Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending the Old Year with a Bang?

We've added a dog to our household. This is one of Lulu's dogs that needed a place to crash for awhile. So we're not sure how long the dog is staying, but we're enjoying it. Yes, even Prince Charming, who for all his charming features is not normally a dog aficionado. He says this is the best dog ever.

At any rate, we know the house will be secure from the threat of...dastardly squirrels and marauding opossums. (Now we finally know why the possum crossed the road: to get away from Onyx.) So, that's good to know.

Further, we have been entertaining a lot. We love having people over. But now it appears our generous inclinations may have been too generous: we've also been sharing germs with liberal abandon. (Of course, this suggests that someone also shared with us, so it's all fair, right?) Despite the fact that we've all been fighting run of the mill colds, Sweet Pea has now been diagnosed with an ear infection and (ominous music here) pink eye.

Yes, conjunctivitis. That most icky and easily spread of all childhood illnesses. What are the odds any of us will avoid getting it? Not good. Not good at all, I'm thinking.

So this rules out my attendance at our annual "watch night" service tonight. And it probably means I won't be at Grandpa's house tomorrow. Exposure to toxic toddlers is the last thing he needs right now.

I'm trying to be stoic about this but self-pity really likes to smack down stoicism, so it's a definite battle. I don't want to start 2010 whining and complaining. I'd prefer not to start 2010 with another ear infection or illness, but I suppose that's not really something I can control.

I have been doing the usual planning and goal setting for the new year. (I dislike "resolutions", so I just call it planning. I love planning. And planners. And lists...) So at least I know what we should be doing, once this latest illness goes the way of 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

A re-post from last year, just because I love it:
O Simplicitas
by Madeleine L'Engle

An angel came to me
And I was unprepared
To be what God was using.
Mother was I to be.
A moment I despaired,
Thought briefly of refusing.
The angel knew I heard.
According to God's Word
I bowed to this strange choosing.

A palace should have been
The birthplace of a king
(I had no way of knowing).
We went to Bethlehem;
It was so strange a thing.
The wind was cold, and blowing,
My coat was old, and thin.
They turned us from the inn;
The town was overflowing.

God's Word, a child so small,
Who still must learn to speak,
Lay in humiliation.
Joseph stood strong and tall.
The beasts were warm and meek
And moved with hesitation.
The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd:
A stable set apart,
The sleepy cattle lowing;
And the incarnate Word
Resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
The folly of the Lord,
Wiser than all men's knowing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Polly Turns Eight

Long, long ago, this was Baby Polly: Before we knew what had happened, we were celebrating her First Birthday: The next year she tried out the snow: Three year old Polly finally (finally!) had enough hair for pig-tails: By the next year she was, all of a sudden, not little any more: A year later she could help decorate the tree, sort of: Six year old Polly was, actually, a Princess: Seven year old Polly was quite sophisticated and too cool to smile: This year Polly turns eight:
And she's not too cool to smile. How else can she show off those adorable gaps in her teeth? Happy Birthday to my Polly. You'll always be my baby, no matter how tall you get.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unbelievable Lyrics

Lets talk about Christmas songs for a minute. I love Christmas songs. I always wait until after Thanksgiving (Prince Charming insists on that rule or I would totally be listening to them earlier), but from two days after Thanksgiving (the day we drive back home) until January 2 it's almost all I listen to.

This year a few have been bugging me. And no, I'm not talking about the ever annoying Rudolph, Santa Claus, Suzy Snowflake type. Those are just lost causes from the get-go.

"Wonderful Christmastime". This song by Paul McCartney begs the question: just how stupid were the children around Sir Paul when he wrote this? There's a line in the song, "The choir of children sing their song, they've practiced all year long." Um, they practiced a Christmas song all year long? Who does that? I taught 50+ children three Christmas songs in three weeks for our Christmas program. And those kids are not geniuses. (Well, maybe a few of them are, considering my kids are included...)

