Sunday, November 16, 2014

C Major

"Just now I did C Major," Myra chimes. She lopes through the kitchen, a cloud of red hair tied into a pony.

"Good," I say. I pull meat from a spiral ham and stack it on a plate for Craig.

"It's easy for me to do C Major," she sing-songs, her bobbing head an unwitting metronome. She trollies back to the living room, the tinkling piano keys lost in a Canasta tournament spread across the living room floor.

"Did you do all of it?" I say when she surfaces again. I try to replay the tinkle-tinkle of keys in my mind. "It didn't sound like all of it. Can you do all of it?"

"Yeah," she nods, "did it."

"Almost," I say. "Here, show me what you did."

I follow her to the piano. Her toothpick fingers pick out the notes one at a time. She starts on F. She strokes the keys in order, even slips her thumb under to play the last five notes.

"You did it," I say. The words slip out more like a question than a statement. "Wow." I grin. She hops on one foot. "Now just start here by the two black keys." I point to C.

"Okay," she says.

So it is, C Major lilts across the living room, second cousin to math facts and penmanship. The old fashioned disciplines become symbols of achievement.


5534. Family birthday party. Potluck gourmet, gifts and encouragement, we linger and laugh.

5535. Pizza night.

5536. Game night and popcorn.

5537. Jesse, Libby, and the gang come for dinner. The children bound through the kitchen and flop on the old plaid couch. They giggle and laugh, flash the lights, bury themselves in pillows. Dinner is almost an after thought in all the excitement.

5538. Craig and his brother cut up an old tree up on the mountain. They split it down to firewood size in the bitter morning cold and stack the old red pickup full.

5539. Craig and I make our third batch of clam dip. We start planning peppermint popcorn. He buys me the bulk supply of white chocolate chips.

5540. Onions. The gift of onions.

5541. Lucy challenges me in Canasta. A narrow victory, I win by 20 points.

5542. I finally finish knitting Lucy's Christmas dress.

5543. A week of bitter cold, the sun warms Sunday afternoon up to 40 degrees. The children dig a couple of beets yet in the garden. They still look good.

5544. We make plans to eat the beets and smooth the week into a nest egg of hard work -- prelude to Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


"And without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God," Lu recites.

Saturday night and she's pounding the memory verse for Sunday. I look up from a snarl of knitting. She's squinting her eyes, teasing the words across her memory.

"And with out faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God," she says. "That actually is true," she's stopped, eyes fixed on me. "Even if you try your HARDEST, it is IMPOSSIBLE." She rolls her mouth around the word impossible.

"Yup," I say.

"Yeah, you can never even do it," Jack says. Elbow deep in the kitchen sink, he leans past the door jam, nods.

"Yup," I say, "impossible."

So it is: faith, the evidence of things unseen. Evidence of the invisible, the suit of trump.


5521. Sophie comes for dinner.

5522. Tuesday girls meet.

5523. Thursday pinochle, a circus of cards, cousins, popcorn, and candy, the memories flow like water.

5524. Jane finishes her checkerboard quilt top.

5525. Mom and I trade quilting chores.

5526. We thrift through a local second hand store.

5527. We have a work day at Great-Grammie's. A camaraderie of work encircles us.

5528. The cousins eat apples in the orchard and swing from the rope swing in the barn.

5529. We get a trunk and freezer and other pass-alongs.

5530. We trade pleasure reading books with the cousins. They give us some of their all time favorites. Bliss!

5531. "Do you need this?" Joe holds his blankie up to me then puts it on my back.

5532. Evidence of things unseen -- one of our children begins a habit of confession. A contrite heart, truth encircles us.

5533. Truth, the greatest gift of all.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pillow Talk

"What?" Craig says. He doesn't look up, there propped on his elbows across the bed.

"I didn't say anything," I say.

"Your breathing changed. I could tell you were thinking something," he says.

