Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Trip

"Joey, want a gummy bear?" Jane soothes.

Nine hours into an eleven hour drive, Joe wails from the back seat. He wails and blubbers. "Turn the light on," he howls. "I have to go poop," he moans. "I don't know where blankie is," he bawls and bays.

"Joe-Joe, want a gummy bear?" Jane strokes him with her words. "Here." She passes a gummy bear over the back seat. He grubs it into his mouth, settles. We hunker down.

We listen to wide swathes of adventure on audio book and glide into the home stretch. We're home before we realize he really did poop his pants.


5554. We celebrate Thanksgiving at the ocean. Family. Memories unfold before our eyes. We laugh until we cry. We ponder and discuss. We compete and work puzzles. At the end we load up to leave and find ourselves more whole and full than when we came.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.

"Joey, are you just scared?" Lu peeks into his bedroom. Joe quiets, lulls between wailing snuffles. I proctor the nightly wail from the far end of the hallway.

"Yeah," Joe says, a reflexive 1-2-3-snuff stifled into his blankie-boy. Lu leans in. I pad down the hallway in wool socks, lean past her.

"Joe," I say, "do you want Lucy to sleep on the top bunk with you?"

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.

"Yeah." Draped sideways over the body pillow, he nods still snuffling in time to the 1-2-3-snuff. He pulls blankie-boy over his nose.

"I will," Lu says. She slip-slides footie jammies to her room and returns with a quilt and red-carpet-blankie.

She lays down, no gush or chatter, just a quiet presence. Sleep enfolds them.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.


5545. Kari makes gingersnaps for our small group. We all make it.

5546. The Tuesday girls make knitting plans, trade patterns, and start the seasonal blitz of knitting. Even Cerissa makes the leap to knitting.

5547. Pizza night with apple crisp.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.

5548. Ham bone soup. We make another whole week of meals out of the spiral ham.

5549. I fight off three migraines.

5550. Jane decides to take up knitting again. She buys two balls of yarn with her own money and knits 20 row right off the bat.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.

5551. The kids lose most of the socks from last year. After six weeks of wearing ankle socks in rain boots they decide to buy wool socks with their own money.

5552. Craig takes me on a date running errands.

5553. We plan for Thanksgiving. We work as a team more than we ever have before.

Photo courtesy of Urban Rose.

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.