"I'll Be Home for Christmas (If Only in My Dreams)". I know this song, which has been covered by pretty much anyone who ever released a holiday album, makes some folks nostalgic. But the whole thing is just a gigantic lie or, at the very least, elaborate self delusion. And I don't know about you but I can imagine my Mamaw's response if I were to tell her, "Sure, Mamaw, I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams." I'm not exactly sure what would happen but I suspect it would the equivalent of a slap upside the head.

I'm sure there are more but I have other things to be doing. (Wrapping gifts, cooking, shopping, preparing for a big birthday party tomorrow, etc.) So I'll just go turn on the radio and get back to work.

Oh, and Christmas Radio Stations? While we're at it: The Peanuts Theme Song is not a Christmas song. Never has been, never will be. So stop playing it.

What We're Up To

I think this holiday season is going to be known as "the one where we forgot the camera".

Children's Theatre? Yes, we did that. But no camera.

Downtown train display? Yes. Still no camera.

Shopping at the mall? Check. No camera.

Riding the "North Pole Train" at the mall? Did that. Without the camera.

Christmas party with friends? Yep. No camera.

Hm. As there are still roughly 31,224 cookies to be made, maybe we'll get some pictures of that. Otherwise you just have to take my word for it: we are busy, happy, and up to our ears in unwrapped gifts.

And considering the fact that we have to return a few gifts today, it's just as well that they weren't wrapped. Procrastination pays off again!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Favorite for this Year

Favorite Christmas song, that is. Sara Groves' version is sweet and has that extra poignancy because she is a mother herself:

And there's this version, by the incomparable Nat King Cole (and no, I have no idea what the image on that video is. Just ignore it.):

If I shiver when I hear this, it isn't due to the sub-freezing temps. The only version that will never make it onto my Christmas play list is the Vince Gill one. No song is beautiful enough to withstand that kind of abuse.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Importance of Driveways

For various reasons, Thursday has somehow become the Charming family day of rest. We don't have to get up early for any reason (usually), we keep outside obligations to a minimum, and so on.

This morning Prince Charming and I had really been looking forward to sleeping in. Oh, I know, poor us. I'm not really complaining, I'm just setting the stage. After several early (for us) mornings, our regular insanity inducing children's ministry Wednesday, etc., we thought a good lie in was due.

Have I ever mentioned that we live on a narrow street? A very narrow street. Which becomes even narrower because people park on it. On both sides. We don't, of course, as we have been blessed with two driveways. (On our street, this amounts to an embarrassment of riches as some folks don't even have one.)

I know I've mentioned (once or twice or a million times) that we homeschool. As homeschoolers, we have no need for the local school buses, naturally. If we did, however, Polly would have near door-to-door service because the school bus stops right in front of our house.

It comes quite early in the morning. I don't know if you can tell where this story is heading (maybe nowhere fast, like the bus this morning) but as my beloved and I were snug in our bed (wow - it sure was cold last night!) I heard the school bus pull up. But it didn't leave. I was vaguely awake at this point but Prince Charming was still dead to the world (metaphorically, of course).

Then there was a knock at our front door.

Have I ever mentioned that our front door opens into our bedroom? Prince Charming jumped out of bed (probably still not quite awake) and yanked open the door.

"Hey, could you move your truck? The school bus can't get through," I heard someone saying.

"That's not my truck," Prince Charming mumbled. "It's my neighbor's. He lives over there."

"Oh, my bad," the man said. And then he, mercifully, went away and Prince Charming closed the door against the arctic air infiltrating our room.

Yes, our neighbor parks his huge, unsightly truck in front of our house. And yes, last night he parked about a foot out from the curb, thereby hindering school buses, salt trucks, and generally anyone who might want to drive down our street. And no, he wasn't around to move it this morning. (He owns several trucks. I'm guessing the old one wouldn't be his first choice to drive here considering the current temperature.)

I watched out the window as they backed up the bus and went a different way. My only question: why didn't they just do that first?