"Oh," I slide my hand under one of his elbows. "I was wondering where Joey put all those cupcake liners," I say.

Cupcakes. Game night. Cerissa had called all the cousins up for chocolate cupcakes. Half of the kids still wanted to finish a game. When the first wave left, Joey ate every last cupcake, not even a crumb lagged behind, not even a cupcake liner.

"Yeah, I don't know," Craig says. We shake our heads.

"I mean, he couldn't have eaten FOUR cupcake liners, could he?"

"Well, maybe."

So it is, the miniature version of Craig eats four cupcakes, liners and all. "Did you eat the REST of the cupcakes?" we'd asked. "Yeah," he'd said.  All that guileless grin, we just shook our heads.

Guileless just like his father.


5508. The kids explode in Canasta play. "Mom," Jack says, "I'll be on your team, even though you usually lose."

5509. And then I WIN. Again and again.

5510. Pete and Rosie come for late night Canasta. The children explode with excitement jumping off the furniture until we quash them into manners. Their faces register true shock when break the news: the children will not be staying up late to play.

5511. My mom makes an extra quilt top and passes it on to Jane. Jane pieces the batting. Mom brings a backing. It's almost ready to quilt.

5512. Jane and I spend Saturday afternoon sewing together.

5513. A dear friend who lives too far away to visit, calls, and we chat. Somehow the distance feels smaller.

5514. We have a game night with Dan and Cerissa. Pinochle. Popcorn. Cupcakes. Cheers and guffaws. The girls win, but we all can't wait to play again.

5515. We watch a Craig Groschel sermon as a family. We marvel at a sense of purpose and truth that solidifies between us.

5516.  School continues to clip along. "The government was just basically treating them like plebians," Jane explains taxation without representation.

5517. "I just need 200 more," Lucy says, "and then I will have enough. I'm trying to do one thousand two hundred math problems every day as part of my school."

5518. Craig and I preview Monumental by Kirk Cameron. Cogent, unexpected, and solid, we recommend it.

5519. We begin the fun of picking Christmas photos. Our favorite photographer fashions a Christmas card for our family.

5520. Christmas is in the air, Thanksgiving the perfect prologue. Traditions of gratitude envelope our family.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


"That's for you," Joe says. Barefooted, he thunks across the kitchen, palms a green cherry tomato out of his mouth, lifts it up to me, hands shiny with spit.

"That's ok. You go ahead," I say.

"I washed it," he says.

"Oh," I say.

"Can I eat it?"

"Yeah. You better."

He pops it back in his cheek, purses his lips to contain the overspill.


"Should I open these?" Myra crinkles a fun sized pack of M&M's between her fingers. The two of us on a date, the budget down to the end of the month, I'd grabbed them on our way out the door. M&M's: a date.

"It's up to you," I say. "They're yours."

"Hm." She pets them with her hand. "I might wait 'til we get home 'cause the kids might want some," she says.


She nestles them next to the booster, a sliver of shade. We run errands, take a walk, circle back home. And she splits the little back open for everyone.


"Now that I'm going fast, this is actually fun," Jane says.

I glance up, iron paused and puffing over my quilt. Anchored to the school table like ball and chain, she grins. I laugh. "Yup," I say.

Her math book sprawled open to lesson 52, she leans an elbow across its face. "Careful when you pick my discipline," she chirps, a squirreling smile ribboned across her face.

"Better keep going," I say.

"I know," she says and scrawls repentance across the face of the next hour.

Practice. Practice makes easy. And like water turned to wine, discipline becomes play.


5494. Jack and Lucy take up Canasta. Myra watches. "I like Canasta," she concludes. "There's nothing bad for me in Canasta."

5495. Craig and I take up Canasta again. I only have to apologize once for being a bad sport.

5496. German potato soup. Mom makes the best potato soup.

5497. Fleece lined leggings. Fall finally hits and the girls winter up with fleece lined leggings.

5498. Good food and family. We end on blondies and transparency, a la mode.

5499. Joe tries his hand at dumping nail polish (again) down the bathroom sink. Brilliant red. Craig polishes it clean with straight acetone. Joe PROMISES never to do it again.

