Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Daily

"Jesus, thank-you that I'm never, just NEVER, being naughty," Joe prays. "Thanks for getting me stronger," he says.

I nod, my eyes squeezed shut, peeking through eyelashes. Stronger not good-er. His face earnest all around squinched shut eyes, I take in his countenance and pray a secret prayer to be stronger myself.

The day wheedles on. We set a board game across the table complete with an infinity of tiny pieces that tinkle to the ground in shifts as tiny elbows try to squeeze in and take a turn.

"Myra," Jack says, "DON'T point with your middle finger. I used to do it too. Looks a little worse than I thought."

"Oh," she says. "Ok." An offense akin to an untied tennis shoe, they nod, pass the dice, and tally up another turn.

Later, pizza splayed across the dining table, crumbs, a pie tin, a paring knife, a jar of pizza sauce spoon still in it, the night blooms in obvious pleasure. The children clear dishes and wipe down the kitchen.

"Here," Jack says. He reaches around Jane and plucks debris out of the kitchen drain; a reservoir of dark water begins to drain.

"Thanks," Jane says disgust drawn up at the corners of her mouth.

"If you had to clean it out everyday like me," he says, "it wouldn't send a shiver down your spine." He grins at her. She rolls her bottom lip into an almost-smile.

Easy. Practice makes easy. And kindness, there, elastic between them, stretches way farther than you'd ever think possible.


6280. Applesauce, fresh made by Jack (after he finished making a pan of brownies) -- he's a chef in the making.

6281. Summer skirts. Sigh. Optimistic, I know. One can hope.

6282. A huge colander, the kind that can hold a whole pot of cooked barley.

6283. Betsy starts to get the hang of peeing in the potty. Bliss.

6284. Jack continues to work hard wrestling, gleaning character from each encounter as winner or loser.

6285. I live through a bout of mastitis complete with chills, sweats, and body aches.

6286. With herculean effort, I shoehorn in time to knit. Second sleeve on bumble sweater almost done.

6287. Everyone continues to grown in self-discipline. Most of all me. Being the example really is trial by fire.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


"You know," Jane says, "it really works if you FAKE it." She shakes a turquoise sweatshirt free of wrinkles and drapes it over her knee, creases it, folds it, folds it again in half.

"Yep," I say. A floodplain of laundry deposited across the couch, I watch her reach for another shirt.

"When we came out here I was like THAT'S SO REPULSIVE," she gestures to the gully of laundry and plucks a stack. "But now it's like not that bad." Her face awash with a smile, she sits in a small crevice between the clothes and the couch arm.

"That's called fake-it-'til-you-make-it," I say.

"Huh," she says.

In steady increments she folds, stacks, and puts away. She excavates the living room one shirt, one pile of laundry, one library book, sock, shoe, blanket, and broken bow and arrow at a time.

"Ok, how's that?" she says.

"Hmmm," I scan the room. "Not quite," I say. She follows my eyes, a couple of blocks and towels at the end of the couch.

"Oh, the towels?" she says.

"Everything," I say, "down to the last nub."

"Nub?" she says.

"Everything," I say.

"Ok," she says.

Without thinking, we nod to each other, a sort of tipping of the hat, an acknowledgement, appreciation. And then she makes another pass, combing the corners, cracks, and crevices for any remaining detritus.

So there it is, all huff and bluster not thirty minutes ago, now she commands a sense of order. Order, that is the gift. By how she's thrown her shoulders into the work, I guess she took it at face value: grumbling means you need MORE chores, and boy do I have a list.


6261. Friends invite us to dinner, the whole nine of us. White chili, bread, and caramel pears, it's the perfect matrix for visiting and fellowship.

6262. An afternoon blooms in conversation when friends stop by spontaneously. Joy greets us.

6263. Fajita soup with cocoa and all the conversation, laughter, and genuine life-giving stillness that surrounded it.

6264. We try something new: we practice silence. Dinner dishes still splayed around us, empty and enjoyed, we close the meal with total silence. We ponder God. I practically cry from the profound refreshment.

6265. Two thrifted sweaters, the kind that look nice even if you forget and slouch a little.

6266. Jars. Glass jars.

6277. Popcorn. Butter.

6278. I'm gradually settling myself to not rush and not worry. In the frenzied moments I slow, be intentional. I'm realizing a mistake of slowness is better than a mistake of meanness.

6279. Jack and Lucy prepare popcorn and lay out a game board. We pause to play together. In the rushing river of days, we still the world to play and make memories.

Monday, February 6, 2017


"No, honey, that soup is for people who go poop in the potty," I say.

"NoOOooOo," Betsy groans.

"That soup will make you go poop and poop and poop," I say. Ham bean soup. "That soup is for potty goers."

"NooOOo," she says, forehead wrinkled, mouth curved in perfect upside down semi-circle. I grin; she drives her eyebrows deeper. Soup. She LOVES soup.

"I know what she's thinking," Jane says, "THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I'M GONNA GO ASK JANE."

"Yup," I say. "She sure is." Jane shines a smile from the far end of the table. We grin across the plane of Betsy's will, weightless affection for that two-year-old reverberating between us.


6248. "You have to watch Betsy really close," Jane says. "She's at the age where she hasn't really developed the muscle of self-control really well, but she's really capable."

6249. Books. Someone passes on a bunch of books. It feels like Christmas.

6250. Silicone trivets, the kind that store in concentric circles.

6251. A couple of new sweatshirts to update my everyday work clothes.

6252. We watch the super bowl. Joey keeps calling it the super ball.

6253. At halftime we can't help but stare at Lady Gaga. Finally I click the tv off. "My first thought when she came out," Jane says, "was WHY IS SHE WEARING A SWIMSUIT IN THE FREEZING WEATHER? That was ridiculous, appalling, and laughable."

6254. George continues his career as a smiler. We all melt.

6255. The children become obsessed with the Laura Ingles Wilder books and consume them like starving people seeming to memorize every single farming detail as they go.

6256. Chicken dinner with asian salad, rice, chips, and pleasant conversation, better than a restaurant.

6257. We celebrate Craig's birthday.

6258. I find great joy in reading a daily devotional of John Newton.

6259. I make whipped shea butter.

6260. Though I feel ensconced in household chores. I cherish the company, and set my heart to enjoy the tasks at hand.