Sunday, January 27, 2013


"How'd you get so tall?" Myra bumbles past my knee down the hallway. Aspirations of being BIG, I capture her at TALL.

A green rain boot under one arm, eyes serious blue and marble-round, she pats a topknot of red hair. "My hair's long," she says, furrows her brow, mimics my eyebrows. She pulls her pony up pointy-straight. "And my pony's long," she adds.

I blink-blink to her moon-round eyes and watch her blink-blink back in Cathy-doll fashion. "That's how you're getting so TALL?" I sing-song back.

"Yeah," she nods, dips her chin with definitive staccato, lips pressed. We nod simultaneously, unanimous consent. But really, I'm just watching her copy my face.

Words run out. She thrum-drums down the hallway, and I replay the blink-blink of those eyes.


4063. "I really didn't use much of my brain to do this," Jane confesses as she glues the finishing touches on a display of ancient Egypt.

4064. Cerissa and the kids come over to sled. She says don't tidy the house, so I don't.

4065. I try my hand at minestrone soup. It's not my favorite, but we dine with salad and bread and dearest loved ones. Then it's delicious.

4066. Joey tries screaming in those first baby teeth. Still no eruptions.

4067. We finally train the older kids not to fetch Joe his every toy, and he screams himself into rolling to toys. Loud, but effective.

4068. A dear friend invites us to Deaf Country, the world of the Deaf. The children begin sign language. Me too.

4069. I marvel at how it's an art, facial expression and body language all the commas and punctuation.

4070. "Lord, thank-you that you made this world. And thank-you that you placed the sun," Lucy prays.

4071. "Mom," she says, "if you even play quietly, the Lord still can hear you."

4072. Jane and I take an evening out together and share secrets and chocolate. We color, sip a steamer, weave gossamer threads of conversation.

4073. We promise to be back by 5-ish, and Craig says, "Stay out as long as you want." So we do.

4074. Jack fires his bow and arrow through the house, heart set on becoming dangerous.

4075. I catch coffee with Mom, shop for fabric, and instead of fabric find conversation and friendship.

4076. Craig and I have our daily visit over breakfast. Secreted away in the basement, anchored at opposite ends of the old green couch, breakfast bar, Quaker oatmeal cereal, two types of coffee, his feet slung up beside, we sigh. It's a good life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


"Mom," Jack calls from the kitchen table, "me and Jane are just waiting for ya to teach us."

I snap the faucet off, shift a jug-of-a-water-glass, slurp the last of my coffee, and join children and salt maps at the big black table.

Myra humps up armloads of clean laundry next to the couch. She crankles jeans into trapezoid approximations of folded laundry. "I'm a big help, Mommy," she announces from behind my left shoulder.

Salt maps and laundry orbit the afternoon. I quaff down the whole flasket of water. The children emblazon their maps in paint. Myra wads laundry into quadrilaterals that defy mathematics.

The day weaves itself, and we hold on, each moment another strand.

After prayers I pause, Jane's arms linked around my waist, face upturned. There in the hall light the night unravels. Like the seam at the top of a flour sack tugged loose, we smile and peer into each other eyes.

"Your face looks pretty," she finally says, "especially in this light." And we breathe it in. The rest of the night just breathes right in. We memorize it, the perfect, effortless, long, long sigh. A good night.


4038. "Is it break time?" Jack wants to know mid Monday morning. "I should go into battle," he says.

4039. "Would you rather be a rock or a gun?" Jack banters at dinner. "I would rather be a huge, enormous rock poking into the ground of heaven," Lucy says.

4040. "I'm just gonna squeak by there," Craig negotiates a game of Uno sprawled across the living room rug. "Daddy can probably squeak louder than all of us," Lucy responds.

4041. I live through another migraine.

4042. The kids take an afternoon sledding at Cerissa's. Everyone comes home blissed and rosy cheeked.

4043. Craig and I take and afternoon on the farm.

4044. Jack invents a new game. "How 'bout everyone has to tell me all their Gobblet tricks," he says. "Nooooo," Jane groans. "This game is just going more northward every minute," she splutters.

4045. We set up school around the big blue jar full of seashells and beach drift.

4046. A gray skirt.

4047. A pink ruffle scarf.

4048. "My checklist says: SNUGGLE WITH YOU," Lucy nuzzles my arm.

4049. Jane edges bedtime later and later until I finally say, "I love to talk with you, but this time belongs to Daddy." She pauses, nods. "I don't want to steal from him. I'll go to bed." And off she goes.

4050. "What do you think it was like when they threw Daniel in the Lion's den?" Lucy wants to know.

4051. "Mom, Mom, my weg feel better today!" Myra exclaims. "My weg feel better today." I grin into her eyes and pause for words. "You're welcome," she blinks, "Dat's fun."

4052. White dishes. Glorious white dishes. Don't you just love white dishes?

4053. We eat pizza on the farm and sled the afternoon away, the sky sharpest blue.

4054. "The microwave looks clean," Jane comments, "or something looks different -- and better."

4055. "Don't stare, Lucy," Jack offers, "That means you're tired."

4056. "I've never seen you lose this many times and not cry," Jane cheers Lucy in the middle of Crazy 8s.

4057. "Who told you what rebuke means," Craig asks Jane. "Momma told us this morning," she says, "I already knew, but I pretended like I didn't so she would have the fun of telling us."

4058. The children devise to get up at six this week so they can start school earlier.

4059. A dear friend and gifted interpreter offers to mentor the children in sining -- jubilee.

4060. We re-acclimate to life with a dishwasher. I run it twice in one day.

4061. The Lord reminds me again the power of His word. I meditate on His scriptures, repeat them again and again, and again, the words a whirling hatchet.