5500. We celebrate a birthday party with friends that feel like family.

5501. Craig helps me distill down more strategies on how to instill good work habits in the kids.

5502. Mom and I trade quilting chores. We mastermind more quilts.

5503. Friends give us hand-me-downs.

5504. The girls get headbands.

5505. We begin plans for Thanksgiving.

5506. Waist high in a discouraging week, deep waters of encouragement spring forth. Each on cue, women I love speak truth into my life.

5507. I feel well for four days in a row. I pray the next week brings wellness untold.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


"This is a story about Robinson Crusoe," Jack says. "He was on a boat that broke." Book cover permanently curled open, he turns to a bookmarked page part way through. He, seated there on the ottoman, Myra, on the couch, ensconced in the long arms of a fleece throw, Jack begins to read.

"Robinson Crusoe was on a ship for many days," he says. Still groggy with croup, Myra pulls the blanket up under her chin. Jack's voice turns soft circles, lulls her quiet and sleepy.


The nap spent, the story gone, me sewing in the basement, Jane checks in, turns in morning work.

"I'm gonna go upstairs," she says.

"Ok," I look up from a blue circle half sewn on a cream colored square.

"'Cause Myra said she feels like no one is by her," Jane says, "and she described being lonely. So..." Jane nods, blinks. "Yeah," she says.

"Good," I say, "good idea,"

With that she scampers up the back stairs. A burden of care shifts from sibling to sibling. Invisible bonds grow stronger each day.


5476. "I'm starting to realize what CLEAN is," Lu says as I have her wipe down the kitchen table, smudge free and shining.

5477. Joey tries his hand at the microwave. We throw out the ruined bowls.

5478. Joey tries to start the dishwasher. Jack vacuums up the spindrift of dishwasher deterrent.

5479. Joey dumps the refill bottle of nail polish top coat down the bathroom drain. Jane sleuths him out, and we wash it away before it dries.

5480. Joey tries to get into my vitamins. Childproof lids protect him from all but two capsules of Citrucel which leave him "regular" but undamaged.

5481. Joey empties my wallet and dismantles the emergency maxi-pad tucked in a zipper pocket all while waiting on my bed to get in trouble.

5482. Joey lets the chickens out, dumps their food, and shuts one's head in the coop door. Somehow none die, and they keep on laying eggs.

5483. Joey decides potty training is for the birds and pees all over the house and yard. He gets in trouble, LOTS of trouble.

5484. Joey gets in trouble ALL week long. And finally, finally, shows signs of reformation. Glory day.

5485. Joey brings his blankie boy, spreads it over my shoulders, and offers to brush my hair with his toothbrush.

5486. Joey prays for the baby in my tummy.

5487. We have an ultrasound and the sweet baby girl is growing strong and healthy.

5488. Jane continues planning Christmas gifts and takes a secret trip to the fabric store. She glows with anticipation as she narrates the gifts for me.

5489. I take a secret trip to the fabric store.

5490. We make a visit to the farm. Craig's mom passes on some sweaters Great-Grammie made and a vintage pattern.

5491. Craig makes pancakes three times this week.

5492. We finally change out all the summer clothes for winter wear.

5493. Craig and I communicate and miscommunicate all week long and somehow find that steadfast love carries us through.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


"I think I might know why Great-Grammie is living so long," Jack says. He trifles through the kitchen jammie-clad and toothbrush in hand.

"Why is that?" I say.

"'Cause, she says, God can take me at ANY time." He stops at the microwave to brush. But toothbrush forgotten, he pauses. "I was listening in there," he points down the hall, the book of Luke a cacophony around jammies and bedtime clatter, "and it said whoever desires to keep his life will LOSE it. And whoever loses his life will KEEP it."