This doesn't bode well for any future snow plows, does it? We may just get snowed in for the duration this year. All for the lack of off-street parking.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

5 Things That Shaped Me Into the Mom I Am

Amy tagged me for this post a few days ago. I've thought about it on and off since then. How confessional should I be? Should I just skip it entirely? (sorry Amy) Seriously. What 5 things did shape me? [was that a squirrel?!] Sorry. ADD kicked in there for a minute. What was I doing? Oh, yes, listing things that shaped me as a mom.

1. My parents. I'm not saying I do everything they did (or do), whether good or bad, but they set a good example. Unlike some children, who grow up to reject all their parents represented, I wanted a life very similar to what my parents modeled: I married a preacher, I wanted to be a stay at home mom, I wanted to homeschool, I wanted a family of more than two children, I wanted to raise my children grounded in faith. So far, so good.

2. Books. It's no secret: I love to read. And I think I've read just about any parenting book you can think of, most of them not worth the paper they're printed on. If you are looking for a common sense book to read, I recommend anything by John Rosemond.

3. The Internet. I don't know what parents did before the Internet. When one of my kids has a fever or the sniffles or a "come look at this crazy rash" or whatever, Google is my best friend. Or what if we need to know the hours at the zoo? Or how long exactly it takes to drive from our house to Aunt Lulu's house? What if I'm going stir crazy and can't get out of the house? That's what blogs and Facebook are for. Thank you, Al Gore, thank you so much.

4. God and the Bible. I know, I know, this should have been first. I'm just writing these in the order they come to me. Actually, I don't know how children can be raised any other way. I need something larger than me, some purpose to my parenting. I have to believe the sacrifices matter, and will continue to matter long after I've moved on to my eternal home.

5. My kids. I've been around children my entire life. I like kids. I've worked with kids since I was barely taller than they were. I've entertained a lot of theories about how to raise children (some pre-Polly, some post-Polly). Nothing throws away the theories like a stubborn two year old standing toe to toe with you. No theory (other than Bible based thinking) can help you when your child is crying because someone hurt her feelings. No legal precedent comforts when you think about the horrible things some monsters do to children. These three girls are my children and I have no doubt whatsoever about how I will protect them as long and as far as I am able. Even if that means continually revising my theories.

Thanks for tagging me, Amy. That was quite a workout!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Books of 2009 - November

Well, after a big reading month in October (and big sickness month, incidentally), November was quite different. It started with a family wedding and never slowed down after that. Enough with the excuses, here's what I managed to finish:

1. Endgame 1945: The Missing Final Chapter of World War 2. Nonfiction by David Stafford. This hefty tome was actually quite readable. Stafford balances individual stories with the "big picture" in a way that makes me somewhat envious (as a writer). Read as research.

2. A Long Time Ago & Essentially True. Fiction by Brigid Pasulka. I couldn't put this one down. At times brutal and haunting, this book is equally hopeful and charming. An admirable first novel.

3. Soldier From the War Returning. Nonfiction by Thomas Childers. This book deals with an aspect of human cost of warfare that we often skim over. Childers tells three distinct stories (one of them his own family). This approach is earnest but at times irritating because it feels like yet another Baby Boomer working out his own "issues". Read as research.

4. Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe. Nonfiction by Mark Mazower. Thorough, not to say tedious. Took me what seemed like an inordinately long time to read, but I think it was worth it. Read as research.

5. Miss Buncle's Book. Fiction by D. E. Stevenson. Charming and witty, this bit of vintage British fiction was a nice change of pace. I wouldn't mind owning this. (Hint, hint)

6. Miss Buncle Married. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. Almost but not quite as good as the first. Still very funny.

7. Mr. Monk & the Dirty Cop. Fiction by Lee Goldberg. Did you know that there's a series of mystery novels inspired by the television show (one of the few enjoyed by my family)? Neither did I, until now. Funny but not quite as good as the show.

8. Album of the Damned: Snapshots from the Third Reich. Nonfiction by Paul Garson. Pictures taken of and by Germans from 1939-1945. Haunting doesn't come close to describing them. Read as research.

Fiction - 4
Nonfiction - 4