkled and he said that it is, and when it gets too cold he takes his work in the house to whittle in the kitchen where it is warm near the fire, and where he can watch the birds.

Sigh.  I think that is all I'd like out of life, too.  A warm kitchen, to work with my hands and watch the birds all winter.  It sounds like a good life.

Here are some other good things to do with your one wild and precious life:

Holding Evangelism and Social Action in Tandem

An Invitation to Redemption

Truth About Chocolate- what's really evil about Halloween. (Ouch).

the Mattenleys in Haiti- Friends of mine who lived in Haiti when I was there are now back.  I love these people.

on Money . . .
I began to realize the stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living. By that I mean the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren’t the stuff of good stories.   -Quote by Donald Miller, at small notebook

Thursday, October 21, 2010

today I did not hurry. and, this cheerleader thing

today I did not hurry.

let me start over . . . 

after 2:00, I did not hurry.

I had a showing today, so the morning was frantic with cleaning and getting the kid home from preschool and lunch and then my mom took the older two and wow how I love how clean my house can be when the little tornadoes are away (but how I miss them after about five minutes) . . . 

anyway, it was just Josie and I and the quiet house was a little unnerving for both of us.  I never get time just to be with her, to sit and make her laugh and just carry her around talking to her . . . 

the afternoon was so serene- and surreal- 

the clean, the quiet . . . 

and for the first time in . . . I don't know, weeks?  months? . . . maybe the first time since Josie was born? . . . there was nothing more that I needed to do, but be with her.  

Just. Be.

I did not hurry.  

I did not mentally recite all of the things I needed to be doing.  I did not make any lists.  I did not say the words "real quick" or "just a minute" or, "I'm coming."

I did not think of how many things I could do at the same time to get the most accomplished.  

I sat.  We played.  I rocked her to sleep.



And this is so random and has absolutely nothing to do with my not hurrying . . . 

I read somewhere that embarrassment is the only emotion that can be relived . . . or something like that . . . anyway it must be true because I have been tormenting myself with all of these completely embarrassing memories lately . . . why do I do this to myself? . .. so this is the memory that I keep laughing-and totally blushing- about . . .

when I was in junior high and I think only my freshman year of High School I was a cheerleader- yes that's embarrassing but this is the really embarrassing part . . .

so as cheerleaders we were really indignant that we weren't given the respect we felt we deserved and so we spent a lot of time arguing with . . . I don't know . . . the football team?  the female jocks? over why cheerleading is, indeed, a sport and we were very emphatic about the fact that cheerleaders are, indeed, athletes.

We bought shirts that said, CHEERLEADERS ARE ATHLETES.

Isn't that embarrassing!?

I mean, it may be true that cheerleading is a sport and I am sure there are some very athletic cheerleaders, but the fact that we felt such a need to declare it to the world?   Like, I don't remember any football players wearing "we are athletes too" shirts.

I am squirming with embarrassment as I write this.

Okay, enough embarrassing myself for one night, but there is plenty more where that came from . . . 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the outermost house and bird by bird

Books 22&23
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
This book took me a long time to finish.  It is "a chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach," which, in this season of never-alone-for-one-minute, appealed to me on various levels.  I am sure that it is a lovely book, however at this time in my life I need something more than what happens when sand freezes to keep me awake at night.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

I own this book and have read it before, but it was just as fresh and thought-provoking to read again.  She has such great thoughts on life, and her writing just flows as though she's sitting talking to you, like a really witty, smart friend.  I'd like to go back and write a few posts about this book.  If, you know, I'm ever alone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Girl who Played with Fire

For the record, I do NOT recommend these books.  There are too many highly offensive scenes that you will judge me for.  Don't read them.


However, if you should happen to find yourself with these books open in front of you, my advice is that you first make sure that there is plenty of food in the house and the children are in a safe place, because you won't be able to put them down until you've finished.

(And, if you can get past some of the offensive scenes you will find yourself truly offended by some of the subjects Larson brings to the surface- such as the way that society can abuse the most broken and voiceless among us).

It has "Made for Hollywood" written all over it, they are really dark and gruesome in places, and the second book seemed a little raw and not quite as tightly woven as the first.  But the suspense in both books keeps you awake at night and the tattooed heroine Lisbeth Salander is a fascinating, endearing character despite her painful personality flaws.

I think my favorite part about the books is how much coffee they drink.  Every single scene begins with somebody brewing coffee, pouring coffee, talking over coffee . . . it is such an appealing detail.  My coffee consumption increased drastically during the reading of these books.  It's too bad that the author, Steig Larson, died before the manuscripts were published.  (But don't read them).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

a deliciously ordinary week

It was a good, ordinary week and I realize that I rarely blog about the good or the ordinary.  Why?

I'm not sure what made this week so good other than us all being in rhythm, which I am learning is the key to almost everything about home or life.

So here are a few of the deliciously ordinary moments from the week:

roast chuck slow
fall festival
  hay maze corn box
grocery shop
onions, chop
carrots, three
salt, toss
nutty bread

bloody nose
pepper spill
diaper explode
silent yell
J.J. and Hol's pretty new house
learn to swing all by herself

Great-Grandma's for lunch
  mashed potatoes
seconds, please
apple pie
the library

pink sundresses put away
stripey kneesocks
decide to give homeschool a try
first sleepover
(didn't sleep)
quiet evening
sleep by seven

strip the garden
last tomatoes
onions garlic
parsley basel
  sip splash 

cozy days
light a candle
funny hats
Welcome, Autumn!