"Oh," I say, dishrag wadded with table scraps and now forgotten in my hand. "That's very true, Jack, very true."

He nods and shuffles the toothbrush over teeth that look too big for his mouth, timer counting down from two minutes. But I just stand and watch. His words, plucked out of evening routine, they sift through my mind.

Whoever loses his life will keep it. So it is. We give.

I marvel that he pulled the thread end of that knowledge almost out of thin air.


5462. Pie night. Pizza pie, peach pie, salad in between, family all around.

5463. Kleenex, the soft kind. And Carmex. Another cold takes a hit.

5464. I start another quilt, one in all circles, appliqué.

5465. Good thread, the kind that slides through the machine like butter, the kind that doesn't snag or knot.

5466. "Momma, you feel better?" Joe says. "No," I say. "You should go back to bed," he says.

5467. Craig and the kids clean the house while I sleep until 11 and then nap all afternoon.

5468. Lemon soap and coconut cream, Trader Joe's staples.

5469. Lydia turns one. Cerissa throws a party around the Seahawk's game. The children drink gallons of orange pop.

5470. Lucy dresses Joe for church.

5471. Great-Grammie leaves the hospital.

5472. Jane starts planning Christmas presents.

5473. I make our first beef stew in years. Everyone loves it.

5474. I read more of Tim Keller's The Meaning Of Marriage and note again the special agreement that marriage is: a covenant. I turn this over in my mind all week.

5475. We prepare for another week of learning together, all successes and failures bundled into a giant bale of love. Devotion.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


"Are you sure you got enough?" I query Jack and his empty bowl. "You have to feed those big muscles you're growing."

"Show us your muscles," Lu chimes.

"Yeah, yeah," the girls giggle.

He flexes, all elbows and baby biceps.

"You better go get another bowl," I say. He complies. It slides down in a sluice of boy gobbling.

Breakfast the next day, Lu stirs oatmeal, while I spread jam on toast.

"One time, when Jack held his muscles up," she tries to describe flexing, "and I held mine up, I said to Jack, Mine look flimsy." The spoon gummed in an oatmeal rut she pauses. "Like it actually looked like you could break mine OFF." Her eyebrows arced in sideways parenthesis, we nod.

"Yep," I say. "He's a boy."

He's a boy. When the new bunk bed came home, Jack helped Craig move it in. A colleague needed someone to deliver a couch; Jack and Craig made it happen.

Over the summer, he and his muscles became a little older, a little more distinguished, a little more man-ish. In the curve of a single season the difference between boy and girl pronounces itself even more. Delightful.


5648. One tooth gone, Lucy works to loosen more teeth. "Maybe it's like tomatoes," she says. "You pick one, and others start to ripen.

5649. My sweet sis posts pictures of our recent photo shoot. Once again she teases out the essence of our family.

5650. My small group settles into the fall routine. I treasure the time with them.

5651. I come down with a terrible chest cold, and yet everyone pulls together to make life work.

5652. Craig, spur of the moment, takes the family to dessert: frozen yogurt.

5653. I find the perfect camisoles to cover my growing belly.

5654. "Hurry, hurry, Myra," Jane cheers. "Just TRY. You'd be surprised how much mercy Mom gives to people who TRY and how much mercy she doesn't give to people who don't try."

5655. We head down to Craig's hometown for an old fashioned shindig. The children sprawl out to watch Gramma, Uncle, and Cousins play bluegrass in the park.

5656. The day runs long and Craig's mom offers dinner for the seven of us, plus other extended family. With almost no prep, she sets a whole spread.

5457. We linger in the refreshment of family.

5458. Craig cans more plums -- all on his own.

5459. Another week of hard work and Jane sees again the source of all free time: hard work.

5460. Craig comes home from church with a surprise: my favorite cheese. Cheese and chocolate: the language of pregnancy.

5461. We finally settle into the counterpoint of work and play. It's a lolling river to carry us forward.