Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beowulf: A Double Take

How much do I love this:

Look here:

First of all, I love that it is a Bilingual edition. As in, English and Of course, I mean Old and Modern. But click on Inside this Book, and look closer at the cover. There's a little sticker that says, Winner of the Whitbread Award. The first time I saw it, I thought it said...

Winner of the White-bread Award.

Yet, how fitting for the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (or Pagans) they were. (anybody remember the '70's term WASP's?)

To read about the Whitbread Awards, see here.

A Fun Time Was Had By All

"The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty children conducting themselves like one, but every child was conducting himself like forty."

--from A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge, in the company of the Ghost of Christmas Present, is looking in at Fezziwig's Christmas party.

Sounds like my house at Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Wrap-Up

Actually, I when I speak of "holiday wrap-up," you need to understand that our Thanksgiving was a week early, because Charming works in food service, and had to work on The Day.

I finished my wool quilt on Monday last week:
Boy, is it heavy! Violet has already claimed it for herself. She is almost never "warm," and uses tons of blankets all winter to wrap up in. Too bad she lives 100 miles away! Oh, well, it is here when she visits!

Tuesday I dropped by a Goodwill between errands. I was so glad to get one of these Party-Lite candleholders:
I bought a pair (on clearance) from a friend of Violet's years ago, along with a candle snuffer to match. I think they were $18.00 apiece, retail. I broke one a couple of years ago. This second one was at Goodwill for Two Dollars!

I also got a copy of Angelina Ballerina in great shape, as well as two other books. Usually this Goodwill prices books individually for higher than the posted $1 hardbacks, but these weren't marked, so I got them for $1.

This weekend I'm meeting Violet in the town halfway between us, and they have a very large, good, Goodwill. More hunting to be done then!

Today was supposed to be back to the ballet schedule for Blackeyed Susan, but she has injured a rib by coughing. I suspect we'll be taking a trip to the chiropractor; I've thrown out ribs by coughing before, and it is painful.

Isn't it true ? Always something new to put a wrench in your carefully made plans for the day, when you have a family? I love what Mrs. Copper's Wife says: always hold your plans with an open hand, because the Lord will often change them!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Alvin Fernald!


My "baby" is thirteen years old today.

What am I supposed to do with that information?

Almost ten years after my sixth child, Blackeyed Susan arrived. We prayed for Alvin, so Susan wouldn't be spoiled. The Lord was gracious, and Alvin arrived 19 months later.

The ultrasound said that Alvin would be 7 1/2 pounds. I knew better--he was sitting 'way up under my ribcage, and ended somewhere around my knees. He came out ten pounds, five-and-a-half ounces. Charming told me I didn't have to add the half-ounce. All of you women know that that is my Battle Citation, my Bronze Star, if you will. You will also understand why I bopped Charming in the nose for even suggesting it.

We called Alvin our Magnum Opus--our "great work." He also ended up being our Final Work in that department...

But what a finish! He is so handsome (looked like Charming from the beginning), loves sports, loves the History Channel, and the one that does programs on bridges and other huge things (natch!), and a boy to make his Mommy proud.

Even if he almost blew it the very first night.

Charming had gone home to the other kiddies. The lights were out. I was drifting off to sleep when I heard a strange noise coming from right beside me. It surely couldn't be; but it was:

Alvin. Snoring.

I prayed right then for his future wife.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This is So Completely Not Fair...

Joe Hardy (St*rbucks at The Mall) and Charming (Cr*cker B*rrel) had to be at work at 5 am this morning. They were buzzin' around getting ready at 4 am.

Five thirty-four. I can't get back to sleep.

Mid-morning nap, anyone?

Now, many, MANY'S the year I've been out for the early sales at Jo-Ann's and Target. In fact, when I was younger, I considered it an Adventure. Most times it was my Good Neighbor Linda and me, coffee in hand. Parking way out on Neptune, getting in line early. Ninety-nine cent flannel for pjs. Digital camera/winter jacket/whatever on Super-Special "till 10 am only."