4062. Lucy tells me her nightmares, and we pray for Jesus's protection.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dinner Games

"My words of love," Jack says, "are for M-O-M." Across the table, he's a rolling surf of movement. Soup bowl at his elbow, he pauses, tilts his head, "I love that you make us do stuff that is right." Our eyes steady, I smile into the blue irises.

Acts of Service, Words of Love -- it's a dinner game. When it's your turn you say one thing you did to serve others and then one word of love about someone at the table. Whoever gets the word of love goes next.

And then it's Saturday. Craig picks the game: Would You Rather.

"Would you rather be able to fly or breathe underwater?" We circle, take turns calling on each other. We lean in, elbows on the table, soup bowls askew. Myra leans so far she's belly down, elbows in the center. The conversation draws us in.

"Would you rather be able to make anything magically appear or to live forever?" We him and haw, tap our fingers in anticipation.

"I want magic so I can make a million dollars and buy a watch," Jack blurts, and we laugh and nod.

"Oh yeah," someone says and they burgeon on.

"It says in Revelation, I think," Jane says, "that the people who live to the end of the tribulation will be blessed, so I pick live forever."

Live forever, conversation skitters, spirograph circles weave and intersect. They don't realize it, but the world becomes more clear as we talk.


4031. "My favorite color," Lucy says, "is messy-every-color."

4032. "Jack, I know you tooted," Jane grouses, "just please try not to do it during school."

4033. I pass some clothes down to Jane, alter a skirt to fit. I comment that the skirt is dressier than any other skirt she has. "Is it the kind you would wear to a presidential debate?" she wants to know. "Um, yeah," I say picturing this past political season. "Wow," she whispers, eyebrow arched and grin a mile wide.

4034. I steal a nap down by the fire.

4035. "Mom," Jane comments, "I want to do real art, not just arts and activities, REAL art. I hardly know anything about it."

4036. The inside of the old dishwasher melts when the heat element gets stuck on. Craig researches and buys a new one, then washes a galley of dishes by hand. We turn the old washer into a drying rack until the new one gets here.

4037. Everyday Craig lays down his life for me. Submission is a pleasure. I am humbled. My heart beats with devotion.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Job

"Mom, I want to work really, really hard and get a job," Jack begins, off-hand, fact-like, "so that I can buy a kid's bow and arrow and go turkey hunting with Daddy." Recumbent on bottom bunk, fingers laced behind his head, ankles criss-crossed, he chatters. "That way if Daddy doesn't shoot one at the turkey shoot, he can still have one."

He dreams of pruning the red twigged dogwood, the one out back, twining together a raft. He sketches and maps, pours over books. I suggest he prays for more wood. I tell him make a model first. I fold a white running shirt, black pants. He jabbers. I reconfigure pink tennis shoes and boots blooming out of the closet. He follows me, a yabbering puppy at my heel. "Or," he says all nodding and raised eyebrows, "or I could pray that God makes the boat float really well so it doesn't have to sink in the middle of the river, and I have to swim."

I tuck running clothes in my drawer, pluck an alabaster scarf from my dresser and swirl it around my neck. We trip-trop to the next task, boy dreams all a gust about our ankles.


4015. I make Jane's least favorite soup. "Jesus thank-you that we have enough food to eat," she prays at dinner. "Thank-you for this soup," she pauses and then adds, "even thank-you for the meat. Amen."

4016. "Watch for cars," I tell her when she makes a delivery to Cerissa across the street. "Yep," she says, "I know. You tell me that every time 'cause you love me, and I'm like, I know that."

4017. The new year fresh in front of us, I pause for reflection. "Are you hopeful that we are going to prevail this next year?" I ask Craig. "I'm not hopeful," he responds, "I am confident." Confident. His words encircle the fresh year.

4018. A new hat, soft and celery green. An electric blue running shirt. A trivet in olive wood.

4019. My sweet nephew endures emergency surgery Christmas day to retrieve 26 cents lodged in his throat. He giggles and babbles on and on about the IV pokey mark on his arm.

4020. We spend New Year's Eve afternoon with cousins, coffee and peppermint bark popcorn for grown-ups and friendship deep and wide. The quiet and early evening rolls in silent, steady.

4021. And then it's back to school. "Come on!" Jane calls, "I want to hear some feet thundering." And they commence with Hark The Herald Angels Sing to the tromp of bare feet on hardwoods.

4022. The kids play Uno -- faster and faster. "Now we're getting some confidence under our feet," Jane cheers.

4023. I meet up with mom. We sift through the dust of this new year, compare notes, pray to honor our Lord and Savior.

4024. I trim Jane's fingernails, turn her hand palm up to find I LOVE MOM AND DAD written there.

4025. Cerissa and I compare soup recipes, improvise to no success, compare notes again and resurrect the results.

4026. Lucy gets a horse shirt and wears it every day. She wears a skirt, scarf, and boots to match me.

4027. We share a meal down on the farm: roast beef, salad, ice cream.

4028. Jane practices the alphabet in sign language so she can talk with her friend Josiah. "The kids gasped when I did the whole alphabet," she says and then starts training the other children every night before bed.

4029. The children start a jar of coins to save up for school books. They leave a sticky note on Craig's toothbrush with the total written on it.

4030. We smooth out a few bumps in this freshly fallen year I marvel again at the strength beneath our feet. Thank-you Jesus.