I don't know. Maybe it's the crowds? Maybe it's my age? I just don't feel the need anymore. I still manage the after-Christmas sale, but after 9am. And today, the Day After Thanksgiving? Here's my list:

1. Go to bank for money for bowling and pizza. Alvin Fernald turns 13 on Sunday, and is having four friends over. (Five! Boys! All at once!) 99 cent bowling all day.
2. Grocery. Couple of ingredients for Choco-Nutty Pizza Cake. Cereal for tomorrow am.
3. Library for dvds.
4. Lil C*esars for pizza. Three large, $5 apiece.

That's a pretty Pitiful Adventure.

Oh, yeah. Gotta throw a Nap in there somewhere...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Part Deux--Balance

This is how I finished my talk to the Homeschool Mom's group (see post below). I have customized this list for myself, naturally you'd put in your own things:

So, how to begin to get Balance in this hectic season?

Of course, Number One is to spend time with the Lord, where we learn to hear Him.

(imaginary scene...)

Okay, God, here I am, waiting for You to tell me what to do. Could You hurry, please? It's almost time for Martha , and today she is showing us how to make cranberry/orange/cinnamon/pumpkin/spice/nut bread using fresh-ground organic wheat berries...

Don't think so. I think the answer is to Live. Deliberately.

For this season, if you don't make a Plan, then you are Planning to Fail.

--Plan gifts. For our children, we always made sure we had something to wear, something to read, and something to do.

--Plan shopping. Can you go at less hectic times?

--Plan meals. This Saves Money. Pull out your Fix-it-and-Forget-it Crockpot book.

--Plan decorating and crafting, then prioritize. I learned to flock a tree from my mother, who did it every year. (this is where you make the tree look like it is outside in the snow. I'll post a tutorial when we put up our tree.) But there has been more than one instance of a tree one-quarter flocked on Christmas morning b/c I ran out of time. Didn't prioritize, and it showed.

--Plan school and adjust. Some homeschoolers take two weeks off before Christmas, others the entire month. It's a good time to do a concentration in Home Ec (baking, cleaning) with some Music Appreciation (cds of Nutcracker and the Messiah), and Ministry (Christmas shoeboxes, gifts for prison moms and dads to give their children , visiting nursing homes and neighbors).

--Make lists: Do the Christmas letter, go to the Nutcracker, make daughter Christmas dress , bake two thousand dozen cookies. Then prioritize, pare down, and accept the fact that doing less will not mean a lesser experience.

Ooh. Let me say that again: Doing Less will not mean a Lesser Experience.

I have a personal problem, that I still have after thirty-two years of marriage (that's thirty-three Christmases that I've been in charge of). I grew up in a great family with great holiday traditions. Ditto for Charming. Then there are the great traditions we kinda made up ourselves. Add to them the fab ideas from Mrs. Sharp's Traditions and Martha Stewart, and I'm trying to do Way Too Much to give my family a fabulous Christmas.

I wonder what it would be like to have a Gentle Christmas?

I had one once, the second Christmas of our marriage. Charming had to work until early evening, and brought a tree home that was left-over for 99 cents, that we decorated sparsely. I made a little plate of cheese and crackers, and had Christmas music playing. I was pregnant again, and Charming and I talked about Mary and Joseph and the night their baby was born. Gollee, that is an evening that I'd like to repeat. (except I like to enjoy my tree for longer...)

Well, that evening may never come again, with eight children and four grand-children (in 2008 we'll have six!) I'll settle for being Satisfied with what I accomplish, and not boo-hooing over what Didn't Get Done. Sigh. Difficult for this Eeyore to do that.

This brings me to a final comment. We moms love to give gifts to our children. We love to give them memorable experiences. But we can burn out before we see it coming. This is where Mother Culture comes in, and it is a word for year-round, not just for Christmas.

Here is a quote from Karen Andreola on Mother Culture:

"To partake in Mother Culture is to feed herself with the Word of God, with ideas from books, nature, art, music, etc. thus taking care to keep growing spiritually and mentally. If there is such a thing as the joy of childhood, then there is also such a thing as the joy of motherhood, and Karen admonishes mothers to recognize and live within such a blessing."

May God bless you as you plan your holiday season!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Finding Balance

Well, it wasn't so bad last night, speaking on "Balance." At holiday time, especially, I feel that The World Carries Me Along "whithersoever it will." But I found out that none of the moms at my meeting last evening have got this one Conquered. Some are battling those in-laws that do the Command Performance thing--"you will be here for Christmas dinner," etc. I don't have that to deal with, and I'm grateful.

So, here are a few highlights; hope they are helpful to you:

First of all, achieving Balance is not a do-it-once-and-cross-it-off-your-list thing. Just like a gymnast on a balance beam, it's a matter of constantly re-assessing, re-doing, re-distributing. Gymnasts do it without thinking and make it look easy; maybe if we worked on it eight hours a day for ten years, it'd be "easy" for us, too.

I never read the book "Margins," but I heard the author on Dr. Dobson once, and took this away: book pages have margins, otherwise the words would run from the very top to the very bottom, and completely side to side. Imagine how tired you would be, reading a book this way. Margins give you a place to Rest Your Eyes. Breathing room, so to speak. If you only schedule 80 % of your day, there is room left over if the dentist appointment takes 45 minutes longer than you thought, without Freaking Out about it. I made a schedule using Managers of Their Homes once, but I had to put in lots of little stickies called Free Time. Some of the sample schedules had every minute attributed to some activity. Possibly they scheduled extra time built-in for these activities, but it still looked tiring to me.

So, I think we all agreed that the key to balancing life is to Simplify. When our children's lives are out of balance, they become over-tired, over-stimulated, and over-whelmed. Does that describe YOU? Do we just hide it better? Putting on a smiling face doesn't make it go away.

When we homeschool, we add another 20-30 hours a week to an already full-time job (homemaking), so we are already working from a situation where we have more to put in a day than there are hours for.

The Lord spoke to me one day when I was feeling torn between my kids' needs, the house, and my father, who lives in a nursing home. He said, "Please Me and please Charming." If I do, then everything is prioritized correctly. My husband trusts me with the children, and desires to honor my father. Those needs will still get done, but with the Attitude of pleasing God and my dear husband. (capitals here don't mean I'm angry, just for emphasis): YOU DON'T HAVE TO IMPRESS ANYBODY, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO MEET ANYONE ELSE'S STANDARDS FOR YOU. And I include those Unrealistic Standards we put on ourselves, as well.

Think about that again.

And then get out your cross-stitch stuff, and make this to put on your wall: We Have Enough Time In Our Day To Accomplish Everything God Asks Us To Do.

How do we achieve this Balanced Life? You'll have to Tune In Tomorrow...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Falling off the Balance Beam

I've been asked to speak this evening at our Homeschool Mom's meeting on:



I told our president that I would agree only if I could speak as if I had been asked to speak on Holiness: "not that I have achieved," etc.

I thing Jodie (our president) has hit the nail on the head with her email to our group, inviting us to the meeting:

"It's that time again...I hear its menace, the threats have already begun. In-laws are looking at each other with narrowed eyes, I look at my financial statements and cringe, and I have only just begun to wish for more evenings at home, sitting quietly on the couch with my chilren. It 's the HOLIDAYS!

"I swear, how is it possible that the birth of Christ can make my life such a disaster? (not really, I DO know that, I just can't figure out what toy to get my 6yo) How am I going to keep all the in-laws and out-laws happy? How to keep my checkbook from running on E? Have enough energy to do and go and shop and still homeschool? In other words, HOW am I going to keep my BALANCE?"

Then she said, "come Thursday and Barb will tell us."

Hang on, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride.....

Friday, November 02, 2007


If you leave one letter out when you are typing the word Boyfriend, it becomes...


This is gonna change all my little talks with Blackeyed Susan.